Thursday 23 May 2013

Easy Peasy Video Trailers

I found out about Animoto from a loop I'm on and checked it out. This is the easiest program I've ever used. Needs the least possible technical knowledge. If you can upload a picture and click on things, you can make a video.

All you do is choose a background style - you can watch these to see what the video will do before you choose - then upload pics, add captions, add text, choose music, watch a preview, change anything you want, and then publish.

It's brilliant, so simple and the results are absolutely fantastic.Take a look at this:

My Georgian Romances

I'd put the video on here, but I'm not that tecchie and couldn't find how to get this one instead of a Youtube one.

I've made another for a single book:

Mademoiselle at Arms

I've already got both on websites where one can promote. I thoroughly recommend Animoto. You get a 30 second video for free and all the hassle is taken out of making it. It's such fun.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Time flies and books leap!

I last posted on 10th Feb and here we are in late March and I now have 5 historical romances up on Amazon, and 3 of them going through the Smashwords game to expand into other formats.

Free books certainly give you a spike in sales, but I can definitely say that every time a new book goes up, there is more action. On the last 3, all have sold a few copies before I even did anything - not even waiting for the data to get onto Facebook and Twitter.

I suggest that every time you put up a new book, it's worth putting one that's already on there up for free.

On the other hand, if you want to publish to more than one platform, you can't join KDP Select on Amazon which is exclusive. The only difference for free days is that you have to set all the prices yourself and then reset them yourself after the free days end. With KDP Select, Amazon does it for you.

I figure it can't be too difficult to do it myself - I do know how - so with the last two books I've gone direct to Amazon and followed immediately with Smashwords instead of waiting for the 90 day period.

I'll let you know what happens.

Meanwhile, apologies for not posting more often. The problem is partly one of time, and partly due to my computer which is dying on its feet and keeps stopping to rest, leaving me waiting!! Fortunately I am getting a new one shortly, and that should simplify matters hugely.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Experiments on Kindle free promotions

I've been experimenting with two historical romances that have been on Kindle for a few months, using their final free download days before I take them out of KDP Select (which is exclusive) and expand by putting them on Smashwords.

With no promotion whatsoever, Mademoiselle at Arms reached a rank of 823 with total downloads of 1231. With a small amount of promotion (about 4 websites, Goodreads and Facebook) in two days The Conqueror's Dilemma is at a rank of 697 and the downloads look set to reach a little over 1000. There's still another day to go on this free period, but experience shows that if you stop promoting, everything slows down on the third day.

For good measure, Conqueror has made it to No. 18 in Amazon's Top 100 Free list for historical romance, and No. 97 in Romance. I didn't check Mademoiselle on these last time, but it too in the past has made it into these lists.

The first time I put the Conqueror on free, I did a massive amount of promotion, and it didn't break the 100 ranking, though it was close.

The big question here is how much have free downloads helped sales? The very first promotions caused a small spike which dwindled rapidly. The next ones did a tiny bit, but later ones did nothing.

Conclusions? Is it worth promoting free day? Well, it spreads the word. Putting it on free sites increases downloads and ranking a little. Also, Amazon do sometimes pick up the books and put them into recommendation emails. Both books have appeared on these a couple of times. There have also been spontaneous reviews for both books, which is a plus.

Facebook likes on dedicated book pages have not noticeably increased sales, and an ad on Facebook built likes (mostly from Italy) but did nothing else.

The next promotion game (apart from putting both books on Smashwords) will be to get the books listed on sites that don't require them to be free. I'll report back on that.

For the record, there's a trickle of sales on both books which now seems continuous. The trick is going to be to build these up. I suspect, from what others say, that more books is key.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Crisis - will I ever get this book into shape?

Having shamefully neglected this blog for months and months, I am driven to it by a crisis of confidence in my own abilities. I've blogged before about the Hemingway built-in shit detector. Well, mine is up and running and driving me demented.

Blog is not the only thing neglected. My third historical crime has been pushed into the background for ages due to losing any hope of a deadline when Penguin dropped the series. Other writing came up instead, and despite doing quite a lot of work on the thing, I've not managed to get back in and finish it.

Finally, when I have in the last couple of weeks started working on it again, I now find I simply cannot seem to get it into shape. I had started editing the unfinished book before I stopped work, because I had realised it wouldn't do. Coming back to it, I'm having real trouble with the revisions and begin to believe I'm going to have to rewrite from the point where it goes off the rails.

This is both anathema and panic. If you've ever experienced this, you are not alone. How many novels have I written, whether published or not? How many novels have I successfully written to publication standard and managed to get into print? Answer: loads.

Yet here I am absolutely convinced today that everything I've done in the last couple of days is not working and won't work. At the back of my mind, there is a little voice going: yes, but when you read it over it won't look so bad, and if you leave it for a couple of days, you'll see how to fix it. Hopefully that will prove to be the case.

So what's the message here? Simply this. Doesn't matter how experienced you are, there are always going to be times when you stop believing in yourself as a writer. What to do in this situation?

Well, as for me, I'm going to raid the chocolate and go watch something fun on telly. Tomorrow, as Scarlett always said, is another day...

Oh - and there is one consolation already. I do like the new title I thought up a little while ago - The Opium Purge. Ha! Where did that come from? Gosh, there must be a writer lurking in there somewhere after all.

Sunday 2 September 2012

Linda Mitchelmore guests on keeping it all in mind


Today I welcome Linda Mitchelmore to the blog with her writing tips for continuity.  

Linda has had over 200 short stories published worldwide, and has won and been short-listed in many competitions. Her debut novel was published in June by Choc Lit. I'm delighted that Linda is willing to share her method of keeping track while she's writing.

Take it away, Linda:


I've got the sort of head that can hold all the dates of all my friends' birthdays and anniversaries without forgetting any of them (but not the dates of wars and reigns of kings and queens!). And I can remember what I need when I go to Sainsburys rather than taking things at random from the shelves and forgetting the necessary milk and loo rolls.
But alas, that same brain can't remember if I've given my heroine blue eyes or brown, if she's 5' 6" or if she's only 5'4". And was she wearing a green dress (and if so what shade) when the (black-haired? brown-haired?) hero first kissed her, or was it a blue one?
So....for my writing I need my 'visuals'. I tear out pictures from magazines and I try not to use famous faces like Kate Moss or Jude Law because we all read so much about their private lives I wouldn't want any of that to spill over onto my characters. Less famous models than Kate Moss are a good source, though, as are the men and women in adverts for anything from cat food, through watches and probiotic yoghourts to Jaguars. Hairdressing mags are good, too. The Sunday glossies often do features on shoes and bags and if anything catches my eye I cut it out and add it to my 'visuals' pile for future reference. 

I've even used the male models in the Cotton Traders catalogues for a hero or two ....there's a dark-haired one who's modelled in there for decades now and I have to say I think he's matured with age! As to colour of dresses or furnishings or whatever.....a good paint chart is essential - they have some great names, too ...eau de nil, chartreuse, midnight, apricot blush to name but four. Estate agents' sheets are good for houses/flats/country estates.

So, once I've chosen how my heroine and my hero (and another two or so main characters) look and where they live, I pin those pictures on the wall in front of me, and there they stay until I've written THE END.

And then, of course, it all begins all over again....:)


Life in Devon in 1909 is hard and unforgiving, especially for young Emma Le Goff, whose mother and brother die in curious circumtances, leaving her totally alone in the world. While she grieves, her callous landloard, Reuben Jago, claims her home and belongings. His son, Seth, is deeply attracted to Emma and sympathises with her desperate need to find out what really happened, but all his attempts to help only incur his father's wrath. When mysterious fisherman, Matthew Caunter, comes to Emma's rescue, Seth is jealous at what he sees and seeks solace in another woman. However, he find that forgetting Emma is not as easy as he hoped. Matthew is kind and charismatic, but handsome Seth is never far from Emma's mind. Whatever twists and turns her life takes, it seems there is always something - or someone - missing.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Getting your book up on Kindle - my first go at it handled

Minxes of Romance: Author Spotlight - Elizabeth Bailey: The minxes are delighted to have Liz Bailey here with us today, answering the minxy questions. She'll be telling us too about her new releas...

The lovely minxes of romance very kindly offered me a slot today, to tell them all about my new historical romance Mademoiselle at Arms.

This is my first foray into Kindle on Amazon and it's an interesting experience. My nephew Llewi has done the tech stuff for me - brilliantly! It only took him two hours to put the book up originally (whereas it would have taken me two weeks). Then we looked at a book on promotion and discovered there was more to do.

Llewi hunted down the best search words and reformatted the description, and we've put it on Kindle Select. By coincidence this Q&A came up on the very day we republished the book! Here it is:
Mademoiselle at Arms

If you're interested in getting a book up on Kindle and don't want to waste time messing around with the tecchie stuff, Llewi is now offering his services at a very reasonable rate. He's off to uni in September, so he can fit in this help around his studies.

£45 just to format the book correctly and upload.
£60 to hunt down the search words and do an html formatting on the book description as well as formatting the book and uploading it.

Llewi is on and will welcome any questions.

I've dithered for six months or more with looking at how to get this book up without having to do it myself, and I checked endless services for price, etc. It's a minefield out there, and thus a joy to me to have someone I can trust doing the work. In due course he's going to due my Smashwords as well, so he's going to be a godsend to me. I've got several books almost ready to go and more in the pipeline.

Isn't this a wonderful world for authors?

Sunday 8 July 2012


Today I welcome to the blog the multi-published Victoria Lamb, who is going to talk about the dreaded boomerang!  Over to you, Victoria:


Coping with Rejection by Victoria Lamb

 By the time you’ve finished a novel, it’s become a part of you. To have it rejected by an agent or publisher can feel like a personal affront. Yet rejection is an intrinsic part of the publishing business: we all go through it at some stage, and sometimes it’s the quickest way to improve. So how to cope with the hurt of rejection, and still keep writing and believing in yourself?

Stay professional
Allow yourself some natural moments of pique, then get yourself in hand again. Rejection is horrible. But you can’t please everyone all of the time. It’s as simple as that.

Was your rejection justified?
Next, consider carefully whether your work was perhaps less polished than it should have been, or on the wrong track altogether. This should not be an emotional decision. If advice has been given, assess it coolly. Not all advice is helpful. On the other hand, few novels spring fully formed from a writer’s mind, and even a rejection note can be useful.

Submit again to the right places
Finally, be brave and send out your work again as soon as any changes have been implemented. Be sure you target the right people. Check that the agent or publisher handles your genre. Sometimes a rejection has a simple explanation like that and is no reflection on your work. One example of an ‘unseen’ disadvantage is when a similar book or writer has already been accepted, so they can’t commit to yours because of a potential clash of interests.

Keep writing
This can be the hardest advice to follow when you’ve pinned your hopes on one particular story. But if you demonstrate that you’re more than a one-book writer, it tends to work in your favour. New writing also allows you to create much-needed emotional space between yourself and a rejection. Don’t keep starting new stories rather than improving work that’s been rejected. But when that unpleasant letter arrives, it can be reassuring to remind yourself, ‘There’s always the next book.’

Victoria Lamb writes historical fiction. The Queen’s Secret (Bantam Press) is a Tudor novel available in hardback and Kindle edition, and in paperback from July. Witchstruck is the first in a paranormal romance “Tudor Witch” series from Corgi Books for young adult readers, and will be published in July.