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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Help, my book's not selling!

Louise Wise

It can happen to the best of us.

Sometimes a book won't hit the spot with your readers, maybe the cover isn't right or the blurb is wrong? Maybe you're hitting on the wrong readership? Over-priced?

How do you know if any of the above apply to you?

Trial and error, but most importantly be honest with yourself.

My dark romantic comedy had become stagnant in the Amazon charts and the few reviews it received (luckily all good) weren't enough to advertise it on sites such as BookBub. 

I tried all the usual things authors do to get the book moving: composing mini blurbs for Twitter, rewriting the blurb, redoing the tags, joining a tweet gang all which resulted in a flutter of sales.

I did the above again the following month, and again. All I received were flutters in return. For a highly researched book that took years to write I wasn't about to give up on it so quickly. But despite my efforts in October/November time last year the book was flat lining and needed a defibrillator QUICK! 

Something was wrong with the book.

I looked at the title with critical eyes and it screamed: literary! The title, The Fall of the Misanthrope, didn't portray dark, comedy romance so I began thinking up suitable names. 

I took a look at other dark comedies high in the charts and checked out their titles (I didn't want the same), but I wanted to see what was selling. Chick lit titles seem to do best with clichés as titles or words from a song or even just expressions, dark comedies had titles that were self-mocking or just mocking.

Jane Dixon-Smith's profile photo
Jane Dixon-Smith
I composed a list of titles I liked and put them against my book, but I found the cover all wrong. Time to spend money and design a new one. I called on the designer of the original cover, Jane Dixon-Smith and together we came up with how the cover looks today, and I think it's a HUGE difference, and brings alive the book's theme perfectly--comedy.

With the title and cover all sorted I needed to do one more thing, and that's get word out about my relaunch. I didn't want to waste money on buying promotion from sites that take your money and don't offer much of a return, so I looked to my romcom groups on Facebook: Chick Lit Goddesses and The Official Chick Lit page. 

Great people came forward, and I didn't even have to force them! They offered! In return, I took great pains in writing something worthwhile on the themes of their choice. I made sure everything was correct and my links worked.

Hiring a blog tour organisation will take you to bloggers who specialise in hosting authors, so you may get better results from them, but I was after free and I wanted it NOW. Here are my articles:

Kristina Knight  - cover reveal
Susan Buchanan -  Why an Overhaul is Needed
Caroline Fardig -  Keep Calm and WRITE
Deb Nam-Krane - author interview
Courtney Giardina - Bridget Jones for a Day
Georgina Troy - character interview
Monique McDonell -  Mental Illness: Nurture of Nature?
Alissa Baxter - Is Romance Harmless Escapism?
Matt Posner - author/general interview
Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?  - Just Writing a Book isn't Enough!

Next, I lowered the price to a bargain 99c/77p and will keep it low until the end of May.
So, all in all, has this hop been worth it? 

I'll be honest with you, for this book, no. I enjoyed the blogging process, and my name and articles are on the web for as long as the blogs are there, so that's a plus. 

The flutter of sales (pity sales from my hosts maybe?) didn't make this hop a success. My other romcom, A Proper Charlie, which although sees better sales, still doesn't bring in a huge amount, so maybe it's the genre?

My sci-fi romance Eden and Hunted are doing very well in the Amazon charts, so maybe romantic comedy is too swamped for any new author to do well in it? 

I'd love your thoughts on the subject.


Oh no, I've Fallen in Love!

All Valerie Anthrope wanted was to be in control of her destiny.

In a short-sighted decision, she employs ‘mad as a hatter’ Ellen Semple as her assistant in her financial brokerage, only to find her life being taken over by the domineering older woman. And to add insult to injury, client, Lex Kendal, seems equally determined to own her.

77p / 99c until end of May 2014

When Valerie’s bitchy ‘Devil Wears Prada’ image is ignored by Ellen and a turn-on for Lex, her only other defence is to close her heart to the pair of them. But it cracks when a bedraggled kitten finds its way into her life, making it easy for Lex to swoop in and Ellen to declare herself Valerie’s fairy godmother.

But just who is Ellen Semple? Where did she come from? Why does she want to help Valerie so badly? And how come she seems to know Lex even though they’ve never met before?

When Valerie can’t fend them off any longer and allows them into her life, her past rears its ugly head to remind her just why she’s alone in the world.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Heard of reverse promotion?

For something different in May I'm offering space on my blog for those who dare to write reverse promotion about their book (or themselves). It's a fun/evil way of talking about your bad characters, or your characters' worse traits (they aren't perfect, I hope!), and dishing the dirt on your writing style. 

Apple iStore

Here's my reverse promotion on my romantic comedy - 

A Proper Charlie.

The book is British and set in London, so for any non Britons reading be prepared for a lot Brit lingo that'll confuse the stuffing out of you. The main character, Charlie Wallis, also has ginger hair, and if that isn't enough to put you off she's too needy, too trusting and an utter doormat to her loser of a boyfriend, Andy.

The genre is romantic comedy but love scenes don't come easy to me so I took the easy way out and wrote bad sex scenes--I've had lots of experience (did I just say that out loud?). Anyhoo, here's short 'sexy' excerpt:

He stood up – it took several attempts – but he eventually stood before her. ‘Had one pint, that’s all,’ he said, pronouncing pint as “point”. He staggered sidewards, righted himself, but then staggered the other way. He sat back down. ‘Think my drink was spiked.’
Charlie sat next to him. ‘Sorry I yelled, love. I’m tired, that’s all. You could have asked me about having your mates here. I wouldn’t have minded,’ she lied. She always felt the need to count the cutlery after they’d been round.
Andy swallowed a belch and nodded.
She slipped her arms around his waist. ‘I’m not too tired for making love, though.’
‘Need a piss,’ he said and pulled away from her. Before he got to the bathroom, his fly was undone and he was pulling his penis from his boxers. He peed with the door open and then staggered back towards Charlie, tucking it away. He wiped his hands on his jeans.
‘Let’s shag until morning,’ he said with a grin. He tripped and crashed to the ground by her feet. He laughed, belched, and fell asleep.

A Proper Charlie is real life, real funny and real pink. If you're a guy you'll hate it: no guns (heck, this is a British novel!), no babes (heck, this is a British novel!), and no fast cars (heck this is a ...). If you're a girl you'll hate it too: no hearts and flowers, no sexy guys (unless you find geeky men attractive) and no shiny, sparkly shoes (I don't think Charlie has any!).

Charlie lives for love but she's clueless, and clings to her boyfriend unaware that he's abusing her trust. She's clueless in everything she does, in fact, as one reviewer put 'A Proper Charlie is a piece of steaming shite!' and her boss Ben Middleton (no relation to Kate) gets covered in the stuff! 

So you see, unless you like annoying characters who are not only unlucky in love but useless, then do literature a favour and DON'T buy A Proper Charlie.

So over to you guys. Write something about your book using one of the below styles (or your own idea):

1. 200 to 700 word article (approx) on why people shouldn't buy {name of book}.
2. 200 to 700 word article (approx) on why people should avoid all your book(s).
3. 200 to 700 word article (approx) on why people should avoid you completely (as a person and/or as an author).

Article (or bullet points) can be funny, argumentative, evil, an utter piss-take, your call.

Send in your author media (links, bio and pic) and book details (purchase links, blurb, extract etc).

Please send all ASAP so I can arrange everyone with dates using the 'contact' button top left of screen. All articles will appear here and tweeted out via Triberr. Intros to your article will be posted to WWBB's Facebook page. All book covers will be posted on Pinterest in the Book Junkies library.

Come on, be brave...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Five Facts about The Whitechapel Virgin

Carla Acheson

  1. The book idea exploded with the Wikipedia discovery of 'Harris List of Covent Garden Whores.' A real 17th century publication which offered gentlemen a discreet listing of local ladies, their services offered as well as costs. There were a million story ideas in that one discovery alone.
  2. I don't write historical fiction to teach people about history. I like teaching about people, no matter what era they lived in. My readers will walk away having learnt something interesting and amazing about 'people', and the best way to do that is to give them characters with the worst possible lives, where the odds are really stacked against them.
  3. My first ever published 'piece' was an article in a writers' magazine. Ironically, it was entitled 'How to cope with rejection'.
  4. I go for grit. There isn’t anything interesting in a wooden stick unless it has texture or emotion. Hell, just give a stick emotions rather than watch it sit there doing nothing! Why are they important in writing? Because they are the elements by which we frame our existence and self-awareness. Without feelings and emotions what are we doing? Well, we are either asleep, or not living.
  5. I live on a Rock in the Mediterranean sea, which is as far removed from Victorian London as you can get. For that reason I have to travel there for research, and strive harder to create the imaginary canvas which I weave into my stories. There is always a journey that astounds, not only the reader, but the writer as well. After finishing my first novel, ‛The Last Gift,’ I realised that the journey was so wonderful, I had to do it again.
 The Whitechapel Virgin
Catherine, a fifteen year old runaway, stumbles into a seedy brothel-house tavern in the back streets of Whitechapel, London. She hesitates at the scene before her, one filled with low class prostitutes and drunkards, but it is late, and the dimly-lit labyrinthine alleyways are filled with deviant fellows and petty criminals. 

Weary and hungry, she meets Eddie, the rugged young tavern boy who shows her to a room for the night. She settles down only to be awoken in the early hours by piercing cries from the room next door. Arising to find the cause of the commotion, she becomes witness to a gruesome abortion. 

Amazon US
 Filled with revulsion, Catherine decides to flee as soon as daylight arrives, but Eddie quickly soothes her fears and convinces her to stay, arranging for her to meet Madame Davenport, the nefarious brothel-mistress who employs Catherine as a serving girl, under the proviso she begins work ‛servicing’ men once she is settled in. 

Difficulties arise, however, when Eddie’s growing romantic affections for Catherine clash with her sudden infatuation for the dashing middle-class gent, Mr Cross. Unknown to Catherine, the lothario is keeping a diary of his affairs with Whitechapel’s whores, with the dishonourable intention of turning his writing into a successful ‛gentleman’s, publication.’ Mr Cross quickly seduces the fresh young virgin, allowing his sexual fantasies to escalate into an unfathomable obsession. 

As Catherine tries her hardest to fit into the ways of life at the lodging house, she encounters only jealousy from Eddie, and resentment from the other prostitutes who reside there. Annie, in particular, dislikes the new girl who has blossoming beauty and youth on her side. 

Unexpectedly one night, a crime occurs within the narrow landing of George Yard Buildings. Local prostitute Martha Tabram is found brutally hacked to death by a cruel assailant. The police can unearth no explainable motive. The Victorian crime stuns the entire Whitechapel district, causing widespread panic amongst the prostitutes who each fear for their own lives. 

Catherine’s anxiety increases when Edward Cross begins to show signs of ‘odd’ sexual behaviour and mental decline, as he brutally tries to expunge the girl of her virtues. When two more gruesome murders occur in the area, the prostitutes realise that there is no escape from the vicious killer who calls himself Jack The Ripper. But who is he? And who will be the next Jack victim? 

Carla Acheson lives in Gibraltar with her family and is a member of the Freelance Writers Association. She works as a book reviewer and has interviewed and published book reviews and articles for best-selling and award-winning authors. Her articles and reviews have been featured in various press publications, as well as Waterstones Quarterly UK Magazine. 

Her debut fiction novel ‘The Last Gift’ released October 2012, is available on both Kindle and paperback. 

Carla is also the founder of the Rock Writers Group formed in Gibraltar in 2009. 

Music production, singing, reading and writing have always been the main essential ingredients in Carla’s life. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Five Facts about Hard Hats and Doormats

Laura Chapman

1. I wrote the first 50,000 words of the first draft during National Novel Writing Month 2010.
NaNoWriMo is an annual writing competition that happens every November. While I’d heard about the contest before, I didn’t decide to participate until sometime on the evening of Nov. 1. This story had been brewing in my mind for a couple of years before I started the first draft, but I still had to quickly hash out an outline.

I reached the 50,000-word deadline just under the wire at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 30. My Internet wouldn't properly connect to the website, and I had to send the manuscript to a friend who uploaded it for verification on my behalf. I sat on the phone with her while she went through the steps. Once she gave me the confirmation that everything went through, I simultaneously fist-pumped the air and cried. I've successfully participated in NaNoWriMo every year since, but that was the most emotional I ever got.

2. I wrote more than half of the first-draft in notebooks on airplanes and transcribed them into my computer in airport terminals between flights.
At the time, I traveled seven to twelve days a month and I had to sneak in writing whenever I could. My job – a corporate journalist who wrote employee publications for industrial customers – provided me with lots of reporter notebooks and pens, which I kept handy for note taking if inspiration ever struck while I was out and about.

3. Excluding the Lexi Burke and her family, all of the characters' last names in this book are the cities and work sites I traveled to for work at that time.
I’m not even sure why I decided to do this, but once the idea popped in my head, I was sold. Jason Beaumont, Lexi's love interest, has his last name, because Beaumont, Texas, was one of the most complicated places I visited for work. I had some of my best employee encounters there and some of my worst. While I tended to cry on almost every trip (usually on the last day or two, because I was exhausted, hungry and dirty), it was the only location where someone was so mean to me, I sat in my car and cried for five minutes. I also had a couple of my best interviews in that town.  

I figured it was a fitting name for a man who might force my character to go through a roller coaster of feelings, because of the wide range of emotions I experienced.

4. I named Lexi's smartphone after my company-issued GPS device.
Harriet and Harriet 2 (the first one passed away from old age in San Antonio, Texas), accompanied me on every trip I took during my four years of professionally traveling.

5. The restaurant Lexi and a co-worker go to for dinner in New Orleans’ French Quarter is based on a place I ate at in fall 2009.
The story goes that the Napoleon House Bar & Café was offered up to Napoleon as a place of refuge, but he never made it. Now, they serve amazing Cajun fare. I ate the shrimp remoulade stuffed avocado and my dining partner had a poor boy. We were both equally satisfied with our orders.
Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

Buy NOW!
AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboMarching Ink

But after losing out on a big promotion–-because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Laura Chapman
Laura Chapman found a way to mix her love of romance and humor as a women’s fiction author and blogger. Her debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, was released in December with Marching Ink.

A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Laura studied journalism, English and history. She spent several years traveling the country as a writer/photographer, and currently works in communications.

Born and raised in Nebraska – in a city, not on a farm – she is a devoted fan of football, British period drama, writing in bars and her cats, Jane and Bingley.

Excerpt from Hard Hats and Doormats Alexis Burke @theLexiBurke Can a person refer to employees as Jackass 1 & 2 in an official report? Asking for a friend. #HRProblems #ThisIsMyLife The universe keeps telling jokes and I’m the punch line. #IHaveProof Okay, seriously. When did this become my life? Can I get a mulligan? #ObscureGolfAnalogyForLife In kindergarten Sunday school, Lexi Burke imagined Hell as a fire-ridden, hate-filled pit below Earth’s surface. On a mighty throne of blackened steel and skulls, Satan preyed on the souls of the damned for eternity. Twenty years later, she discovered a new version of Hell. It was a windowless conference room on an oil platform off the coast of God-only-knew-where Texas in the middle of May. The devil took form in two men, both middle-aged and madder than a hornets nest. Despite the sweat building on her neck, she shivered. When did babysitting old guys become my job? How mad do hornets get, and what does their nest have to do with it? Where did I come up with that analogy? Solving those mysteries had to wait. Casting a glance at the figures gathered around the badly chipped table, she considered the situation at hand. The two men, their union reps, and a team of local managers were going yet another round in their verbal sparring without a semblance of resolution. The representatives wanted the men to go back to work. The managers wanted to give them pink slips. As the HR manager assigned – albeit at last-minute – to the investigation, she wanted to keep everyone from killing each other. Not an easy task, considering the two men under investigation already gave murder their best shot.