#IWSG Writers as Readers @TheIWSG #amreading #amwriting

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

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Every month there’s an optional question to discuss.

February 1 Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I prefer reading to writing. I’ve said this before. I spend more hours reading than writing most of the time, except when I’m in the final stages of drafting, rereading and editing my latest novel, and I become almost exclusively obsessed with finishing it and doing nothing else.

I was/am a reader first.

I loved being just a reader, but that didn’t last very long. I soon started writing poems, short stories, anything to let my imagination fly and invent people, places and plots.

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However, at first, I didn’t take my writer’s life very seriously. It was just an enjoyable, almost secret, hobby, until I owned up to it and decided I was going to pursue my life long dream.

That was four years ago, in June 2013, when I decided I was going to write the sequel to Jane Eyre, by July, I realised I needed to write more than one novel, because the characters had so much to say and do, and the plot kept growing in several directions, so The Eyre Hall Trilogy was born and written over the next four years.

I didn’t feel like a ‘real’ writer immediately, but four years and three novels later, I shamelessly admit I’m an author. Not everybody likes what I write, and that’s fine, I don’t like everything I read either, but I’m an author. I can write, I enjoy writing, and many readers are reading my books, so I feel part of this wonderful profession. I also have many insecurities, which is why I’m part of this blog hop!

Going back to the original question, I still read a lot. I read and reviewed 19 novels in January, but I definitely do not read in the same way I read before.

I read more critically for two reasons, firstly to improve as a writer, and secondly to help other readers find books they might like.

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I never used to review books on social media before I started writing. I had the idea that reviews were written by experts only. Since I started writing, I review almost all of the books I read, because I’ve realised that anyone who reads a book can and should give an opinion to help other readers decide if it’s a book for them, and of course as an act of solidarity and support to other authors like myself.

I don’t review books I dislike. I don’t like to think I’m discouraging writers or pointing out negative aspects of their work publicly, which may be partial and subjective in any case. I carry this philosophy to the rest of my life. I’m a parent, a grandparent and a teacher, and I make an effort to point out people’s strong points, while I also encourage them to improve. I’ve never seen the point in being negative, and it generally builds an even more negative response.

Every single book I read teaches me something about writing, and it’s not always a positive lesson. It often shows me what I shouldn’t be doing and it helps me understand why.

For example, I’ve learned how important secondary characters are for the reader. I feel dissatisfied as a reader with books where the main characters are engaging and the rest of the characters are wooden. It’s like watching a film with only two good actors, the rest are extras reading their lines.

I’ve also learned that less is more. Trusting readers and enticing them to reach their own conclusions is more effective than spelling it all out constantly.

When I read a book I wish I’d written, that’s the greatest moment of all. I have a role model, someone to aspire to follow, and I don’t mean copy. Great books are an inspiration for readers and writers.

The books I wish I’d written are well-crafted, with tight and twisting plots, believable, engaging and varied characters, a moving story, and a pleasure to read, because the language flows easily, and it all comes together perfectly.

This is what happens in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, which I started reading last year, I’m in the middle of the final book in the trilogy, The Edge of Eternity right now, and loving every minute.

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I’m learning so much by reading these books and reading Ken Follett’s Masterclass on his webpage.

These are some other great books I read last year. Some extraordinary books I read in 2016 are reviewed here. 

So, do I read in the same way now as I did before I started writing professionally?

The answer is no, I don’t read in the same way since I’ve become a writer. I read more critically, and I enjoy it much more, because I try to squeeze out, every ounce of knowledge and craft the author I’m reading has learned.

What about you?

 

#IWSG Plotting & Pantsing #amwriting

This post is written in response to the insecure writers support group’s monthly prompt.

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January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

I’ve been thinking hard about this question all day, and I can’t think of an answer. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a writing rule which has influenced me so strongly and negatively that I wish I’d never heard it.

I’m not aware of following rules when I write. I do listen to other author’s advice and opinions, and I’ve read many books on writing, but I’m aware I have to adapt this information to my own way of writing, my story and my characters. I’ve always trusted myself to write on my own gut feeling. I write because I have great fun recreating imaginary worlds, characters and stories. I’m mainly concerned with pleasing myself, although I also worry about not boring or annoying potential readers. What’s the point of that?

The single most useless piece of advice was probably don’t plot, just write and go with the flow. I’m not sure exactly who said it first, but I’ve heard it a lot. It might work for some people, although I doubt it, but if I did that I’d end up with a disjointed mess, not a publishable novel. Writing, plotting, planning, editing, re-writing, re-editing, re-plotting are a constant cycle in my writing process.

Some people attribute this idea of not plotting to Stephen King, but he never actually said he didn’t plot, he said he didn’t use ‘written outlines’. He said he starts writing and lets the ‘patterns’ develop later.

“I start a book knowing just two things: the basic situation and that the story will create its own patterns naturally and organically if I follow it fairly…and by fairly I mean never forcing characters to do things they wouldn’t do in real life…For me, the first draft is all about story. I trust that some other part of me—an undermind—will create certain patterns.”

On the other hand, other authors, such as J. K. Rowling or Ken Follett , don’t start writing their novels until they’ve worked out a detailed plot outline.

It seems that both approaches work, as they’re used by successful authors who write excellent novels.

This is how I’ve done it in my first five novels (three published and two in process).

My first phase approaches King’s advice (pantsing).

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1- I start with some characters, usually one or two at first, and an idea or situation, which I explore.

In order to explore, I start writing my story, not knowing where it will go yet.

I don’t start serious planning until the idea itself has developed into a complete story with more characters, scenes, places, etc and I’ve convinced myself I’m interested in pursuing the idea and telling the whole story.

This is a crazily creative period which usually takes about one month to write 20,000-30,000 words.

2- At this point, I start outlining my plot. I divide it into the basic three-part dramatic arc; exposition, climax and denouement, which are subdivided into about 30 chapters and 40-50 scenes.

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Perhaps Follett’s approach relies too heavily on outline, but I can see that it helps, especially if your novel is a complex web of characters and events spanning various decades.

More about my writing process here.

Although plotting versus pantsing is an interesting debate, I wouldn’t say it’s very helpful for authors, except that it helps us reflect upon our writing process. We each have to find out what works best for us and our type of novel.

However, if you’re very intersted in this debate, this article is enlightening and Ken Follett’s Mastercalss on his blog is priceless advice on outlining.

More about Insecure Writers Group Here

Happy New Year to all fellow Insecure Writers!

 

 

#IWSG Writing Book Three in a Trilogy

This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts every first Wednesday of every month.

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Today I’m feeling especially insecure and apologetic, as a blogger and as a writer.

I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I last blogged. I definitely need to explain myself.

Apart from work and a few personal matters, which cropped up unexpectedly and inconveniently, and I’m not going to bore you with, the rest of my time was taken with re-re-re-editing the third and final novel in The Eyre Hall Trilogy. Everything else had to stop, including my blog (and the A-Z Challenge) and most of my social media interaction, because I just couldn’t cope with everything that was going on, and I’d put my book up for pre-order, thinking I had plenty of time… and I didn’t, as always.

I struggled with book one, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, because I was proving to myself (and the unsuspecting world) that I could actually write and publish a novel. In the end I felt and still feel proud of my efforts.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed book two, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. I had proved I could do it, so I was just enjoying the ride. Lots of romance, action, adventure and suspense. It’s definitely my favourite.

Unfortunately with book three, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, the insecurity, struggle and strife has returned… in a big way. Can I do it? Can I finish this trilogy the way it deserves? Can I close all the threads? Do I even need to tie it all up neatly? Where do I stop?

I completed my first draft at the beginning of April, and since then I’ve been listening to beta readers’ and editors’ comments and tweaking bits here and there, and adding a chapter, which they convinced me was needed. The whole process has been driving me crazy.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the comments were positive and my ‘test’ readers have enjoyed it, but, there are always comments and suggestions for change or improvement, so over the previous months, I’ve been  focussed on what needed to be improved, which was a stressful focus.

I’m now waiting for the last proofread to be returned to me. Then I have to re-read it once more and make the final decisions before I upload it on kindle next Thursday, the 9th of June. I should be looking forward to it, shouldn’t I? So why aren’t I?

I’m more than insecure this time, because I’m downright terrified of not getting it right and spoiling the end and the whole trilogy.

I can’t wait for next month, when the launch will be over and I’ll be feeling more optimistic perhaps…

How do you feel just before your book launch?

Have you written the third part of a trilogy? What was your experience like?

If you’d like to read some of the other posts by insecure writers, they’re here

Pride and Prejudice: The Plight of Indie #Authors #IWSG

This article is written as part of the monthly group posting of the  Insecure Wtiters Support Group. 

Today my insecurity is due to the prejudice against independent authors, from within and without the publishing industry.

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Prejudice means disfavouring or disliking something without an objective or fair reason for doing so. Pride, on the other hand, can be a good thing if it means respecting yourself and feeling that you deserve to be respected by other people, however, it can be a very negative quality if it means feeling that someone considers they are more important or better than others.

When pride is coupled with prejudice, the latter meaning is implied, as in Jane Austen’s classic novel, in which love was denied and lives almost ruined due to unreasonable pride and unjustified prejudice.

My point today is the pride and prejudice endured by published authors, like me, who do not have a traditional publishing house or agent to back them, that is, Independent or Self-Published Authors.

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If a traditional publisher acquires an author’s work they make most of the decisions and take on all the expense involved with producing the work. On the other hand, independent authors make their own decisions about when to publish on one of the digital self-publishing platforms, or in paperback. Indie authors have to make all the decisions and cover all the costs, such as hiring freelance editors and proof readers, cover artist, book formatter, and publicist, or they can do it (or part of it) themselves.

Why are independent authors listening to unfair criticism and dismissal by readers who say, ‘I don’t read self-published authors’, booksellers who say, ‘we don’t stock self-published authors’, and other writers who say, ‘self-published authors are lazy writers taking short cuts’ (Sue Grafton).

I wonder if they would dare say the same of independent film producers, musicians, or artists, who are usually respected by critics and the public.

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Who are the gate keepers?

Why is it that most self-published titles are not given the same respect or consideration, by readers, book-sellers, and writers, that traditionally published writers receive?

I’ve seen plenty of traditionally published novels, some are even big names, with negative reviews and very low sales ranks, proving that traditional publishers and agents aren’t doing their jobs as well as they like to assume.

Perhaps authors who would have approached an agent or publisher are preferring the independent route, sidestepping the traditional gatekeepers.

Today, thanks to the digital revolution in publishing, and the growth of publishing platforms, readers are the new gatekeepers. We should all be concerned with reaching readers and giving readers a quality product, which is well written, well-edited, proof read, and formatted, whether it’s erotica, historical, crime, dystopian, literary, or whatever genre.

Most indie authors sell their novels at 2.99 and occasionally at 0.99. When a big name author publishes at $16.00, they have to prove their novel is 16 times better value for money than an independently published novel, and quite honestly, it’s often not worth it.

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I’ve been an English teacher all my life. I’ve read most of the classics, in English, French, and Spanish, and taught English literature from Anglo-Saxon verse to spoken word poetry. I still reread the classics regularly, but 90% of what I read today are other self-published authors in an attempt to support the brave and hard-working writers, who are walking up the down staircase in a very competitive industry, and in spite of this producing good quality work. consequently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading dozens of well written self published books last year. You can check out my reviews on this blog.

Don’t be proud or prejudiced, and don’t let anyone tell you what to read. Read whichever style or genre you prefer. Check the blurb, skim through some of the reviews, and read the first 10%, it’s free, and then decide whether you want to read the rest of it or not.

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#IWSG Where are our precious readers?

This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month.

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In 2013, when I started writing my first novel, my greatest insecurity was that I didn’t know if I would be able to complete it successfully. Could I actually write a novel? Could I publish it independently?

I finished writing my first draft in November 2013, but it wasn’t published until 1st May 2014. In those five months, it was read by beta readers, friends and family, revised and re-edited by me, formatted, and finally edited and proof read by two professional editors, until I was finally satisfied that it was good enough to be published on kindle.

Now, in January 2016, 20 months after All Hallows at Eyre Hall was first published, it’s also available in paperback, and I have 41 reviews on amazon US and 13 on amazon UK, 54 in all, of which only 3 are 1 or 2 star. It’s been in the top 100 bestsellers for Victorian, Historical, Romance, Mystery and Thriller on various occasions. It may not be the best book on the market, but I’m satisfied that I have written a good book. I’ve also written a second book, which was published in August 2015 and is gradually doing well, too, and I’m currently writing book three of The Eyre Hall Trilogy. I have a number of fans and followers. I sell a moderate number of books a month, and lots of pages are being read every day on Kindle Unlimited.

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Luccia Gray is a moderately successful, published author, there’s no doubt about it.

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So what?

Now I have another discouraging insecurity, and I can’t do much about it. Namely, how can I convince people to read my book? 

Let’s face it. The book market is saturated. There are too many good books published compared to the limited demand. There just aren’t enough people to read all the books available.

According to a survey carried out in 2013 by the Huffington Post in 2013,  25% of people read between one and five books a year, 15% read between six and ten books, 20% read between 11 and 50, and only 8% read more than 50 books a year, and the rest, 28% didn’t read a single book all year!

Another study carried out by the The Pew Research Center, states that the average American adult read or listened to 12 books in 2013, which, according to their statistics, means that half of adults read no more than 5 books a year. This trend is similar to previous years.

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Getting your book noticed and persuading readers, who read between 5-12 books a year, to read your book out of the literally millions of books available is a daunting task. I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge.

My own TBR list is ridiculously long. I read over 50 books a year, but it’s still not enough to read all the books I’d like to read and deserve to be read.

So, what can independent authors do to reach these precious readers?

This is what we all do to a greater or lesser degree:

1- Be active on social media regularly.
2- Advertise our books on specialized book advertising sites, such as Books Sends, Ereader News Today, Book Gorilla, etc… or on Amazon, or Goodreads, the list is endless.
3- Give away books, take part in blog tours, NetGalley, Story Cartel, etc. to try to get more reviews.
4- Keep writing more books and promoting.

Why do I have the feeling it will never be enough?

I’m a drop in the ocean, floating with lots of other identical drops.

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For now, I’ll get down to finishing book three, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, which is due in April, 2016, and cross my fingers for books one and two.

Does anybody else feel like this? What can we do about it?

#IWSG Translating Self-Published Novels?

This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month.

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As many of you know, I live and work in Spain, although I write novels in English. Some of my readers are other English-speaking people who live in Spain, or Spanish speakers whose English is good enough to read fiction, for example English teachers. However, most of my readers come from the United States and United Kingdom, although there are also some in Canada and Australia, too.

My numerous Spanish friends are constantly asking me to translate my novel into Spanish so that they can read it. Although I love my Spanish friends, I’m also aware that there are 399 million Spanish speakers in the world, who are potential readers. So, I’ve been thinking it’s a good idea for some time. I even contacted a fellow blogger and virtual friend, who is also a translator, but prices for professional literary translators are high, and I’m still struggling to get my English editions noticed, so I can’t cope with that extra expense right now.

Technically, I’m bilingual. I’m a very strange type of bilingual. My written English is better than my written Spanish, probably because I almost always read and write in English. On the other hand, my spoken Spanish is sometimes more fluent than my spoken English, probably because I live in Spain, and it’s the language I speak most of the time.

I couldn’t translate my novels on my own due to lack of time and expertise, on the other hand, the cost of a professional translator plus proofreading, editing, formatting, and promotion, adds a great deal of expense for an indie author!

However, I still want to translate my novels. I’ve found a way out, I think.

First let’s tackle the obstacles. My two greatest setbacks are time and money. Time, I can’t make, but I can plan and space it out. My novel has 33 chapters, plus an epilogue. If I take care of one chapter a week, that gives me about eight months to gradually get it done. I started in November, which means it should be ready to publish some time next summer. That’s my deadline, and I’m happy with it.

So, I’ve solved the question of lack of time, by being organized, systematic, and patient. Now my next obstacle, which is really the most serious: lack of expertise.

I’ve read almost all (and I’m not exaggerating too much) of the Victorian authors, but I’ve read very few 19th century novels in Spanish. I think about four, and I only liked one or two, By Benito Pérez Galdós. So, I just haven’t got the language needed for this type of literature to be at its best, and quite honestly, I’ve seen to many terrible translations into Spanish, and I don’t want that to happen to my novel.

I’ve found a complex way around that, too. I’ve found a relatively inexpensive translator on Fiverr, and as the payment is being spread over eight months, that makes it much easier to afford. However, I’m not 100% happy with the translations (will I ever be!?) so, I’m working with a team.

This is what’s happening. First I go through the initial, Fiverr translation and make suggestions on the text. Secondly, I go though it again with a Spanish ex-colleague and retired professor of English at the university of Córdoba. Thirdly I’m giving chapters out to various Spanish teachers and professors of Spanish, as well as readers, who do not speak English, at all (so their Spanish is not ‘contaminated’ by English!). At least two of them will be reading the whole book, others will just be looking at some chapters. Fourthly, I’ll take their suggestions and make the final decisions. Finally it will go to a professional Spanish editor.

I’ve no idea how this project will trun out. I’ll let you know how it goes next summer!

Have any of you had any experiences of translating your work?

I’ve found a couple of recent and interesting articles on the subject:

http://annerallen.blogspot.com.es/2015/09/how-to-get-your-indie-book-translated.html by Anne R. Allen.
Another at the Creative Pen: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2015/11/19/translation-profanacion-spanish/

Check out what some of the other Insecure Writers are concerned about here!

#IWSG Book Signing: Lessons Learnt

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This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts every first Wednesday of every month.

My First Book Signing Event: Lessons Learnt for #IWSG

Last month I wrote about the insecurity I felt regarding my first book signing event, and this month, I’d like to tell you about the lessons I’ve learnt and offer some advice and encouragement for other insecure writers.

My To Do List was laid out in last month’s post, and I followed it to the letter.

It took place in a local book shop in the centre of the town where I live (Córdoba, Spain), on Tuesday 27th of October at 8.30 in the evening. I chose this date because I wanted it to take place as near as possible to Halloween, as the novel is set on and around All Hallows. It is not a horror story, but there are enough gothic elements to warrant this date as significant for the context of the novel.

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Me with Ana, the owner of the book shop.

It may seem late in the rest of the world, but in the south of Spain 8.30pm is still early. We left the book shop at 11.00pm! I’m sure the eight bottles of wine we consumed must have kept everyone engaged! There were about sixty people, although there was only a small group of eight wine-and-book-lovers at the end!

The book shop has a baby grand piano and one of my ex-students, who is a pianist played romantic music on the piano throughout the event, before and after my talk.

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                 Antonio playing the piano while I’m signing.

I gave a short talk, under an hour, about Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, and how they had inspired me to write my novel. I read a short extract, too, and I answered questions. Fortunately, some of the participants had already read the novel in kindle format, and they also took part in the discussion.

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Luccia talking about her novel.

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Luccia and Antonio reading part of a conversation between Jane and Mason

After that, I signed the copies of those who had bought the book, gave little merchandising presents you can see in the photo, while the piano played and wine was served. It was a wonderful moment. All the stress was over, and I could relax, listen to the music, and chat with my readers.

Most of those who came were Spanish. Almost all of them are able to read the book in English, although some of them were eager to have a Spanish translation. In fact, I had already toyed with the idea of translating it, but now I’m taking it very seriously. I’ve promised my Spanish friends that it will be published in Spanish next year, so I’m gradually doing so, with the help of a retired professor. It’s going to be a slow process, but it’s something I feel I have to do, as I live in Spain, and also there is a very large Spanish-speaking population who would be able to read my novel.

There was information in the local press, in a newspaper called El Cordoba. They were very interested. In fact they’ve also interviewed me and the interview will be published this week, so I’m very excited about that.

It was also advertised on Facebook by the book shop and on my author and personal page. I think it was very useful in getting the message to people I don’t normally see, although they live nearby.

Lots of people took photos, so there are plenty of them, as you have seen.

What I’ve learnt from this experience

I always knew I loved my readers, but meeting them and talking to them is unbelievably motivating. I’ve been in a whirlwind since it happened. I’m translating book one, preparing the paperback edition of book two, and writing book three. I’ve been interviewed for the local press, and I’m going to approach English press in Malaga (a nearby town, where there are many English and northern European residents). I’m also planning to do more book signings in other bookshops in other towns, and cities in Spain, and hopefully in the UK.

I really recommend giving a talk and answering questions.Working with book clubs seems a great option (I can’t do that because there are n English book clubs where I live).

It’s vital to cause a buzz before by advertising in as many virtual and real places you can think of.

I also think it’s a good idea to have promotional presents such as book marks, fridge magnets, etc. I feel I’m selling a product which goes beyond the reading experience, not only a novel. I love the idea of my novel on people’s fridge’s!

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Book marker, fridge magnet, purse mirror, and Chapter 1 in Spanish

The most important part is meeting readers, getting your book into bookshops, and the promotional aspect.

I sold over 30 books, which I’m thrilled about, although I earned nothing! CreateSpace, transport, the bookshop, merchandising, and the wine, took it all and more! I suppose the next events will be smaller, but it’s all about getting the word out there…

I don’t think it matters if no money is earned, although this may not be the case for everyone. It’s more of a long-term investment and promotion. (I’m fortunate enough to have a day job, which takes care of my bills).

One thing I’ve learnt is that Independent authors need to think long-term. I’m sowing little seeds here and there which I don’t expect to reap at once. I published All Hallows at Eyre Hall in 2014, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall in 2015, and I’m currently writing Midsummer at Eyre Hall. I’d say I need 4-5 years to make even a small name for myself. I’m in no hurry, so I’ll just keep on writing and promoting because I love it. I’m not feeling insecure this month for a change 🙂

Writing is like life, it’s a journey, not a destination.

Enjoy your journey!

Have a look at what some of the others are writing about!

#IWSG Book Signing: My Tentative To Do List

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This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts every first Wednesday of every month.

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I have attended book signings, but I’ve never really thought about the organization. I just turned up, enjoyed myself, chatted to the author, bought the book, had the book signed, and left.

Now it’s my turn. My first novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, was published on Kindle in May 2014. I finally published it in paperback in July, 2015. One of the advantages of having a print version is that people can hold it in their hands and turn the pages, and authors can do book signing events!

Kumi with my book

Kumi with my book!

Sounds like a great idea, but I’m an independent author, so I have to set it up myself, but I have no idea how to do it, because I’ve never organized such an event!

I’ve been asking other authors and looking it up on other book blogs, but right now I’m a bundle of nerves just thinking about it.

This is my To Do List, and this is how it’s going, so far.

It won’t happen until 27th of October, so any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

I’ll tell you how it goes next month!

1.Where is it going to happen?

First I chose the venue and booked it. It’s going to take place in a book shop called La República de Las Letras, in the centre of town (Córdoba, Spain), which also has wine and coffee, and tables for people to sit at and chat or just have a drink. The owner was very enthusiastic, although 90% of the books she sells are in Spanish, there’s an unexplored market for books in English.

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                Inside the book shop, La Republica de las Letras

2. When is it taking place?

On the Tuesday 27th of October at 8.30 in the evening. I chose the 27th October because I wanted it to take place as near as possible to Halloween, as the novel is set on and around All Hallows. It is not a horror story, but there are enough gothic elements to warrant this date as significant for the context of the novel. 8.30 may seem late in the rest of the world, but in Spain, some people are finishing work, others are out for a walk or shopping, and for many the second part of the day begins! It will probably go on until 10.00-10.30. Of course that means there must be a glass of wine offered at the event. Hopefully that will lure even more people!

3. What type of event will it be?

Just signing or a talk/presentation, too? I’ve decided I’d like it to be a ‘Meet the Author’ type of activity. I’ll be giving a short talk before the book signing, and read some excerpts, so readers know what it’s about. I’ll also answer questions. I’ve seen it done like this before, and it works well, as long as it’s not too long. I’m aiming for 20-30 minutes, and then mingling with everyone and a glass of wine.

4. Who to invite?

I live in Spain, so I’m at a disadvantage regarding the availability of potential readers in my area!

The English-speaking community in Cordoba isn’t very large, but the good thing is the majority are English teachers and (hopefully) readers. I will need to write invitations to the Private English Language schools in the city, the English Department at the Faculty, and the Official Language School. I’ll also be inviting many Spanish, teachers of English. I’m hoping for anything between 10 and 50 people.

5. How will the event be promoted/advertised in the media?

I’ll be using social media, such as Twitter, my Blog, and Facebook. There will be a Facebook event promoting it on my author page and the Book Shop page. I’ll post an event on Goodreads. I’m also planning to send a press release to the local paper and radio station, and of course, word of mouth. I’ll be telling everyone I know to tell everyone they know in the area!

I’m also preparing some merchandising. I’m having professional-looking book markers to give away (designed by my cover artist), I’m also making some fridge magnets with the book’s cover, and some little purse mirrors with my cover on the back.

Espejito All Hallows

The back of my promotional purse mirror

5. How should I dress?

I’m not sure yet. The only thing I’m sure about is that I want to feel comfortable and that I’ll be wearing a dress with lots of black, and black shoes. I’m thinking of this dress. What do you think?

Desigual dress 8 oct

         ‘Carolina’ by Desigual 50Euros

6. What else should I bring, other than my books? Apart from the merchandising products mentioned earlier and 40 books, I’ll need a good pen to sign, water, tissues, and I may prepare a handout, I’m not sure yet.

7. Where will I sit while I’m speaking and what should I do when I’m not?

I’ll have to discuss this with the shop owner. It’s a large shop with several different spaces. There’s even a piano. I’m thinking of asking a former student to play the piano while people stroll in and settle down, and after the short talk. While we’re all mingling!

8. Where should I sign the book and what should I write on the dedication?

I’ll sign on the page where the title is. I’ll ask the person’s name to personalize it, and write something like: For Jenny, hoping you’ll enjoy this journey into Victorian England. Best (if I don’t know them very well) Love (if they’re friends) and my signature, which I’ve designed and practiced, because Luccia Gray is my pen name!

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8. Where will the books to be bought be placed?

No idea. I’ll have to discuss it with the owner. I suppose they buy it at the counter and I sign it at the table where I’ve been speaking.

9. What about photographs?

I’d like to have lots of photos of the event for my social media, and to keep as a reminder of my first book-signing event, but I can’t be taking the photos myself, so I need to find a professional or reliable person. I’m fortunate enough to have a brother-in-law who is an amateur photographer, so I’ve asked him to come along and do the job!

10. Anything else?

I’m sure there are things I’ve missed. Suggestions are welcome.

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While  was on the internet looking for information, I found this webpage with lots of tips and ideas: http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/promo01.shtml

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Have you ever done an author or book-signing event? How did it go?

Read some of the other posts on this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group, or write one yourself! Read or sign up here!

 

One-Star Reviews, Again… #IWSG

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This post was written as part of the IWSG monthly, first Wednesday of the month, posts.

All authors need reviews, preferably positive ones, but independent authors, like me, need them more than traditionally published authors.

I need reviews for reassurance and recognition.

I’m insecure, because no ‘big name’ agent or publisher has accepted my work, and I need ‘other’ readers and writers to believe in me, because I don’t write for myself, I write for others, so what others say means a lot to me.

I’ve already written a post about getting negative reviews here, so I won’t repeat myself, but what I will say is that readers are entitled to dislike my book. Some may not enjoy the plot, others may hate my characters, and some more may cringe at my writing style. I have to live with that. I can live with that.

I have 2 one-star reviews for book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. I’m not happy with either of them, but I understand that once an artist’s work is released to the world, it belongs to the audience, readers, or viewers, etc., and they can say what they like.

I do find consolation in my 34 4 and 5 star reviews, and the knowledge that bad reviews happen to everyone, including classic authors such as Henry Miller, Margaret Atwood, Ernest Hemingway, Vonnegut, Margaret Mitchel, and a few more, read on… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/23/bad-reviews-classics_n_6527638.html

But what happens when you get a one star review because the reader wanted a paperback and discovers she’s bought an ebook? And instead of returning it to amazon, she asks you, the author to return it?

I know authors aren’t supposed to reply, but I did. I told her how to get a refund from Amazon. If she does get the refund, which I’ll never know, what happens to the review? Will anyone (the reader /amazon) bother to remove it? Can you ask Amazon to remove it? Will they remove it?

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Probably not. The chances are a bad review will stick with you forever.

The only way to counteract one-star reviews is by getting honest positive reviews.

Sometimes people read your novel, enjoy it, they even tell you they liked it, but there’s no review. Readers are reading hundreds of my pages on KDP (I know because Amazon informs authors every day of the pages readers are reading, and we get paid accordingly), and I’m selling a few copies almost every day. So, why don’t readers write reviews?

I often ask ‘readers’ about this, and they’re usually either unused to writing reviews, or worried about writing an ‘unprofessional’ review. If they knew how much it meant to the author, just to write a few words of praise, I’m sure they’d all write reviews.

I tell everyone I know to write reviews of everything they read, but many of them, who are avid readers, have never written a public review.

I’m sure everyone who reads this post writes reviews, but how can we convince everyone who reads to write a review? Any ideas?

Check out what other insecure writers are saying here.

Writers as Reviewers

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

Today’s insecurity is related to reviewing. Should I review every book I read or only those I enjoyed and would therefore recommend? Should writers review other writers publicly at all?

Most writers are avid readers, and some are also reviewers. It seems logical for writers who are readers to review the books they read, but is it always a good idea?

I must admit, I never used to review the books I read on Amazon, and I’ve been a regular amazon kindle and paperback customer for years. I used to think reviewing was for experts, until I started publishing myself, and realized how useful it is for other readers and helpful for authors, so I started reviewing many of the books I read from that moment onwards. At first, I thought it was a great idea, everyone wins.

Over a year later, with over 50 reviews on Amazon.com, and at least the same number on my blog, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea any more. I’m always kind when I review, because I know what an author has gone through in order to write and publish a book, but that doesn’t mean I’m not honest. On the other hand, if I don’t like the book, or think it needs more work, I sometimes tell the author privately, if I think the information can be useful, but I normally don’t review it publicly.

I’m convinced that my opinion will always be biased and therefore unjust. Why? Because although I have a solid linguistic and literary academic background, my opinion is not valuable enough to cause a negative effect on anyone’s ratings or self-confidence, after all, I may be wrong, since part of my opinion is linked to personal tastes and preferences.

There are some interesting articles on the topic:

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/ethics-of-reviewing/ Discusses the ethics of reviewing books by authors we know.

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-indie-authors-should-give-honest-reviews-as-readers/ Discusses the negative results of giving negative reviews.

http://barbtaub.com/2015/05/23/should-writers-be-reviewers/ An interesting and recent discussion on the topic of negative reviews.

So, what do you think? Should writers write positive and negative reviews? Should we review at all? Or should we just write? I’m not sure any more…

This post is part of Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly Blog Hop. Follow the link to have a look at some of the other posts and/or join in.