#AprilPrompts Day 21 – Blue

I’ve noticed quite a number of my posts throughout April have been quite dark, so have decided to make a change for this prompt. Today’s little tale has a feel-good ending. I hope you like it.

Blue

blue 1st

Amy sat in the garden sipping her first cup of tea of the day. Shielding her eyes from the blazing light of the early morning sun, she gazed into the cerulean sky. No clouds marred the beautiful blue – it was going to be a scorcher!

She cast her mind back just two short months. Lying in hospital, with the awful cocktail of drugs pumping into her weakened body, she couldn’t go outside and her only view of the blue sky she loved was through the windows. She could cope with how sick they made her and losing her hair, but not being outside and able to gaze up at the azure firmament was more of a blow.

Being allowed home filled her with joy. Amy loved eating breakfast in the garden; listening to the birds chirping, smelling the sweet fragrance of the blooms and sitting under the summer sky, well there was no better way to start the day.

The phone rang and Amy picked it up. As she listened to the caller, tears started to stream down her face. She mumbled, “Thank you,” and ended the call.

There would be plenty of blue skies now – the cancer was gone!

blue1

 

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#AprilPrompts Blogging Challenge

Having just completed Terri Giuliano Long’s challenge #BlogFlash2013, Donna L Sadd and I have decided we want to do another one and have decided to organise it ourselves.

The posts will be published every weekday throughout April and publicised using the hashtag #AprilPrompts. There will be a daily prompt posted on both our blogs (see list below), and each post has a maximum count of 200 words.

We would love it if you’d care to join us! This is a great way of getting the creative juices flowing and can be used as a writing exercise to warm up the muscles in the brain. It’s a lot of fun and a fab way of meeting new people.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t post every day, just do what you can. Post the links to your blog on this or Donna’s site for each prompt you write and we’ll publicise it.

If you’d like to take part, please reply to this post.

Donna and I look forward to blogging with you.

~ Carlie

Daily Prompt List:

1st – ARROW

2nd – MUSE

3rd – BIRTHDAY

4th – SIN

5th – INTIMACY

8th – GROWING

9th – TRUTH

10th – HEART

11th – THRILLER

12th – LOSS

15th – GAME

16th – INFINITY

17th – THRONE

18th – PROMISE

19th – STOLEN

22nd – HOSPITAL

23rd – SEARCHING

24th – BETRAYAL

25th – GUILT

26th – LOVE

Self-Marketing My Way

The third post to appear on the Heart Search Blog Tour was hosted by the lovely Maree Ward-Russell in New Zealand, home to the film sets of the fantastic Lord of the Rings films (among others, of course, but this series is probably the most famous one filmed in that lovely part of the world). Maree asked me to write about marketing tips and this is what I came up with.

Being an Indie published author means you have to do all your own marketing, right from day one and it’s a daunting task if you’ve never done anything like it before. Although I’ve done a great deal of marketing in my day jobs, marketing yourself online is a whole different story. However, some of the same general rules apply, which are:

1.         Word of mouth / recommendations are the best form of advertising

2.         All consumers (and books/e-books are no different) consciously or subconsciously have one thing in their minds when they see advertising – “what’s in it for me?”

3.         You need to create demand for your product

I’m going to start off with number three first (just to be different) as it’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of months.

I’ve been talking about Heart Search a great deal on Twitter, Facebook and my blog. I’ve also had some really cheap but good quality postcards printed with the book cover on one side and on the reverse are the book blurb and my contact details. These have been handed to people during conversations – as soon as I find out they like to read they get the card shoved in their hands. Even during a recent trip to the hospital, I got chatting to some of the staff and ended up handing out about six cards and one said they would pin it on the staff notice board.

Secondly, I’ve been leaking teasers in advance of the book launch. About three or four weeks prior I revealed the cover and blurb and publicized it and two weeks before I revealed the book trailer, making sure I created anticipation with teasing blog posts leading up to it. But I haven’t done this alone. I decided, the best way to get a buzz going and get people to know about and talk about my book was to run a Blog Tour. I did this well in advance so the people who signed up could also participate in the pre-launch unveilings too.

Obviously, the more people who sign up, the more the word spreads and the more people get to hear about it. The majority of those who signed up for the tour, have also revealed the cover and trailer on their sites/blogs, and publicised it through social media channels. Now if we stop for a moment and think of reach, just from Twitter, let’s assume for a moment that every person who is on the blog tour has 1,000+ followers and there are twenty people of the tour, straight away you’ve reached twenty thousand people. Now if ten per cent of those twenty thousand retweeted the post(s), that has reached the followers of another two thousand people and so the cobweb or network grows of people who now know my book exists.

During the blog tour which is running from 8-31 October, there will be a minimum of two and a maximum of four different blog posts appearing every single day throughout the tour; reviews (which will be posted to Amazon and Goodreads as well), interviews, excerpts and guest posts like this one, plus a giveaway (and everyone loves to get something for nothing! Yes I’ve had to spend some money to put the giveaway together, but I believe it’s money well spent, especially if it has the desired effect of bringing my book to the attention of more people). Each posted blog item will be publicised and so the cobweb/network grows again.

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Okay, let’s now look at number one – Word of Mouth/Recommendations. This is something I have little control over. If people love my book, they will tweet about it or share it on Facebook/other social media platforms and they will tell their friends. Hopefully, this will result in more sales. What I can do is use social media platforms to publicise good reviews. If someone gives me a five star review, you can bet I’ll be sharing it on all my social media sites and the more I get the more I’m going to share it. I’ll be taking a key phrase from a review which showcases the book at its best and tell everyone what this reviewer said – after all, a five star review is a recommendation and I have to capitalise on it!

If I get messages from people saying how much they enjoyed my book, I’m going to ask them politely if they would recommend it to their friends and maybe even write a review. A review doesn’t have to be 200 words long; it can be one or two sentences just saying something like “I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone” and ask them to give me a star rating. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

*

Right, now let’s look at number two, which in some ways is the hardest. Everyone has different expectations from a book; some like lots of suspense, others like twists and turns, and some like lots of description so they can connect with the characters and scene. I have no way of knowing what people’s expectations are, what drives them toward a particular book so again reviews play a part in this. A well-written review is worth its weight in gold as it will usually say whether they loved the suspense/twists and turns/description, so by taking those phrases and publicising them, I’m going to be meeting the needs of those people who look for that particular characteristic.

The rest of this one is guesswork. I’m going to be picking out key sentences or phrases from the book which will address the main needs of the consumer and publicising them. I’ll be mixing them up so one day I’ll pick something descriptive, another day a little suspense and so on. One of those is going to strike a chord with someone who’ll be interested enough to want to look at the book blurb and then you have a potential sale.

*

I think networking plays a large part in getting your name and your book out to a wider audience. I have joined groups who are only interested in Fantasy and Paranormal. I’m making friends within those groups and publicising my book with them. Lo and behold, I begin to create another set of cobwebs within each group, just like with the Blog Tour.

I also think making myself accessible to my readership is very important. I will never turn away or ignore a reader who takes the time to contact me. If they’ve had enough faith in me to spend their hard-earned cash buying my book, the very least I can do is give them some of my time in return. In fact I’m seriously considering setting up a page on my website for that very purpose.

Finally, I will be running a few special offers and doing a little bit of advertising on those sites where I feel I’m going to get maximum exposure without it breaking the bank!

This ‘list’ is not exhaustive and I’m sure I’ll learn more as I progress, but I happen to think it’s a damn good place to start.

What are your thoughts on marketing? Have you got any marketing tips you’d like to share?

I Am Blessed! (Blog Tour – week 3)

It’s not until you undertake something like a Blog Tour that you realise just how supportive the writing community is and what good friends you’ve made during your journey.

Every single cast member of my Blog Tour have gone out of their way to promote not only their own posts, but those of others in the tour. Each person has presented their posts in a wonderful and appealing way to give followers and readers the best experience they can. Some have been rather creative in their presentations too, which is only to be expected really as we writers are a creative bunch! [chuckles]

On social media platforms, mainly Twitter and Facebook, information has been shared and retweeted by other authors not taking part in the Blog Tour – such is the ethos in the writing world: Authors Helping Authors. I’ve been gobsmacked by the support I’ve received thus far and we still have a week of the tour to go! What other surprises have they in store for me? I can’t help but wonder.

I truly feel blessed to be part of such a wonderful community and thank everyone for their fabulous efforts on my behalf in bringing news of Heart Search: Lost to the world.

We’ve only got one week to go until the climax of the tour on All Hallows Eve, so let’s finish this as we started, with lots of noise and an almighty BANG! And if you haven’t entered the fab giveaway yet, get in quick! The answer you seek is in my previous post and the link for the giveaway is in the sidebar! Good Luck!

BLOG TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT

Hi Everyone.

Things are absolutely hectic at the moment so I’m sorry I haven’t been posting; I’ve been busy organising the Blog Tour for the upcoming launch of Heart Search: Lost. I’ve also been procuring some fantastic giveaways including a Kindle, jewellery, goodie bags and lots of other items.

I can now announce the dates for the Blog Tour: 8th October to 31st October inclusive.

Those of you who have signed up to participate will be receiving an email tomorrow regarding the dates of your posts, plus information of two advance reveals and your Blog Tour badge.

It’s not too late to join in – just fill out the form under the Blog Tour tab and get it to me as soon as possible. Anyone who’s never done one before, but would like to take part or wants further information, just reply to this post or drop me an email.

Thank you for all your support.

Aftermath #BlogFlash2012

Hi. I felt a little lost this morning. For the last 30 days we had the task of wrestling with a prompt, trying to come up with something creative and entertaining yet staying within the word limit. It was no easy task I can tell you – but I loved every minute of it! There’s nothing like stretching those creative muscles in the brain to set you up for the day! I’d like to share with you some of my experiences from taking part in this event and my feelings about it.

 

To begin with, the support and encouragement we all received from Terri Giuliano Long was fantastic. She was a superb host, came up with some challenging prompts for us and made a point of commenting on our work every day. We all owe her a huge debt of thanks. Her posts were pretty awesome and very insightful on occasions too!

Part of the challenge was to visit at least 5 other blogs each day to see what they’d written and leave a comment. I think I ended up visiting virtually all the blogs almost every day, but it was so worth it. All the people who took part in this challenge are wonderfully talented and it was interesting to see how many different takes came from the same prompt. Some of the people even did a series for the whole 30 days, leaving us in suspense until Day 30 to find out whether there was a happy or successful ending; the way these writers worked the prompts into their stories was awesome and incredibly creative.

I feel I’ve made some great new friends from taking part in #BlogFlash2012 and fully intend to keep in contact with them, either through their blogs or on Twitter. I’ll miss the day to day interaction with them though. Those that visited this blog left lovely and encouraging comments about my writing, which has boosted my confidence.

I’ve also had some awesome comments from my followers who aren’t involved in the challenge too – thank you all for your great support!

As for me, wearing my writer’s hat, I believe I’ve grown even more in my ability by taking part in this challenge. Some of the prompts were quite easy to write about, some dregged up painful memories and beautiful ones too, but some really stretched my imagination as well as my writing skills. It’s not easy to tell a story in 100 words or less. Ultimately, I feel that my writing has improved, and I proved to myself that I can write in genres other than just fantasy. I’m very sad it’s over!

So, would I take part in the next #BlogFlash? You try stopping me!!