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Heads Above Water

I now have the fantastic cover for Heads Above Water, my account of our first two years in France, attempting to make a living from running a gite and carp fishery. I think it’s awesome. We’re instantly recognisable from Roger Fereday’s cartoon, and he’s captured the key features of Les Fragnes – the lake, the cottages, a token llama, some representative carp and the distant water tower that distinguishes the scenery near here.

Daughter Caiti will be adding the typography (in the sky) next time she’s back from lycée. I have a marketing campaing of sorts sketched out – marketing isn’t my strong point, but I’m learning fast. One final read through, and then I’m ready to hit the world with this ebook.  The question is, is the world ready?

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Clearing the Shelves

Time for some decluttering and in particular time to get rid of some old books. Now that I’m going in an electronic and self-publishing direction, quite a lot of tomes on my shelves are well outdated now.

This is the first to go. I’ve had this book fifteen years.  It’s aimed at the publishing scene two decades ago and has very little, if any, relevance any more. At least it’ll make a good few briquettes to keep us warm this winter. That’s the most use I’ll have got from it!

It was a bad buy. We all make them. I was sucked in by the 1001 aspect, thinking surely to goodness there’ll be something there that will help me shift a few more books. I wasn’t self-publishing at the time, but the publisher I did have wasn’t over enthusiastic in the marketing department so I wanted to see what I could do from my end.

Some of the techniques in the book smack of desperation. For example, there were the suggestions of selling your books door to door, sponsoring an award, organise a sweepstake, creating your own speakers bureau, sponsoring a library, putting up public posters (especially in New York!).  Many were neither practical nor affordable.

Live and learn. I shall replace it with a ebook aimed at today’s publishing scene. I have my eye on Sell More Books. John Kremer is co-authoring again, but he seems to be rather more up to date this time round. If I go for this one, than as usual, I’ll buy on Smashwords for 9.99 dollars and transfer to my Kindle myself. I’m not paying an extra 3.80 dollars unnecessarily to greedy Amazon!


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Blog On!

I’m pretty sure – no, I know I’ve been spending too long recently Twittering and messing around, very enjoyably, on various indie author websites in the attempt to build a platform. I’ve read a load of articles and ebooks about self-promotion too. All these activities have finally led me to see what I think will work for me.

I’m going back to basics. My blogs. I have two, this one on book related themes, and Blog in France on the more general day to day events of expat life in France. I’ve read John Locke’s book on how he sold a million books, and I’ve picked up some tips from that. However, the thing that I completely disagree with is his attitude towards blogs. He only writes half a dozen or so a year. That’s OK for someone of his standing, but not for most of the rest of us. We have to write, and write a lot, to get people to know about us. And many blog traffic experts, such as Yaro Starak who is fast becoming my hero, push the importance of a good blog with quality content. Other marketing activities can all stem from this basis. So I’m going to give my blogs the attention they deserve.

I’ve achieved a lot with Blog in France. From a few readers a week, I now have around 100 a day, sometimes nearly twice that. Two advertisers have contacted me to put banners up, completely out of the blue. I got to that position by blogging daily and putting time and effort into what I wrote. I can got a lot further, and intend to, with newsletters and reports, but that’s all in the pipeline.

So it’s time to lavish the same care and energy on this blog. On with the book reviews, the looks at ereaders, the discussions of self-publishing and hints on writing. The two youngest kids are back at school, Benj goes to Uni next Thursday and, although we have gite and lake bookings until early November, the pressure is easing up so there will be more time and energy for writing. There are a million and one things to do around the farm, as ever, but a combination of physical graft on animal and ground maintenance, and sitting at a keyboard blogging and writing will make for a healthy enough life, and certainly an interesting one.

It will be interesting to see how things work out. I’ll keep you posted – blog posted, of course!

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Building an Author Platform

Perhaps one day I'll be as successful as JK ...

Now that I have two books on Amazon for Kindle, and many more in the pipeline, I’ve been working hard on building my author platform. So far I have signed up with the following. I thought it might be useful to share my list in case it provides you with a few more ideas for your platform-building. And of course I’d welcome any suggestions of other places where I should be putting in an appearance.

The story so far: 10 day book club; Articlesbase; Bite Size Edits; Bookbuzzr; Booklending; Digg; Ebookling; Expatfocus; Facebook – own page plus in four groups; Feedbooks; Filedby;; Goodreads; Independent Authors; Independent Author Network – thinking about this v seriously (free till 31.8 for one book; Jacketflap; KDP; Kobo; LinkedIn; Livejournal; Library Thing; Lulu; My Writer’s Circle; Pontnoir (local Creuse thing); Pinterest (crafts thing); Reader’s Favorite; Smashwords; Shelfari; Shewrites; Survive France (local); Technorati; Twitter (3 accounts); Wattpad; Your Book Authors*

* = joining fee

I also have two ongoing websites (this one and and two more waiting in the wings to accompany my two big adult projects that are coming soon.

Three very helpful books I’ve read on the marketing and self-promotion side are:

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All For Free by Jason Matthews

The First Ten Steps by M R Mathias

How I Sold I Million Ebooks in 5 Months by John Locke


Hope the above helps. I’m convinced it will help me!