Isn't she pretty?
Don't you just love the cover for Something to Sing About? I adore it. It is one of my personal favourites - I know one isn't supposed to have them but I do...(Any Way You Want It is my fave Upper Crust Cover).
This book was a fun one to write. When I started this series I already had this book well and truly in mind. I love Ruby's character and I do love a bit of unrequited love. Let's face it we've all been there. ( I was the queen of unrequited love back in the day).
I also love Ryan's character. He's really trying to do the right thing by everyone but he seems to just keep getting it wrong - something else I can relate to, the harder I try the more complicated life gets.
Plus they're just a really cute couple together and I really enjoyed the banter between them. In fact I like all the characters in this book - well maybe not Pandora so much because she's somewhat self-absorbed but even she has potential. I can't imagine living in a world where people fawned over me day and night and said yes to everything I wanted - it must be hard when someone actually says no.
Anyway, I really hope you enjoy reading Something to Sing About. I released it on Boxing Day because I spend every Boxing Day reading and loading my Kindle and I was hoping others would do the same.
I'm already at work on Something to Savour which is Emme's story and Book 3 in the Jewel Sisters series and it will be out in the first part of 2018.
I have lots of exciting things planned publishing-wise in the New Year which I hope will keep you excited and engaged with my books and characters.
Cheers and Happy Reading
Time for a new week and there is a lot happening this week. I was just talking to my daughter about one of my favourite songs (okay I was singing it off-key as I unloaded the dishwasher).
Good songs like good characters in a book, or a great and intriguing plot stay with us. Sometimes I think we happen on a song or a book or even a painting at just the right time and that's why it resonates with us and the person next to us couldn't care less about it.
I'm writing a new series of books and one of the characters is a lyricist. That means I've been writing my own song lyrics that I hope will speak to someone. Of course I hope the whole book does too, but writing lyrics is a different skill. It's fun to do new things especially as I've been writing a long time now.
When Any Way You Build It releases in April It will be my 12th novel, I've had another two pieces in anthologies...that's a lot of novel writing so song writing that's a refreshing change.
Here's one of my favourite songs for you. It's not really a classic but it's a classic at our house. The other week I met my husband in town for lunch and this was playing at the burger joint so I guess it is a classic for someone else as well
Quickly before I go I want to let you know that Any Way You Dream It is #free right now so you might want to grab a copy if you haven't read it yet. And I've also set up a Fun, Flirty Fiction group for readers over on Facebook so if you want to join just click here.
Can you even believe it is July? No really, can you? I just can't.
I used to believe that old adage "time flies when you're having fun" but this year has been boring at best and craptastic at worst for me - depending on the day, and I still can't believe it's half-done. So I guess time waits for no man or woman to get herself together and start moving forward. Good to know.
It's summer of course where many of my readers are but it is winter here in Sydney and I am just not a winter girl. I like my sun shining, my breezes warm and my toes not frozen thanks very much. I'm lucky I don't live in Norway or Wisconsin because I for sure would suffer from seasonal depression and I really feel for those people who have to endure long, dark winters.
Really here in Australia we are very lucky that our climate is so mild. On the other hand where I live half the people don't have decent heating and most of the cafe's are designed as if the temperature was never below about seventy-five degrees or the mid-twenties in celsius so venturing outside can be chilly.
Still this is good writing weather.
I am about to send book 5 in the Upper Crust Series off to the editor. I'm a bit behind but it's coming and Book 6 is rady to go behind it. I also have a Christmas novella ready to be edited and I have a story going in a New Year's multi-author box set so there will be a few new releases from me in the latter part of the year. Oh and I have a Valentine's novella ready to go too.
A few people have said The Upper Crust Series needs a seventh book to tie up all the loose ends so I better get working on that as well.
Meanwhile I have started a new series I'm really excited about and I hope my readers will be too. I'm writing the first two books simultaneously (I do like a challenge) and I'm going to be pitching it to a few traditional publishers and if they're not keen that series will start releasing in 2017.
I always feel like I'm marking time but I guess maybe I'm zig-zagging rather than running on the spot.
And if you do like my Upper Crust Series all the books are on sale now so....pop over to Amazon and grab yourself copies while they're a bargain. Author.to/MoniqueMcDonell
Knowing where your strengths lie is a good thing
Isn't this pretty? Look at all those pretty book covers standing side by side looking proud.
I've been meaning to get a banner like this I can use for promo and Facebook advertising for ages. when I say ages I mean maybe six months. Six months is a long time on the internet and in the land of publishing.
Why didn't I do it earlier I hear you ask? There are lots of reasons (laziness, organisation, money) but the simplest one is I don't like to admit defeat.
If there is a skill you should learn out here in cyberspace or a way to DIY something I believe I should learn it and then do it. That's very noble I'm sure but also wildly impractical. No one is good at everything. No one.
The problem is there's this funky graphic design site called Canva.com. that lots of authors I know use to do their promo materials. You've probably heard of it and you may have even used it. (It's incredible, it was invented by a young Australian woman and you should check it out).
Well, I have tried to use it and everything I make is ugly. Not just a little bit ugly but unprofessional, sloppy and embarrassing. But I'm no quitter so I'd wait a few weeks and have another try...for six months. And what did I create? More ugly. And then it occurred to me I'd probably wasted 10 hours and I had no results.
Lots of people I know have mothers, sisters and husbands with a knack for these roles but that's not my story so what could I do to change things?
I outsourced it. And the results are really pretty. (I'm happy anyway.)
The same week I outsourced a Mailchimp template done for my newsletter. I can do it but it takes me time I don't have and now I have a template I can work with. I haven't sent a newsletter in months because I was having issues...again wasted time and energy that led to stagnation.
Authors don't make that much money, well most of them don't. We already have to pay editors, cover designers, proof readers. (Some people (I usually do) outsource formatting as well). So we're reluctant to pay people to do jobs for us.
Sometimes though I think you need to look at where your time is best spent. Are you wasting valuable writing time messing around on a job that takes you away from that core business? Everyone is different. (For example I am going to format my books from now on because I've done it in the past and I know I can do it again and save myself some money. There are also some other practical benefits as well so I think it's worth my time).
Does that mean I'll never conquer Canva? Probably not, but for now I'm unstuck and that's important. Being an indie author is hard enough without getting in your own way.
So do you outsource things or do you hold on tight and do everything yourself?
I mean literally - where are they located, the people who read your books?
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.
Excuse me? I'm a person not a brand.
I have lots of author friends who are new to social media and they're not sure where to start. Quite frankly I give them the same advice I give to teenagers.
The first piece of advice anyway and that is (drumroll) don't put anything on there you wouldn't want a close family member to read. If your relatives are fine with explicit language and shots of your butt then you're going to have more scope than I would but remember, you can't take it back. So like that fifteen year old girl you better be sure that cleavage shot won't come back to haunt you.
The second piece of advice I offer is to know what your brand is?
I know what you're thinking - I'm not a brand. Lego is a brand. Starbucks is a brand. Pepsi is a brand. You think you're just a person but an author is a product and you need to brand yourself effectively. You need to do this so that people know what to expect from you and also to help you stand out in the crazy marketplace.
You need to think about what you write? An author who writes literary fiction is going to have a different brand than someone who illustrates children's books. The sexy romance author is going to be different to the horror writer.
Let's take me as an example - I figure if you're here you know who I am . I write chicklit and romantic comedies. These books are supposed to be an escape from the everyday hum-drum of life. I call it fun, flirty fiction and I imagine my readers on buses, on beaches and lying in bed at the end of the day. So my brand is fun and flirty and about escaping from the stress of the day to day. And most of my readers are women because of the genre I write.
So apart from things related to my novels and books in general I also post mainly about the following things. Coffee (because I like it and I like to escape with a coffee), sometimes wine or cocktails (again I like wine), friendship (my novels have a strong friendship component and women value friendship) and the beach (because that's where I escape to). Another part of my brand is where I live. I'm an Australian author living on Sydney's Northern Beaches so I often post things about Australia and Sydney. That's me...if you look at my Facebook and Twitter and blog you'll find those images and topics reappear.
I don't write really sexy romances so I don't share pictures of bare-chested men. I don't write historical romances so I don't share vintage dresses and houses - knowing your brand helps you exclude topics as well. People aren't confused when they visit you on social media if you're consistent.
The advantage of knowing your brand is then when you're looking for content you can search for things in those areas. It gives you a place to start in your daily quest to find new and hopefully engaging content.
So ask yourself this - what's your author brand?
(In part 2 I'll give you some good examples of authors who I think nail the branding).
Welcome to the Here Comes The Bride Blog Hop
here we are on the first hop of the Here Comes The Bride Blog Hop. Please stop by all of the stops on the hop this week (details at the bottom) and be sure to enter our competition to win copies of ebooks from all five authors on the hop.
Character interview with Cassie Callahan from Hearts Afire.
Let's find out a little bit about Cassie and her wedding day.
Were you nervous on the big day?
Actually I really wasn't nervous at all, I thought I was marrying someone who really got me. I guess that shows what I knew because my fiancé called to say he'd changed his mind on the morning of the wedding and he wasn't coming.
Then I was more mad than nervous.
Did anything go wrong?
You heard what I just said right? I was jilted on the day of my wedding. Still that actually wasn't the worst thing that happened that day, believe it or not. I'm a caterer so I decided to cater my own wedding (okay in hindsight maybe not a great idea) and in all the fuss my sister left the stove on and the kitchen caught fire so the fire brigade turned up. I think the real question should be - did anything go right that day?
Be honest were you a total bridezilla? (Or do you have a Bridezilla story?)
It turned out was not even a little bit bridezilla, in fact my fiancé chose my wedding dress - maybe he was a groomzilla. Is that a thing? It should be. I am a caterer so I have dealt with my fair share of highly string brides so I think that made me extra anxious about not being one.
Bridesmaids, how many is too many?
Well I was only having two, my sister (more about her later) and my best friend Miranda. I think even one bad bridesmaid is one bridesmaid too many. I never wanted to be like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias...so many bridesmaids.
You can’t have a wedding without family – how did yours behave in the lead-up to the wedding or on the day?
I don't have much family. My parents were killed when I was a teenager so it's always been my sister and I...she set the kitchen on fire and then came with me on my solo honeymoon with me (may as well use the tickets). However she abandoned me on the honeymoon so all in all I guess my family didn't exactly have my back.
Are you still a believer in the happily ever after?
You know what a funny thing happened since my botched wedding day. I've started to see that maybe I was with the wrong guy all along and that maybe the right guy isn't too far away at all.
Follow the Here Comes The Bride Blog Hop authors and
enter our give-away
Monday - Monique McDonell
Tuesday - Samantha March/ChickLitPlus
Wednesday - Laura Chapman
Thursday - Nikki Mahood
Friday - Kathleen Irene Paterka
9/20/2015 5 Comments
Social media questions you were too embarrassed to ask.
The truth is social media has it's own rules and language and if you're not across them the whole idea of participating in social media is daunting. The language of social media is dominated by terms and language and many, many acronyms and abbreviations that confuse people.
I've met lots of people lately who are new to Facebook, don't "get" Twitter, think Instagram is for young people and have no idea clue what in the known universe Pinterest is. Some of these people want to know but feel silly when they ask and some of them NEED to know but can't get simple answers.
I'm going to do a series of simple blog posts that help answer some of these questions. These are questions that people ask me in real life and I try and explain in simple language.
So let's get started.
What the heck is a #hashtag?
Here is my simple explanation - if the internet is a giant eyclopedia then the #hashtag is a way to look through the index of knowledge and find something.
If you are on Twitter or Facebook for example and you want to look up pandas you search #pandas (see just pop that hashtag in front) and you will find all the posts by people who have used that hastag ie people who want to share their panda info with you.
See what I did just here and what I found (such cute pandas)
And it works the same way on Twitter.
On Twitter people also use #hastags to follow certain things that interest them. Kind of like putting a bookmark in that encyclopedia so you can find new information. Here's a picture of my own Tweetdeck page (Tweetdeck is a platform to look at or sort Twitter information). As you can see each column represents a #hastag.
So that's it...a #hashtag is a way to categorise and look for something on social media.
To be a writer you need to write.
I haven't been much of a blogger lately and my social media engagement had been down as well, I suspect.
Sometimes I really fret about that stuff - you can't sell books without an online presence if your books are sold almost exclusively online. You lose visibility and people forget about you, or so everyone says.
On the other hand you can't sell books if you don't write. Without that stage you have nothing to sell. That's a fact.
For the last couple of weeks I've chosen to focus on the writing and not get quite so distracted by the business and promotion side. Who knows if that's a good strategy or not but I do feel more energetic, more engaged with my characters and more enthusiastic about writing so those are all positives.
Any Way You Fight It, Book 3 in The Upper Crust Series is off at the editor now and will have an October release. Any Way You Plan It, Book 4 in the series is with the BETA readers now and Books 5 and 6 are ready for reading too. And I have a Christmas and a Summer/Valentine's novella ready for readers as well.
I guess that means I need to take a little break from the writing and get back to the promotion and other aspects of the writing business because that's what it is, a business. I already run another small business so I guess this makes me a entrepreneur, with two businesses on the go.
Like any business this one has goals - I want to get those four Upper Crust and two novellas published by January, I want to get better at organising my promos and newsletter, I have sales goals and marketing goals and now all I need to do is maintain momentum. Yeah, that's the hard part.
This song came me into my head yesterday for some inexplicable reason...and it reminded me of Marissa and Mike in
Any Way You Plan It...so here we go an old Australian '80s classic by Jenny Morris for Musical Monday.
I am very excited to be part of this lovely box set with authors Jennifer Gilby Roberts and Geralyn Coracillo.
I'll be featuring both ladies on the blog over the next few days so you can learn more about the women behind the stories.
Have Chick Lit, Will Travel
A new box set of three great summer reads from up and coming chick lit authors.