Author Guest Post by Christie Barlow

I’m really pleased to have the lovely Christie Barlow as guest author on my blog today. Christie is the author of three novels, namely, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother and her current novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream.

I had hoped that by the time this post went live I could proudly say I had actually met Christie in the flesh, so to speak, as I was due to meet her, along with many others, at a Blogger – Author meet up in London on Saturday. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. With my train ticket booked I set off fom home reasonably early with no reason to doubt I would reach my destination on time. How wrong was I! I won’t bore you all with the details as I know you are dying to read Christie’s post but needless to say, thanks to engineering works combined with football and rugby matches taking place in London on the said same day – my usual one hour trip to London actually took five hours and I missed the meet.

Oh well – I hope I get the opportunity to meet Christie at the next meet. In the meantime read how Christie, in a bid to prove to her children that you can achieve anything you set your mind to, became a successful published author.

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Sometimes I wake up in the morning, open my eyes and think, ‘Is this real?’ But then I hear one of the kids shout, ‘Where’s my uniform, mum? Mum, can you check my spellings? Has someone let the dog out?’

Okay, my four kids, my mad cocker-spaniel Woody, the chickens, the horses and even my husband can jolt me back to reality pretty quickly but at the end of the day, it’s these characters in my real-life that got me writing in the first place.

One day, after I’d turned 40, my children were asking me what did I want to do? I found myself answering, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book.’ I had spent years dedicating my life to being a full-time mum, and piano teacher, but now the kids were getting older, there perhaps was something more I could do for me. After making this bold statement, I thought I better try and see it through – and show my kids that you CAN achieve anything you set your mind to.

What to write about came to me pretty easily, as I was always fascinated with the dynamics around the primary school gates with mothers and playground politics. Of course all my writing was fiction with a huge heaping of one-liners. After self-publishing A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, I was amazed to see it rocketing up the Amazon charts reaching no 1 in its category and no 11 for Kindle downloads. The reviews were amazing, calling it ‘witty’ and ‘laugh-out-loud funny’. Before I knew it, my wacky village characters were appearing on the page in a sequel, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother.

This is when my life really took a parallel course with reality. One morning after the school run, I came home to find an email from literary agent Madeleine Milburn – I had just finished writing Misadventures, intending to self-publish again, when Ping! I not only had an agent but within a few weeks, I had a publishing deal with the fabulous Bookouture.

My third novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream has just been released. It introduces a new set of characters centred on love and genuine friendship, with a few chickens added in to the mix. And, I’m working on a completely different novel that’s due to come out in September.

It’s been an amazing experience – especially since signing with my agent and Bookouture. I’m attending events and meeting many authors whom I’ve admired for years. Through my social media presence I was approached by the Zuri Project, a charity that supports development and community well-being in Uganda, working with the team to make a difference.

But, I have to say, my kids keep me grounded! I had an opportunity to take my two youngest to meet David Walliams at a book signing in Birmingham recently. I joked to them that I might tell David I kept him off the top spot for a few days. Their reply, ‘Mum, you can’t steal his thunder, this is his day, let him enjoy it!’ Okay kids, you’re right – but I still took the opportunity to take a photo of my book next to his in a Waterstones’ bookshop!

Now I’m about to pop my head on the pillow after a crazy day of writing and responding to reviews on Kitty and I think to myself, ‘Is this real?’

Luckily for me, the answer is yes.

Warm wishes,

Christie xx

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You can purchase Christie’s latest novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream here.

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via:

http://www.christiebarlow.com

Twitter @ChristieJBarlow

Facebook 

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Cover Reveal – Breakfast at Poldark’s

I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in the cover reveal of the lovely, fellow author, Samantha Tonge’s upcoming novel Breakfast at Poldark’s. I’m sure you’ll agree how beautiful it is!
Due for release on 28th July from CarinaUK, HarperCollins, you can pre-order your copy here http://amzn.to/1WZLec5

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Mothers & teen girls: A book exploring our fraught relationship

I’m over on BritMums today talking about some of the research behind 183 Times A Year!BritMums

Take a look at some of the amusing and interesting facts I discovered about mothers and their teenage daughters!

Eva Jordan is a blogger and mother to teenagers. Her debut novel 183 Times A Year has received some great reader reviews on Amazon. The book explores the complicated and highly amusing relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter. Here, Eva explains the rationale behind her book and offers hope for all us mothers of teenage daughters!

Read more here

Author Guest Post by Tara Lyons

In the shadows

I’m very pleased to have the lovely Tara Lyons as guest author on my blog today. Although we haven’t met (in the flesh so to speak) yet, I’m very pleased to call Tara a friend. Tara is the author of the crime thriller In The Shadows, and although only released in March this year, Tara’s debut novel has already received many brilliant reviews.

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is tasked with apprehending a brutal murderer stalking the streets of London—and leaving not a shred of DNA evidence. As the suspect list mounts, his frustration and pressure from his superiors intensify. Grace Murphy, who is dealing with the recent loss of her beloved grandfather, falls deeper into despair when her friends’ bodies are discovered. Fearing she may be the killer’s next target, she begins to question if her horrifying nightmares are the key to unravelling the murderer’s identity. How far would you go to uncover the truth? Would you venture into the shadows to unmask a killer?

Here Tara talks about her life and experiences since becoming a published author and how dreams really can come true.

Dreams can come true

It’s impossible to read that line without wanting to break out into song isn’t it – Gabrielle style, of course – so I apologise now if it’s stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I’m also sorry if it makes me sound like a cliché – but it’s true; dreams can come true. It’s happened for me, and if someone would have told me this is where I would end up, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it. So what’s not to say your dreams can’t come true too.

My whirlwind year

I won’t bore you all again with tales of my writing journey so far – I feel like that’s all I did for the first half of this year (if you did somehow miss it, please feel free to have a look at my blog www.taralyonsauthorblogspot.co.uk) – but I will reiterate what an amazing year I’ve had.

We’re just a few weeks away from my 31st birthday (happy to receive chocolates and wine), and it’s that which has prompted the self-reflective mood. It will mark the year anniversary to when my writing career began; and it’s changed my life remarkable.

In that short space of time, I have collaborated with a fabulous author, M.A Comley – her series of books I devoured and enjoyed long before our writing partnership began. It still feels unbelievable at times. Together, we have written a novella (some parts of the story are based on true events) and are about to launch a new crime series. The Caller is the first book in the series which follows an Organised Crime Team seeking justice on the streets of London. I published my solo crime/thriller debut, In the Shadows in March and I’m pleased to say it’s doing really well. I’ve received some amazing five star reviews on iBooks (Eek! Wow! I’m on iTunes!!) and it’s inching towards 100 reviews on Amazon UK. I’m overwhelmed.

The Caller

The network of people I connect with has blown wide open. On a daily basis I speak to avid readers, crazy book lovers, bloggers and fellow authors. I’ve attended events such as author/blogger meet-ups, a Q&A with Jojo Moyes, book club birthday parties (which have been attended by some very fun and inspirational people) and I’ve just booked tickets to attend Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate this June. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about all these new opportunities.

I’ve made new friends, new contacts and have been welcomed into new social circles. It’s truly been an amazing year. I think if I tried to name all the influential people in this post you finger would ache from the constantly scrolling. But, I do thank each and every reviewer, buyer, blogger, friend, book club and fellow reader/writer who has made this past year one hell of a ride. I hope the next one is as successful.

I can do it, so can you

So, I’ll just leave you with this thought: Are you following your dreams? I’m no one special, a working class girl who has never had much in terms of material things, but am lucky to have a supportive family and dear friends. They pushed me to live my dream. If you don’t have that network, there is an amazing online community that can help you – just reach out. It’s easier to find excuses not to do the thing you love, but then, you only get one shot at this life, so live it doing something you enjoy.

Huge thank you to Eva for welcoming me onto her blog today. Eva is one of the lovely friends I’ve met online and I hope to meet her in person one day. I had the pleasure of reading her debut, 183 Times a Year – a book completely out of my usual reading genre – and I loved it. If you haven’t read it yet, get reading!

I love chatting online, so please feel free to get in touch.

www.facebook.com/taralyonsauthor

Twitter: @taralyonsauthor

Instagram: Taralyonsauthor

If you’d like to check out any of the books I’ve spoken about, then please head over to my Amazon author page for a link to them all.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tara-Lyons/e/B018CMVA24/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1463917908&sr=8-2-ent

Author Guest Post by Marissa Farrar

Marissa Book covr

I’m very pleased to introduce the lovely Marissa Farrar as my Guest Author today.
Marissa has always been in love with being in love. But since she’s been married for numerous years and has three young daughters, she’s conducted her love affairs with multiple gorgeous men of the fictional persuasion.
The author of more than twenty novels, she has been a full time author for the last six years. She predominantly writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but has branched into contemporary fiction as well. You can read about her latest trilogy, Defaced: The Monster Trilogy, at the end of this article.

A prolific writer, Marissa explains how she makes her living out of writing and gives some very helpful advice along the way.

Earning Money from Ebooks

Marissa Farrar

I’ve found people don’t like talking about money—especially in the publishing business. If authors talk about wanting to earn money from their books, it’s as though that automatically makes them care less about their craft than someone who writes purely for the love of writing. In my experience, that’s total rubbish.

I’ve been earning my living from my books for the past six years now. I’m going to talk about how I earn a decent living from my work (my income is now higher than my husband’s, and I’m not even a big seller). This is how I sell books and make money. I’m sure people will argue there are other ways (which I’m sure there are), but this is just my story.

  • Self-publish.

I didn’t start off as a self-published author. Like many authors, I started with a couple of small presses, but quickly realised I could do better on my own, and so started to put my books out on my own. It wasn’t until then that I earned anything more than possibly a small meal for my family! I’m sure being with a publisher is lovely in many respects, but self-publishing allows you the control to do many of the things I’m going to suggest next.

  • Be clever with pricing.

You are never going to earn a living with books priced at $0.99. At that price you have to sell hundreds of books per day in order to make a decent living, and very few authors achieve that.

Do the maths:

$0.99 = $0/35 royalty x 100 sales = $35

$3.99 = $2.80 royalty x 10 sales = $28

It’s always going to be easier to sell ten books than one hundred.

The only time I price books at $0.99 is for a short term promotion, for short stories, or for first of series books. Full length books for me will always be priced at the $3.99 mark. Novellas will be $2.99. I do have free first-of-series books, or run free promotions, but for the books I want to earn money from, $3.99 is the sweet spot.

  • Publish regularly.

I put out a new novel every other month now. It’s easier for me because this is my full time job, so I don’t have a day job to contend with (though I do have three small children!). However, setting yourself up a regular publishing schedule is important. It doesn’t have to be every two months – it could be every four months, or even six (though I wouldn’t advise leaving it this long between books as readers will forget you!) – but the important thing is that you’re regularly publishing, and readers know when they’re going to get their hands on your next book. Plus you’re more likely to see more of those $3.99 books with a decent backlist.

  • Make use of the pre-order option.

I love pre-orders! A lot of authors offer their books at a special offer of $0.99 to entice more readers in, and this does work, but in exactly the same way pricing your already published books at $0.99 it won’t make you much money. What a pre-order does is allow you to create a call to action for readers when you’re talking about your book and promoting it before it’s even published. I now include the pre-order for my next book in the back of my most recent release, so readers can just jump straight over and one-click the hell out of it.

  • Build your newsletter.

Having a newsletter with a decent number of subscribers is like having access to your very own Bookbub that’s designed purely for you. Take time to build the number of subscribers you have – include the link in the back of every book you publish, use signing up to your newsletter as an entry in competition, or sign up to a company who offers to build your newsletter for you – such as the folks over at I Love Vampire Novels (no, you don’t have to write about vampires to take advantage of this). I used AWeber, but it’s expensive. I know many others use Mailchimp, which sounds like a good one to get started with, or I’ve also heard good things about Madmimi.

  • Spend money to make money.

I know this is easier said than done, especially when you’re scraping around trying to find money to pay the bills and feed the kids (believe me, I’ve been there!), but if you want people to spend their hard earned cash on your product, you’ve got to be prepared to invest in it yourself. The things you cannot skimp on are a good cover artist (there are some amazing pre-made covers out there if you can’t afford to commission one) and an editor. Even if it’s just an edit to make sure your grammar and spelling is correct, you’re better off publishing your book with one than without. If you really cannot spend a single penny on your book, then it might be an idea to go down the traditionally published route until you start earning some royalties, which you can then use to put out your own work.

The other area in which you need to spend money is advertising. I always suggest at least 20% of your income should be spent on advertising, though I often spend closer to 30-35%. Places to spend your advertising money are  facebook ads, and email blasts with companies such as Bookbub or the smaller versions such as Robin Reads, eBook Hounds, and Booksends.

I guess the thought I want to leave you with today is that it isn’t impossible to make a decent living from publishing ebooks. I’m not talking about the sort of huge sums which make people best-sellers, but just a modest, regular number of books sold each day which will give you a steady income. And if you have a steady income from ebooks, then you don’t have to go to the dreaded day job, and you can write even more books!

Start off by aiming to sell ten ebooks across multiple channels per day, and when you hit that number, aim to sell fifteen, and then twenty. Just imagine, one day you might even sell one hundred books per day, and $3.99 = $2.80 royalty x 100 sales = a whole heap of cash!

If you want to know more about Marissa, then please visit her website at http://www.marissa-farrar.blogspot.com. You can also find her at her facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/marissa.farrar.author or follow her on twitter @marissafarrar.
She loves to hear from readers and can be emailed at marissafarrar@hotmail.co.uk and to stay updated on all new releases and sales, just sign up to her newsletter! http://forms.aweber.com/form/61/19822861.htm

Marissa Farrar

 

Defaced: The Monster Trilogy
A Dark Romance Novel
By Marissa Farrar

Monster
Hidden away from society by his criminal father, there lives a man who has never entered the outside world. Now, having taken over his father’s business, he has all the money and power he could dream of, yet still he refuses to let himself be viewed by the rest of society.
Lily
Traumatised by an event in her past, Lily Drayton has a phobia of being touched. Though she helps people externally with her skills as a laser therapist, she refuses to let anyone in, emotionally or physically. When Lily is kidnapped on the way home from work one evening, she discovers she’s not the only person who keeps themselves cut off from the rest of the world.
Defaced
A man owns her now—a man both dangerous and enigmatic. Drawn by his dual beauty and hidden pain, he awakens something inside her, something she believed was long dead. Brought to a room without windows, she’s given an impossible task: to make her owner acceptable to the outside world.
Can altering his face change who he is as a man, or is he truly a monster, both inside and out?

Buy Links:
Amazon: viewBook.at/Defaced
Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/VFeGL
iBooks: http://ow.ly/VFeO0
Kobo: http://ow.ly/VFeY2