Tuesday 28 November 2017

Making Twitter Banners and Adverts plus a Bargain!

I've just come back from a gorgeous holiday in La Gomera and it's time to turn my attention once more to writing and also to marketing my Christmas collection, Silent Night. This is especially important as, for one week only, it's on Kindle Countdown at just 99p and if I don't tell people, no one will know about it. So here I am telling you - you can buy it here!

Since publication day in October, and without the marketing department of a publishing house to do it for me, I've had to think up new and creative ways of showing off my book. There are many tools on the internet to help you and, as I've had a few people ask me recently how I went about making my adverts - especially my Twitter banners - I thought I'd devote this post to explaining what I did.

First of all I needed a picture of my book cover but I also wanted some other pictures to use as backgrounds. I used Pixabay for this as it has a wide range of free to use illustrations and photographs - just right for what I wanted.

For example, the background of snowflakes in this Twitter banner was from the site. 

To get the picture the right size and to add text, I used Canva. Although you can use it on a PC or your phone, I found it worked best on my ipad. Canva is a basic design programme and it's very simple to use - it must be if I managed it! I used Canva to size my adverts to fit Facebook posts, Twitter banners and Instagram pictures (you name it, it can do it.)

But I also wanted to use my book cover in a different way. For this I used the free on-line photo editor LunaPic. I made the book cover graphics below using it. 

I also used LunaPic to add the frosted edge to the title picture and to add the snow effect in my Twitter banner below (you'll find it in 'animations').

I used a different program to add a filter to my pictures to give a different effect. For this I use the photo-editor App PS Express on my ipad. I love the way it changed the tone of my advert below from warm to cool.

While I was searching around for new things to use, I came across another fun site called Lumyer. Again I used it as an App on my ipad to create the heart effect on the advert below. I used this one on my Facebook author page. If you want to remove the watermark, you have to pay, otherwise it's free to use.

Not content with animations and gifs, I decided to try using a little fun App called Boomerang. It does what it says on the tin and makes a few second 'boomerang' movie of whatever you photograph. Clever eh? This is the one I made for my Facebook page and also for Instagram.

And there you have it. Lots of ways to advertise your novel without getting boring. I'm sure there are lots of other interesting Apps and websites out there that can brighten up your marketing. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments.

Which leaves me only to remind you that Silent Night is on sale for just 99p all this week. It's had some fabulous reviews which you can check out on Amazon and, if you're feeling festive and would like to take advantage of this offer, you can buy it here.

Thursday 16 November 2017

The RNA Winter Industry Award Party and Me

I went to the library yesterday. Not to borrow some books but to attend the RNA Winter Party and industry awards in London. This delightful venue was in Birdcage Walk and inspirational - being surrounded by books was certainly a fitting way to pass a few hours in the company of other authors.

I went to the party with my good writing friends, Liz Smith (who writes under the name of Liz Eeles) and  Susan Griffin - my partners in crime at this year's conference. To say the evening started eventfully would be an understatement. First, my train ticket wouldn't open the barrier. Luckily, there was a man in a little box (well he wasn't really in the box but that's just the way my brain works) who told me to show my him my ticket. I waved my ticket in front of his face on the screen only for him to say, when he guessed what I was doing, "No, show it to the camera, not my face." It transpired that the barrier hadn't opened was because I'd used my return ticket by mistake.

At last was got on the train - only Liz and I had been talking so much, it was the wrong one!

A change of trains later and we were on track again (excuse the pun) and joined up with Susan for the last leg of our journey... only we weren't out of the woods yet. Our taxi route from Victoria (remember I don't do tubes) came to a halt when we found the roads around St James' park barricaded off. We had to ditch the cab and walk so it was a good job I wasn't wearing my high shoes.

Eventually we arrived. The place was packed, the noise level was high and I stood there feeling, as I always do, slightly overwhelmed. I needn't have worried though as very soon, I spotted someone I knew and from then on the evening went in a whirl.

Me (right) and Kath McG
But it wasn't all socialising. An important part of the evening is the industry award ceremony. Congratulations to all the winners! I was particularly thrilled to learn that the publisher I write for, D C Thomson, was runner up in the category Publisher of the Year. You can find all the winners here.

I'd like to tell you that I was brave enough to introduce myself to Agent of the Year winner Broo Doherty, who has the first three chapters of novel two, and runner up Rebecca Richie who favourited my twitter pitch for novel one in the recent #TellAMH twitter pitch contest and has the first three chapters.... but it didn't happen! One day I'll stop worrying about what people think of me and just do it.

As always, I only managed to speak to half the people I would have liked - but never mind, there's always next time.

In other news, I am delighted to have recently had two sales to The People's Friend and today I found out that novel two has been long-listed in the Flash 500 novel opening and synopsis competition... keep your fingers crossed for me. Congratulations also to writing chum, Tracy Fells, who joins me on the list.

Finally, I'll leave you with a picture of my story in the People's Friend Annual 2018 (which is out now) called Where the River Leads.

Monday 6 November 2017

Just So Stories - editing out those banned words

Having recently published Silent Night, my new collection of short stories (you can read my post here) and spent time coming up with ways to market it (Book Marketing for Dummies) I've embarked on a new project - or rather gone back to an old one.

Anyone remember the romantic mystery novel I was working on a while ago that was set in Greece? This novel has been on a long and eventful journey with me (it even got me an agent for a while) and I now have two completely different versions of it - one in a single viewpoint and one with a dual narrative. For ages, I've been itching to go back to the original dual-narrative version and add in some of the better parts of the second version but, with the new novel I've been writing taking up most of my time, I've not been able to.

Now that novel two has been submitted to agents, I've been able to go back to reworking my special first book and I'm pleased to say that it's almost finished. Version three is, in my opinion, the best yet and I'm super excited to soon have two novels to offer agents and publishers (or to publish myself, if I go down that route).

It was only on reading through the manuscript again that I picked up on the fact that I'd used the phrase for a moment rather frequently (on checking, it was 28 times!) I could hardly believe it. With this in mind, I turned to Facebook to ask what words other authors knew they overused. I'm happy that people were not shy in coming forward with the words they knew were for the chop.

This is the list I came up with using their answers (most common first). See how clever I was with the title of this post!

just (mentioned by the majority)
a little
all at once
blood (an interesting one!)
not for the first time

That's quite a list and I'm going to be busy checking out all these sneaky little words that creep in when our backs are turned... I may be gone some time!

Have you got any favourites you can add to the list?

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a picture my latest story in The People's Friend called, Next to Me.