Archive for January, 2014

It was 4am and I was wide awake. The day had been muddled with too many things to do and not enough focus. I had gone to bed too early perhaps, and with too much on my mind. A dark dream preceded my wakefulness and breathing heavily, and quickly, I awoke and pushed the tiredness away, glad that I was truly on the earthly plane and not battling the phantoms of my dreams.

I had dreamt someone stole my wallet; a dream that left me without any material security in a crowded place, rather like being naked. I’m not sure why I dreamt that. In any case, I reached for my i-phone, trying to take my mind off the dream and off a feeling of being lost…and without even 10 cents to my name.

I scrolled through my twitter feed and happened on a link from Dean Wesley Smith, a science fiction author. The particular post was titled: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. What a great thing to read at 4am in the morning – seemingly without a wallet.

As a newly published author with a dream of becoming a successful publisher, I read every word of that post. What attitude, a real down to earth look at why it’s quite conceivable and realistic to have the goal of successfully publishing my own books, or perhaps being a hybrid (author that is both indie and traditionally published).

A part of me has always liked the idea of the wild west and Dean is pictured on his blog in full cowboy regalia. In the fictional wild west battles were settled with a bar room brawl, or a shoot em up. Either way, no-one seemed to mince words. Well Dean’s post didn’t. He came right out and said write plenty of content across multiple genres, fill the shop, and readers will come because you’ve got full shelves and lots of variety. At 4am his no nonsense attitude was refreshing and I refocused on my publishing dreams, knowing that it was entirely possible I might be successful.

So then I went back to sleep and missed the commotion of the early morning in our house. My middle son had lost his wallet that night coming home from a nightclub and a wonderfully kind lady had phoned at 7am to let us know she had it and would drop it round to my son. As he was away for the weekend, in a large coastal city without any money, ID, or petrol for his car, this woman’s kind gesture meant everything to our son, and to us.

Dream mystery broken. Somehow I had picked up on the lost wallet thing. And as for Dean Wesley Smith and the kind lady who found my son’s wallet and returned it, thank you.

My book Shadowscape is all about mind power and intuition. It’s available at Amazon if you want to take a look. And I’m also beginning to fill the shop with Book 2 Dawn of the Shadowcasters out on 30 May 2014 through Lodestone Books. If you want to find out more about the books and why I write head over to Smashwords and read my author interview.

Well…I launched myself into indie authorspace on 6 January 2014 – coincidentally on my mother’s birthday. After going through the processes of cover design, editing, formatting, ISBN getting, researching online bookstore options, researching everything…I pushed the publish button on Book 1 of my new paranormal series for teens.

ShadowscapeWeston1 (4) small is now on sale just about everywhere. Yeah, possibly a bit of overkill given that most of my sales will come from Amazon, but I covered the bases, listing with Smashwords, Lulu, Kobo and a rather unusual option Gumroad.

So it’s out there. I’ve even established my own publishing arm Caerus Publishing Australia. And now the waiting begins, or does it? Definitely not. Anyone who thinks you just list your book and dumbly wait for sales is going nowhere fast. Writing the book is one thing, marketing and pushing it day in day out is quite another.

Consistent marketing is the one thing that will sell books over the long term, and I’m willing to be patient. I’m not marketing Shadowscape for today or tomorrow but for next year, my next book, the next 5 years, the next 5 books. I’m willing to be patient because I have a lot of stories to tell – plots and characters whirling around in my head and heart. Half formed dialogue and the periphery of scenes fermenting in my imagination. 

So given I’ve got the drive to write the stories because that’s what I love – yes love (not cliched) – then I’ve got to find out all I can about marketing my books. That’s the reality and it’s a long term reality unless thousands of readers automatically find Shadowscape on Amazon and decide to part with a couple of dollars, as if by magic. It’s early days yet, but this is what I’ve tried:

* Getting the buzz happening on Twitter and very ably assisted by the Masquerade Crew via @PromoMasq. They are dedicated to promoting indie authors and their price range is very reasonable. Also using my own account – not to bombard hour upon hour – but to autoschedule random tweets at strategic times while I get on with the business of my usual tweeting.

* Listing my book on specific Young Adult websites. This has taken a bit of research, but I realise I have to search out my young readers and not expect them to come to me.

* Getting as many reviews as I can. Incidentally, if you are interested in reviewing Shadowscape – on your blog or website – please let me know and I’ll send you a PDF for review purposes. If you are an indie author I’m happy to return the favour and review your book on my blog. Or add a review to my Goodreads author page

* Accessing the free public relations press release sites. There’s a good list on Mashable. Though dated, it’s a good start: http://mashable.com/2007/10/19/press-releases/

* Making some content available free – readers will decide for themselves whether they want to download the rest of the book. Usually, I choose 15%. And then there’s Wattpad which I intend to set up over the next few days.

* Using Amazon’s Author Central Page – might sound like that’s a 101 but it’s very effective. I’m endeavouring to let as many readers know about me, as I can.

* Paid advertising – I’m still investigating this but I’ve set myself a small budget and I will choose judiciously.

* Enticing journalists and publications to write about Shadowscape. I will be pitching over the next few weeks to specific young adult book publications, online and print.

* Establishing a website. It’s an oldie but a goodie and many authors will say it is the thing that makes a difference.

* As a new author, setting a realistic price point is just common sense. Readers need to get to know me, and ultimately trust that I have a story not only worth reading, but buying.

In addition to the above, I’ve set myself a goal of doing one new marketing activity every couple of weeks. This means I’m always moving forward and keeping the momentum going.

The major learning curve for me is that establishing a presence in outer authorspace takes hard work and perseverance but it’s kind of fun to discover what works and what doesn’t. I figure in a few years I’ll know a bit about book marketing.

If you want to check out Shadowscape, head to Amazon and if you have any marketing tips, I’d love to hear about them – leave a comment if you have time. You can also contact me on westonfamily1@hotmail.com if you’re interested in reviewing Shadowscape.

Given I have some time off from work and have the luxury of extended reading, I have been catching up on blogs, New Year messages and generally any posts about publishing. One of the sanguine topics at the moment is goals for 2014. Sure I could write a post about them too – that I’m powering ahead with my Indie publishing dreams, and that I’ll try and do everything better this year. I could write about those things but I’d prefer to look at reality for a minute.

Reality. It’s not something that we want to spend too much time on is it? We prefer to live in some future tense or we dwell on the past because regrets are a natural human condition. Rarely do we stay put long enough to live in the present.

Capturing the present moment is not hard when you don’t over think it. It’s about taking stock of what’s around you and really experiencing that. Trouble is, our lives are rarely perfect or where we want them to be. That’s called reality: the way we are thinking and feeling in this minute.

Most likely there have been stresses over the ‘festive’ season. I know there have been for me. I’m probably one of many where Christmas and New Year haven’t gone quite right for various reasons – concerns about family health matters, a look in the mirror that says some things will need to be done differently in 2014, or simply taking stock of the old happiness barometer and finding it needs to rise a tad.

So given my present ‘reality check’ here are a few things I will be thinking about over the next few months (before I dare make any ill-informed, naive and unrealistic goals):

  • Learning to love yourself…as the Whitney Houston song goes. Tricky, very tricky. None of us had a perfect childhood unfortunately and this is where we learn to love – well even like – ourselves. To get it right in adulthood requires a whole lot of unpacking and repacking of those negative thoughts and experiences.
  • Better health: Not to strive for it is simply unacceptable. Everyone can find two small things to do better, even if it is brewing a green smoothie in the morning with all the good stuff to start the day. Or finding 15 minutes at least for exercise. Simple.
  • Relationships: We are born to get old. Yes everyone of us, you and me. Sometimes it’s time to throw out the relationships that aren’t working, and probably haven’t been for a long while. At the very least, we can demand more than just complacency from our relationships.
  • Standing strong: It requires courage to be true to yourself. Say what you mean, when you mean it. No games or clever double entendres. Stand firm in what you want and need and avoid the footsteps that will, otherwise, be planted across your person (don’t let people walk all over you).
  • Follow the dreams that have been with you since childhood because they are the best indicator of your ‘purpose’ in life. Yes, yes and amen to that!
  • Don’t forget kindness and compassion. Without it, we suck at life.

Maybe that’s enough for the moment to think about. On another note, I’ll be releasing Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles (Book 1) in mid January as an Ebook across all the major publishing platforms. Thanks to all the Indie authors who have been so kind with their information and resources. Yes, kindness and compassion are most definitely part of anyone’s ‘reality check’ if they look hard enough.

All the best for 2014.