Tag Archives: self publishing

Fun ways to promote your book

I was traveling across the English countryside earlier this year when I came across a traditional Red Phone Box.  Now many years ago these were once a key part of our country’s communications infrastructure, but now they are often found derelict with the original phone inside removed.

But the one that I had stumbled across had a surprise hiding inside. It had been converted into a micro-library with a simple notice on the side asking you to honour their simple swap rules.


I cursed myself for not having a copy of my book on me at the time and have since tried to ensure that I have a spare copy at hand to jump at such an opportunity. Of course I would have been at liberty to pick a book in return, but the simple knowledge that a copy of my book would have been waiting for a stranger to stumble across was a lovely notion. Even better… leave a hand written note inside to wish whoever picks the book up to enjoy the read 😉


I have since discovered that there are a number of these converted phone booths dotted around the UK and that it was an idea taken from the US. I came across a whole map of them on Google as well.

If you happen to know of a red phone box near you then you can apply to buy it from BT and do the same for as little as £1. What a great way to save a bit of our heritage and endorse community spirit!

Releasing my first Science Fiction Novel

Is this a mid-life crisis? That’s what I kept asking myself during 2014 as I took on the challenge of writing my first novel. Some people buy a fancy sports car, I decided to do something that would leave my mark on the human race beyond my existence… potentially.

18 months later and my first book is available in the Amazon store worldwide in both paperback and ebook formats. It’s been a long journey, if nothing else I have learnt many knew skills in the art of writing, which in my line of work is a benefit I can leverage.

Introducing: The Kings of the New World, book one of The Rhythms of Greedom series. An epic-world, hard-science-fiction thriller. An indulgence of new technology, fast paced battles and deeply troubled characters.

I used my daily commute in and out of London as my writing time, three hours a day otherwise spent reading, listening to music or playing games on my phone. To start with I would use the laptop during my overground train journey, but I soon became so engrossed that I kept the manuscript in the cloud and continued writing on my phone during the packed underground stages. Occasionally I would become so wrapped up in a chapter, I would spend the evenings writing too, but balancing a family life at home meant keeping that part down to a minimum.

As things progressed I started thinking about what I would do if I ever finished my new hobby. Initially I did a lot of research on publishers and agents. The more I read the more depressing the landscape became, so I looked into self-publishing. These days there are many self-publishing options available and they don’t involve the author shelling out a ton of cash either.

I used Amazon’s Create Space service. It’s free for starters, they offer print on demand which means no upfront printing costs and their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) service is super easy to use too. They even allow you to order proof copies of your book at cost – great to give to your beta readers for gathering feedback before launch.

As an independent author you will need to think about cover design and editing. There are services out there to help with both, in an assortment of cost and quality. I decided to create my own cover design as I have an art & design background. Editing is another story. I read my own printed proof a dozen times from front to back and I found knew things to fix every time. I’m very lucky to know a couple of people who could help me, one being an editor for an industry recognised publication… Make the most of the people you know!

Now it’s time for marketing (which includes this post), I have a new twitter handle, a new blog page, a Facebook group and a dedicated website for the book. Please feel free to visit, follow, post, hopefully purchase a book, enjoy a good read and don’t forget the review part – I hear that’s what makes a book successful 😉

Twitter: @vinwignall
Blog: www.vinwignall.com
Site: www.therhythmsofgreedom.com
Facebook: TheRhythmsOfGreedom

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kings-New-World-Rhythms-Greedom/dp/1508469121/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431450993&sr=8-1&keywords=vin+wignall

How to create a world of memorable characters?
– I draw them.

I like writing stories with large worlds, multiple plots and many characters. This presents a big challenge; how do readers remember a character that may not appear again for several chapters? I draw them, the process helps me expand their individualities and give them unique and memorable dimensions.

Sketching your characters out will help you broaden your understanding of them
Sketching your characters out will help you broaden your understanding of them

It’s easy for a writer to skip over describing their characters; they live in our heads so we are already very close to them. The reader however needs to build that connection up, sure they will embellish themselves, but you need to seed some of that persona.

It’s a long process too, each time a character makes an appearance in your story it is a chance for you to layer up their personality and traits. You can’t front load too much of that description otherwise you will overload the reader and they quickly forget.

The next step is to think how you want them to change over the course of your story. What challenges are they going to overcome or slippery slopes that are going to change their personality or outlook over time?

Writing a novel can take a long time and it is important to be able to quickly remind yourself what traits a particular character has without having to riffle through pages and pages of words. Creating character profiles can save you huge amounts of time, prevent you from creating inconsistencies and really help you build upon their individual journeys. I store them on my phone

I also collect images that I feel relate to that characters persona, a quick Google Images search using some of your descriptive words can very quickly help build a mood board for each of the lives embedded in your story.

Sketching The Wailing Banshee for my new book: The Kings of the New World
Sketching The Wailing Banshee for my new book: The Kings of the New World

Once I have a strong understanding of a character I sketch him or her, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you can draw, you don’t have to show anyone else! And everyone can draw by the way; stick men can be very informative. Drawing your character will allow the creativity in you to thrive; you will suddenly discover new aspects, unique traits, finer details that you can then work back into your story and will help your readers engage with them.

What are beta readers? Why, when and how to use them?

You’ve just finished writing your precious novel; you’ve read through it multiple times and fixed countless inconsistencies, grammatical errors and plot holes. You think it’s pretty close to being complete… wrong.

You are so close to your story lines that you are blind to countless tiny details. Your scenes and characters are so vivid in your imagination that you struggle to understand how a first time reader perceives them. Are you going to wait until your manuscript is published before realising that your reader’s perceptions are different to your own?

This is the time to reach out to a circle of beta readers, take that intermittent step of seeing how your baby flies before releasing it to the hordes for disembowelling.

I have a small circle of five beta readers and they are people I know and love. This isn’t a requirement and some people will tell you that it is better to use those who have no emotional attachment to telling you that your work is terrible. I prefer to leverage existing relationships with people I know I can have a deep discussion with and bounce ideas around while knowing they are dedicated to the output being the best it can be… a mixture is fine as well.

First off I choose people who want to read my book, you’re not going to want to hang around long to collect their feedback so it helps that they have a healthy appetite to sink their teeth into it.

Next I choose a mixture of user types and you want to understand them so you can understand their feedback. Are they into your book genre? What styles of writing do they prefer? Who are their favourite authors? For my current book I have chosen at least one person who is not into my book genre so that I can get an alternative viewpoint around the depth of my characters and how easy the plot line is to follow.

Book proofs ordered for my beta readers through Create Space
Book proofs ordered for my beta readers through Create Space

Make it as easy as you can for your beta readers to read your manuscript. Deliver it to them in an easy to read format and if they can scribble thoughts and notes as they go all the better. I am using Amazon’s Create Space to self publish initially and their process allows me to order proof prints at cost price. It also gives you a great opportunity to see how your cover looks and it is a great present to hand back to your readers once you’ve collected and analysed their feedback.

Have regular check in conversations during their read. It is very telling how someone feels about your book when they are only a few chapters in, real readers may give up on your story if they are not gripped sufficiently upfront. Try and check in while your beta readers are fresh a few chapters in, near the middle and before the end so that you can help build on your story at key points and keep the real readers locked in for the long haul.

Give your beta readers your book in a format that they can scribble on as they read
Give your beta readers your book in a format that they can scribble on as they read

It is important to remember that your manuscript is your work, try to ask for problems and not solutions. A problem can be solved in a number of ways and each reader will have their own suggestion, but the solution should come from your own heart – this is your story!

A nice touch is to thank your beta readers in your acknowledgements section. With any luck they will feel invested and help champion your work, shouting from the rooftops or through social media.