Tuesday, 28 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 3

Finally, I have got round to post about the last day of the conference.

The first talk I went to was by Catherine Jones, talking about her life in the army and writing career in the army and onwards. Then was a talk about how to keep readers reading by Emma Darwin. She told us the many ways of writing styles there are, inc one I didn't know about called 'free indirect style'.  She gave us exercises to do in the different writing styles. One of these gave me an idea for a teen/YA book.

Then was a talk by Tamsyn Murray about emotion in YA. She explained one three YA books are so successful: 'The Fault in our Stars', Hunger Games and the Year of the Rat. They have these in common: Strong indentifiable and central theme. Memorable characters, quality writing, fantastic storytelling, brilliant world building, love, romance, crossover appeal, word of mouth success, PR commitment from publisher and luck. You have to know your reader. Research what's out there. Remember how intense your teen years were. Understand that readers form strong bonds with characters they like - make them relatable and make them care. Let them experience loss in a safe way. How? ID your theme early. Know what your book wants to say. Create loveable characters. Do something different. Don't be afraid to write strong emotions. Deepen the conflict there is already not add more. In teen books, more action has to happen more often. MG is best for engagement.

So there you have what I learnt and come away with. I hope you have learnt something, too.

Friday, 24 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 2 - What I learnt

                    Fielden House where my room was. Next to the Curve where we ate our breakfast.

Day two was all about promotion, can writers live happily ever after and writing fantasy and plotting.

Promotion talks were by Jane Wenham-Jones and Hazel Gaynor. The summary from what Jane said that I picked up were: look at why your book is interesting to others, be punchy, tell why you wrote the book and have an anecdote about the book. For historicals, snippets about the period. 
Hazel said tell people your book exists, give readers reason to care, convince them to buy. Keep them engaged on social media between books. Share interesting book-related content. Support other authors. Tag relevant hashtags. Share quotes from book. Update Goodreads author profile. Be a real person.

There was a panel talking about can writers live happily ever after: in their work and with their characters. Katie Fforde said that as real life can be tough, give readers a safe place to go. One person said that readers don't mind if you kill off a character but it has to feel right and give hope. Readers want a satisfying conclusion not an open ending. As to their livelihood, it is tough out there.

Then I went to a talk by YA fantasy author Ruth Long (writes as RF Long). She writes about folklore and myths and legends, esp Irish ones. She said that realism is the key to making fantasy work. Ground the reader. The more realistic the more fantasy can happen. Can use setting as character in book. Make sure the reader feels what the characters feel. Avoid stupid things that jar people out of the story. Magic has to have consequences and limits. Characters have to do something. Look at the villain, why they are there and why they do what they do. With folklore, don't take someone's God and make them a monster.

I also went to a talk by Jane Johnson. She went to Morroco to research a novel she was writing, met and fell in love with a man there, whom she married later that same year.

Lastly that afternoon, I went to a workshop on plotting by Liz Harris. We were given a handout to complete, which I did. This gave me an idea how to expand Bea into a proper historical romance, by adding her fiancĂ©'s pov to it.

Friday, 17 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 1 - What I learnt

This time last week I was getting v excited about going to the RNA conference in Mile End Road. A week has gone by and I still have good and bad memories. (The bad ones will appear on my food blog). The first talk I went to was a Skype webinar with Jim Azevedo of Smashwords, where he talked about pre-orders, what they are and what they can do for authors.

Here is what I learnt:

Preorders are only for Apple, Kobo and B&N. They are advanced book orders. Readers can order the book before release but they won't be charged until the launch day.

1. Preorders area fast track to desirability, discoverability and visibility. You need to start promoting your ebook months in advance. You are already talking about your next book. Capture the sale, don't lose it. Have a preorder link.
2. Better buzz building. You get anticipation, excitement and fans and superfans, which can lead to
3. Better reviews. Fans are more likely to preorder. Be the first to read your book and to review them.
4. Fast track to a bestseller list. A bestseller is more visibility to readers. Sales lead to more sales.
5. Same day availability as launch day.
6. Increased merchandising option.  Eg Apple iBooks Oz have a special called 'Coming soon'.

Planning - Budget for a long runway into publishing timetable. More days = more time to get orders. 4-12 weeks is recommended.

Timing - Avoid Tuesdays on SW (even though I published my latest on a Tues and got a sale). The weekend is the biggest selling days. Holidays and after Xmas Day are good.

1. Contests, chapter reveals, blog tours. Promote direct links to preorder pages.
2. Mobilize your fans as a street team. Spread the word
3. Author special pricing. You can have preorder price cheaper, then increase it on launch day.
4. Leverage other books to market preorder. Update back pages of all other books. Free sample of book. Series starter as free.

But what if your book isn't finished yet? There is now Assetless Preorders. You only need to know the title, the price, the description, release date and category. (Might do this myself for either 'Fire Angels' or Billy, or both). When you upload onto SW, and click 'publish' you can choose the option 'make it a preorder.'

Review publishing schedule in 12 months. Get all firm projects as preorders. Choose your on-sale date as far ahead as possible. Once preorder is listed, promote!

For normal preorders you have to have the book ready 10 days in advance so each retailer gets your book on the same day.

I asked if we could change metadata eg title of book from the preorder one to the launch day one. Yes, you can change any of the metadata.

Now thinking seriously about having one or two of my forthcoming ebooks as Assetless Preorders.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

'The Cameo Brooch' cover reveal

Next week I, hopefully, plan to publish my next ebook, 'The Cameo Brooch'. It is Archie's story how he got together with the love of his life, Gabrielle, thanks to a family heirloom of a cameo brooch. Here is the cover:

Archie's great-great aunt Beatrice is mentioned in this story, and it inspired me to write her own romance later on. Need to research the 19th century more to do this, but am looking forward to it, even though I've not written historical romance before.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Preparation for a conference

This time next week I will be in Queen Mary's University, Mile End Road at the RNA conference. Hopefully learning something. I've been to a few conferences and retreats now, so know what I need to pack. So, if you are a newbie to a conference or retreat, here is what I have either already packed or will be packing:

I will be taking casual clothes to wear, with a spare top, trousers, underwear and socks. As well as spare shoes/sandals, and comfy ones. I do like to wear different shoes alternately, as they say it is best for your feet not to wear shoes more than one day at a time.

I have already packed emergency supplies eg paracetamol, plasters etc. This includes my medications.

I have already packed most of my toiletries, some of which were from when I went to the retreat in May. I am taking with me tubes and bottles of things that don't have much in, so if they empty there, I can just throw them away instead of carrying them home again, esp if they're not recycleable.

As a writer I will be taking with me: notepad and pens (be sure to take a few just in case), biz cards, postcards promoting my 1-2-1 author service, my programme and instructions, a small notepad to take notes of anyone interested in my service. A magazine to read in the evening. Oh yes, and a camera, to take photos of the place, people and the food, esp the food. This will be for my blog about eating out with food intolerances.

I will start packing next week with the last minute stuff on Friday morning. I can't wait. I have already worked out how I am going to get there, and it doesn't include having to walk up 46 steps at Mile End station.

I know I will have more with me coming home than going there, as I am aware there will be a goody bag with lots of promo stuff in inc books, and I will be buying a few books, too.