Updates Soon

Hi fellow authors and illustrators,

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am back from holidays and looking forward to updating everyone. Our plans here at PiA are to continue to offer the best advice, articles, interviews, resources and support we can. I have been conducting several experiments with different ways of promoting my own books and I want to share the results with everyone soon. One of the more exciting results has to do with paid promotions on Facebook. Yes you heard right. I paid for ads promoting my main page. I am surprised at the results and when I have a moment later on, I will write a longer article. In the meantime, Janice has been busy with an update, which I will put up on PiA in Brief later on.

My wife and I have enjoyed a fantastic holiday overseas and we both feel re-energised and ready to get back into the swing of things. I am very excited about some of the things happening in the world of publishing and cannot wait to share.

Cheers,
Paul G Day
On behalf of the PiA team.

For All My Author & Illustrator Friends

Hi friends, fellow authors and illustrators,

In August this year, PiA will celebrate our first anniversary. As I write this article our site stats stand at 5,710 views, 919 comments and 10, 821 individual page visits from 66 countries. This is a huge achievement. Janice and I set out to not just provide a platform to encourage our fellow authors and illustrators, but also to provide an opportunity for them to showcase their work, share their publishing journey and encourage each other to keep writing, persisting and growing.

Our unstated aim was to make a significant impact on behalf of self published and indie authors the world over. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a small handful of individuals, we have done just that. But as we head into a second year, there is an opportunity to do so much more. PiA is not there for all authors. Let’s face it, out of all the so-called authors out there, only a small percentage of them are actually capable of producing outstanding work, at least as good as anything you might find published in a book shop. We are not perfect, but, we set our sights high, accepting nothing but the best. Of all the fifty or so applicants, we have had to knock back a few, either because the standard was not high enough, or else they had questionable practices. One such applicant caused me great personal concern when I realized that many of the “reviews” of their books, were, well, fake. This is not only a shame, but actually works against legitimate authors who have done everything right.  That’s why Janice and I have made sure that every single author or illustrator with membership of PiA is credible, established and a positive influence in the world of Indie Publishing.

On a personal level, I am never satisfied to just sit idly by and be happy with some success. I want to achieve so much more. I know Janice is the same and judging by the tremendous support we have had from the likes of Chris Graham, JZ bingham, Sarah Mazor, Deanie Dunne and many others, many of you are as well.

Having achieved the great success over the last year, as demonstrated by not only the stats, but the quality comments and feedback, I believe we can achieve even greater things for the remainder of the year and into 2015.

You are all important to us. But building a site like this requires that everyone chip in and do their bit. That’s why I am asking now for contributions from members. I am going to make some tough decisions over the course of the next few weeks and cull those members who have not made the effort to contribute, yet who have been afforded the privilege of being listed. This is an opportunity to have a say in the direction we want to head. You can contribute by posting (or sending in) articles about writing, publishing etc. or submitting blogs or links to blogs, making tutorials, interviewing authors and illustrators and in many other ways. Contact myself at paulday98@yahoo.com or Janice Spina at jjspina@myfairpoint.net.

A site like PiA is only as good as its weakest link and I personally feel it is not fair to allow members to be listed who have either never really contributed, or else only once or twice at the beginning and no more. Janice and I went to a lot of trouble recruiting in the early stages and a few people made commitments they need to honor, otherwise, truthfully, they cannot maintain a membership on this site. Membership is a privilege and with that comes a responsibility to be part of the conversation.

It’s easy as authors to isolate ourselves and promote our own work, whilst ignoring the efforts of others. It needs to be a two way street. It’s a tough gig, writing, producing and promoting your own work, but unless there is a genuine sense of community here at PiA, we are wasting our time. I want visitors to come here and see a vibrant, supportive and energetic community of writers and illustrators. I want this site to stand out in the crowd, to be a genuine force for direction and change. Janice and I both want this to move from a good site with moderate success, to a great site with real influence. This is not just because it is good for us, but because it is good for all of you as well.

I look forward to the challenges making PiA a great success brings and I wish each of you success, as you continue to grow in your endeavors to become professional indie authors.

From Paul G Day and Janice Spina.

Are you ready for what your dreams may bring?

Dear authors, illustrators, friends and visitors,

Ok, so we all want it, regardless of how we think, or what we might say. Fame, or at least to be known for something. In our case, as authors that means we want to leave a legacy, our legacy, our work. But are we ready for it?

What would happen if tomorrow, you woke up in the morning to the news that you have so longed to hear, but never dreamed you would. By some miracle, your latest book has skyrocketed to the top of the sales charts in your chosen genre. Let’s take it a step further. Your name is now everywhere. People are talking about you and not just those within your small circle of online friends or on your friends list on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. I’m talking about people you’ve never met. From all around the world.

You’re in the news, your books are being reviewed, not only by a friend, or someone who got your book for free, but by magazines, newspapers, online journals. When you search your name on google, you hit the top of every search page and the list of references goes on and on, page after page. You have your own Wikipedia page. People are blogging about you and you don’t have to beg, borrow or steal just to get interviewed. Your phone is ringing off the hook. Agents have left messages for you. Publishers—yes those very same ones who just a year or two ago weren’t the slightest bit interested—are now clambering over each other with offers of advances amounting to tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It sounds like a dream and for many of us it will no doubt always be thus. But, what if it happened to you? Are you ready for that?

If (and it is a very big if) you were so lucky and the stars aligned, bringing all your hopes and wishes and ambitions to a head, will you be able to cope with your new-found fame?

It’s like people who buy lotto tickets, who say they never really expect to win, that it’s really only insurance in case everyone else does and yet, when it happens—and it does happen—they are not ready for it. They can never be ready for it. Such people are as unprepared as a five year old who has been granted entry to university.

So, if the odds really are stacked against us, why do we invest so much in the hope of what might be? And if that desperately hoped-for and yet still so damn far off day should actually happen, then what? Well, it’s an interesting question. Just say you do get lucky. You may have dealt with many problems on your journey as an author. You may have worked very hard on your own, in your little room, lit by a fading candle because you can’t afford electricity anymore. You’ve left your job, have sacrificed relationships, friendships, a life. You’ve been through the circus of missed opportunities, opening letter after letter after depressing letter, all rejecting you. The pain of that rejection buried itself deep in the very depths of your miserable soul. Yet, for all this pain and anguish, through persistence, you stubbornly refused to give up. Then suddenly, it happens.

Why is this so important? Precisely for the same reasons people who buy lotto tickets are caught unprepared, untrained and ill equipped to deal with suddenly being millionaires. There’s a saying I want you to remember, “Prepare for anything, hope for everything, leave nothing to chance and expect nothing to happen. But, dream, live, hope and die knowing that you gave it everything.”

One day you may well hit the right note. You might write the perfect book for the right audience at the best time. Then you will be known, if not by a few, then many and if you take this advice, you will also be well prepared for that day, though you still never truly dared to believe your own dreams. But the question remains: Are you ready for what your dreams may bring?

Explain This Apparent Contradiction

Special update: This article was written at 12:30pm (Central Australian Time) It’s now 9:30pm and look at what has “suddenly” happened to my stats (See second image). Hmmmm.

(12:30pm 18th June) Hi friends, fellow authors, illustrators and visitors,

I’ve tried hard to avoid being too negative and for the most part I have managed to let some things go concerning Amazon’s practices. But, I want to know if anyone can explain what my own sales and rankings show recently? Take a look at the graphic and see if you can read it without scratching your head and wondering, what the heck is going on at Amazon. I’ve asked them and they’ve replied with some mathematical equation that only Einstein’s children would understand. For me it’s simple, more sales should push me up the ranking, not send me spiraling down in ranking.

falling ranking

 

 

 

(Image below posted 9 hours after the above image)

WTF Amazon update

 

 

My Write Club for Authors

Hi fellow authors and illustrators and all visitors,

Here are some tools and marketing services to help authors.

1. MyWriteClub

A little while ago I trialed a new and exciting tool for authors called MyWriteClub. It’s still in beta, but shows great potential for indie authors. All it really is is a progress tracking social media tool which allows you to set and monitor your own writing goals. This has helped me clarify my goals and the visual progress as a graphic shows me instantly where I am at. You can change your goals according to the evolution of your novel as you go. This tool helped motivate me to finish my latest novel.

But, without linking up with other authors, I am unable to see the progress made by others. This is where you guys come in. Why not visit MyWritClub, link up with me and we can share each other’s writing journey. All you need to do is follow the link to my profile and using my email address (paulday98@yahoo.com), link with me once you are signed up. It’s free and as I said, shows great potential. My handle (user name) is PaulGDay

My Write Club2

 

Progress for Escape from Dark Queen on mywriteclub

 

2. Crowd Funding

There are now numerous opportunities online to get funded for your project, whether you need funds to order a truck load of books to distribute, or you have a book trailer to produce or a website to manage or any number of things that may cost money, crowd funding is definitely a way to go. J Z Bingham has already showed how Crowdfunder has worked for her publishing company Balcony7. (See previous article “A Publisher on Crowdfunder? Heck Yeah” here) But that is the high end of the market for serious enterprise. There are all manner of funding services at the low end for people who jus need anything from a couple of hundred to thousands of dollars to fund their project.  Below are a list of services that might interest you as authors and illustrators:

 

How To Write a Ten Chapter Novel

How to Write a Ten Chapter Novel

By Paul G Day

I have been wanting to write this for a while. As writers, we have our own formula for writing and each of us approach it from different angles. We have our own unique style and habits when starting a new work and these are as varied as our personalities. But for those just starting out on their publishing journey, starting can be as daunting as the process of writing itself.

The Original Idea

Everyone has a story in them to tell, but just because you can string some words together into sentences and then paragraphs and chapters, does not make you a writer. Pretty much anyone can do this. What makes you a writer is how you convey meaning, how you use dialogue and how you structure your narrative so that your reader gets where you are coming from without giving too much away too early.

When you have an idea in your head, the seed planted will grow until you start to develop the idea into a workable story. Before you even begin to write, however, you need to understand your market and decide early on whether you are writing for children, young adults or an older readership.

I always have my age group in mind first. It’s what dictates the style, the detail and the types of words I might use in the narrative. As a Teacher, I am in a unique position because every day I see children and young adults interacting. I know what they read, what inspires them, how they feel about the world, what their motivations are and what they experience on a daily basis. So, I tend to write for children and young adults, with a view that anyone old enough to read and comprehend can pick up one of my books and be engrossed from the get go.

The Title

Once I have an idea in mind, I straight away decide on a title. This might evolve depending on how the story unfolds, but generally, I go by instinct. Children like titles that begin with “The” but I don’t always use this. As a general rule, if the story is specific and focuses on a particular character or situation, I go by that. Getting the title right is crucial. It must stand out. It must be easy to understand and it must suggest what the story is going to be about.

Background and Characters

Your characters are also very important. For children, they must be able to immediately identify with any character they are presented with. They must be able to invest themselves completely in the narrative and they can only do this if they can imagine the characters are speaking to their heart. Children respond with emotion first and then get involved in the greater story second. Adults are much more forgiving, being willing to invest in the world and then allow themselves to get to know the characters as the story unfolds.

The setting for children is usually either about real life (school, family or friends) or else fantastical (fairy tales, fables, legends and myths). You need to make the decision very early, exactly which direction you will go. Paul Jennings writes books for young boys and girls which reflects their daily experience, from the comical to the ridiculous, highlighting those experiences that children love to read about, like bodily functions (Farting, being physical etc.). But his stories have a second layer about things that concern young people, such as relationships and bullying. If your story is going to be about these things, you need to remember that children see the world quite differently to adults. Things that concern them may seem trivial, but they are extremely important to them because they are immediate. Children generally cannot see beyond the immediate situation. Everything that is happening right now in their lives is important to them and your story must reflect this.

If you decide to write a fantasy tale, the characters in your story, even though they may be bizarre or completely other-worldly, still need to have at their core the same idiosyncrasies that real characters have. This is true even if they are animals, aliens, fish or any other creature. This anthropomorphic approach is what great authors have understood since the very first books were written for children.

If it is a fantasy, your world can be as bizarre, as fantastic or as far removed from the real world as you like. But your characters and the things that happen to them, should feel familiar to children.

Story Outline

A short outline of your entire story, though not necessary this early in your writing, might nevertheless help you decide crucial plot points and the direction you want to head. The most important thing you need to decide as early as possible is what will happen in the end. When I wrote The Black Fairy and The Dragonfly, I decided straight away who Lilly was, what was unique about her, why she was called Lilly and what she would do to overcome her difficult life. I also decided what she would ultimately become, even though I had not yet fully come to a conclusion in my mind precisely what would happen in the end (even when I was writing the final chapters of the final book). Even still, I knew that she would overcome in the end and rise to become the dominant character in her world. But in the beginning, I decided to make her the most insignificant, lowly character possible. Hence she is small, different and, in the beginning at least, an outcast. This allowed me to show growth throughout the two books right up unto the end of the sequel, Escape From The Dark Queen.

Chapter Outline and Headings

I generally write a brief chapter outline and decide on a chapter title for every chapter (including the prologue and epilogue if I include them) right at the beginning. These can change and I may add additional chapters later on. But I have found the formula of ten chapters (sometimes 9 or even 12) works very well. It keeps my writing on track and checks my progress.

My chapters for children are between three and ten pages, with my average book being around 100 pages (size 14 font) and no longer than 20,000 words. This is the rule I use, but it is flexible and again I operate on instinct with my writing. The chapter is only finished when everything I want to occur in that chapter is included.

Finishing Your Book

Never be so locked in to your story that you stick strictly to any rule. Be instinctive. If it doesn’t work, change it. If the chapter doesn’t fit, remove it. It must be necessary and it must drive the narrative in a positive direction. Children don’t like ugly surprises. They still want happy endings and without exception, each of my children’s novels end well. If you are writing for slightly older readers, you can afford the odd shock, but it must not be gratuitous or unnecessary and must ultimately lead to an uplifting conclusion, even if not all the ends are tied neatly up by the end of the book. The key to finishing is to just keep writing until it is done. You can fix problems with plot and theme later, but again, this is largely instinctive for me personally. As you grow as a writer, so will your writing and you will develop a keen understanding of how a plot unfolds and the direction your work should take.

Proofing

Proofing your work is a three step process. Firstly there is proofing as you write. Go over the last chapter you wrote and make sure the writing is succinct, logical and ordered. Make sure that one idea in one paragraph follows on logically from the previous paragraph and leads neatly into the next. The second stage is to read your story out loud and listen for irregularities, repetition, excessive use of “But” or “And” (an issue I have had to correct), too many difficult words that children may struggle with (you can afford the odd challenging word, but not too many). Your paragraphs should have some longer sentences, punctuated with lots of shorter ones as a rule. Thirdly, a final read through and check for misspelling, improper grammar and contextual problems that detract from the plot.

After all that, you will need a trusted friend, expert or editor to cast a fresh eye over your work. They will see the things you either can’t or won’t change and challenge you to change your approach. They will also spot the mistakes that for whatever reason you missed.

Remember this, your book will never be perfect. Even seasoned, published authors have errors and inconsistencies in their books. You need to decide at some point to risk publishing your work. The beauty of self-publishing is that you can always upload a new revision. Some of my books have been revised a dozen times and even still I spot something I missed with another read.

One very effective tool I use is a program called Ivona. By converting your text to realistic speech and playing it back to yourself, you will spot problems you cannot spot by reading it yourself.

Book Cover

Recently, research was undertaken ( I cannot remember the source) that suggests that people really do judge a book by its cover. If your cover looks like a cover someone did themselves, you need to do something about it. Illustrations that look like a child drew them (unless that is the point), bland or uninteresting fonts, unimaginative images, books that are far too dark or with blurred images, covers out of step with your story or which are uninspired, or just plain wrong, will only serve to put potential readers off.

Of course, getting a professional to design your cover for you is expensive. But, if you are clever and understand the structure of a good cover, there is nothing to stop you having a go. Upload your cover to competitions like that on Authors Database and get feedback on it. Nobody will tell you if your cover is ugly. They will simply avoid your book. They may indeed be missing out on a great read, but this is not necessarily their fault. Your cover needs to reflect the genre, theme and intended readership age group.

You don’t need an expensive program, you only need PowerPoint and a simple image manipulation program (like those already on your operating system). Experiment with several designs and always be willing to change them. If you are unsure, put your cover up on FB or Word Press and ask your readers and friends for honest feedback (before you publish preferably). Some of my covers have undergone several incarnations until I was happy with the result.

To see how to use PowerPoint to produce a book cover, watch our very own video tutorials online (see end of this article).

Marketing

Believe it or not, writing your book is the easy part. It’s marketing your book that will test your patience and resilience as an author. Be prepared for many setbacks. Be prepared for next to zero sales. Be prepared for the odd poor review. Be prepared for apathy, disinterest and criticism. But understand this, the writing journey is a journey of growth. I am not the same person who published his first book way back at the beginning of 2012. Now, almost three years later, I can honestly say I am a far better writer. I have tested the waters, I was brave enough to put myself out there. But nothing can prepare you for the genuine feedback from the least expected source, such as what happened recently when a local man I did not know stopped me in the street and told me he had read Kipp The Copper Coast Kid and loved it. This, for me, was worth every bitter disappointment or self doubt I have ever had. It has kept me going.

The status quo is to put yourself on social media, to market yourself online through blogging, web sites, forums, social networks and the like. But my honest opinion about this is that whilst it is a necessary evil, people are becoming gradually reticent to check out people’s profiles and see what they are all about. There is a simple explanation for this. There are so-called authors everywhere. The Internet is flooded with millions and millions of authors, all constantly harassing (for want of a better word) the public about their books. So, the public have turned cynical, so that now even reviews don’t count for much anymore. However, this is the approach I now take. My goal is to make sure my name and brand appear on the first page of searches on google. I don’t worry anymore about who is checking me out and whether they buy my books. I am out there. I now appear regularly on searches. To that end I have achieved a goal. I cannot force people to buy my books. I can only hope they do.

If an author is serious about self promotion, he or she must be willing to not only put themselves out there, but actively contribute to the ongoing conversation about publishing (Hence one of the reasons for PiA). Make a solid contribution to this conversation and people will listen. In the end though, being successful still comes down to luck. You can have the best book in the world, but if it has not yet been discovered by the “right” people, you will struggle.

If you haven’t already done so, nothing can replace good old fashioned local marketing. Public libraries will buy or receive your books. They are usually happy to do so. Set yourself up at local markets and take pride in your books. Never call yourself self-published unless someone asks. Always assume that when people see your fresh new books, that in their minds they see you as an author. Not an indie author selling home-made books, not an “aspiring” author, but an “actual” author.

Lastly, enjoy the journey of exploring publishing. Take pride in your books. Give them to family and friends. They will get a kick out of boasting that they are related to, or friends with an author. Keep positive (not always easy I admit) and stay focused. Do not be tempted to write fiction for the mass market that you “think” they want. Write what “you” want. Write from the heart. Write stories you would want to read. Write stories like those that stood out in your mind when you were young. Be inventive, but don’t be distracted and you will achieve a measure of success.

Cover Tutorials