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Covers Special

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After my recent AWOL, this is my most epic catch up ever. I’m catching up on all your blogs and comments now. With one thing and another these past couple of weeks, I completely forgot that I put all my covers on special for the month of May at a flat charge of US $20, INCLUDING for made to order by author brief covers, because I want to get this project off to a proper start. I think I only announced it on Twitter before I “went fishing”. So I’m going to extend it for the month of June too. If you fancy a bespoke cover for twenty bucks head over to the Contact Me page up there.
Before my fishing trip I also made brand new covers with my own designs for my two short stories, The Visitation and Fly Birdie, because you can’t very well be selling book covers with rotten ones on your own books. Ha! I’ll share the Fly Birdie one here – about time my favourite of my own scribbles got its proper face. The idea behind it is looking out from the inside of a magical tree at birds flying free. My shorts will be free when I launch my non-fiction book in a couple of weeks, for those of you who fancy them and haven’t read them yet. Epic catch up – onward and forward!

Fly Birdie Cover.jpg 2820 by 4500

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Request for Tour Hosts and Google Whine

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Firstly, I’d like to find out if any of you guys would be willing to host me for a launch tour for my next book release towards the end of December this year. I would email everything to you, and all you’d have to do would be to copy and paste. Anyone who hosts me would get Mobi copies of all my books, including the new release, just in case you don’t already have enough books, with absolutely no expectation that you read any of them. I’ll add a Contact Me page below for if you’d like to so I can get your email address.

Secondly, the very book I’m talking about is sometimes quite painful to work on, and I occasionally get myself well wound up and in need of an internet fix to get out of the zone. So earlier on I did just that and had a little zoom through my Google home page. Massive eyeball burn for me. Blech. I don’t know why some people feel such terrible urges to display their parts for unsuspecting scribblers to stumble upon. Rotten pervs. At least it got me out of the zone. I checked the purveyor of gnarly appendages profile, and realised that if I’d had a proper look to begin with I would never have added him to my circles. More blech.

Up to now I pretty much always follow back everyone who follows me. Twitter is easy to see if a site posts actual pornographic pictures, and obviously I’m not going to follow those, although I do quite happily follow and retweet erotica writers. Even though I don’t read or write it, I find them a really supportive and happy bunch of scribblers. It seems counterproductive to me to only follow other writers though, when it’s the people who don’t write who will hopefully turn into future readers, so I’ve always been a follow back bunny and try to interact with a broad spectrum of people.

On Google though, it’s a schlep to open everyone’s profile, especially if you have multiple new followers at a time, and you’re busy busy busy, so generally I just add them all with the Add All button. I won’t be doing that anymore though. I also had a clear out of unfollowers while I was at it today. I follow a lot of sites on all platforms that don’t follow me back, and I don’t expect them to. I’m following because what they have to share interests me. But ninety percent of those I follow is generally out of courtesy because they followed me first. Those arb people who follow thousands on Twitter and then unfollow the lot in one go are all over the place. Google will have the green Friends icon beneath someone’s avatar if you have them in your circles, regardless of whether they have you in theirs, and I’ll always support a friend if I see they’re trying to promote something or get a message across. But I don’t see the point of helping out some tool who is just using me as a number on his massive followers list. In case anyone’s having similar problems there’s a cool app that can help. Circloscope is the G+ equivalent of JustUnfollow on Twitter so the purge was pretty painless today, but definitely no more following back just because I’m nice anymore.

So after that tiny, totally un-blog tour related rant, I’ll add the form and hold thumbs that someone signs up.

Twitter Withdrawal Language

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Today is Independence Day in Zimbabwe, celebrating thirty three years of independence from colonial rule. Regardless of the political situation here, that is indeed cause to celebrate in my book. I don’t get involved in anything at all political here. I’m a South African citizen anyway, and politics can be a slippery slope no matter where you live. African Me & Satellite TV was inspired by racism and colonialism across Africa, as well as the struggle for freedom against apartheid in South Africa. That being said, even though the story plays out in Zimbabwe, it’s a novel at the end of the day, with those themes running throughout the book. It never occurred to me that its publication would more or less coincide with elections here, but I’m happy that I held it back now. I’m watching events unfold here with keen interest, and really hope that everything goes smoothly and that the lovely peoples of this country can get back to living their lives again.

I managed to load up Twitter properly after quite some days barely getting a look in there. Today the electricity is on and my internet is at least working, although slow as a sick snail. It’s always Twitter and Facebook that won’t load when the internet is slow. This last week has seen the air turn blue for miles around a central me, and I’ve come up with many new and exciting ways of using the foulest words in the English language. Twitter is my favourite online place to be so it’s the worst place for me to be locked out of. Apart from the banter and the chat I don’t think that there is a better place for information gathering. I most of all love reading the few lines under new follower’s monikers when I follow back. I love the way some describe themselves, and make me instantly want to be their friend, and find out all about them. There really are some fascinating people in the world. I’m going to make a project of properly checking out a few of my follower’s profiles and tweets every day, and making sure that no amazing people are following me un-eyeballed.

Unfortunately after so many days of not being able to open a lot of emails, and posts on all the sites that I am part of, I know for a fact that some will be overlooked. This really bothers me. I hate the thought of anyone in the world thinking that I wouldn’t respond to anything they have to say. I think that ignoring anyone communicating directly with you is most unkind, so I’ll try my best to find every little thing. It might just take a while longer. And so, back to work for me.

Till next time friends. xxx

Compressed

Indie Waffle

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My Facebook cut-back is slowly working out. I still have a pile of things to catch up on, but it’s getting smaller now, and not always growing like it used to. My internet signal is still pretty rubbish but at least now I know my regular catch ups will be doable, and at this rate I should have at least one foot on the ground in a few weeks. My excessive reading lately, of things related to SEO and the best ways to market books as an indie author has also led to me reading other related things.

Random House has changed in the royalty payment department, making it appear to be much more author friendly and, for some, make the decision to go indie a little harder. Facebook has been shutting down pages where giveaways are happening, and Amazon now appears to have removed the “Like” button on books. I think that you can “Like” a book if you buy it legitimately though. I’m sensing winds of change coming. Some indie authors who have been working their little backsides off are saying that they’ve had enough of it all. They’re tired. I’ve seen one or two get off the merry go round in the last few weeks, and been very sad to watch them go.

I’ve read articles with opinions on self-publishing that are polar opposites. Some say that reviews are key, and to be obtained at all costs. Others say that reviews have to be honest and freely given – never asked for. Some say that free promotion days are key, and the more books you give away, the more you’ll grow your readership base. Others say that the free days are killing the industry, and that if you wait long enough, you can get any indie book you like for free anyway, so why pay for it in the first place? Some say that books downloaded on free days don’t count as “sales” and should never be taken into account when talking bestseller status. Other’s say a sale is a sale even if the price is $0.00. I’m nowhere near finished my research into all of this, but I’m slowly starting to form opinions. I try never to say never, so they might – probably will – change. I haven’t yet implemented these opinions yet. I’ll wait a little till I’ve read through my whole pile.

With the Amazon search engine, your tagging when you load your book is important. It’s a good idea to have keywords in your product description, and if you can, also your title. This will put your book ahead when anyone searches for a genre or name. Don’t use the names of other already famous authors though – Amazon doesn’t look fondly on this. Or on any other obvious ploys to get good tag words into your title. You need to be clever about the whole thing. Indies are, so you’ll figure it out I’m sure.

My opinion on reviews isn’t properly formed yet. I haven’t actually asked for reviews yet, but I’m thinking that I will, as long as they’re honest. On that subject, and while I’m here, if anyone would like to review Shadow People, please give me a shout, and I’ll happily and speedily send you a copy. jorobinson176@gmail.com Still on the subject, if you spot a typo it’s nicer to tell the author rather than announce it to the world. Typos can be fixed in a jiffy, and a heads up in that department is always appreciated. Even the big guys have gremlins in their e-books – I’ve spotted them in quite a few. Unless a book is absolutely riddled with these little devils, I always focus on the story when I do reviews.

As far as free days are concerned, I do believe that they are very important for indie writers to get their scribbles out to the public. I don’t believe that you should make all your books free though. Short stories are brilliant as freebies, to give readers an idea of whether or not they’d like to read more of what you write, and maybe have one novel, or first book in a series, that you regularly give away for free. There’s not much point in putting in the amount of work that it takes to write, edit, and publish books, if you’re going to give them all away for free.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook shouldn’t be used for hard marketing of anything, including books. Being a writer in a writer’s world, I will share my author friends books and freebies on occasion, but personally, I’m going to use it for what it was created for – socialising. Groups are good for writing talk, but mainly I’ll stick to the friendly waffle on my newsfeed, and use my pages for book related posting.

Twitter so far for me, is the best marketing tool a writer can have. I’ve found friends and readers there, and picked up on a lot of information that I would never had come across anywhere else, or even thought of looking for. I love the 140 letter allocation too – it makes for lots of funnies, and keeps most chats light and easy.

I’m just sticking my toe into LinkdIn groups, and PinInterest and the other social sites are still on my To Do list, so no opinions there yet.

Google right now is a lovely, friendly place to be, and even though there is book marketing going on, it’s not encroaching on our happy chats and posts. The +1’s there are working towards getting our book and blog links out there in the public stream, which is something Facebook can’t do, so that is indeed a bonus. I enjoy socialising on Google, and I love the friends I have there. What we have done is create a community that is all about readers getting to have one on one chats with authors and bloggers if they want to, or even just hang around in the background and watch our antics. Watching writers in their natural environment must be fascinating for “normal” people. Free days and promotions there can only be good, because books and writing in all its forms is what that community is all about. I have a feeling though that us indie authors should be wary of flooding Google, or any other site for that matter, with only book link plugs. Interaction is the key and I believe we’ll get where we’re going there.

https://plus.google.com/communities/115573021758683598908

So. Tagging and patience seem to be the way to go for right now. Tag the crap out of everything you put out there, and be patient. Some books will never be successful and make millions of dollars. Very few have overnight success. Not many authors hit star status, but quite a lot live very comfortably from the sales of their books. What you put into your marketing campaign is your personal choice. I know that some people set out to write something particular, in a specific genre, specifically to make lots of money, and not necessarily for the love of story telling. And they do make lots of money. You can pay for marketing, you can buy reviews – good ones – and I’m very sorry to say, bad ones too. I read lately that this method of nobbling the competition is not at all uncommon. Most uncool! You can even arrange for thousands of books to be “bought” to lift you up in the rankings – only to be returned shortly afterwards. Again – this is not right. With Amazon and other places apparently trying to level the playing field, I’m sure that new ways of getting readers and sales will be found.

Personally, for now, while doing everything I can to become visible to first time readers of my scribbles, and carrying on with my big digs into how to sell e-books in general, I’m taking the patient route. I want people to want to read my next book, buy it, and with a bit of luck review it. All I’ve picked up from the madness so far, is that apart from doing all you can with the technicalities of search engine optimisation with tags on Amazon, Google, blog and Twitter posts, and being active on Goodreads and related readers sites, the things most beneficial to indie authors are genuine and friendly interactions with your readers, and patience. I’m thinking that slow and steady wins this particular race. Oh – and have more than one book out there, so you can keep some to actually sell, and only one or two for the free. That’s my opinion anyway. Now to get to doing all of these things myself.

Till next time friends. xxx

Van Gogh pd book