20 May 2017

3 #InstaFreebie Promos and Automated Newsletters

At the beginning of April [see HERE] I mentioned I’d joined Instafreebie in an attempt to increase my Newsletter subscribers prior to the launch of Pilgrims of the Pool, the final book in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy.

So how has it gone? Better than expected. I joined various group promotions – I am involved with three this month (see below for links) - and they’ve given the best results. To date I’ve accrued 796 new subscribers and had only 74 unsubscribe or give a blocked e-address. That’s just less than 10%, which is far fewer than I anticipated.

Keeping new subscribers engaged is the key, and it soon became apparent that a set of chatty Welcome emails was needed to introduce my work, especially as I write in such disparate genres. Up to this week I did these manually, with multiple segments receiving a different newsletter every few days. Needless to say, the work involved was taking over my editing time.

However, those manual emails proved a worthwhile drafting system: what did I actually want to say?; how did I truly want to interact with my new subscribers? Various versions were tried while I came to accept that I needed an automated system. Automated? Yes, it goes against the interaction grain, but as I’ve found, it needn’t.

Thankfully my Newsletter provider, Mailchimp, recently opened its automated system to free accounts. Mailchimp allows people like me to run a list for up to 2,000 subscribers for free, so I’ve spent a couple of days this week learning the ropes and setting up two sets of automated Welcome emails. Two sets? One of the group promotions, A Taste Of Darkness, would only consider novel extracts. So as well as the original short story collection I extracted 25% of Torc of Moonlight – Book 1, and this is what is offered free in all three promotions below.

I’ll update this post again in a few weeks after Pilgrims of the Pool has launched. In the meantime, click on the links below the group promo images to see the sort of sub-genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy available. You might be pleasantly surprised.

http://sffbookbonanza.com/freebooks/
http://tasteofdarkness.blogspot.co.uk/

13 May 2017

#Editing 8: Beyond Beta Readers

Pilgrims of the Pool is finished. Except it's not.

Beta Reader reports are in. Now is the time for a sustaining breath (or a strong coffee, or a stiff  drink) and a study of the comments in as detached a manner as possible. 

There's a glitch in the structure? [Check other readers' comments to see if the same has been mentioned.] A character has been given point-of-view prominence close to the start whereas he's a mere walk-on through the rest of the book? [Slapped wrist for not noticing; mark text for alteration.] Various words mis-used / over-complicated phrasing / suspect grammar? [Go through relevant passages to agree/disagree/mark for change.] And so on.

All in all the typescript weighs in not as bad as I feared - no full re-writes needed - and this is usually the case. As writers we are far too close to our own creations, juggling nuance alongside pacing, characterisation, theme, and the other 101 elements that make up a novel. It is our place to fret in case our skills have not matched the scope of our vision. It is the place of beta readers to tell it straight. And mine do. I am from Yorkshire, after all. It comes with the territory.

Now to rewrite what needs rewriting, tweak what needs tweaking. When completed the text will be given a full and slow read to ensure both the pacing and balance have been maintained, and nothing else catches my eye. Then section by section it will be run through Pro-Writing Aid [other software is available] for a mechanical check. Just as with a spell-checker, this is used to flag possible problems which may have been missed by the human eye; its results are ignored or acted upon as I see fit. 

Catch me next week for an update.

See also: 
Editing-1: What does editing actually mean?
Editing-2: The Structural Edit
Editing-3: The Content Edit
Editing-4: The Line Edit
Editing-5: Line Edit Update 
Editing-6: Beta Readers 
Editing-7: Metadata 
Editing-8: Beyond Beta Readers

6 May 2017

#Editing 7: Metadata

Pilgrims of the Pool is finished. Except it's not.

But it is coming along. As expected, the digital file is still with its beta readers, and this respite gives me an opportunity to fine-tune its metadata so it will be ready for upload. What, exactly, is metadata?

Metadata is all the background information attached to an ebook, but not a physical part the text. An e-retailer uses it to store the ebook, and a reader uses it to find the ebook, on the e-retailer's site. But it starts before that. It starts with the digital document.

I use an old version of MSWord. Under File>Properties a dialogue box appears describing the contents of the file: when it was created and how many pages, paragraphs, etc, it contains. Under the Summary tab I complete Title, Author, Category (Fiction), and enter a few keywords (Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller, Romance). In effect I am digitally stamping the file as mine. Does this matter? It depends which conversion sites are used, but I’m a great believer in a belt & braces approach to my work simply because it is my work.

Metadata is more usually associated with the upload process, most notably Product Description, Categories, and Keywords. What I have to play with depends on the e-retailer. For the purpose of this post, I’ll concentrate on the biggest, Amazon.

Product Description can be equated to the backblurb on a paperback, except that it is both more and less.

Here’s the product description for my novella The Paintings:
When Kristin Jeffries steps into the wrecked apartment of a missing artist to assess a group of paintings, she steps into a surreal environment of deceit and obsession where artworks are hidden and signatures missing. Should she trust the client who admits he's not the owner?

Concentrating on the minutiae of a single brushstroke beneath her camera’s lens, can she recognise the truth stored in its memory before it overtakes them both?

“...the whole subtle sense of something sinister is very well done...”

It’s short, and I attach one review snippet. It’s an example, not a blueprint. Yet without clicking through to its Amazon page to view its cover, what category is it entered under? Is it, for instance, Romance? Historical? Cozy Crime? Scrutinise the choice of words used and have a guess.

The description is 72 words long, yet only 46 of them – the initial paragraph – appears at first sight on the page. The rest, including the review snippet, is hidden “below the fold” – and who clicks the Read more link? Very few casual perusers. For a product description to work it must be concise, introduce the main story elements in language matching the tone of the work and the category, and leave the reader wanting to read more – a tease – hence my use of a question.

Check this against the product description of my earliest ebook Hostage of the Heart. Above the fold reads okay, but click the Read more and wince. Yes, it needs serious attention. We learn as we go.

Categories can be a minefield, especially if, like mine, the novel sits between categories, but help is at hand via Amazon’s Selecting Browse Categories. Only two are available, so don’t waste one by repeating yourself.

Keywords – up to seven are available - can prove as difficult, but the above Categories link can again prove useful.

Write your Product Description, make decisions on Categories and Keywords, and then check the pages of your favourite authors in the same genre for inspiration. Yours need to be at least as good, and if you manage that without several drafts you are doing well.


See also: 
Editing-1: What does editing actually mean?
Editing-2: The Structural Edit
Editing-3: The Content Edit
Editing-4: The Line Edit
Editing-5: Line Edit Update 
Editing-6: Beta Readers 
Editing-7: Metadata