Category Archives: self-employment

Small steps … how much marketing do writers need to do?

Well I had a lovely birthday and a rare day off in the week. Now I’m back and working.

I was pondering how much time writers need to spend on their social networking. I’ve been paying for a Facebook promo that’s been running since the new year and will for the final 2 days, hoping to reach 500 new likes.

I also promoted posts with the Kindle offer and I think it will have made a difference, unique likes and definitely, as we approach a reprint, and clock up over 1500 downloads, and a reasonable sales, we have moved beyond my sphere of friends.

Initially sales by unknown writers are friends, family, even friends of friends. The average self-published novel sells 200 copies — it’s hard selling books. Luckily I have a publisher, but again small presses do not have the resources for the kinds of massive print runs and marketing you see with the big presses.  But they do have avenues perhaps not open to the self-publisher. So it’s good to know at least my book is out there with people who don’t know me.

I remember when that news broke about J K Rowling and her altered ego, reporting sales of only 1500 books. Well to me these kinds of sales are good, but nothing when you examine the bigger picture. Of course then sales had a dramatic turnaround.

But what can we really expect as new writers and how much can we do?

A close friend self-published a crime novel and has had phenomenal downloads!  How did he do it? He claims that luck plays a big part, and he has targeted a very specific genre with a loyal following. He also works in marketing so has employed a range of software packages to follow the right people on twitter building an audience far larger than the one I have built through interaction. He also tells me about other sources (all for money) where you can locate the emails of reviewers, extracted using software.

Now at the end of the day all of this becomes superfluous if the book isn’t any good, and in this case I know the book is good. So the writing has to speak for itself!  But the question is — even if a book is GREAT can it disappear if not enough people get to know about it?

And how much do you, as the writer, need to do to make people know about it.

I have to make the time for a lot of this, after all I have to write, it’s what it’s all about and I have to work so I have to edit etc.

I am hoping a combination of my own marketing things (small steps) and those of the publisher (with 21 years of experience) will allow the book to start getting into more bookshops, airports, reviewed by broadsheets and so on.

I remember saying to the publisher in November — but “200 books is not enough sales”. He kindly told me that it had only been out for 3 weeks and everything takes time.

He is right.

But now I need people to spread the word, word of mouth does make a huge difference.

With people enjoying the book as much as they seem to be, I hope for more good reviews and that they will tell people who will tell people. And sadly I have to keep pushing.  This self promo stuff is tiring!

So I really appreciate all the support and I hope all this pushing and dreaming will get me that bestseller!

And if you have read the book and would like to review it, have me on your blogs as a guest, tell your friends, share the links, this will be greatly appreciated!

I will have the slightly tweaked cover to reveal next week! So sorry for all the promo things but since you have all been on the journey with me I am hoping that sharing the  journey with you will be helpful as you take your own steps towards writing success.

Dream big, but enjoy and celebrate in even the smallest steps. Count your blessings. I still pinch myself when I see how far I’ve come!

So all that remains  to say is — have a great weekend everyone!

Small steps, big waves …

Always believe ...

Always believe …



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Looking back with a smile, looking forward with expectation …

Happy Christmas from The Jet-Set!

Happy Christmas from The Jet-Set!


Christmas has always been my favourite time of year and it seems to have taken ages to come this year. I guess with all the excitement of the book launch I already felt as if I’d had Christmas!

It’s been a whirlwind of busyness and now finally after working my little socks off I sent some work off and can sit back and relax for a few days with the family.

I see Christmas and New Year as a time to restore the default settings. The same way I have a day every week when the house is cleaned and the messiness of the week is restored to its rightful place to welcome in a new week, and perhaps the same at the end of the month, but paying myself too so finances are restored. And so the big one is the end of the year — when we all take stock and I get out my new journal and look at my list of goals.

I love the pages in a new diary and the look of a new calendar. I like to write what I have achieved as if I have. It’s something I leaned from The Secret. I wrote a press release announcing my success in finding a publisher long before it came true and I was able to use it!  Now the focus is bestseller, but that’s where word of mouth has to come in and where I need all of you!

For the last few years I have told myself soon — soon someone will want to publish my novel and it finally happened. And what a year 2013 has been — in every sense. And it started right at the beginning of 2013, early January when I had a message on my answer-phone from Parthian Books asking me if my novel was still available. Then it was the waiting game. March 11th was the day I started to dance and have not stopped. It was the day they said we love it and we want to publish it! The very words I had on my wall on one of my positive affirmations.  It was not so long after that I learned about being on the short list for the Commonwealth and then WINNING the Bath Short Story award.

This year I have also been published in three collections as well as having one of my stories in a literary journal.

It will be a hard year to beat, but I’m gonna try. Oh yes.

Of course you can’t expect that every year and I know it will be business as usual when I try to find an agent and a publisher for the next one — but onwards I go. Always believe. Always do what you love, and always celebrate every success, no matter how small. BUT dream BIG. And I do.

This year has seen much sadness in the world, but then what year has not? And Christmas is also a time that reminds of me the dawn chorus — when we have a roll call and remember those who did not make it this year and those we have lost in the past. So for us there will be tinges of sadness, but in all of that you must make sure there are plenty of places for the light to get in.

People live in unrest and war and every day can be a struggle so I am so so so grateful for the life I have. I mean this morning the only thing to irk was a  2-star review, and while my writing is my world,  in the great scheme of things, what is that but a blip, right? I am so thrilled with the response from my novel. I knew the run of 5 stars would not run forever but it interested me this morning to see someone say they thought Lydia was the most boring character ever and had far too much padding so they glossed over a lot of her parts. Then they missed the real crux of the story I guess. But we all have different tastes and you can’t please ’em all. I will accept her opinion with grace. Of course Lydia to just about everyone else is the character they truly loved and couldn’t wait to get back to and the reason we return to her at the end. But if you don’t like books that err on the literary side for depth of character, then I accept opinion is opinion. At least she bought the book.

In the great scheme of things this is what you have to expect in the arts — so long as people don’t think it’s badly written as that would hurt — and for what it’s worth, it’s not. Honest.

So I went to a lovely carol service last night at the church and I think this is the first Christmas in a long time when I have thought about the real meaning. I’m not religious. I am spiritual, however, and while I find it hard to believe in what I can’t see, I think like so many of us, I want to. And I have to say I really enjoyed the service. No matter what you believe, a time to look back and be THANKFUL and to gather close to those you love (and think about those you’ve lost) can be no bad thing, right? And it was all by candlelight.

So I look back at this amazing year with a HUGE smile and my heart does that flippy thing as I look forward to 2014 and write down what will come true then. It will be a GREAT year. BRING. IT. ON.

I will be having a rest from blogging for a week or so to just enjoy ‘being’ and relaxing with the family. So I want to wish everyone who has stuck by me, read my ramblings and listened to me talk endlessly about bookish things and indulged in some glorious self-promo — a truly WONDERFUL Christmas and a SUCCESSFUL 2014, in every sense.

See you soon. Debz x

This was a great year. You wait till you see what next year brings!

This was a great year. You wait till you see what next year brings!



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Getting inside your head

The aim of a truly great novel is really to get into your reader’s head. To ‘possess it’ for a while in the best possible sense. Or at least that’s my aim when I write anything.

I just love it when I can disappear into the pages of a book and lose myself for a while. People ask me, as an editor, and a writer, if I find it hard with some books to turn that off and find myself reading the book as if I’m critiquing and the short answer to that is yes — in a way. I hate it though as I think well look this is published, edited etc, so who do I think I am? But I guess it goes with the job. But then again if I can truly lose myself in a book then I see that as a measure of how great it really is.

The role of the writer is to create a world that lives in someone else’s head and what lives in one reader’s head will not be exactly the same as what lives in another’s but so long as you write it well and show what you want to show, the world you create will be pretty similar for each reader. And as I have said many times it’s so important that you connect to your readers. Or should I say — that the characters do. This is why I have such an obsession with getting voice right. For me it’s not the author the reader wants to hear but the characters and that’s why when I give readings I have to act a bit as well. (Help!)

And to effect this I truly believe the reader has to be part of the story. I have found myself working on a lot of manuscripts of late where I say SHOW it, FILM THE SCENE. What I mean is don’t tell me how a character feels or why they said something. Or even how what someone says makes them feel, SHOW it. What is so often lacking, or so it seems to me, is SUBTEXT. To complete the whole getting inside a character’s head and that total immersion I think you need, the reader has to be active not passive to the process. By this I mean they have to be watching events unfold, part of those events, rooting for the characters and trying to second-guess. It’s vital they have to work to resolve things, pick at the threads, try to work out what’s really happening in the story. If you tell them too much it becomes a much more passive process for the reader.Subtext, body language, things SHOWN allow the reader to think, to become part of solving the dilemma the novel poses and without that and too much telling, the reader becomes of a passive bystander and so the story lacks the WOW factor. This for me is why you have to SHOW and not TELL.

So, I had a busy working weekend although I did have a lovely mean in Chester with my partner in crime from Bridge House on Saturday but of course we talked writing and books! What else!

I am so looking forward to next Saturday when we have the official launch party for Wild n Free Too when I get to meet all the talented children and their families!

Tonight remember I am signing at Hintons Bookshop in Conwy and I so hope people show up! If you let me loose in a bookshop with no guests but lots of books to look at I might spend too much money!

So, best write but one final plug for the event tonight. Hope to see some of you there!

And remember -- my novel is still 99p on Kindle and made it into the top 500 Kindle books and was 94 on Crime and Mystery yesterday!

And remember — my novel is still 99p on Kindle and made it into the top 500 Kindle books (now at 344!)  and is 77  in Crime and Mystery this morning! DOWNLOAD IT! Tell all your friends!!! Thank you!

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Enthusiasm Fuels Success

It’s a simple message today inspired by a crisp cold morning with the sun shining.

As I walked I was thinking about the events of this year, and what a year it has been and will be next year too.

This time next week I’ll be getting ready to get the train down to Essex for two weeks where all kinds of writerly bookish things are happening and of course the BIG day on November 22nd. I am so so so grateful for everything.

I have been asked a lot of questions recently about my writing, what made me keep going and it is close to 10 years of being on a serious journey to reach this beginning point. Wow I think that needs restating:  it is close to 10 years of being on a serious journey to reach this beginning point. And again: it is close to 10 years of being on a serious journey to reach this beginning point. Wow!

Well the need to learn and be as good as I can be has always driven me, perhaps not just as good as I can be, but to be the BEST. If that’s attainable. I am no stranger to hard work. In fact I wonder at how many times in my life I have not been fuelled by some kind of insatiable all-consuming drive.

When I have no drive I feel lost.

I hear about procrastination and writer friends who struggle with motivation and I happily never feel this way. I think routine is essential  and when I sit down to write, I write. That’s it. Sometimes better than other times of course — but write I do. And it’s that burning excitement as it comes together and that bud of hope and a HUGE dollop of enthusiasm that keeps me writing and fuels the drive for success, rejection painful as it is (and there will be lots more of that I know) is what fuels the drive more. It has to. I am not swayed by the 21st century mentality of got to have it now and I sadly think too many are and wonder if this bypasses some essential learning (I think I talked about this when I was offering my concerns about self-publishing too soon).

Trust me — the rewards taste sweeter if the journey has been harder.

Naturally success is defined in many ways and it doesn’t have to mean a publishing deal, but it does for many of course. And it doesn’t matter if the success is a three-book deal with Penguin or having the courage to complete a piece of writing to read out in front of strangers at a new writing group. You define the goal posts and so long as you keep writing and have the right feedback and encouragement — you will get there. But it’s a long-haul journey.

And today, as all days there is a HUGE grin on my face, a copy of my book sat here on the desk reminding me it is real.

That’s it.

Have a wonderful day everyone!



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When ideas fall like leaves …

As Autumn approaches and leaves fall, remember to stop and admire them.

Scoop them up and marvel at the world you live in.

Writing is like that; the ability to stand back and view the world in a different way.

I have always felt the escape and the wonder of it and its through my characters I come to see the same world through different eyes.

A novel of course means you crawl into that space and stay a lot longer. For  a short story you can be there for less time, but still feel changed.

This week I am writing a new short, despite feeling the need to return to where I left the characters in my novel, I guess the new story won.

The idea fell on my head one Sunday morning .

It has percolated, slowly dripped into consciousness until it begs to be explored.

And as I explore the characters are taking me, for the first time ever, to a place I know well — where I grew up. But their lives ended up very different to mine.

So when the ideas fall, scoop them up, twirl with your eyes closed and say, “I love being who I am.”


That is all.


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Fingers in lots of pies …

Although I  see myself first and foremost as a writer, my editing and critiquing  job also plays very much into that and I am quite convinced that it has made me a better writer.

Editors  comes from all sorts of backgrounds, some have degrees in English, some studied journalism, some learned by being hired by a publishing house. And very much like writing, when I started to work as an editor I was lacking in self-confidence because a part of you always feels like a fraud! Am I really qualified to do this?

Scientific writing was very much a part of my job for a lot of years and creative writing was a hobby until the obsession took over. I learned to edit or perhaps first of all critique by being part of a group and later studying for my MA in Creative Writing. Working at Bridge House Gill kindly gave me free rein on a number of projects and taught me the basics of copy editing. I then did a course on copy editing and proof reading although ironically I found it hard to get the assignments done in time as I had too much copy editing and proof reading work! But the course taught me mostly what I’d already learned although the proof reading symbols were new and I often have to use with one of the publishers who hires me regularly.

I think the biggest validation has to be repeat business and I have so much of that both privately and with the small presses that hire me. My confidence has perhaps not soared to tackling a big publishing houses but then do I need to? I am a writer who edits and crits and publishers books and does workshops to fund the writing career and I don’t want a career solely as an editor.

I still feel like a fraud sometimes — as if I should have a degree in copy editing or something, if one exists, but I keep being re-hired so I guess the doing is the proof in the end. And like writing, I continually learn from the process.

I also worry about missing things but since I have also worked with an editor I see that to as humans we always miss some things. That’s why you have a copy editor and a proof reader and often you need more than one.

It is great though that so many clients say nice things — phew and of course a huge validation came from an agency’s approval of my work.

So I feel happy and confident in my role.

That said, I can not tell you how many times I have read the stories in the new Wild n Free book, even before the document went to the designer, to try to avoid lots of changes post design. I had another set of eyes on it as well and still when I read the PDF this weekend I found a fair few things I’d missed! And it also requires checking pagination, uniformity of headers, contents same headings with capitals in the same places throughout and in contents etc. There’s more to it than you realise! And I wonder if I looked at it all again today what else I might see? I hope nothing. But it went for the final stage with these corrections to the designer yesterday and I will have one final look before I sign off on it and send it to the printer! I worry about children’s names and check and double-check so many times it’s like checking you have your passport at the airport and I know the heart rate will be up when I finally press that button to upload the book and later when I accept the hard copy proof!

Sometimes I wonder about this phrase ‘jack of all trades’ and would love it if I could employ external editors and proof readers on projects like this where I am too close to be as objective as I might like. But since I lose money on this project usually I can’t afford to do that! I hope the end result will be perfect but I have  come to learn that nothing ever is quite perfect! Although I do beat myself up and have paid for revisions because I know there is a grammar error I missed!  I guess what being this ‘jack of all trades’ at least has taught me, on a small-scale anyway, is  how publishing works and I know this also helps a huge amount.

It is a busy old time for me as it seems there are FIVE titles out next month connected to yours truly! How’d that happen?

The biggie of course and enough in itself is the novel.

The same day I hope Wild n Free Too is out.

Around the same time I also hope the Springbok Anthology I co-edited and have a story in, is out.

Around the same time as well the eBook with my winning Bath Short Story (no not a story about a bath!) is out.

Oh and while it is supposedly out I am still waiting for my copy of You, Me and a Bit of We from Chuffed Buff Books that is out about now!

Woo hoo! November looks like one big launch party!

But I still have to work and do lots of marketing things and also at the moment, as well as sorting all the details for my launch events, our writing group has a showcase evening the week after my Bangor launch. So while I will take a lesser role and work with the team I did write a press release and am sorting copy for posters etc. And work out a running order for the event. It is all go but I love it!

Anyone who is in Wales or would like to come to my Bangor launch I am attaching the poster below. Also in Welsh on as I live in a bilingual society even though I have to confess to my Welsh being no more than a few diochs and panads! (Look it up!) So many thanks to a friend for the translation! Posters now in situ. A few more still to be walked around!

So yeah it is busy — but would I have it any other way? Of course I bloody wouldn’t!!! And Welsh friends — the Bangor Cellar Writing Group Showcase evening is October 30th, 7 pm at the Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery (near the library) and all welcome to that as well! I will have a poster soon!

All this and I am also plugging the new Paws Competition! What fun!


Have a great week all!

Bangor flyer English


Bangor flyer welsh


Ps Essex people, the launch is on November 22nd a poster will be on here for that as well!

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Head Space

It’s been an odd time for me when, unusually, I have not been quite as upbeat as usual, odd given all the exciting things coming. Some of this has been the things beyond my control but looks like we have a cover to reveal really soon. Some of it has been the time of year — some financial and some I guess just that the freelancer like me never really stops and I could do with a good break away and some pamper time. But all that will come in good time I don’t doubt.

The last few days have been very wet and while I do love to be cosy inside and there is something aesthetic about the tap-tap-tap of rain on glass as I work, it has also meant less fresh air. Rosie the pooch does not like to walk in the rain and so not only has she had all this energy to play off, I haven’t given my head space to breathe.

This morning we managed a walk before the rain comes (if it does) and I feel so much better for that. I also realised as I walked how much thinking I do in that important time. Some of it is plans for the coming months, some dreaming about what it will be like to have my little house near the family when I eventually find a buyer for my house. And some was thinking about the important changes I am currently making to the new novel. While it’s a complete draft it needed more and now somehow I find myself a traveller in a foreign land. While I am having to write about Moscow, having never been, my protagonist now finds herself in a ghost town outside Moscow and that brings me new and exciting challenges. This is when pennies to travel to these places would help! But I am writing these scenes and making some needed changes.

So maybe a walk does really give us that head space we all need.

What do you think?

The cover is coming … reveal here VERY soon … give in to the muse and see where it takes you …


Never Stop Believing in YOU


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