Snowy River Man: the road to publication

imageAs most of my regular readers will know, a few years ago I established the Australian Women Writers Challenge (AWW). Back then, I was trying to find a publisher for a suspense novel I’d written. The novel attracted interest from an agent, and subsequently from several editors, but wasn’t accepted for publication. Instead of fulfilling my dream of becoming a published author, I found myself devoting more and more time and energy to convening the AWW reading and reviewing challenge which aims to overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women.

While AWW has been a lot of fun, and I’ve been privileged to work with many fine bookbloggers and writers who joined the AWW team, I didn’t relinquish my dream of becoming a published author.

In late 2013, a psychic writer friend of mine told me that my “guides” had a message for me. They had given me everything I needed to get published, they said; what I needed was a kick up the derriere. Submit, my writer friend told me. Submit one of my old romances that had done well in the Clendon Award competition in New Zealand; send it to Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing.

Chastened and obedient, I updated the manuscript and sent it off to Kate. Several months later, Snowy River Man, as it is now called, was accepted for publication. My dream had been fulfilled: finally, I was going to be a published author – in a genre that I’d pretty well abandoned – all because I followed the advice of a psychic!

After finishing the revisions for Snowy River Man, I revised another manuscript from my bottom drawer – a romantic suspense – and sent that off to Kate. I’ve yet to hear whether that will be accepted. Lately I’ve been busy writing articles for AWW, as well as reading and reviewing for pleasure. Soon I’ll have to get back to my own writing. The question is, in what genre? Should I rewrite another romance, pull out the fantasy novel I’ve drafted, work on the thriller I’ve begun, or try once again that literary work I abandoned years ago? My problem is, I like all these genres and have no idea what I should be writing next.

Maybe I need another chat with my friend the psychic?

Snowy River Man will be released on February 22. You can pre-order a copy from AWW’s sponsor Bookworld here or Amazon.

Do images drive traffic to your blog?

It’s late autumn here, my favourite time of year. Blue skies, warm in the sun, cool in the shade. The last of the leaves are falling and–

Wait…

Katoomba Autumn Leaves copyright RW

Autumn leaves by Rodney Weidland (used with permission)

Is that better?

Last Saturday, I put into practice tips I’d heard at Random House Australia’s National Book Bloggers Forum. (You can read about it here.) I learned a few things from my experiment. Some titles work. Some don’t. Mine, “Jonquils, pancakes and books”, sucks. Use titles relevant to the content of your post, we were told. Why didn’t I remember that?

Another tip was to use images. But what kind of images? Commenting on my post, author Annabel Smith wrote that she find posts that use stock photos “impersonal and offputting”. I agree.

Yet photos do work. In my case, a simple photo of jonquils outperformed many of my other posts, both on my personal Facebook page and the Australian Women Writers page. Someone even shared it. Engagement was even higher when I added a question: “Name your favourite story that features flowers?”

Things were a little different on Twitter. That’s how I knew my title sucked. Not until I tweeted the link with “5 tips for book bloggers” did I get a result. That attracted far more “retweets” and clicks to the blog. (Well, some.)

The trouble is, I hate titles like that. Almost as much as I hate stock photos.

One of the things we hear lots about is the need to identify your “voice” as a writer. The same goes for bloggers. But how are we going to do that if we all start to sound like some third-rate marketing guru? The authors I admire on social media are the ones who aren’t afraid to be themselves, who reveal their creativity, originality, ingenuity and occasional vulnerability in their tweets and posts.

Yet there’s a catch.

It doesn’t matter how creative, original and ingenious authors are, somehow they have to come to people’s attention in the first place. They have to be “discoverable”. The same applies to book bloggers. Reviewing for Australian Women Writers Challenge can help – but even the challenge, in some ways, has become a victim of its own success. There are so many talented Australian authors and bloggers out there, most of whom, it seems, are women.

I’m not kidding.

Last year there were 500+ female Australian authors reviewed for the challenge and many of their books only attracted one review. Of those, I read around 50. How many authors’ names could I rattle off now without thinking? A few more than that, if I’m lucky. (That would be a good test.) But 500? No way. And these are, for the most part, traditionally published authors. Women with a team behind them who have created great stories in their chosen genres. And book bloggers? Of 274 people signed up to read and review for the challenge this year, I’d be lucky to remember… I’d hate to say.

You see the problem.

This brings me back to images, and what to do with them.

Well, here’s the thing. This week, I’m trying something different. As an experiment, I’ve adapted the autumn leaves photo above to include text. The experiment will be to post the photo to Facebook and Twitter and see how many “clicks” or “shares” it gets, compared to my non-visual posts. I’ve also added the URL of this website at the bottom.

Here it is.

 

Katoomba Autumn Leaves note and LCWill it catch on? Maybe with the Granny set. Perhaps I should have tried different wording? What do you think?

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