Thursday 28 March 2013

Bundles or box-sets?

First box-set of my duke books. £1.99
I have ventured into a new market – that of publishing my books in a box set – or is it a bundle?
This way anyone who hasn't read my books has the opportunity to pay for two titles and get a third one free. Not quite BOGOF - but a similar idea.
As always Jane Dixon-Smith has made a beautiful 3-D cover for me. It remains to be seen if presenting my books in this way is something my readers want.
Everyone loves a bargain – so I'm hoping this will tempt some new Regency readers to try something different.
I noticed on Amazon that some authors call these groupings "bundles" while others call them a "box-set". Some have 2-D covers, others 3-D (like mine) and a few just print titles on a single cover and hope for the best.
My last post was about titles and their importance to sales and I think that having a professionally designed cover is equally invaluable.
Do you buy books with amateur covers or does this put you off? My first book, The Duke's Reform, originally had a cover I designed myself – okay – but obviously not done by a professional. However, this book sold hundreds of copies with this cover so it obviously didn't stop people buying it.
I think the time of year has far more influence over sales figures then either cover or title. June and July is when people are going, or thinking about going, on holiday and ready to buy extra reading material. February – the most gloomy month of the year – is when nobody has the inclination or time to read anything new – probably because they are recovering from the financial excesses of Christmas.

Monday 25 March 2013

Would the title of a book stop you buying it?

I've just started editing and rewriting the last book I wrote for Robert Hale, "Two Gentlemen from London" and I'm looking for a new title. I can't imagine why this title was allowed to go ahead – I'm sure it's the reason this book didn't sell out. Robert Hale never changed any of my titles and I wish they had.
For instance: The Mesalliance and A Dissembler? How many readers would be attracted to books with such  obscure titles?
The only book that sold out before it was published was, "The Ghosts of Neddingfield Hall". I'm sure this has something to do with the fact that the word "ghost" was in the title.
I changed the title of a novella from, "Wed for a Wager" to "Bride for a Duke" before putting it up as an e-book and this has been one of my best sellers. Of course it could be because the book is considerably shorter than my others, but I think it's because of the words "bride and duke" in the title. What do you think?
At the moment the new title for, "Two Gentlemen from London" is "A Necessary Bride". I'm not sure about this but it's what I'm using until I come up with something else. The heroine has to marry the hero so that he can protect her from her depraved stepfather - so the title is accurate and I think indicates that it's a Regency.
Obviously it's essential the title tells the reader what genre the book is - no point giving a thriller a romantic title. My latest book, "A House Party" has been criticised by a reviewer as having a misleading title. She complains that the book revolves around the central characters and the minor characters (the other members of the house party) are not sufficiently developed. This is a Regency romantic adventure that takes place at a house party - so I think the title is fine. But you can't please everyone every time – and I certainly didn't please her.
Any suggestions for a better title gratefully accepted.

Saturday 16 March 2013

How do you start writing a new book?

This is my latest Regency.
 I haven't written anything completely new for over a year. In the past 12 months I've been doing rewrites and edits and putting up my backlist of Regency titles, as well as publishing three new books on Amazon and Create Space.
 I've finally got Hannah's War and Barbara's War published as paperbacks on Create Space, (with the help of the wonderful Jane Dixon- Smith)and am now ready to begin a new story.
This was released in January.

I've written more than two dozen Regency romantic adventures, but only three World War II stories. Therefore I decided this story will be set  after the blitz, but whilst the V2s  were landing on Essex.
I've had the idea for this book kicking about in my head for a few weeks and  discussed it with a few writer friends who all think it will make a good read. I jotted down the names of the characters and their relationship to one another when I first had the idea – but I won't do any more planning than that. I shall let the story write itself.  I don't see  my characters – but I do hear them speaking in my head.
Now out as paperback and e-book.
When I was doing research for Barbara's War I included a section on Italian POW camps in Essex which in the end I didn't use. The hero of my story will be an Italian prisoner of war and the heroine a young mother with two boys, who was widowed at Dunkirk. The conflict will be created by her husband's relatives who object to her forming a liaison with a man they consider to be an enemy.
If I need to do any more research I will do it as I write the book.
I would be interested to hear how the writers amongst you start a new story:
 Do you work out the entire plot in your head and then start?
Do you research before you start or just write?
Now out as paperback and e-book.
Do you think of the characters and then let the story evolve around them?
Do you see your characters or just hear them or niether?
Do you edit as you go or write the whole book and then edit the entire story?
Can you open a new file and get straight into your story or do you procrastinate?
If you have time I would love to hear how you all work. I will post the results next time.

Fenella J Miller.

Friday 1 March 2013

Zoe - gone but never forgotten.

Zoe - 22/2/98 to 19/2/13

After a long stuggle with failing health we lost our beloved dog on 19th February -just three days before she would have been fifteen.
She had a long and happy life and will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
My son was reminding me how, when he was having a huge bonfire at the old house, Zoe would fetch sticks and break them for him.
When I was teaching I used to bring my Year Six class over for a visit in the summer - I recall one of the boys saying she was a better goal keeper than the one in the school team.
She never ran away when we took her out and always returned when we called. Quite unlike the flat-coat retrievers we had had before. One of them, Othello, was found at Sy Osyth - six miles from where we lived. We think he chased a deer over the fields and got there that way.
Zoe loved to play with a ball. When we got fed up with throwing it to her she would drop it down the stairs and collect it, then do this again and again. I've seen her throwing a ball acorss the grass in order to run after it.
Her favourite game was throwing the ball to you and then catching it when you threw it back. She could also lie on her back and hold a ball between her front paws.
If you asked her to fetch things she knew what you wanted and would run and get it. Border Collies are the brightest of dogs.
We only have this one photo of her because she was camera shy - this was taken last winter.
We'll never forget her- she was an amazing little dog.
Fenella J Miller.