Why marketing is all about relationships – a guest post by L.M. Merrington

Today’s post is by L. M. Merrington, an Australian writer of Gothic fiction. Take it away, Lou!

Two years ago, almost to the day, my first novel, Greythorne, was released. Because I had a contract with a digital-first imprint of one of the Big Five publishers, I (naively) thought that this meant they’d take care of a lot of the marketing. I quickly discovered, as plenty of debut authors have, just how wrong I was.

Fast forward two years and I’m about to release my second novel, The Iron Line, which is out on 4 December. A lot has happened in the intervening time – the imprint I was with closed down, leaving me with some big decisions to make. I eventually got my rights back and, rather than pursuing another traditional contract, chose to go indie. (If you’re interested in reading more about how and why I came to that decision, I recently wrote an article about it for online magazine Inside Story). In terms of marketing, this means I’m now completely on my own, but I’ve also got far more freedom than I had before.

There’s so much out there about book marketing, especially for indie authors, and especially using online tools like email lists or Facebook and Amazon ads. I don’t want to rehash that here; rather, I just want to share a few of the things that have worked for me over the last two years. I’ve discovered a lot of this through trial and error, and growing an audience for your books is a slow process. But the main thread that’s come through for me is the importance of relationships and authenticity.

  1. Build your networks

Networking has always been a major factor in my career success outside of writing, and I’m finding that it’s exactly the same in Book World. By networking I don’t mean getting up in people’s faces and selling aggressively, but rather establishing and maintaining relationships with people who are genuinely interested in what you do. These can be online, in person, or a combination of both – one of my first speaking gigs as a published author was via Skype with book club members at a public library in Ohio.

In fact, one of my most fruitful ongoing marketing efforts has developed as a result of networking. While I was writing Greythorne I happened to get back in touch with my former English teacher, who is still teaching at my old high school. I asked if she’d beta read for me, which she did, and after the book was released she invited me to give an author talk and run a writing workshop with students. Based on the success of this, Greythorne was added to the Year 8 reading list – although it’s not strictly a YA book, it has a young protagonist and themes suitable for teenagers.

The teachers also encouraged me to run a workshop at a conference for Victorian Association for the Teaching of English, and an attendee at that workshop subsequently got Greythorne added to the Year 8 reading list at her school. In addition, I was also contacted by a parent of one of the students, who had contacts in the film industry and was interested in passing the book on to them for consideration. So you just never know where things might go. I hadn’t initially considered teachers as part of my marketing plan, but now I see these relationships as invaluable.

  1. Make life easy for your audience

Over the last two years I’ve built up quite a few supplementary materials for Greythorne, aimed at libraries, schools, and journalists. These include book club notes, teaching notes, and a media kit. All of these provide extra information about the book (in the case of the notes), or about me (in the case of the media kit), and they’re all available for free on my website. Teachers and journalists in particular are very time-poor, and are more likely to engage with your book if you’ve already done some of the hard work for them. A Canberra news site, The RiotACT, recently published an article on my new release using material drawn almost entirely from my media kit.

  1. Say yes to things

Say yes to opportunities, even if they’re a bit outside your comfort zone, and you’ll be amazed where they can take you. Give talks at libraries (or schools, or nursing homes); do interviews with local media; run free writing workshops with your local community; write guest blog posts or articles; attend conferences and markets; and give your readers some way to contact you (and of course make sure you always respond). And ask the people you interact with if they know anyone else who might be interested – word of mouth is a powerful thing. When I was still with a traditional publisher, I sold considerably more books myself than the publisher did, even without access to online promotional tools. In the two months since I’ve gone indie, I’ve sold more paperbacks than the publisher did in a year.

For many authors, the idea of getting out there and spruiking your wares is terrifying, and as an introvert myself I can understand that. But I also see it as a huge privilege that people even care about my little book and want to hear more about it, and I love interacting with readers. There are also so many organisations – especially libraries, schools and local media – who are keen to support local and emerging authors, so they’re relationships that are really worth building.

I believe it’s a very exciting time to be an author – we have more options and opportunities to reach our readers than ever before. Marketing shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable or scared; you just need to find a way that works for you.


L.M. Merrington was born in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in media and communications and Chinese, and a PhD in international relations. A former journalist, strategic analyst, and university communications manager, she currently runs her own business, Pure Arts Communications. She is also the author of a non-fiction book, Communications for Volunteers: Low-Cost Strategies for Community Groups, released in early 2017. She lives in Canberra with her husband, Tristan. Her first novel, Greythornewas published in 2015, and her new novel, The Iron Line, will be released on 4 December 2017. Her website is www.lmmerrington.com.

For the Love of Words — gift edition

Words, words how I love thee. Let me count the ways …

Writing, reading, looking, wearing …

This month we’re talking about the love of words here on AO&R and I for one and utterly in love with prose. There are so many way to appreciate words, but let me go back to wearing. With Christmas fast approaching I want to tell you about some of the fabulous book merch available. Here are my top 4 picks for the upcoming festive season.

4. Book Quote shirts from Redbubble. A marketplace for custom designed shirts, you’ll find so many amazing and unique products there like this Fault in Our Stars T.

The Fault in Our Stars Typography T-Shirt

3. Bookish Jewelry from Zing. I adore these Harry Potter wrist bands!

2. You’ll find a whole world of bookish wearables on Etsy. My favourite are the mini book necklaces.

1. Anything from Litographs. Seriously, these people print the prose from famous literature onto t-shirts, scarfs, headbands and writing gloves. WRITING GLOVES, guys. Does life get any cooler?

 

Share the bookish love … have you stumbled across anything fun for the word lovers in your life?

Stacey Nash writes about characters who have to overcome their fears. To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media, check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

Review: AVERY Wolf Rage Book 1 by A.M MARTIN

“My gaze stays out the window, “I was happy. So, happy.” A small smile forms on my face, “So full of life. When I came home that day. I cracked into a million pieces. Mind. Body. Soul.” 

After witnessing the aftermath of her father’s gruesome murder, fifteen-year-old Avery was forever changed. Her inner sight once dormant, swelled like a cresting wave, sending her into a tailspin and eventually landing her in the care of a psychiatric institution. “Cured” and released from Green Brier two years later, she finds herself in her uncle’s custody. Only then does she begin to question her diagnosis and discover what she dismissed as madness may be something else entirely.
Dark, broody Kayden has become reckless with the Rage constantly snapping at his heels. His only goal is to find an Empath to form the em-bond or risk being stuck in the Rage. A wild animal forevermore.
After a five-year, long war against his Mother’s Empath. Dean disbanded the Court of Wolves and let the Rage consume him centuries ago. The only thing he’s ever known is to hunt, run and sleep. That was till he smelled winter in summer. Till Avery.
Three different people. Three different lives. What happens when they meet?
Their world explodes.

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This story is unique and engaging, though in need of a good editor.

We are introduced to Avery briefly as she returns to her out of the way family home that she shares with her father. On returning home she is presented with her father’s dead body, blood all around, and she breaks. Her mind snaps and she awakens in a mental hospital many months later. The story then jumps to two years later and she is being released to her uncle. I would have loved to see how her transformation while in the hospital developed. We are told she learned to block her emotions, her feelings. But we are robbed of the how. This is a huge aspect of who the character is and without this I was left feeling disconnected from Avery as she entered her new world with the family she hardly remembers.

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A multi POV novel, this story is not only told from the POV of Avery the MC, but also Kayden the main love interest and then later Dean briefly, also a love interest. I am not usually a fan of multi POV, but am finding it being used more and more. When done well, the reader follows the story easily, and in the last third of the book, Martin achieves a smooth transition. However early on she doubles up on the content, showing us Avery as she goes through a situation only to then show us Kayden as he saw it. This is not needed or wanted by the reader. As an author, know which side is more important to tell and then when the other POV takes over have it be because what they are now seeing/feeling/doing is more important.

The other issue I have is a narrator. If you have your MC and secondary characters telling us the story in first person, it is then very disconnecting to have a third person omnipresent narration of what they are doing mixed in with the story.

The main plot and characters develop beautifully over the course of the book and by the last third I was very much invested in the story as the characters and conflicts built. However I was left wanting at the end. The story doesn’t resolve any of the conflicts and leaves you with more questions than answers.

***Spoiler alert***

I thought the story would sort of follow like this; finding her father dead, losing her mind and her emotions, discovering her wolf/empath heritage, opening herself to feeling again, uncovering the truth of who she is and ultimately who killed her father. But no, she is left still unsure of herself, and mated to two wolves at fifteen. She doesn’t know who killed her father and at the end of the book it is like she doesn’t even care who did. She has let it go apparently. So the event that sparked her mind break and was the reason for everything is now not important at all?

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I know it might sound harsh, but this story could be so much more than it is if it had the help of a good editor who could have pointed out these plot holes and general structure issues.

With readers having TBR lists as long as our arms, having spelling and grammar issues in a book can and will usually prevent them from picking up anything else from that author as it makes the story a struggle to read. I do not know if I will be reading book two, unless it has had the eyes of an editor before release.

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Overall I give it 3 stars. It is a fantastic idea. I love the connections between the characters and the path the story could take. Losing one and a half stars for the spelling, grammar, and structure issues. And another half star off for the cover. Though not horrible, I actually really like the placement of the moon, the girl and the grass. But the tag line is hard to read and isn’t really a ‘grab you’ kind of line. The shadow around the girl is weird – if the moon is lighting her from the back and side, then there would be no shadow behind her.

3-stars

I think Martin could develop this into a fantastic series, given the right support team and a good editor by her side. I look forward to seeing what she offers us in the future as she develops her craft.

 

 

 

 

Bookstagram: For the Love of Aussie YA

This month at Aussie Owned and Read, our theme is For the Love of Words. I love all kinds of books — ebooks for the convenience (mostly), audiobooks for the hands-free alternative, and paperbacks for, as much as anything, the experience. I’d been increasing my collection of the first two types, but in the last 18 months or so paperbacks have really had a resurgence in my collection.

The reason is that in May last year I joined Instagram and became an avid bookstagrammer.

We’ve blogged about bookstagram before here on the blog. but as a refresher, a bookstagrammer is someone who is part of the Instagram community whose posts consist largely or entirely of photos of books.

The photography approaches can range from dusty, scruffy piles of library books dumped on a coffee table through to elaborate, professionally lit works of art. The amount of time that some people put into their bookstagram photos is mind boggling. Here are five amazing bookstagram photos by talented bookstagrammers, all linked back to the site so you can go, explore their work and follow them. (Because we are on WordPress I can’t embed them in a way that directly links back to the site; still, I’ve done my best to credit each of these amazing artists.)

All these photos were found via the #LoveOzYA hashtag — an Australian book-lovers movement that has even spawned a brilliant anthology: Begin, End, Begin. As a bonus, you can read my review of the anthology here!

Source: Booktineus, showing off Ellie Marney’s new cover (and with a nice use of a Kindle rather than a paperback … though mine is too old to do a book cover justice!)

Source: commasandampersands, with the amazing Undercurrent by Paula Weston

Source: Former Aussie Owned blogger Emily J Mead, showing off her eye for colours and a gorgeous copy of Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Source: Another former Aussie Owned blogger, Cait Drews, displaying the gorgeous interior art in Amie and Jay’s Illuminae (and, btw, contrats to Cait on her BOOK DEAL — OMG!)

Source: lostwithannie, with a minimalist style, gorgeous colours, and the #LoveOzYA anthology

Do you have a bookstagram account? Leave your handle in the comments so we can check it out!


Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction author who spends more time than she should taking photos of her book collection. You can find her Instagram account — which is heavy on both books and PopVinyls — here.

5 FOOLproof NaNoWriMo Time Savers

This November on Aussie Owned and Read we’re waxing lyrical ‘For the Love of Words’. Timely, because November for many means NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, where thousands of writers around the world attempt to write 50 thousand words in one month. Yes, you read that right, a 50-thousand-word draft of a novel in 30 days! I’ve never formally taken part in this insane hugely popular initiative, but this year I’m committing informally and have devised some foolproof strategies to help me—and you—succeed.

  1. Buy a month’s worth of undies to cut back on washing. 

weekday undies etsyLet’s be honest, sitting at your computer pounding out the words is not exactly physically strenuous. Wearing the same t-shirt and pair of yoga pants for a week isn’t going to kill anyone, so theoretically you only need 4 sets of clothing to get through the month. But I draw the line at underwear. Undies are a single wear kind of garment. For a no wash solution, make a quick trip to Target where you can pick up 4 packs of 7—the ones with the days of the week on them will help you keep track of time while you’re down the NaNo rabbit hole. Those little cottontails, plus whatever you already have in your drawer, should have you set for the entire month.

2. Pick arguments with friends and family so they don’t talk to you for a month. 

 This might sound harsh, but if you’re anything like me, you enjoy being social and like interacting with family and friends. But all this human connection takes time and therefore a toll on your word count, so it’s best to cut all emotional and social ties for the month of November. Don’t worry, it’ll all come good in December since that’s the season of goodwill and cheer—and hopefully forgiveness—so all those friends and family members you alienated during NaNo are sure to forgive and forget.

3. Petition to rename December November!

Time for some home truths—no one likes December. It’s the most stressful month of the year. Everyone’s racing to finish things up at school or uni or work, attending all the end of year functions, dance performances, farewell parties etc., all while trying to do the Christmas shopping while reggae versions of feliz navi da may drive you to commit violence against the nearest shopping mall Santa. Renaming December November would eliminate all this stress and give you double the time to get your 50 thousand words down. Win win!

4. Put a speech-to-text program next to your bed so you can capture more words while you sleep.

You know how it goes; you go to sleep and dream up a jaw-dropping story premise. The first few chapters roll off your REM waves in high definition perfection, Then you wake up and BOOM! It’s all gone. Nothing left. Your brain is so fuzzy you can’t even remember the genre of this masterpiece. But if you record what you say in your sleep, you’ll wake to a half finished novel. How no one has though of this before, I do not know! You might need to edit out the snoring, but other than that you should be good to go.

5.  Teach your dog to type.

This one is self explanatory.

If all these are too alternative for you, then by all means, try a more traditional approach and drink copious cups of coffee while propping your eyes open with toothpicks. I’ve also heard that boring tried and tested strategies such as getting up an hour earlier, turning off the internet, locking the study room door, and using a dictation app while you’re out on a walk can be effective strategies.

Do tell, what are your most successful NaNoWriMo time savers? Share in the comments!


Kat Colmer AuthorKat Colmer is a Young Adult author and high-school teacher librarian who writes coming-of-age stories with humour and heart. She lives with her husband and two children in Sydney, Australia. Her debut YA The Third Kiss is out now with ENTANGLED TEEN. Learn more on her website, or come say hi on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

 

For the love of it

This month at Aussie Owned and Read we’re all looking at the topic ‘FOR THE LOVE OF WORDS’. I was super happy to be first up because I could probably write a sonnet:

Words how I love thee, let me count the ways…

With a slight nod to Shakespeare involved of course. I love to read and (mostly) I love to write. I am so lucky I get to spend a lot (never enough) of time doing both. It takes a certain love (insanity?) to write a whole book, let alone several. And I have so many books that I love (love, love). But today I wanted to focus on two trips I’ve made for the love of words.

Harry Potter words in particular.

Back in 2015 I was lucky to be able to visit Harry Potter World in Orlando. I think is says something to have a whole theme park in your honour. And it wasn’t a short trip. I wasn’t disappointed. My only regret was that I didn’t BUY ALL THE THINGS.

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Which brings me to a couple of weeks ago.

I may have mentioned this not-buying regret a few times, and to surprise me my hubby flew me to Brisbane to visit a Harry Potter shop – THE ROOM OF REQUIREMENT and told me to go crazy on the butterbeer and frogs and socks and all of it. Bliss!

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Back to Shakespeare, I have quite a fondness there too and visited Stratford-Upon-Avon to see his home a few years ago.

Any books you love like this?

 

🙂

Beck

beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction. My next book LAST DAYS OF US is out in Dec with HQ Young Adult.

Fear of failing as a writer

Source: Shutterstock

Happy Halloween, dear readers!

As you’ll already be aware, this month on Aussie Owned and Read we’re talking fears. I’ve already blogged about a couple of mine previously — during our 2014 Haunting Halloween blog hop, I shared a scary (and true) story of the last time took part in a seance, and talked about my fear of unstoppable, invisible death such as plague or nuclear fallout.

So now I have to choose from one of the two things that truly terrify me. One I’m still going to nope out of (something happening to my son), which leaves the other.

Fear of failure.

It’s not quite the imposter syndrome that Lauren blogged about last week, although that’s part of it. I know that whenever anyone from work congratulates me on a book release, I always downplay the accomplishment. I’m an indie author, and I think I’m still subconsciously hankering for the validation of a big contract — even though I know that’s silly and that actually completing six novels is still a pretty big deal.

It’s more that, this year, I have written barely a word that wasn’t a book review or a blog post. I did finish the last little bit of False Awakening in January, and I spent quite a bit of time doing edits on that to get it ready to publish … but original words? Almost none.

What if I can’t write anymore? What if I’ve forgotten how?!

I’m actually feeling ashamed right now, typing these words. Like I’m sharing a dirty secret. Because — even though I know it’s silly, even though I know I’m being overly harsh on myself — if I don’t write, doesn’t that make me failure as a writer?

So that’s my fear.

My problem isn’t writer’s block, I don’t think. I described it to a friend as “writer’s ennui”. Frankly, I think I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing, and trying to return to match fitness (such as I ever had) is so daunting it’s causing all my anxieties.

I am working to overcome it. I’ve been plotting out a new book — a steampunk fantasy, which is a new genre for me — and the world-building has really slowed me down. (Urban fantasy was way easier.) In the meantime, I’m trying to write a short story at the moment, for a local anthology that has a call out for submissions. Even if I don’t get selected, it’s all about building my writing muscles up again.

So there you have it. My embarrassing, paralysing fear.


While I’m here, I’m going to be cheeky and wish a happy book birthday to one of our former Aussie Owned and Read bloggers, K. A. Last. Her newest release, the delightfully creepy The Lovely Dark, comes out today. You can read my review of it here.


Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction author — she is an author, she’s sure of it. She even has five books on sale to prove it.