Two newspaper articles two decades apart, and two related books

After my recent newspaper article in The Belfast Telegraph, I remembered that I’d previously had another article in the same newspaper two decades ago. Being the hoarder that I am, I hoked out (Northern Irish slang = searched for) the previous article, as dog-eared and aging as it now is (a bit like myself, perhaps!)

Since the weather has been gorgeous this week, it made for a lovely photo in the park with both news articles.

In my right hand is the article from 11th February 2002 where I did a modelling promotion while in my final year of university as a 21 year old archaeology and paleoecology student. I was approached while shopping on Royal Avenue, Belfast and invited to participate in the modelling shoot. This led to me getting signed with Style Academy Model Agency and later, long after my part-time modelling days ended, inspired one of the poems in my poetry collection, A Model Archaeologist, which is pictured below the newspaper.

In my left hand is an article published on 29th May 2023 about my writing process relating to my award-winning ghost horror novel, The Blue Man, which is pictured below the newspaper.

One news article that led to a book, and one book that led to a news article! Funny how life happens.

You can grab a copy of my books at:

In the news! The Blue Man is in the Belfast Telegraph

My ghost horror novel, The Blue Man appeared in an article in the Belfast Telegraph at the weekend. This was to feature my Chill with a Book Premier Readers’ Award win in February this year, and also to discuss my writing process.

I was also able to pick up a print copy of the newspaper too, which also had the local council election coverage in Northern Ireland. If you follow me on Instagram or TikTok, you can see my video showing it off.

Reviews matter – on reaching 100 Goodreads ratings

This week, I have reached 100 ratings on Goodreads. Woohoo (happy dance). I am thankful for Goodreads as it collectively gathers all reviews or ratings for a book in one place; unlike Amazon reviews, which can be scattered among the marketplaces. Do I now have a coveted pass into an exclusive club, or have I reached a milestone? Just kidding.

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May manuscript update: final checks on Belfast Ghosts Book 3

I’ve been chipping away at my current work in progress (novel WIP#6) since January 2022, so it goes without saying that I’m more than ready to see it finished. This one is particularly complicated because it has historical time skips, which is making it especially hard for me to keep the continuity straight between past and present. Why on earth did I do this to myself? Okay, I’m being a bit wry there; it’s a challenge that (I think) I’m up to. I’ll get this final draft finished eventually.

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Should writers join a writing group?

When I first started out as a writer with an aim to getting published, some creative friends and I decided to form a writing circle. We had a name for our group, which I’ve long-since forgotten, and we met once a week in a pub after our day jobs to exchange notes and feedback on each other’s current work-in-progress. It worked well for a few months. Illness, busy day-work schedules or other excuses often got in the way. In the end the group fizzled out, as life got in the way. At that time, none of us had yet been published. We needed each other’s beta-reader feedback as we were all starting out and wanted some reassurance about our work. Was it good enough? Did anyone know of any magazines that were open to submissions? What about writing competitions?

Joining a writing group is a good idea, both for those starting out, but also for more established writers. I think it’s good to assess what you want out of it and then weigh up whether you think a writer’s circle is best for you. To help, I’ve broken it down into the pros and cons as I see it:

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Diabolical Dreamscapes: one month publishing wrap-up

Has it really been one month since Diabolical Dreamscapes was published? Whew, those four weeks really flew in!

I’m very pleased with how well my first short story collection has been received. Hardcover sales have been the strongest, reaching #63 in bestsellers for literary fiction on IngramSpark.

Kindle Unlimited page reads and eBook sales propelled me to #9 on the Amazon US Hot New Releases chart for Metaphysical fiction, and #10 for the same category on Amazon UK.

I also had a handful of reviews from the UK and US. If you’re one of the readers who left a review, then thank you so much! I especially loved the top review from the US, which gave me a giggle. Yes, I am definitely in need of both a hug and a puppy, lol. 🤣🤣🤣

Choosing which bookstores should sell your books

Rainbow book stack: all my current in print books

I read an article a few days ago on The Guardian about a mainstream author who is refusing to sell her next book on Amazon in order to support local bookstores.

It’s well and good for those authors who are big-name enough to have the luxury of picking and choosing where to sell their books and can therefore afford to boycott Amazon. If like me you are an Indie or small press author, I’m sure you can relate when I say that the bulk of my sales are from Amazon, and Amazon sponsored ads have been essential in helping me reach new readers. In fact, my Amazon sales provide a nice supplementary payment of around £50-£80 a month, in addition to my day job salary, and it certainly helps in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis for small scale authors like me who aren’t so privileged.

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What percentage of authors make a full time living from it?

I thought I’d write a blog post about this topic after a chat with a fellow Indie author, who wondered what percentage of published authors make more than minimum wage from their writing. He mentioned that the last time he had looked, it was about 0.0002% of published authors. I haven’t done any research to verify that stat or find the source, but it got me thinking about this topic in general, and so I decided to look up the data. The results make for rather depressing reading:

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Do reels and videos help authors sell books?

Being a writer, much like being a parent, doesn’t come with a rule book. Should you get a creative writing degree? Should you get a literary agent? Try to get a publisher? Self-publish your work? How do you go about marketing your book? The list of questions goes on.

Personally, I’m a fan of learning on the job. I think there is no harm in trial and error, provided I learn from my mistakes. Over the course of 14 years of publishing short stories and poetry in magazines and anthologies, then graduating onto poetry collections, short story books and novels, I’ve learned many things and made some mistakes along the way. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made has been spending money on advertising without setting a budget, or considering the ‘return rate’ in terms of likelihood of sales – or at least value for money.

At the start of this year, a colleague asked whether I used Booktok. I’m a self-confessed ‘old fogie’ and didn’t know what this was. I had heard of TikTok, but thought it was a place to share homemade dance videos, or other funny crazes, and hadn’t considered it as an option to use for marketing; I already use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, and wasn’t sure I wanted another social media account to manage. However, my colleague told me that some books had gone viral on Booktok and that you didn’t need a huge amount of followers to get a lot of exposure, so I decided to set up a TikTok account. What did I find?

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