Cover Reveal – “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”

Here it is at last – the cover for my new book “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”. I’ve finally reached the formatting and proofreading stage so I should be publishing the Kindle version soon. Following that, I’ll be making arrangements to have a print version published. If you want to be informed of the launch dates you can subscribe to my mailing list. I promise not to divulge your details to any third parties and will only use your email address to send you updates regarding my books.
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You may have noticed the starburst so I’ll tell you a little more:
There are 13 special offers in the back of the book from 11 organisations and they’re all exclusive to people buying the book. Some of the organisations are big, well-known companies so it’s well worth buying the book to save money on your children’s birthday parties. In my next blog post I’ll be listing the organisations that are featuring offers in the book. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.
The book has a similar cover to my first book, “Kids’ Clubs and Organisations” because they are part of a series of parenting books that I will be writing. However, each of these books can be read separately as well. There are 23 organisations featured in the book altogether. The three photographs shown on the cover were supplied by three of the organisations featured in the book: Wacky Warehouse, My Pamper Parties and Tameside Sports Trust. You’ll also find lots of lovely colour photographs throughout the book, which most of the organisations have kindly supplied. Co-ordinating all the information, photographs etc. was a challenge so it’s good to have reached this stage and I can’t wait to finally complete and publish the book.

Are Amazon Revealing too Much?

I’m referring specifically to Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature. “A great idea”, many may say, both from an author’s and a reader’s point of view. For novelists it gives them the opportunity to display the quality of their work. Hopefully they will also be able to hook the reader so that he or she will want to read more and will therefore purchase the book.

From the reader’s point of view this feature is also advantageous. Often readers can tell in the first few pages whether they will enjoy a book. So, this facility gives readers the chance to sample the product before making a purchasing decision.

A situation where everyone wins, you may think. But what if you are a non-fiction author?

Amazon Look Inside FeatureThe Disadvantage for Non-Fiction Authors

This feature can cause problems for non-fiction authors. I will cite my first book “Kids’ Clubs and Organisations” as a specific example to illustrate my point. I think that the ‘Look Inside’ feature was detrimental to my first book and I remember feeling displeased when Amazon automatically added it. Although I had a good look around the author area I couldn’t find a way to opt out of this, but I am a self-confessed technophobe so it may just be that I couldn’t find the instructions. If anyone knows how to remove the ‘Look Inside’ feature I would be eternally grateful for your guidance.

The reason why I feel that ‘Look Inside’ has been detrimental to my first book is because one of the book’s selling points is that it introduces parents to kids’ clubs that they may not have realised existed. The contents page describes exactly what type of clubs they are, so some people, having been given the idea for free, could decide to do their own research. Of course, there will be many details that they won’t find on the Internet as I gained a lot of input from the organisations involved with the book. However, this is something that people won’t realise when they view the contents page. I think this disadvantage may have influenced the fact that I sold far more books outside of Amazon than I sold through the site.

I am not saying that this is the only factor that influenced my Amazon sales. Another factor may be because the title is quite formal and may make the book appear more like a library reference book rather than a book that parents and children can read together. I have addressed this factor with my new book by making the title more parent and child friendly. I also hope to include lots of lovely colour images. There is no doubt that self-publishing teaches you a lot and I have taken on board all the lessons that I learnt during the publication and promotion of my first book.

How my Second Book will address the ‘Look Inside’ Issue

With my second book I am avoiding the above situation by making my chapter headings more cryptic, then putting a sub-heading inside the book, which expands on the main chapter heading. The cryptic headings are also intended to add to the fun factor so that the book will appeal to parents and their children.

I have noticed that some authors put the contents page at the back of their Kindle books and I wonder if they do this so that readers don’t see the contents until they buy the book. From a reader’s perspective, however, I prefer to see the contents page at the start of the book, and this is the reason why I have decided not to follow this path.

N.B. My second book is nearing completion and I will be sharing more information about the book on this blog and on the books page of my website in the coming weeks.

If you have a view regarding the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature, I would love to receive your feedback in the comments box below.

My Favourite Books

I love reading and am one of those people that passes on books after I have read them (unless they are on my Kindle), then I tend to forget them. There are a few books, however, that I haven’t forgotten and a couple of these are so good that I have even kept a copy. My two particular favourites are:

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

We studied this book for ‘A’ level English Literature many years ago, and I still remember my English teacher raving about it. His observation was that every time you read the book you come across something you missed previously because it is full of imagery and symbolism. I agree with him. I have read the book several times now and periodically return to it every few years. The one disappointment for me is that it has a tragic ending.

Guests of the Emperor by Janice Young-Brooks

I had never heard of Janice Young-Brooks, an American author, before I read this book and, from what I recall, I think I just stumbled on the book by chance. I had heard that the 1980s TV series ‘Tenko’ was based on this book, which tells the story of a group of women taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War Two. However, as the book was published after the TV series was screened, it might well be the other way around.
The appeal of the book for me lies in that classic theme of triumph over adversity. Right from the opening, when many ladies had to swim to shore after they were shipwrecked, the book had me gripped. It is a tale of resilience, bravery and resourcefulness, and it is amazing how dire situations can soon become accepted as the norm even by those used to a life of privilege. I enjoyed the book so much that I got hold of other books by the same author and read every one of them. Unfortunately though, I didn’t find any of them as enjoyable.

Favourite Genres

Bookshop I also like to explore different genres but there are a couple of genres in particular that I always come back to. These genres appeal to me at various times; sometimes I’ll fancy reading a good thriller and at other times I want to lose myself in a saga, especially a tale of triumph over adversity or rags to riches. Some cynics may say that this type of book always ends the same i.e. the heroine wins through in the end. In fact, my son enjoys teasing me about my love of sagas. My mother in law also enjoyed sagas and when my son teased her about their predictability, she replied, “It’s not about where the heroine ends up in her life, but what she went through to get there.” Well said!

I also have my favourite authors for each of these genres:

Thrillers

I think that I have read virtually everything written by Geoffrey Deaver, Nicci French, Minette Walters and Val McDermid. The first time I ever read a book by Geoffrey Deaver I just couldn’t put it down. He’s brilliant at building up the tension and suspense. Minette Walters is another great writer and one of my favourite Minette Walters books was ‘Acid Row’, another one that I couldn’t put down. Nicci French is actually the name used by a husband and wife team who write together. Their real names are Nicci Gerard and Sean French, a couple of Oxford graduates who also write individually. I haven’t tried any of their individual books yet but I’ve read most of the ones that they have written as a duo. They are excellent at psychological thrillers. Val McDermid has also written many good books, some of which have been adapted for television. I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever read a bad book by her.

Sagas

When I go on holiday to Spain there are a few English second-hand book stores in the town where we stay, and I love to rummage through for what I call my ‘granny books’. I can really lose myself in Readinga good old rags to riches story whilst chilling on my sunbed – total relaxation! There are so many well-known authors that write for this genre; Catherine Cookson, Meg Hutchinson, Anna King etc. My favourite by far though is Sara Fraser who wrote the Tildy series. Surprisingly the writer is actually a man; Sara Fraser is the pen-name for Roy Clews, a former Marine Commando. The Tildy series recounts the struggles of Tildy, a strong, resilient woman who survives a life of hardship during 19th century Britain. Clews does an excellent job of writing from a woman’s perspective; perhaps the male touch is the reason why the character he has created is so tough.

I am also discovering a wealth of new books by independent authors. The beauty of these books is that there is so much diversity and they are introducing me to a wide range of genres and cross-genres. In the last few months I have read chic-lit, thrillers (both from a male and female perspective), a Western, literary novels, comedies, true life accounts and non-fiction.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about my reading habits; I’d love to hear about yours too. What type of books do you like to read and why? Do you have any favourite genres or authors? Please feel free to share your views by leaving your comments below.

Writing Plans Update

A couple of weeks ago I outlined my writing plans for the future. I had returned from holiday all fired up and ready to get my books out there. Well, it’s been a busy couple of weeks since then so I thought I’d share my progress with you.Free Book Promo

Free Book Promo – I’ve set the date for 21st August and here is the link that you need to visit to get your free Kindle download www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008IG41DU. Since I set the date I’ve been working very hard on getting the word out. Free book promos do not have the miraculous results they used to have on Amazon so I realise that it’s important to let as many people know about it as possible if it’s to be a success. In addition to that, my readership for “Kids’ Clubs and Organizations – A Comprehensive UK Guide” is UK only, as confirmed by the sub-title. This means that I have to work extra hard on spreading the word as my readership is substantially smaller than that for novels etc., which sell worldwide.

So what have I been doing up to now to publicise the promo?

Sending emailsWell, to start with I’ve notified over 20 websites that advertise free book promotions. I’ve also emailed a couple of sites that specialise in parenting promotions although I’ve not had any response from them to date. A few of the book promotion sites have kindly agreed to feature the book though. Next, I’ve mithered the life out of friends and relatives and asked them to share any posts on their Facebook pages. I was really pleased with the response and send a big thank you to everybody who offered to help.

I’m currently scheduling lots of tweets to book tweeters and parenting groups to try to build up a big buzz in the couple of weeks preceding the promotion. I’ve also joined Facebook groups and Google+ communities that will allow promotional author posts, so I will be adding mine a few days before my promotion. I really need to get more active on Goodreads as well so that I can utilise it to greater advantage. For those of you who are non-authors, Goodreads is a vast writing community with a massive following. Consequently, independent authors are constantly advised that having a presence on the site is an absolute must.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank my lovely author friend Alice Huskisson in advance for showing me the way to manage my free book promo. This will be the first one I’ve done so all the information I found through her blog and her one to one advice have really helped. Alice is the author of the brilliant The Man in a Haystack. If you read and enjoyed Bridget Jones’ Diary then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book, which logs Alice’s experiences of Internet dating. You can find out more about Alice at: http://alicehuskissonauthor.wordpress.com/.Writing Books

My Second Parenting Book – As I’ve been so focused on the free book promo and client work, my second book is still 70% complete as it was a couple of weeks ago. However, I have now received information from all but one of the 23 organisations that will be featured in the book. This means that once I get back to writing the book, it shouldn’t take too long to finish. I’m so looking forward to publishing my second book and I’ll update you as we get nearer to publication date. For this parenting book I plan to include colour photographs but I haven’t quite ironed out how that will work in practice so I think there will be fun and games ahead.

My Debut Novel – I originally planned to publish my first novel “Slur” towards the end of 2013, but it may now have to wait until early 2014. It’s difficult to predict at this point as it depends on my client workload and how long it takes to complete my second parenting book. Again, I’ll keep you updated via the blog.

I enjoy receiving feedback from readers of my blog so if you have any questions or comments regarding any of the above, feel free to let me have your comments below. If you’ve enjoyed reading the blog, please let me know by hitting the ‘like’ button.

What’s a Holiday without a Good Book?

One of the great pleasures on holiday for me is to be able to read, read and read. I don’t get the chance to read as much as I’d like to at home. This is partly because of lack of time but also due partly to a bit of a self-confessed TV addiction in the evenings. Therefore holidays give me a great opportunity to enjoy a few good books. Not that that’s the only pleasure that I indulge in on holiday, but as this is essentially a writing blog we’ll skip the other indulgences for now.

I don’t usually take my Kindle on holiday due to the sand/sun lotion/seawater dilemma so Indie’s are out I’m afraid. Instead I read traditionally published books on holiday although I read a lot of books by independent authors and publishers when I’m at home. These are my choices for this year’s holiday:

20130710_133137The Life and Death of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Books about ghosts and spirits don’t usually appeal to me but I thought I’d give this one a whirl. Having already started this book pre-holiday, I am finding it really enjoyable. The book is so well written that it is convincing even to a sceptic like me. On taking a peek at the acknowledgements at the back of the book I note that the author has done a lot of research and this has obviously paid off. Aside from the subject matter, the book is essentially a love story and a very enjoyable one. I had previously read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (also on the subject of life after death) and wasn’t overly impressed. In my opinion The Life and Death of Charlie St Cloud is a much better book.

The Ladykiller by Martina Cole20130710_133048
I’ve read a few books by Martina Cole in the past and I’ve found some better than others. However, for me she is an inspiring author and I intend to read more of her books in the future. When I was at Stockport Book Fare recently I found a stall with an excellent selection of books by Martina Cole. I was deliberating over which one to try next when the stall holder insisted that I should choose The Ladykiller. Apparently it is one of the best books he has read in a long time so this one comes highly recommended and I can’t wait to start it. At over 700 pages I think it will keep me well occupied during my holiday.

Sharon Osborne – Survivor
I have to confess to my penchant for the occasional celeb autobiography although I probably wouldn’t touch anything by anyone under the age of 25. I’m afraid that in my opinion if you’re going to write about life then you need to have lived a bit first. Sharon Osbourne has certainly had a more eventful life than most. I also enjoy finding out what goes on behind the TV screen. So, all in all, it should make for an interesting read if I can squeeze it in after the gigantic Martina Cole book. My only reservation is that it’s one of several so I’ll probably have to buy the previous books if I want to find out more about her earlier life.20130710_133152

What books would you choose to take on holiday, and why, or do you normally not bother with reading on holiday? Feel free to let me have your feedback in the comments area below. If you would like my verdict on any of these books once I’ve finished them, please let me know; I’ll be happy to share my thoughts.