Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 Ways To Market Your Book

Last Night I attended a writing workshop with Vicki Morrison, a multi-genre author, freelance writer and keynote speaker. There was too much information to post but part of the workshop detailed:-


1              Your own website!

·         It is essential for an author to have their own website.
·         They can be created and hosted very cheaply.
·         It is a great idea to purchase you name as a domain name (not the name of you book. Remember, the book is your product and you are your brand).
·         Your website should be the central point of your on-line presence. Everything should link back to your site.

2)            Press Release  
·         Press releases are good for attracting the attention of media outlets, book sellers, reviewers as well as readers.
·         Ideally they should have a letterhead with an image of your book cover and contact details.
o   Follow this with the books details
o   Author
o   Title
o   Publisher
o   ISBN
o   Distributor
o   RRP (Recommended Retail Price)
·         When sending press releases out you need to research and target them at the right person.
·         Find out the targeted person’s name and correct spelling of it.
o   It’s no use sending a press release and book to a newspaper for a review if they do not review your genre.
o   Or to the purchaser of a bookshop that doesn’t sell your genre.
·         The more targeted you can be the more chance of success you have.

3)            Articles – Magazines and Newspapers
·         Most magazines need at least a 3 month lead time for articles.
·         Newspapers are usually much less.
·         Perhaps try an interview an expert in the field relating to the content of your book.
o   The interview can be turned into an article for a magazine relating to your topic
o   This is a great way of coming to the notice of people interested in that topic
·         Some newspapers, particularly local one are usually happy to do a story on the success of a local author especially coming up to a book launch.

4)            Book Launch
·         Be professional
o   Print up invitations (can be done relatively cheaply)
o   Front (Picture of your book cover)
o   Back (Details of the launch)
·         Invite widely
o   Family and friends
o   Colleagues
o   Media representatives
o   Local book sellers
o   Local names/celebrities
o   For children’s books, local teach/librarians
o   Local member
o   Mayor/Local councillors
o   Other authors you know
·         Try and arrange a special guest to do the official launch of the book.
o   Could be the Local Member or Mayor
o   Well known author
o   Celebrity
o   Someone related to the topic of your book.
·         Everything you do, do it as a Point of Difference
·         Don’t be boring. Think outside the box.
o   There is nothing as boring as a launch where the author reads from the book after a bunch of speeches and then does a signing.
o   Have a video or Powerpoint display.
o   Have someone act out a scene
o   Have giveaways or prizes
o   Display art from the book
o   For kids books, do something hands on related to the book
o   Raffle off the chance to have the winner’s name used for a character in your next book.
·         Make the launch special and memorable.
·         Provide nibbles and drinks
o   Ask around, you might get some donations or at least offers of help.
·         Look professional (considering your BRAND)
·         Most important – ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE.

5)            List the book on Amazon
·         Claim your author page. You can edit it to enhance your brand.
·         Pay close attention to key words
o   Take advantage of common search phrases and choose your key words to suit
o   Make it easy for the Amazon, Google etc. Search bots to find your book. That way it will display closer to the top of the list.
o   Try to get reviews on Amazon. Good reviews increase sales.

6)            Book Reviews Sites and Blogs
·         Try to get as many reviews as possible.
o   Find book review sites and request they review your book
o   Target the sites most likely to review in your genre
o   If they can’t do a review, they may still post an author interview or bio. Ask.

7)            Radio
·         Try and get an interview on radio stations
o   Local radio stations are usually open to these
o   ABC does book and reading segments that might do an interview
o   Have giveaways
o   Don’t just try and sell your book, sell your brand
·         Radio interviews are brilliant in the days leading up to your launch, even the morning of the launch.

8)            Social Media (This is a whole topic in itself).
·         Social media sites can be good for generating word of mouth hype for your book
·         Pick sites you are comfortable using
·         Think about who and  where your audience are and if they use social media you would be stupid not to use it to reach them
·         If they don’t use social media then it is not as important.
·         Make sure ALL your social media sites link back to your author website.
·         Social Media Sites
o   Facebook,
o   Twitter
o   Linkedin
o   Goodreads
o   Pinterest
o   Google +
o   Don’t just spruik your book
o   Get involved in the community
o   Promote your brand (YOU)

9)            Blog
·         Start a blog.
o   A writers blog or
o   Readers blog
o   Keep your personal blog separate if you have one
o   Your promotional or professional blog should be highlighting your brand
o   Approach similar blogs and request to do a guest blog post
o   Comment of similar blogs. This generates traffic to your blog
o   After your books release, arrange a blog tour of sites that your audience may frequent.

10)          Join Forums and Discussion Groups
·         Google groups is a good place to find groups interested in your book’s topic.
·         Becoming involved in these communities could generate interest in you and your book.
·         Again, DON’T be annoying.
·         Goodreads has 12 million members who all love to read books.
o   Join their author Program
o   You can add book excerpts
o   Videos
o   Quizzes
o   Host Q & A’s etc.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review - Sounds Spooky

Sounds Spooky (Picture Book)
Christopher Cheng & Sarah Davis
Random House Australia.

ISBN: 9781864718805

Now, this isn’t a new book. It was first published in 2011 and was chosen as a Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA). The reason I am reviewing the book now is that I took it along to Vacation Care this week to read to the kids and they keep asking me to read it again.

There is no better recommendation than that.

The kids were also impressed that my copy has been signed by Sarah Davis along with one of her delightful 30 second bat sketches.

Sounds Spooky is a twist on a haunted house story where the ghost is being frightened by all the spooky sounds being made by three children who sneak into the old house at night. Christopher’s text is atmospheric and flows musically off the tongue, offering the reader plenty of scope to screech and growl at their young listeners during the story.  "Plinketty Plunketty Plonk Plink Plunk Twang!"

The illustrations by Sarah Davis, my personal favourite children’s book illustrator, have been created from individually crafted 3D models for this book. Sarah even built the entire haunted house set for the characters to live out their adventure.  There is so much detail in each scene that you find something new hidden there each time you read the story. The characters are quirky and appealing, especially the vulnerable young ghost girl.

My favourite scene in the book is where the children are tentatively listening at one side of the bedroom door and the ghost girl is listening at the other. The amount of expression and emotion displayed by the characters fits the scene perfectly.

Sounds Spooky is a delightfully fun book to read aloud to younger children. It leaves the children asking for more. It is also great for newly independent readers.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What I Learned From Kate (Part 1)

For those not lucky enough to attend the “A Touch of Magic” writing workshop with Kate Forsyth on Sunday, I have decided to pass on some of the things I learned during the day. First and foremost in this regard is that Kate is lovely, she is genuine, funny, knowledgeable and forthright in her advice.

There was just too much information in this workshop to share in one blog post so I will break it up into parts.

I try to attend the children's literature festival and at least two writing workshops each year and always come away riding a wave of enthusiasm and new-found knowledge. This recharge of inspiration inevitably improves my determination, my writing or at the very least my writing habits. I’m not meaning to take anything away from the quality of any other workshops I have attended but this one seemed to strike a chord with me.

The Workshop

After each participant in the workshop shared what they like to read, a little about themselves and their current writing project, Kate wrote two words up on the whiteboard.

FOCUS (One project at a time)


DISCIPLINE (See a project through to the end)

Several participants had three or four projects on the go and some had a bunch of half finished projects they had moved on from. I have to admit, I am one of the latter although more from a lack of planning than from a lack of discipline. 

The other thing Kate stressed at this stage was the need to set a realistic weekly word count, and stick to it.

 Being a fantasy writing workshop, the first part of the day was dedicated to what fantasy is and what the different genres of fantasy are.

My take on the definition of fantasy writing – across all the genres – is:

Fantasy stories draw upon fairytale and myth or have a quality of strangeness and wonder.

The genres covered included;

High (or Heroic) Fantasy

·         Imaginary world
·         Serious tone
·         Epic in scope – grand struggle – good v’s evil
·         Hero’s journey
·         Often multiple volumes
·         Often involve magic rings/swords, mythical creatures
·         Happy ending.

Adventure Fantasy (used to be called Sword and Sorcery)

·         The journey is important
·         Heroes are often warriors, thieves, wizards, pirates or charming ne’re-do-wells
·         Adventures usually end with a happy return to home.

Historical Fantasy

·         Set in our world during a true historical time period
·         Will include elements of fantasy to some degree
          o   Mythical creature
          o   Herbal Lore
          o   Persecution of witches or those with ESP abilities
          o   Fortune tellers
          o   Time Travel
          o   Duel linked time periods

Fairy Tale Retelling

·         Either retells a well known fairy tale, or
·          Deals with personal transformation
·         Quite often YA

Dark Fantasy

·         Focus on stories with elements of horror in a fantasy setting
·         Fantastic creatures – evil to the core
·         Evil appears early, usually after a brief opening scene of calm
·         Evil intensifies as the story continues

Romantic Fantasy

·         Romance – growing love
·         Usually a love triangle
·         Fantasy, magic, mystery elements or setting
·         Blending the two genres together

Urban Fantasy (trend appears to be over)

·         Modern real world setting
·         Fantasy elements intrude into the real world

Magic Realism

·         Magic happens in the midst of everyday events
·         Subtle, the line between reality and fantasy is blurred.

One genre Kate did not touch on is alternate history. Some people believe this category was invented by writers who wanted to write historical fantasy but were too lazy to research all historical details. Any blunders can then be attributed to the “Alternate” part of the genre.

The second part of the workshop looked at The Writer’s Tool Box

·         Character   -   Plot   -   Setting
·         Structure
·         The writing style – language, word choice, sentence structure
·         Parts of novel – Action, Dialogue, Description
·         Pacing
·         Peaks and Troughs  -  Light and Shadow
·         Surprise and Suspense

I will expand on these topics in part 2 of this blog post.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Brush With Harry Potter Stardom

They say, writers are great observers, brilliant people watchers, noticing everything, collecting stories and creating magic on the page from the things they see. If this is correct, in Harry Potter terms, I would have to be a complete muggle. There will be no magic on my page. I have used the Harry Potter reference deliberately here. Not because I write children’s stories and     J K Rowling’s books are such a big part of recent children’s literature, but because of my recent brush with a Harry Potter celebrity.

Last week while holidaying at the Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort on Moreton Island in Queensland, I spent a relaxing afternoon enjoying a swim in the resort pool with actor Tom Felton. For those non Harry Potter movie fans, Tom played the part of Harry’s nemesis, Draco Malfoy in all of the movies. Tom is in Australia as a guest at the Brisbane Supernova Convention.  As a big Harry Potter fan of both the books and the movies, you would think this would have been an exciting experience for me. 

The truth of the matter is... It wasn’t.

Here comes the part about my not so awesome observational skills. You would think with over 21 years as a police officer and now working as a writer, my observational skills would be honed to an amazingly keen edge. I should be able to shave with the sharpness of those skills.  Wrong again.

I’m now going to relay a conversation I had with Rebecca, one of the entertainment staff on the island, late in the afternoon as the launch made its way back to the mainland.

Rebecca “The guy who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies is on the launch, heading back on the launch. He was here on a day trip.”

Me “Really, I love Harry Potter. It would have been brilliant (Ron Weasley quote) to have met him.”

Rebecca “He did a segway tour along the beach earlier but spent most of the afternoon swimming in the top pool.”

Me “Oh, hang on. I spent most of the afternoon swimming in the top pool!” 

So there you have it. I spent a lazy afternoon swimming in a resort pool with Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy and didn’t even realise it. Am I embarrassed or what?

In my defense  last night I Googled images of Tom for something a little more recent. He has actually changed quite a bit from the smug, pale skinned blond kid who played the part of Draco. That is my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

But I am determined to work on honing my muggle-worthy observational skills or I may never find the magic again. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Geeking Out Again

It has been a while since I posted a blog but today I went to the Heroes and Villains Pop Culture Expo. at Penrith. Two actors I really like were guests and I have been looking forward to meeting them since I heard about the event.

It is probably not fair but when you meet celebrities, especially ones you admire, you have certain expectations about them. It is such a wonderful feeling when the real person lives up to those expectations you have of their celebrity. It is an even better feeling when they exceed them. Marc Singerand Amber Benson are just really lovely, genuine and friendly people. 

Marc Singer is a favourite actor of mine. I loved the movie Beastmaster when I was a teenager and he was great in his starring role on the original 'V' sci-fi series. 

I bought a nice leather bound book a few months ago. The cover is tooled with Celtic designs and has brass clasps and the paper is thick and beautifully handmade. 

I decided to use the book as an autograph book. - I actually decided to do that after Supernova when I saw Kate Forsyth, one of my favourite authors using a similar book for autographs. - This was the first opportunity I had to use it. 

I wanted to make the book a little bit special so I decided I would sketch all the celebrities I get autographs from. One page for each celebrity. If I know I'm going to meet them I'll do the sketch first. If I don't know I'll add it in later.   Mark thought his sketch was awesome.

He is officially the first person to sign in it.

Amber Benson has a special place in my heart. Not only is she a great actor from one of my all time favourite TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she is also an author of horror/urban fantasy books. Writing, especially speculative fiction, is one of my great passions. 

Amber loved the sketch I did of her and asked if I was an artist. When I told her I was a writer and my first book was coming out later in the year, her face lit up and she gave me some great encouragement. When I told her my second book was a horror story for kids, she cheered and knocked fists with me.

 My son met one of his favourite actors too. Manu Bennett from the series Spartacus was another really nice guy. 

It was an awesome day. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bathurst Arts Trail Website Opens

Last year I joined an arts initiative in called the 'Bathurst Arts Trail.' This involved about 30 local artists getting together to market their work while tapping into the local tourist trade. It was decided that during the first weekend of each month, the artists would open up their private studios or galleries to the public. Since the opening, I have met some interesting people who dropped in to visit and see some of my work.

So far, the initiative hasn't resulted in a huge boost to my art sales but I have been selling pieces at a steady rate. This is actually a good thing because I have been spending a lot of time working on illustrations for my book Paper Magic and for a series of bedtime stories I am illustrating. The other bonus is that I know I will have at least two full days trapped in the studio to paint. It's not really being trapped but sometimes I feel a little guilty abandoning my family while I paint. It might sound a little silly but that is probably while I have falling into the habit of doing my writing late at night after my wife and kids have gone to bed.

Back to the Arts Trail, there are some amazing artists who are a part of the initiative and you can check out some of their works on the Arts Trail website galleries. The site went live last week.

I encourage you to take a look.

Enter Here

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SQ Mag - Cover Illustration

SQ Mag, is a speculative fiction magazine produced by IFWG Publishing. They publish bi-monthly on-line editions, and an annual best of print anthology full of sci-fi, fantasy and horror stories and reviews.

The May edition of the magazine has just gone live. This issue contains tales of Psych Horror, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction. There is also a review of Brett J Talley’s horror novel “That Which Should Not Be”   The winner of the 2011 JournalStone Horror Writing Contest. 

The other great thing about this issue of the magazine – and I have to disclose a vested interest here – is that I did the cover illustration.

I received an email from one of the magazines editors tonight passing on some amazing feedback received for the cover art.
In his words,

“I can’t tell you how much positive feedback has been given for the cover, including from some luminaries in the writing field. Over a small space of time we got 200+ hits, and I am sure your work has contributed to it. Much heartfelt thanks.”

I recommend taking the time to look at SQ Mag – and not just for my creepy artwork. However, if it is my artwork you are checking out, I also did the illustration for the magazine’s  science fiction serial, “Avoiding the Searchers” by MF Burbaugh.

The link to get to the magazine is: