Hey everyone, and welcome to my interview with Michael Diack, author of The Super Spud trilogy and generous giver-away-er of the awesome prizes waiting at the bottom of your screen. Here we talk small presses, marketing strategies and ways YOU can win, so without further ado, here let’s get into it…
|Michael’s own example sketch.
Now are you ready to bring out the
prize-winning artist in you?
As many of you know (because I’m always banging on about it), I want this blog to really focus on writing, book promotion and experimenting with ways authors can generate publicity and build their author platform. So it is with a stupid amount of excitement that I’m trying something new – a blog interview. And my first guinea pig off the ranks is none other than Donna Hosie, author of the fabulous YA fantasy “Searching for Arthur”, which I reviewed here last week.
Hi Donna, and thanks for agreeing to be my experiment! Your book has only recently hit the e-shelves, so you’re just beginning your promotional journey. Can you share your master plans?
— I decided on a very strategic way of doing things. The first was to engage a professional designer for the cover – which is gorgeous! – and then market the book in stages. Stage one was obviously friends and family, stage two was family and friends of family and friends, and stage three is where I am now which is giving some free copies away to bloggers/reviewers for them to review and hopefully recommend.
I wanted to avoid the route some debut authors go down which is to bombard social media in that first week. You just end up spamming and annoying everybody. I have always maintained that word of mouth and recommendations are a writer’s best hope for success and I am prepared to be in this for the long haul.
Wise words there, and you’re spot on about the cover – it’s stunning. How did it come about?
— I engaged my own designer and found it to be a wonderful collaborative process – something traditionally published authors don’t really get to experience. With the cover for Searching for Arthur, the designer and I went back and forth several times until the cover was a perfect match for my vision of the story.
Did you read up on book design or use the designer’s knowledge? What book design tips can you share?
— I did read up on book design but I chose a designer who had worked with authors I knew. The important thing about the cover is to choose images carefully because most of the time it will be a thumbnail image people see. Keep it clean and clear, nothing fussy in your fonts and images.
And have you had any surprising responses for Searching for Arthur since you began to promote it?
— I continue to be amazed when I read a tweet or review from a total stranger who has read and loved the book. When the readers are from the general public, then that is a wonderful feeling. Most of the comments centre around the originality of the tale I’ve told which is exactly what I think the selling point is.
Congratulations on receiving such positive feedback! One thing I personally loved throughout the book is that there were spectacular action scenes juxtaposed with moments of wonderful (and hilarious) comic relief as well as with some to-die-for romance scenes – which story arc did you enjoy writing the most?
— There are so many story arcs in this tale, and I loved writing every one of them, but I have two joint favourites: the romance between Natasha and Bedivere (I think he is very much overlooked in Arthurian legend), and then the trio of Natasha, Arthur and Slurpy. The sibling relationship between Natasha and Arthur is very much the heart of the trilogy, but then throw in a thoroughly nasty girlfriend and it makes for fun writing. I love writing Slurpy’s character because she is so nasty but I have to be careful not to make her one dimensional, so her redeeming feature is the fact that she truly loves Arthur. The decision to link her with Morgana came halfway through writing the novel but it fitted in effortlessly so it was clearly meant to be.
And finally, what’s one piece of advice everyone considering self-publishing should know?
— Writers self-publishing need to be informed and they need to take their time. BE PROFESSIONAL ALWAYS. I despair when I see someone announce they finished a novel one day and have it for sale the next. This is your career and if you want longevity – which I do – then you need to do it properly. That means a professional cover, a good edit, and a strategy for promotion. Doing it yourself is very empowering but it is a huge responsibility.
I’m sure it is, and I wish you the best of luck. To all of you in this little blog community we’re building together, I encourage you to go out and support Donna, even if it’s just by RTing this interview or my review (tweets here & here). To one lucky tweeter we’ll award a free Kindle copy of Searching for Arthur, so come back this time next week to see if you’ve won)! And as this is my first interview, feel free to comment with any questions I should have covered and I’ll chase up the answers.
Wow, thank you so much everyone for your participation so far! I hope you’re all having as much fun joining in the contest as I am running it. Currently I’m thinking I could get used to being a diabolical mastermind… *buys fancy office chair and hairless cat and starts perusing the real estate pages for a rent-to-own lair*…
Anyway, just an update on the scores to heat things up a bit. I know the contest is a raffle but at the moment the number of entries per person ranges from two to… *inserts pinkie into corner of mouth*… one meeeellion entries.
I mean about thirty two.
So don’t forget to follow the blogs for five entries per blog, keep on critiquing and throw in some RT’s too for your best chance to win. Only two people have spotted the mystery mistake so keep an eye out for that for another extra entry. Plus there’s still almost a week to go, so send me your 500 words or less for some well deserved feedback.
And here are the critique entries so far to make things a little easier for you (because who said evil geniuses can’t have a soft side?).
Entry no. 13 The Butterfly Effect
Entry no. 12 Beneath the City of Lights
Entry no. 11 The Watershed
Entry no. 10 Vis Decor: Alphi
Entry no. 9 Valkyrie Mist
Entry no. 8 Shadows of Destiny
Entry no. 7 Don’t Blink
Entry no. 6 Averagely Extraordinary
Entry no. 5 Doppled in Grey
Entry no. 4 Look At Me
Entry no. 3 The Hourglass Bridge
Entry no. 2 The Fall of the Kings
Entry no. 1 Abandon
|Diagram A: a diagram.|
Fancy getting some feedback on your work? Or would you rather score some awesome prizes? Well the amazing writer /editor /blogger Lisa Terry and I have come up with a contest that offers both!
Follow me on twitter @katherineamabel and tweet “I’m in!” = 1 entry
Follow Lisa on twitter @lisaslanding and tweet “I’m in!”= 1 entry
THIS IS IMPORTANT, AS IT LET’S US KNOW TO START COUNTING YOUR ENTRIES.
1. For your first extra entries:
Follow/subscribe to my blog (or be an existing follower) = 5 entries
Follow/subscribe to Lisa’s blog (or be an existing follower) = 5 entries (lisaslanding.blogspot.com)
And retweet the contest each time either of us tweets it. Each RT = 1 entry.
2. For FIVE extra entries (and here’s where the feedback comes in):
Email anything you want feedback on (providing it’s 500 words in length or less) to katherineamabel at gmail dot com, and I’ll post it on this blog for critique. (Don’t worry if it takes a few hours for your work to be posted – I come from the land down under so our times are a little out!)
Please format your email as follows:
Name: (for our use only)
Logline/first page/query pitch/whatever!:
Critique one of the pieces of writing. (To be exact, take three entries for each piece you critique). Please be kind AND constructive with your feedback. If there’s something you think the author can improve on let them know, but I won’t give entries for deliberate snark.
4. And for ONE last entry, spot the sentence I stuffed up in my explanation of the contest above and tweet the mistake to either myself or Lisa.