Category Archives: Writing

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What do successful indie authors say about achieving success?

During the month of August I interviewed five successful Indie authors on this blog. You can click on them down the sidebar.

Here is a summary of of their advice to writer’s and similarities about their approach:

BE DILIGENT

~ Treat Writing Like work

It was clear from all of the authors interviewed that they took all aspects of writing novels, marketing and the publishing world seriously. Although many of us may not aspire to the dizzy heights of employing staff like Adam Croft ~ most of us commission people to do the cover art, formatting and editing. We aim for a professional product our readers expect of us.

I’ll let you into a little secret here. I met Adam when he was promoting his first ever crime novel, giving it away free on Amazon through Smashwords ~ and so there’s nothing wrong with aspirations of grandeur! (and possibilities)

Writing seriously IS HARD WORK!

BE CONSISTENT

~ Build your audience by expectation

Although many authors dabble in different genre and some are successful doing that, it is the consistency of publishing in a certain genre, an awareness of your audience and regular releases of books in a series that appears to build success. It may take time, but patience is then rewarded.

(If you click on the links below they will take you to the author pages on Amazon)

I know if I buy an Anne Allen book that it will be some kind of mystery, reflect a period in history and be set on the island of Guernsey, usually in at least two time periods.

Tony Riches writes historical fiction, researching characters in history who are less well known and it is obvious from his books that he has explored the places and well as also the lives of the people.

Margaret Skea is also a  competent historical fiction writer, often with some mystery adding a different dimension.

Adam Croft writes crime. His plots are quirky and increasingly complex, but all of his books are ‘a good read.’

Maggie Anderson writes Regency Romance which has a great following and are easy to identify.

Skimming over their author pages gives a clear picture of what to expect if buying their books.

BE CREATIVE AND AHEAD OF THE GAME

Adam Croft was into Audio Books well before they ‘took off.’ Margaret Skea has taken the opportunity during lock down of launching her books on audio too. With audio increasingly popular and profitable, why are more of us not taking up this opportunity? (note to self!) At first Audio books were mainly in the realms of libraries but not anymore.

Many of us are glad we ignored the doomsayers about e books and have always diversified into both paperback and e book. This is vital in today’s odd world.

BY GIVING YOU RECEIVE ~ IN MARKETING

I am a great believer in this message. No author is an island unto themselves. (a Diana mis-quote!)

Avenues for marketing are limited these days for those of us who were used to speaking to an audience, having stalls at craft fairs and book signing. There’s a plethora of different ways though, to promote your books on line. Margaret Skea, author of Historical Fiction, gives the good advice that it is essential to ‘give as much or more than you take’ when marketing on Social Media.

Help other authors out and they are more willing to support you.

I certainly feel the same. Author Tony Riches is always promoting other people’s work and because I love his books I trust his choice of books he promotes. It’s a win win situation. He has also given me tips along the way and pointed me in the direction of marketing opportunities, such as The Coffee Book Club Tour.

Maggi Anderson mentions the importance of a newsletter ~ so important and often overlooked.

… and finally just get writing!

If you would like to do a guest blog between now and Christmas on this blog then please read:

Throw a Dice for Memories of a Character in your novel

Then leave your contact details as a comment on my blog or email diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk

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Filed under Blogs, Guest author, Marketing your novel, Publishing your novel, Social Media Networking, Writing

Margaret Skea ~ 5th of my Summer Special Interviews with Successful Indie Authors

Portrait

I’m so pleased to have this interview with author Margaret Skea which is aimed to appeal to writers, fans and potential readers alike. Margaret is a successful Indie Author of Historical Fiction.

Hello Margaret, thank you for joining us today,

Do you mind me asking, was the success in your writing career a gradual process or very sudden?

‘Fits and starts’ might be a better way of putting it! I dabbled in writing from a very early age – and as a child and a teenager won several local competitions – the first in a local festival when I was eight – I can still remember the first and last stanzas of the poem but not the verses in between! That was followed by several more poetry prizes when I was at secondary school, but towards the end (teenage angst past), I started writing short stories.

For 20 years I just wrote for fun, until I entered my first adult short story competition, in Woman and Home in 1995 – which I won. That was my first published story. Part of the prize (along with a word processor) was an advice session with a literary editor – who told me if I ever wanted to make any money from writing I should go home and write a novel.  I didn’t, largely because 3,000 words was my comfort zone, and I didn’t think I could write anything longer. I did continue writing short stories, won some more competitions and had more published.

Now available in Audio too

I might never have progressed, had not someone said to me, ‘A novel is just 30 short stories, without the difficulty of devising new characters, plot and setting.’ That was a light-bulb moment and 10 years after the Woman and Home win, I finally began my first historical novel – Turn of the Tide – the story of the ‘Ayrshire Vendetta’. Several years after that, and 70,000 words in, I ditched 67,000 words and re-started with a fictional main character trapped in the middle of the feud. (Note to writers – painful at the time it taught me a valuable lesson – a book isn’t a baby and can be chopped up or thrown away.)

25 years on from Woman and Home I have 5 published novels – a Scottish trilogy, which might continue to grow, and a two part fictionalised biography of Martin Luther’s wife and a collection of my favourite short stories. Four of the novels have either won or been placed in international competitions, and I’ve been privileged to speak at various book festivals and to mentor other writers.  Not quite a ‘sudden’ success, but I’m getting there.

Well done for all those prizes! I know it’s a cliche Margaret but I do believe ‘writing IS a journey’; hopefully one which we will enjoy along the way, rather than leave all our enthusiasm for a destination.

Are you single minded in your writing? Do you treat it as your main work and plan your day accordingly or write when the mood takes you?

For years my family (justifiably) thought of it as my ‘hobby’ and, by extension, so did I. Since the publication of Turn of the Tide in 2011, I think of it as a career I’m pursuing, and try to schedule writing time, alongside my other family and church commitments.

You would call your main genre Historical Fiction wouldn’t you? How would you describe your writing style to potential readers?

My main genre is Historical Fiction, though many of my short stories are contemporary – but they are often as far removed from me in location, as the historicals are in time. I am passionate about authenticity and aim to give readers a ‘you are there experience’ – whether that is in the 16thc or in modern-day Afghanistan.

Secondly, my Christian faith is central to everything I do, and therefore key to both what and how I write. So you won’t find explicit sex, or strong language in my books, and where violence is required because of the historical context, I try to ensure it isn’t gratuitous. No room either for the attitude my old headmaster used to describe as A.I.D.R. – ‘Ach, it’ll do rightly.’ I believe I owe it to readers to treat writing seriously, to write to the best of my ability and to take the time to edit and hone until it’s as good as I can get it.

 Can you give fellow writers any marketing tips?

Pre-covid, as a hybrid author (both traditionally and self-published), though I paid lip service to e-books, I mostly marketed traditionally – focusing on paperbacks, speaking at live events and to book groups, and so on. However, in March I had to quickly start to think like an ‘Indie’ and began to learn Amazon ads and to use paid promotional sites. Marketing is most effective if multi-faceted and visibility is key – whether on social media, Amazon or wherever. An important rule of thumb on social media particularly  is to ‘give’ more than you ‘ask’ – be generous  with advice and encouragement where you can, rather than constantly plugging your own work.

Have you one annoying habit you can share with us?

My husband would say it is finishing his sentences for him – when I’m too impatient to wait for him  to get to the end of what he wants to say!  I have also been known to do that to others sometimes – which is not so good…

What pastimes keep your feet on the ground, or maybe not, when you aren’t writing?

Not so sure about keeping my feet on the ground, but I love houses, particularly old ones and have ‘Escape to the Country’ set on permanent record, as well as browsing estate agent windows wherever I go and downloading particulars from the internet.  One bonus of the current crisis is that almost all of them come with a virtual house tour – generally great (apart from the choice of background music).

Was there a single moment in your writing life when you thought ‘YES, THIS IS IT’? Can you describe that moment for us?

Out soon on Audio

I think it has to be when my second book  – A House Divided – was published. I found that second book the hardest to write – partly because I was aware (and scared) of reader expectations,  and partly because I wondered if I was a ‘one-trick pony’. It was an enormous relief to see it ‘out there’ and even more so when the first reviews came in and when it was long-listed in a competition. It was confirmation a) that I could keep it up and b) that folk enjoyed what I wrote.

We’d love to hear your latest news:

The big thing for me just now is Audio versions of the Scottish trilogy. I have found a wonderful narrator in Dave Gillies – the books are demanding because of the many and varied characters – but he’s doing a fantastic job. My part is to proof-listen to his recordings and send back any edits / corrections / comments before he does a second pass. It has been an interesting process.

The first book is now on Audible, Amazon, Google, Apple, Kobo and various other sites, the first review of the Audio has appeared on Goodreads and we are at the final edit stage of Book 2.  By early October the whole trilogy should be available, which is both an exciting and a daunting prospect.

Exciting news!

And finally Margaret, do you see yourself writing in five years time and have you ever been tempted to write in a different genre to surprise your readers?

Short of Alzheimers, I can’t imagine myself stopping  – although it isn’t the easiest way to make some income, I love almost every minute of it, especially the face-to-face interaction with readers, which sadly isn’t currently possible, but vaccine-permitting I hope will be soon. As for genre – just now I’m considering a contemporary biography, and an historical mystery series, but whether for adult or YA I’m not sure – watch this space!

Thank you so much for inviting, me, Diana, I hope I haven’t rambled on too long! And if anyone wants to contact me directly they can find me on my website, FB or Twitter.

Margaret

 A most enjoyable Interview Margaret. Thank you once again and I wish you success in your new audio book venture!

Links to find out more about Margaret’ writing:

Margaret’s Amazon UK page

https://margaretskea.com

https://www.facebook.com/MargaretSkeaAuthor.Novels

@margaretskea1 on Twitter

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Filed under Book reading, Guest author, Historical Fiction, Marketing your novel, Writing, Writing a novel

Maggi Andersen ~ 4th of my Summer Special Successful Indie Authors

I’m so happy to welcome author Maggie Andersen to share her writing journey with us. She lives way over in Australia which just goes to prove that blogging brings the world together. This series of posts are aimed to appeal to writers, fans and potential readers alike. Maggi is a successful Indie Author of Regency Romance and is published through a relatively small but growing, by the look of the website, Independent Press with a niche market. 

Hello Maggi thank you for joining us today!

Do you mind me asking; was the success in your writing career a gradual process or very sudden?

Thanks for inviting me to your blog to talk about my books, Diana.

I wasn’t one of those authors who gained success with their first book. Most of us need to learn the craft, develop our writing voice, and discover what genre suits us best.  My first novel was a murder mystery I wrote for my master’s degree. It looked promising for a while, Random House was interested, but they were cutting back and not taking on new crime authors. Several years followed while I worked on that novel to improve it. I’m not sorry for those years before I published a book, because I read heaps of helpful books on writing, and developed my style. Then I began writing Regencies, because I loved the era, having read my mother’s library of Georgette Heyer’s wonderful novels. A publisher took my first effort and it sold well and set me on a path of writing romance. I love to write that HEA, so the genre suits me. I like to take my readers on a spine-tingling journey, where the hero and heroine will be together at the end.

Are you single minded in your writing? Do you treat it as your main work and plan your day accordingly, or write when the mood takes you?

I can’t really wait for the mood to strike. I have deadlines to meet, and write or work on promotion every day between 8.00am and 5.00pm, with a bit of time off for exercise or housework.

We would call your main genre Historical Romance inspired by Jane Austen? How would you describe your writing style to potential readers?

I adore Jane Austen’s novels, who doesn’t love P & P? But Georgette Heyer’s Regencies influenced me to a greater extent, because Heyer sends her heroines on an adventure, and that appeals to me. As to my style, I guess I would call it economical. I don’t write extra-long books. And they’re fast paced. I love to add a touch of humor along with the suspense.

Can you give fellow writers any marketing tips?

I’m not great at marketing, mainly because I just don’t like to take the time away from writing. I use Twitter, FB, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Some paid advertising. I should do more, but the writing always takes precedence. I have a newsletter where I announce new releases and offer an occasional freebie. Readers can sign up on my website: www.maggiandersenauthor.com

Have you one annoying habit you can share with us?

I’m sure I have many. I asked my husband, but he declined to answer, lol. I’m forced to admit that I nag a bit, I’m tidy and like things done a certain way, and DH isn’t so fussed. I’ve lost interest in cooking now the children have left home, so DH cooks now that he’s retired from the law. He’s good too.

What pastimes keep your feet on the ground, or maybe not, when you aren’t writing?

We are in lock down here because of the virus, at the time of writing this. So, our choices are limited. I prefer swimming, but the pool is closed right now. I power walk around our garden, feed the birds, we have some pets among them, and a possum. I read romantic suspense novels, watch Netflix and movies during the evening.

Was there a single moment in your writing life when you thought ‘YES, THIS IS IT’? Can you describe that moment for us?

When I made the USA Today bestselling author list and SEDUCED BY THE PIRATE was a finalist in the RONE award. Quite a thrill.

We’d love to hear your latest news:

I’m writing a Christmas short story NEVER KEEP A SECRET AT CHRISTMAS featuring Lady Alice Dountry from NEVER DOUBT A DUKE which will be part of my publisher, Dragonblade’s 2020 collection of Christmas stories, based on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I am also working on the second book in the Once a Wallflower series, a gritty romantic suspense: INTRODUCING MISS JOANNA, and after that the second book in The Never Series, NEVER DANCE WITH A MARQUESS.

And finally Maggi, do you see yourself writing in five years time and have you ever been tempted to write in a different genre to surprise your readers?

From time to time I do.  My WWI novel is available for pre-order: THE HEIR’S PROPOSAL features wealthy Edwardians like those from Downton Abbey. Some years ago, I published a young adult novel, WAVING AT THE MOON, and co-wrote a contemporary crime novel, TWINED, with my son, a journalist, which was a finalist in the Emerald Pro Award. But most of my books are set in the Georgian, Regency, and Victorian worlds.

Thanks so much for sharing this with us Maggi!

Here are a plethora of links where you can get in touch, follow or read more about her books:

maggicoleman@bigpond.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maggiandersenauthor/

Twitter: @maggiandersen

Website: www.maggiandersenauthor.com

Blog: https://maggiandersen.blogspot.com/

Amazon Author page: https://tinyurl.com/y5f4xm4u

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/maggiandersen/

 

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