Category Archives: Writing and Marketing – words from the wise

Where Writers Get Stuck: Marketing

Some great marketing tips and encouragement here from Allison Maruska!

Allison Maruska

Before I get started on today’s topic, I want to express a huge thank you to everyone who supported my fundraiser for Houston disaster relief or gave directly to an organization that will help people in need. We are seeing the best of America coming through every day, and if there’s a silver lining to everything that’s happened there, I think that’s it.

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Now, it’s time for the super secret post you’ve all been waiting for. Remember this Twitter poll?


It launched this whole mini-series on where writers get stuck. Be sure to check out planning, drafting, editing and revising, and querying or publishing if those are your personal struggles. While the poll was live, this comment happened:


So, to wrap up this series, let’s talk marketing! Is everyone excited??

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I know. I can’t fake it very well. But stick with me. It’ll be worth it.


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A New Book Out at Last!

At last, I am very happy and proud to announce the release of the third novel in my Berriwood Series.

Dirty Work will be available on Amazon tomorrow!

Each book in the series is a standalone novel; the link being the Cornish village and its characters.

This is a psychological drama with murder at its heart. Don’t be fooled by the pretty village of Berriwood; dark things can happen!



Here is a little bit about it:-

A shallow grave.

A body to find.

But no one is looking…

Caroline Duke and her sister-in-law Marcie lead very different lives, but blood is thicker than water; they are close, they share things.
Husband troubles.
Marcie has everything she could possibly want, funded by Nathan’s high-powered city job. She pays for her privileged position in lonely days and nights, while her husband works away.
Caroline is struggling with two jobs and out-of-work Pete, who brings in no money at all. He is never home either. He spends his evenings in bars and clubs and the occasional ditch.
But everything in the Duke family is set to change. And for the better. Pete declares he has given up drinking for good and is getting a job. Nathan announces his intention to work less, spend more time with Marcie.
A birthday dinner should be the perfect occasion to bring the four together. But when is a party not a party? When someone ends up dead.

i would be very grateful for any likes or shares.

How To Set Up Twitter Ads For Your Books: A Complete Guide By Alfageek

Detailed plan for preparing and setting up Twitter ads for books! Many thanks to Alfageek for this great insight and to Nicholas Rossis for sharing….

Nicholas C. Rossis

Joshua Edward Smith | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksI’ve mentioned Joshua Smith’s (aka Alfageek’s) excellent blog in the past (in Alfageek Shares His Bookbub Ads Experience and The Benefits Of KDP Select: One Author’s Experience).

Well, the man has done it again and produced the best guide in setting up Twitter ads I’ve ever seen. He has detailed everything in six (!) consecutive posts aptly titled Step By Step Instructions for Promotion of your Book with Twitter Ads. I will be repeating here the gist of it in a single, easy-to-bookmark post with my experience added to Joshua’s, but be sure to check out the complete posts on his blog if you decide to go down the Twitter ads route.

How To Set Up Twitter Ads For Your Books

twitter tips | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Photo by

Using Twitter Ads, Joshua has been able to sell an average of almost 3 copies of his first novel a day, day in…

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Edit, Edit or Edit?

A very clear and useful breakdown of editing in all its forms – thanks to WriteYourFirstNovel

Writing your first novel-Things you should know

Well that is true, but it’s only one type of editing, and there are three different types listed in the article. The article also noted that a novel length manuscript needed to go through all three types before it was submission ready.

Developmental Edit – better known as the content editing, story editing, structural editing or substantive editing. This edit looks at the big picture of your novel and focuses on

  • character arcs/development
  • pacing
  • story structure
  • pot holes or inconsistencies
  • strong beginning, middle and end
  • plausibility/believability
  • clear transitions
  • point of view
  • showing vs. telling
  • dialogue

Copy Edit – copy editing is the one most of us think of when we hear editor. He comes on…

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Making Good Things Happen

Image source - Pixabay

Image source – Pixabay

This time last year I was determined the New Year would be a better one. An ongoing, family-health situation meant that the whole year had been swallowed up by it. When I say the whole year, I don’t mean that nothing was done at all but what I am talking about is creative energy and time to laugh and have fun.

Nothing changed at the beginning of this year and around April time it seemed like this situation might go on forever. And then I saw a way to make things happen. I finally realised that while I could not change things around me I could change me: my attitude, my outlook, my way of dealing with things.

Writing and, of course that essential partner, reading, have always been a part of me and what Individual Me really wants to do most. I am not talking here about Wife Me or Mother Me or even Grandma Me;  those roles are also vital to my wellbeing, but when something goes beyond your control you have to protect all the Me’s in order to protect the whole.

That’s why somewhere back before the summer started I decided that I needed to get back to writing and reading. I had never really left; it was just whenever I did those things there was no real focus. No matter whether I was reading it or writing it I was never lost in a book the way I used to be.

I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. I am writing almost every day and I have re-read books  that I didn’t give enough attention to first time around. A little while ago I promised myself I would not fail my Goodreads Challenge this year. I am still not too sure if I will make it but I am giving it a good try.

This week I will be posting reviews every day, if I can, as well as my usual Wednesday slot, as I still have quite a few to do if I am going to cross the finishing line in time. Twenty two reviews to go!

Christmas is coming, the season of good cheer. If there is some huge issue clouding your life I want to say, hard as it is, try to compartmentalise, try to give a little time to each and every part of your life that is important to you. I hope you can reap the benefits of that little bit of control, I know I have.

Image source - Pixabay

Image source – Pixabay

The Business of Writing

img_1910As I have mentioned a few days ago here my mind is awash with plans and resolutions. I have a lot I want to do in the New Year and I don’t want to arrive at the start line unprepared.

For ten years I worked for an adult training company. It was all about system management. Virtually all of our courses were run ‘off site’ many in the company offices of our clients who had employed us to train their staff in health and safety or first aid. Even more of our courses took place in woodlands and muddy fields; Tree surgery, tractor driving and the art of dry stonewall construction. These courses were potentially dangerous for our attendees; proper pre-course instruction, suitability of the site and personal protective clothing were paramount. So too was making sure the candidates were fit for the course and the right instructor was selected.img_1908

It all boiled down to meticulous and timely planning. I loved it.

Writing was always in the background, always has been; a luxurious guilty- pleasure, an escape and a desire to create.

When I finished my first novel, in that rush of excitement that I had actually done it, I knew that this wasn’t just it. I wanted more. But I still hadn’t latched on to the idea of writing as a business. I uploaded the book to Amazon and look around with a glorious feeling of, ‘Ah, what next?’

The many books and posts ( thank you fellow bloggers!’) I have read on the various aspects of producing and marketing books have made me realise just how much work there is to do. My Systems Management Brain has finally kicked in. There has to be a plan. Any time is a good time for a plan but the beginning of a New Year is an especially good time.

Resolution No1 – Make A Plan

I believe a lot of writers will agree, this is not an easy thing to do. Following a plan is hard, but even devising and making a plan that can work for you, as an individual, is no piece of cake. So I am breaking it down into digestible chunks, just like I would when planning a training course.

  • writing
  • Blogging
  • Marketing
  • social media
  • Reading

… and I will be breaking down these topics much further as I go into them.

As a new blogger, I am still looking for ways that I can add something to the blogging community. When I very first started this I knew there were already many experienced people out there who can speak with much more authority than I. What could I add to all that expertise? It seemed a bit daunting.

But there are many people starting too, so I want to document what works and what doesn’t for me, what I enjoy and what is just hard slog! I want to share what I have learned about writing andmaybe ask a few questions too

Talk to you soon… Back to the plan!


New Year’s Resolutions – is it Too Early?

img_1894Christmas seems to come earlier each year and I know I’m not the only one to complain about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. It’s family time. But I don’t love hearing the sounds of Jingle Bells in September, somehow it dilutes the excitement for me. I want to feel Christmassy as well as see Christmassy.

But I digress; the reason I even thought about that today is that I have most definitely been thinking about New Year Resolutions and (shock -horror!) for quite some time. I think it is because this year has been quite defining for me as an individual (rather than as a wife and mum) and having coming this far I need to consolidate my interests and ambitions in 2017 with a good, solid plan.

The img_1892main focus of that plan is my ‘writing’. And when I say writing, I mean, as many writers will recognise writing/editing/coverdesign/marketing/blogging/social media and all the other hundred things I have left out. It’s tough, but you won’t hear me complain because it’s what I want to do. However, as so many writer/bloggers advise, there are ways, ideas and plans for a writer to find their way through their own, particular maze. We all have our own strategies but, at the same time, it does help a lot to read what other authors are doing and what works best for them, even if you don’t agree.

One thing I alluded to a minute ago was the sheer diversity of this ‘job’ of writing. I wrote my first novel in a blissful haze of ignorance. It took three years and at the time I thought The End really was. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find a publisher willing to take it on, everyone has heard the dreaded rejection letter stories (and, at that point, I wasn’t even aware of self publishing) but I was confident the work was good enough and when it finally made its way in front of the right person voilà! And ah! I could sit back and contemplate my next book.

Oh-oh! How wrong I was.

So – Resolutions. They are coming into my mind thick and fast.

Resolutions about my creative writing next year – what I plan to achieve including time frames.

Resolutions about market -what I will try and what I will leave for another time.

Resolutions about reading – what I want to experience with regard to the work of favourite authors, bestselling newcomers and hidden gems. What I want to be as a reviewer.

In later posts, leading up to the end of the year I will say a little more about the decisions I make and maybe it wil be interesting to report in 2017 which resolutions have turned out to be the best.

img_1893Of course, on New Years Eve things will be different. I am planning to spend that holiday with my children and little grandchildren and then all the resolutions in my mind will revolve around them.

Netgalley For Newbies – Help!

img_1891I have just finished reading my first book for Netgalley and feel a bit like I did when I finished writing my first novel, glad to have completed this goal but wondering what I should do next?

The book I read was offered for download with no requirement for approval from the publisher. It sounded like a good read and, as I am a new blogger and also new to Netgalley, I am prepared that it may take a while to build up relationships with publishers and be accepted as a reader. Therefore I gladly went for this book to get me started and a review ‘under my belt’

Now that the book is read and, going back to my dashboard, I have the option to Give Feedback. Within that section are two fields, one for notes to the publisher and one for the review itself.

I have a few questions:-

  • In the notes to publisher, what kind of things might you mention? Typos? Cover suitability?
  • Is the review exactly the same as the one you will post on your blog and other platforms or a shortened, more concise, version?
  • What order do you post in?  This particular book is to be published in January 2017 but there is no guidance about when the review should be posted on Netgalley and, if immediately, should I hold off from posting on my blog and Goodreads until nearer the publication date?
  • Any other tips from you experts out there?

I have googled etc but thought that a post to all you Professional Readers might address my questions more fully and the answers could be useful for anyone else who is thinking of giving Netgalley a try.

Once I have been with Netgalley for a few months I will post about my experience for others to see the results. Also, from a writer’s point of view, I am interested to learn how many Indies are taking their work there and if they feel the early exposure for their books was worth the cost.

Look forward to your comments! 😊



The ‘Power Hour’ and me

img_1870I read the other day that allocating a ‘power hour’ to a certain task is a good way to time-manage and I realised, without giving it a name,  that is what I have been doing for a while now.

In my case, I actually like to set a timer, not because I am in some kind of race against myself (though some days do seem that way!) but because it lets me give myself permission to totally concentrate on the job on hand.

Like so many authors, I am a procrastinator and, given half the chance, my two hours writing at the computer will be interrupted, not only by periods of umm and ahh, as I wonder where my story should go next, but also that irritating niggle that I should really make that phone call to the bank or get the washing out while the weather holds. I knew it had to stop. Nothing gets done thoroughly or well while flitting from one job to the next.


So I set myself a time. Usually it’s an hour. If I have a free morning I may follow it on with another hour after maybe making a cuppa and firing up the bread maker for some lovely, fresh bread, as a reward, later in the day. Sometimes it’s only half an hour. That may be to get one or two other smaller jobs like emails or a few promotional jobs out of the way.

The point is, once I set that hour going (having decided I have time to allocate it!) it seems to free me up mentally to work. I have already accepted that nothing I have to do is so urgent that it needs to be done ( or even thought about) in the next hour. I’m free! And for me it does work. When the timer goes off often I am surprised at how an hour could have gone by so quickly, but having truly concentrated on the one task to the exclusion of all others, I often feel that I have put a lot into that time and achieved more.

At the moment this is a great time for me to develop my writing muscle. I know what I want, but I also know it won’t happen unless I find strategies that work for me.


The Power Hour is one of my most valued time management assets right now. How about you?



On not winning the Edinburgh Marathon this year.

img_1867On 29th May this year I took part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. It was the first long distance race I had ever attempted and I enrolled in the half-marathon which is a distance of 13.5 miles.

The training was hard and, as I was in the UK during the winter, the more serious long-distance training often meant running in dark, cold conditions and mostly it was also very wet! I ran several eight mile stretches and finally a nine before sustaining a sciatica-type injury to my right posterior (ouch!) and being advised to rest it until the BIg Day.

It was an early start. Coaches arrived at pre-organised points on the outskirts of the city and we competitors were bussed in to the start point. It was clear to me from the beginning of my training that the only person I would be competeing against would be myself. Although I have kept reasonably fit throughout my life (squash, tennis, badminton, keep fit, yoga) these have always been on a beginner sort of level. I knew that also age was against me. I was old enough to be a grandmother to many of the competitor! But I wanted to do it and there I was, at the start line, worries about the sciatica niggling at me as I watched slender, young things flex their muscles in preparation.

The very beginning is fun as the pack starts to slowly move over the start line where each individual start time is recorded. I had already elected to start towards the back as I expected to come in at a slow time, if indeed I ‘came in’ at all. The runners soon split up and although I got off to a reasonable start I soon began to lag. Let me tell you, if you have never done this kind of thing that a half-Marathon may be only 13.5 miles but that is a loooooong way to run in one go.


Although I thought I would never get there the final two or three miles were actually the worst and the best. The worst because my leg was killing me and I honestly thought that I could not carry on much longer but the best because the way the course was planned many full marathon runners were passing me going the other way on their much longer run. By that time I was little more than a staggering mess but I cannot tell you how many of those younger, fitter runners reached over the barrier toward me with high fives and encouragement to keep going. ‘Don’t give up!’ ‘you can do it’.  They were so generous and supportive and they did keep me going.

By the way, I did finish. (I may have been last – it’s hard to know!)😊


The purpose of my telling you this story is two-fold and has been prompted by some excellent, recent, blog posts I have read highlighting the way Indie authors are regarded by some others, both readers and writers. That somehow we are less, regardless of the quality of the work, because we pushed the publish button ourselves.

1) My marathon memories reminded me how incredibly important it was for me to feel part of the group that day. No one was saying, ‘Don’t try, you’ll never be as good as us.’

2) It also reinforced in my mind how much hard work it takes in any sphere of life to achieve the best you can do.

The ‘elite’ runners in the marathon that day in May ran 26 Miles having left the start an hour later than me and the first ones crossed the line just minutes after I did. At any age, that kind of fitness and stamina takes great dedication that should never be underestimated. Of course, I already knew marathon runners are fit people but just taking some small part in their world gave me so much more insight into how much they must work to be ‘elite’. The same is true of any sport or endeavour. I have always been a great tennis fan and I remember well people dismissing Tim Herman as ‘useless’ because he didn’t win Wimbledon and was only number four in the world. How dare they?

NaNoWriMo is underway and several bloggers have pointed out that this month-long rush to write 50,000 words is writing at a ‘professional’ pace. That is an awesome pace, make no mistake. (And well done to all who take part) Those authors who publish year after year work tirelessly to complete new works.  It’s hard. It takes dedication whether you are a full time writer or not, whether you are an indie or not.

We should all expect to work hard if we want to achieve big goals and we should ply our trade with absolute professionalism. But when the work is done it should be judged for its own merits.

Let’s hope we are moving toward the day when the finished article,  the books that are the fruits of those labours, will be judged by their presentation and the words on the page, rather than some antiquated idea that who published them is what matters most.