Christmas Marketing Opportunities for Indie Authors

Christmas Books

Christmas for indie authors is the perfect time to interact with their readers. Savvy marketers have already built up a sizeable group of potential readers via their email newsletters. This is the ideal moment to send out season’s greetings and to offer a free Christmas short story to subscribers. Great strides have been made by those authors who treat their readers as friends. By adopting a conversational tone in the newsletter and giving readers value, authors generally see a huge leap in sales further down the line.

Discounting one of your books and promoting it via Book Bub is a great way to sell books at this time of the year. Especially in the post-Christmas period when people are looking for something to read on their new eBook readers.

Another way for indie authors to promote their books during the festive season is to cultivate a good relationship with their local indie bookstores. Even bookstore chains, quite often, are happy for indie authors to set up a table and do a book signing.

If you still send traditional Christmas cards, why not slip in a small leaflet about your books? And newsletters to faraway friends can always contain a link to your website.

Most indie authors have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. One way to get readers involved is to hold a Christmas giveaway of one of your books. People love a signed paperback and, if they enjoy it, they might buy your next one! Giveaways can be hosted on Rafflecopter.

Local radio is another way to be more visible at this time of the year, especially if you have a Christmas-themed story. And why not try the local press? Indie authors need to be proactive, and those who are proactive in promoting their brand are the most successful.

I wish to thank my indie author friends Mandy Jackson-Beverly, John Holt, Michelle Mc Loughney, Shweta Choudhary, Pam Howes, Ariel Marie, Joy Wood, Jan Ruth, Gisela Hausmann, Todd Speed, Tom Winton, Harriet Steel, Alex Martin, Ann Swinfen, Jo Raven, Prue Batten and Malika Gandhi for joining in a lively discussion on Facebook about the best way to promote books at this time of the year.

This post is reproduced from my contribution to the Asian Books Blog.

My Monday guest – Shani Struthers

I’m delighted to have the lovely Shani Struthers on my blog today. Thank you, Shani, for talking to us whilst you are on vacation.

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Shani and I met on Facebook a couple of years ago. She’s been hugely encouraging to me and it’s great to host her today.

Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her own name – Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it’s Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni – although she does indeed know a Shanni – just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading and writing – so no surprises there. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. Writing both contemporary fiction and paranormal mystery, she is the author of The Runaway Year and The Runaway Ex, both published by Omnific Publishing. Her paranormal work is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and includes Jessamine and the bestselling Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall and Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me. All are available on Amazon. The Return – published June 2015 – is the third in the Runaway series but can also be read as a standalone. Coming soon: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story.

Tell me, Shani. How would you describe yourself as a colour? Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious colour?

Colours – they are the bane of my life! I wear black – end of! But everyone keeps saying to me ‘you look so washed-out in black, wear something bright, red perhaps, green, you’d look lovely in green’ and so on and so on. Well, no, I’m not going to wear colours – I like black, I always have done and always will do. You’re not just a Goth for Christmas you know, I’ve taken a life-long pledge! 

Are you a morning person, or a midnight candle burner?

A morning person – up with lark I am and ready to crack on with the day. Having said that, I’m a bit of an evening person too – I tend to go out with friends around three times a week and never stroll in until gone midnight. Which makes me a ‘burn the candle at both ends’ type of gal, I think!

Tell me something you would like your readers to know about you.

I might wear black all the time, I might burn the candles at both end and I might write books that veer towards the dark side of the paranormal but actually I’m the most cheerful person ever! Honestly, I might look doom and gloom but I was born happy!

Bedtime, relaxing so you can sleep sounds. Is your preference, white noise, TV, soft music, ocean waves, forest or meadow sounds, babbling brook, or something else, Shani?

The sound of silence please at bedtime. A babbling brook could be play havoc with the waterworks and white noise is just plain annoying.

I agree, Shani. I need absolute silence for sleeping too. Tell us, when did you start writing?

Most writers would have you believe they’ve written since they could hold a pen, well, I haven’t. I spent a lot of my formative years devouring books rather than attempting them. In my teens I dabbled with poetry and then I got a job copywriting after university and have been doing that for a long time. It was only around 3 to 4 years ago I thought I’d write a book – that was The Runaway Year, a contemporary romance set in North Cornwall. It did well on submission, was duly published and sent me on my way. Several more books followed, two more in the Runaway series and my paranormal range, which I’m now concentrating on. Beware, once you unleash the muse, she won’t let you go.

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Please tell us, Shani. Where do you get your ideas?

They come at me from all angles, and often in the most bizarre of places at the most bizarre of times. There’s no shortage of ideas, look around you, at life, the news headlines, Facebook even, there’s a story brewing just about everywhere. My tip is be open to ideas, receptive, they’ll come to you, you don’t have to go looking for them.

When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?

I always write consecutive scenes; I start at the beginning and plod on to the end. I have a vague idea of plot but it is just that – vague. I prefer to let the story develop organically, when you do that, it often goes in a way you could never have anticipated. I think the reader doesn’t know what’s coming so why should I, the writer? I let my characters do what they want (within reason) and so far, so good. I’ve been advised in the past to plot and I have tried it, but I write best when I don’t outline.

Which geographical locations are your favourites and why?

I’m a travel writer by day so I LOVE locations! The Runaway series is set in North Cornwall, a place I absolutely love and have been visiting annually since I was a child. It’s rugged, it’s wild, it’s the perfect setting for a group of twenty to thirty-something’s to play out their lives against. Jessamine,  a paranormal romance, is set in the Highlands of Scotland – the Glenelg peninsula overlooking the Isle of Skye. It’s dramatic, mysterious and somewhat bleak surrounds suit the story perfectly. Last but by no means least, my Psychic Surveys series is set in Lewes, five miles away from where I live in Brighton. You gotta write about what you know and I know about my home county!

What are you working on now, Shani? Would you like to share anything about it?

I’m in Florida at the moment but when I come back in September I’m going straight into edits on Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story. A spin-off novella from the Psychic Surveys series, it features two of the most popular characters from it, Theo and Ness, who come together to work on a case in Yorkshire. Based on true events, it’s not just the market hall that’s haunted, it’s the entire town! I’m also working on Psychic Surveys Three: 44 Gilmore Street, which is due out in the spring of 2015.

Please tell us about your latest release!

Recently released is the third in the Runaway series – The Return. I say it’s the third, it can be also be read as a standalone and is quite a tearjerker I’ve been told by the readers, but it’s good to have a bit of a cry now and then I think, so I’m happy to be of service!

How can we find you? Do you have a web page, Facebook page or any buy links?

I do indeed, here’s the links:

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

TSU https://www.tsu.co/shanistruthers

The Haunting of Highdown Hall

Global Link http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00JY83HBI

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Rise to Me

Global Link http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00U4ZFO5W

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Jessamine

UK http://tinyurl.com/ml3om46

US http://tinyurl.com/n5adytl

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The Runaway Year

UK http://tinyurl.com/oyb5r3v

US http://tinyurl.com/ousz5zb

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The Runaway Ex

UK http://tinyurl.com/prz4nra

US http://tinyurl.com/op5zv5q

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The Return

Global Link http://authl.it/3gl

 

The Return Cover LARGE EBOOK

It’s been fun chatting to you, Shani. I’m definitely going to download your Christmas ghost story. Sounds like the perfect read for curling up by the fire with a glass of mulled wine.

 

Veronica – Fragrant Courtesans Book One

Since early March, I’ve been working on the first in a series of erotic historical novellas featuring famous courtesans. And I’m pleased to announce an excerpt/paperback cover reveal on 20th May. If you would like to sign up for it, please click here. ***Advisory: sensuously erotic, this novella contains frequent scenes of explicit sex, sexual language, and the imaginative use of Murano glass.*** I shall be holding a Rafflecopter giveaway for all those who sign up. There will be Venetian glass earrings and bracelets as well as Amazon gift vouchers on offer.

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“So sweet and delicious do I become, when I am in bed with a man who, I sense, loves and enjoys me, that the pleasure I bring exceeds all delight, so the knot of love, however tight it seemed before, is tied tighter still.”

Married at sixteen to an abusive husband, feisty Veronica Franco escapes his cruelty by taking the only option open to her. Soon, she’s feted as one of the most beautiful and sought-after courtesans in 16th Century Venice.

A talented seductress, she’s able to create desire in her patrons under her own terms, giving them her body but not her heart. She courts the cultural élite for fame and fortune, publishing her poems and letters, while battling to maintain a balance between her sense of self-worth and the need to win and keep the support of men.

But when disaster strikes, and her life begins to unravel, will she be strong enough to hold her own in a man’s world?

Lady of Asolo to be released on 30th November

When we moved to Italy two years ago, I decided to write a novel with Caterina Cornaro as one of the characters. She was a Venetian noble woman who was married to the King of Cyprus and became the Sovereign Lady of Asolo in 1489 after the Most Serene Republic, la Serenissima, took control of the island.

28 From the Sovereign Lady of Asolo'sShe died in Venice on 10 July 1510, a year after the Barco, her villa of delights, was damaged by a fire set by the League of Cambrai troops. It was there that she had established a court of literary and artistic distinction and where Pietro Bembo set his platonic dialogues on love, Gli Asolani.

14 at the court of

I became fascinated by this court and soon got stuck into reading about courtly love and life.

13 a young woman

After visiting the ruins of the Barco (see my blog post), I decided to use the element of fire as the link between Fern, the 1989 heroine of the novel, and Cecilia, my 16th Century protagonist. The more I wrote about Cecilia, the more she came to life. Although she lives in the shadow of the Queen, she is by no means overshadowed by her.

I started the early chapters about 18 months ago, then my mother fell ill and I spent most of my time looking after her. Mum passed away, and I was too grief-stricken to write for a while. My first novel, The Orchid Tree, needed more work, so I got in touch with John Hudspith and, after his inspiring editing, I sent it to a publisher. Six months later it’s still “under consideration”. During those six months, however, I went back to Lady of Asolo and now I have completed it. A supernatural time-slip historical romance, the only thing it has in common with my first book is the “historical” label and what Johnny calls my “fragrant” writing voice. He has paid me a huge compliment, and I’ve just set up Fragrant Publishing to market my “Fragrant Books”.

What I love about working with Johnny is that he goes the extra mile. He doesn’t just tell you where he thinks your manuscript can be improved, he re-edits your re-writes until both he and you are satisfied. The great thing about working with him is that he knows everything there is to know about story structure and the all-important need for your reader to invest in the “what-if?” of your novel.

My “baby” will come out into the big wide world this coming Sunday 30th November. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon. I’d be absolutely delighted if you’d all come to my Facebook Launch Party.

IMLS Launch Party

See you there!

My Workspace Blog Hop

Welcome to the My Workspace Blog Hop. When the lovely Teagan asked me if I’d like to be tagged for this, I was happy to agree. I love the space where I work, and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

I have a long, narrow room, which was originally part of Douglas Bland Artist’s studio. My mother had it converted into a cottage about ten years ago; she couldn’t face going into it as it brought back so many memories of my dad. I feel privileged to be enjoying the space, and trust that his spirit approves.

This is what the cottage looks like from the main house.

Looking towards from big house

Come through the door guarded by Sophie Cat. The fresco on the outside wall, a copy of Botticelli’s Madonna with the Book, was originally painted by my father.

Garden door

Inside, on the left, there’s a Chinese cabinet given to us by hubby’s mum. Through the door next to it, you’ll find our bedroom and a bathroom. Upstairs, we have a large living-room, a toilet, and a store-room. Downstairs, there’s a kitchen, a shower-room, and a utility room. Super-cozy and plenty big enough for the two of us. When guests visit, we put them up in the main house.

Chinese cabinet

On the right, there’s a chair where the cats like to sit and supervise me while I’m writing.

Sophie on chair

Charlie on chair

In winter, my wood-burning stove keeps me toasty-warm.

Stove

Here’s my desk.

Desk

I’m not in any danger of getting “writers’ ass” when the weather is cooler and the garden door is closed; the cats expect their “slave” to get up and let them in and out.

Charlie at door

Sophie at door

Opposite the garden door, a window overlooks the valley below. There’s an ancient church, Santa Giustina, which dates back to the 12th Century. Monte Grappa rises up behind and generally has a dusting of snow in the winter months.

View in Winter

There was a gorgeous sunset the other night.

Sunset

I love my workspace, especially looking through the door at the cherry blossom in spring and the lush garden in summer. Oh, and the deer that sometimes come down to graze on the bank behind.

Cherry blossom

View from garden door

Deer

Hope you enjoyed the visit 🙂

Meet My Main Character Blog Tour

I love writing this blog, especially when visitors leave comments. A regular commentator is Teagan Geneviene and I really enjoy visiting her blog. When I read her post Meet My Main Character Blog Tour, and saw that she hadn’t found anyone to tag, I tagged myself. If you’ve visited her blog, you’ll know what fun it is – please drop by and read about the main character in her WIP, the sequel to Atonement, Tennessee. Teagan says, “You’ll meet many familiar characters in book 2, Atonement in Bloom. Once again, Ralda Lawton is the main character and primary narrator. Lilith the calico is back too, and the parts of the story Ralda can’t see are told through the cat’s eyes. The story is an urban fantasy, inspired by ancient Celtic mythology.” atonement_in_bloom_1_03-24-2014

Now it’s my turn in the “Meet My Main Character Blog Tour.”

For this virtual tour, we have to answer a series of questions about the main character in a work-in-progress (WIP). Here are my answers to the questions about the principal heroine of The Orchid Tree.

1. What is the name of your character? Is she fictional?

Kate Wolseley is a fictional character, although I’ve given her the physical characteristics of my mother at her age.

Ronnie in swimsuit

2. When and where is the story set?

Colonial Hong Kong between 1941-1945 and from 1948-1949. My grandparents were interned by the Japanese during WWII, and I’ve used their memoirs of life behind barbed wire in the Stanley Civilian Internment Camp. My father joined the Chinese Maritime Customs after his demob from the Royal Navy, and his experiences chasing smugglers up and down the South China Coast inspired the character of the Englishman, James, in my novel. I wanted to bring alive a time and place that no longer exist, and I hope my knowledge of the era lends an authenticity to my writing that readers will enjoy. You can see some of the locations of The Orchid Tree here.

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4. What should we know about Kate?

I don’t want to give away the story, so I’ll keep this brief. Kate has lived a pampered existence, in a house full of servants, at the pinnacle of pre-war Hong Kong society. Spoiled by her father, but lacking the attention of her mother, she finds comfort in the love of her Chinese amah (nanny). Her background is typical “stiff upper lip” British, except Kate is more open than her parents. As a result of her over-protected upbringing, she’s young for her age, which is fifteen at the start of the novel.

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4. What is the main conflict?

Initially, WWII. Kate is interned with her parents in a squalid camp and has to endure cramped conditions, humiliation, disease, and starvation. She befriends 17 year-old Charles – who’s half Chinese – and they give their hearts to each other under the orchid tree. Kate’s father doesn’t approve of their relationship. At the end of the war, Kate and Charles are separated. She believes him to be dead when the ship he’s on is sunk, and her emotions have been frozen ever since.

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5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Kate’s goal is to make a new life for herself in a society on the brink of change. She wants to become independent, overcome prejudice, and become a part of the new Hong Kong. All the while, Kate clings to her memories of Charles. Will she ever be able to love again?

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6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

After several working titles, I’ve finally settled on The Orchid Tree, the Bauhinia Blakeana, and I would like one of these trees on my book cover. A recurrent location in the novel, the orchid tree flower has become the emblem of Hong Kong. You can read the first eight chapters of my novel here.

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7. When can we expect the book to be published?

I can’t make any promises or predictions at the stage. It’s in the lap of the gods, as they say. However, I would very much like to publish it before the calendar year is over. That’s my aim and I hope to achieve it.

And now, it’s my pleasure to pass the baton on to two wonderful authors. The first, Celia Micklefield, is a talented writer who I met through the YouWriteOn peer review site. The second, Tina Burton, is also an extremely gifted author, and I met her via Twitter. Please visit their websites and check them out! Both are highly creative. Tina loves quilling as well as writing, and Celia blogs about writing, reading and living in France. Thank you, dear friends, for agreeing to participate in the Meet My Main Character Blog Tour. I’m looking forward to reading about your main characters.

Celia Micklefield – Writer in Languedoc – Blogger, Trucklover, Trobairitz, Winelover. http://celiamicklefield.com/

Tina Burton’s Blog – A blog about writing and quilling – making designs and pictures from paper. http://tinakburtons.blogspot.co.uk/

Enjoy!