Sunday, 12 November 2017

Indie Authors as Entrepreneurs

One of the most interesting and helpful sessions at the recent ScotsWrite Conference run by the Society of Authors in Scotland was the one from online guru Joanna Penn. I've been following Joanna's blog posts and podcasts for a few years and no one is more helpful to those authors who are creative writers but also want to run their own self-publishing business.

I've outlined some of her talk below but you can also follow Joanna at the Creative Penn where you'll find a wealth of advice. Joanna writes both fiction and non-fiction and it's fascinating to see how her career (and income) has grown over the years

Change of Mindset

  • entrepreneurs should create value from their ideas, such as publishing e-books, print books and audio books. Some even create workbooks to do with their subject

Focus on the Customer

  • for writers, it's all about the reader and not ourselves. What do they want to pay for? 
  • use Amazon to research and understand your target market - what are competitive titles? What are the sub categories for your genre?

Intellectual Property Rights

  • if with a publisher - what rights have you sold? If e-books, then investigate using the print rights, audio and translation rights yourself. 
  • write more books; alternate fiction with non-fiction
  • write a series and hook readers with the first one
  • try novellas - from 25,000 to 40,000 words
  • create a box set by offering a few similar books or series in one file for a bargain price
  • some authors only use Amazon to self-publish but you could also publish with Kobo and Apple yourself.

Multiple Income Streams

  • as well as writing novels, try short writing for magazines 
  • offer online courses (through teachable) 
  • try affiliate commission on your blog or website (where readers click on Amazon or whatever, earning you a small affiliate fee if they buy)

Take Action

  • schedule time to include the business side of writing and to set goals
  • decide what you want (hope?) to earn from your business - when (by next year?) and what you could do to achieve it.
I was so busy scribbling away while absorbing Joanna's lively talk that I've probably missed a lot. We might not all want to be entrepreneurs to such an extent but one of the simplest things I could do right away is to set proper goals - so I can finish all my ideas and fragments of stories!


Monday, 30 October 2017

The Story of a Cover (and Special Offer)

We've all heard it many a time in the world of indie publishing: the cover art is very important and we must leave it to the professionals or at least get it right!

I love doing my own covers where possible and can spend hours enjoying finding the right photograph of my own or sourcing a suitable one elsewhere. However, I've never had such difficulty with one as I did with my latest Victorian novella: Pride and Progress.

Part of the problem was my usual impatience to get it done and dusted, both the writing and the cover. But I forgot one simple, important lesson I learned from my Crooked Cat publisher (among others): the cover should only reflect the genre and period (if relevant) and not the whole story.

So, I first tried to incorporate a steam train into a Victorian looking background, as well as a Victorian lady. Some of you were kind enough to tell me you liked it, but I was never completely comfortable with it, especially trying to add that train in such a way.

Then I decided to change all my books to my full name which meant historicals were no longer under Romy - why did I not decide that before publishing the novella?! And so I tried another version of the cover, without the train this time. But again, I instinctively knew it wasn't good enough, and I preferred the original.

Finally, I did what I should have done before now and took a small subscription to one of the best photo image sites where I have much better choice if I don't have an image of my own. And it was third time lucky, as far as I'm concerned. No train, no Victorian image that had to be incorporated into the scene. I took note of the kind of covers being published now on historical novels and I really like the girl with cameo brooch.

Rather than leave it in its original state, I played around with it until happy with the portrayal of my heroine, Emily, in the hope it gives the impression of a romantic novella about a young Victorian woman. Although the steam train plays a big part in the story, it's basically a romance and thus is aimed at that readership.

Hopefully, I'll be more patient in future until I get it right first time!


P.S. I've now put Pride and Progress on an Amazon Countdown at 99p (99c) to run from Saturday 4th November until Wednesday 8th!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Celebratory Offers!

Now that I've finally changed over most of my books to my full name, I thought it was a good time to put three different types of book on a special countdown offer for a few days, while I'm also about to celebrate another birthday!

The following are on Amazon countdown from 21st to 26th October. You can find them on my Amazon Author Page UK and USA.

Mischief at Mulberry Manor

A Victorian novella with romance and ghost story set around Twelfth Night.

When Maryanne Robertson visits her cousins’ old manor house for the Twelfth Night Masked Ball in 1859, she does not expect to find the manor haunted or to fall in love. But mischief is afoot and one of her cousins is missing as frost covers the ground outdoors. 

Is the mischief caused by a ghostly presence or someone more human? 

End of the Road

Twelve quirky short stories from fantasy and black humour to light crime. Ideal for Halloween!

Return to Kilcraig

First time price reduction!

The legacy of her beloved grandmother's cottage in the Scottish village of Kilcraig seems like the ideal solution after Christy Morrison’s recent trauma. Until the threats begin. Can she trust her heart and allow herself to fall in love again?

When Ross McKinley reluctantly welcomes Christy back to the village, he has hardened his heart against love, until they begin to renew their childhood friendship. But someone is determined Christy should go back to London. Will they find the culprit in time?

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Changes Afoot!

Well just after releasing a new Romy novella, I've now decided to make major changes to my writing career!

Courtesy of Pixabay

I've been thinking for some time about the need to have all my writing under my full name and I've now set this in motion. It doesn't make sense to have three names for novels: Rosemary, Romy and Ros. Everything will be so much easier if confined to the one name - once I change everything over.

So guess what I'll be doing for the next few weeks? As of today, I've taken my two tween books (as Ros) out of circulation while I changed the covers and author name etc. Fortunately, I had redrafted them when I took them over from the publisher so I was able to upload the new versions today and they should soon be available again - and will then reappear on the side of the blog.

The rights for some of my Romy books are reverting to me in the next week so they too will be changed along with those I already own (including that new novella!). It's exciting but daunting and I'll have to sort out Amazon author pages, Facebook author page and anything else I can remember. At least twitter is under my full name and I shall be revamping my newsletter when all have been changed over.

It's a good excuse to take general stock at the same time and see if anything can be improved or enhanced. I'm very glad my two full length Scottish novels were published under Rosemary, as are all my short stories and articles, so they can remain in circulation.

So watch this space! Once all the books are wearing their new covers and have been republished, I'll do an update on here. Meanwhile, you'll notice some of the covers at the side disappearing now and then until ready. At least I'll be able to streamline any publicity for conferences from now on.


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Progress of New Victorian Novella

At last, my new Victorian novella, Pride and Progress, is now published! This began life as a short story which was shortlisted in a national competition. One of my writing friends loved the heroine, Emily, so much that I decided it needed to be a longer story. However, life, procrastination, other writing and a house move got in the way of progress until I finally finished it.

Brand new (and different) cover!

Set in the 1870s, the railways play a big part in the story as I absolutely love steam trains. Although many of the British railway lines had been built by the end of the 1840s, some more remote areas had to wait until the 1860s/70s to be connected. Many people were against such progress at first and that gave me the conflict between the heroine and the Scottish station master, Arthur.

Steam train at Bo'ness

The husband and I have been on most of the steam trains in North Wales, as well as the West Highland Way and Aviemore in Scotland. Since our move, we've finally been for a journey on the one at Bo'ness which is not too far from us so we'll be going again later this month with granddaughter. My lovely father-in-law was a station master and we were delighted to find the actual ticket office from one of the stations he worked at is the one they brought to the preserved line at Bo'ness! In homage to him, I've used his first name for my hero.

So, although this is a sweet, feel-good novella and a quick read, it's one that is close to my heart and I'm just glad to see it finished at last.

Short blurb for Pride and Progress

Miss Emily Morton is content with her village life as a teacher in the north east of England in the 1870s, until the new railway arrives along with the handsome Scottish station master, Arthur Muir.
Emily detests the railways, while it is Arthur's passion.
Each is challenged by the other but will pride allow for progress?

It's now available on Amazon UK and Amazon US and worldwide

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

ScotsWrite17 Conference

Well, what a fabulous weekend conference we had at the excellent Westerwood Hotel just north of Glasgow. The Society of Authors in Scotland pulled out all the stops, with generous support from Creative Scotland among others, to make ScotsWrite17 a resounding success.

From Friday dinner until Sunday afternoon, it was non-stop with inspiring speakers, very helpful break-out sessions, one-to-ones with agents and publishing editors and even a few wellbeing opportunities. The whole weekend followed the Japanese concept of Ikigai, meaning 'a reason for being' with its four themes: passion, profession, mission and vocation - all necessary to writers.

The four keynote speakers, Joanne Harris, Jane Johnson, Charlie Higson and Joanna Penn wowed us with their empowering talks while break-out sessions gave us many choices including Denise Mina, Caro Ramsay, Jane Johnson, Francesca Main (Picador), Joanna Penn and Sally Polson (Floris). Some were so popular that numbers were limited and we were forced to try something else - not a bad idea as it turned out.

I decided to make use of the wellbeing aspects of the weekend as an enhancement to creative talks and sessions. Caro Ramsay is a highly sought-after Osteopath as well as a crime writer (and very entertaining) and she explained how an ergonomic workspace should lead to pain-free writing, especially with using our core muscles and keeping the monitor at the correct height. There was much more but probably a bit rushed in the time limit to take it all in.

I've long wanted to try Tai Chi so I managed to get to the morning class before breakfast both mornings and I loved it - it's such a gentle form of exercise and wakens up the body. As music affects me deeply, the soothing ethereal notes were a bonus and made it quite a moving experience. We even had CPR training available in another room throughout the Saturday from a doctor involved with Save a Life Scotland. An excellent 'drop-in' idea which only took five minutes of our time and might help someone one day.

Apart from the excellent food, meeting old and new friends, non-stop chat and learning, there was a special Botanist Gin-tasting session before dinner on the Saturday. One of my friends would have appreciated this more than I did, but I noticed it was well-attended! Much more my kind of thing was the ceilidh after dinner on the Saturday evening, with a live Scottish band. Great fun, though an hour of riotous Scottish dancing was enough for me after such a full-on day.

Even on Sunday, we had Joanna Penn's fabulous keynote talk, followed by two break-out sessions of 50 minutes each, then after lunch we ended with an 'Insider Secrets' panel of speakers. A great way to end such a memorable conference.

I'll try and give you a flavour of two of the most sessions in subsequent posts as they are so interesting and deserve their own space: Floris Books and Joanna Penn.

Now to put all that inspiration into practice!


Friday, 15 September 2017

Inspiring Short Break

Now that we're well settled here, we took the chance of having a short break across in the Kingdom of Fife, one of our favourite places in the east of Scotland. We've been many times before but are so much nearer now which allowed us to drive over the new bridge, the Queensferry Crossing, then all the way up the East Neuk.


Most of the fishing villages are still as picturesque and traditional, with their fishing boats, creels and fresh lobster and crab for sale at various small booths. This time, we found a new-to-us village where the empty long sandy beach and wild sea and cliffs was only enhanced by the cold windy day! Most exhilarating.

Before heading home on the Monday, we stopped at historic Culross, where much of the Outlander series was filmed. It is one of the most intact 16th/17th century villages in Scotland and I could picture the past with ease - even the streets are mostly still cobbled.

I'll let the photos do the talking on this post!


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Welcome to Autumn!

It's the time of year I most love: summer is more or less over, the days are fresher and the nights are drawing in! I haven't quite got as far as rearranging clothes and footwear yet but it won't be long before the cosier tops and tights, and boots, take a more prominent place. Already I can feel my energy levels increasing and look forward to a more productive time without the lethargy of summer.

Fortunately, we're more settled in our new house and area, with only a few small things still to fix or change. I'm enjoying seeing more of granddaughter and helping out with the school run a few times a week - it's a privilege to hear about this exciting new time in her life. Her parents are grateful too, as it takes a bit of pressure off them.

I've now started an inspiration (or vision) board that sits at one side of my desk as a reminder of what I enjoy or want to achieve. It's a work in progress and it's good fun, looking for images or quotes to add. As a visual person, this suits my work space very well so hopefully it will inspire me!

Since yesterday was probably one of the best days for getting out and about up here, sunny at times but with a lovely fresh breeze, we headed off by train to the beautiful east coast town of North Berwick. I've never been before but have heard so much about it that it was the perfect distance for a whole day out without having to drive. And I was not disappointed. I expect this was the first of many such trips and I'm not surprised that many people spend longer breaks there.


Bass Rock

As well as lying along a very pretty stretch of coast, the town is full of those small shops that entice passers-by to browse. Then there's the attractive harbour with the Scottish Seabird Centre overlooking the rocky area down to sea and beach. And one of the most impressive sights is the famous Bass Rock which hosts the world's largest colony of Northern gannets. I definitely need to go back to take one of the boat trips on offer as they also cruise around the Isle of May to see the biggest colony of puffins on the east coast of Britain - and I'm sure there are many more interesting sights along the coast.


I was intrigued to see the remains of an ancient church sitting near the Seabird Centre and of course I went in to investigate. The photo is shows most of what is left of the chapel but I took note of its interesting history - the area was one of pilgrimage in the past. Being right on the Firth of Forth, fresh seafood is available in many of the eating places - there's even a little lobster hatchery at the end of the harbour where you can find out exactly how they grow (I won't be eating any of them!). It was certainly good for the soul being in such beautiful natural surroundings and I can't wait to return.

All I need to do now is get stuck into redrafting the novella so I can return to another project that needs completing! Hope you're feeling inspired wherever you are.


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Author Helena Fairfax and Bargain Books

There are some good e-books on sale over the next few days, if you’re looking for a new read. One that I’m very much looking forward to reading is the new novel from Helena Fairfax, Felicity at the Cross Hotel. This has had excellent reviews and I can guarantee that Helena is a wonderful author, with feel-good stories and characters. Here is a little about the book (great cover!) – can’t wait to see what happens!

Felicity at the Cross Hotel

A romantic hotel in the Lake District. The Cross Hotel is the perfect getaway. Or is it?

Felicity Everdene needs a break from the family business. Driving through the Lake District to the Cross Hotel, past the shining lake and the mountains, everything seems perfect. But Felicity soon discovers all is not well at the Cross Hotel …

Patrick Cross left the village of Emmside years ago never intending to return, but his father has left him the family’s hotel in his will, and now he’s forced to come back. With a missing barmaid, a grumpy chef, and the hotel losing money, the arrival of Felicity Everdene from the notorious Everdene family only adds to Patrick’s troubles.

With so much to overcome, can Felicity and Patrick bring happiness to the Cross Hotel … and find happiness for themselves?

Felicity at the Cross Hotel is only 99p (99c) until 31st August! You can buy it from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

All new subscribers to Helena's newsletter receive a free novella. You can subscribe here: 

You can also connect with Helena on her website; Facebook, Twitter; Pinterest and Instagram.

Helena Fairfax is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings. Helena's novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exeter Novel Prize, the Global Ebook Awards, and the I Heart Indie Awards.


One of my own publishers, Crooked Cat Books, is having a sale from 28th to 31st August when most of their vast array of great books are only 99p (99c)! My Scottish dual-timeline novel, The Highland Lass, is included if you haven’t already read it. It has amassed lots of 5-star reviews for which I’m very grateful – here are snippets of reviews below!

“This is an accomplished novel, where the dual romances are deftly and sympathetically handled.”

“The vivid descriptions of the locations took me there and I could see the landscapes/cityscapes unfold before my eyes.”

“The snippets of Burns’ poetry and the fictionalised account of his lesser known romance with Highland Mary set this book apart from your average romance and added poignancy to the plot.”

“A most enjoyable read with lovely character descriptions, history, and present day all beautifully intertwined.”

The Highland Lass is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Recipe for Success

It's now the time of year I most enjoy - summer is almost over, the schools are all back and the shops are quieter! The great excitement here was granddaughter's first day of school. Where have the years gone? It's also one of the best times to get organised - making plans and trying new hobbies perhaps. We're planning to get back to at least a weekly swim and of course, I'm looking forward to knuckling down to proper writing again.

Meanwhile, I've still been getting out and about at weekends, something the husband and I hope to continue as long as possible. The Recipe for Success of the post title was on the wall in what is one of the prettiest cafes and sweet shops I've come across, appropriately called Once Upon a Time - yet another attraction at South Queensferry. The wallpaper has scenes from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  and the whole shop is a delight, as well as being child-friendly of course.

In case it's not easy to read, the Recipe is as follows:

For best results dream big

2 cups of effort; 1 cup of kindness; 1 handful of curiosity; 3 tablespoons of honesty; 2 cups of teamwork; 2 cups of imagination; 1 cup of excitement; 1 handful of fairness; 1 sprinkle of pride in your work. It ends:
*Note: Success is always better when shared, so pass it around!

I was also at the Society of Authors (in Scotland) AGM and lunch in Edinburgh last week which is always an enjoyable occasion, not least to catch up with old and new friends. It was held in the elegant Bonhams Hotel this year and the two course lunch was simple yet delicious. The photo below is me with two of my writing buddies, Joan and Myra - one of the young waitresses insisted on taking it just before we left!


Many of us are excited about the weekend conference the SoAiS has organised for the first time, ScotsWrite, which is taking place in September this year in a wonderful hotel just north of Glasgow. The programme is excellent, partly thanks to a generous grant from Creative Scotland and includes Joanne Harris (Chocolat), online guru Joanna Penn and Charlie Higson, as well as other fabulous speakers and events, plus a ceilidh after the Gala Dinner on the Saturday evening (hope I can still manage to dance by then).

Needless to say daughter and I, plus several of my writing friends, are going and I'm very much hoping to be inspired by it all. It's open to non-members now too and there might be a few places left if anyone wants to investigate! You can find the details and programme on the Society of Authors in Scotland website.