Lessons from Launching a Book

Obsessively checking KDP every day is not healthy. And it makes you feel like the world’s biggest LOSER.

Double LOSER feeling – checking other people’s rankings, which also feels stalker-ish.

Your book will move positions on the rankings terrifyingly quickly. Watch it drop 50,000 places in a few days, for example…

Repeated use of keywords work. I used chick lit 2017 in the tagline and description, and my book appears near the top of that search result.

You definitely need a tagline (or sub-heading) for your book.

You should make full use of the book description and include keywords in there.

Borrow other titles in the same genre or vein for your keywords. Use authors who write similar stuff too.

The 99p promotion works. You’ll just have to do it a lot.

People will read weird numbers of pages through the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Libraries.

Selling outside the US and the UK is HARD.

After the first week, you will be selling your book to strangers. Unless you have TONNES of friends, they are going to be your biggest market.

You will start to bore yourself going on and on about your book on Twitter et al. Self-promotion is very un-Scottish and it makes you want to shut yourself in a darkened room, hide under the bed and pull a blanket over your head.

The Girl Who Swapped is available on Amazon.

Another chapter of something I’m working on at present. It’s set about twenty-five years ago, as you might realise from the smoking reference…

“Do you know when he’s coming?”

Alfie observed her as he asked the question. In a moment of weakness earlier that week, Katrina had told him she’d had a postcard from Mick, and that he was coming to London.

It was the first time she’d ever mentioned a guy, and Alfie had stilled the second his name left her lips. He stopped what he was doing—the ever-necessary sweeping up of chopped-off hair—and looked at her.

“Who’s Mick?”

About to reply, Katrina paused. She recognised the tone. It was the sound of someone asking something they thought was crucial, and Katrina couldn’t stand the thought of anyone knowing too much about her. Her secrets were her own. If she wasn’t prepared to share how she felt about Mick with Daisy, she certainly wasn’t sitting down to a confidential with Alfie.

She bent to the floor with the dustpan and brush. “He’s this old friend from back home. Nowheresville, remember?”

When she had started at Chevelure Chic last year, Alfie had cosied up to her straight away. The salon was miles apart from Dulcie’s, the hairdressers where she’d started her apprenticeship at the age of sixteen. There weren’t pensioners’ specials for a start, where little old ladies could come in and get their hair washed and set for less than the price of one of the glossy magazines that littered the low-slung coffee tables of Chevelure Chic’s waiting room.

No, this salon catered for what Daisy called “famouses”, the rich, the great and the good of London came here to be pampered and flattered. It had taken Katrina one or two tries to get the flattering bit right, but a few terse words from Chevelure Chic’s owner had done the trick. Nowadays, she simpered with the rest of them.

Alfie, one of only two young male apprentices, waited for her outside the salon after her first day.

“Want a fag?” He held out a packet of Marlborough Lights.

Katrina wrinkled her nose up. “No. I only smoke menthols.” She hadn’t expected him to produce those too, but he did so.

“Where are you from, love?” Alfie was a Londoner through and through. She thought his accent ugly, too harsh for someone so young. He was about her age, she guessed, and slight, another contradiction to the voice.

Like everyone who worked in the salon, he took advantage of the freebies on offer, and his hair was incredible—thick, dark and shaved in at the sides, with the top of it artfully curled and hanging forward on his face.

His hair was the best-looking bit of him. The rest Katrina didn’t care for, not when the vision of perfect maleness she held in her head was tall, blonde and blue-eyed.

“A wee place in Scotland. You’ll no’ have heard of it.” She lit the cigarette and held it to her mouth. Moving on was something Katrina was experienced at. The best way to get through it was to keep talk of where you’d come from before to a minimum.

“I might have done.”

“You won’t,” she said flatly. The denial was a waste of time anyway. When she came in the next day, he smiled at her triumphantly.

“Kirkcudbright! I bribed Michelle to let me check your records to see where you’d worked before.”

He pronounced it the way all English people did. Kirk-cud-bright.

She poked her tongue out. “It’s Cur-coo-bree, smart arse. And up yours.”

“Want to go for a drink after work?”
“No.”

Nevertheless, she did go out with him a week later. In the company of the other young hairdressers, admittedly, but out. After a while, she began to like his company. He was sarcastic, and he did a great impression of the boss, Rick Javeson. Alfie didn’t push her either, seemingly content to have her to talk to, the two of them bitching about their boss and colleagues.

“I dunno when he’s coming,” she said now. Katrina and Alfie stood outside, in the narrow alleyway that ran by the side of the premises, taking a fag break. It was now a regular routine where one of them smoked a Marlborough Light, and the other a Menthol. Rick didn’t allow smoking in the salon, although his richest clients could do it while they waited for their highlights to take.

“You should meet him.” Again, she was careful, making sure she didn’t sound excited. Allowing Alfie this contact with her past life was a biggie, and the hand behind her back crossed its fingers he would say no.

“Alright then,” Alfie said, blowing out a stream of smoke into the frosty air. “Someone needs to show the country bumpkin the big smoke.”

“He’s not a country bumpkin,” Katrina said. “Not anymore. He’s been working in Edinburgh for months. He’s used to big cities.”

Alfie rolled his eyes, dropping the butt of his cigarette to the ground and grinding it out with his heel. “I went there a couple of years ago. It’s tiny.”

She argued with him about that. She couldn’t contradict the tininess of Edinburgh as he kept coming up with facts, the size of London’s population compared to Scotland’s capital, and where the seat of the UK’s power lay. But it wasn’t all about size, was it? At that, she faced him and deliberately looked him up and down. Alfie was self-conscious about his height.

“Cow,” he said, and walked off. Another feature of their relationship was trading insults that sometimes went too far. She’d make him a cup of coffee (black, three sugars) in the afternoon, and they’d be friends again by closing time.

Later, as she made her way back to the Walkers house via the noisy, crowded Tube and the pavements that you shared with hundreds of others, Katrina allowed herself one of the daydreams that had appeared in her head ever since the postcard had arrived.

In this particular one, Mick told her the telly thing was an excuse. He’d come to London, he told her seriously, watching her as carefully as Alfie had watched her earlier.

Will you marry me, Katrina? I now know that you are the –

She stopped the thought. It might only be a daydream, but even thinking that way seemed stupid; the kind of thing Daisy would probably do. “I’m no’ Daisy,” she said it out loud, and those around her in the Tube carriage drew back in alarm. Speaking to yourself was a well-known nutter alert, the horror being that the self-speaker might then address you.

She got out at Highgate, surging out of the station with the thousands of other people. There was the beggar who always tried to catch her eye. This time, she smiled at him and dug in her bag for the loose change that always fell out of her purse.

“God bless ye, ye wee sweetheart!”

Aye, of course, he was drunk. And yes, he had to be Scottish.

To her surprise, she spotted Daisy, waving frantically at the top of Archway Road. Her mouth was open and her eyes round. She waved both hands and then held both fingers out, pointing at the spaces next to her.

Katrina blinked, her eyes closing and opening as if to confirm what was in front of her. On one side, Daisy’s dad. On the other, Mick.

©Emma Baird 2017

The Girl Who Swapped – Out Now

Fancy a light, summer read? The Girl Who Swapped is now, officially, for sale. There’s an e-book and a paperback version will follow once I’ve got over the heebie-jeebies premonition where I open a brand-new version of it and there’s a glaring error on the front page.

Here’s the blurb to give you an idea of what The Girl Who Swapped is all about:

What do you do when you find yourself in a strange body and a different life?

Lottie and Charlotte are not having a good morning. They’ve woken up in unfamiliar beds. Not to mention, unfamiliar bodies. What is going on?

At least Lottie’s boyfriend, Josh, is by her side. If only Lottie didn’t have this nagging feeling that something important happened last night, but she blew it…

Charlotte feels terrible. She’s woken up with a hangover of gargantuan proportions. And where the hell are her husband and children?

The two heroines must work out what is going on. Along the way, there will be tempting encounters, full-on flirtations, Hollywood stars, riotous parties, blackmail and far too much champagne.

Come along and enjoy the adventure!

My emails this morning included one from a book services site – first article, why publishing in the holidays is a bad idea for new authors. And a knock-back from an agent.

Fitting, hmm?

 

The Girl Who Swapped

Coming Soon – The Girl Who Swapped

The Girl Who Swapped

Bespoke book cover art example from coverness.com

As you might have gathered from the title, I have a book that I’m about to inflict on the public and hope that they like it. The book is called The Girl Who Swapped (a shameless attempt to capitalise on the popularity of ‘Girl’ in book and film titles), and here’s the blurb for it…

What do you do when you find yourself in a strange body and a different life?

Lottie and Charlotte are not having a good morning. They’ve woken up in unfamiliar beds. Not to mention, unfamiliar bodies. What is going on?

At least Lottie’s boyfriend, Josh, is by her side. If only Lottie didn’t have this nagging feeling that something important happened last night, but she blew it…

Charlotte feels terrible. She’s woken up with a hangover of gargantuan proportions. And where the hell are her husband and children?

The two heroines must work out what is going on. Along the way, there will be tempting encounters, full-on flirtations, Hollywood stars, riotous parties, blackmail and far too much champagne.

Come along and enjoy the adventure!

My keywords are summer reads, Sophie Kinsella, holiday reading, life switches, chick lit, Bridget Jones and Shopaholic – hopefully that gives you a rough idea of what the contents are like.

Fingers crossed the public could, y’know, think it’s worth buying. Having done that, they might enjoy it enough to consider penning a quick review for it.

Sufficient numbers of them buying it might mean I make a profit – oh, heavenly day if they do. In my head, I’ve spent that profit already on face cream, Prosecco and premium cat food, donating some of my yet-to-be-realised profit to charity to feel better about my shallow spending. I idled away half an hour* working out how many copies I’d need to sell to put me in the black. It’s roughly six hundred copies. Well-established authors will scoff at this, but it seems like an insurmountable number to me.

Are there many writers who enjoy self-promotion? I hate it, but it’s a necessary evil. It’s all very well writing, but if you don’t tell people about it, how are they going to know? So, if you WOULD like to buy it, it’s now available on Amazon for pre-order, here (US) and here (UK).

Thank you!

 

 

*Maybe it was closer to an hour. I’m s**t at maths.

The Value of Writing

Ever wanted to carve out a career as a writer? Writing is one of those skills that gets seriously undervalued. Take this little example I copied from a jobs website… (Some of the words have been changed.)

I need a romance story of about 50,000 words to be written before the end of July. Elements that MUST be included in the story are Bad Boy/Alpha, Motorcycle Club Romance. Sub-elements, character descriptions and the plot will be provided.

I am looking for an excellent writer who not only can supply FULLY EDITED work, but is also experienced in character development, dialogue and plot development that can hook a reader. Again, any work submitted should always be error free.

The proposed budget is between .01-015 per word (cents, not pennies) but I have been known to give excellent bonuses. PLEASE NOTE – content should be creative, high quality and 100 percent original. If you decide to accept the job offer, you agree that you will own no rights to the work or parts of the work and you understand/agree your name will not appear anywhere on the work. I would retain all copyrights to these stories. It cannot be used for portfolios or as samples for other clients.

The candidate must be experienced with this type of writing, be a NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER and have excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation. I am looking to create an ongoing business relationship with chosen bidder(s). I have many future projects in mind. Hope to hear from you!

Lordy.

So, not only must you come up with 50,000 original words in five weeks, but you will need to have them professionally proof-read and/or copy edited. It is nigh on impossible to proofread your own work when it is this length. You don’t own the copyright, and you’re now allowed to use the content in samples. And all this for $800.

Wakey, wakey Sleeping Beauty…

Another chapter from a book I’m working on at the moment. It does contain adult content and swear words, so please don’t read on if you don’t like that kind of thing…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lesmemorables/16524725715Kippy resurfaced slowly, his awakening senses taking account of what he could see, hear, touch, smell and feel.

He wasn’t in his own bed, the single mattress in his room in the student halls. This bed was far more luxurious, twice the size and covered in clean sheets, for a start. The room was large-ish too, spacious enough to hold not only a bed and wardrobe, but a sofa, a desk and chair, and an exercise bike draped with clothes. The view from the bay window told him he was in a flat some three or four storeys up. The sun was high enough in the sky for it not to be early morning.

His mouth felt furry, his tongue sticking too closely to its insides, and his head ached. Next to him on the cabinet beside the bed was a glass of water. It wasn’t very cold, but refreshing nonetheless.

The door to the room opened slowly, a face peering cautiously around it.

“You’re awake then, Sleeping Beauty?”

The face was joined by its body, the man letting himself into the room and closing the door gently. To his dismay, Kippy didn’t recognise him. He’d have guessed the guy to be in his late twenties, perhaps even his early thirties. He was sporty looking, wiry and muscular arms under a black tee shirt and powerful quads encased in Lycra shorts. Also very much on view was the outline of his genitals.

He heard his cousin Katrina, her mocking wee voice singing in his head: “God almighty, that would poke your eye oot wouldn’t it?” and he stifled a smile at the thought of it.

The man sat down on the bed, plonking himself down on Kippy side. Kippy had to force himself not to pull away.

“How are you feeling?” the man asked.

“Rough as a badger’s arse.”

No-one could possibly know what a badger’s arse felt like, but the saying had been enthusiastically taken up by students everywhere of late. Kippy, a mature student compared to everyone else, felt he had to stay on top of modern slang in case he stood out.

“Not surprised,” the man said. “I’m John, by the way, in case you’d forgotten.”

He had a nice face. His nose was too long and crooked, and his eyes too close together for him to be handsome, but there was kindness in the way he looked at Kippy.

“I got you this,” he held out a bottle of Lucozade. Now that was ice-cold, and the sweet fizziness of it made Kippy feel one hundred percent better. He drank the whole bottle down in three big gulps and laid back on the propped-up pillows.

“Did we…eh…do anything last night?” Kippy was still in that pristine white tee shirt Lillian had insisted on last night and his Calvin Klein boxers, so any night-time derring-do seemed unlikely.

The Lucozade gave him confidence, though. Maybe last night he’d fully embraced gayness and was no longer a homo virgin. It would be a relief to be rid of it, the burden of not knowing what to do, and at the same time coping with the lustful imaginings that ran rampant through his body, and overwhelmed him at times.

John’s elbows were on his thighs, his hands clasped together and his backside touching Kippy’s legs, which were covered by the duvet. What did you do in these situations, Kippy wondered. Did he put out a hand and touch the back of the man sitting on the bed?

John turned his head sideways, so he was looking at Kippy. He had dark brown eyes, almost black in colour—eyes that would be a challenge to paint.

“No. You were too drunk. If I’d done anything, I would have felt like a rapist.” He smiled as he said it, a soft, sweet smile that took the sting out of the too-drunk sentence.

“You’re only just out, aren’t you?” Again, it was said kindly, but the question felt like an accusation. Kippy sat up, mustered all his courage and placed a hand on the back of John’s head, pulling it to his. He pressed his lips on John’s, noticing at once how different the mouth felt to the last one he’d kissed, a firmer, harder, rougher feel.

John closed his eyes, and moaned softly, the lips opening slightly. Kippy couldn’t stop now. The pent-up and frustrated desire that had dogged him all through his pre-pubescent years and into his adolescence, the want that he’d always tried to ignore fired up through his torso into his head, his mouth and his tongue, the tongue that now pushed itself into John’s mouth, tasting coffee, toast, bacon and more.

The heady rush of want had made its way back down his torso, and he felt himself stiffen. Eyes closed, he patted the bed around him, trying to find John’s hand. He must, must, must place that hand on his cock, and have it encircle the hardness of him, work its way up and down the shaft until he–

John pulled away. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-one. Well over the age of consent.”

Some years ago, he’d asked Daisy that same question. He’d been stalling then, using her youthfulness as an excuse not to do anymore to her. John stood up, running a hand through hair that was lightly flecked with grey at the temples. He blinked several times, glancing out of the window.

This might be the same excuse.

Or it might not. Evidence of his body’s approval for what he and Kippy had just been doing was apparent, the front of those Lycra shorts straining to contain him. Kippy’s own body quivered in response.

“I’m more than fifteen years older than you. You’re a student, you’re young, you’re just out. I don’t think we want the same thing.”

Fuck knew where the bravery was coming from this morning, but Kippy recognised ethics when he heard them. Here was a man trying to talk himself out of something Kippy now wanted more than he’d ever wanted anything in all his life. More than he’d ever wanted to go to art school, maybe even more than he’d wanted…

Well, now was not the right time to be thinking about HIM.

Danny had said last night that he was pretty, aye?

He closed his eyes and took the tee shirt off, stretching his arms to the ceiling slowly as he did so, making sure John got an eyeful of naked chest. Kippy had always been lean, ribby-looking in his teenage years. Slight physical changes had taken place in the last six months or so. He was still slim, but now the pecs, shoulders and biceps were padded so that you could see the muscles under the tight stretch of skin. There was even—finally—a neat smattering of hair starting an inch or so below the clavicle and covering him to just below the nipples.

He opened his eyes. John hadn’t moved, his cheeks puffing up as he blew out air and a heartfelt sigh.

“Oh, God…”

Who knew Kippy had it in him? He pushed aside the duvet, and lay on his side, one hand supporting his head, and the biggest, brightest smile on his face.

“C’mon then. I wannae know what’s it’s all about.”

 

*Photo thanks to J@YGS on flickr. Shared through Creative Commons.

Rip it Up and Start Again

One of things I struggle with as a writer is revising and rewriting. When I finish something, I want to move on to another project or idea. The thought of going back to a manuscript, reading through it and working out what’s wrong never appeals.

I decided to try something different with one of my finished/unfinished projects – Two Slices of Carrot Cake. Writers tend to get wedded to their own words. It’s difficult to detach. I’m editing a book at the moment for someone else and it’s easy for me to strike that red line through unnecessary text, or see what needs to be rewritten.

Some years ago, I read an interview with the writer, Elizabeth Buchan. In it, she said when she writes a book, she writes it three times. Her first attempt gives her the ‘bones’ and from there she starts again and improves the original story. I’ve decided to try this, albeit I’ll just be writing the whole thing one more time, and not two…

The Creative Stuff

Although it seems daunting, writing the story again appeals because it’s about doing the enjoyable, creative stuff again. I know the plot, I know the characters and what they are like, how they speak and I know what happens to them afterwards, seeing as I wrote another book that featured them.

I wanted to change the angle of the story slightly too. After I wrote my first book, Katie and the Deelans, I sent it to agents. It was rejected by all of them, but I was contacted by one after I’d published it through Comely Bank Publishing, who said that he liked my ‘voice’ and was I working on anything else?

When I told him I was working on Two Slices of Carrot Cake, he said I could send it to him when I’d finished it. I did, and he rejected it, saying the ‘issues’ thing in it (eating disorders) didn’t work for him, but he did like the ‘voice’ and he thought a better idea would be to concentrate on the teenage girl using multiple personalities online and the trouble that results. Keep the eating disorder, but don’t make it the main focus.

The Flow Trap

When you try to shift the focus of a story by going back to the existing document, it’s hard. Sentences, paragraphs and chapters flow in a certain way. You get caught up in that flow – if I change this, then that won’t work, etc. If you start writing again, the existing flow isn’t an issue.

I’ve started it. I’m excited about it. I’m feeling creative once more. Keep your fingers crossed for me…