My Cover story #amwriting #writersworld

D’nah! The big reveal—may I present the cover to my next book, Highland Fling, coming soon to an online book store near you…

cover picture of Highland FlingAnd behind every cover, there’s a story. Literally, of course, given that this is a book, but I’d like to share with you the story of Enni, Eric and me, a weird and wonderful coincidence the universe in her wisdom gave me. Blessing be upon you, mamma.

Firstly, Enni. So, there I am on Wattpad, bumbling along posting up stories, attracting a few followers and reads (though nothing like the numbers the popular guys and gals get), doing the odd thing that gets attention (hello Wattys2018) and creating my own niche genres such as plus-size vampire erotica*. All in all, Wattpad isn’t all it promised from the outset. I think about leaving and concentrating my efforts elsewhere.

Graphic design

And then I find myself a new follower who starts adding a lot of comments to my stuff. Highland Fling’s protagonist is a graphic designer—so is my new follower. Highland Fling includes a character from New Zealand—my new follower is also a Kiwi, albeit an adopted one. She fills me in on the practicalities of graphic design. My Kiwi slang is right in parts, wrong in others. She tells me outside of Auckland, the nickname for Aucklanders is Jafas. I leave it to your superior imagination to guess what the acronym stands for. You can leave your answers in the comments if you like, though please use stars for the F-bit.

Fast forward a bit, and the Wattpad commenter and I take our conversations off Wattpad and onto email. Reader, I have done this a lot over the last six or seven years and I heartily recommend it. I’ve done this with folks I’ve met through LinkedIn (hello Eric, Gordon, Russell and Ann-Louise!), Upwork (hello Caron, Sharon and Jenni!), and now Wattpad. My new NZ friend is thinking about setting up a side hustle as a book cover designer and she volunteers to use my book as her guinea pig. She’s read it too, so unlike most book cover designers, she knows the story inside out. She sends me the cover and I’m overwhelmed. What a stroke of luck.

You can find her website at yummybookcovers.com

Beta readers

My other stroke of luck is Eric, of LinkedIn fame. He volunteered to beta read my story; and he’s a retired editor with many years’ experience. I told him not to get too bogged down in correcting my dodgy grasp of the English language because I didn’t want the task to take up too much of his time, but he did so anyway. A professional editor read over my book and offered tonnes of useful suggestions**. Eric tells me he’s thinking of a side hustle too offering beta reader services, and if you are in the market for such critiques why not give him a shout? Eric’s beta reading service will:

  • offer feedback on your plot and characters, and opinions on clarity
  • make suggestions for plot developments you might want to consider
  • tell you the words and phrases you overuse, and pull you up on cliché use
  • point out which physical actions your characters take are impossible.

Blessing be upon you, mamma universe again.

*My most popular book on Wattpad to date. Who knew? It’s here, if you’re interested…

**Writing this with him in mind, and worrying about my terrible sentence construction habits.

Book + Main and plans, plans, plans

Books + Main on Emma Baird's blogPlans for this year included smarter social media use—y’know, instead of that jumping from platform to platform, creating accounts left, right and centre, updating all of them in fits of enthusiasm and then tumble-weed for weeks at a time.

Reader, that was me. Not any more; I now have a spreadsheet. Yes, yours truly has come up with the super-sad spreadsheet which outlines what platforms she will use and when. Lord, it’s a thing of joy. I’m tempted to upload it here so you too can marvel at it. It’s the Marie Kondo approach to organising my butterfly brain and getting rid of the clutter.

Honestly, I keep opening this spreadsheet and gazing at it, awe-struck. A double bonus is that I recently found out how to do strike-through font in Excel, so not only do I have my list but I CAN CROSS THINGS OUT WHEN I’VE DONE THEM.

So, bye-bye Pinterest and Google+, cheerio to random log-ins to accounts* and hello Book+Main and scheduled postings and checks. Book + Main, in case you haven’t heard of it, is a new platform specifically designed to connect writers of women’s fiction and romance in particular, with writers. It seems the ideal place to be. It’s predictably pink and hearts-like in design, but there we go. For the moment author accounts are free and you can showcase your work there.

I’ve posted up what they refer to as ‘bites’. Book + Main’s creator reasons book blurbs rarely give you a feel for the writing, whereas an extract will. Unlike Amazon, the writer gets to choose the extract so it doesn’t have to be the first few pages. I’ll report back—hopefully with news that my account has taken off, I’ve been bitten thousands of times and my book sales have soared.

I love the new and shiny, and every time I embark on something new, I tell myself this is going to work—hooray! As Winston Churchill once put it, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

I embrace that saying fully.

*time wasting, social media’s main role in my life so far.

Patreon – Supporting Creatives

This week, I decided it was about time I became a Patreon. For those of you who haven’t heard of the business, Patreon offers artists, writers and other creatives payment through a voluntary scheme where you can sign up to pay the person regularly.

YouTubers, podcasters and bloggers often use Patreon, and Patreon subscribers get extra material such as additional audio content, Q and A sessions with the creator and more. I’ve been listening to The Creative Penn podcast for two years, and I’ve learned a lot from Joanna Penn and her guests.

The podcast is aimed at indie publishers, but it doesn’t concentrate on the marketing part of the business. Marketing is crucial for any self-publisher, but entire podcasts on the subject become dull after a while. They target a certain audience too—the people who have enough completed projects to market, when many of us are looking for advice about creating covers, finding a good editor, creating the right author mindset in the first place.

All aspects of writing

Joanna’s show talks about many aspects to writing—from growth, to protecting your intellectual property, scaling up your business and the craft of writing. Every podcast begins with news about the publishing industry which is always fascinating and useful.

Joanna is known for content marketing. Her podcast is a prime example. The aim behind content marketing is creating a relationship with audiences—in the hope they buy something from you, eventually. My two years’ free listening to the show needled my conscience. If you enjoy it and use it, pay for it…

I listen to a lot of podcasts and many of them are also Patreon-modelled too. So far I’ve ignored the pleas, though occasionally I unsubscribe, deciding that if I’m not willing to pay, I shouldn’t listen. The same applies for online news sites that ask for subscriptions, such as the Guardian. As I’m too mean (and also poor) to pay, I try not to read them.

Advice for diabetics

I’d love to make one of my blogs Patreon supported—the Diabetes Diet one is the more likely candidate as I write this with a doctor and we have useful advice to offer. (In contrast, this blog is a collection of witterings, the majority of it irrelevant to most of you.) But the Diabetes Diet website would need a design overhaul first, and some thought put into how you work a blog for Patreons so they get more than your average viewer. The idea is something to consider for 2019.

One of Joanna’s oft-repeated messages is the importance of multiple streams of income, so you aren’t dependent on one pay master. I have multiple streams of income; it’s just that none of them make me big sums of money. On the other hand, a varied working life makes me very happy. Picking the hours I work or don’t is another bonus. If I weigh up money versus happiness, I come down hard in favour of the ‘h’ word.

On a separate topic, the week kicked off well when my sister sent me a link to a Wikipedia page that mentioned me. My alma mater’s notable alumni included Emma Baird, author. (It’s an awfy wee school.) Whoop, whoop.