April 17, 2014 13 comments

GeoRiot is a free tool that may be useful to those of you who are marketing Amazon Kindle e-books.

I’m going to explain it simply because not everyone will be familiar with the basic concepts.

Amazon stores are country specific i.e. those of us living in Britain shop through, those in the US buy through and there are also geographic specific sites for France, India, Germany and many more.

Most e-book marketing is global via the internet, using blog posts, Facebook, newsletters, paid-for adverts etc. Authors using these methods will endeavour to provide readers with a direct link to the Amazon page for the e-book being promoted.

However, unless the author provides the individual link for each geographical Amazon site, there will be users somewhere in the world who don’t reach their ‘home’ Amazon site and, if they want to buy the book, will have to navigate there by themselves. Many of them won’t bother. When the link provided doesn’t take them where they want to go, they’ll click on to something else instead.

But it looks clumsy and messy to list around a dozen Amazon links every time you mention your book on the web.

GeoRiot creates a single web address for an Amazon product. This address will always take the user directly to his ‘home’ Amazon site. If the link is clicked in the UK then it will route the user to, if the link is clicked in the US then it will route the user to and so on.

Here’s an example. When advertising Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners I could list each geographical link:

For buyers in the UK:

For buyers in the US:

For buyers in Australia:

etc. etc.

Or I can use just one global link provided by GeoRiot:

I think it looks much more professional to provide a single link.

GeoRiot provide this service for free unless you are an Amazon affiliate and then they take a small percentage of your affiliate earnings. For more details on how this payment system works see the GeoRiot website and Nick Daws’ comprehensive blog post where he goes into this and the mechanics of GeoRiot in much more detail than I have.

That’s it – I hope I haven’t blinded any of you with science!

Writing Romantic Novels with Sue Moorcroft

April 10, 2014 10 comments

Last Saturday I had a great time (and learned a lot) at a workshop organised by the Birmingham Chapter of the

Sue Moorcroft

Sue Moorcroft

Romantic Novelists’ Association. It was held in the lovely surroundings of the new Library of Birmingham.

Sue Moorcroft came to talk to us about writing romantic novels. She gave us much good advice such as:

  • Know the publisher/market you are aiming for before beginning the book and she told us that Harper Impulse are currently open to submissions.
  • Have a one sentence synopsis to describe the book and also know what tone you are writing in i.e. light and frothy, grittty, tearjerker etc.
  • When planning the story, avoid listing the scenes/ideas down the page. Instead use a spider diagram so that your brain is not chanelled into what happens when too soon – instead your mind can jump about and pick the most appropriate scene.
  • What should you do when a story runs out of steam or you have a ‘saggy’ middle? Introduce something dramatic such as the revelation of a secret, a new character (maybe an ex-boyfriend or an illigitimate baby), a skeleton in the cupboard or anything else that will add drama to the situation.
  • Keep the hero and heroine apart by giving them conflicting goals.
  • The traits required of heros and heroines – they should both be decent, honest people but should have some flaws and vulnerability like the rest of us.
  • A prologue (where the book lends itself to it) gives the author two chances to hook the reader (once in the prologue and once in chapter one)
  • Chapter One should move the story forward. Do not clutter it with back story or scene setting.
  • An epilogue can be used to prolong the reader’s feeling of happy satisfaction at the end of a book. It may be a wedding, new baby or other tieing up of loose ends.
  • When writing, remember Act, React and Interact. This will make it easier to Show rather than Tell. For example the characters should react to their environment – such as squinting at the sun – rather than the author describing the sunny day.

We had a lovely buffet lunch and the whole day ran smoothly. Special mention should go to Marilyn Rodwell for her organisational skills and her doughnuts which gave us all a sugar kick first thing in the morning!

And if you’d like more of Sue’s invaluable advice take a look at her book  Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction - available in paperback or as an e-book.

E-Publishing with Kobo Writing Life

April 4, 2014 17 comments

This week I’ve done something I’ve been meaning to do for months – I’ve finally branched out to another e-book platform. Old Friends - 13 Coffee Break Stories

Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories is now available on Kobo as well as Amazon Kindle.

This collection is my Kindle ‘best seller’ and hasn’t been enrolled in KDP Select for a long time meaning I’m free to publish it elsewhere.

So, how did I find the Kobo publishing process?

The hardest part was creating a Kobo login ID to allow me to start the process.
If the email address entered into Kobo is registered to a Facebook account then Kobo requires you to login with your Facebook credentials. I didn’t want to do this and went round in circles until I discovered that the only way to keep my Kobo and Facebook accounts separate was to login to Kobo initially with my Facebook account and then, within the Kobo ‘My Account’ page, un-link Facebook from my Kobo account.

Complicated or what?!

Kobo accepts manuscripts in a variety of formats, including Microsoft Word .doc and .docx, and then converts them to .epub. Initially I uploaded my manuscript as .docx but when I checked the finished product using the Kobo previewer (which isn’t as good as the Kindle one) the line spacing seemed very wide.

So, I downloaded the free conversion software Calibre and converted my .docx file to Then I uploaded the .epub file to Kobo and the result looked much better.

This all sounds very complicated and technical – but it’s not! There is a guide available on the Kobo website full of tips about how to format your Word document to ensure the best results. I used the same manuscript that I’d formatted for Kindle according to the instructions in Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide  and, once I’d discovered Calibre, had no further problems.

Having said that, if anyone downloads the Kobo version and finds the formatting isn’t up to scratch – please let me know!

Next, I have to work out how everything works on the Kobo site …

Two Free Writing Competitions

March 27, 2014 8 comments

Ian Skillicorn from Corazon Books has been in touch to tell me about two free to enter competitions that he’s involved with:

Historic House Short Story Competition  

This competition is being run by Corazon Books and the Historic Houses Association to celebrate the publication of  The Property of a Gentleman by Catherine Gaskin. This modern classic by the bestselling “Queen of Storytellers” has recently been reissued by Corazon Books in ebook format, in time to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The Property of a Gentleman is a tale of intrigue, mystery and romance, set in a fictional earl’s ancestral home, in the dramatic landscape of England’s Lake District.

Entrants to the competition must submit a short story of between 1,500 to 2,500 words. The story must take place in, or be inspired by, a historic house (real or fictional). The submissions deadline is Friday 26th September 2014 and the winner will be announced on Monday 17th November 2014.

The winning writer and a guest will be treated to a private tour and afternoon tea with the owners of Levens Hall in Cumbria. The winner will also receive a cash prize of £150, and a double Friends membership for the Historic Houses Association. Two runners up will each receive a double Friends membership to the Historic Houses Association. Corazon Books also plans to publish an e-book anthology of the best entries, with each writer receiving royalties for their published story.

Full details of the competition can be found here.


The Write Time competition

Corazon Books is running a writing competition for the over 50s, in partnership with Mature Times.

“The Write Time” competition offers the winner a two-year digital publishing contract, with full editorial and marketing support, and a generous royalty on all sales.

The organisers are looking for compelling fiction for adults from a previously unpublished author. For the purposes of the competition, “previously unpublished” is defined as a writer who has never had a publishing contract for a short story collection, novella or full-length novel, which offered royalties and did not require any payment from the writer. So, even if you have self-published your writing, you are still eligible to enter.

Work can be submitted in the genres of family saga, historical, medical, mystery and suspense, and romance (contemporary or historical).

For the first round of the competition, entrants should send a 200-500 word synopsis and the first three chapters of their novel/novella before 16th June 2014. Entrants who pass this first round of submissions will be asked to send the complete novel in September this year. The winner will be announced in November.

Entry to the competition is free, but writers must include an entry code which they can find (along with all the other details about the competition) on the Mature Times website.


eBookSoda and the AsparaWriting Festival

March 20, 2014 2 comments

This week I’ve got a couple of writing-related things that might interest you.

FirstlyeBookSoda is an e-book promotion newsletter sent daily, and free of charge, to readers’ inboxes.  Until March 26th 2014 it is FREE to advertise your e-book in the newsletter. After this date there will be a $5 cost to have an e-book mentioned in the newsletter.

So why not get your skates on and click here to get a bit of free publicity for your book? The book doesn’t have to be on a discounted or free special offer (although many of them are) – it must just be $4.99 or less and have at least eight reviews with an average star rating of 3.5.

Alternatively, if you simply want to hear about the e-books available (many of which are on special offer) sign up for the eBookSoda free newsletter.

Secondly, crime novelist Judith Cutler has brought the AsparaWriting Festival to my attention. It is specifically designed for aspiring writers. During the event you can learn from the professionals about writing crime, history, comic or straight fiction and poetry. There are events scheduled from 23rd April 2014 to 21st June 2014 in the Evesham area.

There’s also a short story competition with a £100 first prize and a trophy. The story should be no more than 6,000 words (3,000 for junior entries), written in English, set in the Vale of Evesham or the Cotswolds, should fit into the crime genre and include asparagus. But you’ll have to start writing now – the closing date is March 29th 2014.

Happy Writing!

Lights, Camera, Action!

March 13, 2014 37 comments

Remember I told you here about being shortlisted as Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate for the Midlands and having to read my story over the telephone? Well, I won! Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate

Last week I went along to the Disney Store in Birmingham to receive my certificate and read the story to a group of children. It was exciting – TV and newspaper cameras turned up along with a professional photographer organised by the PR company. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham and the Lady Mayoress attended in their chains of office and last, but by no means least, Birmingham crime novelist Judith Cutler presented my certificate and kept me company through the afternoon. As an added bonus she introduced me to her husband Edward Marston, who writes historical crime fiction.

The media coverage of the event opened my eyes to the small budgets these people work on and how difficult it is to get publicity for anything that’s not hard news.

I’d been told the previous day that ITV Central News would be coming and had agonised over what to wear. Am I the only one who thinks there’s some rule about not wearing stripes, checks or loud patterns in front of TV cameras? Anyway, in the end I went for plain navy blue.

When the camera crew arrived, the ‘crew’ turned out to be a single cameraman (who’d arrived by motorbike) and that was it. I’d been expecting a reporter as well and possibly a sound man. But the cameraman did have one of those big furry microphones.  So, Lina, the Disney PR lady, became the interviewer and stood just out of camera shot whilst she asked questions of Judith and myself. It’s very hard to talk naturally or sensibly when a camera is pointed towards you but you’ve been told not to look at it and when there’s that microphone, which looks like a cute animal, being held out to catch every word. Judith and I did our best. Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate

The two photographers had their turn with us next and spent ages posing Judith and I alongside various Disney cuddly toys in the shape of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the rest of their friends from Hundred Acre Wood. They took pictures of us with the Mayor and some children (parents had to sign permission forms) and a giant story book.

After all this, I finally read my story to a group of children who were shopping in the store.

I went home clutching a goody bag of soft toys and a fistful of Disney Store vouchers.  I felt quite a celebrity and couldn’t wait to watch my recording of Central News.
But my TV appearance was short, very short. Either my fears that I was spouting rubbish during the interview were true or everything else going on in the Central TV area that day was much more interesting! They showed a shot of Judith presenting my certificate and then a close up of the certificate and that was it. Neither of us was shown speaking – which in my case was probably just as well …

As for the press, there’s been nothing in the local paper yet despite the length of time the photographer spent with us.

BUT I have been sent some of the pictures taken by the PR company’s photographer AND I have got the platform of this blog to display them. So forgive me for indulging in a little celebrity showing off!

Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate

Networking Advice from Lin Treadgold

March 7, 2014 6 comments

I first met Lin Treadgold on the forum My Writers’ Circle.Lin Treadgold

Lin is a ‘Hero Member’ with thousands of helpful posts whilst I am a comparative newbie. Today Lin has agreed to answer some of my ‘writer networking’ questions.

What are the benefits that you get out of chatting to other writers on My Writers’ Circle?
I’ve been a member of My Writers’ Circle for the last nine years, since the forum opened.  I received an invitation to become a moderator on the site and spent three years in that role.  I stay on the forum because I understand the needs of new writers and how difficult it is, especially if you don’t know the ropes. As a published author I enjoy using my experience to support like-minded people.

You have a blog, It’s Lin Here. Do you use any other forms of social media?
I have a Facebook page and I also use Twitter but that’s about all I do. I am a great believer in face-to-face promotions.  I love doing book signings.

Tell us about your real life networking?
It is important to go out there and meet the public, the new writers, and the authors.  The internet can be a hostile place and words are very powerful, too powerful, and can cause a lot of pain.  It is far better to meet your fellow authors. A face says a thousand words more that an ‘internet friend’. You need this if you are to be a writer.  They will help you survive. I am a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.  The RNA is the friendliest Association you could wish for.  The support is amazing and without them I don’t think I could have got this far.

Your romantic novel, ‘Goodbye, Henrietta Street’ was published in summer 2013 by Safkhet Publishing in both paperback and digital format.Goodbye Henrietta Street

Even with the backing of a traditional publisher like Safkhet, authors are required to promote their books. How did you do this? 

I enjoyed doing my own promotions on this novel. I know the locations well that I used for scenes in the book and I know the people  who are best to approach, hence I sold 150 books in less than three weeks.  I had a book launch on The Isles of Scilly, at The Mermaid pub on St Mary’s.  About 40 islanders were there with the Sea Shanty group Bone Idol.  Their songs made the whole event seem both surreal and wonderful. I am returning in July to do some more events to help keep the book rolling around on the islands and in Cornwall. Then I went to Yorkshire as there are also some scenes in Whitby.
Both paperback and e-books are selling well and Goodbye Henrietta Street is No.10 on Goodreads, Best of British Chic-Lit.  I think my successes are down to the fact I am not afraid to be known. If you don’t tell people about yourself they won’t know you exist. I also do radio shows where possible.

Finally, please use the ‘networking opportunity’ of this blog post to tell us a little about your current writing activities?
It’s important to have another book on the boil, as the last one is ready for publication.  I am presently writing The Tanglewood Affair, a romantic saga set in 1976, which tells the story of attractive 29-year-old, Jess Stamp. She is seeking a lifestyle change after losing her father. Jess moves to Dorset and rents a room at Tanglewood Farm, from divorcee farm owner, Connie Dijkman.
The farm is inhabited by Connie and her daughter Rosie, fiancée Ewan, Hans, and the handsome Jonni Holbrook, herdsman at the farm. It seems Connie is in the habit of taking in life’s waifs and strays, both animals and humans and this leads to conflict within the house.
Jess is aware of Jonni’s caring nature as he helps her with her luggage. However, life on the farm is not what she envisaged. The swearing, brash talk, and drug taking are shocking, but despite this and with the helpful Jonni, she becomes drawn into a family relationship with everyone, but something isn’t quite right with their family life and Jonni warns her not to get involved. What is it about Jonni that makes him so reluctant to allow his friendship with Jess to go any further?

The story is finished and I’m now working on it with my editor.  I also have another two books planned; one is a novella, the other a wartime story. If you want to become a writer, you should be one step ahead of yourself.

Thank you so much for your time today, Lin and very best wishes with ‘Goodbye, Henrietta Street’ and your future plans.

It’s a pleasure Sally and I would be happy to answer further questions from the good folk out there.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 196 other followers