How often should you post on your blog (and announcement on the future of this blog!)

After a prolonged absence, I’m back and thought I’d talk about how often you should post on your blog. And why I haven’t posted regularly for a while.

Most advise you to post often on your blog. I used to post every week, but after a few months I found I was running out of ideas. This blog was meant to be talking about the writing process and my experience with self-publishing, but once I had explored most subjects (at least that’s my impression), I found myself rehashing the same subjects through a different lens. And I wasn’t enjoying writing anymore. This is partly why I haven’t posted regularly. I prefer to not post anything, than post something I have written halfheartedly.

To this effect, I’ve been thinking about diversifying this blog and write other pieces, not just about the writing process. So I will be rearranging things on this blog and publish something different soon (I’m thinking along the lines of short stories and free poetry).

If you’d like a sneak peek, you can go to my instagram and look at the highlight titled “Thoughts” where I’ve started posting free poetry and quotes.

I appreciate every one of my followers and I’m very grateful you take the time to read what I post. I hope you will like the new stuff I will post soon. Stay tuned here for the next post and thank you for your support until now!

You will receive an email/notification when I post something on my blog (if you’ve subscribed to this), but I will also announce any new blog post on my Facebook Author page and my instagram page, so be sure to check those platforms for regular updates as well.

What would you like to read on this blog? Short stories or free poetry? Or something completely different? Leave a comment below. 🙂

Should you pay for book reviews

If you’re about to publish your first book, you may not have thought about paying for reviews. I paid for my first review on Reedsy Discovery which went rather well, but I had no intention of regularly paying for reviews.

Over the course of 2020 I was contacted by reviewers that were eager to review my book, but they wanted to be paid (fee + book price). I tried a couple, which led to more reviewers contacting me. I was swayed and agreed to pay for about a handful. You might think it sounds like a scam (which it most of the time is) but I fell into the trap of laziness. It’s easy to pay for someone to review your book. It’s easy to just throw money out and then think this will somehow lead to sales. They all promise you lots of sales and having no prior experience, I gave it a try.

But I noticed that some reviews contained significant misrepresentation of the plot line, mistakes you would not make if you had read the book. I also noticed that some reviewers only posted their reviews on one platform, but not on others even though we had agreed on it. Some promised a review by a certain date, and a month later it was still not done.

*So to all new authors, self-published authors or soon-to-be self-published authors; be very very careful when someone asks you to pay them to review your book. Be very selective and if you do still choose to pay, find a reviewer you trust, or do it through a reputable middle-man (like Reedsy for example).*

Some paid reviewers I’ve worked with are really great, but those have almost exclusively been contacted by myself, not the other way around. I have decided to no longer pay for book reviews. Even if it costs me more time to find reviewers because I have to actively seek them out rather than waiting to be contacted by them, I prefer providing a free copy to someone who really likes to review books and will do so honestly.

Important side note on ratings: Handing out free copies does not guarantee or entitle you to a positive review. You need reviews for your book to sell it, and the reviewer needs to be impartial if he/she wants to continue reviewing books. You can build great relationships with reviewers (and therefore your audience), especially if you intend on publishing more than one book. Long-lasting co-operation is not built on threats or demands (from either side). And feedback on your work, even negative feedback, can always be constructive.

What is your experience with paid reviews?

Looking back on 2020

It’s been a long year and a rather hard one. I remember thinking on New Year’s 2019 that 2020 would be my year. I had lots of plans and they didn’t really happen. But that doesn’t mean it was a year wasted.

I thought that 2021 will be much better because Covid19 will be under control. With the latest news I’m starting to think 2021 will be just as challenging. But I’m determined to make the best of it. And therefore, I also have to look at 2020.

While I didn’t write as much as I had hoped during 2020, I maintained this blog and I’m working on the sequel of When Colour Became Grey. This year was exceptional because the world was very stressed about the virus and the unknown it represents. It’s hard to feel inspired and write on your fantasy novel, when you’re thinking about money and preparing a plan in case you lose your job.

Now, I know what’s coming. I know the governments can with very little to no notice close all borders and impose restrictions. It’s still incredibly stressful to have this unknown around you, to be scared of going outside and being isolated from others, but I know what the restrictions will be. And you learn to live with the fact that you can’t plan in advance.

In a writing context it means that I have to be flexible with my writing schedule, and at the same time I need to stick to it a bit more. This year I’ve let myself go, but next year I need to be more productive. I have another idea brewing in my head for a short story that I may slip in before publishing the sequel of When Colour Became Grey, but I haven’t fleshed it out enough to start writing it.

I definitely have writing targets for 2021, and once I’ve moved, I will visually display them so I keep an eye on them. 😉

And while 2020 might not have been what we all hoped, 2021 will be better. I for one will not let Covid19 derail my life more than it already has. I will make the best of it, however I can.

What are your writing goals for 2021? Did you reach all your writing targets for 2020?

The number 1 lesson learned from my first book launch

Perseverance.

There is no overnight success, it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy and money. The money to me is not so material than the time and energy aspect. The fact that promoting a book takes money is obvious to me, but I had underestimated the amount of time and energy it would take.

Naively, I thought that by telling all my friends and family, colleagues and anyone I vaguely knew about the book, everyone would buy the book, leave glowing reviews, and it would somehow take care of itself and sales would just multiply exponentially with Amazon’s trending features etc. I’m not saying you can’t have a bit of luck and you publish the book that everyone has been secretly dying for, it’s read by masses of people around the globe who all rave about it and suddenly you’re on Oprah. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. And I’m not saying this to discourage anyone. I’m saying this to prepare you for the marathon ahead of you.

Your network will read and promote it, but your network is not enough, unless you already have a large robust network of readers. And creating a network takes time and effort.

Firstly; no one knows you. Why would you buy a book from someone you’ve never heard of? The cost of a book is low compared to other activities, yes. A paperback is basically the price of a glass of wine at a restaurant and an ebook can be priced as low as 0,99GBP. But when is the last time you bought a book from someone you had never heard of? That’s the first hurdle.

Secondly, and heavily linked to the first point; your book has no or very few reviews. When is the last time you bought something that had no or a very low number of reviews? How much would you pay for something that you basically can’t return because the book is not like an iPhone cover you can return if you don’t like it?

And thirdly, linked to the second point; if you buy a book, you’re committing to reading it. And that means you’re asking a reader to not only pay for your book, but also spend time reading it. And if you’ve ever had the experience of reading a bad book, you know how selective you become especially towards unknown independent authors.

These are the three main hurdles as I see it. So you can’t rely on your network to do all the work for you. You’re the one who wants to make this book a success, so you have to promote and advertize it.

And simply throwing money at it doesn’t work either. If you want to advertize and promote your book, you need to understand the options you have, and dedicate time and energy to figure out target audience, ad words and search terms, create promotional text and pictures, analyze sales and adjust your campaigns.

However, all this is not said to discourage anyone. It’s to let you know publishing a book is just the first step. It will be a long grind and this is just the beginning. But it is worth it. Every time I read a positive review it makes my day. Because even if I know it’s a good book, it’s nice to share this with other readers and be confirmed that it’s not just you that holds this belief. Especially if you’ve faced criticism before, or been told that no self-published author can ever “make it”.

All you can do is keep at it. Making a book a success is a lot harder than it looks, but also very much worth every sweat and tear.

Why it’s good to get bored

During the day you’re always busy doing something; working, running errands, cooking etc. And when you’re writing, your mind is also active. You’re thinking about plot line and characters, how the story should develop, how to market your book…

It’s hard to be bored nowadays. When there’s nothing to do, you still reach for your phone or tablet, or distract yourself by doing something. You don’t really ever sit down and look out the window to let your mind wander. And that means on the one hand you can organize your time, always increase your productivity and utilize your time at the optimum level. Even when you relax, you watch tv or read a book or have a conversation, but you don’t stare outside and see where your mind goes. On the other hand, by always doing something with your time, you don’t let your brain entertain itself by forcing you to be bored.

I believe that being bored is important. I believe we should take the time to stare into the air and wait for our minds to wander. And the reason for this is creativity. Because when you’re bored, that’s when your creativity switches on. Connections are formed that you wouldn’t have predicted otherwise and you can have brilliant ideas.

So even if it looks like you’re wasting your time, you’re actually letting your mind work in the background. And there’s a way you can potentially influence in which direction your mind wanders. When I was studying in school I used to quickly revise one last time before going to bed on the evening before a test, so it would be the last thing on my mind before sleeping and I would hopefully remember it better in the morning. It meant that I would dream about the subject as well. Using this, when I effectively force myself to get bored, I always start by thinking about the books I’m writing. And as time passes, my mind wanders in random directions, but at least I’ve started with my books so hopefully I can then trigger some great ideas.

Have you tried this as well? Do you get bored? And how do you “use” your time when you’re bored?

*NOW CLOSED* Free ebook!* Download Now!

Ready, set, GO!

My ebook When Colour Became Grey is available for free NOW in all Amazon stores! Download it anytime between Thursday 26th November 8am UK time // 9am CET and Saturday 28th November 7.59am UK time // 8.59am CET. Click on the country-specific links below, or head over to Amazon and add it to your cart!

*Note; the paperback is still at the standard price, but the ebook is available for free. Just click on the format type on Amazon to get the free Kindle version*

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon India

Amazon France

Amazon Germany

Happy reading! 🙂 And yes, there will be a sequel!

[If you liked the book, please leave a review online. 🙂 ]

Using your emotions to write

*ebook promotion reminder!* My ebook When Colour Became Grey will be available FOR FREE to download from Thursday 26th November 8am UK time // 9am CET until Saturday 28th November 7.59am UK time // 8.59am CET. Get ready to download in just a few days! 🙂

Whatever you’re feeling, you can use your emotions to write and let yourself be inspired by them. Depending on what genre you write, there will be emotions communicated in your writing. If your book is a horror story, the emotions may be mostly sinister, but there are still a multitude of emotions you can explore within that dark setting.

Sometimes writing is used to escape your current life situation. But what if your feelings are just too present? What if you cannot dissociate from them? As they say, if you cannot beat them, join them. In that sense, if you are having trouble connecting to your book and characters, then focus on parts of the book that are similar emotionally to your current state of mind.

Right now, I’m in lockdown, it’s cold and dark outside. I’m feeling depressed, lonely, annoyed, restless, angry. So when I write I will focus on parts of the book that are centered around betrayal, heartbreak, loneliness and despair. It will be harder for me to describe a summer wedding right now, unless I can completely disconnect from my current surrounding. And while I often can disconnect, sometimes the things in my personal life are just too present. But this doesn’t mean you cannot utilize what you feel. That way you’re not limited to writing only when you’re in a particular state of mind that fits the plot line.

What are you currently feeling? How is your writing going this winter season?

[Disclaimer: I’m working on the sequel of When Colour Became Grey, but any scenes described in this blog are always just examples. There are no spoilers in my description above. 😉 ]

How to find time to write

*ebook promotion reminder!* My ebook When Colour Became Grey will be available FOR FREE to download from Thursday 26th November 8am UK time // 9am CET until Saturday 28th November 7.59am UK time // 8.59am CET. Remember to mark your calendars and tell your friends & family!

There is a difference between finding the time to write, and finding the motivation to write. Or is there?

We all have 24 hours in the day. No more and no less. Look at your average day and quantify how much time you actually spend indulging. Look at your average weekend, your work week, your month, and have a rough idea of how much time you spend relaxing, watching tv, scrolling on your phone, talking on the phone with friends/family, going out to socialize [pre-lockdown obviously…], etc. There is now a focus on how much time we spend endlessly scrolling through feeds without really doing anything productive. And I’m guilty of it too. I often catch myself doing something completely mindlessly and wasting my time doodling around.

You will realize you have lots of time, but you do other things. If you really want to dedicate time to your craft, be it writing, or building a boat, or whatever it may be, you have to compromise and choose to sit down and work on your craft instead of doing something else.

Look into if you can save time by organizing yourself. Don’t go shopping and wander through the aisles looking for inspiration for dinner. Have a plan, have a shopping list, make it your goal to reduce your time. Look at utilizing the time that is basically “lost” in your daily life, like commuting/driving while doing errands. Maybe you can’t write when you’re standing in a crowded train, but you can read. You can read books in your genre, or read educational books on whatever it is you want to learn or improve in. If you’re in a car, there are audible books, podcasts and many more tools to not let that time go to waste.

The answer to both finding the time to write, and finding the motivation to write, is the same (in my opinion). Because the “magic” trick is to simply take the decision to carve that time out of your daily or weekly time and sit down and do it. How do you motivate yourself to write? Sit down and don’t let yourself get distracted and remind yourself what your goal is. Do you want to write a book? Master a new skill? Learn a new language? Then take it one day at a time and work on it little by little. And keep at it.

Lockdown Repeat – let’s get creative

*ebook promotion announcement!* My ebook When Colour Became Grey will be available FOR FREE to download from Thursday 26th November 8am UK time // 9am CET until Saturday 28th November 7.59am UK time // 8.59am CET. Tell your friends, mark your calendars and get ready to download! 🙂

We’re now in a second lockdown, and I’m remembering my blog post about the first lockdown and my creative goals. This lockdown isn’t as strict as the first one, and not as long (for now) as the first one, but this time it’s a different season. It’s cold and often rainy outside, so the desire to go outside is certainly not as strong as during the first lockdown. So I would like to try to be more creative this time around. After all, might as well use this time to do something productive (if I can…).

As you can see from the first paragraph, I’m planning an ebook promotion. This will take up a fair bit of time planning and organizing over the next few weeks. I hope to still be able to work on the sequel to When Colour Became Grey in between work and the ebook promotion. In any case, we’re approaching Christmas and this time of the year I feel more creative. You’re indoors, with a cup of tea or coco, curled up on the sofa, a candle or two shimmering on the table. Add to that a bit of calm background music and you’re golden. It doesn’t get much cozier than that! And winter is just beginning, the darkness and long rainy days will continue until March usually so I hope to advance in the sequel even after the second lockdown is lifted.

There is also something about it being cold and wet outside, that creates this atmosphere of mystery and wonder. You can look outside and imagine the darkness weighing on your character as he/she hurries out of danger and into the safety of a tavern. Maybe there’s a sword fight in the rain, or a magic ritual performed that goes wrong…

What are you planning during this lockdown? Do you also have a creative goal?

Using Word features to organize your thoughts

It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what is happening when, especially if you write a longer book, or to remember if you’ve explained something already or if it’s just in your head.

When I write, I often let my mind wonder and let the fingers type away on my keyboard. I don’t worry too much about how it works in the overall story. I have the outline of the story in the back of my mind, but I don’t interfere or direct my thoughts in any one way or another.

In draft one, I have lots of scenes and patches written. Next step is about connecting and changing them so they make sense and fit together. I don’t write the whole story in the first draft.

Often I will have many open questions that remain unanswered for months on end, until I figure out what to do with them and how they fit in the story. It can range from a character I haven’t introduced or assigned a role yet, or a scene I don’t know where to place, but it can also be insiders that hint towards something, but I haven’t yet written the corresponding part to it. I need to remember to finish that thought somewhere. For this I use footnotes in Word a lot. I use them to remind myself of plot holes or things that don’t work at the moment. Often I will forget about them until I read the footnote (hence why I always write it down). And reading them repeatedly helps me remind myself of what I still need to figure out. These footnotes accumulate in the back of my mind so when I write new parts, or rewrite parts, I will remember them and incorporate them.

I also use colours when I want to highlight something that is currently written a certain way, but needs to be rewritten, but I can’t figure out how yet.

I also highlight important things that I know will be key moments in the story, so that when I look for them or want to double-check what I wrote previously, I can quickly find it. I use this for example when I introduce a character for the first time.

How do you organize your thoughts when you write?