The Art of Misdirection – now available to buy at Amazon

I’ve been a little quite of late due to a number of projects I’ve been focusing on, the main one being the final edit and launch of The Art of Misdirection.

3D-Book-TAOMHappy to announce the day is finally here and the novel is now available to buy on Kindle from Amazon, both in the UK and the US.

I’m just beginning to promote the book on twitter and soon on Facebook.

Don’t forget, you can still get a free sample of the book here, or you can download a free sample to read on the free Kindle App.

I’d love you hear what you think.

 

 

 

Five things I’ve learned crowdfunding my first novel on Inkshares

One month into promoting my first novel The Art of Misdirection on Inkshares and I’ve learned that crowdfunding isn’t as easy as you might think.

inkshareslogoRather than providing a means for collecting the cash to fund whatever project milestones you decide on, Inkshares crowdfunding platform collects preorders to fund the publication of your book.


They then take care of the design, editing, distribution and marketing for the final product, providing you hit your funding target—all the stuff that, even with a chunk of cash raised, you might not have time, resources or know-how to do yourself.

It’s an interesting proposition and one that appealed to me because of its author-focus, and the possibility that they can take on some of the heavy lifting once the funding target is hit.

One month in and my own campaign with Inkshares hasn’t exactly taken off like I’d hoped. This is primarily because the onus on promoting the campaign lives with me, and not with Inkshares. New to crowdfunding, and to online promotion of my work in general, I went into it woefully unprepared and am now playing catchup.

So, what should you know before you start using Inkshares—or similar services—to crowdfund your novel?

1. Build it and (then) they will come:

By ‘it’, in this case, I mean your fan base. Launching into your crowdfunding campaign without an existing fan base is just about as stupid as it sounds. No twitter or Facebook followers? No blog for readers to see your work on? You’re making life that much harder for yourself. Even if you are hugely talented, you’re going to find it hard to shout about your campaign with no-one listening to you—and it takes time to build up your audience …

2. Give yourself time:

Since I had a finished work in its final stages of editing, I jumped right ahead and announced my novel for funding via Inkshares on day one. A bad move. I didn’t have to do this—I could have listed the work, generated interest, and then switched the funding campaign on at a later stage.

In the last month I’ve worked hard to increase twitter followers, to produce interesting and relevant blog content and to build up some sort of audience, but the campaign-clock is ticking. Generating interest in your project before launching your crowd funding campaign will help buy you extra time to hit your target.

3. Hone your pitch:

Using a platform like Inkshares means you don’t have to pitch to an agent or publisher—but you do have to pitch to hundreds of thousands of potential readers. The Inkshares platform is designed to be friendly and encouraging, but when you start to promote your campaign on other channels it becomes much harder to tell potential readers what your book is about without a concise pitch and tagline. Can’t explain your plot in a paragraph? How about 140 characters?

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4. Think visually:

A decent cover will go a long way towards making your project stand out from the crowd, but visual assets are also important for promoting across other channels, too. Appropriately sized assets for social media channels will help your campaign look professional and will encourage people to share. If you can afford to hire a designer, that’s your best bet. If you’re going to do it yourself, Canva is the best online tool I’ve found for creating e-book covers, with lots of templates and professional photography you can use for a minimal fee.

Book trailers and video interviews are also great at attracting attention. There are quite a few on the Inkshare platform and they certainly seem to help give their book a boost.

Have a look at this example from Alison Carlson’s Winston Churchill study, The Man Within:

5. Be social:

Twitter remains the biggest source of traffic for my campaign and social media has really helped drive traffic to my Inkshares page, and to my blog. Facebook was great for announcing the campaign, and drove the first batch of sales.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 18.44.43

I’m still working on build up more interesting content to tweet about (see points 1 & 2) but the most successful social interactions to date have come from a raft of related content I’ve been working on: given that 1930s London gangster Darby Sabini appears in my book, and the recent Netflix series Peaky Blinders, this gave me a great excuse to talk about my research, and tap into Peaky Blinders fan base. Thinking outside the box is a great way of expanding your reach. Inspired by a particular places, person or piece of work? There’s a whole bunch of new people to talk to about your campaign through social media.

So, that’s my experience of crowdfunding with Inkshares to date. Not as successful as I would have liked (though there’s still time) but if nothing else launching the campaign has forced me to focus on developing my online presence as a writer. I’ve doubled my twitter followers, have a blog up and running, and new short fiction and articles circulating online.

If the Inkshares campaign doesn’t hit its target, then I’ll have at least gone some way to building up a fan base for other activity in the future.

Launching your book through Inkshares or another crowdfunding platform? Let me know our experiences below, and check out the Art of Misdirection funding page while you’re at it.

ENGLAND’S FINEST CRIMINAL MINDS ARE ABOUT TO GO TO WAR …

I’m happy to report my first novel, The Art of Misdirection, is now available for preorder from Inkshares.

The Art of Misdirection tells the true story of how the nation’s art treasures were hidden in tube stations, country homes and caves during the second world war, along with the fictional story of an apprentice art thief who is betrayed by his mentor and sets out across war-torn London determined to get his revenge. Continue reading ENGLAND’S FINEST CRIMINAL MINDS ARE ABOUT TO GO TO WAR …

Cover Inspiraton for The Art of Misdirection

I’m preparing to brief the illustrator who will be creating the cover illustration for The Art of Misdirection in the next few weeks. Seeing as it’s a pretty lengthy novel it’s unlikely he’ll get the chance to read that much of it before he starts work. So, how best to give a flavour of the stories contents and tone?

I’m trying a Pinterest board to begin with, pulling together images and photographs that reflect the story and setting and it feels like it will at least help to prompt some ideas.

Sidney Paget keeps coming to mind, but how this would work for the cover, or how it could look contemporary and capture that kind of feel, I’m not sure.

Still, the Pinterest board is a nice easy way to pull together a mood board to brief in the illustrator – and seeing as he won’t have to wade through 120,000 words, I’m sure he’ll agree.


To self-publish, or not to self publish?

It’s hardly a new question to consider: hold out for an agent and a publisher that will hopefully lead to a big things, or self publish and work to build an audience yourself.

If you’re keen to snag a traditional publishing deal you might well be spending your time submitting to agents, writing and rewriting synopsis’, dealing with rejections and re-submitting, in the hope of finding representation.

Who knows? Maybe you’re brilliant, or maybe you’re lucky. You might get the advance and the multi-book deal you’ve been dreaming of. And if you don’t, at least you’ve kept your integrity, right? At least you aimed high. At least you didn’t stick it on Amazon and set it adrift amidst the sea of self published flotsam, the fifty shades of shit we now have to wade through whenever we want to browse through our biggest digital bookstore.

I’ll admit it, the above was my own view for many years. Even when writers I knew and admired ‘went digital’, I felt vaguely superior in holding out for a major agent/publisher.

Well, last week I arranged for a fantastic illustrator to design a cover for my first completed novel, The art of Misdirection, which I’ll be self publishing in April, and next week I’ll be arranging for an editor to do a final pass.

So, what changed?

Time plays a part here. While I’ve focused on finding an agent, some of my writer friends are pushing ahead, getting their content out there and moving on to the next thing. Science fiction writer David J Rodger (a man with a work ethic comparative to Balzac), and Cthulu obsessive John Houlihan, who recently published four books in one day, are both currently self publishing in earnest (not that they haven’t both dabbled with traditional models in the past).

Talking to Rodger or Houlihan is inspiring stuff – not only are they good writers, but they’re getting on with the process of writing and publishing their work, ultimately they’re being read – which is what a writer wants. If you’re not being read, it’s arguable that you’re not really a writer at all. Besides, being read can lead to other things too.

Recently stricken by a music analogy, I wonder how many bands are sat at home rehearsing, only ever playing live in the hope of being signed by a major label? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it.

There’s a great piece by David Vinjamuri that expands on a lot of the thoughts I’ve been having around this, summarising some of the polarised attitudes that exist around self-publishing.

Compare Sue Grafton’s attitude:

To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. … Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall

… with Hugh Howey’s (author of the Silo Series), and in particular his summing up:

Instead of wasting one’s time writing query letters, why not work on that next manuscript instead?

All well and good to suggest if you can’t cut the traditional route you should put down your pen, but traditional publishing has plenty of misfires and mistakes under it’s belt and when the quick moving world of social media is becoming an integral part of marketing new books, it feels like the publish and be damned option is the smarter move.

Considering Howey’s success, (from self-publish, to publishing deal, to Hollywood) I’m going to self publish… and get to work on the next manuscript.

 


 

The Mailman, by Bentley LittleCurrently reading: The Mailman, by Bentley Little. Hugely enjoyable Stephen King-esque creepy horror set in small town America. How Bentley Little has passed me by so far is beyond me. If this is indicative of his other output I’ll be devouring everything I can find of his over the next few months. Perfectly paced character driven horror. Highly recommended.