Tips for working with bloggers

This ‘Tips for Working with Bloggers’ post was written by Sharon Bairden, our guest at Waterstones in April.

  1. We are people too! Most of us work and juggle life around blogging, it is our hobby and while it might feel like we are online 24/7 – we cannot always immediately respond to requests.
  2. Check out our blogs – don’t just send mass emails out with a generic “Dear Blogger…” heading, what does our review policy say? Make the email personal
  3. Check what genre we accept for review, if we don’t review dinosaur sci-fi then an email from an author telling us we will change our mind after seeing their book isn’t going to sway us!
  4. It’s ok to maybe follow up an email a couple of weeks later but don’t hound the blogger
  5. If you are arranging a blog tour – what’s your motivation? If it is to increase sales to the JK Rowling level then you are likely to be disappointed. It is impossible to tell how many sales are a result of a tour; but what a tour does for you is raise the profile of you and your work. The review is always there and bloggers have followers who dip in and out of their blog, so they might click on buy at a later stage.
  6. You can arrange blog tours yourself, but they are a lot of work, use a tour organiser who has access to bloggers who are likely to enjoy your genre; they take all of the work out of it for you.
  7. Social media – it might be your idea of hell but it needs to be done! Engage with your readers and reviewers – if they tweet you, tweet back; if they write on your Facebook page respond – you have no idea the buzz that readers get when a real live author responds to them!
  8. Don’t take “negative” reviews personally. Most of the bloggers I know don’t post reviews about books they didn’t enjoy, they want to talk about books they love. However, some bloggers do post about all the books they read. The majority of them are highly professional in their approach and give a fair critique and will point out what worked for them. We all know that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. They are being fair, remember that. If you are unlucky enough to come across a blogger who makes a personal attack on your book then ignore them, step away from them – they are not worth your time! Most bloggers despise this type of behaviour too, it says more about them than about your book.
  9. NEVER pay for a review from a blogger – if someone contacts you and gives you a price list for reviews – walk away – this is a huge NO for the book blogging community (this is not the same as BT organisers – you are paying for their organisation and admin)
  10. If you want a blogger to review their book and they have agreed it is courtesy to send them a review copy
  11. Never send out copies of your book in an initial email, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there and plenty of pirate sites just waiting for this!
  12. Always check the blog – is it a good fit for you? What are the quality of reviews like, do you like the style of review?

 

My three top blog tour organisers to work with:

Anne Cater http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.com/p/services-to-publishers-authors-blog.html

Sarah Hardy https://bytheletterbookreviews.com/botbspublicity-promo-services/

Rachel Gibley  https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/


St. George's Day flag.

Happy St. George's Day

On St. George’s Day we celebrate some of England’s finest and most renowned writers.

William Shakespeare

No list of English writers would be complete without one of the greatest playwrights and poets of all time. It would be insulting your intelligence to list the best of his works, everyone knows his genius. His writing has found its way into our everyday speech, his characters unforgettable templates for many writers who have followed and his works still provide inspiration for modern day adaptations and interpretations.
To quote the great man himself, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” For Shakespeare, all three apply equally.

The Brontë Sisters

I know this is a bit of a cheat but to pick one of these remarkable women would be very difficult. Anne, Emily and Charlotte were the daughters of an Anglican vicar who lived in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire. In Victorian England being a writer was regarded as an unworthy pursuit for young women. The three sisters published their works under the pseudonyms Acton, Ellis and Currer respectively. Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’; Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ were hugely successful and showed the incredible writing skills of each woman.
I was introduced to ‘Wuthering Heights’ in school but the forensic analysis of every chapter spoiled the experience. It wasn’t until I left school that I read the book again and realised what a fantastic novel it is.

Charles Dickens

Like Shakespeare, Dickens has taken on a deserved legendary status in the literary world. His novels are regarded by many as the best of the Victorian era and they have stood the test of time well into the 21st Century. From my perspective, his greatest strength was the ability to create incredible characters. Fagin, Miss Haversham, Ebeneezer Scrooge, Mr Micawber, and many more are some of the most memorable fictional people ever to be committed to paper. ‘Great Expectations’ is my personal favourite and I’m sure that many of you will have your own.

Agatha Christie

As a crime writer, I had to add Agatha Christie to this list. Although as a young man I didn’t appreciate just how brilliant she was, I discovered that in terms of plotting a crime novel she has never been beaten and there are very few who can match her. Her ability to create layers of motives with shoals of red herrings meant that trying to guess the murderer before the final reveal is virtually impossible. In Poirot and Miss Marple, she created detectives who are instantly recognisable and perfect for film and TV producers to adapt. I think as long as people love crime novels they will be reading Agatha Christie.

John Le Carré

Like Ms Christie in her genre, John Le Carré stands head and shoulders above anyone else writing in his. Since ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ in 1963 he has produced a series of spy thrillers that not only tell authentic stories but capture beautifully the human frailties of ordinary people doing a job that requires lies and deception. If you haven’t read the George Smiley novels you should. They are the finest example of Cold War spy novels that have ever been written.

Of course there are many more writers that we could mention. Let me know in the comments who are your favourite writers from England.

To all our English friends, have a happy St. George’s Day.


Think of the poor editor

Here is a short selection of tips to help your writing and save your editor some strokes of the virtual red pen. They are some of the more common things that writers misunderstand.

Ellipsis

An ellipsis is a series of three full stops separated by spaces. It is used when there is a break in the narrative. For example, when a character is talking and is interrupted, or when they lose the thread of what they are saying, or when they are hesitant.
It is not used for any other reason.

Capitalisation (Names)

If a character is known by a descriptive nickname, it should always be capitalised. For example, in Robin Hood, despite it not being his given name, the little in Little John is always capitalised because that’s what the merry men call him.

Capitalisation (Job title)

When referring to someone by their job title, that title should always be capitalised. For example in my books when Tom Russell introduces himself it is written as “Detective Superintendent Tom Russell”. If a witness is speaking to him it is written as “Detective Superintendent.” However, if someone is talking about him without using his name it is written without capitals. For example, “The detective superintendent is the briefing room.”

It’s

A combination of three letters and a punctuation mark that causes every writer heartache from time to time. The rule is really simple, ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’. Any other time those three letters stand alone without their punctuation pal.

The Oxford comma

This is one of the most debated rules of punctuation.
“What the blazes is an Oxford comma?” you might be wondering. It is the comma that comes before ‘and’ at the end of a list. (For example, Jeff filled the windscreen wiper bottle, checked the oil, and replaced the headlight bulb.)
The debate is that many people believe that the final comma isn’t necessary. The style guide for most newspapers will say that it should not be used. It is more commonly used in non-fiction writing. If you do decide to use it, make sure you do so consistently and you’ll make the life of your editor so much easier.

Consistency

This can be very difficult as we try to track what we’ve written but it is important. If you have referred to a character as James for three-quarters of the book, don’t start calling him Jimmy for the last quarter. Try to be consistent in the language your character uses, it helps the reader to better understand who that character is and makes those characters more believable.

That’s it for this blog, I hope these tips help your writing. If you have any questions or observations please leave a comment below.


Happy St. Patrick's Day

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!
(Happy St. Patrick’s Day)

For a relatively small country Ireland has produced more than its fair share of renowned writers. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would highlight a few of them.

Oscar Wilde

Outside of Shakespeare there can’t be too many writers who are quoted (and misquoted) as often as Oscar Wilde. He was born in Dublin, but it was in London that he would achieve fame. As an author, poet and playwright he was regarded as one of the Victorian literary giants. The Importance of Being Earnest and A Picture of Dorian Gray are among his most famous works. He fell afoul of the laws of the time when he was convicted of gross indecency and as a result spent time in Reading jail. On his release he moved to France where he died in poverty aged just 46.

James Joyce

Joyce was another Dubliner and was born in 1882. In the 1920s and 30s he became one of the most prominent novelists in the modernist avant-garde movement with titles such as Finnegan’s WakeA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manand Ulysses. They were books that pushed the boundaries of what a novel was, and he inspired people like Samuel Beckett (a fellow Irishman) and Salman Rushdie to continue pushing those boundaries.

George Bernard Shaw

The author of more than sixty plays, Shaw stands as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. His plays were part of a wave of realism that was sweeping through theatre in the wake of the work of Henrik Ibsen. He used works such as Pygmalion, Arms and Men and Man and Superman as social and political commentary on Edwardian society. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.

CS Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898. He was an academic who worked in the English faculty of Oxford University. Like his fellow Oxford English don and friend JRR Tolkien he served in the first World War where he was injured in 1918. His most famous works are The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of fantasy novels aimed at children and young adults. They were allegories of his Christian faith, something that was extremely important to him. Those books have delighted generations of children and influenced everyone from Tolkien right through to Philip Pullman and JK Rowling.

Roddy Doyle

Not all Ireland’s great writers are long gone. Another citizen of Dublin’s fair city, Roddy Doyle’s novels of contemporary Irish life are some of the best of the last thirty years. Novels like The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van are filled with both humour and the truth of life for working class Irish people. The films made from those books were hugely successful and helped to re-establish Dublin as a relevant cultural city once more.

There are many more Irish writers who could have appeared on this blog. If you have a particular favourite writer or work by an Irish writer please let us know in the comments.

I hope there are some Irish writers out there who would like to join us at IAW.

To all our Irish friends wherever you may be in the world, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Scríbhneoireacht sona
(Happy writing)