Guest Post: Editing – The Most Important Thing You Can Do by Richard Ayre

Another day, another guest post, this time by Richard Ayre, who is here to tell us about his writing experiences, and how important editing is. Thanks, Richard!


Editing. The most important thing you can do.

Long, long ago, in a pit village far, far away, I wrote a story. It was called ‘Point of Contact’ and I thought it was quite good. It was a sci-fi thriller about the mysterious deaths of a number of people who were being burned alive. When it was finished I confidently sent it off to the first publisher I came across (Hodder and Stoughton) and waited for the accolades and money to roll in. When it was rejected I sent it off to the next one, sure that they would eagerly wrestle it from my sweaty palms. Of course, they didn’t. And neither did the next one. Or the next. (Insert as many ‘nexts’ here as you want. I’ve forgotten now.)

Undefeated, I started working on another manuscript, a horror novel entitled ‘Minstrel’s Bargain.’ This was much better. It had gore aplenty, some good character development, and it was set in the world of rock music. I had listened to the advice of writing about what you know, and I knew a lot about rock music back then (the early 90s.) So it was about a music magazine reporter who finds out that the lead singer with a major new band is actually a demon who steals people’s souls. Once more I sent it off, not quite as confident this time but still sure that my future was to be a slightly more successful version of James Herbert.

However, the early 90s were not the time to be writing gory horror stories. That bus had left, and of course Minstrel’s Bargain got nowhere, just like its older brother Point of Contact.

By this time, I was the father of a young daughter, with another soon to appear, and sadly, like a lot of people, I came to the realisation that I was not going to be a millionaire writer. The manuscripts went to live in the loft. And there they stayed for more than twenty years. It was only much later, with the advent of eBooks and POD that I looked at them again.

And this is the rub. It’s no wonder they were rejected. They were awful. Point of Contact in particular showed me, in no uncertain terms, the true meaning of the word ‘cringe.’ In fact, reading it again felt like I had tattooed that word on a rollerball glove and was sitting punching myself repeatedly in the face with it. Minstrel’s Bargain wasn’t as bad but it was far, far away from being perfect. It still is, even though it has been published now. I have recently re-edited it again because I’m not happy with it and I plan to re-release it. I’m even working on a sequel to it which I’m really enjoying.

Anyway, all this meandering is a roundabout way of saying how important editing is. In the words of the Tramp from Minstrel’s Bargain; it is the most important thing. Yes, we all know the rags to riches story of Fifty Shades, and I suppose we have all shook our heads and scoffed at some of the dialogue, wondering how that happened. Some writers get lucky. But for the rest of us, getting that story as tight as possible means we have a chance if someone (an agent, a publisher, Stephen Spielberg) reads it. It may only be a slim chance. It may be a chance as slim as Slimmy Slimson, the slimmest man in the world getting through to the finals of ‘Fattest bloke on the telly,’ but it’s a chance. Point of Contact has been revised and revised again. To the point that it is now unrecognisable as the steaming pile of dog poo I first confidently threw into the face of those poor publishers all those years ago. Extended story, new characters and even a love element are in there now. Result!

It needs to be tight. Because the edit is your story. It is the edit that creates the mystery in a whodunit. It is the edit that makes a reader flip pages faster than their brains can keep up with in a thriller. It is the edit that makes someone terrified to read what happens next in a horror novel, and it is the edit that makes someone laugh out loud with delight in a romantic comedy. It does not matter what the genre is. The edit is the one thing you should make sure is right. You can always change a cover. You can always change your blurb. But it makes life very difficult when you find you have to re-edit once you’ve got your book out there. I know this from experience.

So please, make sure you edit your work. Then edit it again. Then, when you’re sure it’s edited completely, edit it again. Make sure it is as tight as you can make it. Put it away for a couple of weeks, then get it out and edit it again!

My books have been anything but best sellers. And to be honest, I’m not writing now because I believe it will make me rich. I know it won’t. I write because I enjoy it. I write because if I didn’t write I would have let myself down. I see other books doing really well and I try not to get jealous, because I am (really and honestly) extremely happy for anyone who gets results. I try, but sometimes I look at these books and think; really? Is this what a successful book looks like? Then I look at my own work and wonder. Are these the best I can make them? Should I change them to fit the current trends? But of course I don’t. Because I write for me, not some ephemeral, untouchable ‘target audience.’ I am by nature a cynical person, but where my books are concerned I have a terrible, fatalistic optimism. I still think they will eventually be ‘successful’ whatever that means.

But I would hate it if success called and people started to say; ‘How the hell did this book make it? Have you read it? The writing is awful. My main concern, regardless of how many of my books actually sell, is that the reader enjoys them. That they are immersed so deeply in the story that they become part of it. And how does this happen? Do I need to repeat it? That’s right. It’s the edit. If it’s done well, people actually forget they’re reading a story, and they become involved in it. The one thing I, personally, would like to be remembered for, the one thing I would like readers to say about my work is this; I know his books never sold well, but by God, they were really well edited.

Make it as good as it can possibly be. Because if the call comes, if that glorious day arrives, you want to be able to hand over a work of art. You want to be able to hand over a masterpiece.


Richard Ayre hails from Northumberland and now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. Point of Contact is his second novel. His first, Minstrel’s Bargain is a tale that mixes ancient evil and heavy metal music. Set in 1980’s Tyneside it is the first of a planned trilogy featuring the demon Minstrel. He has also written several short stories for books and magazines. Richard teaches History as a day job and in his spare time he enjoys riding around the Northumbrian countryside on his motorbike, Tanya.

You can find out more and contact Richard at http://richardayre1.wix.com/richard-ayre-author

Amazon author page

Guest Post: A Character In A Blog by Nicholas Bridgman

Today we have Nicholas Bridgman on the blog for a guest post that gives us a flavour of his novel A Character In Reality. Over to you, Nicholas!

Detective Gladstone looked around, but his surroundings did not look anything like his San Francisco apartment.  All he could see was lines and lines of text, columns, menus, and the words “Liberty Falls Down” at the top of the screen.  So he did what he usually did when things around him looked unusual, he addressed the narrator and asked, “What’s this text I’m in here?”
“You’re in a literary blog,” the narrator said.  “This is where bloggers—that is, electronic journal writers—write their feelings about literature, reviews, guest posts, that kind of thing.”
“So how did you put me in this blog?”
“Just like I put you in my novel: the power of the pen, or more accurately, the computer.  When I want you to show up I just write you in.”
“I see a lot of posts here about fantasy and paranormal fiction.  How does that relate to me?”
“Ha, I guess you wouldn’t see that, would you?  Your whole concept is fictional, it belongs to the imagination and that alone.  No one would seriously believe a character could become real—and yet, here you are, in my stories.  That’s what makes it a fantasy, you’re not real, you just appear real when people read about you.”
“I really don’t like you, you know that?  You’re so negative.  What about my life, my potential?”
“Your potential is to help people, entertain people, and inspire people.  Although you are not real, your fictional presence in the world enriches people’s lives.  The world is better for having read of you.  I know that’s not much consolation for your not being real though.”
“It’s not, but I guess as a lowly character, I have to take what I can get.”
“You’re not lowly at all.  Lots of people will read about you, if they buy Nicholas Bridgman’s novel, A Character in Reality.  It documents your life, and how you adjust to becoming a real person.  How you face down anti-illegal immigrant protesters, people who think fictional characters belong in fiction, not in reality.  How you ultimately claim your place in the real world.  Of course, that in itself is just fiction too, written by Bridgman.  But when readers read it, who knows what will happen?  Maybe the characters will become real for them too, and the cycle will continue.”
A Character in Reality
To learn more about Bridgman’s novel, A Character in Reality, visit http://www.nicholasbridgman.com/#!a-character-in-reality/i1c9l

Guest Post: Promoting Your Ebook by Ronelle Antoinette

Today on the blog we have a guest post from author Ronelle Antoinette, who is sharing her experience of promotion since publishing her first book. Thanks for stopping by, Ronelle

Promoting: Where I’ve applied, who’s accepted, and my take on their services

Let me start this by saying that my experience is with listing a FREE novel. Since Errant Spark is the first in a series, I chose to list it for free in hopes of getting more exposure. So, with that being said…

Nobody ever told me that writing my novel wasn’t going to be the hardest part of being an author. Errant Spark has been out for around eight weeks and I’ve spent every, single day of those eight weeks trying to get it in front of those willing to review and promote it. I’ve developed an understanding for why many traditionally published authors get lower royalties; SOMEBODY has to pay for that shit! Marketing, ‘professional’ reviews, book blasts/blitzes, tours…it can aaaaadd up, and fast.

But a little digging—inspired by my shoestring budget—proves that it doesn’t have to.

There are a lot of people, both groups and individuals, willing to help you get the word out about your work without breaking the bank or requiring you to enter indentured servitude to PayPal. Google led me to a great listicle at https://kindlepreneur.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/ that gave me a place to start. (Some of the best sites were suggested in the comment section.) What follows is a list of the promotions I’ve pursued for Errant Spark, along with my perceptions of and experiences with them.

  1. eBookasaurus FREE

https://www.facebook.com/FrugalFreebies

I’ve listed with them and the process was easy. I can’t say how much of an effect it’s had on my sales and they have A LOT of books listed, so after the first day it was hard to find my listing without searching it. Perhaps their paid service offers something that stands out a little more. But for a free promo, I won’t knock it!

  1. Indie Book of the Day

http://indiebookoftheday.com/

I submitted my nomination and have not heard back.

  1. Indie Book Butler $5-$205

http://indiebookbutler.com

IBB offers a range of promotion options, including tweets and author page listings. They were quick to respond to e-mail and got my page up-and-running in short order. I chose the Follower Package @ $69 and have been happy with the results so far. I’ve only been with them a short time, so I’ll let you know how this program looks in a year.

  1. BookPromo $9.90-$49.89

http://bookpromo.net/

I chose the BP Excerpt Listing and ! Month Twitter Blast. Unlike some of the other Twitter-centric promos I’ve seen and participated in, they seem to put out different tweets every day rather than just blasting the same one over and over.

  1. It’sWriteNow FREE-$10

http://itswritenow.com

I chose the $10 *guaranteed* option, and it was well worth the money. I was listed on their front page, listed in their book blog, featured in their newsletter, shared on social media, and had an author interview. To me, that’s A LOT of exposure for $10.

  1. Awesomegang $10

http://awesomegang.com/

I opted for an interview, and while it was a cookie-cutter form, it was thorough. I didn’t opt to pay for a book listing at the time, but I may do so in the future.

  1. Armadillo eBooks FREE

http://www.armadilloebooks.com

I filled out their form, got the confirmation email…and then nothing. Multiple attempts to contact them have gone without response. Their free, so submitting can’t hurt, but do so at your own risk. You may or may not see any results.

  1. eBook Korner Kafe FREE

https://www.facebook.com/EBookKornerKafe

Here’s another one that I submitted to, got a confirmation email, and then nothing happened. I followed all their directions, and it seems others have had success with them so I may try again.

  1. Bookpromofree FREE

This one was easy. Just use “Via @bookpromofree ” in your tweets and they’ll share them.

  1. OHFB FREE-$100

https://ohfb.com/

I submitted my book for free and was not selected. I have not decided if I will try the paid options.

  1. The Kindle Book Review FREE-$75

https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/

This is another one where I submitted via their free option and was not selected.

  1. CartofBooks, SHOUTmyBook, and ArtofWriting are on Twitter and all seem to be run by the same person or company. They blast the same two or maybe three versions of your tweet for as long as you’ve chosen.
  1. Best Fantasy Books $100-$800

No, this was not affordable for me, they were very prompt in reaching out and very thorough in describing their advertising options. There is also a paid review service that runs $400. This might be a good option if price is no object.

  1. FreeBooks FREE (I think)

http://www.freebooks.com

Still waiting to hear from them.

  1. Naughty Reads FREE, if you’re selected

http://www.naughtyreadsonthecheap.com

Still waiting to hear from them.

  1. eBookLister FREE-$25

http://www.ebooklister.net

Another quick promo with a lot of books listed every day. I think it was worth the five seconds it took to fill out the form.

  1. Free eBooks FREE

https://www.free-ebooks.net

This one has been great! They emailed me when I reached my first 100 downloads (it took about 3 days!) and in the 17 days since I posted Errant Spark, it’s been downloaded 246 times. It’s a clean, simple, and apparently effective promotion. I would highly recommend them for authors who’ve chosen to share their work at no cost.

  1. OnlineBookClub VARIES

http://onlinebookclub.org/

I saved this one for last because I have the most to say about it…and my feelings are mixed. It was the first site I used (before I found some of the freebies) and the experience started with such promise! I paid $179 for a “Level 4” review (yeah, yeah, I know…), which is said to feature:

  • 2 months featured status (after the review, I’m guessing. I can’t even find my novel on their website!)
  • 2 months homepage link to review
  • Guaranteed to get one of a few top-level reviewers
  • Access to premium technical support (no idea what this actually covers)

The turnaround time is supposed to be 1-2 months (they advertise 1 month, with the caveat that it *may* take twice that long). I ordered my review on July 7, 2016. My book wasn’t assigned to a reviewer until August 27, 2016. That review immediately ‘reshelved’ my book, with some rather snide comments. I’m still waiting for someone else to pick it up. On top of that, I received an email through my own website (http://www.ronelleantoinette.com) warning me that OBC is a “nasty, cliquish, and shame-based” organization. It came from an anonymous address, so take the warning with a grain of salt. I’ve contacted OBC’s founder, Scott, through Facebook and on the bright side, he was quick to respond. He apologized and reassured me that I’d get what I paid for

We shall see. I have a Book of the Day promo coming up with them on September 9th, so hopefully that will redeem the experience. . It’s clearly worked for other authors, as many of them see their books skyrocket in the Amazon ranks. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be the same for Errant Spark.

These are only a few of the available options. To list them all would take pages and pages and more time than I have! But since I ascribe to the Help Not Hurt school of thought, I wanted to spread the word. As authors, bloggers, and freelancers, we can either treat each other as competition to be vanquished or we can lift each other towards success. There’s a reader out there for everything and a writer on every topic, so why not help connect them? I hope you find the above links and details helpful and please feel free to share or add your own in the comments!

***

RonelleRonelle Antoinette was born in Phoenix, AZ and raised in beautiful Colorado. She currently lives in Grand Junction with her husband, two sneaky cats, and one dog-who-believes-he’s-a-person. While she’s a mother to none, she’s an auntie to a small army…the newest recruit joined them in April 2016. Ronelle dabbled in creative writing for many years and even considered it as her major in college. (She ended up getting a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology.) She published her first novel, Errant Spark, in July of 2016.

Ronelle can be found on Twitter @RonelleAntoinet, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ronelleantoinette, and at http://www.ronelleantoinet.com

Excerpt: Rock Stars Aren’t for Country Girls by Kelly D. Smith

kds-hih-countrygirls“I wondered if you’d be here.”

His voice sounded like silk, but it made her heart skip a beat. She spun to face him, her mouth hanging open.

“I—what are you doing here?”

“I came to see you, obviously.”

She raised an eyebrow, trying to keep cool.

“I figured it would be a safe bet to check the same bar again. I mean, you are on the event card, aren’t you?”

Her eyes widened. Of course flyers were all over the place promoting their show tonight, but she hadn’t expected him to actually notice that. She took a deep breath and smirked.

“Funny, I thought you were on an event card tonight, too.”

He laughed. “I am. I just told my friends I might be a little late. Of course, I’ll still get there before I have to be on stage. I wouldn’t make my fans wait.”

“That’s kind of you.” Anna looked him over for a fraction of a second, then held her hand out to him. “Anna.”

“Adam.”

They shook hands as his eyes roamed over her body.

“I guess you knew that though, didn’t you?”

“Nope. I had no clue what your name was.” And she hadn’t. She wasn’t a fan of the kind of music he played, at least she was guessing she wasn’t considering she’d never heard one of his songs before. As far as you know, she thought.

Adam’s smile widened. “You didn’t?”

“Nope. I saw a poster for you yesterday, that’s the only reason I recognized you.”

He let out a soft laugh. “Well, I’ll be damned.” His smile widened as James brought Anna’s drink over.

“Thanks.” She gave him a quick smile.

“Bell.” Despite the fact he used his nickname for her, Jesse didn’t sound happy. Anna’s body tensed as she turned to him. “I’ve got some bad news.”

Her eyes widened as she saw the look on his face. “What is it?”

“Mike won’t be able to make it.”

“What?” Anna snapped.

“He’s sick. He’s been puking all day. We didn’t want to say anything until we were sure he wouldn’t be able to make it, but he just went and doped himself up on cold medication.”

Anna groaned. What were they going to do? “Great,” she muttered. They’d have to cancel it. There was no other option for them. Anna ran her fingers through her hair. I’ve got to find someone who can replace him. Maybe someone I know…. No, she’d know if there was someone. Anyways, they’d have to learn all the songs for the set list.

It just wouldn’t work.

Anna blew out a deep breath. She could feel the stress inching to every part of her body, her muscles tensing.

“Who’s Mike?”

She’d totally forgotten that Adam was there. She took a deep breath, trying not to sound too disappointed. “He’s our bassist. And if he’s sick then there is no way we can play tonight.”

“You know…” Adam grinned widely. “I do happen to play bass.”

Jesse stared at him with wide eyes. “You do? Well, could you—”

“No,” Anna cut him off. “He can’t. He’s playing with his own band tonight. Hooch in Hades, was it?”

“Oh, I’ve heard of them.” Jesse mulled it over. “Donna’s kid is a big fan of them.”

“What time are you playing?”

“Nine,” Jesse answered before Anna could.

Adam bit his lip, a movement that sent a shiver down Anna’s spine.

“And you’re on for an hour?”

“Yes.”

“I’d need a ride right to the venue, but I could probably do it.”

Buy Book

YALC Book Haul

My suitcase arrived home (just a couple of days after I did) containing my book (and swag) haul from YALC. Some of the books were freebies, some I bought. Here’s what I picked up!

Free ARCs

Contagion ARCThe Memory BookThe Call

(Plus Haunt Me by Liz Kessler, which I don’t have a picture of. Carole Heidi and I are sharing the arcs between us, as she was able to get in early enough to get them, and I wasn’t! I’m reading Contagion, she’s reading Haunt Me, neither of which have actual covers yet, they’re so new.)

Books I Bought

Rivers of London A darker shade of magic A monster calls

(I went saying I was going to buy Victoria Schwab’s book. I left with Ben Aaronovitch and Patrick Ness’ too. What can I say, I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy A Monster Calls for forever, and Ben Aaronovitch was such an engaging speaker, plus it’s paranormal police procedural, and that’s what I write!)

Freebie Bonus

Kook

(Given to us because they cancelled the Thursday)

Coming Up On The Blog…

So things have been quiet around here for a while. I’ve been busy working on publishing my series, and that has left limited time and energy for blogging.

However, I just got back from YALC and I feel like I have a LOT to talk about.

So, over the next few weeks, here are some of the things that will be featuring:

Reviews of ARCs

I have a couple of reviews to catch up on, but I also got my hands on a few ARCs at YALC, so expect some exciting new YA books to be featuring. I’ve already read Contagion by Teri Terry (advanced review: It was pretty good!) and will be working my way through the rest as soon as my suitcase is delivered today! (Too many books – couldn’t get it on the train, so my sister is bringing it up with her.)

Discussion of Ideas

I went to a number of talks that were really interesting, raising some important questions, and some less important, but still thought provoking ones. I particularly want to talk about Maneula Salvi, who impressed me during the ‘Morally Complicated YA’ panel.

Sampler Summaries

I picked up every sampler I could get my hands on. I’m planning to read a few and write a short post about which ones are working for me, which ones aren’t, and try to dissect why a little. It’s a common principle that the first few chapters really have to grab a reader, but will any of the samplers grab me enough to make me go out and get the full book.

Swag

I picked up plenty of goodies – I want to write about my favourites, and the other activities that were going on and how effective they are for promoting the books.

So, lots to talk about! But in general, YALC was brilliant, and I’d love to go again. I’d really recommend it for readers and writers. It’s primarily for readers, but you won’t be a good writer if you’re not a good reader, and just being immersed in all that atmosphere – breathing the same air as so much talent – is inspirational. I’m exhausted, but I feel charged up and excited to be reading and writing YA.

#Paperhaul Review

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So I got something a bit exciting in the post…

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#Paperhaul kindly sent me a review sample of their subscription box.

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What’s in the box? No, not a severed head. Cute washi tape!

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Everything featured cutesy, Alice in Wonderland inspired designs.

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I’m not a big fan of the story Alice in Wonderland, but I LOVE the stuff designers do with the wacky, surreal stylings of the world and the characters.

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And these postcards and notecards are gorgeous enough to display.

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And check out these glorious stickers!
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#Paperhaul is the subscription box by Crafty Creatives for the stationary addict. It’s £10 + P&P and ships worldwide. For every box sold, 10p is donated to the UK charity PostPals.

Each box contains a selection of stationary items and a roll of exclusive custom washi tape and features a different illustrator every month. Check out some of the past designers here.

Find out more about Crafty Creatives and click here to sign up for your #paperhaul box. Now excuse me while I go write lots of lists on my beautiful new notebook!