Big News!

Books Twitter image - paperback.png

I can finally reveal why I’ve been silent here for so long, and the reason is, I’ve been hard at work prepping my novels for release in paperback form. All you old skool book lovers (and in all honesty, I don’t blame you if you are) can now get your hands on a physical copy of my first two novels! Woo-hoo!!

And boy, has it been a labour of love…or should that just be ‘been a labour’…to get them ready. First, I updated the ebook editions, giving them another thorough once-over with various grammar/spell-checkers, plus giving in, and introducing the Oxford comma to the text.

Next was the preparing of the covers for Amazon CreateSpace. The cover for Warriors Made of Glass wasn’t too much of an issue, as I’d saved it with excessively high dpi for the ebook. It was A Candle Amongst the Stars which was the bugger, as its size and dpi was the minimum for an Amazon ebook; therefore, too low for the cover, so I had to go about manipulating it in GIMP to try and up the count without distorting the image noticeably. Hopefully, it’ll come out alright in print.

Then there was the formatting of the manuscripts themselves, and I used Amazon’s Kindle Create Add-in for Microsoft Word to automate the process. The app is in Beta, and though it streamlines the process nicely, it crashed A LOT, so if you’re thinking of using it for your own books, save your work regularly! Again Warriors Made of Glass behaved itself, and I got it exported as a pdf pretty quickly. A Candle Amongst the Stars, not so much. For some reason it wouldn’t behave when it came to page numbering, choosing to start at page 2 instead of 1. After several hours of swearing, I found a simple (typical!) solution (I manipulated the footer by hand) and managed to export the pdf before it changed its mind.

So there we have it. My novels are now in printed format. You can find them on Amazon here: A Candle Amongst the Stars and here: Warriors Made of Glass. The links take you to Amazon UK, but they’ll be available from your national site too.

Also, I’m planning to do a freebie offer on the ebook versions soon in celebration, so stay tuned for that!


Marketing Misery


The biggest suck-fest about being a self-published author is having to do your own marketing. Of course, if you have a publisher, there’s no guarantee of help, but as an indie author, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have to go it alone. What’s more, it’s usually a huge time-sink with very few (if any) returns.

Unsurprisingly, I have neglected marketing my novels in favour of writing a third instalment, plus university study, and volunteering. Given that I’ve only sold a grand total of 10 copies, this needs to change. Trouble is, how?

Smashwords provides a free ebook with marketing tips and advice, and I followed a lot of these when I released my first novel, but to be honest, it didn’t do much. However, with us having just landed in a new year, I’m going to give the tips another shot and see if anything helps. I’ve already covered some of the easy ones from way back when, like having a Twitter account, publishing more than one book, having a blog, and updating my email signature. Conversely, some will be impossible to do, like a book tour, because if no one’s buying my book, no one’s gonna want to see me have an anxiety attack in the back room of a bookstore (or maybe they will; there’s no accounting for people’s sensibilities!).

There has been one doable addition to the list since I last perused it, and that’s the ability to publish an in-depth Q&A interview at Smashwords. The site generates some pre-programmed questions and I write my own answers. Therefore, the crux of this post is me inviting you to go read it (here), then comment on this post and suggest additional questions you’d like to see answered in my interview. If I get any, and as long as they aren’t trolly, I’ll answer them too.

Additionally, you can go ask me questions over on my Goodreads author profile. I’ve already answered some pre-generated questions, but I would love to get some interesting Qs to A. And while you’re there, you can also friend me!

Why Your Book is Like a Start-Up Business

Some great advice regarding self-publishing marketing from Outskirts Press….

Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

Have you recently self-published a book? The more time you spend exploring your options and opportunities, the clearer it becomes that self-publishing a book is a lot like launching a start-up business … and that the more you plan, the more you’ll get ahead.

There are countless considerations and decisions to make once you make that big commitment to self-publish! And if your new book is your new business, you need to keep many things in mind prior to, during, and after publication. First off, you absolutely must take some time to sit down and plan out your next steps. Planning is something you’ll need to return to, as well, throughout the process! Taking time periodically to evaluate, and possibly re-evaluate your plan, is necessary to ensure that you are still on the right track.

Looking for some ideas to get started? Ask yourself these questions and you may just…

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Game Over Hootsuite

It was a great relationship while it lasted. Sure, we had our ups and downs. Sometimes they couldn’t be relied upon to do what they were supposed to do, but on the whole, they were there when I needed them.

Not anymore!

Yep, my love affair with Hootsuite has come to a screeching halt. Last week, with no warning at all, they changed their free plan, subsequently screwing over a lot of people, me included.


For the uninitiated, Hootsuite’s free plan allowed you to auto-schedule up to 10 posts per profile per day. More if you manually scheduled them. But now they’ve well and truly throttled their scheduling ability, again, without warning, to a maximum of 10 posts total, across all profiles. Meaning if I schedule 10 Twitter posts, I can’t then schedule anything for Facebook. Personally, I think this is an underhanded and somewhat dumb move.

Of course, the reasoning behind this will be money money money. By limiting the number of posts, they’ll be looking to force people’s hands into signing up for their paid accounts. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will go quite the way they plan. Sure, some less social media savvy people might cave because it’s the only platform they know, but for others, like me (small businesses, charities, low/unwaged) this will probably get us looking for better options/deals elsewhere, even perhaps a paid one. And guess what? we’ll find them!

I use Buffer for free as well. I am limited to 10 posts at any one time, but this is per profile (as Hootsuite used to be). I can schedule 10 post on Twitter and 10 posts on Facebook. Any surplus can then be added to Facebook’s inbuilt scheduler, or to Tweetdeck. Sidenote: Yes Tweetdeck is crap functionality wise, but it’s free (and likely to remain so), so hey! For some, this bit of extra faffing around with multiple schedulers may not even be an issue if they only post a couple of times a day.

And what if I suddenly decide, “Hmm, maybe I should get a paid account for some extra functionality,”? Well, even then Hootsuite won’t be (shouldn’t be) the go-to account. At pretty much half the price of Hootsuite’s basic ‘Professional’ plan, Buffer’s basic ‘Awesome’ plan would be the way to go (Buffer = $10 per month (with a 15% saving if you pay annually!), Hootsuite = $19 per month).

Okay, so Hootsuite’s paid plan gives you 500 posts per month, whereas Buffer only gives you 100, but as far as I can tell, with Buffer that’s 100 posts per profile, whereas Hootsuite’s 500 will be divided across profiles. So if you use just Twitter and Facebook, that’ll be 250 each per month. If you throw in Linkedin say. With Buffer, you’ll still get 100 posts for that too, but with Hootsuite, you’ll be reduced to 166 posts per profile. As you can see, the more profiles you have, the better deal Buffer becomes compared to Hootsuite. And let’s face it, chances are, both plans probably provide way more slots than actually needed with their basic plans, especially for small organisations, or independent users like me.


Sorry Hootsuite, you’re now nothing more than a turkey!

Google’s Digital Garage – A Review

It all started with Facebook winning the war with Adblock. The sponsored posts and ads that I didn’t want to see cluttering up my feed came back with a vengeance. How I rolled my eyes, after all, it’s bad enough that Facebook keeps changing my feed back to ‘Top Stories’ without having to wade through, what I consider, irrelevant tat. However, one advert kept popping up repeatedly in my timeline that piqued my interest, that being the one advertising Google’s Digital Garage.

What got me intrigued was that a) it was about marketing and the web, and b) it was free. I’m always up for a bit of free training, and as I wanted to learn more about SEO and the like for both marketing my novels, and for gaining extra skills in the realm of social media with the hopes of getting a job, I decided to have a look.

Briefly, the Digital Garage provides “free tutorials from Google on everything from your website to online marketing and beyond. Choose the topics you want to learn, or complete the whole online course for a certification from Google and IAB Europe.”

I signed up using my Google account, after which it asked me some questions about my online needs. Using my answers, the site formulated my personal learning plan, picking select modules from its selection of 23. For me that was 9 modules. Each module came with 3 to 6 videos, which were, on average, about 3 minutes long (overall they ranged between 3 and 6 minutes long).

After each video was a short quiz, and each module ended with a longer quiz. Once I’d watched all the videos, and passed all the quizzes for my selected modules, all the rest of the modules became unlocked, and I could work through them to gain a final certificate. Which I did….


The videos were easy to watch, and each module can probably be completed in less than an hour. So basically, if you do a module a day, the whole course will take less than 23 days. The quizzes were pretty simple, but if you got any questions wrong you could take them again until you got 100%. The ease of the quizzes might seem a bit of a cop out to some, as basically you can keep trying the answers until you get full marks, but to be honest, the video content is the more important thing.


My completed Digital Garage modules

I have to say, I genuinely learnt some new things, had a few aha moments, and made a load of notes. Now, not every module was relevant to me, for instance, creating a mobile app is probably not something I’ll need to do, but the seeds of knowledge are there should I ever work for a company that might benefit from one. I’ve gained a bit more knowledge about web content, keywords, SEO, and becoming more visible on the web, which as an indie-author is important. Starting up my blog again has been as a direct result of doing the Digital Garage.

Would I recommend doing the Digital Garage? Yes. As I said, it doesn’t take long to do, even if you only do an hour a day, and your online strategy may benefit from the information provided in the videos. To be honest, you have nothing to lose in doing it. And once you’ve completed it you get a nice certificate that you can show off on the likes of LinkedIn.