I blogged about this back in December 2014 after launching my debut novel, In A Right State, – Self-Publishing: 10 ways to get book reviews – so read that post first for 10 basic ideas, but here’s 5 new ones I’ve discovered after trying to get my second novel, Broken Branches, out there to potential reviewers.

1. Twitter.

Keep an eye out on Twitter for authors or agents retweeting a good review by a blogger or keen book review tweeter, then see if that book reviewer is interested in your genre and contact them if so.

2. Goodreads/FaceBook Groups

There are book review groups on both Goodreads and Facebook where actual, willing participants are ready and able to read and review a book! eg. Authors Needing a Review Group on Goodreads and The Book Club (TBC) on Facebook. There’s tight rules so tread carefully, but well worth doing to get reviews and hopefully getting some added to Amazon and Goodreads too.

3. Blog Side Bars

Some blogs have a sidebar with links to other book review blogs, eg. check out the left hand sidebar underneath the contact form on this blog – blueballoonbooks – loads of tasty potential contacts.

4. Blog Awards

Find some blog awards and then see if they have a book section. There are also book review blog awards such as – The 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards – dig into their archives and find past winners/nominees that could still be active, just not award winning. Who cares!

5. Blog Tours

You get a lot of these featured on Twitter by publishers promoting their authors. Once you find a blog tour promoting a book in your genre then check out the review policies of all the book blogs featured, they could be ripe for the picking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You launch a book and the next thing to do is promote it. In fact, leading up to the end of editing it and sorting out the ebook and paperback formatting, getting the cover done, in the back of your mind is the whole ball-achingly dull process of promoting your unrealised genius to the planet.

One idea I had to keep things interesting and try something new was to do a ‘Twitterthon’. I could’ve sworn that I come across this somewhere else but after some brief research, no. I’d made it up and now I know why no-one else had bothered to do it.

The rules were thus; one tweet every hour for one week. That’s 168 tweets to write.

Realising this simple rule into a reality was a lot harder than coming up with the idea. First I started by drawing up a schedule to plan the tweets which brought home the stark reality of 168 tweets.

Next was to find a Twitter scheduling tool as I was not going to stay up for 168 hours straight tweeting out gibberish, which is what would have happened…did happen. I found Twittimer which was a great tool which I highly recommend.

Now for the arduous process of filling those 168 spaces with bona fide tweets.

The goal of this exercise was not to sell books but to try and gain some followers, gain some likes/retweets and to generally increase exposure, which in turn should then contribute to some sales. So the content of these tweets should contain some promotional stuff but I couldn’t just spam my followers and hashtags with promo’s, I had to come up with a whole load of original stuff.

As you can see from the final schedule, I managed to fill most of the spaces with a combination of promo’s, links to Goodreads/Amazon/Instagram, reviews, a competition, links to my first book, links to old blog posts which detailed the writing of BROKEN BRANCHES, a tour of my BROKEN BRANCHES notebook, some Instagram videos, some adulterated meme’s, talking about the Twitterthon itself and some other miscellaneous stuff.

Using hashtags was important to help spread the word and get infront of new eyeballs and hopefully snag some as followers. I found Hashtagify and Hashtags really useful for this to gain hashtag ideas and choose the most popular ones.

IMGFlip’s meme generator and Giphy were really useful in creating BROKEN BRANCHES related memes which helped fill those 168 spaces.

So how did it go?

The title of this blog post may have given you a hint. Shit. In total I gained 2 followers. I lost a few and gained a few more new ones but the overall total went from 228 to 230. For that kind of ROI I would’ve better spent my money going to a coffee shop and asking 2 people to follow me in exchange for a free coffee and muffin of their choice.

As you can see from the schedule, I didn’t manage to complete the 168 tweets. By about Day 3 I could see things weren’t really happening so I lost all momentum and couldn’t be bothered to finish it. I did a competition to win a free paperback version of BROKEN BRANCHES which only one person entered and she was a beta reader for BROKEN BRANCHES!

What have I learnt from this?

Social media is a fucker but only doing one intense week on it isn’t going to turn it around for you. I really like Twitter but to become a big user with over 10,000 followers with no accompanying offline or online fame then you have to work hard at it and put the hours in. I’ve got better things to do, like write, so that isn’t going to be me. I never thought this was going to be a shortcut to thousands of followers but I was expecting more than 2.

One positive outcome was that I enjoyed doing the videos so I may do some more of them.

I’ve got other promotional ideas in the pipeline so don’t think I’ve shot my bolt just yet, but let’s hope they go better than this. PLEASE!

There’s a good reason why this blog hasn’t been updated for over a year and that’s because I’ve been writing a film script and also getting my second novel up to par to self-publish, and here it is.

Here’s the blurb…

Your status in society depends on the purity of your genes.

All men are sterile. Fertility drugs are given only to couples whose genetic matches are approved. Those without a family history to prove their genetic heritage are outcast from society.

Grace is a broken branch. As an orphan, she has no link to The National Family Tree, so she and her husband, Tom, are ecstatic when they’re approved to have a baby. But that was the easy part. Grace’s twin brother inadvertently gets a girl pregnant after a one-night stand, and his girlfriend isn’t happy because it should’ve been her. Both sets of parents soon become the target of a violent terrorist group that advocates genetic purity. To make matters worse, there’s something strange about the unborn children that’s attracting government attention …

You can buy it here:

UK

ebook (£2.99) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079Q9B52Q

Print Book (£8.75) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Branches-Ben-Ellis/dp/1977093507/

USA

ebook ($4.17) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079Q9B52Q 

Print Book ($12.15) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1977093507

 Hope your enjoy it and if you’re a book reviewer/blogger and want a copy, drop a line.

lino So, I’m three novels in, and there’s nothing much really happening in terms of trying to snap up an agent, snare a publisher or catch the eye of anyone who’s anyone. I self-publish my first novel with sales figures that would humble a homeless, first-time, tuneless busker with a mangy dog. Now what?

Enter the glitzy world of film making, of course!

I’ve written novels, short stories, poems, song lyrics, a novella and shopping lists but the nearest thing I’ve written to something being performed is a one-act play for a creative writing evening course I took over 10 years ago when I first got into all this chicanery. I thought it was quite funny. It was set in a toilet.

Anyway. I also need a fresh challenge rather than just plodding straight into a fourth novel, so  after watching a couple of bad films, I thought I could do better and should put my money where my mouth is and try to write a screenplay. But what kind?

I like football but it appears the movies do not like football. My secondary motivation, after wanting to attempt to write a screenplay, is to make a decent football movie. Can you name one? I rack my brains and ‘Mike Basset England Manager‘ is at No.1. Don’t talk to me about bloody ‘Escape to Victory‘ – Stallone in goal? Give it a rest, son. The rest of the football canon consists of hooliganism or sanitised, corny, Hollywood shit like ‘Goal‘ which uses the old rags to riches storyline. ‘Bend It Like Beckham‘ is not bad but it still has a few sporting/football cliches in it, eg. man explaining to a woman the offside rule using condiments, protagonist on an upward trajectory, pretty poor football action, etc.

…read more »

September 26, 2016

rejectI’m not sure what this says about the current point of my ‘writing journey’ but here’s a post about how rejections could be made easier for the rejector and more meaningful for the rejectee.

I got another rejection last week for ‘Blindsided‘, fine, but the rejection email itself was the usual bland, unhelpful, thanks-but-no-thanks. And I mean unhelpful for both parties. For example, if I were to get 3 rejections saying my first chapter is crap (‘1’ on the rejection scale) then I’ll improve it so the 4th agent to receive my submission will get an improved (hopefully) 1st chapter.

A reply is always good (any reply) as not every agent or publisher replies, but I can’t help feeling that a more meaningful response would help everyone in the long run.

The usual rejection email is something like this:

…read more »

I haven’t blogged in a shockingly long time, mainly because we (my girlfriend and I) have just had a baby who was, unthoughtfully, born 3 months premature so I’ve been otherwise engaged.

Anyway, a nice surprise was this review from Publishers Weekly which was actually initiated over at BookLife. They offer FREE book reviews so it’s worth a punt for any authors out there wanting more reviews.

As baby Harry is close to coming home, I’m hoping to write more of my football screenplay, ‘Row Z’, and also blog a bit more. I’ve never been prolific but these last few months have been shockingly unprolific.

scifikingdomAs a debut self-published author you seem to spend most of your time begging kindly asking for reviews. 60% of these requests are ignored, 35% reply (which is amazingly scholarly and decent of you) and then 5% reply AND post a review (which is unbelievably generous of you).

So you spend a lot of time waiting.

Typically, you wait and then two come along. SFCrowsnest at the beginning of the month and now Sci-Fi Kingdom. Check it out here.

It’s a nicely structured review; a synopsis, the review, a grading (8/10 btw 🙂 ) and the best bit, ‘favourite quotes’ which was great as I’d forgotten writing these lines and even I thought they were pretty good! So that was a nice reminder.

You can get your own copy of ‘In A Right State’ here. It’s FREE at some places and about £2 at others – Amazon doesn’t make it easy to list books for free.

newsfnlogo1Amongst the huge wastes of extended, frozen time within the publishing landscape, occasional glacial changes happen, breathing a little fresh air upon your dry, scaled skin before finally eroding it into the desert forevermore.

I got a book review.

It’s over at SFCrowsnest, one of the oldest SF related sites out there, so they know their onions.

This is the first book from Ben Ellis so it’s his debut novel which surprised me as its quite impressive…it was an enjoyable read and I’ll keep a look out for more work from the author.

So thanks to Andy and SFCrowsnest for reviewing the book, much appreciated.

picjumbo.com_HNCK8426If it looks like a traditionally published book, is formatted like a traditionally published book and reads like a traditionally published book, then why not treat it like a traditionally published book?

I’ve had this post on my mind for a month or so and then bumped into this (excellent) post – It Isn’t (Always) Personal: a Bloggers Take on Not Accepting Self-Published Books – by Kate Tilton which prompted me into action.

As a self-published author, when you’re out there on the internet scouting for book bloggers to review your book you come up against a lot of ‘we don’t accept self-published authors‘. Fine. It’s their blog and I’ve no God given right to be accepted by anyone.

The reasons Kate gives in her article of why (some) book bloggers don’t accept self-published authors are; quantity, quality and professionalism.

I understand all these, especially quality. I remember reading the first chapter of a story on one of those publisher backed platforms, the ‘author’ had managed to describe a woman’s rack as bouncing up and down via the metaphor of being on a trampoline 3 times in the first chapter alone. I never went back. I can only imagine the dire shite some reviewers have had to go through before they finally shut up shop to self-published authors for good.

Quantity could be tamed by stipulating certain milestones such as number of reviews (which BookBub does).

Professionalism may be let down by self-publishers but it’s not their exclusive domain. I don’t quite agree with the argument Kate makes about traditionally published authors having to answer to their publishers if they step out of line. There’s been a few sock puppet authors out there behaving badly who should know better due to their full-time writing status. People can be dicks on the internet, no question. If any writer is being a dick through blogs, Twitter and elsewhere then I’d hope the news would quickly spread and the appropriate levels of ridicule and ostracisation befitting such a dick would soon ensue.

(Although, check out the example I linked to. That earned him national press across ALL the major outlets and I bet it resulted in an upswing of sales. So, unprofessionalism isn’t always going to hit the bottom line in a negative way).

Is there a happy medium? Is it possible for established book reviewers to read an unsolicited, self-published book?

…read more »

Last month Buzzfeed asked it’s member ‘Tell us how you write, where you write and what keeps you going and you could be featured in a future BuzzFeed post.‘ so I thought I’d note down a couple of comments.

In the end I got carried away and wrote the following;

I’ve written 3 novels. My routine has evolved so that I prefer to write away from home in a coffee shop. My back has to be against a wall though because I’m paranoid of people looking over the shoulder and laughing. I have a laptop with Internet connection, it’s handy for finding quick answers and rewarding myself with some procrastination after finishing a chapter/page/paragraph/really convoluted metaphor. Make sure your laptop is charged or that you have a plug.

I listen to deep house tunes with little to no lyrics, so I’m in the groove but not distracted. I like to write in the afternoon because of work, lie ins and vegging in the evening.

I don’t set myself a word count. My only goal each day is to sit down and write just one sentence. 99% of the time after you’ve written one sentence the rest just flows. I don’t meticulously plan nor fly by the seat of my pants, I’m a ‘structuralist’. I know the beginning and the end, and I only plan an outline 2 or 3 chapters in advance as I go, this gives me a goal but also the flexibility to change if characters and events are leading me elsewhere. I finish when I’m stuck or when I reach the end of a chapter. Momentum for me is key, I don’t believe in the idea of stopping early so that momentum is carried over to the next day. With me, it’s forgotten.

If you’re stuck, sleep on it, go for a run, a walk, go to work, just step away from your laptop. It’s amazing what gets sorted out when you’re not staring at a blank page. I outline in a paper notebook and take notes, especially at the very beginning. Flesh out ideas, characters, plots, sub plots, themes, try to delve a bit deeper than that initial idea. The notebook comes in handy a year later when you’re fresh out ideas and you’ve only got a handful of chapters to go, sitting there will be a scribbled gem you’d cleanly forgotten about.

Write everyday but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t, life gets in the way. If you do 5 days out of 7, you’re doing alright.

The first draft is key; keep going, keep that momentum going, don’t reflect, judge or critique. You have other drafts to do that. Don’t sweat the small things; names, a wide vocabulary, how to dissolve a body, grammar, etc, all the details can be fixed in subsequent drafts just keep moving! Get the first draft finished. Finishing the first draft of your first novel will change your life forever.

Nothing I wrote got chosen to go in the final article ‘19 Writing Tips To Help You Become The Next J.K. Rowling‘ which may explain why I’m not the next JK Rowling but at least it’s a new blog post for here.