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How to score a regular blog gig

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There are some things that are just kismet. Soon-to-be-published writer meets commissioning editor at exactly the right time. Pitches the perfect blog storm and suddenly you’re queen of the blogosphere with a regular gig on a major website. ‘Hello’ to merrily extending your brand and ‘Come on in’ to keeping your all-important book in the cyber-sphere.

Witness new author Hattie Holden Edmonds and her great HuffPost blog charting her very own self-publishing journey. As it happens!

This week Hattie’s kindly reporting on our first session together a kind of ‘twitter-anti-aversion therapy’ for her (you can read some more on that here). But exactly how she scored that perfect blog gig is really the stuff of legend because she really was in the right place at the right time. If there is a moral to this happy tale – or at the very least something to learn from this, it’s network, network, network.

Whether you start out on twitter and work your way up or maybe you’ve got a friend with a friend who knows someone who walks the dog of Jonny Geller etc… Use your contacts, ask your friends and put aside your ordinarily rather British reserve. Americans don’t suffer false modesty and neither should you. To build your brand will require work, knocking on doors and sometimes being a little cheeky by calling in favours.

Hattie is taking the world by storm, one perfectly formed blog shower at a time. But she’s also putting in the miles by going round local bookshops and charming the socks of them. Tear yourself away from your computer…even from the demands of the next book because if you’ve self-published that’s only the beginning. Your next big challenge is getting out and about and meeting the right people who actually want to, and can help you and your book.

Featured post

Six tips on pitching guest posts

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Working together

In my last post I talked about content marketing and why it works for everyone, when it’s done right. I also explained that editors get pitched to a lot – so here’s some tips on how to craft a winning pitch for your guest blog.

1         Know your own book.

What are its unique or interesting angles you can write about? It’s not just about writing fiction – it’s about spotlighting your passion and what you think people will find interesting about you. Let’s start with the main character – if she’s a cook for example – you might want to pitch your favourite childhood recipe accompanied by a cute picture of yourself cooking it with your grandma. Or perhaps it’s a historical novel and you pitch a post about how you discovered something unusual in your own family history while researching the book.

2       Have an angle.

To market your book properly you need to have thought already about every angle that might be of interest to potential readers. And then you need to be prepared to craft the perfect email (always try to get a specific name to send it to), offer a unique post idea and then follow it up a week later if you don’t hear back. Editors get a LOT of emails!

3       Don’t patronize

Web editors don’t always want free content. We want relevant content.

4       Don’t assume

Be proud of having a book published but don’t brag!

5       Don’t be sloppy in the email

If you can’t be bothered to proof-read your initial email inquiry – it doesn’t say much for the post you’re going to be delivering.

6      Give something back

From an editor’s POV – we also like content marketing. So, when you email, do suggest a reciprocal link from your blog and if you’re already active in social – tell us your reach (twitter followers/facebook likes etc).

Content marketing is you scratching our back, scratching yours. Now go forth and get scratching.

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Should I self-publish?

should i self-publish

Did you know that one third of all ebooks sold on amazon are self-published?  This is because today’s authors are embracing the modern world of book buying. And part of that world is ensuring your novel is available to download 24-7. This is about embracing technology and making it work for your book.

There has been growing trend of traditional publishing houses buying up self-publishing companies. The mighty Penguin (part of Pearson) got in on the act back in 2012 by buying out author solutions – but why? Yes, it’s a way of pouring some much-needed cash back into their pockets. But they are also getting in on the game because it’s lower risk, and quicker. And above all they know now that a self-published book, as demonstrated by the hugely popular Fifty Shades series, has as much chance of becoming a success as one which has gone down the traditional route.

In fact, if you look very closely at traditional publishing, it appears to be shrinking. Marketing budgets (unless you are J.K.Rowling) have been slashed. And, even if you have a budget – that’s not to say that those brains representing you are actually tooled up to work best online. Where it matters. Sending books to news and magazine book critics doesn’t guarantee sales anymore.

To get your book heard about you really want it reviewed by someone online. Someone who will kindly include a link so their readers can buy it instantly.  Every book mention you get should ideally be just one click away from a sale. Everything else is wonderful for building your brand. But a plug in the paper is still at best a stroll away from your local bookshop who may well be out of stock anyway. Or closed. I love bookshops as much as the next reader. But as an author you need to be clear. This is a business. And if you want your product to sell well – put it where people are buying.

Your book will sell best online. And ideally on Amazon – where it’s got 5 stars and 100s of reviews (mixed is still okay) and it’s hitting the top of the ‘Most Popular’ lists.

So, before you dismiss what used to be called ‘Vanity publishing’ think about what self-publishing can offer you:

More money: Self-publishing gives a bigger percentage of royalties to the author.

Quicker: Self-publishing cuts down the time to publication from 1-2 years to a matter of a few months.

Best of both worlds: If you self-publish you can still pay for separate services like editing, proofing and getting yourself a professionally designed book jacket.

No interference: With self-publishing it’s your baby – no agent or publisher making you change a thing. It’s your book, published the way you want it.

Cost: With ebooks and Print On Demand publishing as well as Amazon’s  well regarded Createspace (read Dean Fetzer’s great tips on getting the best of this route) you can get your book out for a fraction of the cost of a traditional publisher. For an ebook, as little as a few hundred pounds.

So there you have it: the reasons why more new and established writers are embracing the self-publishing revolution.

It might be time for you to join in too.

 

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A twitter guide for writers (part 2)

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So you have a blog. You’ve not only joined twitter (see part one of my guide on how to hate Twitter a little less) how to  you’ve linked your blog and you’ve already followed a mixture of brilliant first time authors/established writers/publishing professionals and…Stephen Fry.

You’re at the party. So, it’s time to make your move.

What to tweet:

By now you should be following enough people that your timeline (a constantly updating list of their tweets) is rolling along at a chug chug pace. What next? People often talk about the 80-20 rule in terms of how much to tout your book about (20% of the tweets). It’s a good rule but it doesn’t mean the other 80% you’re tweeting needs to be utter drivel.

Watch how others interact

if you are following publishers, editors, book bloggers or literary journalists watch and learn. When in doubt, spend the first week or so just watching how they interact and reading the articles they link to.

The real Info behind twitter

There is a wealth of quite brilliant information in amongst the nonsense being recommended via this social network if you know where to find it (see #hashtags below). There are experts on every aspect of books-  whether it’s writing, getting published, ebook aficionados and digital media mavens so reading their links and tweeting your thoughts back as well as RTing (retweeting it to your followers) the original tweet. This kind of interaction will have you on the path to engagement before you can say LMAO. Honest.

Find your groove

You don’t need to have a huge following on twitter to make a success of it. Even if you only get a handful of people interested in your book or visiting your blog. It’s a start. If your book is good enough those few people will tell their friends. And they will tell theirs – and hey presto – you’re making social media work for you.

Once you’ve got the hang of engaging with people in the writing or publishing field you can then extend your focus. If your book is about time travel or football or chocolate find people who love those things.

Understanding hashtags

Hashtags are searchable tags for your tweets. Put the right one on and you will be found, forget to hashtag your best tweet ever and it may  never be read by anyone other than you *tumble weed time*. For example if you’re tweeting about your brand new book cover finally coming through you might want to hashtag #publishing #bookjacket #artwork or if you’re going down that route #selfpublishing  or #ebook. This way you’ll be found by anyone else looking at those hashtags – think of the many aspiring authors and published writers all tweeting around the world about these very topics. How to connect? Search a hashtag and hashtag your tweets.

Bon Voyage!

That’s it for now, make sure you have emergency supplies (chocolate & wine & Netflix) and may you have a successful journey.

If you have any questions or feedback please do leave a comment – and remember these really are the basics – I’m not pretending to be an expert, but honestly, it’s not #rocketscience

Staircase to hell #loft

It’s been a while since updating this blog. I’ve been busy you see.

I’ve moved out of the amazing home…

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And after a prolonged pause which saw us staying at Grandma’s place, we’re now settled into the new pad. Somewhere further South of the river.

The main downside with the new pad is a lack of a third bedroom. And a garden. But the bedroom thing really isn’t all that great. Happily there is a loft above us, ripe for converting and so, I thought, I will do something magnificent – because, well, when life gives me lemons – I squeeze them on my tagliatelle.

SainsburysBasicsLemonCurd

However, despite dreams of something like this

SpiralStairs,ArielRiosBldg

Planners (and budget) are shoving me down the road to this:

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Or if you prefer naked, this:

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Suddenly stairs don’t conjure up a magical journey to another kingdom or floor. They spell out a sad building-regulated, planning-approved, boxy face-punch of conformity.

Boo Hoo. Any good ideas on how to make a pretty stair out of a load of old twallop?

Let me know.

 

Does Green Smoke make you Wicked?

green smoke bedroom

I came across this bedroom on the brilliant blog myscandinavianhome.com 

The site is a super-time-sapper extraordinaire so don’t go there. Or do “Goodbye…” *wipes tear.*

Simply the best, smoky, deep, chalky soft green I’ve seen. It’s called Green Smoke. I know – great name too! And of course, it’s not that you would ever wake up and think ‘Oh, my life would be infinitely better if I could only wake up enveloped in a foresty dark green room’.

Melody Farrow and Be-jyma Ball – I salute you as ever and your continued stirring of wit and intelligence into those excellently posh tins of paint.

How to kill a floral feature wall

So we’ve moved out of our old house and thanks to the rather painful process of being in a property chain (OF HELL)…we had to pack everything up into storage and move in with Grandma. But, it’s fine, now, we’re nearly at the finish line. Our new home beckons but it does come with it’s own special challenges.

  1. We’ve moved out of a three bed house and we’re going into a two bed flat.
  2. Pretty much every wall in the flat is beige.
  3. Except the bathroom which is covered floor to ceiling in tiny dark blue tiles. From floor to ceiling.
  4. There are two feature walls covered in shiny floral wallpaper. Not pretty floral wallpaper like this glorious Little Greene Paint Co. example above.

    This…floral wallpaper elm road

  5. THIS will not do.
  6. Our entrance hall is tiny and shared with our neighbour downstairs.
  7. The door to our flat opens straight onto the stairs.
  8. The stairs in question are narrow.
  9. There is nowhere for coats
  10. There is nowhere for shoes
  11. Nowhere for school bags/shopping/footballs/bicycles/skateboards/scooters/big fluffy elephants and other random STUFF that children bring home every day.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a lovely time full of promise. A new place to call home, and a totally blank (and slightly floral) canvas for me to bring to life.

So far I’ve not come across the perfect solution for our non-existent hallway conundrum so if anyone has any brilliant suggestions for where to stash an unexpected elephant (or muddy football boots) please do share!

SOLD

It’s been a while since I updated my blog. Real life has gotten in the way. That, and I wasn’t quite sure how to spin my latest post. But really there’s no spinning this – I’ve sold my lovely house.

SOLD.jpgThe house with the ice cream colours which played out so prettily in Apartment Therapy’s  House Tours. The place that I built, one tin (of fancy paint and vintage treasures) at a time.

Now I find myself sitting midway between that house and something else; something next. And pondering how life can twist and turn in gentle but newly defining curves, and lifting a glass which is literally half full.  I think it’s my lemons and lemonade moment.

I’ve got my eye on the next project though. I’m planning, and pinning and tearing pages out of magazines.  Plotting it all. And you know I really do feel sure that in ways I’ve not even imagined yet –  it’s going to be wonderful.

Moving on, baby.

The one where I am on the cover of a magazine

Well who knew…

At the age of 40 –  (recalculates…seriously?!?)

…I have made my first (and probably last) magazine cover!

Obviously it’s not Vogue, or Rolling Stone, or The Oldie. And clearly it’s far more about my almost famous kitchen, but, there’s no denying the fact that it is actually me on the cover.

It’s actually on sale in Smiths. Fame at last. I’m holding a flower and a jug. In case it’s not obvious.

Homestyle cover

Money for old coke

A shrine for Rik Mayall

I live near Hammersmith and in the past couple of months, since the sudden, and terribly sad death of Rik Mayall, a shrine has appeared.

rik mayal1

It began small with a (fake) blue plague fixed incongruously to the railing of a small but busy traffic island. And it spread. And spread.

Maybe it was the vicinity to the Hammersmith Apollo, perhaps a month of Kate Bush fans was always going to have this poetic side effect. Maybe it’s just because we all suddenly knew when he died, that they don’t make them like that anymore.

Rik was an old school anarchist. Largely harmless but passionate, and Rik’s case, ludicrously funny.

Vaudeville slapstick mixed with a series of brilliant caricatures of the sort of people you only ever meet at parties… the angry indignant student, the reptilian Tory and the quite brilliant investigative journalist Kevin Turvey. Rik was more than just The Young Ones. And the shrine is strangely touching. It’s also quite filthy. Which of course Rik would have loved.

rik 2

I can’t help but wonder though whether the best tribute to him would be for us to stop and think and protest a little about the things that are just not fair. I’m no anarchist, but I do think that tweeting our disapproval in this technology obsessed world is not enough. Perhaps we should each adopt a traffic island to display our oppositions. And swear a little. And be rude, and laugh. Because isn’t that the great thing about being human?  A mass of walking, talking junk drawers of contradictions.