Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Rocking Review of The Proceena Crusade #2


Genre:  Science Fiction/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Guitars
Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon


Andora Clabar-Bankov is struggling to cling to her uncle's shattered corporate empire.  She's obsessed with restoring it to greatness and cleansing the stain of a generation-old betrayal.  But her estranged husband has other ambitions and plans to seize the remains of L.J.C Enterprises for himself.
Khali and Tarik Al Saad are the sons of one of the Wolf Republic's greatest heroes, but that's all they have in common.  Tarik is a world-weary soldier who now opposes a government he feels has lost its way.  Khali is an ambitious war hawk who resents his brother's politics and what they are doing to his career.
But, as the galazy inches closer and closer to war, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.  A horrible conspiracy begins to come into focus and the galazy will need heroes on both sides to stop this madness  Can Tarik and Khali work together to stop the Wolf blood lust?  Can Andora put aside her imperial dreams and Wolf animosities in time to save the galazy from self-destruction?  And, can they do anything about the shadowy new empire that threatens to rise from the ashes?

Get this gripping page-turner and find out!

Why it Rocked:

After a considerable amount of time away from this book series I was worried that I would lose the spark that the characters had in the first book.  But once again I found myself diving head first into an awesome world and surrounded by brilliant characters.  While I definitely liked the first book better than the second I was very pleased to discover that this book was no less action packed than the first.  It took me into a world that I was familiar with and expanded and shaped it around me.  I enjoyed the fact that, like in the first book, the characters were well developed and had the ability to connect with the reader.  I will say once again that I had to readjust my reading style a bit to get back into the flow of this book but once I did it was an easy and engaging read.  Well done to the author T. Allen Diaz!  I hope to read more of your books in the future!

Check out the first book: Procythian Reign

Monday, 29 September 2014

How to Start Your Own Publishing Company (A Tale of two Authors II)

If you missed out on Lisa's post last week, here's where you can read part I of A Tale of Two Authors.

The last thing we did was start our own publishing company. Basically, you wear two hats when you are a writer, the creative hat and the business hat. Making our books our own business was a no-brainer. No, we don’t publish others' books (although one day we might), but we have created our business into our own little enterprise. We opened a separate account for our business, we got an LLC license from the state, we have copyright status through the Library of Congress, and eventually, when we make some money, we will sign up with the local and state taxing regulations. (We do file business taxes with the IRS.)
There is a lot to self-publishing besides writing a book, and making that decision can be a tough one, but it is worth every stressful moment in the end. I weighed out the two options, traditional and self-publishing, and doing it ourselves was the best for us. 
Going through the process of trying to get an agent or find a publisher who was willing to take our book on, having to deal with rejection letters, waiting for God knows how long until our books became published, then having to pay them most of our profits, did not work for me. Plus, you still have to do all the marketing for your book, because the publishers do very little, if any, and we figured if we have to do all the hard work ourselves, we might as well reap as much of the reward as possible. 
There is a cost, however, to making this decision, one that’s not cheap. I suggest you start saving now, because the cover design will run you about $300.00 to $500.00, the cost of the editor could run $1000.00 or more, and then, once published, there are a lot of other costs you didn’t think about, such as business cards, bookmarks, launch parties, giveaways, and the list goes on. That is the one benefit of traditional publishing: the major costs are covered. 
So when you sit down and think about what’s the best way for you to go, weigh it all out in your head and in your pocketbook. But I will say this: I’m glad I self-published!

Thanks for joining me on Rock the Book today! All of you keep on writing or reading, and if you get a minute, leave me a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts on self-publishing.

You can find us on our site and our books on Amazon. We would love it if you joined us on our writing journey!

by Lisa Fender
Lisa Fender and Toni Burns, co-Authors of The Lorn Prophecy Series, have lived in Greece, Kentucky, and most recently (and most loved) in Colorado. Between them, they have two husbands, four children, two grandchildren and three dogs. Although a writer from a young age, Lisa did not bring her passion to light until she decided in 2008 to stop procrastinating and start writing. 
You will find out more by reading the interview they gave us, or by visiting their brand-new website, Djenrye World.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Making Deadlines

I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but keeping my deadlines as an Indie author is probably the one thing I struggle with most.
I have my goals in mind at the start of any project. I give myself the date at which I want to have the first draft finished. I estimate the time it will take me to edit. I factor in the time it takes to make a cover, get my feedback from my beta readers, and format the ebook.
Yet somehow, despite all my planning I always seem to run out of time.
Writer’s block stalls the first draft, editing takes longer than I expected and so on.
But of course the main problem is simply life. Writing, sadly, is not yet my full time, and only job. I have a day job, that admittedly doesn’t take up a huge amount of time, but certainly makes it harder to focus as much as I would like. I have a partner, and a dog, and a house to keep tidy (during first drafts the first thing to get neglected is the housework!).
Yet, I think I have figured out the hardest part. I am the only person who sets my deadlines. I am the only person who cares or suffers when the deadline is missed. Of course, I have readers who are anxious for the next book to come out, but they don’t yet badger me for the sequel. I have no editor nagging at me to get them the latest edits.
The only person I have to push myself, is me.
I wish that I could end this post by offering some advice for other writers who suffer the same thing, but I can’t. I’m still trying to come to terms with this particular problem. So instead I’m going to end with ASKING for advice.
What do other indies do to make sure they stick to their deadlines? What’s your trick for getting yourself to work when you have so much else on your plate? All advice welcome!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A Rocking Interview With Elizabeth Blake

Today we have Elizabeth Blake sharing her experience as an author. Learn more about Elizabeth Blake on her website.

What do you think is the benefit of going Indie and self-publishing your own work?
Self-publishing provides an author with complete control. I've been published with a publishing company and also have self-published. A publisher decides what price to put on the book, which cover artist to use, how the editing will be done. Also, working through a publishing company takes months, even years. Self-publishing is done on your own time schedule. I'm much happier self-publishing.

What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?
I think the biggest challenge any author faces is marketing. 

What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Take your time. Pay someone to edit if you have to. Make sure you're putting your best out there. GET A GOOD COVER!

What genre are your books?
I've written two memoirs, one e-romance published by Keith Publishing, and edited/contributed to an anthology. Four books in all.

How much research do you do when you write?
I did a lot of research for my e-romance "Shelter of Love." My heroine is a veterinarian's assistant wanting to start an animal shelter, and concerned about endangered species.
When I wrote my memoirs, I read and read and read memoirs and also read "How-to write a memoir" books to learn the craft.

When did you decide to become a writer?
I've always wanted to be a writer. It took a lot of years and hard work to learn the craft, and I'm still learning.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
I don't write 40 hours a week, so it takes me about a year to write a complete book.

Tell us about the covers and how they came about.
I'm very happy with my latest cover for "Conquering Challenges - A Working Mother's Story". It was done by Travis Miles. His prices are very reasonable and he's good.
The cover for "Shelter of Love' was done by my publisher, Keith Publisher. I'm very happy with that cover also.
I did the cover for my other two books and they're just okay. I'm not the most artistic person in the world. That's why I went with Travis for my latest cover.

How do you market your books?
I use Goodreads, Author's Den, Twitter, and Facebook.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Marketing is very time-consuming and takes up a big chunk of my writing time.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Community of Collaboration

Over and over, I'm impressed by the spirit of openness and willingness to share within the Indie community.  The online world is filed with Indies who are collaborating, advising, and helping to promote each others' work.  There's a feel-good kind of vibe out there, and it makes me proud to be part of this amazing Indie movement, especially when I stop to think about it for a moment.

The thing is, when we help each other out, we're helping the competition.  It's an insane fact,
especially when you consider that most of us are fighting tooth and nail just to get our books seen.  Seriously, does this kind of thing happen in any other industry?

Honestly, I think I spend as much time on promo for other authors' books as I do on my own.  On a personal level, this is entirely explainable.  You see, those other Indie books that I've read and loved-- I can tell people about them without feeling obnoxious.  I'm not trying to sell anything.  I'm just sharing something I loved with the world.  And I feel good helping other authors, even if they are the competition, because, yeah, there's a kind of kindredness shared by Indies that is powerful enough to smother any spirit of competition.  

So this one is for all you fellow Indies (bloggers and readers included), who take time out of your own lives to help spread the word about other authors' books.  What a wonderful gift you give to each other, and what a wonderful example you set for the world.  :)

Monday, 22 September 2014

How to Self-Publish (A Tale of Two Authors I)

Thanks, ladies, for inviting me to your wonderful site. I am also looking forward to having you on my blog. I think it’s great how you’re supporting self-published authors. Believe me, most of us are very appreciative. It’s not every day you find lovers of Indie books who turn that love into a blog.
I have to say that being an Indie author, or self-published, whatever you choose to call it, isn’t an easy task. First, it takes several years (took me 4 and a half) to write your book, then the big decision on who will design the cover, plus, not to mention, an editor, before you can even begin to set up the book for publication. Not an easy task, but once you’ve accomplished it the first time, it’s easier the next. 
My sister, Toni, and I decided to go through Createspace for our paperback distribution and had to learn how to set up the book so that all the dimensions were correct for the “mock” book on the Creatspace site. Once you’ve figured out what size book you want (usually the standard 6 by 9 in), each page has to be indented opposite the next, then the book needs to be loaded into the “mock trial” book they have on the site, and it will guide you along until you get it right. After that, load your cover, spine and back cover, and you’re published.
The next step, the electronic book, is much harder. For the first book, "Fable", we hired a girl to do this. We found her on Facebook. It took several attempts before it was correct, but we finally got it. You also have to have one for Amazon, (mobi) and epub for all others. Formatting an ebook is not an easy task. Toni decided to learn how to do it herself for our next book, "Fated", and found a site on line with a step-by-step guide to help her learn. It took her about a month to learn it all and get the book set up correctly. After that, she published on Amazon through their download.
On top of all that you have to set up your page for your Amazon readers, with things such as a blurb for the book - not just the one on back of the book - an author profile, and pricing. It is not an easy task, and it’s not for everyone, but we are glad we self-published. We can control all when it comes to decisions for our books. 

Check back next week to find out how Lisa and Toni started their own publishing company!

by Lisa Fender
Lisa Fender and Toni Burns, co-Authors of The Lorn Prophecy Series, have lived in Greece, Kentucky, and most recently (and most loved) in Colorado. Between them, they have two husbands, four children, two grandchildren and three dogs. Although a writer from a young age, Lisa did not bring her passion to light until she decided in 2008 to stop procrastinating and start writing. 
You will find out more by reading the interview they gave us, or by visiting their brand-new website, Djenrye World.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Rocking Interview With J.J. Stone

Today we have author J.J. Stone sharing her thoughts on the publishing world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or her Website.

What are you working on right now?
I finished The Mirror Stage (my debut novel and the first book in The Imago Trilogy) a month ago, and am currently working on the yet-unnamed second book in the trilogy.

What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
NETWORK. You are only as strong as those you surround yourself with, so put in the effort and connect with other authors!

What genre are your books?
Crime thriller. 

How much research do you do when you write?
Due to the genre I write in, a TON. I also think because of the subject matter of the trilogy (serial killers) I have to research more than the average author might. It's a good thing researching is something I find enjoyable!

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I'm definitely an outline person. The Mirror Stage started out as a One-Hour TV script, so when I converted it to novel format, I was working off of a very structured timeline. When I began working on the second book, I didn't have a script to rely on, so I took the time to layout a chapter by chapter outline. It has helped me so much!

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Since being an author is not my full-time job (yet!), it takes me a few months to write the first draft of a book. Then I go through the draft and make the first round of edits before sending it off to my beta readers. Once I have their feedback and make additional edits based off of what they've told me, THEN I sent the manuscript to my editor. I would say in total it takes around a year for me to write a book, first draft to hitting "publish."

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A Rocking Interview with Kory Shrum

Today's author interview is with Kory Shrum, author of Dying by the Hour and Dying for a Living.

What made you decide to go Indie and self-publish?
I was frustrated by how slow the traditional publication model is. So I broke up with my agent so I could do everything faster. 

What do you think is the benefit of going Indie and self-publishing your own work?
More creative license and freedom to follow your own vision of a project. For a perfectionist like me, this is heaven. :)

What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?
Being an unknown unknown.

What are you working on right now?
I'm wrapping up some shorter projects and a cool anthology. Then I'll be back to writing Jesse books 2 and 3.

What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Whatever you do, don't stop writing. When you stop, your muscles get cold--and it gets so much harder.

Which authors inspire you?
Laurell K. Hamilton, Neil Gaiman, Nancy A. Collins, Stephen King, Anne Rice--plenty of writers do.

What genre do you write in?
Urban fantasy--technically ;) 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?
It gives me a big playground to explore in the scifi/fantasy realm that I prefer.

How much research do you do when you write?
Enough to make things work--but I prefer to make up my own rules.

When did you decide to become a writer?
Around 2003.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
My imagination is more alive at night and therefore that's when my best ideas come, but it is best to do the writing first thing in the morning--before the day takes you over.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I try to write something everyday. I have an 87% success rate.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
Both. A few big ideas will come to me and I'll write them down and then I let my imagination fill in the dots, exploring how each "High" scene came to be.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
By leaps and bounds. But most importantly, I'm learning to let myself play. My inner critic can be so ruthless, snatching the paint and glue out of little hands. I'm learning not to listen to that *&^%%

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book
About 8 months; Then two months to produce it (turn it into something you can hold).

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
The covers are lovely! They were made by the lovely John K. Addis and I think they are good representations of each book.

How do you market your books?
Mostly Twitter and blogs.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
None! You have to treat them differently, or you get into a habit of thinking you don't need to write that day. Bad, bad, bad!

What’s your views on social media for marketing?
I think social media is a FANTASTIC way to reach out and talk to your readers. Writers need readers! But I think it's a terrible idea just to use it to make people buy your book. Let them know when new and exciting things are happening, sure! But mostly, just be yourself--hopefully, a charming, funny, clever self.

Is there anything else you would like to add that you haven’t included?
Thanks for having me! :)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Elements to a Story

The five main elements of every story. 
You need all of them. But what element leads the pack in importance?
A tricky question. If you asked 100 writers, each would have a different answer. I will share with you my thoughts. Agree or not, I hope to at least make you think.
I believe the most important is the least visible: theme. On first thoughts, the theme can seem like the least important. Often times, the theme is not tangible. You cannot touch it and talk to it like you can with your characters. You cannot see it, like you can see the setting of a story. It does not, on first analysis, push your story along like the plot and conflict do. But I hold that your theme is such an important aspect of writing that without a solid understanding of why you are writing, nothing else will fall into place.
Because that is ultimately the question; why are you writing your story? Just like if you were building a structure, the reason why would dictate what it would look like. A home for a family is vastly different than an office building.
So what is your message? What do you want your readers to come away with? I have heard some claim that it is not our job as authors to actually go about trying to influence our readers… but I hold that that it is simply impossible. Does your villain win or lose? Does the love interest conquer and win the love of the heroine? Is your character stagnant or do they grow throughout your story? If so, how? Each and every decision you make, tells your reader something. So, I say that you should be deliberate in what you tell your reader.

What is your theme? Know it. Surround yourself with it. What lesson will your character learn? Do you want to make your readers laugh or cry? Do you want to offer gentle hope or expose stark realities? A story can be complex and make a reader experience many things, but one theme must take precedence. Gathering answers to all these questions; truly understanding your theme, then will help you understand your characters. It will help you place your novel in the right setting. It will help you chose the right story and conflict. And most importantly, when you are stuck in the middle of your manuscript, feeling lost (because we all know that it happens!) you can ask yourself just one question: What is my theme? And in doing so, you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You can plot out your next move.
As authors, we know that things change during the process of writing. At least for my sister and me, all aspects of the story grow and develop as we write. All aspects alter somewhat, except for our theme. Our theme is our constant and as long as we try to stay true to why we started writing our story, everything else can fall into place.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or do you believe that another element holds more importance than theme? We would love to hear your ideas.

By May Nicole Abbey
Shawnette Nielson

Caroline Gregory
Caroline Gregory and Shawnette Nielson (known as May Nicole Abbey) are a sister writing team who, despite the incongruity of their very different characters, always seem to be on the same page when it comes to their passion for reading and writing. The difference in their personalities create a well rounded vision of what life should be; stable yet chaotic. College, construction, motherhood, wrestling, management experience, or traveling the world as a nanny, all fall under the experiences of this pair.
Find out more about them on their website, or look for their books on Amazon.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Off the Grid

I'm writing this on my iPad in the middle of a forest. I'll upload it as soon as I encounter some internet....

But you see, being on a camping trip with my other half has made me realise how important getting away from things can be.

We've written before on this blog about finding the balance as Indie Authors between work and our personal lives, relaxing, recharging, and I have always admitted that whilst it's the ideal, it almost never happens. I didn't think I knew how to switch off. How to forget about the writing, and the blogs, and twitter and everything else that goes with it.

We become so caught up in the promotional work and the deadlines. Because we work for ourselves we push ourselves the hardest.

So I think that all writers should take a week off and go camping in the woods. No computer, no internet, just the sound of nature. Maybe, somewhere out there, you'll find the next story you want to write, but even if you don't it will properly give you a chance to recharge.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A Rocking Interview With Lindsey Sablowski

Today we have Lindsey Sablowski sharing her insight into the world of writing. Be sure to check out her website.

What made you decide to go Indie and self-publish?
My first book was published by Old Line Publishing, a traditional publishing company, when I was 18 years old. I was actually thrilled to have a publisher, having spent four years searching for one. I love the company; they are located in Maryland, and the communication between them and the authors is great. I've met the founder at several events, and he is always very supportive of my work. They are definitely a great company to start out with, and I'll always praise them to the highest degree.
However, I decided to self-publish because I was used to working on promotions and editing on my own. Self-publishing offered me a chance I always wondered about and had never previously taken. At the age of 19 when my second book, Shadows and Embers, was finished I decided to self-publish through Createspace. I do so again this year with my third book, and I am glad of the decision.
I've had a taste of both world, though make no mistake I haven't been with one of the top publishing companies. I still attend events with OLP authors, and fortunately now I can bring along my self-publishing books as well and share my stories. 
At the end of the day it was my faith in my books that helped me make the decision. It's great now being able to track my sales and how much royalty I earn and so forth. 

What do you think is the benefit of going Indie and self-publishing your own work?
The benefit is that you have complete control over your book and its entire publishing process. Every step of the way you are in control, and you decide what happens. Unlike with a publisher you don't need to wait 9 months or more for them to be ready to start preparing your book for publication. You start as soon as you want to. Also, you earn more royalty as a self-published author. With a traditional publishing company the highest royalty you may ever make is 12%, whereas with self-publishing you can make about 35-70% (depending on the company you chose and etc.). 

What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?
The biggest challenge is being recognized. The publishing industry is huge, books are so easy to come by. What will make someone read your book over say a best-seller like Stephen King? Also it's difficult for indie authors to have their books inside of bookstores. 
What are you working on right now?
My third book, Thicker Than Blood, just released on August 1st. The story follows Alaire Sencler, one of the five remaining Dark magicians. This is the third installment in the Magicians series. 
With that being complete I'm starting on the fourth book in the series, Bloodline Inheritance. I don't want to reveal too much about the book yet, seeing as Thicker Than Blood just released. However, I will say this book follows the story of a new character and leads into a lot of action. I expect this book to be releasing sometime in 2015. 

What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Write and publish the story you're willing to stand or fall with. The best stories come from the heart.

Which authors inspire you?
J.K. Rowling, John Green, Stephen King, Michael J. Sullivan, and many others. Michael J. Sullivan was actually a huge influence for me; I've spoken with him several times via email, and he attended my first book signing at Greetings and Readers about two years ago. 
I found reading the struggles of authors helped me a lot with coming to terms with rejection when I first started out as an author. The famous authors we know and love today once were in the same position, being told their work did not deserve to be published. It was inspiring to see that despite their struggles they kept moving forward until they succeeded. 

What genre are your books?
Fantasy, but you can definitely expect romance added in as well.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?
Fantasy books have always been my favorite to read, and honesty it offers a very open world. I wanted to create worlds that people could escape to while being able to relate to the characters. I also love the possibilities that are available when you write fantasy; anything can happen.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Artistic Choices AKA You Can't Please Everyone

I think of myself as a crafty writer.  The words are important.  To me, it's as important how you tell about what happened as it is that you have an engaging, interesting story.  One of my reviewers called me "a magician with words", which is embarrassingly flattering, but also a beautiful metaphor for a story.  I love the idea that a well-told story is a weaving of a special kind of magic, subtly casting a spell on the reader. 

When I wrote E, I made some very careful choices about how I wanted to tell the story.  One of those choices was in regards to world-building.  I chose not to go in depth about the complexities of the society I had created.  I did not explain how certain things had come to be, aside from dropping a few hints.  My story is told in first person, so I felt that the scope of the world was limited to what my character was seeing and perceiving, and that the immediate threats to her well-being far superceded any pondering over government, politics, and so on.  I felt that world-building needed to happen on that immediate level.  On the level that was most relevant to the story.  Did that leave some questions?  Yeah, of course it did.  However, that was also my intent.  I wanted my readers to ask those questions, as they are relevant to the ongoing story.  I thought of them as teasers that would draw my readers into the bigger picture.

To a large extent, this all worked as intended.  I have those readers who totally got what I was doing, and they are on board one hundred percent.  I've had lovely reviews that have praised the world-building and many readers who have made comments about the unique world, etc.  Then, on the other hand, I have a handful of readers who did not like that I held those things back.  They wanted answers to the questions that were raised.  They wanted them now!  So, essentially, the choices I made did not please everyone.  However, they did have the desired effect in both groups of raising questions and offering teasers that lead into the next story.

The hard part is when people take off a star on a review for something that I intended to be a certain way, and absolutely would not change about my story.  I love reviews, and even the ones that are not entirely positive are well worth reading in my opinion.  I love to see what is happening in my readers' minds when they read my story.  But yeah, that missing star can be painful, especially when a reader claims to have loved the story in the review!  I think the thing is, we need to sometimes focus on what readers are saying in reviews, not looking at the missing stars. 

For me, I know that my sequel has to include answers to some of those questions, and more world-building, which is all on track with how it was going to be anyway.  I'm headed in the right direction.  The main lesson I have learned as a writer is that I am never going to be able to please everyone.  That just reinforces that I really write for myself, because I love to write.  Sharing my stories with others is just an added bonus.  I will continue to stay true to what I believe is the best way to craft my stories, and I believe that ultimately, that will lead to success.

Monday, 8 September 2014

But You're Giving It Away!

Some friends are horrified at me giving away free copies of my book. ‘You’re not making money!’ they cry. Of course, they haven’t realized how valuable ‘free’ is.

‘Free’ is a wonderful word everybody loves to hear. Nobody loses with ‘free’ – you’re getting something without spending money, so you’re likely to take a risk. If it’s not for you, you’ve lost nothing. If you love it, you’ve been exposed to something new you may not have tried if not for that magical word. ‘Free’ is the indie author’s friend. 
I’m not saying give every person a free copy of your novel, but running a giveaway offering a number of copies can really generate interest. Lowering the price of your eBook to £0 for 24 hours can see your readership increase because people are more likely to pick it up. Many readers specifically look for free eBooks. With money tight and book prices rising, unless it is a known author they adore, they stick to free eBooks because it is a way to get their literary fix without breaking the bank. And if one person likes it and recommends it to a friend, that friend could be a paid purchase.
I also distribute free copies to people who are specifically reading to review. There are numerous people willing to do this, such as the wonderful team at Rock the Book. Reviews are gold. Not only can they be an ego boost (or a sobering reality) but they are one of the main things customers look for when purchasing novels (along with cover and blurb). Utilizing services offered by people who are happy to read and review in exchange for a free copy is an invaluable investment. 

There is a line between profitable ‘free’ and giving it away to everyone. You need to be using ‘free’ to generate interest, gain readership and hold attention. If it is always free, the hype will burn out and people may question why it is priced at nothing. 
Grey bird with question marks by anarres - A funny grey cartoon bird with big googley eyes and some question marks.
Top tips:
Use ‘free’ sporadically – drop the price to nothing for 2 to 5 days every 6 months.
Time ‘free’ right – coincide it with a specifically high reading time: winter, back to school, summer vacations, a holiday your book is associated with (Halloween Horror, Valentine’s Romance).
Promotion – Generate hype! Create Facebook events, update your website/social media, produce a countdown, post daily during the ‘free’ event. Get people interested.

By Chloe Testa
Displaying Chloe Testa.jpg Chloe is of British-Maltese descent and grew up in the small, seaside town of Brugibba with her mother, grandmother and two arrogant cats. She now lives in Surrey, UK, dividing her time between writing novels and teaching English, with almost no time to sleep in between the two. She is a lover of great books, good company and bad puns.

Find out more about Chloe on her site, or find her book on Amazon.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Cover to Cover: Tips for creating a top-notch design

So as ever I am going to draw on my own experience to find a topic for my blog this week.
Just yesterday I received the proof for the new paperback version of Chasing Freedom. It was my second time creating a paperback and it wasn’t any easier than the first, but I got it done. Other than a tiny error with the edge of the front cover it’s looking pretty good.
But it got me to thinking – how important is your cover? And what kind of thing should you be doing to make your cover look as professional as possible?
So to the first question – how important is your cover? Well, despite the old adage, never judge a book by its cover, your cover is actually one of the most important things about your book. Of course you want it formatted properly and you want to make sure the writing and editing is top notch – but the sad fact is that if you have a bad cover none of that will matter because no one will see it.
Unfortunately there are a lot of Indie authors out there who assume, I think, that because their book will be digital the cover won’t matter. It does.
So there here are a few tips I can give to making your cover as professional as possible:
·         Obviously the most obvious answer is to have it designed by a professional cover designer. Your cover will look professional, but on the downside, it can cost a lot of money, and not all of us have the cash to spare. If you are willing to make that investment then definitely go for it.
If a professional is out of your price range, then try a few of the tips below to really get that edge you need for a great cover.
·         Quality is essential when it comes to the artwork – whatever you do, don’t skimp on it. It might be really tempting to pay a little less and get the lower resolution picture – and it might work to a point on the small scale thumbnail on Amazon, but if you want a print copy it will need to be at least 300dpi or it’s going to look bad.
·         If you are designing it on an Office programme (which is possible) avoid all the standard fonts. They have a habit of making a cover look homemade – there are lots of more exotic fonts out there, and you can often find great ones online to download. Search around a bit to find something that works.
·         Play with placement. You don’t have to stick with the title at the top and your name at the bottom – it’s the most standard, but playing with different placements can really make something stand out.
·         Get a second opinion. Make sure you have someone whose opinion you trust look at it. Get them to tell you what works and what doesn’t. And listen to them. You don’t HAVE to change something they don’t like, but normally if something jumps out at them in the wrong way it will be the same for other people.
·         But most important of all, take your time. This isn’t something that can be rushed. If you rush it, it will show. You want your cover to be as good as it can possibly be and that will take time and effort. But at the end of it you should have a cover that you can be proud of.
What about other Indie authors out there? Do you have any tips for great cover design? What works for you? Do you love or loathe making covers? Comments below!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Three Ingredients of Indie Success

There are a lot of different success stories out there, but the failures outweigh them by far in terms of sheer numbers.  So what's the magical formula for Indie success?  As far as I can tell, there are three key ingredients to Indie success.

A Great Book:

If you want to be successful, you need to start with first things first.  You need a great book.  This means that editing, formatting, and even the cover should be the absolute best that you can produce.  Never settle for OK.  Your book needs to scream five-stars from all angles.  Take the time.  Invest the effort.  Pour every ounce of your creative genius into that baby, then refine, refine, refine until it is as close to perfect as you can get.


Yeah.  I know.  I don't like this one either.  But let's face it.  Luck plays a huge part in this game.  The market is constantly changing, so marketing tactics that work one minute don't work the next.  Add to that fact that the market is entirely flooded with Indie books.  Add to that fact that many of those Indie books probably shouldn't be published yet because they are full of errors, etc, (sorry, but it's true), and thus readers are wary of even picking up an Indie book in the first place....  Luck plays a huge role.  The chances of someone finding your book are right up there with the chances of finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.  Yay.


Out of all the factors, this is the one that you have the most control over.  Sure, you control the effort you put into the creation of your book, but there are certain innate talent factors that we have no say in.  We can refine our skills, but each of us have a limit, whether we like it or not.  It's part of being human.  However, you have total control over your actions, and that is where persistence comes in.  You must stubbornly refuse to give up.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  You have to be like a rabid pit bull.  You have to hold on to that thing that you believe in, and not let go, no matter how discouraged, how hopeless, how incredibly lost in the sea of Indie authors you feel.  When you feel like giving up, you need to give yourself a pep talk along the lines of "Hell no!", keep your chin up, and keep going.  This is a marathon, folks.  Quitters are automatic losers.  Only the ones who keep going ever have a chance of running into magic ingredient #2, Luck. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A Rocking Review of The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman


Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen.  The day of his death, he told a lie - and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.
And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons.  It's been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of it's souls to maintain his brutal control.  The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America - stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead.
Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son.  After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself.  Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them.
Three Journeys: separate but joined.  One mission: to save forever.

But first they have to save themselves.

Why It Rocked:

This book is the first installment in The Commons series.  As an urban fantasy series this book established a world that most who were reading could relate to, at least at the beginning that is.  I really enjoyed the fact that when the reader first starts this book it isn't set in a fantastical world.  It's set in America.  And when you first start it it definitely doesn't seem like fantasy.  The author establishes a place that readers find familiar before throwing in all of the amazing fantasy elements and I for one appreciated that.  The author's creativity makes each one of the characters come alive and thrive before your eyes.  I could feel myself connecting on some level with each of the characters and that made this book so much more enthralling.  I will say I was a bit nervous about this book as some of the urban fantasy I've been reading lately hasn't been up my alley, but I'm extremely glad I picked this one up!  I am definitely looking forward to more from this author.