Tag Archives: dogs

autumn, dogs & new writing

Autumn has properly arrived at last, really late, and there are beautiful patterns everywhere, formed by colourful fallen leaves. It’s also waterlogged wherever we take the dogs. Both of them are coming home soaked after their run each day.

As for me, I’ve finished writing Aunt Sally & More, the sequel to my bestselling novel The Aunt Sally Team and have spent days on revisions and edits. Now it’s out with people who are beta reading it. That’s one of the wonderful things that has come out of being part of the community of readers and authors on Twitter: I have new friends who are also writers and can swap reading and commenting. I’ve also begun another new book, linked to my novel The Sacred Marriage. Meanwhile, I’m hoping Aunt Sally & More will be ready to publish on Amazon KDP in December – I’m just waiting for Beccy Blake to do the cover.

Phew, it’s been a busy few weeks and set to continue…

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KDP Select free promo part 3, negative reviews, tags & categories & a little bit more dog news

As you will know if you’ve read my recent blog entries, I’ve done two previous KDP Select free promos and they’ve been wildly successful. They’ve boosted the visibility of The Aunt Sally Team (http://amzn.to/MgZRmW & http://amzn.to/LJvFhf), led to a huge bump in both sales and ranking that lasted several weeks after each promo, and gained me several lovely reviews in the UK, not to mention new readers. As sales had finally tailed off again, I decided to do another promo last week, running for three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This one has gained me a lowly 39 sales post promo and one very nasty 1 star review (the other 22 reviews were 5 and 4 star) and one public announcement on Twitter, by a total stranger, informing me of her adverse view of my book – how kind of her to let me know along with the rest of the world! Why the other two promos were so successful and this one wasn’t, I have no idea. Perhaps it was timing, doing it at the end of the summer holidays, when people are back at work and school, or perhaps it was because it was timed to run over part of the weekend, which is supposed to be the optimum buying time.

Which brings me to negative reviews. Every writer gets them sooner or later, if they have their work publicly accessible, and indeed other authors say that they can be an almost inevitable consequence of letting your work be downloaded free (in which case, I was very lucky with my first two promos.)  If the review is constructive, then it can be taken on board, no matter how unpleasant it might be receiving it. However, many negative reviews are by people who clearly haven’t read a book and who are being inaccurate or spiteful for reasons of their own. There has been a lot in the news recently about sock puppets, other authors or publishers creating bogus personas to post destructive reviews of rival authors work; but to be honest, and without discounting this, there have always been bad reviews no matter the quality of the book concerned. You can’t please everybody and what appeals to one person will be anathema to another. You even get people slating a book because it wasn’t in a genre they would normally read, and the sense of that is very hard to comprehend.

But don’t let anyone tell you negative reviews don’t hurt. How can they not when you are making the products of personal creativity and hard work available to strangers? Not only that, but bad reviews are destructive in other ways.  I’m pretty sure that the reading public will discount one or two bad reviews amidst several good ones, but I’ve seen perfectly sound books where a 1 star review seems to have sparked several more in the same vein. I won’t review a book at all if I can’t give it at least 3 stars. I know what it’s like to rely on writing to make a living (no matter how small) and to want to please people with your writing, and I know how hurtful negative reviews can be, so I won’t do it to other people.

Leading on from this, it’s very important to pay attention to tags and categories when publishing onto Amazon and other eBook sites. Both these make it easier for readers to find your books, and the more apt the tags and categories, the better they will point to your work. I’ve shifted the categories on both my books. I’d listed one of the categories for The Aunt Sally Team as humour, as it’s written in a slightly tongue-in-cheek style and people who had read it said it made them laugh. But it isn’t out and out snort your coffee over your keyboard humour. Every time I’ve offered the book free, it’s shot to around the top of the humour charts on Amazon UK. But…this is a huge category and you have to sell a lot of books to stay up there once your book goes back on paid. I did manage to reach the #3 slot in paid humour on the UK Amazon site and stayed in the top 10 for quite a long time, but in the long term I was up against authors like Nick Spalding and Terry Pratchett, both of whom have shifted hundreds of thousands of books. Not only that, but one reader, who gave me a 4 star review and was otherwise generous with her comments, did say it hadn’t made her laugh. I’ve now put my book in Contemporary Fiction and Women Authors and Fiction and will monitor how that affects sales and ranking.

Moving on from writing, our Saluki lurcher, Isha, is settling in more and more. she was emaciated when found by the rescue organisation we got her from (Evesham Greyhound & Lurcher Rescue: http://bit.ly/RIl2Bt), but she’s filled out with both flesh and muscle. She’s is so gentle and loving but incredibly playful and can be a handful off the lead, when she wants to play with every dog she meets. After the wet summer here in England, we have beautiful sunny weather, with crisp mornings and warm days, so walking the dogs is a joy. I guess book sales, reviews and all else aside, that’s what makes life worthwhile.

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social networking again & writing, with a bit of dog walking thrown in

I’m discovering more facets of social networking, especially regarding Twitter. For a start I’m still trying to gauge how many retweets I can do for fellow authors before going over my daily limit. I’ve got a horribly over developed social conscience and can’t bear to leave anyone out. Consequently I keep being rate restricted, thus hampering tweeting about my own books.

But I’m also finding ways to streamline what I’m doing. Following an excellent series of articles by Rachel Abbott in her author friendly blog (http://rachelabbottwriter.wordpress.com/) I’ve started using SocialOomph to schedule tweets so that I don’t have to worry about composing those and posting throughout the day: you can even save tweets to repeat post later. However, coming back to being rate restricted, I’m finding that some of my scheduled  tweets aren’t going out because I’m over the limit. I really do need to get a handle on how many to do for other people and how many to save for myself.

I’m making friends and getting to know people on Twitter now. I didn’t think that was going to happen, given the brevity of a tweet, but happily there are ways round the 140 character limit, such as breaking a message into several tweets. There are some truly supportive people and my experience so far has mostly been positive and heartening  One or two other authors are less giving and don’t return the retweet favour and a couple are happy to offer swapping likes for your book but don’t fulfil their side of the bargain, but they are in a minority. The majority are courteous and helpful in the extreme.

With scheduling the tweeting of my books, I’m finding time to write now and have got nearly 13,000 words done of the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team. This may not sound like a lot, but the way I work is to reread and reread, polishing and refining as I go along. Walking the dogs in the local water meadows is helping my writing as the book is set in our home area of Oxford.  We see deer down there from time to time and tonight a heron flew over and buzzards were circling. The place is a mass of wild flowers at the moment: yarrow, convolvulus, vetch, teasel, cranesbill and red and white campion. The endless rain of this summer in Britain, followed by sunshine, has caused an absolute profusion of blooms. It’s all very inspiring.

So all in all life is interesting and fulfilling. The worst of the settling in problems with Isha, our new Saluki lurcher, seem to be behind us. She’s fun and very sweet. We still have some hairy moments with her, like when she ran at full speed into the net surrounding the tennis courts in the park today and did a double somersault, but she’s mostly much easier now.

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writing, tweeting, the indie author community and having a new dog in rainy Britain

I’ve been tied to the house for six weeks due to the arrival of Isha our new dog, a six month old Saluki/Whippet rescue dog. It’s been a very restricting time till recently. In the early days I spent the whole time she was awake holding onto the end of a lead to make sure she didn’t chase our five cats. To begin with too she had a badly upset tummy and had to be taken into the garden at regular intervals, including the middle of the night. It was something like having a new baby in terms of sleep deprivation and in the end it was easier to sleep with her so that I could get her out at the first whimper, thus forestalling any messy accidents. That led to temporary separation anxiety and Bee Gee like howling at night once we began to leave her downstairs alone (except for the company of our border collie cross, that is). Then there was the problem of exercising her while she was first with us and couldn’t safely be allowed off the lead away from the house. Add that to torrential rain and a very wet June and you can imagine the effect a cooped up running dog has had on the garden.

None of this, of course, has been conducive to writing blogs or books, or networking. Though I have made a start on the sequel to The Aunt Sally Team.

Meanwhile I have plunged into using Twitter. I’ve had an account for some months but just didn’t “get it”. It’s been a bit of a learning curve, especially getting used to how fast it all moves, but I’m now retweeting like a goodun – so much so that this morning I retweeted so many other authors’ books that I was rate limited and couldn’t tweet my own for several hours. I hadn’t realised there was a limit – though I suppose, thinking about it, that there would have to be. I know now! But it’s been wonderful to connect with a thriving community of other writers, many of them indie authors.

So now to drag myself away from blogs and Twitter and obsessively watching my hourly book sales and Amazon ranking. I have a novel to write, hopefully in time for Christmas.

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