All posts by Jenny Schwartz

Jenny Schwartz, author of Australian Coastal Romance

The Promo Zone

self promoCan you sell your novels without promoting your work? Possibly, but discoverability is such a huge issue in the current avalanche of books and other media available to your readers that the question is “why would you handicap yourself by not promoting your books?” After all, you should be the person most passionate about them. Share that passion.

With Hero Duty releasing on 1 June, I’m thinking hard about what promotion means in 2014.

Back in 2010, when I started with Carina Press it was relatively simple — although it didn’t feel it at the time. You nabbed your website address, built the site, learned to blog, joined Facebook, panicked about it, joined Twitter, panicked about it, and then, hoped for the best. You probably joined or organised a few blog tours, too.

These days all of that is taken for granted as part of an author’s job. [We're busy people] Personally, though, I doubt the effectiveness of blog tours. Instead, pick two or three blogs that resonate with the book you’re releasing and focus on quality posts there. Be super-nice to the blogs’ owners and their audiences. Include a giveaway if possible.

HeroDutypromoBut to go back to Facebook and Twitter (and Google Plus), they’re evolving to focus on and favour posts that share images. So, even if as an author your focus and skill set is words, start thinking visually. I’m using my procrastination time to create graphics that can be shared during Hero Duty‘s release week. As you can see, the graphics don’t have to be complicated. Aim for bright, eye-catching and easily re-shared.

Most of all, remember that promo isn’t all glitz and glamour and an immediate pay-off. Build your platform (I hate that phrase, but it’s like any cliche: using it, you understand what I mean) across all social media; interacting most on the social medium where you’re most comfortable. Be real and be there.jbay

 

 

Coastal Escape

coast1I had a very mini-coastal escape on the weekend. I drove down to a local beach. It seemed effective though, because on Monday I finished the-story-that-would-not-end and sent it off to my crit partner with the message “please, don’t hurry to return it!”  The story is fabulous, but getting the emotional development right in under 12,000 words was a challenge.

Joyously, that means I can finally focus on my Kimberley novel. I’ve been turning over ideas for this story for a couple of months, and this time has actually allowed a useful evolution in my thinking. The plot is stronger for it.

DSC02831I’ve never actually been to the Kimberley (I’m such a bad traveller) so this photo to your right is a cheat — it’s from my southern beach, but still beautiful. If you’re curious about the beauty of the Kimberley coast, Kimberley Stock Photos has an incredible collection of images.

I’m energised at starting a new project. On Tuesday I bought maps to plot the location of my fictional outback homestead. For a reluctant traveller, I’m oddly fascinated by maps. So many possibilities, maybe?

It was funny walking through the crowded shopping mall with my maps. The characters I’ve been thinking about for two months now were very nearly as real to me as the chaos around me. Oops! Eccentric author moment :)

I’m not sure how this novel will develop. I don’t want to lose my momentum by talking about it too much. I need to WRITE it instead. But expect a splash of history, a dash of gothic romance and a strong contemporary romance.

 

New Book! Kiss It Better

Clutching a signed copy of the contract for Kiss It Better, I can finally announce that my third Jardin Bay book will be out late this year (after Hero Duty on 1 June).

Kiss It Better - coming soon

When Cassie Freedom’s dream of nursing in Africa shatters, Jardin Bay welcomes her home to its familiar security. But Dr Theo Morrigan is about to change everything. Theo’s had to leave his medical practice to take over the family business, and now he’s thinking of a more personal takeover; that is, until his own life is rocked by revelation of an old secret and suddenly the man who needed no one, needs a broken-hearted nurse.

 

Gardening and other prep

pomegranateThe season is turning. The heat of summer is giving way to cooler Autumn days. The plants are grateful. Here the leaves don’t glow with colour. The weather stays warm too  long and the leaves simply fall. But we do have pomegranates.

holy basilI trimmed the holy basil and it has a flush of new green growth. The seeds are stored for next summer, along with those of the sweet basil, which definitely hasn’t gotten the message that summer is over. sweet basil

Roses are enjoying a burst of colour. Insects are everywhere, and so are the birds eating them. I always know when it’s lawn beetle grub season because the magpies descent for afternoon tea and Toby is a good boy and (mostly) doesn’t chase them away.

rosesThere’s an energy to autumn that wakes me up after the lethargy of summer heat. I have big plans for the next few months, writing plans, but for now they’re sshhh while I think on them. I’d hate to promise what I can’t deliver.

How about you? Do you have any special autumn/spring plans?

 

“Hero Duty” Release Update

Hero Duty releases 1 June from Escape Publishing.

SoonHeroDuty

The edits are complete. Thanks, Lauren McKellar, for improving the story and, as with all my editors — I’ve been so lucky — honing my writing style.

I can’t wait to see the cover. Unlike many authors, I don’t use actors as inspiration, so I don’t even know who I’d cast to play Brodie and Jessica. For Brodie, the actor would have to convey power under complete control. A man of few words, but those he says, he means. And for Jessica, an actress who is smart, whose inner strength shines through, who is beautiful and haunted. One cover to communicate all this, and the drama of the Australian coastal setting. What a challenge!blurb

Hero Duty is a book that completely absorbed me, well before I started writing it. I remember boring a friend silly outlining it over lunch — she’s a very good friend and I don’t normally do this, so she was enthusiastic and helpful. Maybe we both fell a bit in love with Brodie?

The story is simply one that reminds me to hold on to hope. Jessica has so much, and yet she is scared and lonely. Brodie is an ex-soldier, a man of honour, who has to build a new life. They need each other for the courage and joy they bring each other. That’s the power of love.

Acceptance

YesIn publishing, acceptance means that an editor somewhere has accepted your story for publication. In this era of self-publishing, the acceptance letter/phone call/email has lost some of its importance. Publishing houses are no longer the only way to get your story in front of people. But it’s still cool to receive the validation of an acceptance.

Getting your story accepted has never been easy. You can write the best story you have in you — and have it rejected. Not because it isn’t brilliant, but because of publishing realities. If another book similar to yours is already published or scheduled to be published, “sorry and all that, but no,” says the editor.

So much of being a writer involves accepting that things are out of your control. [Like reader reviews. The ongoing Anne Rice Amazon petition kerfuffle gets a thoughtful response from Robin Reader on Dear Author, here]

But I think that in the long term, the most important acceptance is one that’s totally within your control: self-acceptance.

Anne Marie Becker wrote a simple, true post on her decision to stop comparing herself to other authors. The post is up at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.

There are lots of ways to drive ourselves crazy, and one of my favourite (I am so being ironic) is to try to live someone else’s life.

I would love to be the sort of writer who without fail turns out 2,000 words a day, minimum. This is not an unreasonable target. On a good day, I easily write 3,000 words. On a day filled with struggle and headaches, my word count stays at zero. I still beat myself up about this, but I’m trying for acceptance. It’s who I am: not superwoman.

Self-acceptance means being comfortable that you’re doing what’s right for you. Lots of people will have an opinion, but in the end, you’re the narrator of your own story; why not make it an adventure?

 

Image, Baby

Life seems to me to be a long journey through trying to understand, thinking you understand, to realising you’re wrong. Or maybe that’s just me faced with the ever-evolving online world?

I thought being an author meant obsessing about words. It does. But I’m now convinced that if being an author means having an online presence, then an author also has to think visually. Images as well as words enter our toolbox. And if you’re not convinced of the role of images in social media then this post from the Social Media Examiner is a must read. Should I haul out the old cliche? A picture is worth a thousand words.

It's Love, Dude graphicCanva.com is my latest graphic design toy — it’s free! The templates are handy for the graphically challenged [insert photo of me ;) ]  I like the results and have updated my FB and G+ profile banners using it.

Speaking of G+, my page there is a good example of how images are now the predominant casual-share. To catch people’s attention, you need a picture. Social media platforms are restructuring to channel you along that path.

Just as soon as I get a little time (my writing schedule is all to hell and gone after this summer ) I intend to revise my social media strategy to offer a coherent image-rich presence across all the (way too many) social media I use.

How do you use images in your online communications? Do you follow anyone who you think uses them particularly well?