The Harry Potter tag

tag from: sarahschaedler

1) Favourite book?

Order of the Phoenix – it was the one book that I thought really showed both Harry’s flaw as a character and his maturation into the hero he has to become to defeat Voldemort. Also, I loved meeting the order and seeing the family dynamic they shared with Harry.

2) Least Favourite book?

Half Blood Prince – not sure why exactly, I just didn’t love it quite as much as the others.

3) Least Favourite movie?

Deathly Hallows part 1 – I thought it moved a bit slowly compared to the others. It was also very dark and I missed some of the more light-hearted humour we found in Half Blood Prince.

4) Favourite movie?

Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s also one of my fave books – basically because I loved learning more about the marauders and it sparked my obsession with Sirius Black. Also, the cinematograph in this film is just beautiful. The soundtrack, the nostalgic shots of the landscape…it’s a work of art.

5) Favourite quote?

“We all have both light and dark inside us, Harry. It’s the part we choose to act on that makes us who we are.” – Sirius Black. As someone who is very aware of her own flaws, I just fell in love with this quote. It acknowledges the good and bad of human nature, but also reminds us that who we become is not determined by fate or environment. It’s a sentiment echoed by the Sorting Hat at the beginning of the novels and a running theme throughout it – Harry isn’t born a hero, he chooses to take on the responsibility and he becomes one during the series. Sirius was born into a dark family, but he chose to defy them and fight for the light.

6) Favourite Weasley?

Fred and George. I know that’s two but..you can’t really separate them, can you? That’d be cruel (looking at you here, J.K)

7) Favourite female character?

Hm…it’s a toss up between Hermione and Prof McGonagall.

8) Favourite villain?

Bellatrix – because I love her fashion sense and how crazily deranged she is :p

9) Favourite male character?

Sirius Black, by a huge margin. He’s my favourite character of the entire series, and I could write an essay about my love for him, but I won’t bore you. It essentially boils down to my obsession with the marauders and my admiration for Sirius rebelling against his dark family.

10) Favourite professor?

Remus Lupin, when he was teaching. Again, I’m marauders-obsessed.

11) Would you rather A) wash Snape’s hair or B) spend a day listening to Lockhart rant about himself?

Definitely B, that sounds pretty funny.

12) Would you rather duel A) an elated Bellatrix or B) an angry Molly?

Bellatrix

13) Would you rather travel to Hogwarts via A) Hogwarts Express or B) Flying Car?

Hogwarts Express. I find driving a normal car stressful enough as it is. Also, the train has the food cart!

14) Would you rather A) kiss Voldemort or B) give Umbridge a bubble bath?

kiss Voldy.

15) Would you rather A) ride a Hippogriff or B) ride a Firebolt?

Hippogriff.

16) Is there a character you felt differently about in the movies?

Dumbledore – definitely more likeable in the books.

17) Is there a movie you preferred to the book?

No

18) Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore?

Richard Harris

19) Your top thing (person or event) that wasn’t in the movie that you wanted there the most?

Sirius sneaking into Hogsmeade as Padfoot and Harry going up to visit him in the cave. Basically just more Sirius screen time.

20) If you could remake any of the Harry Potter movies which would it be?

Fourth.

21) Which house was your first gut feeling you’d be a part of?

Ravenclaw.

22) Which house were you actually sorted into on Pottermore?

Gryffindor, then Slytherin, then Gryffindor again. So let’s stick with Gryffindor.

23) Which class would be your favourite?

Defense against the dark arts – I love the idea of dueling and I think I’d want to be an auror in the wizard world

24) Which spell do you think would be most useful to learn?

‘Finite Incantantem’.

25) Which character do you think you’d instantly become friends with?

Probably Cho Chang because we’d bond over being asian. Hermione too as I’m also quite a bookworm/nerd. I think I really wouldn’t get on with Ginny.

26) If you could own one of the three Hallows, which would it be?

Invisibility cloak.

27) Is there any aspect of the books you’d want to change?

More marauders backstory!

28) Favourite Marauder?

Sirius Black (bet you didn’t see that one coming).

29) If you could bring one character back to life, which would it be?

see above

30) Hallows or Horcruxes?

Hallows – way cooler and I already have a little necklace with the hallows symbol on it.

Okay, that’s it! I’d like to encourage every other Harry Potter fan out there to do this tag if you haven’t done so already. It’s super fun and I’d love to read your answers, so please tag me if you do. Any other marauders junkies out there? Would love to hear from you!

Advertisements

In conversation with Rhoda Baxter, romantic comedy writer

Today I’ll be shining the author spotlight on romantic comedy writer, Rhoda Baxter! 

Hi, please can you give a brief introduction of yourself?
Hi. I’m Rhoda. I write romantic comedies which are published by Choc Lit Publishing. I also write short fiction. In real life, I trained as a microbiologist but now work in university technology transfer (which is the most fun way to keep in touch with the science without having to do lab work). I drink far too much tea and am partial to a bit of cake.

When did you first start writing?
I’m not sure. Apparently I wrote a story about parrot when I was about seven. When I was in my early teens, the Sweet Dreams romance novels were incredibly popular. I wasn’t allowed to read them, in case they gave me ‘ideas’ and distracted me from my studies. So I started to write my own. I still have my early typescripts. They’re impossibly naive and cringeworthy, but they’re worth keeping for the scribbled notes from my friends (my early readers!) on the margins.

How would you describe your author brand in 5 words?
Smart, witty heartfelt romantic comedy.

What has your experience been of publishing with Choc Lit?
I love the way Choc Lit choose their books. They have a ‘tasting panel’ who check out the submissions. If enough people on the panel pass the book, they publish it. This means that they don’t have to second guess whether the readers would like a book, they know. They can also edit the book with actual market feedback. Choc Lit publishes a lot of unusual romances – ones that other publishers might turn down because they perceive them as too niche. For example, a romance with a non-white heroine (mine) or one with a hero with cerebral palsy (Jane Lovering) – both of which would be considered ‘risky’ in the normal run of things.
They also do fabulous covers!

What’s your opinion on diversity in the contemporary romance genre?
I’d like to see more of it. By this I mean real diversity – with people of different backgrounds (be it different by ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability) having a place in the genre.

I’ll use ethnicity as an example, because it’s what I’m more familiar with (I’m Sri Lankan by descent). There is a tendency to fetishise difference. You get books with Asian characters, but either the conflict of the book revolves around the Asian-ness of the character or the characters are over-the-top Asian. The day to day lives of most British Asians isn’t hugely different to the day-to-day life of other British people. Religious and cultural differences exist, sure, but on a basic everyday level, we live in the same sort of houses, eat lunch/tea at the same sort of time, watch the same sort of TV shows. But, if you look at romance novels, you’d be hard pressed to see that. The differences in culture are magnified. The familiar elements are ignored. So people see only how ‘they’ are different to ‘us’.

It’s important to change this. We absorb our world view from the books we read and the TV shows we watch. If we’ve only ever seen Asian women as downtrodden slaves to tradition, no wonder we’re surprised by Nadiya Hussein baking a fizzy pop flavoured cheesecake. I’m a big fan of GBBO and of Nadiya. When she won GBBO, the undertone of the commentary that followed was ‘oh my word, she wears a hijab, but… she and her family seem so Normal!’. Which, if you think about it, is just bonkers.

So, I’d like to see more romance novels with diverse characters falling in love – not falling in love in an Asian way, or in a gay way, or in a disabled way – just falling in love in their OWN way.

Describe your ideal fictional love interest
He’d be kind and clever and funny. Preferably, he’d be fit in a slim-built kind of way… and would definitely wear glasses. Most men look sexier in glasses. David Tennant in glasses… ooh…

Sorry, what was I talking about? Oh yes. Men. I much prefer beta males to alphas. I tried to write an alpha male hero once (because people kept telling me they were popular). I hated him so much that I had to stop after a few chapters and start again.

What are your writing goals for 2017?
I’m trying my hand at writing novellas at the moment. I’m hoping to write three novellas set in a fictional village in West Yorkshire. I’ve done one. Two more to do.

My next book Girl In Trouble – the sequel to Girl Having A Ball – should be coming out with Choc Lit later in the year. I’ll be editing that in the next few months.

What authors would you recommend for fans of contemporary romance?
There’s too many to mention. I like books with great dialogue (sharp, realistic and funny). I’m currently reading a lot of Courtney Milan, Jane Lovering, Jenny Holliday, Alison May, Kate Johnson, Mhairi McFarlane, Janet Gover, Julie Cohen. All of whom write great dialogue. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head, there are many, many more.

What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
I have always kept an eye on self publishing. I was too insecure in my abilities to self publish (I have chronic impostor syndrome), so I needed the validation provided by having a traditional publisher, but I’ve always thought that Indies were the ones who knew how to market books. I follow a lot of Indie blogs because they are so clever in what they do. I think I’d like to end up with a combination of both. When I’ve finished my West Yorkshire novellas, I’d like to self publish those. [If you want a preview, you can get a short story set in that world for free by signing up for my reader group].

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new writers?
Don’t give up. Write, submit, get feedback, edit, repeat. Eventually, good things will happen.

I started writing in my early teens. I’ve been writing in earnest since I was in my twenties. I wasn’t published until I was in my mid thirties. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.

Rhoda Baxter writes cheerful romantic comedies starring smart heroines and charming beta male heroes. She likes to write about people who make her laugh. Her books have been nominated for awards, so she must be doing something right. In real life, she’s a former scientist who works in technology transfer and a mum of two. Her latest book is Girl Having A Ball.

Website: http://www.rhodabaxter.com
Twitter: @rhodabaxter
Latest book: Girl Having A Ball 

Win the ultimate library of 100 signed books!

Charity Lifelites is raffling the Ultimate Library of 100 signed books to raise money for children in hospices

Lifelites – a unique charity which donates specialist technology packages for the 10,000 terminally ill and disabled children in every children’s hospice in the British Isles – is giving one lucky bookworm the chance to win The Ultimate Library of 100 signed books.

The prize, which is a once in a lifetime opportunity, will be given away as part of an online raffle hosted on givergy.com, and tickets will cost just £5 each. That’s equivalent to just 5p per book, but to a book lover the prize will be priceless, as every single one is signed by the author or illustrator. Everyone who buys a ticket will also be helping to support the charity’s work in children’s hospices across the British Isles.

The 100 signed books cover just about every genre including crime, romance, fantasy, historical, biographical, mystery, comedy, political, poetry, food, travel, and thriller.

Among the authors who have kindly donated are Zadie Smith, Sue Perkins, Jeremy Paxman, Sophie Kinsella, Tony Parsons, PD James, Sophie Hannah, Andy McNab, Paula Hawkins, Alan Bennett, John Le Carré, Jeffrey Archer and Margaret Drabble.

As well as the top prize of 100 signed books, there will also be a second prize. When finalised, the full list of books in each prize can be found on the Lifelites website: http://www.lifelites.org/get-involved/enter-one-of-our-raffles/ultimate-library-of-100-signed-books

Every penny raised will support Lifelites’ work to enhance the lives of terminally ill and disabled children in hospices through the power of technology. The charity donates and maintains cutting-edge, accessible equipment to give these children with limited lives unlimited possibilities. The equipment, staff training and ongoing support costs Lifelites over £1,000 a month per hospice but the charity donates this completely free of charge.

Fundraising and PR manager Dominic Hourd said: “Lifelites is so excited to be offering this prize. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. We are extremely grateful to every author who has kindly donated a signed book. Each one will help us raise money for all 10,000 terminally ill and disabled children in hospices across the British Isles.”

The raffle will begin on January 20th and run for three weeks. A link will be available on the Lifelites website when it goes live: http://www.lifelites.org/get-involved/enter-one-of-our-raffles/ultimate-library-of-100-signed-books

 

Please note: cost of delivery is not included. Lifelites will arrange this with the lucky winner. All books are currently at the Lifelites head office in central London. Shipping overseas is possible but will be extremely costly at the winner’s expense, so we do not advise this.

About Lifelites: Lifelites empowers 10,000 children and young people in hospices with life-limiting, life-threatening illnesses and disabling conditions by providing them with opportunities to benefit from the power of assistive and inclusive technologies to learn, to be creative, to communicate and to take control. There is a Lifelites project in every baby and children’s hospice across the British Isles. The hospices do not pay a penny towards their Lifelites project and all of Lifelites’ work is funded by donations: the equipment, ongoing technical support and training at each hospice costs around £50,000 over four years.
http://www.lifelites.org
Charity Number: 1165791

7 Ways to Boost Your Book Sales

In my last post, I looked at how to prepare yourself for self-publishing. This time I’ll be focusing on what to do once your book is already out there, and how to increase your sales revenue. Here are my top tips for marketing your novel on Amazon:

  1. Start driving traffic towards your amazon page. Post the link on your social media accounts, your blog, everywhere you can. Change your signature in any forums you’re part of to your book cover, with a link to the book. Ask your friends or fellow bloggers to tweet the link out for you. Write some articles for news websites or online magazines. Make sure to include a mention of the book and that link in your bio at the bottom.
    .
  2. Send out review copies. Research book bloggers that you think will be a good fit for your book (there are many internet databases out there which make this much easier) then send them a message politely enquiring if they’d be interested in reviewing your book on their website. If they say yes, give them a free copy. In the internet book community high-profile book bloggers are basically celebrities. Their opinions matter. Get them on your side and you’re good to go. Just make sure to read through their review policies first.
    .
  3. Hold a giveaway. You can do this through Goodreads, or twitter, or any other social media website. Ideas include ‘like my Facebook page for a chance to win a free of copy of *insert your book title here*’ Everyone loves free stuff. Make them want your book, and get them to follow you while you’re at it.
    .
  4. Engage. When people leave you reviews, you can reply to them to say thanks. When people tweet about your book, tweet them back/retweet them. Leave reviews on other people’s books. Chat to other writers on forums. People appreciate you showing interest and making an effort.
    .
  5. Make it easy for your readers to follow you. At the end of your book, include a page with your social media handles, your website, info about any other books you’ve written and a ‘thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this book please leave a review.’ Asking for reviews actually makes people more likely to review the book.
    .
  6. Build up your writing CV. Submit short stories to magazines, and if they get published make sure to mention your book in your author bio. You can post excerpts of your book (up to 10%) or other things you’ve written on some popular writing sites such as WattPad. Publish multiple books on Amazon, since then you can cross-promote them.
    .
  7. Put your book on sale. Strategically putting your book on sale at the right times can have a massive effect on sales. Make it 99p or even free for a week and see how the book performs once it’s back up to full price. Usually if the book is good, a strategic sale will kickstart the domino effect and get people to start talking about the book. By the time it’s back up to full price, the word will be out and people who have heard about it based on recommendations will be willing to pay an extra pound or two for it.

 

Follow me for book reviews and more tips on self-publishing, writing and marketing. i’m also looking to host author interviews and guest blog posts in the future – if this is something you’d be interested in please get in contact!

This Really Happened (COVER REVEAL)

pieces-2

“We all have our own truths. Sometimes they’re the same. Sometimes they’re not.”

Erin has never really known who she is or what she wants, especially when it comes to relationships. That is, until she starts her first year at University and meets her new flatmate Allen.

Reckless, eccentric and intensely creative, Allen is everything Erin doesn’t have the courage to be and she’s immediately drawn to him. She’s sure it’s a mutual feeling, too, until he starts dating their flatmate Charlotte instead.

Then one night changes everything.

When a drunken mistake ends in tragedy and Charlotte is left fighting for her life, the victim of a hit-and-run, there’s only one question everyone’s asking: what really happened? Erin has an answer to that, more than one in fact, but running from the truth is far easier than facing up to it…

‘This Really Happened’ is a YA drama being released on the Amazon Kindle Store March 1st. Follow for more updates, sneak peaks and giveaways to be announced in the near future! I’d also love to know what you think of the cover – please leave comments below.

Review: ‘Wonder’ by R.J Palacio (guest post)

Anyone who’s filled with as much self-doubt as I am will surely understand what I mean when I say that every now and then, you come across a book that makes you resolve to be a better person. Wonder by R. J. Palacio is absolutely one of those books. Touching, engaging and uplifting, it offered everything I wanted from a story and then some: a whole host of characters; conflict that felt only too realistic; a conclusion so poignant I’m still drying my eyes and an abundance of youthful, untamed delight.

Trying to summarise a book that’s comparable in style only to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is not easy, but I’ll give it a go. The premise is simple: August Pullman has a genetic condition that makes him look different to other ten-year-olds. Not just a bit different, like a cleft lip or a weird birthmark, but really, truly, stop-in-the-street-and-stare, makes-small-children-run-away-screaming different. Up until the point where the story starts, he has led a sheltered life. If you can call undergoing surgery every few months, wearing a space helmet every time he goes outside and being home schooled by understandably overprotective parents sheltered, that is. But things are about to change, because Auggie is starting middle school. (Whatever that is. Damn these Americans and their confusing educational systems.) Here, he – and the reader – will meet a variety of his peers and undertake a Bildungsroman-esque journey towards all kinds of acceptance.

I could gush about all the things that are great about Wonder for at least thirty pages. Auggie’s emotions, his dark humour, all the ups and downs…it all feels so real, and that’s what makes the story so gripping. I was rooting for him right from the first page, and I found it surprisingly easy to put myself in his shoes thanks to Palacio’s honest, conversational style. What was even more surprising is that I actually engaged more with Auggie, a ten-year-old boy whose life is dominated by a physical distortion, than I did with, for example, his older sister Olivia.

Via is closer to my age than her brother; her typical-teenage-girl problems are certainly more familiar to me than the issues our protagonist faces. Yet, during Via’s sections of the book, I found myself skimming the text, wondering when it was time to get back to the proper story. Yes, I cared about her, and about Jack, and Summer, and Miranda, and even Justin, but these characters’ musings felt like mere interruptions. It’s only now, on reflection, that I am beginning to question whether the asides about Jack’s poverty, Miranda’s home life and so on had some deeper meaning. Yes, these children look completely normal from the outside, but as the saying goes, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Auggie’s classmates might not carry their burdens on their faces like he does, but they are all equally scarred in one way or another: by their past; by their family; by their friends. If the multiple narratives aren’t there to move the plot along, then perhaps they are intended to remind us that Mr. Browne’s precepts apply to everyone, whether their problems are visible or not. “When given the choice between being right and being kind,” Palacio is telling us, “always choose kind”.

I’ve seen some reviews that use words like ‘ableist’ in relation to the story’s tear-jerking happy ending. Some readers suggest that Auggie is awarded the Henry Ward Beecher medal simply for being deformed, and is therefore subject to positive discrimination. I disagree. Auggie earns his standing ovation for showing empathy, wisdom and kindness in the face of adversity, just like Via and Justin do when they face their demons in order to play the leads in their high school production. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a physical condition, a broken family, the death of a loved one…we are wonderful not in spite of but because of our struggles, and this deserves recognition. Who knows what these characters would be like had they led seemingly idyllic lives like Julian? Who’s to say that they wouldn’t be the ones putting mean notes in other pupils’ lockers? I think Palacio is telling us to embrace our differences, even the ones that make people point and laugh. Even the ones that provoke attacks from the uninformed. Even the ones that, as in my case, make strangers stop in the street and say, “Gosh, you’re tall!”.

These are the things that shape us into the remarkable human beings that we are.

 

This guest post was written by a good friend of mine, Rosie, who runs her own book blog ‘an improbable truth‘. Check it out for more excellent book reviews! 

My Top Ten Books in 2016

2016 may have been a terrible year for politics, Remain voters, minorities, women and fans  of pop culture celebrities, but at least it’s been a good book year. Here’s a little gallery of my top 10 reads for 2016. If you haven’t read these brilliant books, might be worth putting on your reading list for the new year!

 

And, here’s a little snapshot of the first book I’ll be reading in 2017:

71mrvaxv8fl

8 Things you need to do before you self-publish

I recently wrote a post about my experiences of self-publishing on the Amazon Kindle store, explaining my reasons for going through with it and why I think it’s a great idea. However for those who are planning on trying it for the first time, it can be a daunting and scary prospect. I would recommend doing as much research as possible beforehand, to know what you’re getting into. Jumping into self-publishing without adequate preparation is a huge waste of an opportunity. Here are some of my top tips for preparing to self-publish your novel:

  1. Decide on your author brand: Are you going to use your real name, or a pseudonym? What sort of books will you write – romantic comedies or dark thrillers? How are you going to market yourself and to which type of audience? It’s a good idea to come up with a basic marketing plan before you start by choosing how you’re going to sell yourself. Your author name is essentially a brand you’re selling to potential readers, so understand it first before you try to pitch it to the wider public.

    .

  2. Start building your author profile: Get a twitter. Get a wordpress blog. Get an instagram. Start writing things, posting on your social media accounts regularly, and in general make your presence known on the internet. Try to keep the same sort of aesthetic and tone across all of these accounts – continuity and strong branding is the key here.

    .

  3. Research. Read up about digital marketing. Read other people’s blogs, read the kindle boards, read all of the FAQs and self-help sections on Amazon direct publishing. It’s there to help you. Take notes of the important points and make sure you fully understand everything and have a basic working knowledge of how the self-publishing world works before you attempt it.

    .

  4. Make a plan. Next week, I’l be going over book marketing strategies in detail. However your plan doesn’t have to be anything super complex. Build a list of resources for yourself, such as potential book bloggers to offer review copies to. Jot down names of forums you want to get involved in. Come up with a rough timeline of when you want to release the book, when you want to have a sale, when you want to make the book free for a week etc..

    .

  5. Engage. Don’t just passively post on the internet about your upcoming book release, it gets boring fast. Instead, take part in writer forums. Comment on other people’s blogs and start conversations on twitter with open-ended questions. There’s a huge book-loving community out there on the internet, with a lot of very valuable knowledge. Go out there and make the most of it. This way you’ll curate a much more engaged following and you’ll develop a relationship with your potential readers, so that when book launch day comes they’ll be much more likely to return the favour and promote it/buy a copy.

    .

  6. Edit your novel to perfection. It’s best to hire a professional editor or proofreader, though if you’re on a budget and can’t afford it, you should at least send it to a few friends to check over. Many writing forums, such as AW writer forum, offer opportunities for authors to swap novels and gain mutual feedback. Make sure you’ve also gone over your book until you’re sick of it. On average, I redraft a novel 3 times and then do a read-through edit 6-7 more times. By the end the novel barely even resembles the first draft. If you’re having trouble with certain areas of this, see my post 8 tips for writing a novel.

    .

  7. Get a professional-looking cover. If you’re capable of making one yourself, go for it. I always use my own photos for covers because it makes the copyright issue simpler, since I already own the photos. Canva is a brilliant online website that allows anyone to make beautiful looking book covers in less than half an hour. Google is full of free stock photos you can make use of. Just make sure you know who owns the copyright for the image. If you’re not confident making your own cover, many indie authors also design book covers pretty cheaply on the side.

    .

  8. Build up hype prior to the book release. Start this at least 1 month in advance of your launch date. Post excepts of the book and cover reveals on your blog. Mention it on social media. Hold a giveaway or a competition. If you look up ‘pre-launch marketing campaign’ on google there’s a whole bunch of articles out there with ideas on how to do this. By the time your launch day comes, it shouldn’t be a surprise to your audience, they should be eagerly anticipating it!

 

If you’ve found this article useful, please share it. Follow for more tips on marketing, writing and self-publishing. I’m also looking to host guest posts and author interviews – if you’re interested in taking part please get in touch!

 

My Amazon Self-Publishing Journey

I wrote my first novel, Cold Water, when I was thirteen. At the time I thought it was great, and enthusiastically shipped it off to literary agents expecting a publishing contract to land on my doorstep. Of course in hindsight it was actually pretty terrible, basically angsty-teenage word salad. I put it in a drawer for a few years and forgot about it. Then when I was seventeen, my dad suggested that I self-publish on Amazon. At first I was wary – would it be worth the effort? Would they just take away any royalties I made? But I decided to give it a shot because what did I have to lose at that point?

So I did it. I went back, I rewrote the entire novel until it didn’t make me want to physically cringe anymore, then I published it on the kindle store.

At first I only sold a few copies. I made some pocket money out of it, nothing glamorous but enough to give me a little electric buzz of happiness every time I saw the number go up. It gave me a purpose, something to work towards. And soon I became addicted to that feeling. I wanted more of it. I needed to sell more copies.

So I started doing some marketing, though at the time I didn’t really know that’s what it was called. I joined writing websites, forums, chat rooms. I’d made my own book cover so I flogged that thing everywhere I could. I posted samples and excerpts. I sent off review copies to book bloggers. I made the book free for a week. And then something amazing happened.

My sales went from 3 a week to 30 a day.

It was so incredible, so completely unexpected that I was honestly in shock for a very long time. I’d expected to sell maybe 10 books total. The real number was in the thousands. I still don’t completely understand how it happened, whether it can be attributed to my marketing efforts or luck. I expect it’s a bit of both along with good timing. I published at a time when the indie book market was just starting to take off, with people like Amanda Hocking and Jamie McGuire gathering fame.

I was still in school, trying to make decisions about University, and this was the thing that made the decision for me. I thought ‘look, I’ve got this novel out there, and people are reading it. They’re paying money for it and recommending it to their friends and blogging about it. So maybe studying Creative Writing isn’t a stupid idea. Maybe I could really do this one day for a living.’

I think of self-publishing as similar to starting up a business. Most people will go the traditional route of being employed by a company because there’s structure, guidance and a boss to give you jobs and targets. There’s stability and financial security. Building something yourself is different – you are completely accountable for your own success or failure. You’re not reporting back to anyone, there’s no one to tell you that what you’re doing is right or wrong. You’re essentially on your own, which can be both terrifying and liberating.

For me, and many others though, Amazon self-publishing gave me something I couldn’t find elsewhere. It gave me an opportunity to test myself. It gave me the chance to take control of my publishing experience and see how far I could go. It gave me the validation I so desperately needed at the time and the courage to base a huge life decision such as going to University on my writing. It  made me realise that writing could be more than just a hobby for me, that maybe there was an audience out there for it, I just had to reach out to them.

I’m not saying self-publishing is the right decision for everyone. Even now, I would love to have the approval of traditional publishing houses. But I do think it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s been an exciting journey up till now, one that I’ve learnt so much from and has made me a better writer. My initial dabbling in book promotion has led into a career in marketing, which I realised through that is something I enjoy.

So to anyone out there who’s undecided on whether or not to go for it, I say to you: ‘why not? What have you got to lose?’ It might just turn out to be everything you wanted, and more.

 

To find out more about my work, see my books page. Follow for updates on an exciting new release scheduled for next year, as well as more tips and tricks for self-publishing. I’m also looking to host author interviews and guest posts on my blog – if this is something you would be interested in, please get in contact!

 

 

Book Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

“Hello? I hope somebody is listening.”

‘Radio Silence’ is one of those powerful, powerful novels that sticks with you long after you’ve finished it. It’s striking, rebellious, startlingly funny and incredibly honest at the same time. Most of all though, it’s a beautiful story about two people finding love and solace in each other. And when I say that, I mean in a completely platonic sense. Yes that’s right, the main relationship in this novel is a boy-girl friendship that DOESN’T turn into a romance. And frankly I think that’s what makes this book great.

There’s so much pressure in society nowadays to find a romantic partner – romance is portrayed as being the only way to love and be loved. Anything else is useless and a waste of time. But I really hate that idea, that love is basically worthless unless it’s a certain kind of love. I believe that you can find soulmates in platonic relationships too. And I don’t think a platonic relationship is less strong or less valuable than a romantic one. They’re just different kinds of love. Both good, both beautiful in their own ways.

Anyway, rant aside, I don’t see enough good friendship stories around, and ‘Radio Silence’ satisfies my need for one. It’s quirky, fun and the main character is a nerdy fangirl so I think most of us bookworms out there can probably relate. The story is written in first person from the point of view of Frances who feels alone, misunderstood, and basically pours all of her energy into her studies to distract herself from it. Her secret obsession is a sci-fi podcast called ‘University City’ which she draws fan art for and puts on tumblr. Then the maker of the podcast asks her to become the official artist for the show. Around the same time, she also meets and befriends the maker in real life – Aled Last, a shy boy who’s hiding more than one secret, including a missing sister who Frances used to be friends with.

Frances and Aled quickly bond over the podcast and become best friends, however when Aled’s secret identity as the maker of the podcast is revealed, the trust between them is broken and things start to go downhill.

Alice Oseman’s writing style in ‘Radio Silence’ is very grounded and authentic – she’s only 21 herself which is absolutely incredible, and in my opinion makes her very relatable to this generation of young readers. Tumblr and online culture play a big part in the book, much more so than in any other YA I’ve read, which again is all down to the author drawing from her own personal experiences. Also there’s a lot of diversity – non-white characters, LGBT characters, asexual characters, characters with mental health issues. I think this is an incredibly brave move, as I get the feeling that despite the demand for diversity YA publishers still tend to stick more to ‘conventional’ books as they believe there’s less risk attached.

Anyway, in conclusion, GO AND READ THIS BOOK. It’s a book about so many things – identity, sexuality, goals, friendship. Frances and Aled were more than just main characters, they were people I was rooting for and wanted to be friends with. And I think that’s how you know when a book’s good. When you’re so invested that it stops being fiction and becomes real to you.