indieBRAG Blog

Reviews – Who needs them?

We all do, of course. Or at least, we believe we do. It is the Amazon reviews we are really craving. After all, that is where we sell most of our books. We have also learned if you achieve fifty reviews on Amazon, the company begins to take you seriously, and you could be featured in their newsletter and/or other promotions. I do not know how true the statement is, but one of my books has achieved this target, and it is selling well. How can we get there? Maybe, like myself, you purchase products other than books on Amazon. Perhaps, you ordered a set of towels, for example, or a coffee maker? When your items arrive, you open the carton and begin using the contents, but did the thought of leaving a review ever cross your mind? Backing up a step, remember when you were searching for the product? Did the number of reviews influence your purchase? Did you read the review and, if so, did the negative reviews cause you to continue shopping? We could begin leaving reviews ourselves on all products purchased on the Amazon site. The number of reviews, especially, if they are helpful to others,…

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Talking to people is all you need to do by Malcolm Noble

Peggy Pinch-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree The cynic will say that a platform may be defined to suit whatever author service the blogger is trying to sell us.  You're right.  I don't start out as a fan.  I'm repeatedly told that legacy publishers are looking for established author platforms. That's as may be - but I am not looking for a legacy publisher.  So, surely the concept is of no more than a passing interest to confident self-sustaining authors? However, Polly Courtney's strap line tells us that self-publishers do everything that traditional publishers do - but they do it better.  So let's, at least, look at it. I have settled on the elements set out by Jane Friedman in her 2012 blog. A target audience. Authority. Visibility. Proven reach. I warm to this because it reflects my own experience.  Please forgive me but I do need to offer a brief account of my own self-publishing career if the rest of this blog is going to make any sense.  My third book earned me a complimentary ticket to the London Book fair.  When I saw the almost obscene amounts that the grown-ups were spending on promoting their lead title for the season, I realised that playing on…

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Cover Crush: Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak

Cover Crush with Colleen Turner  Synopsis An opium-addicted beauty. An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile. An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands. Melanie Karsak’s Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a steampunk romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley. It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way. Thoughts on the cover…

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The Genie Effect by Virginia King

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree How Authors Write Stories that Are Bigger than They Are Some authors plan their stories in advance. Then the writing process puts flesh on the bones of this outline. A few surprises may turn up along the way, but the story follows the plan. In this post I look at a different process called ‘pantsing’ – writing by the seat of the pants. This is when an author has little or no idea what they’re about to write – until they write it. These kinds of writers – like me – are keyhole peepers who wonder what might be lurking on the other side of the door. Their novels are a mystery to them and they discover the story by writing it. This uncorking of an unknown genie is a wild ride, scary and big. It’s also serious fun. Writing without a plan Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) has a great explanation: The characters in my novels are my own unrealised possibilities. Each one has crossed a border which I myself have circumvented … Beyond that border begins the secret the novel asks about. Wow. His characters are taking him places he hasn’t been, through…

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Reading: The Gift that Keeps on Giving!

  The year was 1955.  I was ten years old, and it was the most important year of my life.  My family and I were in the first full year of living in the small suburban town of Oradell, New Jersey.  The house we lived in was a rental, built somewhere in the late 19th century. It was so old that there were still remnants of the coal furnace formerly used to heat it, before the new oil-fired one was installed.  We were privileged to have not only a porch, but a yard, as well—actually, three: front, side, and back.  In the side yard were several trees, and among them was a pear tree, which would play an important part in my young life. By age ten, I was already a habitual reader, having been introduced to literature by my mother when I was two. Back then, we lived in a federal housing project in Brooklyn.  Mom would read to me as I sat on her lap in front of the picture window in the living room.  I loved seeing the word pictures she painted as she read to me. Before long, I was reading for myself.  My love affair with words has continued to the present. Imagine my…

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10 Things I’ve Learned About Writing

By Seeley James B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree   When I started writing Sabel Security Thrillers four years ago, I thought I knew what I was doing. I hired editors, proof readers, cover artists, etc, and worked on my first book, The Geneva Decision, until it was ready for prime time. I put it out there and waited for the acclaim. Crickets. So, I examined my career and deconstructed successful indie careers looking for the best path to fit my skills and personality. My goal was, and still is, to write the most compelling political thrillers on book shelves today. My first book, post-launch assessment was: long way to go. I envied writers like Russell Blake, Melissa Foster, Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson and so many others who wrote lots of focused books (a small number of characters, few locations, and a single-goal plot). My books sprawl across continents with a cast as big--but not as prone to death and dismemberment--as Game of Thrones. My books are complex and take longer to write because I often get lost halfway through my first draft. In the early days, I spent more time patching plot holes and combining surplus characters than writing the first draft.…

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I WISH I’D… BY HELEN HOLLICK

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree I guess all authors wish they had written ‘that’ novel – the one that has made Oscar status Blockbuster movie legend. The novel that hits number one in the bestseller charts and stays there … and stays there… and stays there… Or do we? Yes, of course we all want to do well, the basic facts of paying off the mortgage or being able to afford to get the car fixed is a prime motive – but the reality is, out of the thousands upon thousands of books published worldwide every year very few of them reach the heady height of Literary Stardom. Do I wish I’d written Gone With The Wind, or Fifty Shades of Grey or Harry Potter? To be honest? No, not really. What I do wish is that I had possessed the knowledge and experience I have now twenty-plus years ago. My first novel, part one of the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy was The Kingmaking.  Writing it, I probably made all the mistakes an author is not meant to make: tell not show, too many adjectives and adverbs, point-of-view (head-hopping) changes… but were these issues that often get slammed in Amazon’s Comments sections nowadays…

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Cover Crush: Of Sea and Seed by Annie Daylon

I have said this before and I will say again. I am not a cover designer but I do have an artist’s eye and can agree that cover design plays an important role in the overall presentation of the book and gladly admit I judge a book by its cover. Overall presentation is important to pull a reader in. When I read a story I want to be completely immersed. A grand cover helps that along. Imagery and all-if you will. Today’s cover crush is a story that recently was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. What an evocative cover! Not only that, the title alone can draw a reader in to find out more of the story.  Let’s take a look at the book description:  OF SEA AND SEED launches The Kerrigan Chronicles, the story of three generations staggered by love, betrayal, war, and the effects of a tsunami that ravages the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland in 1929. Family matriarch, storyteller, and ghost—Kathleen Kerrigan—confesses that heaven does not open its gates to women of her ilk. In her afterlife she is adrift, doomed, like some ancient mariner, to atone for mortal sin by telling repeatedly the story of her downfall. With the lyrical…

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Settings the Writer Cannot Afford to Visit

Brand Stoker never visited Transylvania. He based Castle Dracula on the ruined Abbey above Whitby.  Of course, the geography helped: Yorkshire is more or less on the same latitude as Romania, it exhibits similar bleak and capricious weather. There are no Carpathian peaks near Whitby but the abbey is perched on a respectable cliff and if there are no wolf infested forests, at least there some dark woods with similar pines and beeches. The smells of the natural world, especially in the 1890s, may not have been that different from Eastern Europe. But imagine if Stoker had lived all his life in Queensland.  He might have had to write some of the novel in an ice house to describe the physical sensations of almost freezing to death.  To portray the Transylvanian forests and Carpathian Mountains, he might have had to visit the European Masters in Brisbane’s art gallery. His biggest problem would have been the sun. Because Queensland is closer to the equator, the natural light is intense and a huge leap of imagination would be required to describe the dour skies above Castle Dracula. On the plus side, Queensland would have possessed at least one source of inspiration for…

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Christine’s Note of Life with a Mystery Writer

  I'm Christine and we've been married for forty years.  Malcolm Noble didn't write his first book until 2003 which means I've only been married to a writer for thirteen years.  It feels much longer! My main role is to explain to Malcolm that some of his ideas are bad ideas.  (He has a rude word for this which we needn't mention.)  When he gave up his proper job and began to write much more, I took charge of the address book.  Not because I wanted to help.  It was because Malcolm hasn't a clue about keeping things in order so it was easier for me to have the address book than to help sort out the mess when it went wrong.  This has led to me being more involved with press contacts and his regular readers. Another way that I help is by working out the exact word he is looking for.  This can be frustrating because his clues are often of little use.  (You should try solving one of his crossword puzzles.)  The example I always think of is - the word for walking slowly around a house.  (I'll give the answer later on.)  There are a couple…

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