Why Book Bloggers are Invaluable #bookbloggers #bookreviewers

Way back in May 2010, I had a debut self-pubbed novel waiting to launch and no idea how to go about it. For the year leading up to publication, I’d been a blogger with a humorous blog that had found an audience, one who would enjoy the novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, and although I knew some of my followers would buy the book, it would hardly be enough to pay for a week’s food shopping bill.

I contacted a friendly author who I’d met online, Talli Roland, who sent me in the direction of Linda Hill, a top book blogger who’d helped Talli launch one of her books and Linda, who’d never heard of me, read and reviewed my book and pointed me in the direction of other book bloggers who’d be willing to help me launch it. In effect, she took an unknown author under her wing and helped me on my writing journey.

That was how I discovered the book blogging community – a generous group of people who love reading and who give up their time willingly to help share their love of books. Their dedication is remarkable. I know how long it takes to set up a post, to ensure you have the right graphics, jpegs, links, information and as for writing a review! Well, I might be able to draft a pretty decent crime novel but ask me to review one and it’d be a pathetic attempt, littered with the bland adjectives, yet book bloggers manage to write truly entertaining and enjoyable reviews. Some manage it in spite of families, jobs and crises.

Over the last ten years, I have been saddened to see some of those who I have grown very fond of, leave blogging altogether – overwhelmed by the demands put on them, struggling to read in time for book tours, and saddest of all, actually put off reading. That is a terrible shame and a loss.

In brief, the book blogging community is one for which I have the utmost respect and yet I think it is one that too often gets abused. As publishers and more authors get wise to the value of book bloggers and increasing numbers of book tours are arranged, so the pressure is increased on this group of people. They rise to the challenge and support a huge number of authors and for little more than an advanced copy of the book. There is no financial renumeration and sometimes, not even thanks from the author.

My  latest release has been on a book tour since Thursday and not only have I been absolutely blown away by the reviews themselves, which are often peppered with amusing asides, or brilliantly put together, but by the free promotion book bloggers give in sharing their posts (in some cases repeatedly throughout the day or tour ) on social media. So, today, I’d like to mention a few who showed me huge support by reviewing The Sleepover, and urge you to follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, follow their blogs or even spare a few minutes to visit their blogs today and leave a little hello in the comments. Pass by if only to see how much effort goes into their posts. You might even come away with a few reading recommendations.

To all of you who are book bloggers – a sincere thank you. Without you, we writers would  probably remain unknown.

Nigel Adams, is an ex-firefighter and arson/fire investigator and lecturer who loves reading. Not only did he take part in the tour even though he was on holiday on the other side of the world, but gave me such help over the fire scenes in the book and has posted an adorable photo of Kai the fire dog, mentioned in the story.

If you haven’t read any of The Writing Garnet or  Jen Med’s Book Reviews or Booked Up Girl’s brilliant reviews, you are missing out big time. These three write the funniest, most entertaining reviews I have read.

Full-time working mum  Steph from StefLoz Book Reviews reads a variety of books and is a massive support to so many authors. I was so glad to finally meet her this year.

Robin Loves Reading, is a prolific reader who’s reviewed for many websites over the years and read over 700 books from April last year to this and wrote over 335 reviews for Netgalley in three months!

Sean from Sean’s Book Reviews  is a former gymnast who lives in Toronto and adores reading.

Shell Baker from Baker’s Not so Secret Blog has been reading for 27 years and is also part of the admin team for Crime Book Group on Facebook which has just over 15.000 members.

Chocolate and Waffles blog written by Meggy is a delightful place just to hang out for a while.

In no particular order but I love them all because they are a fantastic group of people>>>

Stardust Book Reviews Sharon works in a library and has a serious passion for books – any books but mostly crime/thriller and chick lit.

Emma’s Biblio Treasures Love this website anther photos… this post has the cutest kitten!

Tishylou A lady with a big heart! What more need I say?

Donna’s Book Blog with over 1400 reviews on Netgalley, it is safe to assume Donna is an avid reader!

 Fireflies and FreeKicks Fiction

My Book Reviews from Nicola. Relatively new to book blogging and posts fab photos n Instagram

Sincerely Book Angels – mother and daughter team with sincere, simple, succinct and spoiler-free reviews.

There are so many I ought to thank and not enough space here to do so but I have made it my mission to try and support at least one book blogger every week, so if you leave your website and social media details in the comments, I’ll come by and promote your posts.

In the meantime… thank you. Thank you all.Thanks7

If You’d Told me Back Then… #amwriting

 

DIARYI got a shock this morning. Well, not so much a shock as a reality check. After yet another early 4am start, I reached the 20K point in my current script, the sixth in a crime series, and checked my diary to remind myself what day of the week it was. (I tend to lose track of time when I’m in the writing zone.) I’d made a note in it:

STARTED WRITING MY FIRST BOOK TEN YEARS AGO TODAY

Really? Has it been ten years since I penned the first lines of Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines? At the time, I fully expected it to be my one and only book, yet here I am a decade later, with twenty titles under my belt and more to be published.

I wonder how many words I’ve actually typed since that time – undoubtedly millions. I’ve worn letters off keys and broken four laptops.

Initially, I didn’t type the book (I am the world’s slowest typist and even now can still only type using three fingers). I actually wrote out the entire script by hand – a laborious but tested procedure – and filled A4 notebooks with chapter after chapter which I then corrected in red ink like a deranged teacher. It was only after I’d scrawled corrections and drawn arrows to move paragraphs, and added extra sections, that I would begin typing. All of that worked for me and I preferred to read the handwritten scripts than to scroll down pages on a computer. Nowadays, that’s not possible. With 3-5 books to write a year, I have to start immediately by typing ‘Chapter One’ and off I go.

In 2009, writing a book was top of my bucket list – a one-off comedy that would sink or swim. I had a desire to accomplish something I had not yet managed to do. Little could I have imagined that the decision to write it would direct me along a new path. The book swam and I continued writing.

As I look back over the last ten years, I feel a sense of achievement that hitherto, I couldn’t contemplate. I have loved writing every single one of my books and the more I write, the more ideas I have, so no sooner do I type an ending to one, than I’m ready to go again.

Undoubtedly, there will be further casualties over the forthcoming years: more laptops will be sent to the recycling unit with worn out keys and numerous notepads that now only contain essential notes, and I hope there will be many more books for you to enjoy.

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would become a best-selling, full-time writer, I’d have laughed and said, “I wish!”

Well, it happened, so my message to all you writers out there is don’t give up because this time next decade…

Crime Pays #writers-life

AwardIn January 2017, I moved from comedy to crime. It was a bold move. I’d made my name as writer of comedy and enjoyed much success, written features for and appeared in national magazines, been on numerous BBC radio stations, even interviewed on BBC Breakfast Television (twice!). I’d won the prestigious People’s Book Prize award and had a contract with Bookouture/Hachette to write 2 more romantic comedies… and… I was performing a stand-up gig around the Midlands, entitled, Smile While You Still Have Teeth to sell-out audiences.

Moving from one genre to another is a challenge. You learn skills and techniques while writing one genre that can’t be transferred to another and you have to treat the whole writing process in a completely different way. Where I had once written whatever came into my head and written larger than life, hilarious characters and scenarios, now I had to think up twists and devious red-herrings and imagine the mind of a killer. I had to plot my books carefully, research like mad and lose the humour!

Bold or not, it was the right move. LITTLE GIRL LOST shot up the charts to become the #2 best-selling on Amazon Kindle and even became a USA Top 150 Best-Seller. DI Robyn Carter was taken to my readers’ hearts and more books in the series were commissioned and written.

Earlier this month, I had the most incredible news – my crime novels had sold over 500,000 copies. I had to sit down. Half a million copies? How was that ever possible?

Having pinched myself several times, I checked the email again. It was true and I was astounded. It was beyond my wildest expectations and I felt a huge surge of gratitude to my publisher, to all of the reviewers, bloggers and friends who have helped promote my books and most of all to my readers.

I have always dreamed of selling million copies. I love entertaining people, whether that be by making them laugh, feel-good about themselves and life or by thrilling them and making their jaws drop. To know half a million people have read my books is amazing.

My sincere to all of you who have helped make this happen. THE DARE, the third book in the DI Natalie Ward detective series comes out in April. There’ll be two more after it and one further crime thriller to be written by the end of the year. I have plans for more after that and hope you will continue to read and enjoy my books. I have my fingers tightly crossed that one day in the near future I’ll be able to say I’ve attained my goal but until I hit that elusive one million sales, I am immensely satisfied with what I have achieved so far and can only say that crime definitely pays!

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How a Celebrity Pug Dog Stole My Book #pugs @canelo_co

Biggie Smalls.pngMy new release, WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE is out in 3 weeks. It’s a brand new romantic comedy that I can’t wait to unleash onto my readers.

I loved writing it – every single word, every character and every silly scene. I loved researching for it – getting onto gameshows (even though I felt a right idiot on some of them), travelling around France, collecting information about the country, and I even loved lying awake at night, conjuring up crazy games fit for It’s A Knockout and a gameshow that would be a delightful mixture of Big Brother meets Love Island meets I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

I wanted my readers to laugh uproariously at the antics in it and in the parts, shed tears and come away from the book uplifted and feeling that life is good. What I didn’t anticipate was for everyone to fall for a lesser character – a pug dog called Biggie Smalls!

Biggie has not won over every reader who received an ARC but my publishers Canelo, who were so enamoured by him, they had stickers featuring him made especially for a giveaway.

The idea of a media star pug came from an article about owners and their pugs. The feature showed the dogs dressed in various outrageous outfits and I wondered what it would be like to own a dog dressed like the notorious rapper, Biggie Smalls.

Biggie doesn’t play a huge role in What Happens in France but my goodness, he has stolen the show to a large extent. Even those who are not ‘dog people’ have been emailing me to say how much they like him.

It seems that in order to sell more books, I’m going to have to buy a real -life pug and dress him up in COOGIE jumpers and jewellery and parade him around bookstores because no matter how good the book is, and regardless of how much readers enjoy it… they’ll all remember it as the book about Biggie Smalls – the media star dog!

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE  OUT 28TH JANUARY

“This delightful read is done with excellent pacing, thus showcasing the marvelous talents of this prolific author.” Robin Reads

“Wow, wow and double wow….What a fantastic, fun and beautifully written book this was”

 WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE is available to pre-order now for just £1.99 click HERE 

Video made by Inky Covers.

 

Do Giveaways Help Promote Books? #giveaway #writingadvice

Birthday promo 3I often see tweets “#RT for a #Giveaway” or similar, scrolling through my Twitter feed. It seems every day, authors are eagerly offering not just signed copies of their books, but other goodies to boost sales, sometimes even huge hampers of gifts, from £100 Amazon vouchers to promises of putting winner’s names into the next novel.

Most of us will have tried this. We’ve offered books, purchased out of our own pockets. We’ve signed them and posted them to far-flung places, again at our own cost, to those fortunate enough to win. Yet, how much does a giveaway influence a book’s performance?

We’d love to believe offering a signed copy of a book will garner interest in it, and those unlucky enough not to win your book will race off instead to purchase it.

Websites like Goodreads would also have you believe it is imperative to offer free books and run a giveaway campaign several weeks ahead of release. Some virtual book tour companies also advise you to offer free copies of your book to run alongside reviews, and bombard you with statistics of how many people read and respond to such posts.

Do giveaways sell more books?

After numerous giveaways held on various websites, I have had mixed results. Goodreads campaigns yielded no increase in sales, nor did I have much success offering giveaways on virtual tours or Rafflecopter prizes on blogs.

This might have been due to the timing or poor promotion on my part or simply not doing it properly,  but if you are considering doing a giveaway you should remember that a lot of people you attract are simply looking for freebies. They might or might not even read or review your book. They could well tell their friends how great it is, but the reality is you will spend a lot of your hard-earned money on promoting and the financial rewards are unlikely to outweigh the cost.

Are giveaways pointless?

In brief – no. They are a terrific marketing tool and success is not always based on number of book sales.  Much depends on your expectations. Gear your giveaway to create a social buzz, gain more followers on your social media platforms and increase your email or newsletter list, and all of those will eventually lead to sales. You are playing a long game and building up your author platform.

If you get your promo right, your name and book will get massive exposure, which is again great news. I learned recently, a reader needs to hear of and see a book about seven times before they click to buy. A promotion will increase those chances.

The key to a giveaway is to decide what you want out of it. If you are creating a name for yourself then they are worthwhile. If you are hoping for an immediate increase in book sales, be prepared to be disappointed. (Having said which, I know of authors who have had a spike after a big giveaway.)

The Internet is stuffed full of giveaways so target your promotion carefully. You need to be heard and stand out among other giveaways.

Results of recent giveaway.

My new thriller THE BIRTHDAY is due out on September 27th. Pre-sales have been decent but I wanted to raise interest prior to the actual release.

I offered two notebooks (see above) as prizes. I started my campaign Sunday afternoon because that seems to be a time when many people are online. I offered one notebook on Twitter for merely following me and retweeting. I offered a second book using my Facebook page for anyone sharing my post and commenting.

Given my goal was purely to raise awareness of the forthcoming release, I was pleased with the results.

My Facebook page post reached 1011 people and was shared 124 times.  The Twitter post received 2,080 impressions and was shared 104 times. In total, 3091 people saw the post and are aware of my book. I’m pretty happy with that. I can’t say if any will convert into sales but for now I’m satisfied to know THE BIRTHDAY has been paraded in front of these people and the icing on the cake is that before I ran the giveaway yesterday at 2 p.m. THE BIRTHDAY was at #630 in the UK Amazon charts. By 8 p.m. it had risen 250 positions to #380.

The giveaway runs until Thursday so you have time to win one of these fabulous notebooks. If you’d like to do so, pop along to my Twitter page and retweet the link here or my Facebook author page which you can find by clicking here