I started my blogging journey as a way to talk about my books and my writing 9 years ago because that’s almost how long it’s been since my first book, Mr Right and Other Mongrels was published. I never would have imagined back then I would have published over 40 books across multiple pen names and over thirty in my own name.
Since then I’ve hosted hundreds of authors on here doing Q&A’s and other posts. Those have also been shared on my Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest accounts as well.
I’ve announced many, many new releases and hosted umpteen cover reveals.
We’ve shared book recommendations, favourite songs, and some cracking recipes over the years too.
There have been the highs and lows of my publishing career – though I tend to keep the lows to myself because nobody cares about those except me.
It’s been a fun journey. I haven’t always been consistent, and I have certainly considered quitting. I used to think I was a quitter, but it turns out that isn’t always true – I just quit the nasty stuff.
Anyway, a huge thank you to the many authors, editors, VA’s and friends from across the globe who have been part of my blogging journey with me. Along the way this blog has helped me feel part of a community, make friends, discover new authors and new books and learn an awful lot about publishing.
This month, as well as the regular features I run, I’ll be revisiting some memories, running some giveaways and looking to the future. So hang on and enjoy the ride. (Or is that read?)
In my mind I’m like this sparkling unicorn. Full of magic and miracles and devoid of the impossible.
Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true?
I’ve been at this author game for a while now and it is like a game. I think I know the rules and they change – whether it’s Amazon, Facebook or even the recent GDPR changes…something is always changing. Just when I think I have it sorted something new comes along and I have to figure it out.
The writing is the easy part, at least for me. That’s where the real magic happens. I love starting a new book or a new series because that’s what I’m in this for. I love the characters and going on the journey with them. A lot of the other things are things one must do to sell books.
Unlike a lot of authors I quite like social media, I like people and interacting with them. I love hearing from readers and
I like connecting with other authors.
I don’t however love doing newsletters and some of the pure marketing aspects of being an author in the 21st century and as I have what amounts to a full-time job sometimes I have to make decisions about how I spend my time. I’m pretty sure I often make the wrong ones or my book sales would be better than they are but a girl can only do so much.
Still, I do like blogging and I’ve been running this blog for over 5 years now so I have made a vow to myself that I’ll get back in a rhythm as of June or next week.
Expect: Musical Monday, Taste of Tuesday, Writing on Wednesday all to make a reappearance as well as posts by other authors on these and other topics.
If you have any questions or suggestions for blog posts please comment below.
Long time no blog…
It seems like it is ages because I’ve done any blogging here in earnest and I suppose that’s because it is. Since I went back to work last year I seem to have less and less time to do all the fun extra parts of my writing life.
I like blogging because I like writing but it gets pushed aside in the favour of the need to actually write the books, which is logical enough I suppose but still not idea.
I’ve had this blog going for over five years now, so I don’t want it to feel neglected. Like everything else I just need to get myself organised and get it done.
As I write this Something of a Spark, the pretty cover of which you see to the left, is off with the editor (out later this month) and I am busily working on book 2 in the series, Something to Sing About.
Writing a new series has been fun, I’ve been doing the Upper Crust series for a while now and even though I love it some of the fun for me is meeting a whole slew of new characters and I can do that with a fresh series.
I am working on the eighth book in the Upper Crust Series and I will be writing a spin off series in 2018 so I’m not done with those characters yet.
The new series takes place between Australia and Nashville with a bit of Napa thrown in for fun. I have a cousin in Napa, I wonder if I can visit her in the name of research?
I also have a book coming out for Christmas in a multi-author box set. I haven’t done that before so fingers crossed it is a good experience for me, because I’m signed up for another one next year as well.
This is a tough business so I’m always looking at new ways to reach readers so hopefully the box sets help.
If you really want to keep up to date with my books your best bet is to follow me on Facebook or sign up for my newsletter…that’s where all the real secrets are revealed.
Yesterday I was responding to a blogger about an upcoming promotional opportunity and she wanted a summer themed book. My Upper Crust Series isn’t especially seasonal (except Book 6 which isn’t out yet) but lots of my stand alone novels are.
It got me to thinking about those books and how I got started writing and well, why I write.
Reasons I don’t write (ie thinks that are not motivation for my writing):
– financial success (Despite what you think most writers don’t make a living from it)
– fame (For every author’s name you know there are thousands you don’t)
– recognition (Ah considering at social gatherings even the people who know and love me barely acknowledge my writing we can leave this off the list)
* Disclaimer at various times I have thought my writing might bring me one or more of these things but I no longer believe that.
So why did I start writing and why do I continue?
I wrote as a child and in my twenties but then I stopped. Time, motivation and need were all lacking then. (I’ll be honest my twenties rocked. I had a great social life with lots of friends in and out of work and lots of them lived near by me. we had disposable incomes and we ate out, drank like fish and danced until dawn often. Good freaking times!)
In my early thirties I had a child and struggled with the notion I was lucky to get that one and wasn’t getting anymore, my husband was away around 50% of the time and most of my friends weren’t married or were just married and didn’t have kids. I was alone a lot. And I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t love it.
Then my imagination came back to help me. Writing allowed me to create the sorts of friends I wanted to hang out with every day, the sorts of friends I had but missed. I got to write fund dates, romantic scenarios and parties. I drew on things I knew from my life, the good bits.
My early novels particularly Mr Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire had aspects of my personality in them, and my life. Dog phobia is all me. Living by the beach, that’s my life. Meeting a hot guy on a tropical island – hey I did that. My writing was a really good way to draw on my experiences and the better, more fun parts of myself that were kind of taking a back seat to my day-to-day reality.
Yesterday got me thinking about those characters and how much I loved them. I wondered why and realise it is because they represent the best parts of my friends, my life and my twenties. That’s probably why Cassie and Jack from Hearts Afire remain among my favourite characters. They made my life less lonely more full and they didn’t settle, they were characters who bounced back.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination and a somewhat quirky world view….drawing on this was a way to connect my past to my future.
My reasons for writing have changed over the years. I’m more pragmatic – although I still crush on lots of my own characters and mainly write characters I could see myself sharing a glass of wine or a plate of nachos with. Now though, my writing is a daily practice and an extension of who I am now rather than who I used to be.
6/15/2016 01:26:22 am
Great post Monique. Love your honesty. I agree, creating characters we love to hang out with is a huge part of the fun of writing. I always love meeting your imaginary friends. Look forward to meeting many more!
6/15/2016 02:22:43 am
Thanks Pam. That’s the fun part, right? Creating those characters…I have a few more imaginary friends up my sleeve yet.
6/15/2016 06:21:21 am
I loved Mr Right. It was just like talking to you. Now in your later novels it’s like you are telling me an amusing story. I am amazed that you have all of those characters in your head!
6/15/2016 04:56:46 pm
Thanks Betty, I think the voice in Mr Right and Other Mongrels is the closest to mine. Lots of people have said when they read it that it was like talking to me, which I guess is a compliment, if you liked the character 😉
I mean literally – where are they located, the people who read your books?
Where in the world are you?
hen you do an author marketing plan you’re asked to look at the demographic of your readers and who your ideal readers are.
I’m pretty sure most of my readers are 28-50 year old women but where are these people residing? In order to target my advertising, branding and social media I should try and work that out.
So with that in mind I thought I’d try and find out.
One thing I did this week was a little experiment – I asked people on my Facebook page their location. I wanted to know where they were on this amazing planet of ours.
The results are:941 people saw that post and 14 people liked it.
In case you were wondering for me that’s pretty good. I have around 1100 people who have liked my Facebook page but some posts are only seen by a handful of people most weeks I have a couple of posts at least that reach 300 or more people, ( If just in case you don’t understand not all of those are the people who like my page – some are my twitter followers and some are followers or the various hashtags I use).
Now let’s break this down:
32 of those people that shared their location:
USA – 24
UK – 3
Australia – 5
Other – 3 (India (a travelling American), South Africa and Fiji (my very Australian husband))
So let’s look at that…
I’m an Australian author but look at that number there…only 5 Australians and only 1 of those actually lives near me and is known to me.
That told me a lot.
Firstly – my friends, neighbours and relatives either:
a) are not seeing my Facebook page (more on that later*) – probably
b) are genuinely not my audience and don’t care to read my novels – sadly also probably true
c) a little of both.
Secondly – My Facebook page for whatever reason reaches a lot more Americans than Australians. And where do I sell more books? America. ( I know every person who visits doesn’t intend to buy books but I’m just looking at who I’m even reaching, because if I’m not reaching people they’re definitely not buying my books. Also anecdotally I know fewer Australians read on devices so that is a factor but let’s just use what we have).
That’s not true for most Australian authors I know so that’s kind of interesting – most Australian authors especially independent ones seem to sell more to the Australian market.
I guess the question now is what do I do with that information?
1. Skew my marketing towards American readers
2. Try and get more Australian readers
3. Do both of these things using segmented marketing.
I guess I need to work that out
Authors do you know where your readers are?
* While I’ve been writing this blog post I asked my Facebook friends who also like my Facebook Author Page if they’ve seen my page this week. 60% said they hadn’t, 40% said they had and the others weren’t sure.
2/29/2016 11:00:19 pm
I slightly stalk my blog stats to see where my readership is. In pure numbers, I have more pageviews from USA five times over compared to Australia, but when you consider that USA had about 13 times larger population, our Australian following is stronger per capita. That saying, the US market is huge compared to the Aussie one and I think you should work that baby!
2/29/2016 11:42:25 pm
I should be more of a stat stalker than I am. I think Americans visit blogs more than Aussie’s in gereneral to begin with (anecdotal evidence of course). Obviously there are exceptions.
I was talking to my mother today and I said I’d been at this blogging and self-publishing game for three years. I came on here to check and May 5th is the birthday of this blog. So three years exactly.
I remember being terrified and excited and overwhelmed – not much has changed there.
That month – May 2012 – I was bravely preparing to self-publish my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know a single person in real life who had uploaded a work of fiction to sell online. I knew almost no one (certainly here in Australia) with an e-reader. I knew nothing.
What a gift ignorance can be.
If I knew how much I didn’t know I probably wouldn’t have jumped off the cliff. Ask any indie author and they will talk about what a steep learning curve it is. Not only that just when you think you know what you’re doing the rules change. I’ve had to unlearn and relearn things many times in the last few years.
Forget what you knew yesterday – it’s wrong today.
I often think “Monique, you lazy chick. You’re just not doing enough.” (I’m not that kind to myself, I’m a little judgmental, not so great at celebrating the fabulous.)
So here is what I have achieved in three years:
– I’ve written and published six full length novels and one novella under two names.
– I’ve contributed to two charity anthologies and had a piece in a non-fiction publication.
– I’ve had a novel included in an international author box-set.
– I’ve written another five novels that will be released this year.
– I’ve had over 100,000 copies of my novels downloaded (sadly they haven’t all been paid for but 100,000 plus people have a copy of my books).
– I’ve hosted countless authors on my blog and kept it running for three years.
– I’ve handled all my own marketing and PR.
– I’ve hired cover designers, editors and book formatters to help make my books look good.
– I’ve guest blogged all over the internet.
– I’ve done signings and author talks, both of which terrify me.
– I’ve made hundreds of new friends, both readers and writers.
– I’ve given loads of advice and support to authors looking to head down this path.
– I’ve kept going when I wanted to quit.
I’ve done this on my own, I certainly haven’t done it all right. Some things I’ve done I would undo. Some day, some moments, some choices would be best erased.
Still, today I choose to focus on the positive. The list of what I have achieved looks pretty good to me right now.
If you know another author like me who is alone, starting out and fumbling in the dark then – be kind to them. They probably don’t talk about their journey with you because they are pretty sure you’re not that interested but listen to them, support them, buy their books, leave them reviews…it does matter, at least to them.
5/5/2015 04:23:07 pm
Wow, what an awesome list of achievements! Well done!!
Reply Monique McDonell
5/5/2015 04:32:39 pm
Thanks Kerrie, I think as writers we sometimes forget to look at what we’ve achieved. 🙂
5/5/2015 04:41:15 pm
I’m with Kerrie – well done Monique. I’ve read Hearts Afire of yours and I really enjoyed it.
5/5/2015 05:53:37 pm
Thanks Lily…I know your output has been amazing these last few years. I can hardly keep up!
5/5/2015 05:10:47 pm
Nice to see you acknowledging your achievements Monique. And they are massive! You constantly inspire me with your ever increasing word counts, brilliant networking skills and fabulous PR abilities. Not to mention the fun books you write and keep us all entertained with. And the support you give to all your writing buddies, including me. I know it’s been tough at times but hang in there – I’m sure you’ll reap the best is yet to come.
5/5/2015 05:54:31 pm
Thanks Pam…I appreciate having you in my corner, reading my work, taking my calls and listening to me moan. I could not have kept going without you.
5/5/2015 09:59:15 pm
Happy anniversary, congratulations and good job!
5/6/2015 08:43:41 am
Thanks Deb…you’ve been a great supporter on my journey.
Is it really Monday again? Did I really not put up a single blog post in a week? I guess that’s two yeses.
I’m such a slacker! (That’s me in the picture!)
Lately I’ve had that overwhelmed and underachieving feeling. I get it every now and then and I can’t quite shake it off. Sadly it doesn’t spur me on to do more it just kind of immobilises me.
Little things and good intentions slip by unattended to, unfulfilled. Opportunities are squandered.
It is very annoying.
Maybe it is because the sun is finally out, after an insanely wet winter, but I feel like I started shaking that off again over the weekend. I made a few plans for myself. Plans that don’t require me to work in with others and that I can quietly look forward to.
I’m a planner by nature, but I’m married to the man least likely to make a plan. His gravestone could read “Here he lies, he didn’t plan to die.”
Don’t get me wrong I like to be spontaneous but I also like some structure. A girlfriend and I say we like “organised spontaneity”. I’m happy to go off on a whim but damned if I don’t want to take the bus schedule, some snacks, bandaid, some ibuprofen and a jacket just in case.
Putting a few plans in place both for my work life, my writing and my home life help.
Meanwhile I’m plugging away at Book 2 in the Upper Crust Series and deciding which book to write for NaNoWriMo in November. It will either be Book 3 in the series or the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels (if you have an opnion, do let me know).
This song is very much the soundtrack in my mind at least for Book 2 in the series. So it’s today’s Musical Monday offering. And it really is a beautiful song.
It’s my stop on the TV Do-Over Blog Hop and my TV show of choice is How I Met Your Mother.
If you haven’t watched the final episode of How I Met Your Mother – SPOILER ALERT – okay, you were warned.
Do you know what HEA is? It’s happily ever after. I’m a huge fan of HEA in movies, TV and books and I was a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother too, just not a great fan of their lack of HEA. And I know what you’re thinking “I just watched that scene and it looked like a HEA to me.” But was it? I don’t think so.
I started watching How I Met our Mother when it first started airing. Australian TV programmers do a funny thing where they run a show in prime time but even if it’s rating well they sometimes move the time slot about – sometimes they do it a whole lot – and that happened with this show. That meant I had to work to find it. I had to check my TV guide and remember when it was on because it wasn’t consistent and in the start I didn’t have a DVR. It would come for a while and then vanish and then start running again at 11pm one week and 9.30pm the next. What I’m telling you is this – I was committed to the show.
I was loyal because when the show started I was in my mid 30’s and I couldn’t hang out in bars with my friends anymore laughing and eating burgers and I really wanted to (I mean REALLY). I wanted Lily to be my friend and I wanted my husband and I to be the ‘couple friends’ she and Marshall sought to find through many seasons but never quite did. They were a great couple and I wanted both of them happy. I had friends like that, friends who struggled to find their place, stay together and have kids. They were my people. Heck we were probably them to an extent.
I wanted to be involved in the minutia of my friends’ lives the way the characters in the show were. The truth is, I was home with a small child and I had a husband who travelled a whole lot for work and I was more than a bit lonely and didn’t feel I belonged in the suburbs. When Lily and Marshall moved to the suburbs and couldn’t cut it, I could relate. I missed the days when my friends all lived in apartments nearby each other and met for breakfast and shopping or a post-mortem of the night before. I missed that ability to get together on a whim.
I also wanted a happily ever after for Ted. Yes he was annoyingly earnest, and he didn’t always have great taste in women, but I really liked that he kept going, kept looking, kept searching and to me that was romantic. I never especially wanted him to end up with Robyn because, even though I liked her character, she never struck me as a team player and to me it seemed Ted wanted desperately to be part of a team.
As for Barney, I “wait for it” loved that character. I loved that he was fun and completely not realistic. I loved that despite working in an office, in a bank, in a soulless environment he didn’t change. He worked the system. And no, you wouldn’t want to date him, but hell yes, I’d love to have him as a friend. He was hilarious.
He and Robyn together…that kind of worked for me as well. I wanted them to be happy together. I always want that for people. Especially after spending the whole final season, it seemed, getting them down the aisle I wanted a HEA for them. And I thought what made that couple work was that they were honest with each other in a this-is-who-I-am kind of a way.
So near the end it looked like finally Ted was going to get his happily ever after with ‘the mother”, Barney and Robin were married and yay Lily and Marshall would finally have couple friends. The gang evolves but stays together. Why not leave it there? That’s how I would have ended the show.
It’s not that the mother got killed off that annoyed me, though I must say as a viewer it felt sudden, for us he’d spent 8 years looking and only had her for a month. (Plus it was a comedy show and I didn’t need to be by anyone’s hospital bed thank you very much!)
Still, what annoyed me was that Ted got back to Robyn.
Robyn who had married his friend and dumped him, Robyn who he’d chased for all those years, Robyn who had let Lily, her best friend, drift out of her life because it was easier than hanging in there. That was not a satisfying ending to me. It felt like the wrong girl got the guy.
And because of that, because of all that history, because in the words of Maya Angelou “when people show you who they are, believe them” well I wasn’t convinced it would ever work for Ted and Robyn and so it didn’t feel HEA for me.
So I still love that show, I just probably won’t watch that final episode again.
That’s what I would do differently – I’d give that show a real happily ever after ending because that’s why we watch TV to escape to a world where the right couple gets together and still gets to hang out with their friends whenever they like – even if they have kids, get old and life knocks them about a little.
Hop on over to Kerrie Olzak’s blog tomorrow for her TV Do-Over Blog Hop post.” http://www.kerrie-land.blogspot.com/
I completely agree. A friend of mine said it disturbed him that the finale basically turned the mother into a place holder, seat warmer, for Robyn. I could not agree more. They did a wonderful job casting and writing for the mother and then they betrayed her. Maybe if we had had more of the mother and ted it would have felt less abrupt and made more sense. At least Robyn got stuck in that awful wig.
7/23/2014 11:26:36 am
That’s how I felt. Robyn was worthy of the wig, you’re right. I didn’t dislike Robyn as a character. I like that she was upfront and unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted – her career, no kids, travel – but I didn’t want her for Ted. Lots of people wanted him to end up with Victoria…that would have been better because so much of love is luck and timing but Robyn had plenty of chances…like 8 years worth…
8/5/2014 01:25:47 am
I was so annoyed that the entire last season was spent on Barney and Robyn’s wedding only for them to break up within 5 minutes. It also seemed like a cop-out to me. The writers wanted Ted and Robyn together but we knew she couldn’t be “the mother” because the kids called her “Aunt” Robyn. So let’s find the “mother” but kill her off so that Ted can still end up with Robyn. UGH. What a waste.
Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
8/5/2014 08:45:38 am
Who didn’t want the mother to be Robyn? From the first episode, which I watched, I wanted it to be her and when it was clear after that first season that we weren’t going to find out until the show ended, I stopped watching. I lack patience. I did periodically watch an episode here and there, and did watch the series ending. Even though I was not a dedicated fan, I was so annoyed that there was this huge build up that lasted YEARS, only for the girl to barely be around and then to end up having Robyn with him. Argh. They could have saved a lot of time just telling me that at the beginning like I wanted.
8/20/2014 02:40:21 am
I was so let down from the finale. Ted and the mother were together long enough to have kids before she was killed off the show. I hated that they did that to her and had him go back to Robin. I loved Robin and all, but not for Ted. Not even for Barney. She needed someone outside of their circle. We never even got to see little Marvin grow up. The finale was so rushed and just so aggravating. They could have spent the whole season focused on the mother instead.
It is now just on two years since I started this blog. That’s pretty amazing. The last two years have been a wild ride for me. There are lots of things I would have done differently if I had known back in 2012 what I know now. (As I don’t own a time machine that’s just bad luck isn’t it?)
I know people who regret their publishing journey and I don’t feel that way. There are certainly things I regret (choices, actions and of course lack of action) but not the whole journey.
I thought I’d make this post not about the publishing but about the blogging. What have I gleaned over this time period?
1. Consistently coming up with content is hard.
2. Many more people read blogs than comment on them – you do very often feel as if you’re chit chatting to your self.
3. You can lead people to your blog, you can even get them to comment but if you have something to sell (eg books in my case) that doesn’t mean they will do so.
4. Lots of people who you think in the beginning will read your blog do not.
5. Having regular memes (eg Musical Monday, Writers on Wednesday) makes it easier for you to generate consistent content.
6. As a writer hosting other writers, reviews or industry people is a great way to create blog content and hopefully draw new audiences to your blog. I am sure this is true for cooking, mothering and fishing blogs as well. Be generous and welcoming to others and they will reciprocate.
7. Even though you may not think your blog impacts your business (see point 3) when you don’t blog you will see a downturn in sales. (I do).
8. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
9. Try and be consistent. Even if you only blog once a week do it regularly and like clockwork. (OK I don’t always do this but I have learned that I should 🙂 )
Any other bloggers out there what do you think are the key rules for success?
And for Musical Monday the lovely Norah Jones singing a song that was integral to the writing soundtrack and the story of my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels now celebrating it’s 2nd birthday.
5/11/2014 04:59:00 pm
That’s honest, and sometimes number four is definitely true with me!
I began blogging because I wanted to this author platform that everyone told me I needed, and somehow blogging has become part of my life. I love it, and I guess that helps.
5/11/2014 05:15:45 pm
I did the same Louise. I find there are times I love it and others it feels like just one more thing (as many things do on the writer’s journey). overall it’s a a great way to share who you are as a person/writer beyond your books.
5/11/2014 07:23:36 pm
No. 5 sounds great 🙂
My blog is new and I don’t post regularly, but I do believe that consistency is very important.
5/11/2014 08:07:37 pm
I think the best blogs are consistent (not citing mine as an example FYI)…lots of people I know only for one or two posts a week but they are for example every Monday and every Thursday and people know that and stop by then. Also it looks very efficient and organised.
5/11/2014 09:58:57 pm
I agree with consistency. People will keep coming back if you give them something interesting to read about and they know they’ll be something new and fresh up there the next time they visit. Happy Monday all!
5/12/2014 08:55:09 am
I agree Courtney. The challenge is to come up with that new content every time.
Sorry I’ve been such a hopeless blogger the last couple of weeks. I seem to have patches where I do a great job on the consistency and then it falls away.
That frustrates me and when it happens because I’m distracted or uninspired but this time I haven’t minded.
If I’m absent because I’ve been writing then that’s OK with me.
Writing seem to come to me in waves and right now I’m on a roll so that’s lovely. My absolute favourite part of writing is creating new characters and heading off on a journey with them. It fills me with delight and pleasure every time.
So apologies if my blogging is sporadic but I’m a writer so I must write.
In other news Alphabet Dating is having it’s final round of edits now so not long to wait!