promotion

Answering questions and that maddening lack of understanding

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I’m having one of those, ‘WTF’ days.

What TF does it take to get my books noticed by the masses?

Where TF should I got to find the ‘perfect’ place to advertise/promo?

How TF am I supposed to get people willing to read my books?

Why TF am I and my work ignored?

and finally,

Why TF don’t I just stop cos I’m obviously wasting my time?

I find this last one is a common occurrence just after I release a novel. It’s a kind of post publishing syndrome I have to go through. There is so much that I see and experience that seems to be telling me to give up, I mean like every day something will happen that makes me realise, ‘yep, I’m wasting my time.’

I’ve seen other writers on facebook talking about their ‘Street Teams’ and what they’re doing for them and how useful and wonderful and incredible they are. Great idea, if you can find people willing to be on your street team. I can’t, of course. No one is interested in being on my Street Team. I tried to get one, I really did. No idea why the lack of interest.

I see people, not always writers, posting about this or that person’s book and how you really ought to read this fantastic book by this fantastic author because your life really won’t be worth living if you don’t. Nobody posts about my books like that. Nobody says that about me or my work. I have several hundred people connected to me on facebook and just shy of four thousand on Twitter, but I never get an embarrassingly sweet repost or mention. I do get one or two, (I really do mean one or two btw) people who repost my cover photo (thank you Theresa and Tiffani and Rebekkah) and I’m hugely grateful for that but it’s a bit like spitting into the wind really. I’ve no idea how to get people to crow unashamedly about me or my work. I’ve no idea how the other writers achieve this. Common sense tells me they pay for it, or the people are family members. I have neither family nor the money to pay people. I guess therefore that this will never happen.

I must interject here because I know people will be saying, “oh well dear,” (really, don’t call me dear, it just makes you look like a poisonous self righteous twat), “if your book is good enough people will shout about it.”

No dear, they won’t. They especially won’t if it is wonderful. If it can ever be considered a rival to their own shit, not only will they not crow about it, they will endeavour to keep it down by any means possible. People won’t read my books, so no one can say they are bad. In order to know whether a work is good or bad, you have to read it first. Just simply being technically brilliant won’t automatically bring readers like some magical force conjured up by a bearded and be-robed Gandalf lookylikey. As usual, you’re argument is totally invalid.

I’ve blogged about the lack of money to advertise several times, so I won’t go there again here.  Suffice it to say that I still have no money to pay for advertising, nor the qualifying number of reviews. I therefore continue to assume that this is not going to happen either.

As I do not know why all of the above is as it is, I have only conjecture on which to base an opinion. There are a couple of possible reasons.

Sheer bad luck.

A personal campaign.

Destiny.

I am willing to accept that much of the reason I spend my life smeared in shit is down to sheer bad luck. Scientists have done experiments about luck and they have found that some people actually ‘attract’ bad luck. I am that soldier, on steroids.

I know and will admit, that there are people within the so called, ‘writer’s community,’ (community? What fucking community?) who hate me, personally and with a passion. I know this is true. You can’t please everyone all of the time. There are some people who will just automatically hate you the moment they set eyes on you. There are people on facebook who I  have pissed off because I tell the truth and don’t subscribe to their imaginary world where they are the best thing since soft loo roll and the bringer of all that is right and good with the world.  I don’t and will never suck your dick or lick your arse unless I genuinely feel you deserve it. Just so we’re clear, I’m 53 and so far nobody has deserved it so the chances of you deserving it are slim in the extreme. Don’t hold your breath love. People hate this about me and hate the truth even more. I can say with complete honesty that I’ve been ‘deleted’ by a lot of facebook folks. They talk to other facebook folks. They pass on their opinions. This goes on. I know it, I’m not stupid.

Even those who seem to be accepting soon prove themselves to be like the rest. They make overtures of help, advice, constructive criticism and when you venture a little further, you hit their brick wall of indifference. For instance, I joined a facebook group where everyone writes little shorts and crits each others work. I have found over the time I’ve been a member that I only ever get a couple of comments, whereas everyone else gets twenty to thirty. I have assumed this is down to some crazy kind of hazing rights of passage probationary shoolyard mindset thing and have put up with it with a smile and gushings of praise to everyone else even when they don’t deserve it (and shit, that has been painful, believe me.) I did however, take the few crits very seriously and re-wrote one of my shorts, after being assured that ‘they’ would “love to see what you’ve done with it,” and compare it with the first version.

Yep, you’ve guessed right (give that person a five pound note and a packet of cornflakes), it has been totally ignored. I mean totally. Not one single like, not a comment, not a ‘fuck you asshole. Nothing, nada, zip.

This kind of thing happens, not only to me but to many other autistic people. It’s the kind of ‘ism we live with every day.

I have a firm belief in destiny and of all three possible reasons, this is the one that has the loudest ring of truth. The universe might just have it in for me. There may be nothing I can do to get my name out of that little black book of ‘people to fuck with for shits and giggles.’ Yes, even the powers that run the universe have their own twisted sense of humour and they have a list of souls whom they use as ‘fuckabout fodder.’ I think I’m at the top of that list.

In all probability, it’s most likely to be a mix of all three. I can do nothing about any of them. I have control of neither luck nor destiny and people will be what they wish to be. If they wish to have a campaign, they will do and I can do nought to change that. I still refuse to buy reviews. I still refuse to bribe people with money and gifts. Don’t wait around here for the chance to win a free kindle honey, you’re wasting your time.

The only thing I can control is what I do and it comes down to one thing in the end.

Do I enjoy what I do?

I enjoy writing. The process of creation gives me much that is and has always been, missing from my life. As an abused child and an autistic adult, my imaginary world makes me feel better and more powerful than this one of yours ever has done and ever will.

I don’t enjoy publishing. I don’t enjoy it because it has proved to be unsuccessful and therefore, a waste of time. People are choosing not to read my books, for whatever reason and this is unlikely to change all the time I refuse to pay them to do so.

The sensible thing to do would be to do what I enjoy and stop doing what I don’t enjoy.

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Goodreads giveaway – my experience

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Further to this post about my experience using facebook paid ads, I decided to throw caution to the wind and run a giveaway on Goodreads for my last novel, Fetish. This is yet another attempt at raising a little awareness ‘out there’ towards myself as an author and my books.

Goodreads giveaways are free to run, but there are one or two points to remember. First, it’s only for paperbacks. Yep, those of you who publish only in ebook formats can leave the room  now, or why not hop on over here and find something spectacular. For those who, like me, publish in both ebook and paperback, stick around a while. So long as you are prepared to give away an actual, physical book, you can have a Goodreads giveaway. This means purchasing at least one copy of your own book, and then paying to mail it/them to the winner(s). Other than that, there are no additional costs.

Second, it is absolutely forbidden to contact the entrants or winners for any purpose whatsoever. To do so gets you labelled as a spammer. This means you can’t add them to a mailing list, nor even say hello, buy my other other books while you’re waiting to win this one, etc. Many authors are a little trigger happy, so this might be painful for some.

You can choose to give away as many books as you want, or just a single copy, whatever blows your skirt up. I gave away three signed copies. You have control over which countries your giveaway is open to, which I guess is to allow you to control postage costs. Most people go for USA, UK, and Canada, although just about every other country in the world in on the list. Click on as many or as few as you want.

My giveaway ran for a calendar month and in that time, I had 864 entrants. This is amazing when compared to my last attempt at running a facebook giveaway event, which gathered an immense crowd of just two entrants. Some of the other giveaways in the list have thousands of entrants. I suppose it comes down to how well known you are and the genre of the book you are giving away that dictates how many entrants you will attract. That is 864 people who now know I exist and that I write science fiction novels. There is now a chance, albeit slim, that a few might venture to take a look at my books. They might  not, they probably won’t, but there is  now that chance where there was none before.

If the three winners actually read the book and like it, they might buy some of my others, or tell their friends how they enjoyed it, review it even. It is all maybe and what if’s but it’s something, a chance I never had before. It’s a step along the marketing road, a road I seldom travel.

Now for the figures. I had to purchase three copies of my paperback, which cost me £15.24. Postage costs for the 3 books to the winners, all USA residents, was £22.35

This means the entire cost of this promo experiment was £37.59. To get that back I need to sell five paperbacks or twenty ebooks.

The point of this experiment was not entirely to make sales though. What I’m trying to do is build my brand permanently rather than make a quick sales spike that lasts a day then flatlines again. I’m trying to get myself into the public’s awareness, get my books onto their radar, as a permanent fixture and not just a flash in the pan.

With so many marketing and promo opportunities out there that cost a whole wedge of cash, this seems to be one of the cheaper ways to get my books into readers’ hands, even if it is just a couple of raffle winners.

The self publishing tornado

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Am I the only one who finds the whole self publishing thing  a bit of a hassle?

No, I can’t be the only one. I refuse to believe no one else feels this way. There has to be more people out there like me.

I’ve only been self publishing since 2011 so I’m a relative noob to this whole thing, but even in the time I’ve been doing it, I’ve noticed the whole thing become less of a joy and more of a chore. I’m talking about publishing here, not writing. That’s a whole different thing.

When I published my first novel, Redemption, back in October 2011, it was exciting to go through the whole process and come out the other end feeling like I was finally a ‘Writer.’ Now though, it feels like I’m walking into a black cloud that will eat me up, throw me around a bit and chuck me out miles from where I started and nowhere near where I wanted to be.

Advertising is a constant source of anguish. The hassle of actually finding effective advertising/promo space that doesn’t cost a fortune aside, the sheer volume of other authors all screaming their heads off about their books is enough to make anyone feel as though you’re trying to swim upstream. What readers must feel when trying to find a book to buy, I dread to think. There are those who react to this feeling of being overwhelmed by resorting to nasty practices to try and give themselves a leg up and although we all know it goes on, no one seems to be tackling it effectively. Is it even possible to tackle it effectively? Has anyone tried just telling them that it’s not a competition? There really is room for everyone’s book out there.

There are many who, when faced with yet another day of trying to get our name out there, look at the enormity of the task and think, “oh fuck, I’m wasting my time here.” Many days dawn finding me amongst them. On such days I go and do something else, hoping that with some time spent doing other things, the spark for the fight will return to me. I’m still waiting.

The lack of any feeling of ‘community’ among the author crowd doesn’t help either. Although they always declare themselves to be willing to help out and encourage other authors, try finding a comment by one of them on your blog or facebook author page. Try finding them among attendees at your giveaway event. Try finding them having bought your book. Try finding them having reviewed it. Yes of course there will be one or two lovely folks who genuinely care and try to help and we all give thanks for them, but there really are only one or two.

Self publishing today is something of an all-in wrestling match without a referee. It’s a dog eat dog world when you’re a self publisher, and you must be always on your guard or you’ll find someone chewing on your ankles. The lack of any real legislation is partly to blame, in my humble opinion, as is Amazon’s well known and continuing dirty tricks campaign, (that itself is a blog for another day). We all know that to get ahead, we must fight our way to the sunlight like creepers in the jungle, and just like them, the most successful are the strangler vines.

If like me you’re not the confrontational type, you will struggle as I struggle. I do not have the energy or drive to fight with other authors who are all convinced that it is imperative Merita King be kept out of the limelight as much as possible in order for the Earth to continue to revolve. Dramatic perhaps but you get my meaning here? Everyone is fighting everyone else and I’m not a fighter. Not because I don’t care about my work, I do, but because I’m not that desperate. It would be lovely to make money from writing, but that is not why I write. I think that is the difference between those who screech the loudest and those who don’t screech at all. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you which is which.

I’m like that seed that stays underground for years waiting for sunlight to hit the ground. When it does, the seed sprouts quickly and reaches for the sky. I’m just hoping that while I’m underground, writing and quietly self publishing, the sunlight hits my bit of earth before I shuffle off this mortal coil, never to return. I’ll be happy to bet my life savings that I’m one of those authors who will be extremely famous – fifty years after they’re dead!

The bubble has to burst some time soon

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Have you ever blown up a balloon and reached that point where you know it’s gonna go bang any second? I think we’re approaching that point  in the literary world. When I say ‘I think,’ I actually mean I hope.

The whole, review, sock puppets, paid reviews, fake reviews, deliberate bad reviews cycle is fast reaching the point where the literary world will just implode. Then there are the overpriced promo sites, like that really well known one that costs hundreds of dollars for one day’s promo, whom I won’t name because they haven’t paid me hundreds of dollars for ad space here on my blog. They require your work to have reviews, sometimes a minimum number of them at a certain star rating or above, and can still refuse to accept your work at all. So you save for months or don’t bother to pay your credit card bill, then use the money to apply for an add at that book promo site or others like it. What are you going to feel like if they refuse you because you haven’t the right number of reviews, or perhaps they just hate your cover or notice a spelling error in your blurb? You’ve just flushed several hundred dollars down the shitter. If I lost so much money like that, I think I would either commit murder or suicide.

You can buy reviews on various selling websites. Fiverr is a well known one where you can purchase book reviews. It’s dishonest to get reviews this way, but I’m sure the vast majority of reviews you can see on Amazon, have been purchased. I’m not yet that desperate, but I can’t guarantee I won’t get there.

I hope the bubble bursts soon. We need the floor to fall out from under the whole self publishing world and the entire thing to be reformatted. Rebuild it from the ground up, with concrete rules that are heavily enforced, even some legislation in law would help keep things in line.

This can’t go on, or I can’t. One or the other.

The advertising cycle of doom

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Making a living is hard these days, no matter what business you’re in.  Books are a luxury item and as an author, making sales has become difficult, and many are resorting to all sorts of techniques in order to gain some visibility.  Those with money to splash around or working spouses to sting for money, can pay for online advertising.  The best known (which I won’t name as I don’t owe them any free advertising) is a site where you pay for them to add your name to their mailing list.  For those willing to spend a lot of money, this can create a spike in sales for a day or two.

This particular site charges a lot of money for the honour of being included in its list, and it requires that your book already has a lot of glowing reviews, or you get turned down flat.  Seems funny to demand that so many reviews be already in place, as I would think that if you had that many reviews already, you’d be less likely to need help getting visibility.  Ho hum, I guess I’m missing the point.

I can’t afford this site’s services, and don’t have the required truck-load of reviews anyway, so it’s off my radar.  I have to rely on ways to advertise for free, which tend not to have the same punch as paid for services.  It’s a vicious circle, if I could make more sales, I’d have more money to spend on better advertising, but in order to make more sales, I need better  advertising.

I’ve tried everything I can think of.  I’ve set my books as free at Smashwords, but as people never buy at Smashwords, no one downloaded them.  I can’t have them free at Amazon, because I’m in the UK, so they can’t be less than 99 cents there, where everyone buys their books.  American authors can list their books free there, and because so many are doing so, people get them and ignore mine.

People want everything given to them free these days.  Once, when I had advertised one of my books that I had just published, one gal posted “Let me know when you’re giving it away free, and I’ll download it.”  But when I did put them all as free, no fucker downloaded.  Make your damn minds up!

I find people are always encouraging, but won’t actually say they hate my books.  I’ve had people tell me they can’t afford to buy books, then they post in groups about how much they’re enjoying this or that book, and when I look for it on Amazon, it’s not free.  I’ve had people say “oh I don’t like sci fi,” then they post a status about some book or author they like, and it’s hard core sci fi.  Then there’s the “I have so many books to read, I can’t add any more yet,” and then their next post is about another book they’ve bought.

I don’t know what the answer is.  Well actually I know exactly what the answer is.  It’s money, and lots of it.  Get a truck load of money and pay a marketing firm a fortune to promote for you, then sit back with your coffee and wait for the tidal wave of adulation to hit.  Until I have the means to go down that route, I’m stuck with books I can’t even give away for free, to people who won’t admit they hate me/my work/everything I stand for/the colour of my hair/my choice in footwear/whatever else.

People don’t hate sci fi, people love sci fi.  All of the most successful movies are sci fi and many of the most successful books are sci fi/fantasy.  There are huge fandoms dedicated to Star Trek, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Harry Potter etc, all sci fi/fantasy.

No one likes to be told that their work is shit, it’s a blow to the ego.  In a way though, I’d prefer it if people were honest.  At least if I knew why they hate it, I’d have a chance of changing something.  I admit, I haven’t the first clue how to beat this or proceed.

Well done to those who have the money and friends to create a huge spike in sales for a day or a week.  Remember though, that this kind of quick sudden spike in sales isn’t the kind of presence or visibility that lasts for years.  Making 20k downloads in one day due to paying hundreds of dollars for a slot in an advertising site’s email list, will bring you a bonus that month, but five years later, no one will remember, or give a shit, who you are or what you did.  People might still know who I am in five years, even if it’s of the “oh she’s that woman who writes shit sci fi,” variety.

I’m glad I decided a little while ago, to slow down my attempts at marketing/promotion.  The constant work and ensuing disappointment creates emotions I don’t like feeling all the time.  Without the stress of wondering whether this book will be the one that becomes popular at last, I can just write what comes and be creative in the way that feels most natural, instead of changing things to try (and fail) to make them saleable. My local library lets me give them paperbacks, so I can continue to do that.  I also have the knowledge that well known and well respected places like The British Library, the Bodleian Library, Oxford University Library and Cambridge University Library, all have copies of my books.   Not because I asked them to take them, but because they asked me for them.  How many of the “look at me aren’t I successful” party on facebook can say that?

How to be a self published author online – in 5 slightly over simplified lessons

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There is too much choice online, but it’s all so useful

Y’know, the internet isn’t going to go away.  It’s going to get bigger, and soon there won’t be anyone alive who has known life without it.  That’s a scary thought isn’t it?  To think that within a few years, no one will remember not having the internet around is, well it’s wild.

When I think back to before I climbed aboard the web, life seemed so slow back then.  There was tv of course, to while away the hours, reading books was something I did a lot of, and walking was a regular feature, but I spent hours just pacing around the house screaming “I’m bored.”  Not now though.  Now I complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day with which to make more use of the internet.  Last night I was up until 2am fiddling with my website and updating bits and bobs here and there across my various little internet watering holes.  A few years ago, nothing short of a fantastic sci fi movie would have kept me up that late.

As a writer, a brand with a product to market, the internet is a tool with which I could possibly enhance my standard of living, so I’ve had to take it more seriously, and I’ve found that it’s a lot of damn hard work.  Luckily, there’s a shed load of free stuff floating around that I can take advantage of in my quest for literary domination, and every day I come across more.  Great, more free shit that’s going to fill more of my time.

Seriously though, there are loads of places online where, as a broke author, I can enhance my brand’s online presence, and I plan to take advantage as much as I can.  From free blog hosting sites, free promo sites, and all manner of free tools to enhance your product’s presentation online, it’s a regular Alladin’s cave.

With this in mind, I plan to make a new page here, for online resources geared for the writer who wants to promo/market their books.  This will be a constantly evolving project, so it might be a little thin on content for a while.  Be patient, and visit regularly, you may find something useful.

Brand new trailer for The Sleeping

I decided to make a brand new trailer for The Sleeping and it was great fun to do.  I used Animoto this time and found it easy but expensive.  I not only had to pay £30 to get longer than 30 seconds for my video, but if I then wanted to download it in good quality or share with any social media sites, they wanted another £10.  Not sure how to do a video here, hope this works.

Bringing my internet presence into the 21st century

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I’ve been bullied and cajoled into doing something I should have done ages ago, but didn’t.  It’s a long  haul, but a necessary one and I will be glad when it’s finished.  Glad, and hopeful that it might pay dividends.

As a self published author, the internet is our shop front.  We are our own brand and unless you are fortunate enough to be as rich as Croesus, you must do the work of marketing yourself and your product on your own.  It’s a slog, but if you do it right, you will have a wider online presence that will be less work to maintain than it is to build.

I have always been honest about my lack of ability to market myself.  I suck at it and probably always will, but even I can do a few easy things that give me a better presence online, and create a greater opportunity for readers to stumble across me and my work as they surf.  These can be broken down into a few basics.

Spread your net wide, update regularly, and bait that hook well.

There are many places on the internet where you can have a permanent presence, for free, and showcase your work.  They may not lead directly to sales, but if you’re not there, the people that are there can’t see you or your work, can they?  Take advantage of these sites, make your profile and put your books up there so anyone surfing over there can stumble across you.  Places like Author’s Den for instance are free to join, you can have your own bio page and all of your books showing, and all for nothing.  People might say that such places aren’t worth the effort, but if just one person see’s your profile there and decides to take a chance on one of your books, it’s worth it.  And what if that one person happens to be a major Hollywood director?  Ask around, google for ‘free online promotion sites’ and see what comes up.  Take the time, it could bring you that chance you’ve dreamed of.

Once you’ve spread yourself around the internet, it’s important to keep the information updated regularly.  Bookmark all of the places where you have a presence, and visit them regularly to make sure all the information is up to date.  If you decide to update your bio for instance, or your book blurb, go around your sites and update it everywhere, it only takes a few minutes to copy and paste.

Of course, all this should be done after you’ve made sure your bio, blurbs, covers etc are the best they can be.  If you find blurbs troublesome, ask a friend to help, go to the pages of similar books on Amazon and read their blurbs to inspire your own.  Try to make them inviting, even a little mysterious.  They should make a reader want to find out more, not tell them everything right away.  Re do your personal bio, or get a friend to help.  I find my own bio difficult, but you can send a list of questions to some trusted friends and ask them to take a minute to answer them.  Ask them how they would sum you up in less than six words, what do they feel your strengths are, what is funny about you, what do they feel is unique about you?  Their answers will help you understand how others see you, and you should be able to update your bio from that without it sounding too cheesy.

I’m in the middle of all this stuff at the moment, and although it’s work each day, it won’t go on forever.  Once I finish putting all of my books onto these sites, it will be there forever.  It’s just because I have eight books to do that’s making it take a while.  Places like Author’s Den and Kindleboards have quite a process to go through to get your book up and looking proper, so I’m doing them one a day to spread the load.  Even if it doesn’t lead to sales immediately, I will have a bigger internet presence, and as a brand with a product to sell, all free exposure is good exposure.

Another thing I’m making the effort to change, is my approach with twitter.  I’ve been doing content tweeting for a while now, and I’m getting a lot of retweets and favouritings from it, although mostly the non promo posts.  What I didn’t realise until a friend pointed it out, was that my tweeting was too general, and maybe I should change it more towards my genre.  Why the hell did that not occur to me?  Duh!  So, I’m in the process of finding another couple of hundred interesting sci fi friendly content tweets, so I can update my tweeting and hopefully attract sci fi loving folks to my door.  By the way, if you happen to know of any sci fi type articles, videos and other interesting stuff, leave the link in the comments and if it fits what I want, I’ll add them to my content tweet list.

Blogging is something I’m working on, and I’ve made a vow to blog 3 times a week (at least).  Increasing traffic here to the website is a big goal, and one of my main ones behind selling millions of books and having movies made of my books.  Again, keep your website updated properly, with appropriate links to everywhere else you and your work can be found.  This means of course that I will have to spend more time sitting on my already substantial rear end at the computer.

Maybe I need to schedule in some exercise?

New blurbs, New categories and more updates

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I’ve decided to take a few steps toward trying to build my brand.  I’m always the first to admit that I suck cock at promoting myself, and my efforts so far have proved a waste of time.  With lots of encouragement, and a kick in the ass from time to time from my facebook friend Tammie Clarke Gibbs, I’ve taken a couple of steps towards getting a bit more visibility for my brand.

The first thing I did was update my blurbs.  Although they weren’t bad, they benefitted from a bit of sharpening here and there, and I like the results, which you can see on my book pages here this site (in the nav bar up top).

The second thing I did was to add another category at Amazon.  Up till now, I’ve just placed my work in Science Fiction/Space Opera, which is what the book are, but I added Science Fiction/Action and Adventure.  Hopefully this will give them more scope to be found by browsers and may result in a sale or two.

Next, I re-did the keywords on Amazon.  Keywords is getting towards territory I know practically zip about, but after taking advice, I changed them, and I hope they help increase the number of times my work pops up in searches.  Fingers crossed.

I’m also trying to make more use of Pinterest, as I’ve heard that this place is a great venue for getting your brand noticed.  I’ve renamed some of my boards, and added a couple of new ones that give my pinterest a more science fiction angle.  I hope this will attract more sci fi type folks who may then decide to take a chance on my books.  You never know, it costs nothing to try huh?

I’ve finished the first full read through and edit of my next book, which is a stand alone science fiction romance.  This is the book for which I’ve invented an alien language, and because of this, the first edit took longer than it usually does.  I also took this opportunity to add words to bring each chapter up to my preferred 5k size.  This allowed me to expand in some places that needed it, to go into the characters’ thoughts and emotions in a deeper way, which was a challenge at times but such a worthwhile learning curve.  I hope to publish this in March 2014.

The last update I have, is that I’ve decided to put together another anthology.  This one will be more paranormal based than straight  horror, and I have the first two stories already.  As for size, I think twenty is a good number, it will give my anthologies a consistency if they all contain twenty stories.

On a more personal note, I’m celebrating having successfully persuaded my mother to sell up and leave Cornwall and come and live near me.  She’s 82 this coming July, and very obese, diabetic, and has damaged hips and knees.  Her nearest shop is a mile away, and she can’t walk anywhere near that far, and while it’s not a problem as she still drives, it won’t be long before she can’t drive anymore.  When that happens, she’ll be stuffed like the proverbial Christmas turkey.  If she lives near me, I can lend her a helping hand and keep her independent whenever she needs me.  I’m so relieved my months of nagging has finally borne fruit, and quite excited to see her get a nice place around here.