Sunday, 30 September 2012

Promotion - big and small

On 12 September I went to a SCBWI-BO Professional Series talk by three publicists from major publishers about promotion.

They answered the following questions and told us: publicists are event planners, pitchers and do social media. What is the difference between marketing and publicity? Marketing is advertising and selling, and can overlap with social media. Publicitiy is free and marketing is paid for eg marketing is things like posters and flyers. Publicity is putting them out there. The publicity is done three months before publication of a book.
When they read books, they look at them with the view of commercialism, sales and lists. They read them from reader and publicist views.
And they do Google you as an author, to see what you look like.

What does the publicity plan look like? The basic plan for majority of books is on review makings, social media angle. Then work out what to do as a separate book. There is a template, then look at parts they can expand on. This includes the AI sheet (author information) and its selling point.
How much has changed for their online work? 2/3 was but now 4-5 jobs each. Digital now as well as other tasks. They say that parents' views on books are more important than nationa reviews. It is good that authors be digital and will work on them.
How much is plan, how much luck? Need people to know name of book and author. They constantly feed info to sales. Build a brand. Orion is a career publisher and will keep with you. Building awareness of author. Be opportunistic. Orion lets authors plan school visits themselves. Said that sales from Amazon ranks went up after radio talk. Focus towards sales.
There is a new age range called 'New Adult' which is for 16-26.

Top 5 things to do on a budget: Social media. Start local, inc bookshop, press. Short stories to give as free ebooks from well-known authors based on characters or settings they have written about. (I later said this is a good idea). Make friends with local librarian. Pitch at local festivals. Talk to people who think like journalists. Think of what they went and not want to talk about. Be honest in what you talk about. Exploit what makes your book unique. Events - word of mouth.Go to Edinburgh and see what events are like for authors who write like you. Be true to what you do.
What can authors do to be more helpful to you? Online. Have niche and work on that. Think how you can sell yourself. How book is different. Your backstory. Talk to people. Don't be afraid to talk about what you do.
Trailers - there are some good and bad. Now not so many because was too many at one time. Works better for picture books. Series ones are better than stand-alones. Bloomsbury has a Youtube and FB page.
Sock puppets were mentioned (writers who review their own books under another id):Best to be honest. If their author did it, they'd tell them to stop. Be yourself and know to be so if you're published, then check with publisher before hand.
Group blogs - depends on author but interesting idea.Push the blogs to readers and they point out blogs. Group tours - Good idea. Cautious about cost. Good for Skype events. Google hangout - look ]at where other authors live.
Pay for festivals - Bloomsbury pay for travel and accommodation. If it is outside of publicists range then the organsiser has to pay. Authors have to give a compelling reason to want to do it. If author has book late in, then still send pdf of it and can still go. But if you don't want to do it, then publicists can say no for you.

So there you have it. That is what publicists do and the difference between marketing and publicity.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Recycling plastic bottles - Do you?

I am now merging my naturally greeny blog with this one, as being green is also who I am as well as being a romance and children's writer. I decided this after reading a recent blog post by Kristen Lamb (check out her blogs and ebooks - she is a social media expert).  So, here I am blogging about recycling plastic bottles. Why? Something I read recently in a magazine made me want to write about it. I was originally going to email a letter to the magazine but kept forgetting, so decided to write about it all here.

The magazine was 'Cook Vegetarian' and was on their 'Do Your Bit' page. It was headlined Give your recycling some (plastic) bottle! The plastic bottle was invented in 1947, and did you know, that we get through a massive 15 million of them every day in the UK.  But just under half of these are only recycled. Why?  On one hand this shocked me, on the other it didn't. I remember seeing a TV programme over the last couple of years where members of the public were asked to put in boxes items they thought could be recycled. Most of them didn't realise that plastic bottles could be. Now that is the one plastic that is recycleable everywhere. So, do you recycle all your plastic bottles? It doesn't have to be just the milk bottle, but shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles etc. If you don't, next time you have a plastic bottle or go to chuck it in your black bin (the landfill one) think about this - If we all made the effort to recycle one more bottle every year, then we could save enough energy to power 71,000 plasma screen TVs indefinitely. And every bottle you recycle saves enough energy to power a 60W lightbulb for six hours. (I actually wrote something like this in my second Green children's book, where it saved energy for a computer).

So, do you have the bottle to recycle plastic bottles? This is one of my green messages to you.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Foyles Discovery Day - A tale of pitching to an agent and getting lost

This is a post that combines my writing life and how my Apserger's can affect it, as it surely did yesterday.  Yesterday I went to Foyles Disovery Day, where writers had booked to pitch to an agent face-to-face. I was v lucky to get a place, as someone had dropped out and I managed to get that place. I have not been as far as Foyles before so wasn't quite sure where I was going. I managed to find my way there from Charing Cross Station by asking someone for directions and reading street maps, which helped me a lot. It took me 15 mins to get there, and I was on time.
    I joined the queue and had my name ticked off a list. I waited for a while before I was called in. The agent from Curtis Brown was v friendly. I shook her hand, told her my name, sat down and did my pitch for Boring Billy. She then asked me about it, my background and whom I like to read and inspires me to write what I do. I said Linda Chapman because I love the way she writes about magic and the different types of it. She then read the first page and told me that it was a lovely and simple idea, well-written (all good points for me) but I needed to write more about Billy's feelings and make him more the protaganist doing the moving along rather than a victim. When she said that, I got an idea, which after my pitch I went and wrote down. After those minutes, which were v helpful to me, I went out the room and sat with another author whom I'd met in the queue and from SCBWI and chatted to. Then when the lady who was behind me in the queue came along, we all were taken downstairs to the cafe where we were seated with another person from the agency and asked her questions. Here is what we asked, and I did most of the asking,

Top 3 tips for authors submitting:
1. Make opening and the charcter v strong. Grab the reader.
2.Let the agent know what you do and what the story is about
3.Make sure the ms is as polished as it can be.

I asked if there was a gap in the market for books aimed at 7-9s that appeals to boys and girls. Was told to go onto their blog and ask another agent. This I will do later on.

I also asked what age they thought children start reading from ipads etc. She said probably from when they can  read.

When you submit online, you put your name, genre of ms, and you can choose from a drop-down menu which agent you wish to send your ms to. Or you can choose to send it to the New Writing Team of readers, who will read it and if they like it enough will pass it on to the agents.

Were they selling ebooks now more than print ones? Not yet, but getting there. Sees in the future that they might do ebooks only, and hard backs will come collectable items or just for niche markets and non-fiction.

We had a half hour wait after that until the draw. The first 3 names were of people not in the audience but the fourth was.

Then it was time to go home. And time I got completely lost. I ended up getting two buses back to Charing Cross, as I couldn't find the road again, even though I had come out in to it. I worked out this morning that after I crossed the road, I went left when I should've gone right and back up the road where I had come from. I ended up walking furhter away from where I had started from, so got lost, panicked and upset. This is where my Asperger's kicked in. People with autism don't like going to places where they don't know, and if they do, like me, they get upset.  I now know from his and here are the lessons I have learnt from it, things I should've done:

1. Taken a map with me.
2. When I came out of Foyles, got my bearing and worked out which way I had come from
3. If that doesn't work, then go back into the shop and ask directions.
4.Try not to panic next time. Go back to the start.

In hindsight, I should've taken the map with me, or asked at Foyles. I have learnt also that I work best with a map instead of asking people. I tend to get more confused with people's directions.

All in all though, I was pleased I went to Foyles, as I found it v helpful for my Billy story, which I will change the first page later on with what I have been told.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Revision workshop Part 2 - The Nitty Gritty of revising

On Saturday 8 September I went to Sara Grant's workshop on revision part 2. She called it the nitty gritty of revising. Here is what I learnt, and will use for my revising for future wips.

One of the first things we did was to highlight each scene in our first chapters. Once you have done this, you have to ask yourself these questions?

Where are you?
Do they follow on?
What is the timing and setting?
Is there action?
Is everything in it important?
Can it start later and end sooner?

I found this exercise very useful. I thought I'd cut out plenty of words that weren't needed, but I was wrong after this exercise. I soon found lots more that could be cut and didn't get the story moving. I will definitely use this again for when I revise all my wips.

We also highlighted each verb. Again another useful exercise, as you can see any repeated actions you give your characters. Mine blink a lot.

Flashbacks were mentioned - Sara said see if you can lose them, when you do, do you really need them?
Look at exposition, again do you really need them?
Look at structure of phrase eg he said and physical actions.
Do you have complex sentences? Are they compelling and tight? (Mine aren't). Don't put mundane actions in sentences unless your character lives a mundane life. (Just read this again, and see that this is what I have done for my mermaid story).
Passive verbs - check if necessary. Use find for 'ly' words. Underline nouns.

It was mentioned that when writing for teens, five years before the present day they won't know any TV programmes. This made me think, as I'd mentioned one in Rosie that they prob wouldn't know now, so I have changed it to generalisation.

I think then we were asked to pair up with someone we didn't know, give each other two pages of our mss, and read them.  Then write down at the back what genre, age range you thought it was for, things you gathered about the character. My partner thought Rosie was a coming of age novel. So, have now decided to write about more magic in the first page.

Then we were asked our pet peeves as a reader, and common errors as a writer.  Here are mine:

Pet peeves are: Too much tell and no show (I think this for new authors, as to me, it means they haven't got their ms professionally edited). And too much head hopping, making me confused as to whom is speaking.
Common errors - too much dialogue without action and indication of who's speaking. No character background (this was mentioned to me about my ghost story), and repetition of words. (The above highlighting exercise should now cure that).

One last bit of advice - consider age range for your book and check the wordage.

Overall a very useful workshop, which I will use exercises from for my wips. Thank you, Sara.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Next Big Thing - Indie Exchange


***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog

***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

‘Don’t Get Mad’

Where did the idea come from for the book?

An agony aunt letter in my paper. A woman wrote up to say she was worried about a friend who was sad and mad about her failed marriage.

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Chris Fountain (Tommy Duckworth in Coronation Street) and Kate Beckinsale

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sandra is sad and mad about her failed marriage. Until she gets a visit from her dead aunt Geraldine who advises who to ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’. Sandra joins the local fitness club, meets Troy an instructor and falls in love again.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self. It’s the fourth in a series of seven all linked by the dead aunt.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I am still writing it. I had edits for a YA and a romance novella to do. I hope to finish it by the end of this month, and to my editor end of October.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 Christina Jones’ books. They have magical romance in them.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Christina Jones. As mentioned above, an agony aunt letter inspired me to write it.
Eve Farr. She was going to set up as an epublisher and accepted one story from me, which made me think to do a series of stories linked by the dead aunt. Don't Get Mad is the 4th in the series.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The magic in it. Sweet romance.
I am meant to tag 5 other indie authors, but unfortunately no one wanted to be tagged by me, so it now stops here at my blog.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Having Asperger's and learning to drive

I am continuing my series of blogs about living with Asperger's, by now writing about how having Asperger's affected learning to drive for me.

In 1996 I started driving lessons because I had two v young nephews whom I wanted to see often, and my brother lived in Kent. My first instructor I have to say was rubbish. He was meant to go through with me a book on road signs in each lesson but he didn't. Needless to say, I failed a mock test by going up a road with a no entrance sign on (didn't know what it meant then). It was during one lesson with this instructor that my Asperger's, which I didn't know I had at the time, kicked in. One of the things I was asked at my Asperger's assessment was ' Am I easily distracted?' The answer is yes. Esp with my own thoughts. And this is what happened one lesson. I was driving, and for one moment I thought of something and my mind was taken off driving, and what happened? I nearly crashed into a railing on a corner of a pavement. Thankfully the instructor managed to take control and saved us crashing completely. He had a go at me for that. I was a bit shaken.  I didn't have that instructor long,  He was sacked after the failed mock test.
   I had a second driver who did show me the book and got me improving on my driving. When he felt he had taught me enough, I had a third instructor.

I passed my test on the fourth attempt. The first one I failed because I was using a car that had been adapted for disabled people and I accidentally had flicked the disabled signal.  I didn't know what the noise was, neither did the teacher. So it was a fail. I can't remember why I failed the second one, but the third one I know I failed at my reverse parking up a hill. I hit the curb, and didn't check the wing mirror to see why I couldn't move any more. I learnt from that mistake, and when I had this again at the fourth go, I remembered what to do and I passed. Was I happy?  Very. I have now been driving my car (the same one all these years) for 14 years now and am proud to do so, esp knowing what I have now.

There was a time earlier this year that I made myself very aware of driving with Asperger's, and I think I made a few slight mistakes whilst driving. I feel I am more aware of what I am doing and am more careful than before.

So, my motto from this to anyone who has autism and wants to learn to drive is - if you are easily distracted, try not to be and focus on what you are doing at the time and nothing else.