After missing every long-list of every sci-fi novel competition I entered ‘Broken Branches’ in to, it was a pleasant surprise to get a positive review from Ant at SFBook.com.

Broken Branches is an imaginative, interesting story that raises some genuine concerns about the future of this country. A timely, entertaining book that I sincererly hope remains fiction.

Read the full review here.

Thanks to Ant for taking the time to review the book.

I haven’t written a blog post in ages because there’s not been too much to blog about in my writing life, so how about I come back out of hibernation with this, my first ever video review by Becky.

Nervous doesn’t begin to explain the anticipation of hitting play on this!

Many thanks to Becky for taking the time to read and review ‘Broken Branches’.

Visit Becky’s youtube channel for more sci-fi goodness – youtube.com/user/InkyLeaves.

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.

It’s been a while as I’ve moved into home-ownership, waited for the internet to be set-up and started decorating…well, paying pro’s to decorate. This sudden break out of the void is sparked by a rejection but also a confirmation that I can research adequately enough for a dodgy old writer.

I came across this article in the i paper today – Scientists warn of sperm count crisis – which confirms a widely held belief that sperm counts are shrinking but no-one thought it was by this much, almost a third!

My novelette, ‘Branching Out’, the prequel to my second novel ‘Broken Branches’ is based on the number of fertile men falling so sharply that these men can carve out a living purely by selling their sperm…and not in test tubes but via a direct-to-client relationship, like thoroughbred horses.

That’s it really.

A novelists mental state is a delicate thing, especially after a rejection. So please congratulate me on using factually correct scientific data…if not compelling enough prose or characters.

You’ve probably heard of Trent Arsenault by now. The sperm donor who’s fathered 16 children but still remains a virgin.

You can read more at The Sun and The Daily Mail websites.

Now, your first question might be, ‘Why the hell are you reading The Sun and The Daily Mail?‘. Fair question. Visit Trent directly – http://trentdonor.org/.

In my short story, ‘Branching Out’ (the prequel to Broken Branches), the protagonist is a professional sperm donor, or ‘Donorsexual’ as Trent has now coined it (Although Trent does his donating for free). This is in a near future where sperm counts have deteriorated to a point where only a few men are able to procreate. They sell their services ‘directly’ not via cups, turkey basters, IVF or suchlike. The classic ‘Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am‘ method being the most guaranteed and cheapest way.

…read more »

That’s it! I’m all done with writing and have started the submission process.

Done a cover letter and a synopsis. Dark arts that bleed the very lifeblood and momentum you’ve generating through writing your novel, but necessary evils nonetheless.

Researched the agents I want to contact. A couple take emails which is handy. Got a couple of rejections back already from two American based agents who took email submissions (They’re obviously highly organised and efficient, nothing to do with the novel itself).

How do you know when you’re ready to submit? I’m not sure. I wait until I can flog it no longer and the time spent on it achieves the ‘laws of diminishing returns’, eg. if you spend an hour on it, was that an hour well spent or were you just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic?

…read more »

Article from Jet Magazine, July 1978 - Image probably false.

The first post this year means I’m lazy so it had to be a real beauty to break me out of this slumber.

Well, slumber is not quite true. I’ve been editing my novel ‘Broken Branches’ and the accompanying novelette ‘Branching Out’ so whilst that’s happening there’s not much to blog about. It’s pretty unexciting.

So, out of the blue, my mate forwards one of those work viral emails which is the image above. One man who shots blanks pays a friend to shag his missus to get her pregnant – which turns out to be the basis of my two stories, set in a world when all men are made sterile by a drug called ‘Blanx’.

The protagonist in the novelette is immune to Blanx and gets paid to impregnate women, then in the novel the UK monitors newborns by only allowing existing parents to approve or deny potential new parents from having access to fertility drugs to try for a baby.

This kind of thing happened with ideas I had for my first novel, ‘Railroaded’ where little situations and ideas became realised. I don’t think they highlight any kind of originality but merely confirm your ideas aren’t so leftfield they’d never have a hope of happening in the real world. Which means you’re skating close enough to reality to be believable.

Reading the story above also shows that fact can be stranger than fiction. Wish I’d thought of this to put in my novel!

In a shameless act of self-promotion, I wrote an article and submitted to Joanna Penn who runs ‘The Creative Penn‘.

Joanna’s published it here today, ‘Writing Tip: Creating a Visual Character Map‘.

If you’ve come here from there, hello!

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