Resources for Authors

When people find out I’m an author who originally published independently, they often ask me how they can get started. I therefore thought it would be useful to put a few suggestions together in a document. I’m reproducing them here on the blog in the hope that they might help other new authors.

KDP Select – This is the Amazon site for authors, which enables you to publish your book independently. The help pages https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200798990 have a wealth of information about the whole process and the way in which Amazon works. They can be explored from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.

price-tagPrice Point – I used to price my books at £1.99 as an independent author and that seems like a popular price for books published independently although some are priced at £2.99. For Amazon promotions books are usually priced at either 99p or free for a day. There is a qualifying period for how long the book would have to have been at full price before the promotion so it is best to check this out via KDP Select where you will find all the other details of how their promotions work.

Proofreading and Editing – This is really important before you begin to get your book out to a wider audience. Some reviewers are really picky, and they will find any excuse to give a bad review. You don’t want negative reviews of an otherwise great book just because of proofreading or grammatical errors that can be easily corrected.

Editors are useful for giving you an objective view of your book and pointing out things that you might have missed. Publishers usually appoint a structural editor, a copy editor and a proof-reader so the book goes through a series of checks and improvementsresearch before it is published. If your budget is tight then I would say you need your book proofread as an absolute minimum.

NB You should also ensure that all text on your book’s Amazon page is proofread as this is the first thing the reader sees, and it could affect their purchasing decision.

David Gaughran – I can’t recommend this guy enough. He publishes books on Amazon (the Let’s Get Publishing series). These cover the entire journey from publication to promotion and advertising. He also has a blog at: https://davidgaughran.com/blog and publishes regular newsletters, which you can sign up to on the home page of his website.

Readers in the Know – When you run a promotion with Amazon you need to shout about it, and there are promotion websites specifically for this. Readers in the Know points you to numerous websites of this type but if you pay to join you can also promote your books on this site. The page with a list of promotion websites is at: https://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites.

Sandra Beckwith – Similar website to David Gaughran but with a US bias

The Publicity Hound – Similar website to David Gaughran and Sandra Beckwith but with a US bias and not just for authors. NB These two are easy to find in Google search.

Amazon Exclusivity – In order to run promotions with Amazon you must publish exclusively with Amazon, but I think the advantages of doing this far outweigh the disadvantages as they have more than 80% of the digital market. Exclusivity is only for a limited period though and you can deselect this option once you reach the end of the qualifying period for your promotion – details are at KDP Select.

Going Wide – If you want to publish on more digital platforms e.g., Kobo, the easiest and quickest way to do it is with Draft 2 Digital (https://www.draft2digital.com/) which enables you to publish to several different platforms at once.

TrilogyPrint Books – It is also possible to publish print books via Amazon. Their print publishing arm used to be called CreateSpace, but I believe it is all now done via KDP Select. However, as their print books are print on demand, they are expensive to produce so you have to set a high sale price to make any profit. For example, my print on demand books are priced at around £12.99 on Amazon whereas my books that have had a mass market print run are priced at around £7.99 or less. You used to be able to calculate price, profit etc. on CreateSpace but I’m not sure how this is now done as it was 5 years ago when I published my own.

Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads – It is also possible to advertise your books on Facebook and Amazon. However, to advertise your books on Facebook you will need to set up an author page first. David Gaughran’s articles often give details of how to do these things.

Social Media – You can also shout about your books on social media. I have a Facebook author page and a Twitter page, but other authors have other social media platforms such as Instagram.

I hope you find these ideas useful but apologise if any of them are out of date. Now that I’m with a publisher, most of this gets taken care of for me and it’s a few years since I had to take care of everything myself. Good luck with your publishing journey.

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My Lockdown Launch

Today is publication day for Crystal, the third book in The Working Girls series, and I must admit it is the strangest book launch I have ever had. Usually, I would go for a meal with friends and/or family to celebrate but with everybody in lockdown due to the Coronavirus, that isn’t possible. I therefore intend to celebrate online instead.


The Coronavirus has affected the launch in other ways too. Publication date has been brought forward by a month to replace the scheduled launch of Vendetta in paperback. This is because digital books are selling much better than paperbacks at the moment due to the book shops being closed. Also, the blog tour will be going ahead on the dates that had already been scheduled i.e. from 4th June through to 17th June. This is because this had already been arranged with bloggers.


Here is the book blurb for Crystal:


THE PIMP.
When Crystal’s pimp, protector and former lover, Gilly, dies of a drugs overdose Crystal is bereft. She refuses the paid protection of a rival pimp, determined to go it alone. But a vicious beating from a client leaves her feeling vulnerable and angry.
THE JUDGE.
Meanwhile, Crystal’s daughter, Candice, is asking difficult questions about her job. Crystal decides it’s time to make some changes, and, when a high-profile judge offers her payment to keep schtum about his nefarious activities, it gives her an idea. Perhaps other clients will also pay for her silence…
THE REVENGE.
Crystal engages on a revenge mission to rob, blackmail and expose her most depraved clients. But some of these men are highly dangerous and, if Crystal wants to exact her plan of revenge, she must accept the risks that go with it.


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Thank you to everybody who has bought a copy to date. I hope you enjoy Crystal’s story. If you haven’t yet bought a copy, you can grab one at: http://viewbook.at/Crystal or, if you prefer to read on the Kobo, you can find the book at: http://bit.ly/2GSlhZp.


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Changes to Publication Dates

Due to the Coronavirus my publishers have decided to make some changes to the publication dates for forthcoming books in order to cater to market demand. This will affect two of my forthcoming publications, Crystal (digital) and Vendetta (print).
I’ll start with the good news – we could all do with some of that at the moment. The publication date for Crystal is to be brought forward from early June to 7th May, which means it’s less than four weeks away – yippee! This is because book demand at the moment is predominantly for digital books rather than print due to book shops being closed. Here’s the Amazon link for pre-orders:
http://viewbook.at/Crystal, and the Kobo link is: http://bit.ly/2GSlhZp.
Here’s the not so good news.
A print version of Vendetta was previously scheduled for 7th May and was due to be stocked by book shops. However, due to the closure of book shops print demand has fallen by 80%. Therefore, the print launch date has been deferred. Currently the new date is August but this might change depending on the effects of lockdown. I will let you know as soon as I have updates.
It is still possible to order a print version on Amazon at: http://bit.ly/2GSlhZp by following the link and selecting the ‘paperback’ option.
Take care, stay safe and happy reading.

Launch of Ruby

It’s launch day for Ruby, book two of my Working Girls series and I’m so excited. I loved creating the character of Ruby as she is so feisty and formidable. She’s also completely different to Maddy, featured in book one, The Mark, as she was vulnerable and prone to errors of judgement.

Here are all the links to digital suppliers if you still haven’t bought your copy:

To remind you of what the book is about, here’s the book blurb together with the cover image:

THE STRONGER SEX.
Ruby has always been strong. Growing up with a feeble mother and an absent father, she is forced to fight the battles of her younger siblings. And when a childhood experience leaves her traumatised, her distrust of men turns to hatred.

ON THE STREETS.
With no safe place to call home, Ruby is desperate to fit in with the tough crowd. She spends her teenage years sleeping around and drinking in the park, and by the time she is sixteen, prostitution has become a way of life. But Ruby has ambitions, and she soon moves up the ladder to become the madam of her own brothel.

THE BROTHEL.
But being in charge of a brothel has its down sides, Ruby faces her worst nightmare when an enemy from the past comes back into her life, and gang intimidation threatens to ruin everything. Can she find a way to beat her tormentors? And will she be strong enough to see it through?

I do hope you enjoy reading Ruby.

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Useful Books for Authors

Taking a look at my recent blog posts, I have noticed that most of them relate to my own books. It’s been such a busy time that I’ve neglected to produce the type of blog posts that I used to write. I therefore decided to write a post that other authors and aspiring authors will hopefully find useful. However, if you would like to receive an update regarding my books, you are welcome to subscribe to my mailing list at:  http://eepurl.com/CP6YP and I will send you a copy of my latest newsletter giving details of all my forthcoming new releases in digital and print as well as a price reduction on one of my existing books.

I’ve mentioned the Writers Bureau a few times previously, and I would certainly recommend their course to anybody thinking about writing as a career or as a way to earn extra income. But what if you want to become a writer without committing to a lengthy writing course? That’s when books aimed at writers can be useful. As well as studying with the Writers Bureau I have read several books for writers, which I still refer to either as ongoing reference books or to brush up on techniques. Here are a few I have found useful:

How to Write your First Novel by Sophie King

Sophie King has produced an excellent book here and, although it’s aimed at someone writing their first novel, it’s a good guide for any author. I re-read it to recap on a lot of the techniques I learnt on my writing course. Some of the topics it covers include: finding ideas, voice, plotting, creating characters, viewpoint dialogue, setting, show don’t tell etc. etc.

Writing a Novel and Getting Published by Nigel Watts

This is another good guide covering many of the topics in the previous book. However, the writing style is not as straightforward as that in the Sophie King book. I also found that not all of the chapters appealed to me, especially the one about the Eight-Point Arc as I find this type of novel writing too formulaic. It includes a useful chapter on marketing at the end of the book.

Creating Suspense in Fiction by John Paxton Sheriff

This is a really useful book, which takes you through the various ways in which you can create suspense in your novel including creating atmosphere, building suspense through the prologue and first chapter, foreshadowing, hooks, cliff-hangers, time-limits and much more. I’ve actually begun reading this for a second time, hence the bookmark. When you are immersed in a novel, it can be easy to forget about creating suspense so it’s always useful to have a recap.

Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

I read a Kindle version of this book at the start of my independent publishing journey and found it invaluable. It is relatively straightforward to publish online these days and this book provides a starting point to get your book out there. The author has also followed it up with two further books about how to market your book once you have published. It was through reading one of David Gaughran’s books that I learnt how to run a successful promotion on Amazon which, in turn, led to me being spotting by my publisher.

Roget’s Thesaurus (or any good thesaurus)

I remember being told by my English lit teacher back in my sixth form days that Roget’s Thesaurus was the best thesaurus available and a must for anyone studying A level English lit. I therefore invested in a copy and have had one ever since.

This thesaurus should be read in a particular way i.e. by looking up the word in the back and then following the numbered alternative, which best matches the word. For example, ‘enchanted’ is listed with four alternatives, all of which are adjectives: pleased, enamoured, bewitched and magical. If you are using the word to mean enamoured, for example, then you will find number 887 next to the word ‘enamoured’. In the front part of the book you would then go to the number 887 rather than page 887. There you will find a huge list of words that relate to the word ‘enamoured’.

I don’t use Roget’s all the time as I often want just a quick fix alternative word which I can find by either using MS Word or my other thesaurus by Collins. However, there are times when only Roget’s will do and it will often throw up ideas that you haven’t even considered. For anyone who loves words and their use and meanings, I would strongly recommend a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Fowler’s Modern English Usage

I often use Fowler’s when I’m writing and want to check my grammar. It’s an excellent quick reference guide to grammar and invaluable to any writer.

I am sure that there are many more useful books on the market for aspiring or existing novelists but the above are just a few that I have personally found helpful.

 

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My First Author Talk

A while back I was invited to do an author talk at a Manchester based writing group and, although the thought of it made me break out in a cold sweat, I agreed. This sort of thing is well out of my comfort zone and I think the last time I did any public speaking was over 25 years ago. However, I realise that, these days in particular, authors need to become more visible and interact with their readers so it was something I was determined to do.

I decided the best way to start would be with friends and family so I asked my children for some tips as they’re both university students who are used to doing this sort of thing. I was pleased to find that they were really helpful and understood my qualms.

Signing some books

Next I decided to get in some practice on family and friends then extend it to larger groups of friends of friends. It was great to get their feedback and I found that each time I gave a talk I was feeling increasingly more confident. As I tend to over breathe when I’m nervous, one of my friends recommended meditation to practice steadying my breathing, and I have found it a great help.

My friends and family have been such a tremendous support as usual in helping me to overcome my fear of public speaking. I would like to thank each and every one of them as I benefited greatly from their input. What also surprised me was that I wasn’t just relieved after my first practice session but I also felt a tremendous buzz knowing that I was well on the way to conquering my fear. Having said that, I conducted the practice sessions from my own home (bribing friends with snacks and alcohol) so I still needed to conduct the talk in a strange environment.

My talk sparked some discussion amongst the audience.

After several practice sessions I went along to the writing group that had requested the talk. It was daunting walking into a room full of strange faces knowing that I would soon be standing in front of them for the next hour giving my talk then answering questions.  However, I tried to keep calm by telling myself that I had already conducted the talk several times before so it was essentially the same talk but to a few more people. Plus, whenever I start getting nervous and out of breath I pause, take a deep breath and continue. It was also good being able to take along my brother and his partner who helped with some of the practicalities as well as giving me moral support.

I’m thrilled to say that it went well. It took till about halfway through the talk before my nerves settled but I’ve watched a video recording and am pleased to say that the nerves don’t show. The video recordings extend to over an hour altogether with roughly half an hour for the talk and another half an hour for questions as well as a short reading afterwards. Unfortunately I’m a bit lacking in the technical department so I’ve not figured out how to upload a video recording of the event on WordPress. Therefore I’m afraid I’ve only got pictures to share. However I managed to upload a short clip to my Facebook page if you want to check that out at: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherBurnsideAuthor.

Signing for a new Heather Burnside reader

I think that so often in life we are held back by our own negative thinking as we convince ourselves that we can’t do the things that feel scary or alien to us. But I’ve just proved to myself that I can do this so I’m determined to continue giving talks in the future. I am really pleased to have already received some positive feedback from the writing group and I have already been invited to speak some more.

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Blood Ties Blog Tour

Ahead of tomorrow’s publication for Blood Ties, I thought I would give you details of the blog tour. Here are all the blogs that will be featuring Blood Ties in the following couple of weeks:

And here are the links for each of the blogs:

That Thing She Reads: http://thatthingshereads.blogspot.co.uk/

Donna’s Book Blog: https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/.

Cheeky Pea Reads and Reviews: http://cheekypeereadsandreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Jane Hunt Writer: https://jolliffe01.com/

The Secret World of a Book Blog: https://thesecretworldofabookbloggerblog.wordpress.com/

Bookish Jottings: https://bookishjottings.wordpress.com/

Good ‘n’ Ready: https://reviewerladygoodnready.blog/

Ginger Book Geek: https://gingerbookgeek.wordpress.com/

Dash Fan Book Reviews: https://dashfan81.blogspot.co.uk/

A Sky Filled with Sparkling Stars: https://askyfilledwithsparklingstarsblog.com/

Love Books Group: https://lovebooksgroup.blog/

 

I hope you enjoy reading the various reviews, features and author interviews.

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A Message to Aspiring Authors – Don’t Give Up

As the end of another year approaches I thought it would be good to write a blog post which might give encouragement to other authors. I recently read a post about famous authors who were initially rejected but then went on to be successful. Most of us have heard of authors who were initially rejected but it’s always encouraging to find out more about them. You can read the post here.

It made me think of my own journey. Admittedly, I’m nowhere near in the same league as the authors mentioned in the above post but this past year or so has seen a big turnaround in my writing career. In August of 2016 I signed a contract with Aria Fiction at Head of Zeus, and subsequently published my first book Born Bad with them on 1st July of this year. They have been excellent to work for and I’m looking forward to the launch of my second novel with them in March 2018, which is entitled Blood Ties and is already available to pre-order from Amazon.

So, back to the beginning. I started writing in 1999 when I began studying for a writing diploma with the Writer’s Bureau in Manchester although I had dabbled in a bit of poetry prior to that. The course was very comprehensive and took me until 2002 to complete.

As part of the course, students were encouraged to submit their work to agents, magazines etc. depending on the particular module being studied. It was during that time that I submitted the first three chapters and a synopsis of my first novel Slur to various agents except that, at that time, the novel was called Nightclubbin’ and had a chic lit feel to it.

Despite rejections I continued working on the novel and completed it. Then, becoming a bit disillusioned with the number of rejections I received, I put it on the backburner but swore I would return to it one day.

It actually took me 15 years before I eventually returned to my first novel. In the meantime I had changed the title and a lot of the plot and it became a crime novel.

I have documented much of the journey towards getting Slur published in previous blog posts entitled The Story of Slur and My Favourite Rejection Letter if you want to take a look. Throughout that period I read as much as I could about the craft of writing, the publishing industry (which has undergone many changes in that time) and how to promote your work.

Prior to publishing Slur independent publishing really took off and I decided to publish two parenting books. I had already drawn up an outline for one of them as part of the studies for my writing course, and I thought it had potential. It was called Kids’ Clubs and Organisations and I followed it with Great Places for Kids’ Parties.

Both of the books took up a great deal of time and effort especially the second one, which I published in colour. Unfortunately both books bombed despite one of them being featured on a well-known parenting site. They sold less than a hundred copies each, most of which were through public libraries and entailed a lot of effort in getting to the right people then sending the copies on. Apart from the library sales the books sold no more than a handful each, and left me feeling deflated after all the effort I had put in.

After I published Slur, I instantly saw a different reaction amongst friends and families and it was much better received than the two parenting books. Feeling encouraged, I went on to publish a further two novels, A Gangster’s Grip and Danger by Association, and the three books form a trilogy. I eventually made the decision to withdraw the two parenting books from the market, which I wrote about in the article entitled Why I’m Withdrawing my Parenting Books.

Despite being well received, Slur wasn’t a success straightaway. I held a promotion at the end of 2015, and made Slur free for a few days. I paid to advertise the promotion on various sites and, to my delight, this led to a dramatic increase in sales of Slur and the two other books in the trilogy. Subsequently the rank of the books improved on Amazon making them visible to more readers and also to publishers.

The improved rank only held for about six months, after which time the sales slipped again in a matter of weeks. I tried subsequent promotions but wasn’t able to emulate the success of the first one. Fortunately for me, however, the temporary improvement in rank had enabled my books to come to the attention of my publishers who approached me to discuss my work. This in turn led to me signing a three book contract with Aria Fiction in August 2016.

If you are an independent author and want to find out how to promote your books, there is a lot of information available on the Internet and in book form. In particular, I recommend Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran as a very useful guide. Sandra Beckwith also has a very helpful website at: https://buildbookbuzz.com/ where you can sign up for a newsletter with lots of free tips on book promotion. You may also find the ALLi website useful at: https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/.

It has been a long journey to gaining that publishing contract but ultimately a very gratifying one. And it isn’t over yet. On 1st March I will be publishing my second book with Aria, Blood Ties, which is already available for pre-order and is the second part of a trilogy. Then I’ll be publishing the third and final novel in the trilogy later next year.

Once the three books are published I have no idea what lies in store but I have many ideas for other novels and hope to continue writing and publishing books for many years to come. The future is a bit scary as I now depend totally on writing books for my income. However, the future is also tremendously exciting.

If you’re currently feeling disillusioned, having written a book or more and not yet seeing the rewards for all your hard work, don’t give up. Immerse yourself in as much information as you can relating to both the craft of writing and the promotional side of things. Then keep on going until you reach your end goal.

I’d like to end this blog post by wishing a Merry Christmas to all my blog readers and a very successful 2018.

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My Visit to a Clairvoyant

In January of this year I decided to visit a clairvoyant. I was going through a big transition in my life, having been through divorce the previous year and still waiting to sell the marital home where I had lived for the past 21 years. A friend had recommended the clairvoyant to me so I thought, why not?

Although I have visited a few clairvoyants in the past I had always been sceptical. I found that most of the things they told me could easily be deduced. For example, I think a clairvoyant can tell a lot by whether you are wearing a wedding ring, whether there is a mark where a ring used to be, your age group etc.

However, this visit was a completely different experience for me. The way the clairvoyant reacted when I walked into the room, and the things she told me, made me really sit up and take notice. There was no way she could have already known these things.

I deliberately kept my ring finger covered during my visit so that she couldn’t deduce anything from it. Nevertheless, she still knew that I was going through a major change in my life and was moving home. Here’s what else she told me, specifically in relation to my writing:

  1. I am going to make a big impact through the letter A and will touch people through my words. In the words of the clairvoyant, ‘I have been on a hell of a journey but it has all happened for a reason and everything will start coming together’.
  2. Autumn, probably October, is when things will start coming together. This will also be when the money starts coming in – phew.
  3. I will be writing more than one book, probably a series, and October will just be the start of it. Things will go on and on from there and it will be huge.
  4. I will have links to a city with the initial L, and there will be travel involved.
  5. Some minor worries may carry on but they should all be sorted by October. I am not to let negative thoughts get in the way.
  6. I find my writing cathartic and put a lot of myself into my work. My writing comes from the heart and I need to make sure it always does.

So, here’s my take on what the clairvoyant told me in relation to the above points:

  1. The main character in the trilogy I am currently working on is called Adele. Yes, I’ve definitely been on a hell of a journey, not only with the divorce but with so much of my life. I believe that many authors put their lives’ experiences into their work and for me this is my biggest influence.
  2. The end of October will be my first pay day with my publishers. My first book with them was published on 1st July and they pay on 90 days’ terms, none of which my clairvoyant knew beforehand. Additionally, sales of my other books rose after the publication of Born Bad. Prior to that my sales had gone down to around half a dozen books a day but, thanks to the pick-up in sales, the end of October will see an increase in my income from The Riverhill Trilogy.
  3. I had already been commissioned to write a trilogy before I went to see the clairvoyant but, again, she wasn’t aware of this.
  4. I wonder if this relates to the fact that my publishers are based in London.
  5. When it comes to worrying and negative thoughts I am the world’s worst. However, thankfully things are starting to come together and I also hope to complete on the house sale next month.
  6. Yes, I think I’m an emotional writer. The first part of Born Bad was loosely based on memories from my childhood. However, I wish to point out by way of a disclaimer that what happens later in the book in no way reflects any wish or desire on my part. It is simply down to my overactive imagination running riot.

The visit to the clairvoyant was a real eye opener for me and it has certainly changed my views on clairvoyants. In fact, I’m thinking of booking a return visit at the beginning of next year.

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Born Bad Follow up Now Available

I’m very excited to announce that Blood Ties, the follow-up to Born Bad and book two of my new trilogy, is already available to pre-order from Amazon. You can grab your copy using the link: http://viewBook.at/BloodTies. Publication date is 1st March 2018, which means that if you order now, you will have the book delivered to your Kindle as soon as that date arrives.

To give you a taster of what’s in store, here’s the fabulous cover that my publishers have designed together with the book blurb.

Adele Robinson is locked up – convicted for the murder of her abusive father. She quickly realizes that she’ll have to play it tough if she’s going to survive, and soon gains a reputation for standing her ground.

Meanwhile, her brother Peter is building his criminal empire on the outside – running protection rackets, seedy nightclubs and all manner of schemes to make a fast buck. He soon comes to the attention of, not only the police, but also Manchester’s rival gangs, and a turf war breaks out.

And when things start to get bloody, only Adele can step in to protect the family business. Will she get out in time to save Peter? After all, blood is thicker than water, and when family’s in trouble you can’t look the other way.

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I hope you’ll agree that the book blurb is very enticing. March might seem a long way off but with Christmas coming upon us, the time will soon fly by.

Big thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Born Bad, recommended it to others and left a review. It has surpassed all my expectations, peaking at an Amazon UK rank of 41 last week, and it continues to sell well. I hope that my readers will enjoy the second book just as much.

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