My Cringe Moment

It’s a fact that I don’t enjoy book promotion but I know it’s something I have to do. Although my first book was featured in regional magazines i.e. regions outside the one in which I reside, I took the bold decision to approach my local press this time round. The reason why it’s a bold decision is because I’m basically quite shy, hate drawing attention to myself and avoid having my photograph taken if at all possible. However, the Tameside Reporter has done me proud with a full page feature – so large that I’ve had to scan it into the computer in two halves. Unfortunately it’s so big that I haven’t found a way to get the text large enough to show on screen apart from the headings.

I must admit that I find the whole thing slightly embarrassing and will either stay indoors for the next few days or otherwise walk around with my head bowed down, hood over my head and scarf around the lower half of my face (it is winter after all). Anyway, without further adieu, here it is, complete with me wearing a false smile and daytime makeup subtly applied especially for the occasion:

Tameside Rep 1

 

Tameside Rep 2

Have you got any cringe moments you’d like to share? Go on, indulge me. Don’t let me go through this alone.

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Book Promotion Continued

It’s been a busy week with the ongoing promotion for “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”. Here are just a few of the exciting things that have been happening:

Book Reviews

“Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” has already received some favourable reviews on Amazon. Here are some of the comments:

“Great ‘dip into’ resource for harassed parents with shallow pockets! Well researched, well written and easy to use. I would recommend this book to all parents/carers in need of inspiration in organising kids’ parties with a difference without breaking the bank!”
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“A real gem, I would recommend this to anyone, the possibilities for its use are endless. There are also exclusive offers and discounts available too, which is amazing. Me being a neat freak means that this book greatly appeals to me as it is so organised and informative, and parents who are more fly by the seat of your pants people will love this book for its simplicity and ease of use. A great idea.”
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“Who knew there were so many choices for birthday parties in the UK! There are some great ideas I never would have thought of. This guide is full of useful tips too, the detail the author has gone into is fab. A great one stop shop, will save me plenty of time trawling the internet for ideas.”
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The book will be featured on a couple of parenting review sites and parenting magazines over the next few weeks. The first of these is already online at the book reviews for mums website and you can see it here. Big thanks to Becky Goddard-Hill for kindly featuring a review of my book on her website.

Local Press InterviewRadio Interview

I’ve got my first local press interview on Monday for a feature about me and my books, which will appear in next week’s edition of the Tameside Reporter together with a competition to win a copy of the book. The interview will be recorded for local radio as well, which will be a bit nerve-wracking, but it’s all part of the author experience. Additionally, I’m waiting to hear back from a local magazine about the possibility of a photocall at my local bookshop.

Stockists

Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” is available in digital and print versions at Amazon and can be ordered online from Waterstones. I have also arranged with a couple of book/gift shops to take initial stock of a few copies of the book. However, at this point it isn’t a long-term arrangement so fingers crossed that the books will sell well with them.

If you have any questions or tips on book promotion for independent authors, please feel free to share your comments in the box below.

Netmums Book Giveaway

My guest blog for Netmums has now been published and, as a bonus, readers have the chance to win one of five copies of my latest book “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”. You can find the blog post here. To be in with a chance of winning a signed print copy of my book all you have to do is post a comment in response to my guest blog on Netmums. The article is full of useful tips about taking the stress out of kid’s parties so it’s well worth a read if you have young children.

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There’ll also be a chance for readers of my local newspaper, the Tameside Reporter, to win a copy of my book through a competition which they will be running in conjunction with a feature about me and my books. I’m expecting a call from them any time now to arrange the interview.

If you don’t have any luck with the Netmums competition but would still like a copy of the book, you can purchase it in either Kindle or print format at Amazon. I’m also currently sourcing further stockists for my book so I’ll be adding details to the books page of my main website in the coming weeks.

Let the Book Promo Begin

I was a little late starting the promotion for “Great Places for Kids Parties (UK) for various reasons, which I’ve covered in previous blogs. Thankfully I’ve now made a good start with the promise of a guest blog on the netmums website. This is one of the biggest parenting websites in the UK and the guest post is already written and agreed. Apparently it’s just a matter of scheduling it and then it will be up and running on the site. The topic is all about taking the stress out of children’s parties. An impossible feat you might think but believe it or not it can be done as long as you make sure that you have everything organised well in advance.

I’ve also written two other guest posts, which are currently appearing on the following sites:

Kiddy Cook – This guest blog relates to why kids’ cookery parties are a good idea and you can see it at: http://www.kiddycook.co.uk/blog/.

Tameside Sports Trust – This blog announces the inclusion of Tameside Sports Trust’s swimming parties in my book, and you can read all about it here.

Parenting Magazines

As my name isn’t Jo Frost or Miriam Stoppard I realise that any editorial I receive in parenting magazines is more likely to come through regionals rather than nationals. That won’t stop me trying though so waSpringtch this space. In terms of regional parenting magazines, most of them tend to be quarterly, which means that they will be planning their Spring editions now. I have therefore been sending emails out fast and frantically to try to get some coverage in their Spring issues. I’ve just got my first one agreed which is for a 800-1000 word article in a Southern based magazine, which has a good coverage. I’m pleased with that one but am working on getting into a few more magazines yet.

Print Copies

My print copies have finally arrived so I’ve been busy packaging and sending complementary copies to each of the organisations that were involved in the book. It’s my thank you for their contributions to the book as each one of them provided detailed information that cannot be found on the company websites, and they were willing to answer my probing questions. I’m especially thankful to the 11 organisations that featured exclusive special offers as these will no doubt increase the appeal of this book.

Still to Do

I’ve a few more blogs and parenting magazines to approach yet. With my last book I found that most magazines don’t respond unless you follow up your email so I’ll probably be phoning a few of the larger ones.
In terms of local coverage, I haven’t even started yet so there’s lots still to do. I’ll be updating my blog with news of any articles, reviews, competitions etc. which may be featured in publications over the coming weeks.
You can find details of both my parenting books plus details of my soon to be released novel on the book page of my website at: http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/books.html.

New Year Writing Plans 2014

What an exciting year lies ahead! As well as doing the promotion for my second parenting book I hope to publish my debut novel at last. In fact, in some ways this year may see the culmination of many years of writing effort for me. Read on to find out what I have planned.

Book Promotion 

My second parenting book “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” was published to the Kindle at the end of November. Since then I have been absorbed by a mixture of working on client projects and arranging to have the book printed cost-effectively. The latter has proved more challenging than I anticipated as the book is in colour, which is expensive to print. Thankfully I got there in the end; my book is now with the printer and I hope to release the print version very soon. However, time spent searching for the right printing arrangement together with my client workload have meant that my promotional efforts have been virtually nil.Emails

As we go into the New Year I intend to remedy this situation. My first port of call will be with the parenting magazines and fortunately I have a list of contact details that I used when I marketed my first parenting book. Because many of the regional parenting magazines are issued quarterly, they have quite lengthy lead-in times. This means I need to approach them now if I want to secure any editorial in their Easter editions. If I manage to achieve this it should coincide quite nicely with the special offers featured in the book as they start to become effective from April onwards.

As well as approaching parenting magazines I will be contacting various parenting blogs and others involved with childcare, children’s parties, family days out and additional related topics. Hopefully they will be interested in guest blog posts, interviews or features related to the book. Once I receive my shiny new copies of the book I will also be hauling it around various book shops and gift shops. So, it looks as though the promotion will be keeping me busy for a few weeks yet.

Debut Novel

I know I’ve been promising this for some time, but I will definitely be publishing my debut novel this year. It has already been written – it just needs, fact-checking, editing and proof-reading and then I’m ready to run with it. In fact, it was written many years ago. At the moment though, I want to concentrate on promoting “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” as much as possible. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that it is a quality product that will appeal to book shops and others. I therefore owe it to myself to continue my efforts now that I have reached the promotion stage.

Schedule NovelOnce I feel that I’ve given it my all I will start to shift my focus onto the novel. One thing I will say though is that novel writing requires a different writing approach to non-fiction writing. I therefore intend to brush up on some of the techniques that I learnt on my writing course as I’ve become a little rusty. If I come across any valuable writing tips I’ll share them via the blog. It will be interesting to view my own work from yesteryear and see what I think of it now that I have the benefit of a few years commercial writing experience.

Website

As well as doing a bit of snagging and general tidying up of my main website (http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/), I also have other plans for the website in the long-term. These plans will involve an extension of the book page (http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/books.html) by adding book excerpts and other book related information and functionality. I’m also planning to host interviews of fellow authors on the blog. (N.B. My WordPress blog is imbedded into the blog page of my main website so you can also access it from there.) These plans are all for the long-term though. I figure I’ve got enough to concentrate on for now.

I have to say that the Christmas break has enabled me to relax and refocus. Prior to Christmas I was becoming totally encumbered with work and more than a little frustrated as I seemed to be ‘chasing my tail’ and not getting very far. Thankfully I am now feeling more refreshed and ready to face the challenges and hopefully the joys that 2014 will bring. How about you? What are your plans for the coming year – writing or otherwise? Please feel free to share them using the comments box below.

Publishing Kindle EBooks with Complex Layouts

There’s no doubt that being able to publish and sell your own books online is a great experience and one that many Independent authors are taking advantage of. When it comes to publishing eBooks with complex layouts though, things can get a little tricky. I encountered a few problems whilst publishing my second book so I’ve described these below together with details of how I tackled them.

Imagesparties
When I published my first parenting book some of the feedback suggested that it would have benefited from colour images. Therefore, as Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK) is a similar type of book, I decided to include colour images throughout. As I wrote each chapter I collected photographs from the organisations featured in the chapters. I didn’t bother about the image format at that point as I decided to tackle that matter as and when I needed to. I only had a vague idea at the time of how many images I would include, and thought that perhaps I wouldn’t use them all, especially if some didn’t fit the required format.
In the end I decided to include a picture for each chapter as the photographs I received were so lovely. When I started to format the book for publication to the Kindle I found that the Amazon specifications were that no image should exceed 127KB. A quick check revealed that most of my picture files were several megabytes so I knew that I had a bit of a problem on my hands.
I set about converting the images on my software but it wasn’t sophisticated enough to change the picture quality as well as the picture size. Therefore, in order to reduce the file size sufficiently it resulted in images that were only about an inch in width. Fortunately, the wonderful Alice Huskisson stepped in and offered to convert the images using her Adobe Photoshop package. Alice managed to convert the images to as near to 127KB as possible without exceeding that file size. At the same time, the quality was still really good, so big, big thanks to Alice.

Bullets and Numbered Lists
Gymnastics picI knew from my previous publication that there would be a problem converting bullets for the Kindle. However, last time it was a bit hit and miss and I couldn’t really determine why it worked on some occasions but not others. As bullets and numbered lists form such an integral part of this book I decided to run with it and tackle whatever problems presented themselves once I had attempted the upload to Amazon.
This time, fortunately, I discovered the crux of the problem. Providing the text in your bullet points does not extend for more than one line on the Kindle, the bullets convert fine. However, if the text runs onto the following line the bullets will appear skew wift. This meant that I had to go through the entire book and reduce the bullet points to no more than four or five words. Where this wasn’t possible I got round the problem by putting N.B. at the end of the set of bullet points and adding any extra points that were necessary. With numbered lists I sometimes had to treat each numbered point as a separate paragraph without a number. Fortunately, it worked out well and hasn’t had a negative impact on the layout.

Hyperlinks
This is a problem that I didn’t encounter the first time round and one for which I had to involve my resident IT expert. This book actually has a lot less hyperlinks than the first book. Although I have tried to include references to further information I deliberately reduced the number of hyperlinks as these don’t work so well in a print version (which will follow soon). Despite this, I still encountered a problem when I converted the document from Word to HTML ready to upload into Amazon. Here’s what happened:
In Word, and in the converted HTML document, hyperlinks show as coloured and underlined. They are very useful because the Kindle allows the reader to follow the hyperlink in order to access further information. Unfortunately, when I converted to HTML there were a few areas of the document where the colour and underlined text extended beyond the hyperlink. In a couple of instances this meant that there were several paragraphs of text that were coloured and underlined. I played around with the document in Word but couldn’t find a solution.

Over to my resident IT expert.

The only way in which we could solve the problem was for my hubby to actually alter the HTML code. The book looks fine now but unfortunately it means that my Word document doesn’t reflect these amendments. So, if I want to make any Kids at Chester Zoochanges in the future I can’t do them myself as they will have to be carried out using the amended HTML document. Needless to say, I’ve given my hubby advance warning that I will be needing his help again when the special offers in the book expire. He’s asked me to point out that he isn’t taking on any assignments from other authors – ha ha! How lucky am I?

I’m pleased to say that despite these little niggles I got there in the end (with a little help from my friends/husband) and the pictures look great. I couldn’t resist including a few images from the book again with this blog – I’m so proud of them! You can have a look inside the book with Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GXHQ02G. I also have to add that after experiencing all the intricacies of publishing this type of book, publishing a novel should be an absolute doddle.

No doubt these words will come back to haunt me. 

If you want to find out about my other books including future publications you can check out the book page of my website at: http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/books.html.

Book Launch – “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”

I am pleased to announce that I have now published my second parenting book “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” in digital format. It is available to purchase at: http://www.amazon.co.uParty Settingsk/dp/B00GXHQ02G and a print version of the book will follow in the next few weeks. It was no mean feat as I had a few technical problems when trying to upload the book to Amazon, but I’ll save that for another blog. It’s time to tell you a little about the book:

A big feature of the book is the exclusive special offers from big name party venues as detailed in my last blog. The offers range from free gifts to party discounts of up to 20%. They are exclusive to the book which means that you have to purchase a copy and show your receipt in order to qualify.

Another plus with this book is that it’s full of valuable information to help you prepare for your child’s party. Often parents arrange a party and are unaware of exactly what is involved. This can mean that they arrive at the party venue expecting everything to be taken care of only to find out that they have a bigger role than they thought. There’s nothing worse than trying to organise a room full of excitable children when you’re not really sure what you’re supposed to be doing. This book tells you everything you need to know. I have collaborated with 23 organisations featured in the book, which means that I have been able to provide details that you won’t find on the company websites.

Astro Slide“Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” can also help you with ideas and inspiration for your parties. A quick check of the relevant chapter of the book and you will know whether your child’s dream party is a viable option. After all, it’s no good if your child has his heart set on a particular party only for you to find out that it is too expensive or that it is not available for his age group. I’ve also included lots of fun colour pictures to really get you in the party mood.

Each chapter of the book features a different party location or theme, and has a case study of a party venue or organiser. The case studies provide the following information:

– How you can prepare for the party e.g. how far in advance you need to book, when payment for the party is due, whether the venue supplies invitations etc.
– What a typical party involves.
– How many children the venue can hold.
– The age group for that type of party.
– The catering arrangements.
– The cost and what is included in the cost.Ball Pool
– Any additional points that you need to consider.

I have tried to include organisers that have venues UK-wide or that travel to different areas of the UK. Where this hasn’t been possible for certain themes I have included tips on finding similar parties in your area.

The special offers featured in the book are time sensitive so if you want to take advantage of them it’s best to buy your copy as soon as possible. I’ve covered a wide range of parties that are available throughout the UK so there should be something for everyone. With a bit of preparation you should be able to ensure that everything runs smoothly. So on the day of the party you will be able to relax while the children have fun as you will have the peace of mind of knowing that everything has been taken care of.

I appreciate that not all people reading this blog will be parents of young children, but if you know anyone that is please feel free to tell them all about this book.