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Make Your Own Luck – tips for indie authors

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Photo by Leo Cardelli on Pexels.com

As an indie author it’s important for word of my books to get out there. If I don’t go the extra mile to promote my novels, no one else will. So – how do I achieve this I hear you ask? 

I achieve this by accepting invitations to appear at book fairs, signings, author talks or library visits. I use these events to create blog posts and  promos which I disseminate via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and two retweeting groups I belong to. This could be viewed as casting my bread upon the water in the vain hope that the fish will bite. However, I find that getting my name out there in a variety of ways reaps dividends.

lizzie-lamb-new-email-signature-300pxHere are some of my top tips

There are many social media sites and they can be a real time suck, taking you away from your WIP. Experiment to find which ones work for you. I focus on: Facebook (personal, author page, groups) Twitter, Instagram and my website/blog. I also belong to many Facebook ‘groups’, it takes a little time to figure out which ones work get little or no traffic, so don’t be afraid to leave a group if you’re getting nothing from it. LIfe’s too short. 

Increase your social media presence

As a result of increasing my social media presence I have been invited to appear in Writers’ Magazine (blog tours – 2018), Writers Forum (my writing space – 2019) De Montfort University to lecture final year creative writing students, library visits, author talks and workshops. One word of warning – book sales are not always guaranteed so do check in advance that you will be paid for the talk, be offered petrol expenses and whether or not the venue will want 10% of your book sales. Yes, really (!)

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Narberth Book Fair – Wales – September 2019

Get out and about

I believe that my books deserve to be brought to the attention of the largest number of readers possible so I canvass different venues to see if they would like a visit from an indie author, or authors in the case of New Romantics Press. So far, I/we’ve appeared at Aspinalls of London, Waterstones Kensington High Street and hosted literary lunches at top Leicestershire venues to raise money for charity.  

Get organised

Keep your author bio, author photo, links etc up to date. Be organised, you don’t want to be hunting around for an excerpt of your novel when an outside agency approaches you. Invest in a mobile phone capable of taking decent photos and syncs with your computer.

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Join author groups where you can learn from others. I’ve been a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association since 2006 and co-organise the Leicester Chapter with June Kearns. What I’ve learned from other authors has been invaluable. I used to belong to local writing groups where members critiqued each other’s work. They didn’t work for me, but they might work for you.

Don’t be afraid to enter competitions, but choose wisely as they can be time suckage, too. Remember to publicise the good bits which you’re happy to share and project a positive image of yourself and your novels. 

Check out the great promotional apps out there: Canva, Ripl, Photolab Photofunia  – you have to stand out from the crowd. 

Once you’re published and have proven sales, join professional groups such as the Society of Authors. It might not do much to raise your profile in the short term but offers invaluable professional advice on contracts, tax matters. Using the #SOA tag on your profile identifies you as a serious writer.

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Carol Bevitt, Adrienne Vaughan, Lizzie Lamb, Marcia Holah, Caroline Bell-Foster, Marilyn Rodwell

Remember your fellow authors

Make friends, be generous to other writers but don’t expect them to always return the favour. Invite authors on to your blog, ‘like’ any blogs you read and (if time allows) leave a comment. Read and review their books (don’t be afraid to ask them to do the same for you). Retweet authors in your genre, like their posts on Instagram etc. A good time for this is via your mobile phone when you’re watching tv (!) Remember the USA doesn’t come on line until (roughly) 3pm.

Be ready for opportunities

Me and long-suffering husband

Over the past two years I’ve been offered an Amazon Prime Deal and an Amazon Kindle Deal in India. The former arrived via email when I was in John O’Groats on a research trip and I had to respond straight away. See what I mean about always having your phone with you, always being alert?!

I’m currently waiting to be accepted on the Women’s Institute and Rotaract circuit where I will talk about writing, travels in our caravan, I’ve just signed up to Kindlepreneur and downloaded software to hone my tags and categories more effectively and increase my novels’ visibility on Amazon. The learning never stops. 

AND FINALLY . . .

If I’m allowed a small boast (it’s my blog – right?) I’d love to share the article in WRITER’S FORUM where I talk about my writing space. Quite an achievement for an indie author. 

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So – good luck with all your enterprises. Don’t wait for luck to strike, go out and make it happen. And, if you see me on social media, do ‘like’ and ‘share’ my posts – I always pay it forward. 

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My Writerly Year 2018 # part one

Happy New Year to all my followers and friends. I thought I’d look back over 2018 to see what I’d achieved in the writerly sphere. I was surprised by the result . . . So, in reverse order, starting with December here’s what I’ve been up to.

Another cracking meeting of the Belmont Belles which I organise with June Kearns. To round up the year’s activities we were honoured to have best selling romance author Carole Matthews as our guest. Cue an inspirational talk and fabulous Q&A session. Also in December, much To my surprise I won a £40 amazon voucher from Kindle Direct Publishing to spend on author copies of my novels. Colour me lucky.

In November I was invited to appear alongside Sue Moorcroft and Heidi Jo Swain at Upminster library to meet readers and talk about my path to publication. A thrilling moment for an indie author was made extra special when I learned that the library had ordered copies of my novels – hopefully I might get some PLR revenue from that.

Adrienne Vaughan and I went to London, Waterstones Piccadilly to be precise there we attended Sue Moorcrofts launch for A Christmas Gift and bumped into many RNA pals. Great evening out which set us up for the festive season. That happened less than a week after my second cataract operation, so I was glad Adrienne was there for support. She makes for a pretty glamorous guide dog.

October saw the inaugural meeting of the East Midlands Chapter of the Society of Authors in Leicester. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was a friendly and supportive group which met at THE HEAD OF STEAM in Market Street. The highlight of the month was being invited to talk to a large group of final year students at De Montfort University on the subject of indie publishing. They’ve asked me back next year and to attend the States of Independence book fair in March 2019.

I’m a great believer in learning from successful authors and so it was a no brainer to attend a master class featuring Cathy Bramley and Carole Matthews at Waterstones in Nottingham. The talk was entertaining and informative and the queue of readers waiting to have their books signed was something I can only dream about.

I organised for Kim Nash, publicity officer at Bookouture, to come along to the Belmont Belles to explain her role and to dispel one or two myths regarding what Bookouture requires from authors. I can’t quite decide if I’m ready to give up my indie status and get locked into a contract as I like the freedom to write what I like, when I like. But – as 007 said – never say never. Right?

In October I attended a SOA meeting in Oxford at Balliol College, where I bumped into RNA members, Liz Harris and Julia Roberts . Dave and I had lunch in the Eagle and Child where Tolkien and other ‘Inklings’ met to talk and write and where he penned some of Lord of the Rings. I hope some of the magic rubbed off on me.

September saw my returning to the Norfolk Marshes to celebrate the fifth birthday of Boot Camp Bride. I visited the locations which inspired the novel. If you’d like to learn more about that visit, click here.

While in Norfolk I made the most of the opportunity to meet up with Kate Hardy and Rosie Hendry in Thornham where we swapped our latest novels.

I’ve appeared on other blogs this year and I always appreciate the time and effort bloggers put into publicising me and my books. I’ll just mention a couple of my favourites, starting with Jena’s Golden Chapters via writer and blogger Jessie Cahalin. You can read the full review here.

I appeared on Sharon Booth’s blog where I described my life in FIVE photos. That was great fun – do pop along and see it if you have time. (Yep, that’s me – determined and cussed.LOL)

I was really chuffed to appear on Being Anne’s list of romances she’d enjoyed in 2018. Anne is an incredible blogger: committed, supportive and widely read.

Well, that about wraps up Part One of my Literary Journey this year. Tune in next time for Part Two (August – January) to learn what 2019 holds in store.

And, as they say in Scotland Happy New Year and Lang May Yer Lum Reek.

My week in retrospect – blogging, writing, Goodreads Giveaway, fabulous presents – and surviving the dreaded lurgy.

Many thanks to blogger Linda Hill for inviting me on her blog to talk about Girl in the Castle. Linda is the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Media/blog star award of 2017.

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You can read the blog post here https://wp.me/p5IN3z-cRi

I’ve also been learning how to make animations on ripl.com What do you think?

If you’d like to share my tweet here’s the link

I spent quite a chunk of the week monitoring my ‘paid for’ Goodreads promotion. Here are the results. The promo was limited to the US and the winner chosen at random. I was able to mail the book direct to her via my Createspace account. Simples.

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Would I do it again? If I see a spike in downloads, yes; if not, no. I’ll be blogging about it in more detail in the near future. Tune in for more details in a couple of weeks.

I spent some of the week composing guest blog posts and sending them off to bloggers/writing blogs to go out in March.

The highlight of the last ten days or so was being long listed for the Exeter Novel Prize. Fingers crossed I make the short list.

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I have also been cracking on with my work in progress which I hope to publish late spring. I have two fabulous editors working on this with me and when it’s ready I’ll be zooming it over to my proofreaders. I have also recruited a new member to my team to check accuracy of location etc.  I think I’ve got all the bases covered. Cover reveal sometime after Easter – hopefully.

While all this activity was going on, my husband (code name Bongo Man), and I have been smitten by the dreaded lurgy –  equivalent of the American term, cooties – and had to cancel our proposed caravan trip to the Cotswolds. We hope to try again in March.IMG_7299 (Edited).JPG

In the meantime . . . a fabulous present arrived from the Diva from Dumbarton2018-02-17 09.10.48 (2)We can’t wait to find a space for the gifts next to the hand-crocheted blanket and cushion our mate Carole Matthews made especially for the new van. I have Carole’s new novel – A Million Love Songs on pre-order, something else to look forward to.

Well, I guess that about wraps it up. Must dash. Bongo Man, still laid up with the dreaded lurgy, has requested a slice of Battenberg cake to accompany his mid morning cuppa. Better head for our local co-op and hope they have some on their shelves. Laters.

Have a great week. Keep on reading, writing, blogging and reviewing.

My Review of 2016 #2 July – December

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Castle Stalker, Argyll © Lizzie Lamb

July saw us taking a month long research trip to Scotland. We started at Edinburgh, visited Rosslyn Chapel and Britannia . We called in at Whitburn to visit my family and discovered that Uncle Archie is a great fan of caravaning, too – I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Here he is with Auntie Nellie; they are my dad’s last remaining siblings. When I was talking to them, I lapsed into an East Lothian patois I hadn’t spoken in many a year. Good to know I haven’t lost it, ye ken?

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In August we visited Bletchley Park and found a connection there to WHITBURN, Winkie the carrier pigeon  who saved the lives of a WWII Bomber crew. They even had Winkie’s ‘parachute on display.Here’s Dave sitting at Alan Turing’s desk . . . 

While we were at Edinburgh we visited Doune Castle where many scenes from OUTLANDER (Castle Leoch), and MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL were filmed.

I drew inspiration for the Samhain feast in GIRL IN THE CASTLE here.

We then camped at Culloden  and travelled as far north as Balnakeil, Cape Wrath, (research for romance #5). We popped into Balmoral but Herself wasn’t in, so I met up with fellow writer Rae Cowie at Banchory for a coffee and presented her with a copy of Scotch on the Rocks. (thanks for reviewing, Rae)

You can’t visit Inverness without going Nessie hunting, so we called in at Urquhart Castle, but Nessie was taking a coffee break. You can see why, inspired by the mist, romantic landscape and mysterious wakes on the loch, how the legend of the monster first arose.

We moved on to Ullapool and, although it rained (a lot!), at least we weren’t bothered by midges. It has long been an ambition of mine to visit the Craft Village at Balnakeil , and we did just that – calling in at the fabulous Cocoa Mountain Cafe for the BEST hot chocolate EVER. If you visit nearby Durness, you’ll see the John Lennon memorial garden; John, Yoko and the kids used to holiday there in the late sixties.

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The road from Ullapool to Durness was stunning as we passed through North-West Highlands Geo-Park on a twisting one track road with passing places. Castles, white sand beaches, mountains, mist and small lochs (lochans)  covered in water lilies. Can’t wait to return.bab13063-f055-4138-8324-23ee43bee1e72

During that month New Romantics Press  published a tapas selection of our novels for reading on Kindle. At the end of each extract a link takes the reader direct to Amazon to download the novel and ‘read on’. Take a Chance on Us. 

Once I returned home, it was straight to East Midlands Airport to pick up Isabella Tartaruga. Isabella and I met through Facebook and have become firm friends ever since. I named a character in Scotch on the Rocks after her. We took Isa to our local pub for a cider and I organised a tea party in her honour – with a little help from my friends.

Talking of friends . . . In August we travelled to Brighton and had a super lunch with writer  June Tate, and exchanged books. Later in the autumn, we met up with lovely Carole Matthews; I received her latest book later on in the year and am looking forward to reading and reviewing both. I learn so much talking to such brilliant writers – I hope some of the fairy dust rubbed off. 

To ring the changes, New Romantics Press attended the Historical Novel Society‘s annual conference. I like to include lots of history in my contemporary novels – if that makes sense. One sad footnote: the conference was the last time I spoke to agent Carole Blake, who died unexpectedly in October. A great loss to readers and writers alike.

October saw me giving a four hour talk How to Self Publish your novel, at Stamford Arts. Thanks to Rachel Henry of WriteStars for inviting me. Dave was my wing man and worked the pc while I blathered on.14642163_10154045011707843_1225004116375522132_n

 

The highlight of November has to be the author event which Adrienne Vaughan and I presented at Aspinall, St Pancras, London. We sold books, talked to customers about writing – and met Tom Parker Bowles (name dropper!) in Fortnum’s, across the way! We’re hoping to be invited back again this spring to give author readings and to talk about the art of writing – watch this space.

It was a great November for Adrienne as she launched Fur Coat and No Knickers, a collection of short stories and poems.

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December went by in a whirl, the highlight was meeting Book Blogger, Rosie Amber and her team of reviewers and writers at the Belmont Hotel with the Leicester Chapter.img_3271-collage1Thanks to Rosie, Scotch on the Rocks was read by her review team and short listed for the contemporary fiction award (silver). It was also one of Book Blogger Cathy Ryan‘s TOP READS OF 2016.

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And finally . . . deep breath. I finished my latest novel – GIRL IN THE CASTLE and it is currently with beta readers. I have booked my proofreader and formatter and, with good luck and a following wind, it should be ready for pre-order by the end of March.

Cover reveal and blurb, coming soon.

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My review of 2016 – January – June

January kicked off with a BANG. New Romantics Press put on their best bibs and tuckers and headed to Lunnon Tah-an for Jill Mansell’s Book launch. There we bumped into many fellow RNA members who’d wandered over from another book launch to join us. A great time was had by all and we went away inspired to finish our WIP in 2016.

Read on to see if we achieved our goal . . .

In February, our baby boy Jasper was 20 and he received lots of cards. One from a Facebook friend and reader Lotte Sutton in Australia, which was such a kind thought.  I just hope he appreciated it. He’s 21 on February 2nd 2017 – I predict that there might be a little celebration on that day involving the Bridget Jones DVD, cocktails, canapes, cake and coffee. All the things he likes (cough, cough).

Adrienne and I have both had parents who’ve died from cancer, so we decided to raise some money for HOPE AGAINST CANCER, in their memories. In February we organised a literary lunch at swish Kilworth House Hotel, gave a hilarious (if I say so myself) talk about writing romance – and raised over £500 for the charity.

I also gave a talk on self-publishing to the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA, and to students at De Montfort University during February. March was a busy month, too. Apart from it being my birthday, I made the final of the Exeter Novel Prize with Scotch on the Rocks so we took the caravan down to Exeter and fitted in a spring-break holiday after the ceremony. I took good care of my precious trophy, but a certain person thought the award belonged to him!

April was rather more family orientated as it was my father-in-law Geoffrey’s 90th birthday which we celebrated in style. A moment to cherish. A friend of long-standing, Maggie, who regularly buys several paperback copies of my novels and POSTS them to Australia (at great expense) joined us for the celebrations.  img_17582

I got stuck in with the WIP and vowed to finish it before Christmas.

May was a busy month with the fabulous Romance in the Court which Adrienne and I attended. Passing through St Pancras I bought something in Aspinall’s and, after talking to the manager, we were invited back to hold an author event there in November.More of which in part #2. I’m looking forward to attending the same event in May of 2017, thanks to Goldsboro Books and David Hedley.

Next, I gave a talk in Chippenham, to aspiring authors to prove to them that self publishing was within their grasp and took along novels which New Romantics Press have published to make my point. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.photofunia-1484222424

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What we didn’t plan on last year, was trading in our caravan for a slightly bigger one with a FIXED BED. But that’s what we did, two days before we set off on our month’s stay in Bonnie Scotland . . . No more setting up/dismantling the bed every morning so we can have breakfast. I’ve also gained more writing space, so #winwin. Just writing about it makes me long to go on the road again. 2016-06-26 12.47.27

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the first half of 2106.

Do join me for #2 when I’ll mention:

  • a character from Scotch on the Rocks who came to stay
  • the historical novel society conference in Oxford
  • NRP book launch and another author presentation
  • our gig at Aspinall and meeting Tom Parker-Bowles
  • the RNA winter party
  • Chatsworth all decked out for Christmas
  • the last chapter meeting of the season and some surprise guests
  • a cover reveal for #4

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2015 – My Year in photos #2

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With three novels under my belt we headed to Bonnie Scotland in July to research number four. No rest for the wicked, eh? Having just watched the Outlander Series (based on the novels by Diane Gabaldon), I was interested to visit some of the locations where filming had taken place.

Then it was on to Ballachulish and a tour of Castle Stalker by the owner. The castle in my next novel, Castle Tèarmannair, is loosely based on Castle Stalker (see below). Check out the fabulous tour buses designed by Gary Walker.

 In September Bongo Man was 65 and we celebrated in style.


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We are real nerds and the highlight of that summer was having a pair of Jays take up residence in our garden. They disappeared from September until November but have now returned to delight us every morning with their antics and are becoming much tamer.

In October managed a week away in the Cotswolds and I was able to give a copy of Scotch on the Rocks to Maggie. We’ve been friends since 1978  when we met at an Open University summer school and the book is dedicated to her. Her only complaint about my writing is that there aren’t enough murders in my books. No wonder the Kelpie is laughing.

In October I became a member of Carole Matthew’s Chocolate Lovers’ Club team and hosted an evening with my girlfriends to celebrate the launch of her latest book – the Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas. I received free copies which I distributed to my book club, a tiara, chocs and an advent calendar. I also received an advance copy of  The Chocolate Lover’s Wedding – Carole knows how to do things in style. #myguru

Tall Dark and Kilted received its 100th review in December and I felt that was worthy of celebration. And, out of the blue, I had a wonderful shout out in the Scottish Daily Record – the icing on the cake this year. I’ll be writing a blog post about that in 2016.

Looking back over the second half of the year I realise that I’ve been promoting more than I’ve been writing and I’ll have to rectify that. But it hasn’t all been about books and writing . . .  I’ve also spent time with my family, have welcomed a great nephew – Leonidas Daniel Alexander – into the world and had a wonderful Christmas with Bongo Man and Jasper.

In between doing all of the above I have managed to find time to create a newsletter! Do subscribe to it while you’re on this page . . . I hope to host giveaways, sneak previews of my new novel – including cover reveals  – and the odd chapter or two. I’d love you to be part of it.

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So, what does 2016 hold for me? 

 I’ve been asked to give a talk on self-publishing to third year creative writing students at De Montfort University and I’m very thrilled about that.

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 I’m also co-hosting two charity events with Adrienne Vaughan: one in February and another in June And, of course, I have a  novel to write – I’m currently on 12k words; only another 90k to go. Simples.

 Do let me know how 2015 panned out for you and what 2016 holds in store. Be Healthy and Happy and – as they say in Scotland – LANG MAY YER LUM REEK.2016-01-01 12.24.24

 

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