Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Sometimes, Stuff Happens And There's No Time To Write That Blog Post.

As the title says, stuff happens! An unexpected situation arises and you have to deal with it. It becomes the priority, and other stuff - such as a blog or writing the next book in a series - is temporarily relegated
to the, I'll-get-to-it-when-I-can pile.
And this month has been just that.
Around eleven p.m., three weeks ago, my mum developed pulmonary edema as a result of heart failure and had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance. Pulmonary edema? It's flooding of the lungs when the heart beats irregularly and can't maintain fluid balance in the body. Breathing is difficult and the person sounds like they're drowning.
Horrible to listen to, and watch!
That night, I thought I was about to lose my mother. But, the paramedics were brilliant and so were the staff at the hospital.
After two days in intensive care, my mum improved and was shifted into the cardiac ward where she remained for a week. I got to know that hospital very well as I spent more time there than at home. Actually, I only went home to sleep.
The following week, mum received a pacemaker. Forty-five minutes under a local anaesthetic - that's all it took. A small battery-operated device was placed beneath the skin while two electrodes were inserted into the heart to help it maintain a steady rhythm.
She came home the next day.
All this was happening while I was planning to launch my debut book. The venue was booked, invitations sent out, gift packs were created, and the paperback copies of my book had arrived by post. All was ready.
My mum didn't want me to cancel it, nor shift the date. It went ahead - and it was spectacular!
The wonderful group of ladies in my writer's group - and two of my best friends - helped arrange everything including the program and book readings.
You can read all about that in my previous blog post.
Since then, I've been needed at home. Although she's recovering well, my mum needs to take it easy and give her body time to adjust to it's newest member - the pacemaker.
It's been an exhausting few weeks - emotionally, mentally and physically. It's little wonder some things were relegated to the bottom of the priority pile.
Then came another shocker. But, I'll leave that for next week.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

How To Run a Successful Book Launch

Seven easy steps, that's all it takes. And if I can do it, anybody can!

Step 1 - Determine the date of your book launch and start planning, and one that doesn't coincide with any public holidays or events. People will feel free to come to yours instead.

Step 2 - Create a Budget. How much do you want to spend on the event?
- You will need a promo poster to set up in the store window. Nothing attracts attention like an enticing book cover to lure potential readers.
- Paperback copies of your book. (I ordered fifty). No matter how popular ebooks are, people still like to have a personally signed hardcopy in their hands.
- Bookmarks and/or business cards. (I ordered the minimum amount of each, otherwise you'll never get rid of them!)
- Promo mug. For something special, I decided to do a giveaway - the first twenty to purchase the paperback of my book would receive a "Bloodgifted" mug. (I ordered mine at Officeworks.)

Step 3 - Find a venue. I preferred to host my book launch in a cafe/bookstore. That way I didn't have to worry about catering as my guests could order what they liked from the cafe menu. Not only did it save me money but, it was a bonus for the cafe owner as I chose a day in which they didn't normally make a lot of sales.

Step 4 - Send out invitations. I posted an Event on Facebook and invited all my friends. (Make sure they're in the same country!) In the lead up to my launch, I posted daily reminders and kept a list of replies. I wanted to make sure I would have enough people to host the event, or even fit into the cafe!

Step 5 - Promote it on social media - Start tweeting, blogging and face-booking (Yes, that word does exist) about your book launch! Let all your friends know.

Step 6 - Thank your guests for coming by creating a "goody" bag. I thought it would be nice to reward my guests by creating a little "goody" bag which also doubled as a fantastic promotional kit. Into it I placed,
a) bookmark
b) business card
c) a red Christmas bauble (as my book is set a week before Christmas)
d) some jelly lollies (mine was a yellow snake, meant to represent the Serpent Ring in the story)
Add anything which reflects a scene or image in your book.

Step 7 - Recruit your friends as helpers on the day. You'll be busy signing books and circulating with your guests without having to deal with everything else. This is where your friends come in. Ask one to be "cashier" and be in charge of book sales. (Don't' forget to include a float. Not everyone will have the exact change. I had $150.) Another can hand out the goody bags and special mugs leaving you free to do the important stuff - meeting your readers and future potential loyal fans.

Step 8 - Enjoy the day! 

Monday, 4 November 2013

A Typo-Free Manuscript? They Don't Exist!

As authors, we're always being told our manuscripts must be as close to perfection as humanly possible - no typos, bloopers or malfunctioning commas - as readers have high expectations. Understandable. We buy a product, we expect it to be perfect. Which would be great, if we lived in a perfect world. But we don't.
Gone are the days when publishers employed a string of line and copy editors who meticulously perused authors manuscripts before their books were launched. Yet, the occasional mistake still slipped through. Today, with the shrinkage of many publishing houses and the so-called "downsizing" of staff, less are being asked to do more. In the last few years I've seen more and more typos, bloopers and printing errors in traditionally published books than ever before.

Typos in Traditionally Published Books
Recently I picked up a book by one of my favourite authors, (a New York Times best seller) and found the male protagonist's name had changed halfway through the book! Thinking I had accidentally skipped a page - as I hadn't come across this character before - I went back and reread it. Nope, no mistake on my part. Somehow, the editor had missed this whopper of a blooper - the author had changed the name of the male lead and it hadn't been picked up! It didn't stop me reading though, as it was too damn good. I just laughed and carried on enjoying the rest of the story. And any other typo I noticed? Ignored it.

We're Flawed Human beings
It proved to me there's no such thing as the perfectly written book. It's not possible. We're human beings and we make mistakes, and the reader who expects perfection won't find it. Which is why I shake my head at readers who return books because they find the occasional typo in it. Perhaps they belong to that category of mythical creature known as the perfect human being! Yes, mythical indeed.

Technical Problems in Ebooks
These will occur when a manuscript is converted into an ebook. I love my kindle, but it took me a while to become used to the word drops - when the formatting drops a word from a previous line onto the next one, because it doesn't fit.

You can see it here on the fourth line of my ebook, on my kindle. It leaves an odd-looking gap.
My manuscript was formatted by Createspace, the publishing arm of Amazon. Now if the professionals get it wrong, heaven help any self-publisher who strives to do it all on their own! I wouldn't even try.
Friends who've purchased my book say issues like this don't in the least worry them. They're more interested in a gripping story and the quality of the writing. If that's what an author can deliver, then the book's a success.

And for those who struggle to see past these tiny technicalities, there's always the old-fashioned way - buy the paperback!

*    *    *

As for my book, BLOODGIFTED, it's available on Amazon and Smashwords (as you can see above) as well as iTunes/iBooks, Kobo, Sony and Nook. 
Till the end of this week the price has been REDUCED to $3.99. 
I'm currently working on Book 2 in the series - BLOODPLEDGE - which will be out early in 2014. 
Look out for it.