Tag Archives: The Camel in the Garden

Smart Phones for Smart Writers

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One of the great conundrums of the modern age is that despite all the technology which has been developed, and despite all the labour-saving devices we have in our homes, we appear to have less and less time. How can this be?

Well of course, we still have exactly the same amount of time as we’ve always had. Those 24 hours won’t grow or shrink. It’s what you do with them that counts. So, yes you can get up at ridiculous-o’clock to squeeze in a few more useful hours. You can multi-task up to a point. You can choose to stop doing certain tasks to devote the time to something more important (see Kath McGurl’s Give Up Ironing book for more ideas on this approach!). And you can stop getting distracted.

I’m not a big TV fan – and you’ll absolutely never hear the words “box set” pass my lips in the context of losing a whole weekend watching 400 episodes of some show or other. (I am the person who can’t take part in office discussions about Game of Thrones etc.) But I am totally addicted to the internet, particularly because of my smart phone. I love YouTube videos which help me improve the way I ride my horse. I can lose hours googling random facts, or watching amusing or tear-jerking videos on Facebook. I’m also plagued by a kazillion emails (many from all the great writing-related websites I’ve signed up to). And I think this is the route of the time problem we all face. Whether smart-phone-related or not, there is simply too much information out there for our brains to process. So, I’ve decided I need to be more selective.

Before I had a smart phone, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. People had managed perfectly well for centuries without such a gadget. It was just a silly fad. Now? It’s an integral part of pretty well every aspect of my life. Its alarm gets me up in the morning, and the sleep app tells me how long and how well I’ve slept the night before (last night was amazing – 8h 4mins – almost a record!). My running podcast takes me through my morning’s run, and the health app monitors my steps/distance travelled. On my way to and from work, I listen to a writing (or sometimes horse riding) related podcast – at the moment, I’m checking out the backlist of The Creative Penn which is amazingly informative about the indie author world – and also very entertaining.

This week is National Short Story week, and my smart phone has been invaluable in helping me advertise my two short story ebooks The Camel in the Garden and Beyond Words, which have been on special offer. Using my phone has enabled me to access Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, post photos and links, join in discussions, to post and comment on this blog and, of course, keep track of downloads – at any time, not just when I’m at home at my writing desk.

But I need to get better at sifting online information, saving the important bits (such as story competition info) and managing it in a way which means I won’t overlook it later.

If you have any top tips on the way you manage this process, please share them in the comments below.  I will be eternally grateful!

And if you’re the sort of really organised person who has arranged their life so efficiently that you have an afternoon free for a spot of reading, Beyond Words is still half-price for the remainder of this weekend. 🙂

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5 Things I Learned from Running an eBook Promotion

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With the weather wet and miserable for the last Bank Holiday weekend, I decided it was a perfect time to run a free download promotion for my new eBook.  Here’s some things I learned from the experience:

  1. The free promotion itself is easy to set up through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Simply go to your Bookshelf, and in “Your Books” next to the book you wish to promote, you’ll see “Book Actions” and, underneath, a button to “Promote and advertise”.  This takes you to “Promote your book on Amazon” where you can find the section “Run a price promotion”.  I chose “Free Book Promotion”, and you then click on the dates you want the promotion to run (you have a maximum of five days for your current enrolment term on the Select programme).
  2. Although I set my promotion to run from Saturday to Monday, my eBook didn’t show as free until about 9am on Saturday and was therefore also free for the first few hours of Tuesday morning. Bear in mind when setting your promotion dates that time zones or volume of deals to process may affect timings (embarrassing if you’ve been telling everyone it will be free!)
  3. Remember that your free promo is only as good as your…er…ability to promote!  You need to get active on social media, and tell all your friends and family.  The best promotion is the kind which gives your potential readership something in addition to just the specifics of the book you’re plugging, something which engages their interest.  For example you might want to tell people a bit about the inspiration for your stories, or (if it’s non-fiction) some interesting facts from your background which demonstrates why you’re the best person to be writing this particular book.
  4. You need to know why you’re running the promotion in the first place.  What are you hoping to achieve?  Giving away your work for free certainly isn’t sensible in every situation.  I chose to do it because: a) this is my first Kindle upload, so in that respect it’s a learning experience for me, and I want to try out all the features; b) my current eBook is (I hope) the first of many, so my main aim with this one is to get my name out there, and have something to show an audience on the Kindle platform; c) promo downloads can push your book up the bestseller rankings quickly because the rankings are skewed towards the most recent downloads, so it’s good for exposure, and d) feedback is really important – the free promo allowed me to pick up some star ratings and reviews that I probably wouldn’t have got otherwise.  (A huge thank you, by the way, to everyone who has left a review – it really does make so much difference – and I really appreciate it.)
  5. Beware! Running a promotion turns you into a stats obsessive!  You will find yourself constantly refreshing your Amazon Sales Dashboard, checking your Twitter-feed, gazing at your star-rating and sales ranking. There is a grave danger that you will get a bit tedious to your nearest and dearest too – they’ll probably be too polite to mention it, but you just have to acknowledge they probably aren’t quite so excited about your book as you are!  ;0)

NB: The free promo is now over, but ‘The Camel in the Garden’ is still available for 99p (UK), and remains free for subscribers to Kindle Unlimited.