Does on-line marketing work?

picture of downtrending graphAugust is drawing to a close. I’ve been particularly busy this month, trying my best to do some on-line marketing without inundating people with ‘buy my book’ links on Twitter, Facebook and the like. I know that doesn’t work, anyway. So I’ve tried some other approaches.

This month I have participated in a science fiction romance boxed set Nebula Nights, which has done quite well, reaching number three on Amazon’s paid science fiction romance list, number one on Kobo for some time, and good ratings on Barnes and Noble.

Associated with that boxed set:

  • I participated in conducting a fun launch party on FaceBook.
  • I have posted guest posts and interviews with three bloggers, as have all of the other eleven authors in the set.
  • Each of us bought advertising to help the boxed set along, with ads on Coffeetime Romance, The Romance Reviews, Nightowl Reviews, the Fussy Librarian and many others.
  • In addition to that I have been on a blog tour promoting my latest novella, A Matter of Trust, which involved guest posts, interviews, and one review over twelve blogs, as well as a half hour radio interview. The blog tour spanned 18-23 August, the radio interview took place on 27th August.
  • I was interviewed on Smart Girls love sci-fi, discussing my SF and my paranormal books, the profits of which I donate to tiger conservation.

That’s a fair bit of exposure over a short period of time. I was rather hoping that all that social media would result in a bit more interest in me and my books. There are six books (three full length novels and three short stories) in my Morgan Selwood collection, three full length novels in my Ptorix Empire series and one stand-alone novella, A Matter of Trust. Those stories are all SF romance, and the first of the Ptorix Empire series (The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy) is in the Nebula Nights boxed set. I’ve also written two paranormal romances, Black Tiger and White Tiger. That’s twelve books. For several months the numbers sold have been steadily falling. That trend has not changed, except perhaps I’ve sold a handful more of The Iron Admiral: Deception, no doubt new readers from the boxed set. Sales on Amazon yesterday, on all channels, amounted to two (2).

I know a month isn’t a long time but I had hoped to see some burst of interest. If, in fact, there WAS a burst of interest, then my figures for August without all that effort would have been dreadful. What else could I have done that I did not do? I have not released a new book since February.

I think it’s pretty clear where I should be spending my time, don’t you?

I’m buzzing all over the place

Busy little bee (It's an Australian native blue-banded bee)

Busy little bee (It’s an Australian native blue-banded bee)

I’ve been a busy little bee lately, a blog tour with Buy The Book Blog Tours, a radio interview and a guest interview on Smart Girls.

If anybody wants to listen to me talk SF writing, click here.  You’ll be treated to a genuine Australian accent, too.

On Smart girls, I talk about SF romance – but also a bit about my paranormal novels. Click here.

Come on over and say g’day.

 

 

A review is just somebody’s opinion

A review is just somebody’s opinion. It’s something of a truism, of course. And sometimes, it’s not even true. Some reviews are deliberate attempts to undermine a book’s (or a movie’s, or a restaurant’s) reputation. Sometimes they’re the reverse – paid-for reviews, or reviews left by well-meaning family and friends. Let’s exclude those from the discussion and only consider what might be termed ‘genuine’ reviews.

I think everyone who’s been in the writing business for more than, say, five minutes has learned that not everyone is going to like their book. My science fiction romance books may contain too much sex and not enough science for some readers. Or, the other way around, too much action-adventure and not enough romance. That’s a matter of reader expectation which can be addressed in a number of ways – cover and blurb being the obvious ones. Even then, though, what can you say to a person who is disappointed to read a $0.99 short story, not a novel, when the description clearly shows the length as forty pages? Or the ‘reviewer’ who complains about the gore in a book clearly marked as extreme horror? Or the reader who can only have ignored the blurb stating the book is dark, transgender homo-erotic when there is no happy-ever-after?

But back to real reviews. Like so much in life, people’s take on a story depends so very much on their own life experience. An author friend recently received a review on a book that dealt with deep, dark subjects. The reviewer couldn’t believe that the main character would make the same mistake more than once. Surely he wouldn’t go back for more! Really? Tell that to the battered wife who believes him when he says it’s the drink talking, he loves her, he won’t do it again. Or the heroin addict who knows the next dose may kill her, but shoots up, anyway.

Some people find swearing a complete turn-off. I’ve expressed my opinion on the ‘F-bomb’ (an expression I despise) elsewhere. But I do have to wonder if those readers have ever been anywhere where a group of teens gathers, and listen to the conversation. Other people wonder why the character would venture down into the basement by herself when she hears that strange rustling? But people do. Because we’re curious. This is not the ‘too dumb to live’ scenario, where the fourth person in the group goes down the dark path under the trees, after her three companions have already disappeared one at a time, in the same direction. People are a mixed bunch. Some women do still have a tendency to see their ex as something of a child, who has fallen into something beyond his control. Some people think it’s wise to marry somebody imprisoned for murder while they’re still inside. Some people tend to try to see the best in everyone.

The easy answer to this apparent disconnect between the words on the page and the reader is that the author hasn’t written the book well enough to convince. That may be so, but what about the reviewers who did ‘get’ it, who were convinced? If they’re in the minority, that’s a problem the author may care to consider. If they’re not, all s/he can do is shrug and move on.

To paraphrase the immortal Obi-wan Kenobi, “what I told you is true – from a certain point of view.” (Return of the Jedi)

I had a whale of a time

Every year, between late July and early November, the whales come into Hervey Bay on their great migration north from Antarctica, where they seek the warmer waters to have their calves and mate. Sometimes they stay for a while in the calm waters of Platypus Bay off Fraser island, and watch the humans on their floating, moving islands. And the humans on their boats watch them.

In the mid-seventies, when whaling was finally stopped, humpback numbers on Australia’s east coast were down to a few hundred. Now, it’s back to around seventeen thousand. Something like five thousand of them will stop in at Platypus Bay for a few hours, or a few days. It’s shallow and safe, a great place to fatten up the newborns before the long trek south. So over the season you’ll see mums and bubs, randy males and curious sub-adults.

Yesterday I made my first trip out to Platypus Bay for this season, camera ready, sunblock applied and warmly covered against the chilly breeze. August is a great time to meet these gentle giants. The population is mainly juveniles, young whales not yet sexually mature. They’re the humpback equivalent of teenagers; cocky, sure of themselves and very curious. So join me on a virtual visit to Platypus Bay. We’ll start with the rainbow over Fraser Island as we journeyed along the island’s coast to Platypus Bay.

This young whale is sky hopping – poking its head above the surface to look at the people on the boat. It can see perfectly well through the water. The man is holding an underwater microphone, not a pike.

The same young whale pictured above came to say hello to us

Just the nostrils above the surface. The long white pectoral fins and the whale’s white belly are obvious. As you can see, the whales come in very close, circling the boat or swimming underneath

Further along, things became a bit more active. At one stage I saw five different whales breaching – flinging themselves out of the water. Once, two whales together breached at the same time (no picture, sad to say)

They'll breach quite close to the boat - too close for this shot

They’ll breach quite close to the boat – too close for this shot

What goes up, must come down – with one helluva splash and a wave for good measure.

I go whale watching several times every year. If you’ve reached this point, you might be interested in this article. It will tell you a little bit more about the whales.

Lost in space – #SFRB presents snippet

MC coverThis week I thought I’d wow you with the opening passage of ‘Morgan’s Choice’

Steam rose from Jones’ food pack, filling Curlew’s tiny common room with the aroma of beef stew. “That’s one month down.” He took the container out of the warmer and brought it the two steps to the table.

Morgan glanced up at him, still chewing, as he sank down on the bench opposite. She swallowed her own food. “Yeah.”

One month’s worth of the existing food supply gone. Another month, maybe a little longer if they rationed even further and then perhaps they’d be fishing Tariq’s body out of the cargo hold, wondering if a bit of cannibalism might be in order. The thought made her gag but at least it was an option. Running out of air—that was something else altogether.

She speared some more synthetic plast-food from her own food pack and lifted it to her mouth.

A staccato bleeping shattered the silence.

She flung her fork on the table, leapt through the forward hatch into the bridge and dropped into the captain’s chair, her heart pounding with a mixture of excitement and tension, hope and apprehension.

————————————–

You’ll find Morgan’s Choice at all the usual outlets. Here’s the blurb.

Somewhere out in space, humanity’s past is about to catch up with its future.

When Morgan Selwood’s spaceship is stranded in unknown space she is relieved to be rescued by humanoid aliens. But her unusual appearance and her extraordinary technical abilities mean that everybody wants a piece of her. Who’s it to be? Autocratic Admiral Ravindra, who press-gangs her to help against a shadowy threat from the stars, or the freedom fighters who think she’s a legend reincarnated, returned to help them throw off the yoke of oppression?

Morgan doesn’t much care which it is until the uprising and the atrocities start. While civil war rages across the planet the shadowy threat from the stars emerges as an implacable killer bent on destroying all intelligent life. Morgan will need every bit of her superhuman, bio-engineered intelligence to save the man she has come to love and his people from annihilation. And spare a little to save herself.

Read an excerpt here

Reviews here

Buy the book direct using Paypal

Or buy the book at Omnilit Smashwords  Amazon Barnes & Noble Kobo Apple

And don’t forget to check out all the other exciting reads from members of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

 

1. Misa Buckley 4. Robyn Bachar 7. KG Stutts
2. Pippa Jay 5.  Shona Husk 8. Marva Dasef
3. Aurora Springer 6. Sue Ann Bowling 9.

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally arrived! #nebulanights

picture of Nebula Nights anthology coverCan you tell I’m excited? The great team from the Science Fiction Romance Brigade got their act together in record time (just a few weeks) to create this marvellous boxed set for your reading pleasure. Here’s the blurb:

11 Sci-Fi Romances that’ll sweep you away!

If you like your science fiction blazing with adventure and your space opera spiced with romance, this boxed set is for you. From first contact to battles for survival and love on war-torn planets, this collection from bestselling & award winning authors, including Cathryn Cade, Veronica Scott, PK Hrezo and more, will leave you sighing with satisfaction.

Her Cyborg Awakes by Melisse Aires
Her gentle cyborg servant helped her escape violence–but now he’s changed into a warrior! Is he safe?

Removed (The Nogiku Series, #1) by SJ Pajonas
In this Japan-inspired tale, one woman’s family destiny is key to the survival of the last city on Earth.

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. by PK Hrezo
Welcome to Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Noelle In His Heart by C.E. Kilgore
Noelle wishes for someone who understands she has love to give but commitments to honor. Stranded on Earth, Steve longs for someone who will understand that his alien heart can love just as deeply.

Stark Pleasure; the Space Magnate’s Mistress by Cathryn Cade
Kiri te Nawa survives the perils of the galaxy on her wits … although when it comes to space magnate Logan Stark, she’d rather use her body.
But can she trust him with her secrets?

Birth of an Empire: The Beginning by Catrina Taylor
Three former genetic experiments chose peace over war in a sector that’s known only war for a century. As each one squares against their governments they will question the experiences that guide them.

Escape From Zulaire by Veronica Scott
When the planet erupts into war, Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane must decide whether to save Andi Markriss, the intergalactic businesswoman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Solia’s Moon by Lyn Brittan
SFR Galaxy Award Winner! When Dr. Solia uncovers her company’s foray into creating humanoid life, she enlists the help of her handsome ex, Sheriff Sable, in bringing a little justice to the universe.

The Key by Pauline Baird Jones
Her orders are simple: do the impossible and do it yesterday. But this time the impossible might actually be impossible. The only way it could get worse? If her heart starts beating for the wrong guy.

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy by Greta van der Rol
The Galaxy teeters on the brink of war. Can ex-admiral Saahren persuade the woman who hates him to help him prevent the coming conflagration? And perhaps even love him?

Mirror Image by KG Stutts
Maddie’s entire world is turned upside down when she finds out that she is a clone. Now she must work with her counterpart to protect Earth.

That’s 11 complete stories, most full length novels, all previously published, and going for a bargain price of $0.99 If you bought them separately, you’d be up for $25! Available for a short time only, get it while you can, and travel the universe.

Buy the book at: Amazon: All Romance: B&N iTunes Kobo

 

4 points to consider before you join that Facebook group

GroupSince Facebook became a paying concern, author Facebook pages have become (in my opinion) pretty much a waste of time. Here’s my take on that issue. However, that doesn’t mean Facebook is a waste of time. Increasingly, as Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms weed out posts from our friends and replace them with sponsored ads, people are turning to Facebook groups. And they are a great idea, collections of people with some sort of common interest, such as a writer’s group based on genre, or a bunch of fellow indie authors, or cover designers, or people with a penchant for wildlife, or raunchy men. It takes all sorts.

Such groups can be a valuable source of new friends, colleagues, ideas, and opportunities. I belong to the Science Fiction Romance Brigade (SFRB), a bunch of people who write (wait for it) Science Fiction Romance. They’re a great group of women and men who realise that we’ll make much more of a splash together, than individually.

I’m sure there’s a group out there like that for all my author friends. Join up and feel the love. But bear these points in mind before you do.

Is this the right group for you?

Read the group description and look at the banner. There’s no point in joining every group around because you can. As an example, SFRB focusses on science fiction romance (SFR). That is, a story in a science fiction setting which has a strong romance arc.

  • If you write SF without any romance, this is not the group you’re looking for.
  • If you write paranormal romance, this is not the group you’re looking for.
  • If you write fantasy, with or without romance, this is not the group you’re looking for.
  • If you write historical romance (without a time lord, or something) this is… get the idea? SCIENCE + ROMANCE

This is not to say that everyone in the group writes only SFR – I’ve written paranormal romance and historical fiction. But even my two novellas (Supertech and Ink) which are spin-offs from my SFR Morgan’s Choice, are never mentioned in the group’s discussion, or on its website, because they are not romance.

Abide by the rules

If the rules – and/or the banner – say ‘no promo’ then please understand that means you. If you do go ahead and post your promotional material spruiking buy me, vote for me, pick me, read me… if you’re lucky the admins will delete your post and send you a polite message pointing out your violation of the rules. Increasingly, patience has worn thin and not only will your post be deleted, you’ll be kicked out of the group. Without notice.

That rule is there because most of us are sick of endless promotion. Besides, what’s the point of promoting to other writers? What you want is readers. There are a besquillion of FB groups which allow, indeed encourage, self-promotion. Here’s a few I belong to.

There are plenty of others.

It’s not about you

Okay, you fit the profile, you join the group. Treat it as you would going to a conference. Let’s say an agent is there, somebody you’ve never met but does have a stable of authors writing your genre. You charge up, pushing past everyone else, your MS thrust out like a sword, and insist she takes your wonderful book. Right now. You’ll wait while she reads it. (smile)

Do you think that’ll work? She’ll remember your name all right. She’ll probably delete anything you send her, ever again. That’s how it works in online groups, too. Abusing the admins isn’t a good idea – not if you want to stay. Take some time to learn the group dynamics, ask questions, introduce yourself. Get to know some of the other members, visit blogs, read the shared posts. If you become a part of the group, you’re sure to benefit.

Get involved

Groups work best where people are committed. The SFRB has a lot of great activity to support its members.

  • We have an annual mid-summer (northern) blog hop with great prizes.
  • We have our own fan page on Facebook, where authors advertise their free offerings, new releases and the like.
  • We have blogging opportunities on our website.
  • Apart from that it’s a great place for ideas, asking for beta readers or critique partners, or hosts for blog hops.

But it all depends on members taking part.

Remember the old saying, ‘together we stand, divided we fall’. If you’re a participating member of a good group, you have a much better chance of getting ahead. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into, and become a part of the team.

 

Starheart has a new cover – and a warning #sfrb

SH cover payhipI’m absolutely delighted to share the brand new cover for Starheart, produced by the talented Rebecca Poole of Dreams2Media. For the very first time it has that wonderful combination of space and stars, and that hint of romance with a strong, feisty heroine facing it off with an alpha male. I think it’s fabulous.

I’ve revised the blurb – and added a warning. Much has been said about trigger warnings of late, and although this book doesn’t need trigger warnings as such, I’ve received more than one review complaining about SEX and the dreaded F-bomb. (For those who don’t know, that means the word ‘fuck’ is used.)  So I think it’s fair enough to give readers a clue. It’s done on DVDs, and many romance books give an indication of the level of sex, from 1 (behind the bedroom door) to 5 (menage, lots of screwing). Starheart has a burgeoning love story between a man and a woman, with two sex scenes that are not from a how-to manual. And Jess swears when she’s upset. Sorry, that’s how it is. I do, too.

So the blurb has an addendum – “This book contains sex scenes and strong language.”

And if the thought of sex and swear words hasn’t put you off, here’s a snippet from the book, to whet your appetite. This is from the beginning of the book, when Jess meets Hudson for the very first time. Her ship has been stopped and she has been transported to a Fleet battle cruiser for questioning. She’s cooperating. Of course.

________________________________________________________

Jess stared around her at clean grey walls and floors, and a row of no less than ten lifts. Strewth. The buttons went up to thirty. Thirty levels. This ship was huge. A group of people appeared from a doorway, also heading for the transit foyer. Three senior officers. She fixed her ‘not sure why this is happening but I’m being co-operative’ expression on her face as they approached.

Well, well, well. The captain, a senior commander and a rather dishy admiral. Tall, thick brown hair, heavy eyebrows over blue eyes that right now were shifting his gaze over her body and most especially down the carefully-judged split at the front of her shirt. She smiled at him, taking care to adjust her hair while she did so. Now what would a Star Fleet admiral be doing at Nordheim?

Beside her, Lieutenant Douglas and the two escorts stiffened to parade ground attention.

The admiral stopped in front of her, still staring. “What have we here, Lieutenant?”

The look in his eye sent a sexy shimmy down her spine. No prizes for guessing what was on his mind right now. And under different circumstances, she wouldn’t mind. No, not at all.

“Captain and First Officer of a suspicious ship, Sir. The Saintly Maid. They’re here for interrogation.”

Jess widened her eyes. “Suspicious ship? Oh, really, Lieutenant, you must have mistaken the Maid for some other vessel.”

The admiral grinned. The transit car the senior commander had summoned arrived with a gentle ping. The captain and the senior commander both had their bodies pointed toward the open door but the admiral lingered, gazing down at her.

“Delightful to meet you, Captain…?”

“Sondijk .And equally delightful to meet you, Admiral…?”

“Hudson. Ullric Hudson.”

She gave him a long, hard once-over, her gaze traveling slowly down his body and back up to his eyes. “Welcome to Nordheim, Admiral Hudson.”

________________________________________________________

To celebrate the new cover, I’ll offer a copy of an ebook (name your type – mobi, epub or pdf) to anyone who can name Saintly Maid‘s first officer. Leave a comment on this post. Hint: read the sample chapter

Don’t forget to try a few other science fiction romance books from the SFR Brigade presents

 

1. Anna Hackett 3. Sue Ann Bowling 5. Deborah A Bailey
2. Aurora Springer 4. Ed Hoornaert

A Matter of Trust is going places

Tour Banner - A Matter of Trust

On a blog tour, to be exact. Click on the banner and come along for the ride. We’re looking for people to host the event between 18-23 August. If you have a spare spot on your blog, I’d love you to join in.

 

The SFR Brigade presents – a snippet from “Starheart”

picture of cover for book StarheartI’m busy slowly working on my next book, a new Morgan’s Misfits adventure. But for this week’s snippet, I was reminded of one of my very favourite moments in Starheart between Fleet Admiral Ulric Hudson and slightly shady freighter captain Jess Sondijk. A wary relationship exists between the pair, and Jess is due to meet Hudson for a dinner date. But life intrudes and Jess takes off to follow a lead. Hudson has Jess’s ship, Saintly Maid, apprehended, and Jess is incarcerated in the battleship’s cells until Hudson returns on board, when the admiral has her brought to his office.

Before we start, here’s the blurb.

Freighter Captain Jess Sondijk thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson’s Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband’s death during an official boarding wasn’t accidental?

Hudson has his own questions. Who in the Confederacy is trading with the Ptorix? And what price is high enough to pay for starhearts, the prized jewels the aliens call the windows of the soul?

Jess and Hudson’s interests collide in more ways than one as they follow a shadowy trail of deceit and corruption in search of the truth. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what’s hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed.

____________________________________

Hudson sat back in his seat, watching the door when she entered. Her grey ship suit was unzipped at the front and the scoop-necked white shirt she wore underneath revealed a tantalizing expanse of breast. The last time she’d been brought aboard she’d dressed for the occasion but this time she probably didn’t even realize. Her eyes blazed with fury as she barged into his office, flanked by a lieutenant and two troopers. No, intimidation didn’t work on Jess Sondijk.

“What in blazes is this about? Annoyed I stood you up?”

“Thank you, Lieutenant, you may go,” Hudson said.

He waited until the door closed behind the troopers. “I admit, I’m not accustomed to being stood up.”

She slammed both her palms on his desk and leaned towards him, affording him a lovely view of her cleavage. “You are not the freaking center of the universe.”

His gaze slid down to admire the swell of her breasts. Nice. Exquisite. Two delicious handfuls. His mouth watered. The prospect of a close and personal encounter with that body was enough to give a man a hard-on.

She pushed herself upright. “Oh, for f**k’s sake. Do you ever think about anything but your cock?”

He leaned back, grinning. “If you flaunt your assets, my dear, you can hardly blame me for looking.”

____________________________________

Jess swears rather a lot and there are sex scenes. I’d rate it as spicy on the heat scale. You can find the book at the online stores below – it’s also available in print.

Buy the book direct using Paypal (you’ll get a mobi, epub and pdf for the same price as anywhere else, and I’ll get most of what you pay)

Or find Starheart at Omnilit Smashwords Amazon Barnes & Noble Kobo Apple

Don’t forget to look for other great reads

1. Melisse Aires 4. Aurora Springer 7. Mel Teshco
2. Shona Husk 5. Ed Hoornaert
3. Sue Ann Bowling
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: