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  • Blog

    What I’ve learned on my writing journey so far

    8/1/2013

    Alphabet Dating CoverMr Right and Other MongrelsHearts Afire

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This month I’m running a series where authors will be doing guest posts on what they’ve learned on their writing journey so far…so I thought I had better go first.

    1. First write a book and enjoy the process
    When you start out to write a book that’s your goal. Write that book. Finish that book. Get that book re-written and get it ready for it’s journey to publication. Honestly that’s the best bit, and the worst bit. I love writing a new book, I don’t lovely the editing and rewriting process at all. Still, it’s part of the process so if you can learn to enjoy the process I think you’re going to have a better journey.

    The reality is when you begin you are so focussed on finishing that first book you really aren’t thinking you’ll probably have to turn around and do it all again, but most people do.

    2. Branding is important
    It doesn’t matter whether you end up being an indie author or if you go the traditional route you need to understand branding. If you go to pitch at a conference you will need to know your brand. Do you write light-hearted women’s fiction, do you write erotica, books about angels? You need to know and you need to be able to explain it concisely. I know we all want to be unique and don’t want to be hampered by definitions but knowing what you write and who you are like and who your readers are is important for marketing and publishing whichever path you take.

    3. You are your brand – especially on the internet
    I put my three book covers up the top of this piece so you can see how I’ve really worked hard to create a uniform picture of who I am and what I write. Those covers don’t lead you to believe you will be reading anything gritty or anything that might keep you awake at night. That’s not who I am or what I write.

    Similarly, because I write light-hearted women’s fiction my blog posts, Facebook page and Twitter feed reflect that. My political opinion, my religious beliefs and the things I have a bee in my bonnet about have no place in my author brand.

    Know you’re brand. If you write crime fiction probably posts about unicorns are not what you need. These days I think branding is as much about knowing what to leave out as what to include.

    Also try to think about what makes you different within the space you write in and make that your point of difference.

    4. In the indie space (at least) one book is not enough.
    I wish I had better understood this better when I published Mr Right and Other Mongrels. I probably would have held off publication until my second book was ready. I would have had the first four covers ready to go before I began and I would have released my books more closely together.

    One book easily gets lost in the indie space and because the e-books are cheap readers often go straight to see what else you have on offer. If you have nothing they move on and often never make it back. It helps if you give them more than one offering.

    5. You will be amazed by who will support you – and by who won’t.
    When you release a book it is the most exciting thing ever. It’s also terrifying. You’ve spent years writing it and now it’s out there and people start sharing their opinions good and bad about your efforts.

    You will be blown away by people you hardly know who are excited for you. Amazing, gorgeous people will go out of their way to buy your book, tell their friends and promote your work. You’ll find authors and book reviewers who are eager to help spread the word.

    You will also be amazed by the friends who never download or buy your book(s) and certainly never read them. You won’t understand it, it will probably hurt your feelings at first and then, if you’re smart, you’ll let it go. They don’t get it or they don’t get you but you haven’t got time to them. You have plenty of people who have encouraged you and

    6. There is no one “one way”.
    There are many paths to both success and failure, you must find your own. Some people get a publishing deal and go global. Some people get a deal and never make back their advance. Some indie authors sell hundreds of books a day and some never sell a hundred books.

    You’ll advice. In the end you have to use your own best judgement.

  • Blog

    Musical Monday – An Ode to Fire for Hearts Afire

    5/12/2013

    Hearts AfireToday in honour of Hearts Afire my second novel I thought I’d focus on songs with a fiery theme.

    Of course the book features a sexy and rather fabulous fireman. (It’s a pity the main fireman featured on youtube is Fireman Sam who neither sexy or fabulous…isn’t he just Postman Pat in suspenders?)

    So here are a couple of fire-themed songs that don’t feature too many firemen.

    First up the fabulous Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire!
    And next up an Australian Classic – Flame Trees by Cold Chisel. More a song about a broken heart than a new love…

    Have a great Monday!

  • Blog

    Because a year is a long time…

    5/10/2013

    Mr Right and Other Mongrels Mug and Postcards Promotional MaterialIt’s just on a year since my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels came out on Amazon. Having your first book out is both mind-numbingly terrifying and amazingly exciting.

    Putting yourself out there to be judged by the entire universe is a tough thing to do. Of course you’re going to make mistakes, of course some people won’t like your work, of course some people you thought would jump for joy over your achievement are ambivalent at best.

    Then of course there are the triumphs. The positive reviews, the people you meet on the journey, the unexpected person who does marvel at your efforts.

    Since then I’ve published two more books Hearts Afire and just this week Alphabet Dating so I guess that’s not bad going for a year. I had hoped to have my 4th book out by now but life isn’t that simple is it? Building Attraction will be out in July.

    Anyway because it’s a year since the release, because I’m planning the sequel and because it’s Mothers’ Day this weekend the e-book of Mr Right And Other Mongrels will be only 99c for the next few days!

  • Blog

    A little update and musical Monday

    4/28/2013

    Alphabet Dating CoverMy blogging hasn’t been to consistent lately. I apologise.

    I had a big weekend with Hearts Afire going free on Amazon on April 26 & 27. My baby made it to #20 in the free Kindle store and #6 in Contemporary Romance.

    I was pretty happy with that because it means lots of people downloaded her and hopefully enjoy her. (Yes my book is definitely a she). Hopefully they like her enough to but either Mr Right and Other Mongrels or Alphabet Dating when it comes out later THIS WEEK!

    Yes I sent that book of to the formatter, and assuming my general technical incompetence and ignorance of Dropbox and file sharing in general hasn’t failed me, the book is now in very good hands.

    If you want to go in the draw for a free e-copy of Alphabet Dating fill in the form on my landing page.

    Finally I heard this Shakira song on the weekend and it reminded me of the main character in a book I’m working on so I thought I’d share it here for musical Monday. The girl in my book has always done everything right but life hasn’t exactly been kind to her…so she can’t quite believe her luck when she finally gets happiness.

  • Blog

    Focus or too many balls in the air!

    4/17/2013

    Alphabet Dating CoverHearts AfireMr Right and Other Mongrels

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I think one of the hardest parts of writing is keeping your focus on the most urgent project. I’ve decided I’m not very good at this.

    At the moment my list includes:
    – final edits on Alphabet Dating
    – writing the first book in a new series
    – making final edits on another project to send it to a publisher
    – sending brief for the cover of the book I’m releasing in June called Building Attraction
    – a series outline of my new series
    – an outline for the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels and planning for my research trip for that book to LA in June.

    All those things are important but it’s lots of balls in the air in between my day job, organising a college reunion, managing a home (when my husband has hurt his back and therefore is lying flat doing nothing), running my daughter about these school holidays.

    It’s why my blogging and tweeting and Facebooking has been a bit minimal of late.

    Must FOCUS now!

  • Blog

    A love story or how life imitates art (kind of)

    3/11/2013

    Hearts AfireSo far in my books I seem to have incorporated little bits of my own life into the lives of the main characters. In Mr Right and Other Mongrels Allegra and I have that dog-phobia in common.

    In Hearts Afire Cassie found herself alone on a tropical island where she met got to know Jack. Well I met my own husband on a tropical island not at all unlike the one in Hearts Afire and we’re living proof that ‘holiday romances’ (as we call them in Australia) can last – because today we’ve been married for nineteen years. (Yes, yes I was a child bride!)

    So how did I end up alone on a tropical North Queensland island? I was not left at the alter, I can tell you that much.

    When I twenty two I got glandular fever. (It’s called mono in the US…or the kissing disease. Sadly I didn’t get it kissing anyone and I had already had it before and not even known about it, at least according to my doctor).

    I had it so badly it turned into chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS….(we pretended I didn’t have that because there was no cure and back then if you said you had that people thought you were nuts…but I guess that’s another story).

    Anyway, I had it pretty badly. After a couple of months in bed. I went back to work but only worked four hours a day for quite a few months. I literally got up, got dressed, drove to work and came home again. .That was my life. That and watching Beverly Hills 90210 on a Friday night. I was living at home and my mum threatened to hand out hospital masks to visitors. I’m happy to report visitors came anyway.

    That was my life.

    Still I had fantastic friends (one of whom is the model for Justin in Mr Right and Other Mongrels) and I started to get better although it was a rather slow recovery. One of my friends and I were also planning to go to Europe together back-packing the next year (refer to the bit about ignoring chronic fatigue above!) We planned to leave in about March and I was saving like crazy. If you ever find yourself sick make an audacious plan – somehow it always gets me through.

    In late September she called me and said due to job changes she’d decided to go to Europe right away with her boyfriend instead of going with me the following year.

    Of course I understood but to say I was devastated would be an understatement. You know how things hit your harder when you’re down? I didn’t have anyone else to go with. I needed a new plan and I desperately needed a rest.

    A few days late,r in my lunch break, I walked down the street to the nearest travel agency and asked the girl there where I could go alone for a vacation that was warm and wouldn’t be full of too many young families or people in love. Seriously, it’s scary enough going on vacation on your own so you don’t want to also pick the wrong crowd to hang with.

    She gave me a choice of three islands in northern Queensland and I chose one on the spot.

    A couple of weeks later I found myself alone on a tropical island and I do draw heavily from that experience in Hearts Afire. For example I did phone a friend crying and wondering what I had done and she did send me to the bar to get a cocktail of the day. I did sit at “The Joiners Table” for dinner and I did make some really fun friends that week as a result. I had a great time and unlike Cassie I had no desire to leave early.

    As an extra bonus I also met my husband…but that’s another story…and that part isn’t in any of my books…well, not yet anyway. And honestly if you hear him tell his version and I tell my version I sometimes wonder if it really was each other we met…it’s like we were on two different islands…

    So from experience I believe you can find love on a tropical island and sometimes your negatives can become gr
    Note: My friend and her boyfriend went to Europe and had a great time and they’re married now with three kids and we’re still friends.

    Hearts Afire is available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009V2UKWQ

     

     Comments

    Leighta Bennett
    3/11/2013 03:08:19 pm

    Love it! Well they do say ‘write what you know.’ And I love hearing stories that are based on fact, and ‘how we met’ stories.

    Hearts Afire was a great book and I’ve got Mr Right on my kindle. Looking forward to your next one Monique.
    Reply
    Monique
    3/11/2013 03:14:44 pm

    Thanks Leighta,
    I love hearing how people met as well…it fascinates me…

    You are on my TBR on the Kindle as well…glas you liked Hearts Afire.

    Patsy Collins
    3/11/2013 08:16:40 pm

    I think we need to believe that what we’re writing about really could happen, otherwise it’ll be hard to convince the reader of that. Using a little of our personal experience can help make a story believable.

  • Blog

    General catch-up…and the winner is…

    1/16/2013

    Girl Holding Books IllustrationI can’t tell you how beautiful it is in Sydney today. Right now there are cicadas singing outside my window and kookaburras have been laughing on and off all morning as well. It’s a gorgeous summer day.

    Last night my husband and I went down to Manly for dinner. Manly is where Allegra, yes that girl there with the books, has her bookshop and we actually had a drink at a bar in the very street I imagined her bookshop to be. That was kind of fun. I didn’t see Teddy an Allegra there but it was crowded and as far as I know they’re in L.A right now. I really must organise myself to get over there and visit them!

    I’m anxiously waiting to see what Lisa, my lovely book designer has come up with for my third book Alphabet Dating which will be out next month. She said she’d get back to me by the weekend so fingers crossed.

    I’m busy working on the edits for the book and will be sending it off to some fresh eyes on the weekend as well.

    Meanwhile I should announce the winner of the copy of Hearts Afire from the New Year’s Hop I participated in last weekend. Thanks to all who stopped by and commented.

    The winner – chosen at random is Lucinda Moebius. So I’ll be in touch with Lucinda later today!

    Hearts Afire

  • Blog

    2013 the writing year that was

    12/30/2012

    Mr Right and Other MongrelsIt’s New Year’s Eve and as we all know it’s a time for reflection if we choose to let it be.
    Looking back on my year a whole lot happened in the writing zone for me.

    I blogged pretty much the whole year and with pretty consistently. Along the way I got to meet and interview loads of wonderful authors and grill them about their writing process and learn about their books so that was a whole lot of fun.

    In May of course, I launched my first book Mr Right and Other Mongrels which was quite a trip! It’s been en entirely positive experience and I learnt so much from going through it.

    I also learnt that even you would think getting the second book out afterwards would be easier – surely I learnt something from the first one – that was not the case and Hearts Afire ended up taking three extra months to hit the shelves as a result of a series of delays. That’s why when people ask me when is the next book out I’m now very reluctant to say a date or even a month out loud because I’m now aware that I could be speaking nonsense.

     

     

     

     

    Hearts AfireAnyway Hearts Afire eventually hit the shelves in October and that has been a whole lot of fun as well.

    Thanks to all of you who bought, reviewed, blogged, tweeted or shared the news of my books to the universe. I deeply appreciate your support.

    I’ve learnt a bit more about promotion via social media along this journey and have met some amazing people out there in cyber-space which has been lots of fun. I’ve met some wonderful authors and some cool readers as well.

    I’ve also done lots of wonderful things as part of my writing year. I had a great weekend away with members of my writing group back in February.

    I attended several events at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May and hung with some wonderful friends and authors.

    I went to the Gold Coast for the RWA in August where I had an amazing time and met some wonderful authors – some whom I had ‘met’ in cyber space and some who were entirely new to me. It was a wonderful experience.

    I’ve also been lucky enough to attend book launches for several old friends this year including Edwina Shaw and Pamela Cook.

     

     

     

    So if 2012 was anything to go by I expect to have an exciting time in 2013!

    Here are a few snapshots of the year that was.

    Writer Friends Group PhotoSome of the Writers’ Dozen in Milton in February for a writing retreat.

    Monique McDonell Kindle Digital Launch Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Virtual book launch for Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

    Hearts Afire Paperback Cover Preview
    Hearts Afire paperbacks!

    Favel, Monique McDonell and Edwina Shaw

    Catch up with Favel Parrett and Edwina Shaw in Sydney. Two of the Joondi 8.

    Pamela Cook and Monique McDonell at Book Launch for Blackwattle Lake

    With the lovely Pamela Cook at her December book launch.

  • Blog

    Merry Christmas – have a bargain book or two

    12/23/2012

    $1.99 Christmas Sale 2012 Banner
    Hearts Afire
    This Christmas I’m participating in this sale with authors at anindieaffair.

    Pop over there to read about the books and the 12 authors participating with over 20 books at $1.99.

    Both my books will be available for just $1.99 through December 26th or Boxing Day (Australian time).

    If you haven’t already take the opportunity to download Hearts Afire or Mr Right and Other Mongrels. If you do I’d love you to pop back and let me know if you enjoyed them.

     

     

     

     

    Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    I wish you a very Merry Christmas, or Festivus and best wishes for a wonderful 2013 filled with love, laughter and books.

  • Blog

    A catch-up and a review of my free days on Amazon KDP

    12/18/2012

    Hearts Afire
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009V2UKWQ
    I know it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog this past week.

    In Australia the festive season coincides with a mad scramble for everyone to get all their work done before Christmas, when most people have their summer holidays/vacation and also the end of the school year.

    This year my lovely daughter is finishing Primary School. Here our school system runs a bit differently than in the US for example and we have no middle school so they finish Primary school at the end of 6th grade and head straight to High School. The end of primary school means farewells, dinners, graduation ceremonies and in my case – lots of tears.

    Just before the madness began last week I had my first experience of Amazon KDP’s free days with Hearts Afire. If you have a book enrolled in this program you can have 6 free days a month.

    I’d never done it before so I did lots of reading about other author’s experiences and what they did to maximise the opportunity. The reality is you’re aiming to reach people who don’t already know about you when you do something like this not your mother or your friend from the office.

    There are lots of websites, twitter services and facebook pages that let readers know about free books every day so I made a list of them and contacted as many as I could. Some you need a certain number of reviews to qualify for, others need a week’s notice, some want you to pay so you need to look at them on a book by book basis. I didn’t do any paid services because honestly I had no idea if that was worth it for me.

    I chose a weekend because I thought it would be easier for me to keep track of what was happening. I also felt people have more time to read on weekends. I don’t know if that’s true or not and I do know lots of people download books just because they’re free and never read them as well, heck I’ve even done that myself.

    So how did it go? By the end of the two day’s sale I was #3 in free contemporary romance and #8 in the free Amazon store which was pretty amazing. That meant over 15,000 people had downloaded my book. That’s pretty amazing really.
    As a writer your goal is to have people read your work…of course you’d prefer they paid for it…but actually the objective after the joy of writing is to find an audience.

    So I wondered how that would affect my sales when the book was back at $2.99 which is still not a huge cost for a book, is it?

    It’s now 10 days later and the book was up at around the #1,700 mark in the Kindle store right after the promotion ended.

    What this has obviously meant is people have been able to find the book because the sales especially the first three days after the promotion were very good. That was my objective – to be found. I also had sales on Mr Right and Other Mongrels, which I was hoping for, nothing like on Hearts Afire but I’ll take them!

    It also meant people found the book to borrow it. Not one person had borrowed the book before the promotion and lots of people have done so since.

    Sales have declined slowly but are still much better day by day than they were beforehand.

    The upshot is this promotion, for me anyway, was very successful.

    Lots of people have said the free days aren’t working for them anymore. My experience was entirely positive. Why? Perhaps because the book is romance and romance readers are pretty savvy. Perhaps because I had never had a free book before so I was ‘new’ to the readers. Perhaps the beautiful cover caught people’s eye. Perhaps because at least some of the promotional pages I contacted did include my book in their free days promotions (though lots didn’t).

    Honestly, I don’t know exactly why it succeeded but it did and I’m happy about that.

    I’d love to hear other people’s experiences of free days or their thoughts on the topic.

    Comments

    Marjorie
    12/18/2012 06:55:20 pm

    I will confess your free offer reminded me to buy your other book. I have not read either yet but wish you all the luck with your writing.

    Anna Hackett
    12/18/2012 11:05:39 pm

    Hi Monique – so pleased to hear your free days went so well! And Hearts Afire really does have a great cover!

    Caroline
    12/22/2012 04:35:06 am

    I just did a free day and was very happy with the results. I have almost 4000 free downloads. I have noticed a significant uptake in sales since the preview. I have also had some loans, and I had none before. I did the same as you with the free preview sites. And I also posted on a few spots on Goodreads and on Amazon itself on the forum. Am considering a second free preview day since the first one went so well.
    Reply
    Monique
    12/22/2012 08:23:53 am

    Thanks Marjorie and Anna….
    It is an interesting experience isn’t it Caroline…lots to learn and lots to gain from it.