Thursday, 29 June 2017

A Cautionary Tale for Self-Published Authors

As a self-published author, it is exceptionally hard to know who to trust. There are countless companies out there promising to promote your book, to make you a best-selling author, blah, blah, blah, when most people know that it's luck and who you know that will propel you into the stratosphere. Good writing doesn't necessarily come into it at all (step forward, E.L. James.)

I don't want to go into the stratosphere. It would be nice for people to enjoy my work, and to get reviews from round the world. It would be nice to be able to afford a facial every month, or get a Discovery (the new model but 18 months old, so we don't get stuck with depreciation.) It would even be lovely to fly my family to the Bahamas (premium economy, not Gulfstream. We're just not interested in that world.) And yeah, I'd like to make enough so that people don't dismiss my writing as my "little hobby.' That would also be nice. But that is cloud-cuckoo land - ain't gonna happen, no matter how many "positive thoughts"I send out into the universe. I guess I'm too much of a realist. 

And now I'm a cynic as well. 

And self-promoting is HARD, which is why, when someone I trust implicitly (and still do) recommended a company to give one of my books a leg-up, I was cautiously optimistic.

In February, I approached blog tour company, wanting to arrange a Blog Tour for one of my books, Closer Than Blood, and for inclusion in their Review Vault. If anyone wants to PM me on Facebook, I will gladly tell you who they are, but I'm not throwing bricks at them in public. They will know who they are anyway. 


NOTE: The company has since been taken over by a larger promotion company. Apparently, the merger happened on April 17, which is something I had been unaware of until very recently. Contrary to popular belief, I don't spend all my time on Facebook and obviously missed the post that said the merger had happened. I'm not an expert in corporate matters but I'm sure that mergers do not get organised within a few weeks, which meant that they must have known this was happening when they took my money. 

Looking back, there were signs all was not well. The fact that the owner wanted to communicate via Facebook rather than email as "she didn't often get to pick them up," was one. The simplicity of the website was another. And the fact that I had to send through everything again after she said I hadn't provided her with the information she needed (I had.) It all seemed very disorganised and a bit haphazard.

So I was asked to provide teasers, links and synopsis, which I did, in the form of a blog post. I was then told that people were picking up Closer in the Review Vault and reviews would start coming in soon. True enough, I had two reviews from authors I was already friends with plus another one saying "It was great!"  I was grateful, but for $50 I was kind of expecting a bit more than that, even a few bad ones would have been good. 


And yes, I know blog tour operators cannot force bloggers to review a book. That would be impossible. But it seems more people are saying, "yeah, I'll review it," then never doing it, and hey presto, they have a free book. It's a dick move, but THAT ISN'T THE FAULT OF THE BLOG TOUR OPERATOR. However, if arranging Blog Tours and Reviews is your business, your reputation depends on people getting some kind of result for their money, even negative reviews, so you need to work a bit harder to get good contacts so that results can be seen. 

The same with the Blog Tour. I was disappointed when the bloggers just cut and pasted my own post. It made me wonder what I had paid the company to do. After asking, I was provided with a list of bloggers approached to feature Closer Than Blood. This wasn't the list of people who had actually done it. I didn't get that. I had to hunt down each blogger and find out myself whether they had featured Closer or not. As I did 80% of the work myself anyway, I believe $150 is a hell of a lot for not much.

Saying, "oh, you need to do two or three before it makes an impact," doesn't cut it, because established authors with a wide fan base have experienced the same thing with some blog tour operators, including this one.

So I guess the moral of this story is, there are very few people you can trust, and if you're a self-publisher, you need to trust no-one and hunt down bloggers yourself and don't be afraid to ask them to feature you on their blog. I paid $150 for a blog tour, and $50 for a space in the review fault, with a company that no longer exists. 

This is fraud, isn't it?

And I'm actually sure that the owner of of the company is so disorganised, she just doesn't get it, rather than make an active attempt to defraud people. The problem is, you can't run a business like this as a cottage industry. People expect to see something for their money. My sales didn't increase one iota, and I had 2 reviews maximum for $150, which is piss-poor value for money. 

Lesson learned. 


Monday, 19 June 2017

Pick up your copy of summer romance The Cloud Seeker, FREE on Instafreebie!

I'm looking for more reviews for my book, The Cloud Seeker. It is currently free on Instafreebie until 7th July!



Cat Cartwright's sixth sense tells her there are storms brewing in her peaceful English village. A stranger is in town, one that she does not trust despite her attraction to him. He is also the estranged father of Luca, the young boy she looks after for one of her closest friends and his spiteful wife. As the handsome, irritable New Yorker is gradually accepted into the community, Cat has no choice but to watch the strengthening bond between father and son, knowing that Max O'Donnell is not all he seems. 


A tale of ghosts, redemption, and romance, set in the Chiltern hills of summer.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

His Laughing Girl by Ellen Whyte


Cynics read no further because this is a pocket-sized (104 pages) romantic delight, detailing the insta-love between curvy, sexy Sophie and her billionaire client, techie geek Richard. Their increasingly heated flirtation is taking place amongst his super-model entourage, all who have Richard in their sights, and aren't afraid to try to put big-hearted, big-boned Sophie in her place.


But this is an Ellen Whyte book, which means our heroine is ballsy and not intimidated (too much) by the sniping of the beauty bots, and Richard, our single-minded hero, only has eyes for Sophie's curves. Ellen has given her characters three-dimensional lives, not just dressed them up like paper dollies (oh look, he's a tech genius, she's a chef!) without giving some insight into exactly what they do for a living. Richard's house party as he tries to woo a Russian businessman into investing into his product, and the challenges Sophie faces as she balances the picky meal requirements of all the guests, are a case in point. I've said before, and I'll say it again, Ellen Whyte (and as A J Adams) imbues her stories with an intelligence as well as lush romance, not insulting the reader by assuming they just want to get to the kiss at the end.

The story is told from both Sophie's and Richard's point of view, which again is ambitious for a relatively short book. It would have been far easier just to give Sophie's version of the story, but the fact that Richard has his say as well, tells me that the author really cares about her characters and wants them to have their own voice. It succeeds very well and gives the story a lot more depth.

So yeah, for someone who doesn't really do romances without a lot of bedroom action or deep-rooted angst, this old cynic's granite heart has been melted. The insta-love, the HEA, the strong heroine, the hot guy with all the money = sold.

BLURB


“To being wicked.” His grey eyes were laughing at me. “Together.” 

The pleasant thumping in my knickers became a vigorous pounding. Richard Cummings was gorgeous. I could feel his charm wrapping around me like a warm blanket. 

Irresistible, right? I heard myself quip, “Are you Cumming onto me?” 
He bounced right back, “Absolutely.”

Oh well, I told myself. It’s just a flirt fest. I have those all the time, and it hardly ever comes to anything. Because of the curves, probably. Men like me, but after we’ve had a laugh, they go to bed with someone skinny. 

This was no different. I’d have a giggle with Richard, enjoy the charm and the good looks, lust after him a little bit, and know it was purely a game. Because tech billionaires with a penchant for A-list models don’t fall for curvy caterers.

*****
Curvy chef Sophie Weston has given up on love. But when she is hired to cater for a very exclusive house party, she falls instantly for handsome tech tycoon Richard Cummings. However, she quickly discovers that Richard has a shady past. Should she trust him or should she walk away before her heart is broken again? A fun uplifting romance with a big beautiful woman and a yummy billionaire.