London Book Fair ~ Come for the atmosphere, Stay for the Networking #LBF19 #WriterWednesday #BookMarketing #ByteTheBook

Hello! *Waves* I’m back at the London Book Fair for the second time.

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Last year, I had a smashing time at the fair. But is it worth attending two years in a row? Or, frankly, at all?

If you’re looking for seminars to attend as an author, there are tons. This is my schedule for the week.

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To be perfectly honest, however, I’ve been a bit disappointed in some of the seminars this year. They are a bit basic and many are repeats of last year. Is it still worth it to attend? Well, you can always rub elbows with famous authors – if that’s your thing.

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And there’s at least one seminar I enjoyed yesterday. Call me a geek (it’s not an insult as I know I am!), but the lecture from Nielsen on trends in the publishing industry is always interesting.

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But if that doesn’t float your boat, there is one reason every writer should attend the London Book fair – networking. There are authors to meet, agents to try and meet, and publishers to schmooze. I attended a networking event from ByteTheBook yesterday. I met some interesting people and there was wine. Win! Win!

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Tonight SPF is hosting a drinks get together at a pub. Reason enough to attend right there! I saw the famous (or is it infamous?) Mark Dawson yesterday at the fair and – gulp! – put on my big girl panties and went to introduce myself. I’m sure he thought I was a total weirdo. Doesn’t matter. I did it!

If you’re at the fair, give me a shout.

How I plan to manage to publish four books this year ~ Time management for authors #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

time management 1I’ve just finished the rough draft for my next book. My previous book was published last month in January. People often ask me how I managed to write this latest book and get it ready for publishing just three months after my previous book was published. Mostly, they’re pleasantly surprised and slightly impressed. Just don’t ask me what they say on Twitter about writers who are prolific. (Yes, I take it personally. No, I shouldn’t.) Anyway, whether you are like me and planning to publish several books this year or you just want to be more productive, here are a few tips that helped me get more writing done.

Neglect blog reading. I know we writers are supposed to support other writers by reading and sharing their blogs. This is, after all, the best way to gain blog followers. It’s also a huge time suck. It’s the first task I throw out the window when I’m busy.

time management 2Ignore Twitter. I’m sure every time management expert says the same thing – Ignore social media. It’s not that easy when you are an indie author. Social media is part of our brand. (Anyone else hate that word as much as me?) If you want to be productive, however, you need to learn how to ignore Twitter or at least learn to manage your time spent on the platform. Twitter is not my favorite platform and yet I can find myself being sucked in. When I’m on a strict schedule, I limit my “Twitter time” to five minutes in the morning, five minutes at lunch, and five minutes in the evening. That’s all. An app to schedule tweets is a lifesaver!

Put blogging on the back burner. My goal is to blog three times a week. One way I’ve been able to make this commitment is to have specific blogging topics for each day. Monday is for book reviews or other bookish things. Wednesday is about writing or marketing writing. Friday is expat day. Whenever I have a blog idea, I quickly jot it down in my phone. This information is transferred to a notebook of blog post ideas. Whenever I’m stuck, I grab my journal and scan ideas. Often, this works. If it doesn’t and I find myself staring at my computer for fifteen minutes with no idea, I move on. That’s right. I. Move. On. The world will not fall down upon me if I only blog once or twice a week.

Plot, plot, plot. Plan, plan, plan. Although I’ve always considered myself a plotter, I’ve come to the realization that my ‘plotting’ cannot actually be considering plotting. Jotting down a few pages of a rough outline a plotter does not make. I’ve now expanded my plotting and try to write down chapter ideas for ten chapters at a time. This way, I’m never at a loss on where to begin writing when I sit down on my computer. I’ve got my chapter outline.

Free writing. I write a chapter every single day I write. Once I’m done with the chapter, I practice a bit of ‘free writing’ for the following chapter. I don’t write for a preset time period or anything. I just jot down a paragraph or two at the start of the next chapter with ideas of how to proceed. When I sit down to write the next chapter, not only do I know the scene I want to write from my outline, but I’ve also got quite a few ideas on how to make that scene come to life.

That’s it! These are the techniques, which helped me to write my latest book Hide Not Seek in just over two months. Hope they help!

 

Downsides of ACX royalty share deal #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #WriterWednesday #BookMarketing #audiobooks

For the past two or three years, industry ‘experts’ have been pushing audiobooks. It’s the fastest growing market segment, they tell us. Although I’m interested in increasing my market share, I’ve been dragging my feet at jumping into the audiobook market. I’m not exactly jumping up and down at the idea of learning yet another segment of the market. Quiet possibly, I’m just lazy.

acxFor those of us writers who have been sitting on the fence because of the cost of producing an audiobook, ACX offers a royalty share deal. This deal allows you to pay nothing out of pocket to have an audiobook produced! You forego upfront payment in exchange for agreeing to share your royalty earnings equally with your producer for the life of the audiobook.

Sounds like an awesome deal! Why am I still hesitating? (Besides, there just not being enough hours in the day.) There are a few downsides to the royalty share deal, which need to be thoroughly evaluated before going forward.

Exclusivity. As a recovering lawyer, the word ‘exclusivity’ always causes my teeth to clench. You have to give ACX exclusivity if you do the royalty share deal. Your audiobook will be distributed to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. That’s better than the exclusivity Amazon offers its Kindle Unlimited writers, but you are missing big markets and distributors like Storytel, which has been gaining traction in markets in which Audible is underrepresented.

7-year exclusivity. It is possible to request removal of your audiobook from its exclusivity contract after one year, but NOT if you do the royalty share deal. In that case, you’re stuck with exclusivity for seven years. Seven years is a long time. Who knows what the market will look like then?

Fewer narrators. As many audiobooks in the royalty share deal have not made back the initial investment for the producer, many narrators have dropped out of the program. Fewer and fewer narrators are, therefore, available for the program. Does this mean the best narrators are no longer working with the royalty share program? Quite possibly.

findaway voicesUncurated narrators. Other programs (such as Findaway Voices) curate the narrators they recommend. Not so with the ACX royalty share. The author is responsible for curating narrators and finding one who fits with the novel being made into an audiobook. As someone who has yet to make an audiobook, I worry I’m not qualified to select a narrator.

As you can read, there are positives and negatives to the royalty share deal with ACX. On the other hand, producing an audiobook (especially if you’re new to the audiobook market and have yet to market one) is expensive and may not be worth the initial cost. Personally, I’m thinking of using the royalty share program with one of my backlist novels. I’ll let you know how it goes (assuming I ever get off the fence).

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This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox!

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Lost in translation? Maybe? Reading translated novels #MondayBlogs #AmReading #BookAddict

lost in translation 1I’m currently reading The Dinner by Herman Koch for my book club. I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time as Koch is one of the most popular Dutch authors, The Dinner was even made into a movie! I’ve been quite neglectful in reading novels of my adopted country. Upon my request, my mother-in-law bought me the book for my birthday. Unfortunately, she bought the English version. I prefer not to read translations if necessary. But, oh well, I thought, I’ve got the book so…

The problem with translations is that they not only translate the words from (in this case) Dutch to English, they also adopt the cultural and other transactions to make the story comprehensible for foreigners. As someone who has traveled extensively and loves to study foreign cultures and societies, this doesn’t always gel with me. Part of the story is lost when the story is not only translated but altered for foreign readers.

I’ll give you a few examples from The Dinner. Serge Lohman, brother of the narrator, is constantly referred to as a candidate for prime-minister. This gives the illusion that the prime minister of the Netherlands is an elected position. It’s not. The Netherlands has a parliamentarian system in which people vote for parties. The party itself choses who is the so-called lijsttrekker the top person of the party. I don’t think it would have been difficult for the translator to illustrate Serge’s influence without making it sound like the Dutch directly elect their prime minister.

Another example is the class Michel, the narrator’s son, attends. According to the novel, he’s a sophomore. The Dutch don’t use terms like freshman, sophomore, junior, etc. I’m left wondering what class Michel is in.

The narrator is also often disparaging about Dutch habits. For example, he spends an entire chapter discussing Serge’s family house in France. He has absolutely nothing – NOTHING – good to say about Dutch people owning houses in France. I have to wonder is this snideness in the Dutch version?

As you can see, the translation has pulled me away from the story Koch is trying to tell. It makes me wonder about other books I’ve read in translation. Have I missed the point of those novels? Have I missed the nuances the writer was portraying? I can’t help but think the answer is yes.

 

 

 

How to tell a biker is not Dutch #Expat #ExpatLife

Biking is a way of life in The Netherlands. We bike everywhere we go: school, work, grocery store, etc. Although cars are being used more and more (and what a shame that is!), bikes are still the primary mode of transport for the vast majority of the Dutch. There are, in fact, more bikes than people in the country, although I do have to wonder how they count all the bikes. Are the ones ditched in canals included?

Expats and other foreigners living in the country often adopt the bike lifestyle. For the Dutch (and other long-term residents), however, it’s easy to tell the foreigner bikers from the locals. Here are a few helpful hints:

Helmet. A helmet is a dead giveaway. Whoever is on their bike while wearing a helmet is most definitely not Dutch. The Dutch do not wear helmets. I don’t think I would even know where to buy one! The only time you’ll see a Dutch person wearing a bike helmet is when they are racing (and sometimes, not even then).

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This is my bike. I call her Pinky.

Quiet bike. Dutch bikes always rattle. ALWAYS. Whether it’s a loose lock, basket, light… the list goes on and on, Dutch bikes are most certainly not quiet. Every speed bump I hit, causes something to rattle on my bike. I could get annoyed. Mostly, I just think how well I’ve integrated into Dutch society.

Bike traffic lights. I nearly had a collision with a foreigner as he suddenly stopped because the pedestrian crosswalk light turned red. I screamed at him, “What are you doing?” He pointed at the red light. I explained that’s for pedestrians. I’m sure he left The Hague thinking Dutch speak really good English but are a bit aggressive on their bikes. Correct on both accounts.

Car blockage. Living in the city, it’s not unusual for cars to block the bike path at intersections. This doesn’t stop a Dutch biker – not even a little bit! We weave around the cars while shaking our heads at the drivers. A foreigner, however, will not move around the cars and instead block the other bikers who want to get going!

Pants clip. I actually had to look up the word because I’ve never used one before. Apparently, a pants clip is something other people (read = not Dutch people) use to keep their pants from getting caught up in the bike chain. All Dutch bikes come with chain guards. No need for pants clips here.

Carrying stuff. The Dutch can handle just about any transportation issue with a bike. Friends will hop on the back of a bike for a ride. Hockey sticks are thrown over shoulders as they bike along. Beer crates (full!) are balanced on the handlebars. If you see someone struggling with a few loafs of bread or six bottles of wine (I couldn’t help it! I was slightly inebriated!), you know their heritage is not Dutch.

Why does it even matter what nationality the person is who is biking? Am I being a bit ethnocentric? No, actually, I’m not. It’s important to pay attention to a biker who is not Dutch, because – chances are – they are not paying attention to you!

Is it time to give up on Amazon Associates? #WriterWednesday #AmazonAssociates #Amazon #BookMarketing

Last week, I discussed why Amazon Associates is not the end all be all for writers (see the blog here). Considering the problems I discussed, why would a writer stick with the program? Despite not being able to track pages read under the Kindle Unlimited program, you can track purchases. This is definitely helpful, especially for those markets where KU is less popular. But that’s not the only reason I stayed in the program. I also stayed for the money. Let’s be clear. I wasn’t making tons of money, but earning one to two dollars a day for essentially doing nothing is pretty awesome. I even had three-dollar days. That’s nearly a thousand dollars at the end of the year for basically filling in a few links. Where do I sign up? Hold up. It’s not that easy. Nope. Amazon can’t make anything easy.

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This disclaimer is now ‘proudly’ displayed on each page on my blog.

I’ve now been denied for the Associates program three times (which is pretty awesome considering I only signed up twice). The first time I got my fingers ticked for using Amazon logos. I didn’t really understand the problem as I was using the logos to sell products on Amazon and, therefore, make money for Amazon. But okay. I took all the logos off. I also took the time to read a few blogs of other writers who’d been kicked out the program. As a result, I added several disclaimers to my website. (My bad, I should have added these sooner instead of merely hiding the disclaimer.)

After dealing with the above problems, I applied for Associate status once again. This time I was denied because a link on one of my website pages linked to another page on my website. Huh? What? Of course, I denied the decision. I calmly and politely asked for an explanation, so I could make changes to ensure my website did comply with the terms and conditions. Amazon’s response? I was denied (again!) as I wasn’t using associate links on my website. Well, no shit! Amazon had cut me off from links after the first email.

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So, now I have to make the decision, do I continue on this track? Or do I give up? I’ve decided to give it one more try. (That nearly one thousand dollars for doing nothing is very appealing to me!) I’ll let you know how it goes. Spoiler alert: expect ranting & raving!

 

 

The pitfalls of Amazon Associates for writers #WriterWednesday #Amazon

It’s important when marketing your novels to have an idea which marketing works and which doesn’t. If you have several marketing campaigns on the go at the same time, this isn’t always easy to figure out.  A solution many experts recommend is Amazon Associates. When you are a member of Amazon Associates, you can get several, different links to your books. A cookie is added to each book link. Any merchandise purchased within a twenty-four-hour period is therefore registered. You can then go to your Amazon Associates page and see if any one purchased your novel and which link they used.

Sounds simple, right? Um… not exactly. Here are some of the pitfalls I’ve encountered while using the Amazon Associates program.

amazon associates 2Twenty-four-hour period. I will confess. I am not a one-clicker. I always, always, always read the free sample before I purchase a novel. If a potential reader of your novels downloads a free sample and doesn’t purchase the book until a day later, this won’t register with the Amazon Associates program.

 

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I know this isn’t the type of cookies we’re talking about, but doesn’t it look yummy!

Cookie override. If the purchaser goes onto another website and clicks on another link which has an Amazon Associates account attached to it, your cookie will be overridden.

 

Pages read. Almost all of my novels are in the Kindle Unlimited program. Unfortunately, Amazon makes it nearly impossible for those writers who are in Kindle Unlimited to keep track of their marketing efforts. There is no way to track whether someone who saw your ad downloaded your book for ‘free’ with the Kindle Unlimited program. (I assume there is a way to track this, but Amazon has not yet made it available to us lowly writers.)

So basically, using the Amazon Associates links will only tell you if someone purchased your novel within twenty-four hours of clicking on the ad. If the reader has KU, you won’t know about it until your pages read start to climb (at least, that’s the hope). Is it still worth using Amazon Associates, then? The jury’s still out for me as I’ve had numerous problems being accepted in to the program, but more on that next week.