Tuesday, October 21, 2014

To free or not to free? - Part 3

Two weeks have passed since the free promotion of my novel "Teaching Tori". Time to re-read my previous post and reflect on this experience.
Before launching into this post, I need to clarify the purpose of this promotion, which was...
  1. to increase my audience
  2. to gain new reviews
  3. to try something new in promotion my book
  4. to get myself out of a "help, nobody's buying my book!" mindset
So here are my thoughts...

1. My audience has increased, but I have no idea by how much. By the end of the promotion, I had 660 downloads of my book. How many people actually read the book will remain unknown. Haven't we all done it, downloaded a free ebook, only to never read it because we forgot about it, or we had other books to read?

2. I've had one review out of 660 downloads. Needless to say that I am disappointed with this result. Is it too early to make a call on this part of the promotion? Are people just super-busy, only just now remembering that they've read my book, but not posted a review? (Yes, off you go now, and don't come back to this blog until you've posted your review....)
From my own experience, it's easy to forget to review a book. I don't always do it, but I try to make time to write a review for the free downloads, at least.

3. I've enjoyed the excitement of the two day promotion. To see the number of downloads go up minute by minute was very rewarding, even if they weren't paid units. 
The thought that some authors have the same amount of downloads for paid books was mindboggling to me. I was tempted to start dreaming, to work out how much money I would be making if they were paid units, but forced myself to stop thinking like that - it's like imagining how you're going to spend your big lotto win. (I actually rate the chances of me making money through my writing as higher than winning a large amount of money in Lotto!)

4. Did I get myself out of a negative mindset? Yes, and no. I've had a few downloads from the Kindle lending library which I hadn't seen before, so that was a good thing. And I sold some books after the promotion had finished that I might not have sold otherwise. But the downside of the free promotion is/was the disappointment about the lack of reviews. 

Overall, the experience was interesting and new to me. I thought I didn't have many expectations going into this, but it turned out I had - more reviews.

But the best thing by far that came out from this experience is that it reinforced what I already knew - my precious and limited time that I can devote to this insanely rewarding hobby is best spent writing my next book, not fretting over number of reviews and downloads. 
So that's what I'm doing. Watch this space. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

To free or not to free - Part 2

In a few hours, my first-ever free book promotion will be over. I must admit I was very sceptical and didn't know if this promotion would be of any benefit to me. I also was worried that nobody would download my book, even when it was free, and the effect this would have on my motivation as a new self-publisher author.
This promotion was a last minute decision 24 hours before it started, so I didn't have a great lead-up to it. I listed it with as many free ebook sites as possible, but couldn't say how many of the emails and forms I filled in actually made it onto those sites. I did the same with Facebook, posting the link or asking for the link to be posted.
The only thing I have a clear idea of what happened was what I did on Twitter. And I think it was the Twitter 'campaign' that was the most successful because I gained lots of new followers and retweets.
It was exciting to watch the number of downloads go up over time, and to see which marketplaces they came from. I am happy that over 650 people have downloaded my book so far, with a few hours to go.
Even if the cynic in me says that a number of those people will not read it (I know because I've downloaded free books, and never read them), it is still exciting to know that somewhere out there in the big world, somebody is bound to be reading "Teaching Tori" right now.
Maybe somebody somewhere is tucked under their blanket and reading about Lana, the girl in Tori's class. Or somebody somewhere is sitting in their sofa by the fire, pining for Tom alongside Tori who has realised that she has made a big mistake. Or somebody somewhere is learning a little bit about Maori culture.
And this is why I started writing in the first place. Because I wanted to share my stories.
Hopefully, I will gain a few new readers who will come back for my next book. If only 1% of the downloaders leave a review, that would be 6 new reviews - I would be quite happy with that.
(So far I've had one new review - thanks Janelle Kahele 
If you happen to be one of the 649 others who have downloaded the book, have you considered heading over to Amazon to write a brief review?
So would I do this promotion again? Definitely. Just to see the numbers go up within a few minutes on the first day was so exciting.
And whether it pays off in terms of reviews, watch this space.

Monday, October 6, 2014

To free or not to free?

My first three months with Amazon's KDP are coming to an end and I have yet to use any of the 5 free days available to me. So I have been very indecisive whether to give this a go.
Part of me wants to scream and say - no way am I going to give my novel away for free. I have sweated blood and tears (and a bucket full of money) for this novel. Why should anybody be able to get it for free?
But then this other voice in my head pipes up and says - what can you lose? It's not like you're selling hundreds of books at the moment, are you?
In fact, the opposite is true. I am selling a few novels here and there, with long gaps in between sales, which can be quite disheartening.
So after hours spent online reading about the pros and cons of free give-aways, I have decided to give it a go. The best case scenario would be to get some new reviews out of this promotion and gain some new readers who will, in time, want to read my next book.
The worst case scenario would be (I can't even bear thinking about it), that nobody will know my book is available for free, and it won't be downloaded.
But I'm trying very hard to make sure that won't happen. So for two days starting from tomorrow, my book Teaching Tori will be available for free. Due to the timezone difference, this will actually only start at 9.00 pm on Tuesday if you are in New Zealand.
(And if you happen to download it, enjoy your read, and if you have a spare minute or two, please review it.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What’s in a name?

The name for my main character Tori came easily to me. I wanted it to be a simple, short name that wasn’t too common. I like names with vowel sounds as I knew them when I grew up – call them Italian, German or Māori – rich or open a, e, i, o, u sounds, not their English counterparts.

I can’t remember when the title “Teaching Tori” came to me. I think it was right at the start. Initially, I called my work in progress Tori and Tom, but then I found “Teaching Tori” describes what happens in the novel much better.

It plays with the two meanings of ‘teaching’ – one as a verb, the other one as an adjective (Actually, I think it’s called a gerund - I need to find out the correct grammatical term because I am a grammar nerd.)

Teaching Tori shows Tori in her job, as opposed to ‘singing’ Tori or ‘typing’ Tori. She is a primary school teacher and lives for her job and the lives of the children in her class. She is ‘teaching Tori’ – Tori, who teaches.
But the novel is also about Teaching Tori, meaning that people are teaching her (or in the case of Tom, he is trying to teach her something, but she is quite a reluctant learner.)
Throughout the story, various people teach Tori various things, which, hopefully, lead to her learning some important lessons in life.

I am very comfortable with the choice of my title. It is the kind of title that would catch my attention – I would want to find out what or who she is teaching, or if someone else is teaching her.

What attracts you to a book title? 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book Launch "Teaching Tori"

I am very proud, excited and incredibly nervous about the launch of my contemporary novel "Teaching Tori". After two years of hard work on this book, I am finally able to share this story with you:

Tori has put up with Gerard’s bullying for so long, she is surprised when Tom, a visiting adviser to her school, turns into an ally she doesn’t really want.
Despite her efforts to keep him at an arm’s length, he manages to gain her trust and a tender relationship starts to form. 
A future with Tom looks certain when a misunderstanding leads Tori to wrongly accuse him of breaching her trust. She eventually recognises her mistake, but it is too late to win him back.
Tori suffers greatly from losing him, but even worse, she loses her love of teaching. She lacks the energy to be the inspiring teacher she once was, sending her on a downward spiral of feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
After weeks of misery, Tori takes to the hills of Central Otago to clear her head. High up in the tussock country she loves so much, she realises that it is time to move on - to give up teaching, to sell her house, and to find greener pastures overseas.
The decision comes as a relief, but a sudden weather change gives Tori little time to dwell on it. Will Tori make it home safely to put her decision into action? And will Tom ever find out what happened to her?

If you are looking for a gripping novel about love and loss, grief and forgiveness with a distinctive New Zealand flavour, "Teaching Tori" is just the book for you.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tori and the case of the mysterious quotation marks

Today I received my manuscript back from my copy editor.

I love getting feedback and comments about my writing, especially from a professional editor, as I can learn so much from them. I wish I had the ability to look at my writing from the distance and without any emotional attachment. Editing would be so much easier.

For some (so far) inexplicable reason I have two versions of quotation marks in my manuscript. They are scattered all over the novel in no particular pattern. Have a look at this:

"How was the conference?" Rose asked half an hour later before the staff briefing.

"Great. I’m so sorry that you missed out."

"Did you find some other people to hang out with? I felt so bad when I let you down."

“Yes, I met some people I knew. The dinner was great. I even danced, can you believe it?”

“Oh, Tori, it must have been a great night for you to get up and dance!”


The font is Times New Roman. When I press shift+quotation mark on my keyboard, the funny quotation marks that look like tiny sixes come up. I don't seem to have the "straight" quotation marks that I should have.

Have you ever had problems with mysterious question marks?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Excited about a number

I am excited about a number.
I am excited about numbers in any case because I teach Maths to my year four and five children, but this is a different number.

This is my ISBN number.

I won't bore you with the number by putting it here, but let's just say it's another step towards publication. I'm not sure how many steps there have been so far, but it feels like hundreds. And getting my number was one of the micro-steps. All I had to do was apply online with the National Library of New Zealand, fill in a form, and wait.
A few days later, I received two numbers - one for the kindle edition, one for the softcover.

The next step will be my final edit when my editor has finished with the copy-editing of my novel. Hopefully that will happen in the next week.

If I had to decide on which step was the hardest in this process, I would struggle. Was is writing the first draft? Filling the gaps after the first developmental edit? Filling more gaps after the second developmental edit?
Battling the doubts in my head whether this was all worth the effort (and money)?
Launching a book cover contest and deciding on a cover?

I haven't made up my mind, and what feels quite overwhelming one day, seems completely achievable the next.

Which step has been your hardest to overcome?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book cover reveal "Teaching Tori"

I am very excited to reveal the book cover of "Teaching Tori "which will be released in a few weeks. Thank you to Isabel Paoli who designed the cover for me through the site designcrowd.