From Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic A Christmas Carol to Terry Pratchett’s ’90s fantasy Hogfather, there is a long and diverse tradition of Christmas stories in British literature – and tackling one yourself is no easy feat if you want to walk in the footsteps of these giants. But never fear; we’ve honed down a practical list of tips for taking on this festive challenge.
E. M. Forster wrote about the distinction between ‘flat’ and ‘round’ characters, the former being one-dimensional stock characters and the latter being multifaceted, fleshed-out characters capable of complexity and contradictions. It’s important to remember that a successful story, regardless of whether it’s festive or not, is reliant on those ‘round’ characters. Nurture them!
Let’s be honest, plot outlines are kind of like Marmite: writers either love ’em or they hate ’em.
Some writers like the fact that outlines structure ideas and help them get organised, yet others find them too constrictive, limiting their artistic flair. Here at Rowanvale Books, we can see both sides of the coin. We understand that plot outlines aren’t the magical cure to solve all organisational issues an author may have, but we also know that some authors simply wouldn’t get their novel off the ground without them. Heck, even the best authors can use a little structure sometimes!
Pictured above is part of JK Rowling’s plot outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
This particular page covers chapters 13 through 24.
C. S. Plocher of The FriendlyEditor.com and WriteLikeRowling.com has taken this transcription-to-legibility process further by creating this plot outline. You can read more about ‘How Rowling Revised Order of the Phoenix‘ by clicking on the above image.
Plot outlines come in many shapes and forms, and it’s important that you as a writer don’t let them get out of hand. I recommend getting some sort of outline sorted in your head before starting to write your first draft. Start with a novel outline (a running summary of what happens throughout your book in as much detail as you like), then move on to condensing this into a briefer chapter summary (a few lines/bullet points of the main events, character developments, etc. that occur in each chapter).
There are numerous benefits to writing a plot summary, which you may find outweigh the drawbacks.
What are your thoughts on plot outlines? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Long, dark mornings and evenings during the winter can be the best excuse to curl up in bed with a good book. Make yourself a nice, warm mug of coffee or hot chocolate, wrap yourself in your warmest blanket and snuggle up with one of Rowanvale Books’ winter recommendations.
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
After the film’s success last year, many of us were reminded of the classic we read as children. If you were swept up in the usual business of Christmas festivities last year and didn’t have the chance to pick up a copy of the book after your trip to the cinema, this year is surely your chance. With multiple Christmassy and snowy scenes throughout, the book is a sure-fire feel-good trip down memory lane. No better way to spend the festive period, if you ask us!
The Best Kind of Beautiful, Frances Whiting
If you fancy getting swept away in a romantic novel you can’t put down, then Frances Whiting’s The Best Kind of Beautiful is the book for you this winter. With a storyline very fitting for our current uncertain times, Whiting writes in a manner that really allows you to get to know the characters and fully immerse yourself in their lives. Perfect for those days where you don’t really want to see anyone, but still don’t want to feel completely alone.
The Ruins of War, Julian Armstrong
One of Rowanvale Books’ own, Julian Armstrong’s compelling fantasy winter mystery will leave you struggling to think about anything else. The cover art alone is enough to transport you straight to the heart of a dark, snow-covered forest. A real page turner, Ruins of War is ideal for those rainy or snowy days where all you want is to curl up with a book you’ll never want to stop reading.
A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler
Robert Seethaler writes poetically about a life of isolation high up in the Alps. Despite only being a short book, you’ll find yourself with a real attachment to protagonist Andreas Egger as Seethaler elegantly discloses private moments from the character’s life, both past and present. A Whole Life can be easily read in a single sitting as--like with most books on this list--you’ll find yourself so wrapped up in the story that you won’t want to do anything else.
The Harry Potter Series, J. K. Rowling
Christmas and winter is often a time for familiar comforts, and there’s nothing more comforting for so many of us than the Harry Potter chronicles. With almost every book and film containing Christmas or snowy scenes, there’s no wonder so many people see them as December classics! They’re a great option for book and movie marathons alone, or for cosy nights in with friends and family.
In one of our previous blog posts, we talked about how you can set up a mailing list to get more readers. We mentioned that it is a good idea to include freebies in exchange for your readers’ email addresses. That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. Here at Rowanvale, we’re with you every step of the publication process and we care about you and your book. So here’s our advice on how to create and make the most of a reader magnet.
What Is a Reader Magnet?
The role of a reader magnet is, by definition, to attract readers towards you and your writing. The term was coined by Nick Stephenson and is a catchy name for a free piece of content that you give to your readers when they subscribe to your mailing list. It can be a story, artwork, or perhaps a map of the world you describe in your books if you write fantasy or sci-fi novels. As long as it’s something you care about and that you are keen to share, we have no doubt your readers will love it.
Ideas for Your Reader Magnet
Do you have a standalone or a short story in your drawer that you don’t know what to do with? Time to turn it into a reader magnet! And if you need a hand to make it perfect, we can help with our proofreading and copyediting service. You can custom write something that you know your readers will like, or write different reader magnets to attract different people within your fandom. If you’re a fiction author, you can create a reader magnet for new readers when they sign up to your newsletter, and also something for existing fans to use further down the line in a newsletter or at the end of your book. If you specialise in non-fiction, you can create reader magnets on as many micro-topics as you want to explore, and include them at the end of your most-viewed blog posts. The possibilities are truly endless.
3 Rules for the Best Reader Magnet
When you’re creating your reader magnet, there are a few things you should always keep in mind to get the best results. Here are our three key points for you to create the best reader magnet:
Did this give you an idea of what to write for your reader magnet? If you feel like you need more resources, we can help! The great thing about a reader magnet is that you decide how and when to publish it. If your first reader magnet doesn’t work very well, you can swap it for a new one and just test out a few options until you find the one that really brings you readers. You can get in touch with one of our writing advisors to receive support tailored to your needs and become an expert in the art of reader magnets.
How to Deliver a Reader Magnet
Once you’ve decided the nature of your reader magnet and spent time creating it, you want to make sure to deliver it to your readers in a safe and easy way. There are various websites and pieces of software that allow you to do this for a fee. It’s worth spending some time researching the best option for you.
The most popular tool to deliver reader magnets is BookFunnel. The website allows you to set up a giveaway page which you can link to on your own website. Readers will be directed to your BookFunnel landing page and will be prompted to subscribe to your newsletter in order to download your reader magnet. The great thing about BookFunnel is that it allows for direct email integration and download monitoring. Plus, you can upload your reader magnet in common formats such as PDF and BookFunnel will optimise it for a variety of devices. Last but not least, you can customise your reader magnet’s landing page to convey all the uniqueness and awesomeness of your writing.
If BookFunnel just isn’t for you, there are alternatives worth exploring, such as Book Cave, ProlificWorks or StoryOrigin. There’s really something for everyone! Alternatively, if none of these platforms suit your needs, you can simply upload your book and set the price to free on traditional commercial outlets like Amazon, Kobo or iTunes.
Finally, Don’t Forget the Looks!
Just because your reader magnet is free, it doesn’t mean you can overlook the appearance. Your cover design is especially important if you decide to use BookFunnel to deliver your reader magnet. The cover will be the central point of your landing page and will be displayed prominently across the BookFunnel website. Besides, a cover can really help to convey how deserving of your readers’ attention your writing is. Are you stuck on how to design a cover? We’re here for you! Check out our bespoke cover design service and start working with our amazing team of designers to create the best cover you will ever see.
We hope this was useful to understanding the importance of reader magnets and how to create and deliver one. Just remember that reader magnets are often a matter of trial and error. The success of your reader magnet doesn’t define your worth as a writer. Keep doing what you love, and get in touch with us. We’re here to support you!
As a self-published author, marketing your own book in this day and age can be daunting to say the least. The guidance available on the internet is confusing and, more often than not, useless. Many advisors and self-proclaimed marketing experts point to social media as the only possible source of profit, but that’s not always true.
As David Gaughran wrote in his marketing guide to author platform, “the advice seems to be as basic and useless as this:
Step One: Get social media followers somehow
Step Two: ???
Step 3: Profit!
Even if step two were more detailed, this is still a pretty bad plan.”
Does this sound familiar? Fear not. Today, we’re here to guide you through the first step to get readers to buy your book: a mailing list. A mailing list is the most effective way to build a relationship with your readers that lasts over time. Here is what you need to do to create one:
One of the advantages of e-mail marketing is that you are in full control of what your readers get, and that’s precisely why you need to learn how to get the most out of it. Here are a few dos and don’ts of email marketing:
Creative Ideas for Your Newsletter
Here are a few ideas to get you started on your first newsletter. Nothing is off-limits, but remember to monitor what your readers want and ask them for feedback, especially in the beginning.
Hopefully, now you know how to get started with your very own author newsletter. Want to find out what the next steps of promoting your book are? At Rowanvale Books, we offer a variety of services to help you build your audience of readers. You can find out more here about our Marketing & Aftercare services or get in touch with us.
It was once the case that traditional publishing was the only viable option for authors, but today the rise of self-publishing has allowed authors to take full control of their work. Authors often receive higher royalties by this method and no longer have to wait years until their book is released, and the increase in freelance cover designers and editors means that self-publishing is no longer a last resort after a long process of submissions and rejections. It’s a first choice.
With the rise of self-publishing and the shift of the market to the web, authors have to work hard to build their own platform. They’re no longer just expected to write, but have to sell, and in most instances authors must now be prepared to work harder at marketing than at writing. As a result, writers are no longer just authors, but are becoming ‘authorpreneurs’.
It may feel unnatural at first, especially following such a creative process like writing a book, but it’s becoming essential for authors to adapt to the savvy ways of an entrepreneur, building their book as they would a business. Thinking like an authorpreneur is essential in becoming a success, and will help to make your writing no longer just a hobby but a full-time living.
1. Determine your audience
Establishing your target audience is essential in becoming an authorpreneur. What is your book about? Who would enjoy reading it? It’s really important to know as much as you possibly can about your potential fans, as this will make it much easier to reach them. Once you narrow down your target audience perfectly, you’ll find sales so much easier.
Marketing to anyone and everyone, posting on social media to anyone who will listen, and advertising your book on Google, etc. can be a very laborious and time-sucking method for finding your buyers. Finding your target audience, as a tiny little niche, and marketing directly to them, means you are hitting that target. You’ll have a much higher success rate with marketing if you focus on growing a very specific fan base and marketing only to them.
2. Build a brand
When thinking like an authorpreneur, it’s important to keep in mind that you are a business, not just a writer. A key part of this is branding yourself. Focus on building an author brand by establishing how you want to be seen online. Like any successful business, you’ll need a well-designed website and a strong online presence across social media platforms. Sticking to consistent topics, using consistent keywords, and even using consistent colours (e.g. red and yellow – did someone say McDonalds?), can show a huge level of professionalism, which is invaluable when attracting a readership. So, just as a company has consistent branding, using strong colours, fonts and images, authors should emulate this to give off a professional air.
For help in setting up your own author website, visit our website page.
3. Plan a launch
As with any business, promotion needs to be considered well in advance of release-day. Authors should take advantage of the pre-publication months by planning a launch event in the lead-up to a book release. Launch events can build momentum, excitement and a real buzz around your work at a critical time. Not only do you deserve to do a bit of celebrating after all that hard work, but it will kick-start your marketing campaign in style.
4. Forming a friendship circle
By following step #1, it should be much easier for you to find potential readers online. Let’s use Twitter as an example. Assuming you follow (and receive a follow back) a hundred or so people that come under your target audience on Twitter, you then need to start reading over the tweets from your followers. What you’re looking for here is the potential for conversation, and for a mutual relationship. You don’t need to juggle too many at once – try aiming for a small and comfortable amount of correspondents, and gradually build it up. These friends become your loyal marketing team. They will endlessly promote you – they will be your brand ambassadors – and all because we always love to help out a friend.
Just as businesses gain loyal customers, you have the opportunity to build a loyal following online, and it’s important to remember to give and take. Social media is a conversation, not a lecture, so always be sure to respond to your followers and take an interest in them. Keep your new circle of readers happy by giving them an inside look – run free giveaways and show them sneak peaks of the inner workings of your writing to create a feeling of exclusivity for your followers.
Most important of all – have fun! Enjoying the marketing process will allow you to be a resilient authorpreneur, and you’ll become more proactive, more knowledgeable and more satisfied with your writing.
For help with your book marketing, check out our Marketing Advisor page and learn more about how to use these methods to improve your book sales and become an authorpreneur!
When writing a story, authors have to strike a balance between action, dialogue and narration in order to be effective. They need to keep the reader guessing, pace their novel properly and mix things up a bit.
There are no actual rules about how to blend action, dialogue and narration. You have to experiment a little, weave them together and find your story’s unique rhythm. However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself about your story to help with this — especially during the redrafting stage — that can help you to strike the right balance.
We hope that these tips help when writing or redrafting your novel. Remember: pace your work, mix it up a little and, above all, just write!
In recent years, Amazon has captured the majority of market share in the self-publishing industry when it comes to online sales. We’ve discussed how to choose the right keywords to ensure your book gets the best possible Amazon ranking in a previous blog post [include the link to previous blog post when published], but how about advertising your book deals when your book has already started to gain some traction? This article will walk you through the book deals available on Amazon, the best strategies to promote them, and the ways in which you can make the most out of KDP deals. If you’d still like some help from our professional and friendly marketing team here at Rowanvale, make sure to check out our Amazon Analysis service. But for now, let us guide you through the basics.
What are KDP deals?
Before we teach you how to promote your book deals, it’s good to have an overview of the services offered by KDP. If you’re already familiar with KDP Select and promo programmes, you can skip to the section on how to promote them.
Amazon KDP offers a programme called KDP Select that grants them the exclusive right to sell your eBooks in exchange for a few perks. These are:
Advertising KDP deals
There are different ways in which you can advertise your KDP deals to get the most out of them and let your audience know you have an ongoing promotion. Here are a few strategies that might help:
These are all great strategies to promote your KDP deals that will hopefully keep you out of trouble. You should be aware that Amazon treats sudden spikes in sales as suspicious and will penalise you if you try to advertise your KDP deals in ways they deem unfair. For example, you should avoid ‘book bombs’, i.e. asking your Twitter followers to buy your promoted book at a particular time on a particular day. Amazon will detect the spike in sales and might cut off your promotions. Whatever (fair) strategy you choose, just remember that here at Rowanvale we care about our authors and aim to offer the best services. Check out our Amazon Analysis service within our KDP Publishing package as well as our Marketing and Aftercare service for more advice from our marketing experts.