Monday, 20 October 2014

The Dream Deliverer

I would like to introduce my guest blogger this week and it is A J Cosmo!


Settling the Great eBook Vs. Print Debate
by A.J. Cosmo
They're going to revolutionize the world. Libraries will go extinct. Bookstores will be no more. A new age of reading, powered by the consumer and brilliant innovation, is at hand. This is the dawning of a new literary world order!
Or something like that.
When Amazon recently sent out emails to authors enrolled in the KDP select program to ask for help in their Hatchet publishing dispute, they compared the invention of the printing press to the creation of the eReader, saying that both machines liberated information and threatened subversive monopolies. It was a dramatic statement to say the least and showed how the mighty Internet retailer viewed its Kindle product line.
At a recent SCBWI conference in Los Angeles, the president of Penguin Books repeatedly emphasized that eBooks were simply another distribution channel. He sighted the explosive sales of young adult novels as proof. Anonymous posters on Reddit writing and reading forums have repeatedly declared that Kindles are nothing more than brown paper bag covers allowing older women to read books that would be considered too immature for their reading level.
I'm here to say that almost everyone has it wrong.
Kindles, and their eReader brothers, are not a revolution on the scale of the printing press. They are not the killing blows of traditional publishing. They are not masks for embarrassed readers nor are they simply a new distribution channel for repurposed content. 
They are their own format. Period.
EReaders are to books as cellphones are to landline phones. Both were originally created with the same intention, a digital solution to an analog problem. However, just as the smart phone has evolved to do so much more than simply make a voice call, so too will eReaders soon offer experiences and opportunities for storytelling that simply cannot be done in print. To continue with the analogy, I believe that we're currently in the clamshell era of eReaders: simple, functional, and with a great potential for more. We've yet to see an eReader as revolutionary to reading as the iPhone was to telephones. Yet, I don’t think that moment is far off.
In fact we may already have that advanced eReader in our hands, it's just that the content that exploits the medium has yet to be created. So far authors and content creators have been stuck simply translating the Word document to HTML and making sure it looks like a digital version of the printed word. Createspace, Smashwords, Lulu, Amazon, have all been culpable in providing straightforward tools that translate the same content to multiple mediums with little to no variance. Simply cutting and pasting content though neglects the huge amount of tools available on eReaders to enhance the content.
Epub3, the newest format for eBooks, contains support for advanced CSS, transparencies, imbedded video, imbedded sound, activated sound, and even some limited interactivity. Authors can now animate text, say making it rain letters when describing a hurricane, on any page that they wish. They can make a knocking sound when a reader touches a door or music play when the spooky chapter starts. Certain Kindle titles already offer an Audible read along integration, but this can be further enhanced with music and sound effects.
Adobe Digital Press, a new Creative Cloud offering that interfaces with Adobe InDesign, is capable of directly porting interactive layouts to both ePub3 and Mobi formats. In my own limited testing, we've been able to create page turns that are both vertical and horizontal. We've imbedded background sounds for environments that trigger when the page turns. We've put in play buttons so readers can hear what the monster they're looking at sounds like. We've added animations that trigger on page turns and also on touch. So far it's like working with a whole new medium; like something between a book and a film.
That's just the surface, too! Books can now be interactive in a narrative sense. Imagine a choose your own adventure book on steroids. One where the choices don’t actually just end in a forced restart but that organically changes what you are reading as you read. I experimented with this in "The Dream Deliverer," a book where children were given the choice of right and wrong and got to see what would happen as the choices got increasingly risky.
"The Dream Deliverer" could not have been done easily in print. The final book totaled over four hundred pages, way too expensive for an indie print run, and cumbersome to do in a choose your own adventure style. There were twenty-six unique endings along with six hidden illustrations (prizes for finding the different endings.) The book kept track of the reader's decisions and changed the story, and the choices, accordingly. 
And it was all done with simple HTML.
Think of what we could do with a more advanced programming language. We could create stories where the reader inputs characters, situations, objects, and the story incorporates them. Not simply Mad Libs either, but writing that could react to the reader. What if we wrote two versions of the same story, one where the lead character is male and the other is female and then the reader chooses the sex of the main character at the beginning? How fascinating would that be? Or what if we used objects to symbolize story components and allowed readers to generate stories by simply arranging those objects?
When you consider the creative possibilities of eBooks the whole argument over print versus digital seems rather moot. It's as if we debated the superiority of film to television, theatre to reading, or video games to music. They are all different mediums with their own sets of considerations, strengths, and weaknesses. The great fallacy is thinking that eBooks and print books are enemies in the first place. Print has it's advantages over eReaders as well; offering a tactile experience, a strong sense of progress, and a sense of possession that eBooks can never duplicate. 
So rather than focusing on a debate between mediums, I would admonish you to craft the story that you want to tell in the medium that most suits its telling; and do so in the manner that best utilizes your chosen medium. Use the tools you have at your disposal and create something that the world has never seen before. 
Happy storytelling.
A.J. Cosmo
-----
Dream Deliverer link:
http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Deliverer-J-Cosmo-ebook/dp/B00F21LLPK/

A.J.Cosmo amazon author page
A.J. Cosmo's website:
Twitter: @ajcosmokids

Monday, 13 October 2014

Something magic made of paper and memories.

Is there anything better than a good book? A real book, and by a real book I am talking about the ones made from paper and trees. Yes, I’m even talking about the faded letters of a worn hardback. This book was thirty five years old yesterday. As I took it from the bookshelf, dusted down the cover, and started flipping through the dusty pages, reading autographs and inscriptions, and admiring cover art, which brought back memories, not only when I last read it, but the very first time I read it.
This book was given to me as a child and whenever I open it and started reading from it, memories flood straight back from the time when I first read this book. How my grandad had bought it for me, and then I still have the song in my mind that he also sang. That memory may not have been opened if I had not opened that book just now. There’s something, something I can’t explain, about the way a book feels to hold and read that no digital version can match. Something magic that is made from paper and memories.

You use more than your 5 senses when you pick a book up, you use your mind. The memories it evokes and still contains between its pages whenever you care to open it.
Yesterday I felt like I was holding a story, an entire world ready for me to explore- I’ve never felt that way on my e-reader. I’m talking about the weight of the hundreds of pages, bound up in your hands. I’m talking about the soft breeze of flipping through the pages, front to back, then back to front. How it fits perfectly into your hand. It must be because it is made of paper and memories.
The smell of the book. Oh wow the smell of a bookshop, is there anything  more glorious?
 A lot of people have books as decorations, sitting on a bookshelf to make the person look all literary and stuff. I have all sorts of books on my bookcase, new and old. They do not need to be in any order or a certain order, and I do not hide the tatty or older ones away so it looks neater to the eye. When I read the same book digitally or from a book, I feel completely different, and can only fall asleep properly with the paper version. Could it be the colour of the paper? the smooth feel on the fingers of each page, the size of the text, the cover, and the way I like to flick the pages all of this affects how you feel when reading a book. Sliding finger right-to-left doesn’t capture how it feels to turn the page of the book made from paper.

But I also love reading digitally because it means I can read anywhere, digitally is convenient for time and for the pocket. It can never take away a book though, so in this instant it is a totally different experience. They are both totally different things. So for this reason you can have both.



Life moves fast and just because everyone seems to be gravitating towards a life of electronic screens and wireless connections doesn’t mean you have to leave everything behind. Keep a hold of the book, and keep a hold of the memories. Relish in the 'simple and beautiful'. The Kindle may be the future, but you can't write your name in it, and you can't add it to a bookshelf and enjoy the view and the simple pleasure of watching the next person enjoy your bookcase and smell its age between the pages. Whether new or old.
You can’t fall asleep with it on your face, drifting off into a dream from the imagery it instills.
You can’t pass it down to your kids, gifting them with the most moving words of your own young adulthood.

  In a world where you can just forget everything that's going on around you; where you are swept up into a whole other universe expressing the other character's feelings, memories, the pain or anger, confusion, sadness, happiness and also forget everything. Books are our escape. Everything is forgotten about until the book is put down.

What magic it contains, and what magic we can retain for always from the pages of a paper book.






Monday, 6 October 2014

Autumn the colour of fall.

 We have Seasons 
My favourite seasons are always the ones that fit between the main ones. So that will be Spring and Autumn as the ones in which the changeover between Winter and Summer are viewed more favourably to me. Spring offers the promise of newness, and the beginning of growth. A fresh start, and of course rain. Autumn is brought to you through a natural shifting of colours, patterns and shapes.

Autumn can make us feel nostalgic about the past.The thoughts of Autumn rush through you like the bygone years did, all so swiftly with hints of warm memories, maybe the odd nippy blast, but we can forget about that if we look to the joys that Autumn brings. We get out the warm gloves, hot cocoa, a decent book. Memories of Mum or Dad on the back step, or porch, watching the sunset, or later in October carving pumpkins with the family, and sharing all the colours that it brings.
These aren’t ‘the bleak days before Winter, they’re ‘the best days of Autumn’.
These are not the ‘Saying goodbye to Summer, these are welcoming the newness that is Autumn’.

And if Autumn starts on 1 September this year, it delivered a blinder – warm temperatures and daily sunshine made us think summer hadn’t quite ended. But somehow September got rebranded into ‘the last days of summer’ and soon you will notice a harsh drop in temperature becoming ‘the sudden onset of Autumn’. I think Autumn needs to have a full countdown to it, as it is so beautiful and inspirational.

I don’t know why, but late Autumn seems to have become synonymous with rain, cold and misery. For me, those fresh air walks, along with the kicking leaves, then sitting outside a cafe in the sunshine – these are autumnal pursuits that I love. I can sit in the sunshine without feeling uncomfortably hot and having to go in the shade every ten minutes. Bliss. These aren’t ‘the last days of summer’, they’re ‘the best days of Autumn’.



Often our positioning of summer as ‘the perfect’ season is based on complete myth. For many people my age, it’s based on that one Summer in 1976 when the season did what we expected it to do.  Boiling hot temperatures, wall-to-wall sunshine – it was the driest, sunniest, warmest Summer of the 20th century. (I can hardly remember it, but it is well documented).
Because that Summer has become wedged so firmly in our childhood memories, we are addicted to its golden rays, and long summer nights. Maybe some Summer loving. Going by years not long past, Summers in Britain have been a little disappointing, we never know when they are starting or finishing. They came in late and left without as much as a goodbye. Then when we were getting the winter coats out, the sun came back out for two days in a row, and that is a Summer for some of us.
It rains in Summer, often for long periods. Then we get a week, or two if we’re lucky, of warmth and sunshine. Then back to rain again. Just because it rains for one full day does not mean ‘the Summer’s over!’ You get rain in Summer, sunshine in the middle of Winter, balmy days in Autumn, freezing days in Spring. It’s unexpected and that’s the joy of it.

But then when Autumn arrives with an air of change, a transition stage occurs. If you walk through an orchard on the last days of September or in October, it smells of nothing but mixture, fruitiness and rottenness, mustiness and deliciousness, a long-cooked smell-soup, something not here for long.
You will see the acorns are dropping one every minute or so. I have never known a year in which the footpaths are so crusty with them.
The leaves are still on the lime trees and the poplars are desiccated and brittle, more oven-dried biscuit than growing organism, as if someone had decorated the trees with a thousand pieces of melba toast.

The martins and the swallows have gone. The geese have yet to arrive from the north. It is a time of quiet and absence, the place is now wrapped in the first October days, we can still wave goodbye to The Autumn of  September, but we are in the transition stage of the last rays of an indian Summer and the crisp fall of the harsher October Autumn.
Autumn is well and truly upon us.





I got used to the sun being the exception and not the rule and learned to enjoy it when it did decide to make an appearance.  Our coastline is nothing short of paradise at that moment. It was the first of October and the sun was so warm, and the sky so blue, so we went to the coast and took in the air and the fresh breeze. So invigorating. A sunny day but with sprinkles of Autumn in the air. Then you may have noticed the beautiful sunsets and the sunrise. If you are up by 7am you will see throughout the first two weeks of October some amazing skylines with peachy reds and pinks, golden glows of sunrises.


If you are continually wishing Summer back, then you are going to be disappointed. Embrace Autumn. Get out and enjoy whatever the temperature brings. If it is cooler, get out those Autumnal wraps or woolies with the fingerless gloves (I think these can only be worn in Autumn as it is to cold to wear them in Winter).
And as well as all of that, see the changing of the colours and see the newness in the oldness that is Autumn.
Try and look at a few of these photos and illustrations then come back and say you don't like Autumn. Kid Literature Autumn pinned


Get out there now and enjoy lovely Autumn.

You’re welcome.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Why is my book not selling? This may be hard to swallow for some.

Why is my book not selling? Look at this if you want to sell more books. If you are easily put off, you may find this hard to read. There's some hard and true facts to consider.

Your book isn’t selling. So what is the next step? Check out these guidelines. There are no hard and fast rules and this is of course just my opinion but let's check it out and see if you find anything familiar. Most of the time people include a link to their book on Amazon and nine times out of ten people will click on and click off without buying. Why?

As noted we do not stick to rules, we go by guidelines in a fast paced constantly moving and updating mad interweb publishing world. It is crazy! There will always be some who get away with not doing any of the following, manage to slip through the net stealthily, but these are points to consider if you feel you do not know why your book is not selling. So first off; is your book available as an ebook?

The majority of self-publishing providers of indie authors will not have print distribution in physical bookstores, and you can hazard a guess that all the success stories in the last few years about indie authors and huge sales have come from ebook sales, not print.

Print books are what we are after on the whole, we all want the physical contact with the book we have written. What is better? What to have first? I say have both.

If you are after selling a lot of books on line, then you are going to want to have an ebook out first. You don't get your book out in a day, even if it is ebook, and you are not wanting it to go straight to the slush pile on the ebook floor. So we have to develop it. It has to be well written, well edited, and well checked over by someone other than a member of your family.

There has been a tremendous influx of books lately, and a rise in book buying in the last few months. A huge influx has been due to self-publishing in the last year. Even though traditional printing is also on the up, we have to give it to the world of the ebook.
A lot of people complain about this so-called white wash of ebook garbage, that anyone and their mother can throw together in a few hours, and it's as if these armchair critics who I imagine think they have made it because they got the publishing deal, and thought they could sit back on said chair and watch the money roll in. Well boy are these people in for a shock, the hard work has just begun.
Like I was saying, it is as if these armchair critics get the impression that we throw anything out there after a few days of cobbling it together. Could this be after the huge success of E.L James? You can just see minions of hungry housewives far too eager to put their own version of 50 Shades of Grey out there for everyone to read, after only having picked up a pen for the first time since their high school exam.
After all if E.L James can repeat that many words on every page why couldn't they? They  believed they could do it, they could see a dream of becoming another E.L James, their book would be better, sassier! They bought the outfits (several) to prove it.
The main focus here is the word believe. Believe you can make good sales even if you’re starting now. You need to believe. This is an incentive you must possess.
The ebook market is growing globally as new countries come on line and even within markets like the US and UK, ebooks are becoming more widely accepted.
 Its not hard to learn how to publish an ebook once you have spend some time with help and tutorial pages. Go to youtube to see what they have to offer on how to publish an ebook. They do simple step by step tutorials and some you may find so informative and well laid out they are picked up a lot easier.

People shop with their eyes so make sure your cover has been professionally designed if you are meaning business here. If you are not bothered about being overly professional, then stick to using your own sketches, and at least you will be left with the satisfaction of seeing your own work on the front cover, even if it is for sentimental reasons. It probably will not get you many book sales though. But you do what is important to you.
We all notice the sharp cover of a classy looking book, or the soft touch of a well sketched illustration with the right contrasting colours. You know the ones, they catch your eye as soon as you scroll down a page. They stand out, You want your book to be the one that stands out, so if it is book sales you want, or even a comment, get it done from a professional. Back to the drawing board. You need to be ruthless if you are out to sell books.
 If people make it to your book sales page and your cover is terrible, they will not click the Buy button. So look to this before anything. If your book is not selling come back to this point first.
Remember even if you are attached to your book, and of course it is your baby, do not be afraid to update it, give it a new look with a new cover, you can only see positivity from it. A new book launch, a new push out there for it. Present it again as if it is the first time you are putting it out, relive that passion you had and use it again. See the results come in. Perfect.

Don’t use a painting your child did or that you did yourself. Don’t try it yourself unless you are a half decent with a paintbrush. Don’t imagine if you have never done art before you can all of a sudden make a decent cover that looks presentable, let alone professional. Even if you are, don't expect the first few to reach your book pages, keep trying the same cover over and over and then get someone to choose one for you.
Then research your genre on Amazon and take notice of books that stand out in a good way. You can screen shot the best ones to compare even the best ones! Take some pictures of fonts you like, save these in one place you can refer to later.
Do check out the ebook cover design awards at TheBookDesigner.com to see some great covers and some truly awful ones. Then hire a professional cover designer, give them that information and work with them to create a professional cover.

If you don’t have a budget for this, go to elance and offer someone to make a cover. Google about a little until you find a site offering front covers within your budget and also and more importantly a cover that you would pick up to read yourself. Even try the site fiverr if you are really struggling and you do not possess a creative hand. Check their feedback first and their portfolio. Do not rush into making a decision without going back to it after a few days. Money can be thrown away like this, when making rash quick decisons. Do a thorough check over their feedback, ask questions, ask to see examples. Even if you are only paying a 'fiver'.

There are also sites that do good covers for budget packages. Learn to use google and to compare. Always save links, as you will not remember just from memory what you did a few hours ago, let alone what that great site was last week. (when you have so many you look through, just check your history to see how many you actually click on in a day).
Then you may have to work extra hard until you have that extra money. I believe this is not even negotiable if you want to stand out in the packed market place, pushing and shoving along with the rest of them. Stand out by learning to stand on shoulders to see what is out there in the front first.

Then we all know how important editing is. Especially new writers starting out.
You should edit your books until you can’t stand the sight of them any longer. Then put them to one side for at least several days. Edit again, and again, repeat. Get rid of a quarter of your words, boil it right down until you only have that quarter amount gone, yes gone! Most of your words are not needed. Edit and delete, edit and delete. Then consider hiring a professional editor to help you take it further, because you cannot see your own words after a point because you will not see your own words after a while as you know it so well. After a few weeks get it back out again and read it out loud. I promise you will even see things then you will want to change. Then edit them straightaway.

You do require more eyes, preferably professional eyes who will critique you honestly and tell you where the problems are, especially if the book is truly awful – and sometimes it is (and that’s ok because you can write another one). The more you write, the better you become, the better you become the more likely someone is going to pick up your book, The book with the knock-em dead blurb, and eye-catching stand out from the rest front cover just to make sure they do not leave the page or put it back down.
Back to writing and editing- ok, you will write, some days a lot, some days not, and some days you will not want to, and may consider giving up if it gets that bad, and it does, believe me. (All good, great, and terrible writers feel the same; you are in good company, all writing in the same boat if you open your mind to see).
And even if sometimes you want to give up, just put the note pad down (not totally out of sight like I have done, where you forget it even exists until you clean the wardrobe out for the seasonal clean) and turn your mind and attention to something else. There is nothing as good as a distraction for wanting to go back to writing and seeing it with new eyes again. You will pick it up soon and write again, because it is what you do, what you are meant to do. If it is in you, your passion will come through because you have to, you want to, you like to. Writing is you. There is nothing quite as therapeutic as writing it all down. Writing down all the silly things to refer back to when you need to remember what it was.

I have Stephen Kings ‘On Writing’ in my bookcase, he says to rest the manuscript for a while, get some distance from it, then read it again. You may be utterly sick and fed up with what you find, but this is called editing. Better you find this out now before it gets out into the book world for critics to review and no one buys it, unless they are your friends. If you have a book out now, ask yourself are the majority of the buyers you know? or have got to know through social media? Are they buying and reviewing for you? The hard fact is after so many months of slogging away, if the general public are not the main ones buying then back to the drawing board and go find some articles to read on editing, how to write stories, how to make characters. Then there is the fact that even amazing stories, edited professionally still don't make the first line out in the public. They go unnoticed or left behind. Even with an amazing front cover. Seek advice and if you just don't have that buzz, that thing that makes people want to read and never put down, then you are just going to write another story, and another. Maybe one of them will be decent, maybe one of them will be the one. If you write about your children, and it is only interesting to you and your partner, no-one else wants to read about it (unless it it mega funny, or has an amazing plot and twist). You are writing for your own personal reason, and don't expect it to hit the general public readers and be in any top lists. (Unless your slogging it out there for free a lot for free a lot of the time).


These are hard sad truths, but if you want to make a good book, you must be able to throw old stuff to one side, start again, start again, but always keep writing.

If you can’t afford a pro editor, then you can try using a critique group of readers within your genre, or join a group like the Alliance of Independent Authors to network with other like-minded authors in order to network and potentially barter your skills. Bartering shouldn’t be underestimated in today's economy.

But definitely do not publish your book if only you and your best friend, or your Mum, or daughter who majors in 'double wammy' Science, English and Math like it or god forbid edit it, or even write a chapter for you. They may be good but they are not professional. They will say it is a good story because they love you and do not wish to hurt your feelings most of the time. They have rose-tinted glasses on, just like yours! Make sure you do not allow a family member to read or edit unless you can be sure they are blunt and honest and know what they are talking about. Then make sure they are not the only one or the last one to do so.

Then you need to check if  you have submitted the book to the right categories on the ebook stores. You may think that everyone knows their category after all they should have been working on it for months, if not years, will, but no they don't always.You might not want to put it in a box or a genre or a category, but you have to because that’s how readers find it. The category and genre reader has expectations and if you don’t fit they will be disappointed. That’s not to say you need to follow any specific rules in your writing, there is always two sides to everything ... but when you load it up to the distributors you do have to choose which categories and tags to use and they need to be correct and meaningful.

You need some distance from your book in order to do this, but consider where your book fits within the on line bookstores. This means deciding on the categories, tags and keywords associated with your book.

To draw readers into your book remember readers are short on time, so grab them with the initial blurb and first page!
So when someone starts reading your article, you have just a few seconds to draw her in and convince her to keep going. The same applies to a query letter you have only a sentence or two to grab the editor and make him want to finish reading your pitch.



Remember, your articles and queries are competing with Internet surfing, administrative tasks, meetings, not to mention hundreds of other pitches and articles. Even the ironing. (Actually let's not talk about huge ironing piles). To help you draw the busy, distracted reader into your writing, think on this.
Say you start with a quote like this:

"On this particular morning she did not appear at the bottom of his bed as usual. I knew I never should have trusted her".

or

"Mr Scott didn't like silly girls. Especially silly girls with long black hair and black diamond shaped eyes. There was no way he was going to allow them to leave that place the night before Halloween. 
Marsha, the one with the black hair and the diamond shaped eyes on the other hand was going to leave if it was the last thing she did. Unluckily for her it was".

A quote that surprises readers, entices them, or leaves just a little to the imagination is a great way to keep their eyeballs on the page. Just be sure not to overuse this tactic: It’s so easy to use that many writers are tempted to rely on it for all their articles, and editors do notice if you’re a one-note.

How to get this magical quote or magical blurb or initial first paragragh i na submittance letter. The more you practice the better you’ll get at eliciting great quotes from your sources. Do the same with a quiery letter as you do with your editing. Keep writing it out until your left with the key words you will be sending. Do thye make sense, is it sharp, not too long and straight to the point.
Too many writers start off their queries and articles by drawing long descriptive paragraphs out, giving too much background, and generally boring the reader. One trick professional writers use is to simply lop off the first paragraph or two of their piece so that it starts right in the middle of the action.
For example, say you’re writing about your experience you have had, instead of going through a diary description from beginning to end, that will not enthrall your readers, start at the shocking part, or the exciting part! This will draw readers in.
If you were shocked by a statistic, chances are your readers will be, too. So use startling statistics to suck your readers in. Make your openign page eye popping or funny that draws the reader in and they either relate or want to know more!

Personal experiences are always go to write about, if a reader can relate to the situation you’re writing about that will make them want to keep reading.
Readers are drawn in by precise specific language and strong phrasing that gets your point across and not vague generalities.
It’s also important to match reader expectations and the promise of what your book delivers with what your book is actually about.

There is no point having a book with a pinky cool chic cover and it is in the animal section, or the horror because it they pass a spooky house. It won’t sell as well, however good it is.

There are some scam sites out there that will tell you to aim for the categories that will rank the best in order to have a Bestseller on Amazon. That’s just silly because your book won’t match the expectations of the readers and even if you get a bump in sales, it will bounce back and completely dry up very soon. If you have not already noticed this, and the only way to bump it up is to hard sell it for free! How many times does this happen.

You can choose a category that fits your book, not the book that fits the category. Learn all about this while you are having the down time from reading and editing your book.
If you’re struggling with this, choose several authors your book is like, not what you want it to be like, but what it is really like.That will help you find the right category.




Look for a great book on algorithms, to help you understand what is the right category, for example- David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible. Have you optimized your Amazon sales page with quotes from reviews, key punchy words to grab at you?

Buy Me buttons on some Amazon pages come with typos, grammar errors and awful boring descriptions. Some of them make no sense at all. Some are just the back blurb with no review quotes or other things that might draw a customer in.

Basically you need to treat the product description like a sales page. So you need to know how to sell just as much as how to write. And you thought beign a writer was easy?  People will not buy your book if your description is badly written or hard to understand because it’s an indication of the quality of your book.
If you want to see a fantastic example, check out CJ Lyons Bloodstained which continues to rock the Kindle charts. That product description is serious stuff.

You can format your sales description with coloured headlines and other funky HTML by using Author Marketing Club’s Premium service (which also includes a fast-track way to find appropriate reviewers). Have you priced your book realistically, or at least tried different price points?

It is important to say on pricing that no one has a clue how to price ebooks and authors are having success at many different price points. Check out articles on the best price points and you will see peopel have different opinions, and each say one will work and one will not, and then someone else just as educated/experienced will say the opposite. So it is what works for you may not work for the next person. You have to try it to see for yourself.
However, one author ask why his debut novel wasn’t selling, and when his page was checked, his sales page, the ebook was priced $12.99. It was his first novel and he had nothing else for sale.

However good your book, however marvellous the cover, your first novel is unlikely to sell at that price. Most ebooks are under $9.99, and a lot of fiction is under $6.99, with many indie books being under $4.

The 99c price point still has some power even after the algorithm changes but you might go somewhere in between, changing your price with promotions as well. I have my books at $2.99 right now so I make $2 per ebook. You get to set your own prices but there’s no way you’ll sell much at those very high prices

Have you done some kind of promotion or marketing to let people know it is there? Again, there are no rules and in fact, everyone has different results from different marketing tactics. Some hit a mega-success with none at all, but I do think that you need to hand-sell your first 1000 readers because they won’t just appear out of nowhere.

Remember: Marketing is sharing what you love with people who want to hear about it. You don’t have to be hard hitting sales with the scammy or pushy or the selfish ones who live in their own world, and would buy there own book 50 times just incase someone pops over for a cuppa. The unfortunate caller will go away with the book, unpaid for. Not call back again for 6 years.
 You are fooling yourself if you do this just so you can say it has reached the top million etc, and give an impressive look. Just be authentic and share your passion. If you are always out on twitter saying buy this, look at this review, but my book, buy my book, after a few days never mind a few weeks your retweets and favs will dry up, even from your most admirable fans.

If you need some starter tips, you should definitely be building your email list from your own website and also from a signup at the back of your book.

If you do that with book one, you will have at least some people to market to with book 2. It’s a start, and it grows over time. This is my only non-negotiable recommendation for authors, because you never know what will happen with all these sites we depend upon for sales. If they disappear, or the terms we publish under change, then your email list of fans and buyers is all you have.

I also believe that social media can sell books, but it is a slow build over time and you have to have other goals than just book sales, e.g. networking with peers and other authors. It’s not instant sales so you can’t rely on it. The whole author platform thing is massively useful in so many ways but it is only one aspect of book sales. Then you have to be incredible talented for knowing which key words to hit on and that others will pick up on. Always using media management is not the best way, as it gets repetitive, boring, samey, well you can understand why. Target those who are good with words, who are good at getting 140 characters into a tweet! see how they do it, follow them and retweet. How are they attracting people and drawing them in? Do they reply to every post, or does this make people unfollow because you are getting boring and just doing the same stuff again. Writing and marketing go hand in hand. There is so much to learn. You need one with the other. So unless you are amazingly talented, and know how to target audience, know how to draw them in, have what it takes with key words when used in a sentence in the correct way. To have people pouncing on your words, waiting for your tweets, as well as being able to write and edit and proofread. Unless you have what it takes and more, you may have to pay someone to do all of this marketing work and that can get a little costly.

If you have some budget you can pay for promotion, and track results.
Free books can sometimes be a great option, say you have multiple books, if one of them is free, it means people can discover your work with no risk. You can do this by making your book free on Smashwords and eventually Amazon will price match it.
Also reviews are critical because they give your sales page social proof and they feed into the book site algorithms.

You may consider giving away a lot of free books to people who might like the genre and ask that they leave a review if they like it. No hard sell, no pressure, no expectation. This is easy if you have built up a list from the last book, or if you have built a platform and in fact is one good reason to do this. Traditional publishing has been doing this forever so it is not a new or a scammy tactic.

Remember that not everyone will like your book and not everyone will leave a review, or a good review, but it is a start. Also don't respond and do ignore any bad reviews. This is smart and does not draw attention to it. Get onto the next topic on your 'to do' list. You must try to have a thickish skin to be a writer, if you are sensitive, and who isn't? write it all down ;)

You can also contact book bloggers or Amazon reviewers to get more reviews. This is hard work if you do it manually, but you can use the Author Marketing Club’s Premium service to short cut the process by finding reviewers for books like yours

Some sites have over 500 free articles on writing, publishing and marketing and there’s so many hours of audio for you to learn from for free. So before you moan about nothing works, make sure you have checked as much out as possible to pick up tips and learn them. Believe that you can be a great writer and you may even make an income from writing. Although it is not a get rich quick scheme.
Some fine authors are working their butts off to get their work out there. The recent success of Sean Platt & David Wright when they landed a deal with Amazon is because they work incredibly hard at writing all day, every day to produce new content for their market.
These guys are pros and they know it takes hard work to get there and hard work to stay there.

So please, if your book is not selling any copies at all, go through a few notes mentioned and see what you can do to inprove your writing and marketing.

Written by Karen Emma Hall
Read a little every day, lead a better life.

Monday, 15 September 2014

I am not a fan of literacy self-loathing or kid literacy ignorance



I have a confession to make.
 I am an adult and I read a lot of children's and young adult books. 

Obviously, I should be ashamed. I should be reading literary fiction; so says some like Ruth Graham, who wrote this article for The Slate  this article for The Slate 

Ruth and those kid literature loathers pick on adults like me who were happy to wave around their kids' edition jackets of Harry Potter on the daily commute and were happy for everyone to see #fandom #potterfan. 
Needless to say I'm not a fan of  kid literary loathing or ignorance in children's literature. In fact children's books are what help you move forward, what allow you to grow, because that is exactly what they did initially. Go and read a Roald Dahl book, or Alice in Wonderland, or even Peppa Pig, and tell me if there is not something you have picked up from it that can help you learn and more importantly help you learn your children.
Do they not say that it is children and children's books that teach you just as much if not more than we teach them.
There also needs to be spice in books, and by spice, like the spice of  life where you have unlimited choice and can choose at your free will what book is ready to be read at any particular moment in time. What one person seeks from a book another seeks something different, and what ones reads in one book, another person reads something different from that same book. 
And if there were no difference at all, there would be no way of preferring one over the other.

And I definitely have a preference.
literature is not a means to an end. It brings something to those who partake, something beyond the experience of reading.
So do not just read to progress your intellect,  think more along the lines of  I read because my soul sings when I'm lost in a good narrative or caught up with characters I wish were real. I read because I love reading,  It takes me into a diffeent world, i escape. I am me.  Reading children's books is to be celebrated, not shamed.




And that takes me to how busy and very excited we are to tell you about what we are doing at the moment in Kid Literature. 
It is only 7 days away from launching the kid Literature Website!
We have opened up an extension of the Literacy group to allow you to promote your own books and pages.
Here is the link. Authors Books / For you to be a part of
Then we have the new website launching on Monday the 22nd September.
Come and read a little every day, and lead a better life.
Kid Literature community resources

Written by Karen Emma Hall


Saturday, 6 September 2014

I am so pleased to be joining the blogging from the heart tour.

 What exactly is involved in this blogging from the heart tour do you ask?
Basically you answer 4 questions about yourself, and introduce  some other authors and bloggers! 
Simple right? I know blogging can be daunting for some, but if you think of it as an open diary, you might get the first picture of how to blog. Just write like a diary, or write whatever you like. What is it you are interested in, or what are you doing now as an activity, be it art, writing, reading, gardening, cat spotting, book collecting. It could be something new you are about to venture into for the first time. Just 'blog' it as if you are telling a story.
Here is where you get to meet other blogging from the heart sponsors and bloggers. Fellow Author and kid literature admin Cat Michaels asked if I would find any possible time to step aboard for the heart tour ride, and as I was already riding high, I thought why not. 
So I grabbed her hand and off we flew over to her website and blog. 
I have known Cat properly since she came aboard the kid literature whirlwind (she might be regretting it). I thoroughly enjoy reading Cat’s blogs and her heart tour blog and try to keep up with her on social networks.
 After earning an M.S. degree in special education Cat spent two decades helping students from kindergarten to college reach their potential. She also managed communications and staff development programs for an international high-tech company. She then returned to her education roots, serving at a community college as a writing coach for students with Asperger’s syndrome and learning disabilities. She writes illustrated chapter books for young readers and the young at heart. Cat's books are so adorable, Sweet T and the North Wind and Finding Fuzzy: a You-Decide Tale of a Lost Friend, can be found on Amazon and ordered from local bookstores. Check on her Amazon link To connect with Cat and learn more about her books, please visit her website and you can follow Cat on her social media sites.
Meet fellow creatives author, dear friend and admin to kid literature Carmela Dutra
Carmela is  a writer and illustrator of children's literature, as well as a photographer. Carmela loves children’s literature! Mostly because as she says she is a giant kid at heart. Nothing is more magical than when you’re a child being transported to a new world where you can explore and discover unknown things.  My stories focus on the bonds of friendship and triumph over evil. Carmela on goodreads

Then meet fellow partner in crime and Kid Literature, Steve Conoboy.
Steve went off to university to study ancient history and archaeology. Hat and whip not received. Complaints about this are ignored. University mostly a waste of time, apart from hours spent writing apocalyptic horror-comedy on 386 PC. It's great. Apocalyptic horror-comedy sent out to literary agents. None are interested. Novel not great. Mostly a waste of time. A long period filled with much writing and many submissions and plenty of rejection letters. Decide I can't stand prologues as they're never much use. Short stories accepted by Polluto, Voluted Tales and Kzine. Prompts a vigorous interest in Kindle Direct Publishing. First release is Macadamian Pliers, YA horror with an emphasis on creepy, spooky and other ooky things. Started out editing and writing with the kid literature group and has since had a lot of interest in publishing a young adult spooky novel called Macadamian Pliers.

Then I would like to introduce you to  fellow  kid Literature contributor Linda Cullen  L D Cullen website
Linda tells us: As early as  I  can remember I was a story teller.  I cut my  literary teeth by writing skits and plays for summer camp and neighborhood friends to act out and by creating stories for my little sister and friends, most memorable were the "Baloney Man" and "Old Man Bolton's Cabin" I can't remember a time my thoughts were not shared with a full cast of character rattling around in my brain just waiting for me to bring them to life and let them out.
It was a great disappointment to discover  a shortfall of children's books with strong exciting main characters living with disabilities when I was looking for books  to share with  my "Differently-Abled  foster children. This set me on the path that lead me to my maiden book The Ability Kids and K-9 Agency in "The Case of the Peanut Butter Bandit" 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Picture books hold the magic ingredient for your child's future.

You may know a child who picks the same book over and over again. They choose the same book because they represented comfort and relaxation time, often at night before bed. At first they are read to a lot, and then they go on to making up their own versions of the stories. Your wishes and goals as parents are to instill in them the same love of reading that you had as a child, or wanted, and to create a family with a real love for books. Being in a relaxed familiar place when reading to a small child and reading picture books help to associate reading with pleasure. One of the major parts of raising active readers is that their reading time is enjoyable. There is nothing like observing a child's joy when reading a book. Picture books introduce the world of words both orally and visually. 


   











Reading out loud to our children helps them distinguish that speech is made up of different individual sounds and that those sounds have meaning. When reading to a small child point out all of the colours, shapes, objects, especially the main objects or hidden ones. Not only do the pictures help in labelling these patterns but the combination of pictures and stories working together share that stories are told both in pictures and words. Encourage them to find objects and soon they will do this for themselves. Often times when a child starts telling their own stories they’ll draw the picture first and then add words to it later. As a child is learning their language from birth, picture books help in teaching the sounds of words and patterns of speech. As our children develop and grow, reading to them develops the neuro-pathways in their brains.  
When reading picture books, the child has the actual task of holding the book. Touching and feeling it, enjoying the pages and learning to turn the pages carefully. When turning the page, our children are invited to have a direct interaction with the story by moving onto the next part.
When reading, if you run your fingers under the words, this helps teach reading from left to right and how word flow on the page. While we point to the words in a picture book it also helps train the eyes to follow the words. How often do we see a small child holding a book, pointing to the words as they start out on the path of going through these actions, and learning to read, even before actually reading words. Though they are mimicking us, it is an important pattern to develop to be able to read independently later on.

Books open up imagined worlds to our children and let us explore them together. Books also teach how we interact with each other and the world around us, whether imaginary or real. Children are often seen and you will notice how they will play through their imagination, and re-create in their own little world what was visited in the book that was recently looked at together, then by themselves. Children live in their imaginations first and then come to real situations. The more we can inspire imaginative play the more likely they are to develop problem solving skills for a variety of situations. Get familiar with this routine they will ask for night after night, having that moment of reading time everyday gives your child or children something to look forward to. It’s that special time you share together. During our reading time, all interference's are turned off or put away. We have a special place our family gathers to read every day. My children often ask me to read the same book over and over again. Though we as parents may get tired of the same story, by reading the same book multiple times helps to aid their memories. These times of snuggling down with a good book are planting the seeds to a love of lifelong reading. Teach them and they will remember, and they will learn.
Learn positive skills and enjoyment through reading they will take with them throughout life. Picture books are so important as they hold the child's attention longer so  the magic of the pictures come to life in their minds. This enables them to gain more attention enabling them to go onto bigger and longer books in time easier and quicker. An important thing to remember is that when we first start reading to our children, they are completely dependent on us for the storytelling. Quickly they get the ability to point out objects from the pictures, working their way up to more storytelling details. Pictures books are the journey between dependent reading and independent reading. As we increase our reading time, we challenge them to grow into independent readers. They look to us for assurance and praise. They can associate this with positive reading time. Praise is so important. It stays with them longer and brings about good feelings and bonds. Create experiences and memories. Open the door for these creations in order for your child's future to be molded bright. A  magically imaginative world will be theirs, creating a positive intelligent future. Your child's.
Karen E Hall Founder of Kid Literature Facebook
Kid Literature on Twitterland https://twitter.com/KidLiterature