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Diary of a Mad Writer: Weeks 4 and 5: MELTING MOMENTS

Wow. What a fortnight I’ve had here in Mad Writer Land…

First, you can subscribe to my newsletter and receive an exclusive novella BUTTERFLY absolutely free. I signed up to a Mailchimp account, free for your first 2000 subscribers, and discovered how to use the Insert Link and Add Media features. I used Diana Marinova’s ‘How to Use Mailchimp to Auto-Send a Free Ebook to Your New Newsletter Subscribers‘, and Jonathan Blundell’s ‘Adding a PDF to WordPress,’ to accomplish this, then I added a Subscribe to my Newsletter page both on my blog and on my Author Website: heidicbooks. I spent the past two weeks busily writing BUTTERFLY, a 25,000 word PDF version of a DI Jesse Rider case from before the time he met Hunter Cade, the main protagonist in AFFLICTION and THE OBSIDIAN. Writing 5,000 words a day when you have three kids who love to argue and it’s the summer holidays, has made me realise that cloning might not be such a touchy topic.

Second, and certainly one of the highlights of my fortnight, I was author-interviewed for the wonderful Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews. You can read my interview here, and check out her other author interviews and book reviews. Thank you again, Lisa.

On top of all that I decided to change the covers of my first two published novels, venture into the audiobook market (and managed to net myself a fantastic narrator), and received a positive response from an agent who loved Hunter as a character and would like to consider my standalone romantic thriller DON’T FORGET ME. So I’m having to put poor Hunter up on the shelf for the next few months to get the new book to a submittable standard.

Phew! When I began Diary of a Mad Writer I thought I was going to struggle to find things to write about. I suppose it’s a good example of how accountability can help you to achieve more. Because I needed things to say – I set out to do more, so I would have more to say. I know this article has seemed a bit me-ey, and I apologise, it isn’t how I like to roll, but I hope it demonstrates the way that even the most introverted  writer with next to no budget for their author-entrepreneur business, can make a good go of things. If I can do it, so can you. I got close to having a few melting moments this fortnight, but the positive more than outweighed the negative.

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Filed under Book Promotion, Diary of a Mad Writer, Motivation, The Business of Books, The Writing Process, Writing and family life

Diary of a Mad Writer: Weeks 2 and 3: IT PAYS TO TAKE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

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nimue

Working like a dog… never understood that. My dog doesn’t do much more than sleep or mooch about the house, although here she is checking out my sales stats. She isn’t impressed.

In an attempt to satisfy my grumpy border collie, I’ve had a busy two weeks. (She has been for a very long walk which has made her a little less grumpy, for the moment at least). As you can see above her picture, you can now subscribe to my newsletter. I’m busy writing a free book I can give away to new subscribers, a DI Jesse Rider novella. More work on top of an already busy schedule, but I’m not a mad writer for nothing. The more works-in-progress I have piling up, the happier I am.  I’m certainly not suffering from writer’s block which made me ponder whether writer’s block actually exists, or is it an easy excuse for (please don’t get mad) lazy writers?

Years ago I went through a phase when I considered myself to be an arid desert when it came to ideas. Nothing was growing. It was sand as far as you could see. Each oasis turned out to be a mirage and there were very few of those. In desperation I signed up to a writing course with The Writers Bureau. I didn’t actually complete the course, (I’m now an English graduate, always wanted to say that), but what I learned during my short time taking part gave my muse a kick up the arse. When I looked out at that rolling expanse of golden sand, I saw a small sapling. That sapling was my first Hunter Cade novel which has now grown into a mature tree and triggered new trees to grow. What I’m trying to say is, I thought I had writer’s block. I may well have had writer’s block, but by learning ways to force inspiration, I have never suffered with it since.

This is where the title for this post comes into it. It pays to take affirmative action. If you aren’t getting any ideas, find a way to make the ideas come to you: pick up a book in a genre you might not normally read; watch a great box set (you can’t go wrong with Hannibal); grab a sheet of paper and get started on a mind map or a cluster map, start with a single idea (and I sometimes use a novel I’ve enjoyed and feel inspired by, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl for example) and begin branching off topics until you have a premise you can work with. Take affirmative action. The floodgates will open and you may just find yourself inundated with book ideas.

That cluster map with Gone Girl in the center of it gave me three standalone romantic thrillers to work on, one of them I am actively writing as part of my Diary work. I have gone so far as to buy the 3 covers, very inexpensively. I use The Book Cover Designer (http://thebookcoverdesigner.com), especially bettibup33, and I have also used Melody Simmons pre-made covers (http://ebookindiecovers.com).

As well as hitting word count targets, I have been taking part in the Self-publishing Success Summit hosted by Chandler Bolt (http://selfpublishingsuccesssummit.com). With presentations from experts such as Joanna Penn and Daniel Decker, (http://www.thecreativepenn.com and http://www.danieldecker.net respectively), it has been a bottomless well of information. Okay, it does have a bottom, but I’m trying not to think about that because I’ve been having so much fun, knowing it’s going to come to an end is too much for me to cope with. I bought a book right before I signed up to the Summit from author Nick Stephenson (http://nickstephensonbooks.com). Supercharge your Kindle Sales:(http://www.amazon.co.uk/Supercharge-Your-Kindle-Sales-Strategies-ebook/dp/B00MMQN0VG) and was overwhelmed by the response I got by implementing just one of his strategy ideas. I was extremely excited to learn he was also going to be a guest speaker.

Finally, I  contacted a few blogs in the hopes I could take part in an author interview.  I was blown away to receive a response from Lisa Haselton (http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.co.uk). This is my first author interview, it should be up in August or maybe September. You should check out her existing author interviews because they’re great. I always find it fascinating to get inside the head of writers, to find out what makes them tick and what they’re working on now. Thank you Lisa for giving me this opportunity.

So you see, having a can-do attitude, and actually implementing it by getting out there and not being afraid to be rejected, has positive results. This has been a good two weeks for me, and I hope for you too. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to  so leave a comment or email me. Or, if you really really want to, subscribe to my newsletter 🙂

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Filed under Book Promotion, Diary of a Mad Writer, Motivation, Novel Inspiration, The Business of Books, The Writing Process, Writing and family life

INDIE Q & A

With guest author Atlanta Jackson

When one thinks of, say, Harrods, they have a specific brand and image in mind. Surely writers can’t also have a brand?

This isn’t true. Think of Alan Sugar or Steve Jobs – I’m sure you have ideas about them. Entrepreneurs also need a brand. To brand your novel or series or you as a writer means to give the audience an Idea of what they can expect. Think about how you are representing yourself, or your writing: the cover design, title, series title, shops or sites you sell in or on, everything you do and say. All these factors influence the way the audience thinks about you and your books; your brand lets them know what to expect when they pick up one of your novels.

Nina Amir on The Book Designer (http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2014/07/6-branding-tips-for-writers-and-authors/) agrees that authors need to brand and insists it is something that should be included in early success planning. The article, entitled 6 Branding Tips for Writers and Authors, is well worth a read.

Independent Publishers – do they really need to keep accounts?

The second a self-published author makes a penny from the sale of one of their books it is considered income by the HMRC. Thus it is vital current, up-to-date and accurate accounts are kept. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. A simple cash-flow table could suffice. You may find it can also help you with budgeting.

A simple example:                                        Jan        Feb       Mar

Cash flow in: Royalties                                 £100      £50       £125

Cash flow out: Book Covers                                        £50

(UK): If you earn less than £81,000 (at time of writing), you can enter your details on a cash basis (this includes payment from cheques, EFT etc, not just cash), making filling out the tax return so much less complicated. Sorry, don’t know the details of tax returns for other countries.

How can I motivate myself?

To motivate yourself, remember what you are working towards. This could be anything from simply finishing a single novel and seeing your hard work published, to being a bestselling author. Anything worth doing takes time and energy; writing a novel takes determination, commitment and can sometimes seem like the toughest thing in the world. Seeing your book out there for readers to enjoy far outweighs any discomfort if only you can stay positive and get it done.

Do I need an ITIN number. I’ve heard it’s complicated to get one?

Good news. Things have got simpler. You no longer need an ITIN or EIN number if you want to stop/reduce Withholding Tax (provided your country has a tax treaty with the US). Update the tax information on KDP or Createspace. You are now asked to provide a non-U.S identification number which (for the UK) can be your National Insurance Number or your UTR (Unique Tax Payers Reference number). Have just filled the form in myself and can’t believe how easy it is, when I was expecting trips to London and lots of waiting.

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