Guest Post: 25 Things I Learned While Writing My Debut Novel by Jeff Monaghan

Today we have Jeff Monaghan on the blog sharing the experience he gained writing his first novel. There are some gems here for writers, so pay close attention! Take it away, Jeff…


I wrote a novel; a thriller to be exact. Six years ago I heard a segment on the radio during my drive to work that I thought would make for a great thriller. My first thought was that I needed to find someone who could write it. But by the time I got to work, I had decided that the best person to write it was me. It’s one of those things that, at the time, I thought was probably impossible but wanted to see if I could actually do it if I set my mind to it. It’s six years later, my novel is finished, and here is what I have learned.

1. Writing a novel is NOT something other people do

When I started to consider writing a novel, I thought it was something other people did. I’m not an author. Other people are authors. Men who wear tweed jackets, smoke pipes, and wear glasses at the end of their noses are authors. And single women who sit in their New York apartments and drink wine are authors. But not me. I’m not an author.

But it was finding an amazing local author/teacher named Ellen Sussman that helped me realize I could write a novel. It was fellow authors like Heather Haven and Baird Nuckolls, whom I met in Ellen’s workshops, that pointed out the weaknesses in my novel and gave me a path forward to make it better. We all have great ideas for stories. People who write novels have simply taken the time to learn how to put their ideas down on paper in a way that entertains others. Well, that is the hope anyways.

2. Not knowing something is not an excuse

Not knowing about a particular subject may have limited writers in the past, but the Internet has changed that. You can find almost anything online.

There are two characters in my novel who are very different and I needed a way for them to connect on a level that others might not understand. I decided to make them both players of Minecraft, a massively popular online “virtual world” game. The problem was that I knew very little about the game. Luckily, after five minutes of Googling, I found an online Minecraft community that knew everything there was to know about Minecraft. I posted the two excerpts from my novel that discussed the game and many of the members gave me feedback on how to make the writing more accurate. Thank you Minecraft.net

3. Writing a first novel is hard and it takes a long time to get it right

Persistence is a must. That’s not to say there aren’t individuals out there who can easily crank out a great novel in three months. But for a first novel, you’re more likely looking at years to get it right. It’s more than just the act of writing, it’s learning how to write, and that takes time. Ira Glass says it best in this video about creating a story. I refer to this video a lot:

Ira Glass on Storytelling

4. Keep moving forward

The only way to write a novel is to write. And keep writing. I had to learn that my writing wasn’t always going to be good but that it was important to get the ideas down on paper first so that I had a foundation on which to build even better ideas. Once I realized that writing crap was part of the process, it helped me to move forward. I can write crap all day long. The lesson? Keep writing, even if it’s crap. You’ll edit, make it better, and keep moving forward. You will get there eventually. Maybe. Hopefully.

5. My novel followed me, everywhere

One thing I did not expect was that my novel followed me everywhere I went. It was like some sort of subliminal manic movie projector that showed random scenes at any given time. These scenes were often triggered by everyday life, but sometimes not. They popped up at random times and often seemed like pure genius. Other times, after some thought, they were just plain dumb. But they were ideas that needed to be documented so they could lead to something better. So even when I wasn’t consciously thinking about my novel, I know it was there, lurking, stewing and continuing to form.

6. Writing is not always writing

Writing is not always putting words on paper. It’s sometimes simply letting your story play itself out in your head and taking note of what is happening. Sometimes when I did this, nothing really happened. My characters didn’t do much. Other times, I found myself on the side of the road dictating into the recording device on my phone. Writing is not always writing.

7. Enjoy alone time

The act of writing is an alone time activity. If you don’t like spending time by yourself, you will have trouble writing anything.

8. You need people who are honest

Honest feedback is another key to writing a successful novel. If, or should I say when, your writing isn’t good, someone needs to tell you. And then it’s your job to fix it and make it something people will want to read. Which brings me to my next lesson.

9. Give people what they want

If you want people to read your book, you need to give them what they want. That includes likeable characters (when’s the last time you read a book that had a main character that you hated?), a story that has an arch to it (it must go somewhere, the character(s) must evolve), and you’ve got to hook them in the beginning and don’t let go.

The first draft of my novel went down a rather depressing road with a weak leading character. I’ll never forget the response I got from my good friend Heather Haven. “Please! Give me something to like about this guy.” Stuff like that is painful to hear but it’s a necessary part of writing.

10. A “dead-end” will work itself out, eventually

When writing my novel, especially since it was my first, I quickly learned that writing myself into a corner was common. There is a scene in my novel where Jack (the good guy) is being chased by the bad guy and ends up hiding in a women’s dressing room at a clothing store in the mall. My initial thought was that I could simply have him escape out a back door. The problem, which I realized after I wrote the scene, was that dressing rooms don’t have back doors for obvious reasons, theft. So after having written the scene, I was stuck with my main character trapped in a dressing room with no way out. Basically, he was screwed. I was stuck on this scene for a week before I finally came up with a way to resolve the issue. Sometimes it takes time, but if you keep at it, “dead-ends” will work themselves out.

11. Ask for criticism

I wanted people to love what I wrote. But I soon learned that wasn’t always going to be the case, which is exactly what every writer needs. The last thing I wanted to be is that contestant on American Idol who was told they were a great singer their entire life and then, when it really counts, in front of the people who matter, completely bomb. The criticism I received early on proved invaluable for my writing. I soon began asking for criticism when I realized the positive effect it had on what I was producing.

12. Find time

One of the biggest challenges any first time author will encounter is finding time to write. My wife, kids, job, house, family, and hobbies all require time and attention leaving little time for writing. But like anything else in life, if you make it a priority, time can be found.

13. Your characters need motivation

There needs to be a driving force behind why your characters do what they do. Walter White was a run-of-the-mill, straight-laced, chemistry teacher. He wasn’t going to decide to cook meth just because it sounded interesting. Something drastic had to push him into it to make the story believable and compelling. The more radical the action a character takes, the more important a believable motivation becomes.

14. For the people who are interested, share as much as you can with them

There were a select few people who got really excited when they learned I was writing a thriller and wanted to hear all about it and the process I used. These people were rare and I leaned on them for as much information as possible. They wanted to be part of the process and they had connections, life experiences, and ideas that I didn’t.

For example, the first thing I ever wrote and published was a short memoir about my father. I also made a trailer for the book using old home movies. You can see it here. After I completed it I provided a link to the video on my LinkedIn profile which led to a completely unexpected conversation.

I was at work speaking with a representative from LinkedIn about something related to my day job and at the end she mentioned the trailer. She had seen what I posted on my profile and was curious about the memoir I had written, wondering how I had done it. After a few minutes I mentioned the thriller I was currently writing and she was able to provide some insight that I would never have known had I not spoken with her. Insight that contributed significantly to the accuracy of my novel.

15. The first draft of my novel wasn’t good, and that’s normal

The first draft of my novel needed work and I was lucky enough to know people who told me so. But I also knew there was something good there to uncover.

16. The second draft for my novel wasn’t good either, and that’s normal too

My second attempt was a little better, but it still wasn’t very good.

17. My third attempt got me pointed in the right direction

Thanks to some constructive criticism, I finally found the kernel of goodness that was hiding in that first draft and my novel and my story was starting to look like something that might be really good. But the third draft still needed a lot of work.

18. The longer you work on your novel, the harder it is to know what works

The deeper I got into my novel, the more difficult it was for me to realize what was working and what wasn’t. This is where I had to rely on others that I trusted to provide me with some clarity. I often found myself writing “where the novel took me” only to later realize that what I was writing wasn’t very exciting. It was a thriller. It needed to be exciting and I needed to do some planning and thinking about the direction of the story before I wrote.

19. When you think it’s finished, you’re probably six months to a year away

The novel I ended up with is light years away from the one I originally conceived. Not that I had to abandon my original idea, but it didn’t take long to learn that the original idea I had simply wasn’t enough for a full blown, engaging thriller. I needed to add more layers to my story. Make it more complex. This is what that additional year of writing did for my novel.

20. Ultimately, it was my novel

People gave me a lot of advice along the way, and they still do. The challenge, as I have learned, is to know when to heed that advice and when the advice didn’t apply to what I was writing. It’s much easier said than done. Ultimately, though, I came to realize that it was my novel with my name on it. I had to make the decisions that I felt would lead to the best story I could possibly write.

21. It’s shocking how many grammatical errors I made

I hate reading something that has grammatical errors. I pride myself as someone who has a decent grasp of the English language and rarely makes spelling or grammar mistakes. But let me tell you, when you write 80,000 words you make a lot of errors. In fact, an embarrassing number of errors. Spell check and proofread yourself – again and again, but also get several other people to do so as well. As many as you can. You may even want to pay a professional. You’ll never find all of your own mistakes.

22. Use real life whenever possible

My novel has a scene in a hospital. I wrote it the best I could based on the memories I had accumulated over the years of being in, and visiting people in, a hospital. My intent was to go back and visit a hospital at some point to experience the smells, sounds, and sights myself and then rewrite the scene to make it more accurate. Lucky for my novel, and bad for me, I ended up breaking three ribs at one point and ended up in the hospital for an overnight stay. My ribs are now better and so is the hospital scene.

23. Google image search can be a great tool

One of the most dramatic scenes in my thriller takes place in an alley in Boston. I don’t live in Boston. In fact, I don’t even live remotely close to Boston. And to make matters worse, I don’t think I’ve walked down an alley before. At least not that I care to remember. But a simple Google image search brought up numerous pictures of alleys. I found the perfect one and used it for inspiration.

24. So can Google street view

Again, the fact that much of my novel was based in Boston proved challenging at times. But Google was always there to help. In one particular situation I needed to know the location of a 7-11 in Boston. I was able to use Google Maps to find a street with a 7-11 on it and then used street view to search the surrounding street names, buildings, landmarks, etc. Successful authors can travel to the locations they are writing about but us first-time authors need to be a little more resourceful.

25. YouTube

Ever wondered what it’s like to administer CPR to a man suffering a heart attack? YouTube can show you. The Internet can be an endless resource for budding and experienced authors.


Jeffrey Monaghan is a Silicon Valley executive with an unhealthy obsession for technology. He grew up in Southern California but currently resides in Portland, OR with his wife and two kids. His debut thriller, Cardiac, is available on Amazon.

jeff_author

Cardiac: A Jack Getty Thriller

Follow me on Facebook

Sampler Round Up #5

the hatchingThe Hatching by Ezekiel Boone (Out Now from Gollancz)

So this one reads like the opening of 2012 or any other Rolland Emmerich film – mysterious goings on that result in deaths, jumps across the globe to introduce new characters, and a divorced father who can’t be what his child needs. Three for three on the cliches. But it doesn’t really matter, because if you like that sort of thing, you like that sort of thing, and you definitely know what sort of ride you’re in for with this. For me, I prefer to consume my popcorn flicks as movies, rather than books. 2/5

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt (Out February 2017 from Usborne)

I wasn’t really enamoured with this one, either. I don’t know if it’s the voice of the character (a little whiny and panicky, whilst making references to in jokes that I don’t understand) or the fact that I didn’t have much of a clue about what was going on, but it felt to me like I was reading a middle chapter, not the first one, and like it wasn’t the greatest choice for a sampler ever. I bet there would be plenty of people out there who would love this for it’s cutesy stylings and awkward female lead, but not for me. 2/5

purge

Purge by Kat Ellis (Out September 2016 from Firefly)

Loved this – edgy set up with drug addicted, outcast type character (who’s still somehow likeable), future dystopia, virtual reality. Basically, a lot of the things that I love. I liked the tone of the narrative and the world building was interesting and original. It’s one of the few of these samplers where I got to the end and was like ‘nooooo where’s the rest??’ I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this one! 5/5

broken skyBroken Sky by L.A. Weatherly (Out now from Usborne)

Another winner. The idea that people are living their lives based on astrology is just about gimmicky enough for an eye-roll, but though there’s not really enough of that in this sampler to see if it becomes annoying, the rest of the world building was gritty and noir-ish and that made me really interested to see where the story goes. 4/5

Sampler Round Up #4

the scarlet threadThe Scarlet Thread by D.S. Murphy (Out Now from Urban Epics)

I liked this much better than the previous sampler for D.S. Murphy’s work. The character is just the sort of prickly I enjoy, and though the first couple of pages felt quite stilted and disjointed, the premise and the concept was interesting enough that I stuck it out to the end of the sampler, by which point I was intrigued enough that, had it been a whole book, I would have continued. 3/5

The Territory by Sarah The TerritoryGovett

Really enjoyed this one. An authentic teenage voice with world building that drips through in a compelling – and often chilling – way. I really loved the concept of a world reduced to a tiny amount of space by flood water, and all the changes to society that would bring. But mostly, I’m left with the sense of really, really wanting to know what happens next. So, job done, Sampler, I’ll be keeping my eye out for this one! 5/5

Lost on MarsLost on Mars by Paul Magrs (Out Now from Firefly Press)

Little House on the Prairie meets The Martian in this sampler about a family trying to harvest food from the hostile Martian landscape, only to have their crops destroyed by a storm in the first chapter. It’s an interesting premise – third generation settlers struggling to survive in the Martian wilderness. The main character is feisty and interesting, and there were lots of hints about a rich, if short, history on the red planet. I’d be interested to keep reading. 3/5

the king of ratsThe King of Rats by Melinda Salisbury (Out now from Scholastic)

This is a mini prequel to The Sin Eater’s Daughter and a complete story in itself. The prose takes a little getting in to, but when you do it’s bewitching and lyrical in the style of fairy tales. And it is essentially a retelling of The Pied Piper, though with considerably more depth, and a few twists. Salisbury isn’t afraid of making her characters unlikable – which I enjoy – so it’s definitely piqued my interest for the trilogy proper. 4/5

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

Sampler Round Up #3

Ink by Alice Broadway (Out February 2017 from Scholastic)

Can’t find a cover for this one. That’s how very new and shiny it is! I wasn’t overly enamoured with Ink. It wasn’t bad at all, I was just a bit skeeved out by it. Books made of the tattooed skin of our loved ones after they die so we can read their life stories? A bit gross. But the ideas about immortality, marking our skin with our life stories, morality and right and wrong, are compelling ones for any good teen dystopia, and I’m sure there will be many readers who devour this. 3/5

The GracesThe Graces by Laure Eve (Out September 2016 from Faber and Faber)

This one sounds intriguing (which is good, because it’s one of the few of these samplers that I know I can lay my hands of a full copy of!) with it’s high school drama mixed with the supernatural. Okay, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before a hundred times, but if it works, it works. People enjoy reading this sort of thing for a reason. I liked the main character – she’s analytical and going after what she wants. Okay, what she wants is a boy, and to be in with the Graces, but she does at least acknowledge that this is a little shallow, which warmed me to her. The voice was good, and I’m definitely intrigued to know what happens next. 4/5

GildedCageUScoverGuided Cage by Vic James (Out December 2016)

So this one gives you the prologue, which I find a bit annoying. There’s a reason a lot of people skip prologues – they don’t tend to tell you anything you need to know for the start of the story. I’m not the sort that skips prologues, but I would have preferred the sampler to give at least something of the first chapter. There is a link to the next chapter at the end of the sampler, but while I would have carried on reading, had it been in front of me, the prologue hasn’t sufficiently intrigued me to go to the effort of actually going to the next chapter online. 2/5

ShearwaterShearwater by D.S. Murphy (Part One Out Now from Urban Epics)

I actually gave up on this one. I’m not sure what it was about it that bothered me so much – perhaps the languorous opening, the YA cliches, the drawn out descriptions. None of these things bother me in other books, so maybe it was the presence of all three that had me continually putting this sampler down until I decided that it was stupid to drag out reading a sampler so much. So, DNF and definitely won’t be getting the rest. 0/5

A torch against the nightA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (Out 8th September from Harper Collins)

I haven’t read the first book in this series, so this sampler was a little disorienting. I didn’t know any of the characters, or what was going on, and it starts right in the middle of some sort of battle/escape. That said, it was intriguing enough that I’m definitely now interested in picking up the first book and will be keeping an eye out for it in the library!

 

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