Part two of an interview with Tansy Rayner Roberts

In part two of my interview with Tansy Rayner Roberts, Tansy explains how she promotes herself as a writer.

The cover for Ink Black Magic, Book 3 in the Mocklore Chronicles trilogy.

The cover for Ink Black Magic,
Book 3 of Tansy’s Mocklore Chronicles trilogy.

Did you plan the promotional websites or have they evolved as a result of the projects you’ve been involved with?
They’ve absolutely evolved. I’ve been blogging for at least a decade, but made the shift from Livejournal to a proper blog with my own URL round about the time that the Creature Court books were first published with HarperVoyager. When a new social media platform comes along I will usually have a play with it, and set something up, but I am wary of over-stretching myself. My blog remains as the central online place to find me, and I tie everything back to it as much as possible. Livia Day [Tansy’s nom-de-plume for crime fiction] is a bit neglected on the social media side – I find it too straining to pretend to be another person – but I have a basic site for her if people go hunting for the name and books.

You’re often busy on Twitter. Did you make a decision to avoid Facebook?
I don’t avoid Facebook at all! I’m more active on there now than I have ever been. I still love Twitter best – but I used to just mirror tweets on Facebook for years before a friend told me kindly to stop, because it’s really obvious.

Part of me has regretted those early sales, before I was entirely ‘cooked’ as an author.

I generally use Facebook to keep an eye on actual people I know, and don’t get to catch up with as often as I’d like. Twitter is something I enjoy for conversations across the international community. I put links to every blog post on both platforms, and convey news about my books etc. but otherwise I don’t really use them for promotion as such – I don’t think social media works that way. I prefer to use it for communication and fun and that instant ‘I don’t have a water cooler because I work from home’ chat that livens up the day. The good thing about that attitude is that I never convince myself that hanging out on Twitter for an hour is the same as doing an hour of work.

Do you give talks about your writing and books? Do you have a particular approach to public speaking or do you ‘wing it’?
I love to talk. I don’t do enough of things like school visits – I really should, but I’m constantly snowed under, so it’s not something I actively seek out. I often go to conventions though, and will speak at writers festivals when I’m asked. I was recently invited to the Beaconsfield Festival of Golden Words and loved it – I got to talk to a classroom of kids about writing, and then I got to be on panels as both Tansy and Livia!

My process is to figure out what’s wanted – if they want a formal speech, I will prepare something. But I know from experience that I am excellent at winging it, and so I will rely on that rather a lot. If there’s someone to ask questions, like at a panel, then I know that I don’t need much pre-planning at all. It helps to know that, because I get terribly nervous before presenting, and the earlier I start thinking about what I’m actually going to say, the earlier I get nervous. So I often terrify people by refusing to think about public appearances AT ALL until the very last minute. It almost always turns out wonderfully!

Tell me about your involvement with the crowdfunded Cranky Ladies of History project. Do you believe it is necessary to fund small press publications in this way nowadays?
I don’t think it’s necessary as such – though there is more of a strain on small presses than ever before, because a lot of the niche work of quality that used to come their way is now being self-published by authors. But crowdfunding can be an excellent business model for small presses and solo authors alike – it’s a brilliant way to create buzz around a project, and to check that it’s viable before you go to the presses. Not just having the money up front to print a book, which is fabulous, but also having your readers committed.

It’s heartbreaking at times – I have a lot of friends who are small publishers – to see them sink so much time and money and unpaid effort into a work that they think will have a solid audience, only for it not to find that audience.

Cranky Ladies of History was crowdfunded for one simple reason – Tehani [Wessely from Fablecroft] and I wanted to make the book, and we wanted to be able to pay pro rates to authors. Small presses can often get very good writers to work for them for a smaller amount of money because they have other things to offer – great editing, personal involvement in book decisions, and most importantly, a modern, flexible and collaborative approach to digital publishing, something that many of the larger publishers are seriously falling behind on.

So Tehani was always planning to print the book herself, and cover those basic publishing costs that she always does. The crowdfunding allowed us to test the idea to see if it had legs (people loved it! The title of the book created half the buzz) and also to raise the funds to pay authors what they are worth. It meant we could approach some seriously big name authors to take part, but also means that the newer writers who take part will be paid substantially as well.

My blog remains as the central online place to find me, and I tie everything back to it as much as possible.

Many of the authors helped out with the campaign – and even authors who didn’t have time to write a pitch or story for us volunteered to spread the word. Others wrote blog posts for our Cranky Ladies of History blog tour, which celebrated Women’s History Month. It was a mad, glorious festival of retweeting, and we were so excited to make not only the target goal, but our stretch goals, so the book will be illustrated now and have more stories in it than originally planned.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
That’s a tricky one! Part of me has regretted those early sales, before I was entirely ‘cooked’ as an author. A debut is a terrible thing to waste, and I do feel at times that mine was a bit soggy. I had my expectations rather horrible dashed within a year or two – coping with your first novel rejection after being published feels much worse than working up to an acceptance slowly! But without that first sale, I wouldn’t have learned half the lessons about writing and publishing that I did, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to earn an income as a creative writing teacher for so many years.

I think sometimes, these days, authors are in such a hurry to be published, and because they can do it themselves, they hurl themselves into the fray. And I wince, because I see authors who start getting published later in their lives who seem to do a better job than I did of turning one or two sales into a proper steady career. It’s a tiny bit painful to have your juvenilia out there, published as a real book, when you know you can do better now. But I guess most of us feel that way about books we wrote 15 years ago?

My path to and from publication may have some bumps (and dips!) in it, but it’s mine, and I don’t think I’d do anything differently. I would tell my younger self to go ahead, post the manuscript, publish and be damned! (But also to write more books before having kids. Trust me on this.)

Tansy, thank you!

Bio

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a fantasy author who lives with her partner and two daughters in Hobart, Tasmania. Mind-bogglingly prolific, Tansy has edited Andromeda Spaceways, co-edited AustrAlien Absurdities and promoted (and will co-edit) the Cranky Ladies of History project for Fablecroft. Tansy is one of the three voices of the Hugo-nominated Galactic Suburbia podcast. She also writes crime fiction as Livia Day.
Tansy has won Aurealis, Ditmar and Washington Small Press Short Fiction awards. She won the Hugo award for Best Fan Writer in 2013.

Links
Tansy’s blog: Stitching words, one thread at a time.
Website for Tansy’s nom-de-plume: Livia Day.
Tansy’s Creature Court trilogy.
The Galactic Suburbia podcast.
To promote the Livia Day series.
The Cranky Ladies of History project on Fablecroft, on Pozible and on Pinterest.

You can also find Tansy on Twitter as @liviadaysleuth and @tansyrr.

How do you promote your book? Part 2 of an interview with non-fiction author, Julie Wise

Today, motivational coach Julie Wise explains how she’s been promoting her new book, Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease.

Motivational coach and mentor, Julie Wise

The effervescent Julie Wise

Julie, can you tell me why you created a blog as well as a website?
My website is designed to promote my coaching business. It does include a link to my book blog and a button for purchasing my book, but it also provides information on workshops I offer and other products I’ve created. I set up the blog to focus on the book. It’s much more than a blog; it has information on book reviews, events like my book signings, television and radio interviews, links to all the sites I ‘visited’ during my virtual book tour and so on. I post a new blog for that site every Monday and Thursday. I wanted a site that I could update regularly so I could keep people posted on the latest happenings with the book.

On television, your visual image is very important … Your message is almost secondary.

You’ve been travelling and appearing on talk shows on television and radio to promote your book. Did a publicist help you with this media coverage? Has it been a worthwhile experience?
My publicist set up the majority of the media appearances. She is based in the United States and has connections across the country so working with her was a very worthwhile experience. She was able to book a number of television interviews, advise me on what to wear, help me organise media releases and talking points for interviews. Some of the radio interviews I set up myself. The more exposure you have, the more you are seen as an expert in your field and the more likely people are to want your book.

Could you give readers any advice on media appearances?
Be well prepared! For television appearances, you generally have about 3 minutes for an interview (and that includes questions from the interviewer). So you need to know your material, focus on getting your main points across, and be animated at the same time. Being on television is quite a different experience from radio.

On television, your visual image is very important – what you wear (not busy or distracting colours or patterns), your hair and makeup, your mannerisms (how you sit, your gestures or facial expressions). Your message is almost secondary.

On the radio, all people hear is your voice and your message, so it’s important to speak calmly and not rush, focus on getting your points across, and sound friendly and happy.

Always think of the interviewer as your best friend, smile as you speak, and focus your attention directly at him or her (ignoring anything else that’s going on in the studio).

You recently completed a virtual book tour. Can you explain what this is and how you set up the interviews?
The virtual book tour was set up through my social media consultant. It’s a series of blog sites that feature either written interviews or guest blogs and book reviews.

On set dates, I went to specific blog sites, checked for comments under the blog interview or review of my book, and responded to the comments. It’s a way of doing a book “tour” without leaving home! And it provides an author with good internet exposure through the various blog sites.

Tell me about the Dream BIGGER Reinvention Challenge. Why did you decide on a contest?
When I first began working with my Dream BIGGER team (publicist, social media consultant and website designer), we discussed ways to promote the book on a large scale. One of the ideas was to create a 60-day online contest. The Dream BIGGER Reinvention Challenge was the result.

Over a period of 2 months, people could enter their dream and others could go to the pages and vote on the dreams that inspired them most. We wanted this to inspire the general public to dream bigger with their lives and consider new possibilities, especially during the challenges of recession.

It was a great success with nearly 900 visits and over 2700 page views from 20 different countries in just 60 days. The grand prize winner is currently receiving coaching, publicity and social media support on making her dream a reality.

I never could have envisioned all that’s occurred in the past year as a result of this book … So take a deep breath, and let the ride begin!

Which online communities could you recommend for writers to promote themselves and their books?
I’ve found that many of the social media sites are excellent sources for marketing and networking. LinkedIn has a Books and Writers Group, for example. I also use Twitter and Facebook for general marketing. Authorsden, Goodreads, Stumbleupon are a few that come to mind. BookCrossing is a wonderful way to send your book out into the world and watch as it travels. Amazon has a new page for authors to promote themselves, plus you can create a list that includes your book through Listmania. It’s also very beneficial to ask reviewers to post their reviews on Amazon.

Did you develop special workshops to introduce people to you and your book?
Yes, and that’s part of the focus for the coming year – giving workshops, talks, developing a teleseminar and podcasts … There are always more ways to generate interest and create a greater following.

Is there anything you would do differently with your next book in terms of promotions?
I think I’d recognise that it’s a more involved and intense process than I’d originally hoped! I’d try to be more relaxed and accepting of the time involved and take more time to truly appreciate and celebrate each milestone rather than be focused on what remains to be done.

I would definitely hire a support team again. It’s more effective and efficient (and sane!) than trying to do it alone. The great advantage to a second book is that you can build on the connections you’ve already made the first time around.

Would you say you’ve made a conscious effort to develop your brand? Or is this something that’s evolved?
I tried to develop it consciously, but I think it’s been evolving as well. It’s important to be open to the way you, your book, and your life are shifting and changing and work with the flow rather than against it.

What next? Do you have plans for other writing projects?
I did start back into writing the book on Ireland that I was working on when Dream BIGGER came along. But a few weeks ago, I became bored with that story, so it’s on hold for now. I think my focus for the next six months is on developing some other products. I believe there is another book gestating at the moment, but it hasn’t revealed itself to me yet.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you started your publishing project, what advice would you give yourself?
Dream bigger, Julie! You see, I had a different ‘plan’ for my life and my writing, and what happened with this book is a perfect example of what the book is all about. I never could have envisioned all that’s occurred in the past year as a result of this book. There’s often a bigger plan for our lives than we can possibly imagine. So take a deep breath, and let the ride begin!

Where can people buy the book?
Dream BIGGER is available online through Amazon. In the United States, it’s also available online through Borders and Barnes and Noble. In Canada, online through Chapters.

Julie, thank you for sharing your story!

About the book

When life’s challenges get you down, and you feel like giving up on your heartfelt desires, it’s not time to quit. It’s time to dream even bigger! Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease is filled with inspiring true stories, simple tools and exercises, and plenty of motivation. Learn how to re-chart your course and bring more joy and ease into your life as you pursue your dreams.

About Julie

Julie Wise is a motivational coach and mentor who helps people navigate change in their lives and achieve their dreams. She encourages people around the world to look beyond their current circumstances and envision a brighter future. Julie currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. When she’s not coaching clients, she can be found dancing flamenco or exploring a windswept beach somewhere …

Weblinks
Julie’s website:
http://www.juliewiseconsulting.com/

Julie’s blog:
http://www.wise1coaching.wordpress.com/

The ‘Dream BIGGER’ contest:
http://www.dreambiggercontest.com/

How did you get published? Interview with non-fiction author, Julie Wise

Today, I’m talking to motivational coach, mentor and now non-fiction author, Julie Wise. Julie recently published her book, Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease through iUniverse.com.

Dream Bigger, by Julie Wise

The cover for Julie's new book

Julie, why did you decide to write this book? How does it slot in with your work as a motivational coach and mentor?
Actually, Cathryn, I didn’t decide to write the book. The book itself made the decision! I was busy writing another book (about my three-month journey through Ireland) when the idea for this book came to me and wouldn’t let go. It showed me the title, gave me the outline and insisted on being written. So I set aside the time, and the content revealed itself, section by section.

The message is perfectly suited to the work I do as a coach because I help people navigate change in their lives and achieve their dreams. In the book, I write about what to do when the plan you had for your life falls apart and you’re faced with unexpected change. I also provide tips and tools for identifying your life dream and making it a reality.

How long did the process take, from planning, research and writing to holding a freshly-printed copy in your hands?
It was exactly nine months from inception to ‘birth’, just like having a baby! The writing came first, followed by a month of doing interviews with people I call Dreammakers in the book (inspiring people whose dreams took on a life of their own and had a community or global impact), and then the editing, cover design, final proofing and printing.

Tell me about your writing process. What obstacles did you encounter and how did you solve them?
Once I had the outline, I spent time filling in ideas for the content in each section. I knew I wanted simple exercises plus real life examples. I committed to writing at least 1000 words a day. I wrote 2–4 hours a day nearly every day for three months and the first draft was complete. There were days when I didn’t want to write, or didn’t feel inspired, but I sat down at my laptop anyway, and the words would come.

I also kept a writer’s journal – a file on my computer where I’d make short entries each day before I began to write. I’d put down ideas for that day’s writing, or mention that I felt tired and uninspired. It helped to be able to reread previous entries and realise that even on slow days, I was able to write 1000 words and feel energised by the end.

When I finished writing the first draft, I realised it was shorter than I wanted, so I needed to find something else to fill the space. That’s when I decided to interview the Dreammakers. I sent an email to six people whose stories I found inspiring (I didn’t know any of them personally), and asked for an interview. Even though they are all very busy people, they said ‘yes’ right away. I think their stories add a great deal to the book.

Why did you decide to publish with iUniverse.com? Did you approach any traditional publishers?
I didn’t approach any traditional publishers with this book because I wanted to get the book published and in readers’ hands as quickly as possible. With traditional publishing, there can be quite a time lapse. I published with iUniverse on a referral from a colleague who had previously published with them.

Did you get any assistance from an editor, proofreader or other book publishing professional?
After doing a thorough editing of the draft myself, and formatting it according to the required standards set by my publisher, I submitted it to an iUniverse editor for further editing. I did the final proofreading myself. I’m a professional translator, so I have a good grasp of language, punctuation and grammar.

How did you work out pricing for the paperback and Kindle versions of the book?
The prices for paperback, hardcover and Kindle were set by the publisher.

Tell me about your book promotion. You seem to have devoted a huge amount of time and energy to promoting Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease. Did you make the book your number one priority?
Dream BIGGER became a full-time job for about a year, from writing to printing and marketing. I set aside three months last fall to focus solely on promotion. I hired a publicist for television, radio and print media promotion and a social media consultant to handle internet marketing. It was a very busy and demanding time, but I felt it was essential to getting the book out there and known.

Did you sit down and plan your promotional tactics? How did you decide what to do and what not to do?
My publisher required that I create a marketing plan. I was given a template to work with, but I developed my own and tailored it to my own needs and objectives. When I began to work with the publicist, we discussed a three-month plan based on my long-term vision for the book.

I’ll be posting the second part of Julie’s interview in a few days. In it, Julie explains how she’s been promoting her book.

Click here to visit Julie’s website, and here for her blog.

How did you get published? Interview with emerging author, Amber Averay

Enchantment's Deception by Amber Averay

The cover for Amber's book

Today, I’m talking to author Amber Averay. Amber’s first novel — a fantasy and science fiction story — is called Enchantment’s Deception. It’s the first in a series of five and is published by Strategic Marketing and Publishing under the imprint Eloquent Books.

Amber, can you tell me how you first came to be published?
I had been sending query emails to publishers dealing with unsolicited manuscripts and agents in Australia and Britain. The rare times I was sent a reply it was a polite ‘no, thank you’.

I found an agency in America who said they would forward my email to their sister company, Strategic, and to give them a week to reply. The next morning in my inbox was an email requesting the entire manuscript, and to give the publishers a month to get back to me. A week later I was sent my contract.

I wanted to write something that my then six-year-old nieces would enjoy … they were fans of Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie

How have you developed your writing skills? Have you done any courses or workshops?
I think most of it is self-criticism. When I completed the first draft of Deception, I was supposed to be studying for Year 12 exams, and I handwrote a 93 page story without a title. I was proud of it and myself, and put it away for 6 months.

When I went back to it I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever written. I inserted new chapters, edited existing ones, and removed those which I realised were completely unnecessary.

This process continued for several years, interspersed with critical feedback from my sister, who told me if she thought passages were boring, repetitive or irrelevant. I had the manuscript, by then called Enchanted World, read by a manuscript assessment agency, who were generous with both their encouragement and criticism. Their main problem was the title, which they considered ’too twee’. I tweaked the work where suggested, changed the title to Enchantment’s Deception, and began looking for agents or publishers.

Having never done a writing course or workshop in my life, being told by the agency that I should begin looking to get Deception published as it was a ‘great story that cries out for a sequel, or even a series’ was a huge thrill.

Did you have a deliberate strategy to develop your career as a writer?
No, not at all. Initially it was something I did for fun after school; writing short stories and poetry gave me a creative freedom that I don’t think many schools allow for. Neither my Primary nor High schools offered creative writing lessons, so it was something that I really did for myself. I always wanted to be an author, but never really knew how I would go about it.

When I began Enchanted World, I wanted to write something that my then six-year-old nieces would enjoy as they were fans of Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, to name a few. But as it grew and evolved, I started thinking more seriously about having Enchantment’s Deception prepared for perusal.

Do you ever encounter obstacles (in terms of craft) when writing for publication? How do you address them?
As this is my first published novel, and one which originally I was going to leave hidden in the back of the wardrobe, I don’t really know what it’s like to write strictly for publication. While working on the second book in the series I have found writer’s block an annoying irritant that comes more frequently than I’d like. When W.B. strikes I step away from my work and don’t touch it again for a week or more until I know I’m ready to get back into it.

I know a few people who say it’s best to work through writer’s block, but that has never worked for me.

Do you do research for your fiction? If so, how do you tackle it?
I don’t actually do any research; I think, if it was closer to science fiction than fantasy, I would have to do quite a bit research, but my novel is set on another world, in another galaxy; and I think, realistically, that’s what I enjoyed the most about writing it. I had the freedom to create something that I could sit and write, without needing to refer to other books.

With your novel, what did your publisher expect from you in terms of rewrites?
Well, I really don’t have much to say on this topic; my manuscript was accepted, I was sent a contract, and the publication process got underway. I was told initially that the editing process would take up to three months; I think it was the next day I had an email saying they had no editing to do, which was great to hear.

The only times rewrites or corrections suggested were back in 2007 when the manuscript assessment agency suggested the removal of a chapter, and the extension of another.

Apart from your novel, do you do any other forms of writing?
Over the years I have written the four sequels in the Enchantment’s Deception series, created a book of poetry that will likely never see the light of day, written song lyrics.

I am working on a screenplay with a friend in America when we can both get on the net at the same time, and we’re also currently collaborating on another project, along the lines of a supernatural thriller.

When W.B. (writer’s block) strikes I step away from my work and don’t touch it again for a week or more until I know I’m ready to get back into it.

Do you have an agent? Why/why not?
I wanted to have an agent, but could not get anyone interested. Then, when Deception was published, I tried again to approach agencies requesting if they would be interested in representing me. Unfortunately so far I’ve not had any luck, but I’m not going to give up. I’ve made it this far with determination, the support of my family and luck; I’ll not be giving up until I’ve achieved my next goal.

How do you go about negotiating your contract with your publisher?
I have a set contract with my publisher, which does not appear to be open to negotiation at this time. Before I even consider trying to renegotiate, I’d like to try and build up sales of Deception. I’ve had positive feedback so far, so I’m hoping it will have some popularity in the future.

What’s happened in the past with publicity and promotions for your books? Have you had assistance from your publishers or have you organised everything?
Strategic created a press release for me, and have also made up a book trailer on YouTube. My niece, knowing I’m definitely not very Internet savvy, created a fan page for me on Facebook. My sister and I have worked together making up bookmarks with Deception’s details, which we’ve left with the local bookstores, libraries, and handed out to people throughout the nearest shopping centres.

The bookstore I work for have given me a large window for promotional purposes, and we have posters of the book’s cover in store with ‘Coming Soon: Order Now’ signage. I was also interviewed and photographed for our local Messenger newspaper, which has garnered some interest in the book.

Have you done a book launch, book signings, spoken at literary events and festivals, or spoken on radio?
So far I haven’t been able to get the attention of radio stations, nor have I done any book signings. We have arranged a belated launch, complete with raffle, giveaways, book signing and balloons for children — we are just waiting on the stock to arrive before we can set a date.

Have you spoken to schools or other groups?
Not as yet; it’s currently school holidays, so I am unable to contact anyone regarding speaking to the students. However, several schools have already stated their interest in having Deception included in the school curriculum for next year. When the holidays are over I’m going to be approaching the schools again, and will continue to do so, until I get an answer.

I know you’re not very keen on online promotion, but how do you find online communities such as Goodreads?
Goodreads is fantastic. I’ve joined several online communities, such as Elfwood and Authors Den, but I have found Goodreads to be by far the best. The interaction is fun, informative, and nobody is excluded as you can sometimes feel on certain sites. It was my friend in America who introduced me to Goodreads, and I’d been on it for a week or so I think, when I was contacted by Mandy and invited to the Aussie Reads section. I’m not very confident with the internet, but Goodreads has been invaluable.

In part 2 of her interview, Amber talks about life as a writer and her writing background. I’ll put up part 2 early next week.

AussieCon 4: Self-promotion on the world stage

Today I have a guest blog from YA science fiction author, George Ivanoff. George offers an author’s perspective on AussieCon 4.

Self-promotion on the world stage
By George Ivanoff

Recently I attended Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. It’s the fourth time that this annual world convention has been held in Melbourne. As a long-time science fiction fan, I’ve attended three of these four conventions.

But this time, the experience was a little different. It was brought into focus for me when I had dinner with some interstate friends. One of those friends said to me: “This must be really different for you. The last time you attended a Worldcon you did so as a fan … this time around you’re here as an author”.

It was true. I wasn’t there just to enjoy myself, I was there to promote.

The promotion was in a dual capacity. Firstly I was there to promote my YA science fiction novel, Gamers’ Quest. This was particularly important as my publisher, Ford Street Publishing, had a table in the dealers’ room. Secondly, I was there to promote myself generally as a writer, which involved networking with the editors and publishers in attendance.

My involvement with the convention actually began many months ago. I submitted a number of suggestions for panel discussions that I could participate in. These were:

“Game on! Games and YA spec fic”
This panel was about the use of games, particularly computer games, in YA fiction. This worked in nicely with Gamers’ Quest, which is set entirely within a computer game environment.

“Playing in someone else’s sandpit: franchise writing”
I’ve done a small amount of franchise writing — a Doctor Who short story and a Behind the News book. It is an area of writing that I would like to pursue further. So I thought it would be good to be on a panel with a bunch of authors who had more experience that I. And it was.

“Making a living: Professional writing for speculative fiction authors”
This was a panel discussing how to actually make a living from writing. It gave me the opportunity to talk about the different types of writing I do and to make it clear to any editors and publishers in the audience that I was always on the look-out for new writing opportunities.

I also put my name down to appear on a number of other panels. Some (like “YA science fiction – a guy thing?”) were directly related to my writing, while others (like “We are all fairy tales: Doctor Who’s fifth season”) were not. But they all helped to get my name out there. Of course, I also did a reading and a book signing, as well as doing a couple of items on the kids’ program.

Was it worth it? Did I achieve anything? YES! At the very least, my presence at the convention helped my publisher to sell copies of Gamers’ Quest. YA fiction is popular beyond its target audience, so the fact that most of the attendees were adults didn’t seem to harm sales.

I also made some good professional contacts, which I am now in the process of following up. The convention had an entire stream of panels dedicated to YA literature. I learned a lot about current trends, publishers and what editors were looking for, by attending panels in this stream.

So, YES, the experience was definitely worth it, in many ways. If Australia ever hosts another Worldcon, I’ll be there!

And I did manage to find the time to have fun as well. If you’re interested in a more general round-up of my experiences at Aussiecon 4, check out my post, Aussiecon 4 Memories at my blog, Literary Clutter.

Cover for Gamers' Quest

The cover for Gamers' Quest

George’s bio
George Ivanoff is an author and stay-at-home Dad residing in Melbourne. He has written over 40 books for children and teenagers. His latest novel, Gamers’ Quest, is currently in bookstores. Two of his books have been on the booklist for the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge since its inception in 2005.

George has also had stories published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Click here to check out George’s website.

More info about Gamers’ Quest is available from the official website.

How do you promote your book? Part 2 of an interview with Andee Jones

Andee Jones' book, Kissing Frogs

Andee's book, Kissing Frogs

Today, non-fiction author Andee Jones explains how she promotes her work. She also talks about life as a writer.

What’s happened in the past with publicity and promotions for your book? Have you had assistance from your publishers or have you organised everything?
I’ve done the lion’s share of publicity work. Publishers are up to their necks getting new books out, and they don’t have the time required to properly market a book by lesser known authors.

I’ve had the luxury of being able to spend eight months pitching for gigs, and it’s paid off — 25 to date.

Tell me about your online strategy. Why did you choose to do a blog on MySpace?
The MySpace page is essentially a free webpage to which I can refer media and other interested bods.

What’s worked well and what’s not worked with your book promotions?
What’s worked best for me is to list all possible gigs — radio and TV interviews, print media mentions and reviews, live talks, festival appearances and live readings.

I write a targeted letter to each media person, get their name right, thank them for their entertaining program, include a hook/idea that fits their program focus, and do a follow-up call after a week or so.

The scattergun approach of generic media release mail-outs resulted in fewer than 1 in 100 successes.

Do you plan on trying any other promotions?
I’ll try anything that’s promising. Unfortunately, like it or not, promoting one’s book is media-tart-land. I try to keep a watch on any media stuff that’s connected to the ideas in my book — tenuous or otherwise.

How do you structure the days that you write? Do you have any methods to keep you motivated?
As an older writer, I have the luxury of not having to do anything full-time, and I have no structure to speak of. Perhaps it’s an infantile reaction against my academic training.

I go by the principle ‘start and continue’. I start anywhere that has energy, and the writing grows organically. I keep soliciting reader feedback, just so I don’t go off into la-la land, as happened with my first book, which never was and never will be published.

If I’m stuck, I do something else for a while. For example, the book I’m currently writing is half-way there, but I needed a break. So I started thinking about cover designs, blurbs, etc. That interval has given me the motivation to press on.

How has your background shaped your writing?
For 50 years (school+ academia), it mostly got in the way. However, once I found my voice, my background has become the biggest shaping factor.

As a working class girl, I soaked up the double-whammy socio-political message that I had nothing worth saying. Now at least (as the saying goes) ‘I’ve got nothing to say, and I’m saying it!’

What is it that differentiates you from other writers? What is your ‘author brand’?
As a psychologist and writer, I like looking at things from both sides of the couch. This is my niche.

I’m also a seasoned client of therapy, and the book I’m working on now is called Barking Mad: Too much therapy is never enough. It’s a memoir about trying to get a grip, losing it, trying, losing … and so on throughout forty years of therapy, a dozen therapists, and a ton of trouble.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
Feel the fear and do it anyway, that is, before you send the m/s to publishers, ask a bunch of articulate readers what they think of it. Would they want to read it? If not, why not?

Nothing more useful than constructively critical feedback from people who know what they’re talking about … as long as you retain the casting vote.

Kissing Frogs — the back cover in brief

Kissing Frogs is a tragi-comic memoir of four years of dating and relating by a psychologist who at fifty-something went looking for love.

AMI4U? Contemplating internet dating? Fantasising about what you’d find? Fretting about kissing frogs?

Entertaining and earthy, Kissing Frogs brings a light touch to some pressing questions about love.

What the critics say about Kissing Frogs

AMUSING, WRY, BEAUTIFULLY written, and thoroughly engaging from the get-go, Kissing Frogs is frank, disarming and heartfelt, dizzying at times, with elements of a good thriller … Oh and a lot of fun — Psychotherapy in Australia, May 2010

A GREAT READ — lively combination of entertaining descriptions and thoughtful insights ― Social Commentator, Hugh Mackay

FASCINATING, AWESOMELY HONEST account ― Richard Stubbs, ABC Radio 774

I LOVE IT! intensely personal style, dry and self deprecatory, earthy and immediate, very beguiling ― Psychiatrist & bestselling author, Julian Short

Andee’s bio
Andee Jones is a Melbourne-based psychologist, author and former academic. Kissing Frogs is her first memoir.

AFI-award winner Annie Byron’s one-woman show based on the book will premiere in 2011. Andee is currently working on a second memoir, Barking Mad: Too much therapy is never enough.

Weblinks:
Click here to visit Andee’s blog.

Kissing Frogs on the Finch Publishing catalogue.

About Finch Publishing.

Promoting your book to the converted: AussieCon 4 from an author’s perspective

Today I have a guest blog from sf&f author, m a miller. The World Science Fiction Convention, AussieCon 4, was in Melbourne this year. Miller bravely decided to promote her new book to the diehard fans. Here is her story …

AussieCon 4: We have lift off …
Every year for the past 68 years the World Science Fiction Convention has taken place somewhere in the world. Yes, you guessed it, this five-day extravaganza is a coming together of all things Science Fiction or Fantasy. Authors, illustrators and fans alike converge to discuss the most recent speculative fiction, how it relates to world events and what the future may hold.

It’s also where the coveted – to those in the know – Hugo Awards for all things SF take place. Oh to be on the receiving end of one of those!

So imagine my joy when, as a newly-published science fiction & fantasy writer I discovered that 2010 was the year of World Con’s return to Melbourne. It’s only the fourth time it has landed on our shores. Oh yeah! Oh bliss! How can I get involved?

For a newbie author it is quite daunting to get ‘noticed’ in among all the other books out there. I write young adult speculative fiction and the YA market is huge. And growing. And there are some great big looming titles out there. Anyone here heard of Harry Potter? The Twilight Saga?

So who should I target my publicity at? For that matter, how do I get any publicity?

It was fantastic meeting people who had travelled from all over the globe to be there – USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Japan —  and of course, Australia.

Houston, we have a problem!
So I took my proposal to my publisher at alto books. Would he be interested in getting some exposure for his science fiction & fantasy books to a dedicated audience? Would he please book and pay for both a table in the dealers’ room and for my ticket and in exchange I will ‘man’ the table?

It took a while, but after some persuasive – okay, maybe begging would be a better word – emails he finally agreed. Only to discover that all the dealer’s tables were fully booked. Oh the disappointment. But such is life and I thought no more of it until three days before the event when an email landed in my inbox saying that a table was now free and would I still like to go? Yeah baby!

Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights, a bounty hunter and a TIE fighter pilot, a Doctor Who, vampires, people wearing Victorian/Gothic/futuristic costumes and characters of unknown origin wandered past

Publicity: The final frontier …
On day one of AussieCon 4 I set up the alto books table with a great deal of trepidation – after all, I was squashed between Borders (who knew they had so much Sci-Fi/Fantasy stuff?) and Penguin (they had raffles and games! Why didn’t I think of that?) I only had a very small list of books to sell.

As Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights, a bounty hunter and a TIE fighter pilot, Doctor Who (an incarnation as Tom Baker rather than the current Matt Smith), vampires, people wearing Victorian/Gothic/futuristic costumes and various characters from unknown (to me, that is) origins wandered past I soon realised that my larger bookseller neighbours were in fact attracting more people to my table. They would stop and chat and meet the author. What? Oh yes, that was me as the big sign I’d printed attested to.

The result? Discussions on all things Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Fans of the genre. Fans of books. And yes, book sales. Oh my!

It was fantastic meeting people who had travelled from all over the globe to be there – USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Japan …  and of course, Australia. And an absolute thrill to know that copies of my book – signed, of course — are winging their way to all of these countries.

It was an even greater thrill that the Fan Guest of Honour bought a copy!

Aussiecon 4: A learning experience
Would I do things differently? You bet. I should have been on a discussion panel or two (yeah, I know, it was the ‘known’ writers who were represented but I can dream!).

Mis'ka: Rite of ascension

m a miller's new book

I had bookmarks that I handed out but I now feel that I should have been wandering the halls of the Melbourne Convention Centre and shoving them at all and sundry.

It can be difficult to spruik your wares but the great thing about AussieCon 4 was that I was spruiking to the converted – these were people who want Sci-Fi, who get Fantasy and who, in many cases, actually dress up to prove it.

So my five days of standing and signing turned out to be a fun weekend with results – I also sold many of the other alto books as well.

Would I do it again? You bet. Bring on the 69th World Con. It’s in Nevada and will be known as Renovation – best I get saving!

Bio
m a miller’s debut novel, Mis’Ka: Rite of Ascension was released earlier this year by alto books. Miller has assisted in the development of an animated children’s television series as well as a live action kid’s show. She has won short story competitions and worked in the script department for
Blue Heelers.

In her spare time, miller finds time to swim, walk her dogs and eat (lots) of chocolate – not necessarily at the same time!

Weblinks

Click here for m a miller’s website.

Click here to visit the website for AussieCon 4.

And here for the website for the 69th World Science Fiction Convention in 2011.