Friday, June 22, 2012

Hidden London - London's Secret Gardens

For one special June weekend every year, London's private garden squares are opened up to the public. With 1 ticket you get a pass into 208 gardens. There's a comprehensive website (see below) with details of what's where so that you can plan your route which would be essential in such a huge, sprawling city. In my central West area of Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill we have the largest concentration of private, communal gardens. I'm fortunate enough to have a key to one of the very finest.

Last weekend was Edwardes Square's 200th birthday. We went to an afternoon tea:

and picked up our copy of a new book detailing the garden's history. I knew the artistic and literary connections were plentiful, but was staggered to discover quite how many of the greats have passed this way. There's a particularly strong children's literature thread. Not only with the most popular children's book series ever - via our immediate, publicity sensitive, neighbour who's never there - but also Peter Pan (George du Maurier, Daphne's grandad, lived at No. 12) and Alice In Wonderland. George du Maurier's daughter Sylvia was the mother of the children befriended in the park by J M Barrie: Jack, George, Nicholas, Peter and - Michael. Later, in the same house, lived fantasy and fairy story author George MacDonald mentor of C S Lewis, Lewis Carroll and hugely admired by Tolkein and Mark Twain amongst many others.
George MacDonald
There's a photo in the book of Lewis Carroll with George, his wife and children in the garden of No. 12. After getting the thumbs up from George's children, Lewis Carroll submitted Alice's Adventures In Wonderland to Macmillan - who lived a few doors away at number 19! Then we had Mrs Inchbald at No. 4, whose play features heavily in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park; and this, from Virginia Woolf:

"Lord David's party last night. Half across London to Edwardes Square. Very large, leafy, silent, Georgian, refined."

Pot displays by David, the resident gardener
I will stop there but the stories and connections do go on, and on. Just two more. William Pepys, a founding member of the Royal Society used to burn diamonds in the garden with his friend William Allen. It was they who proved that diamonds were pure carbon. And then James Leigh Hunt, visited by just about everybody - Byron, Shelley... I can't walk there now without a rush of all this new information bubbling up.

David's stupendous lawn-mowing on the croquet lawn - OMG could this have been THE Alice In Wonderland croquet lawn??

I do hope to take a step back from the digital world this summer. I want to sit on that bench with my writing pad and some George MacDonald on my Kindle.   

His children's fairy stories are out of copyright and available to download for free at the Gutenberg Project.  Then I'll get back to my half-completed children's fantasy perhaps! If we ever get a summer.  

If an English garden steeped in history is your thing and you'd like to plan a visit next year, all details of London Garden Squares Open Weekend are here. The Edwardes Square book itself is a beautiful thing as you can see from its own website here. I think there are a few copies still going. 

London's Hidden Jewel
The Story Of A Garden Square
c. The Edwardes Square History Group 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A New Review And A Passionate Endorsement for Self-Publishing On Kindle

The delightful French Village Diaries reviews The Wildflower Man, now back to its old title (mainly for the better, professional, cover design by Fena Lee) Babe On Board. And here's another happy tale of a traditionally-published author turning indie. Jessica Park's story starts with the familiar scenario of agent and editors loving her book but nobody wanting to publish it because it ignored all the industry rules. Seems protagonists between the ages of 18 an 25 are as unpopular as women over 40!

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Goodreads Advertising Tips

Having got my first batch of "content" up and running, I'm moving into a new stage with my ebook sales website.

Marketing isn't called marketing in digital book land, it's called Discoverability. How on earth do you get your books in front of the browsing reader's eyes and tempt them to your sales page?

That, says everyone from minnow me to Big Six publisher, is the question. Advertising has to come very low down the scale for start-ups with tiny budgets. So far I've read some books, dipped my toe into GoogleAds and Facebook Ads and lost a few dollars.

Until very recently Amazon KDP Select, with its free lending days was, if you could accept their exclusivity clause, a good method. Offer your ebooks for free for 5 days out of every 3 months, ratchet up "sales" which promote your  other titles and then get real sales when the freebie starts charging again. All thanks to Amazon's complicated ranking and "also bought" system. Now the Algorithms have changed, and, for reasons too complicated to go into here, this isn't so good. See Karen Woodward's blog for more.

Goodreads advertising isn't new, but I've only just discovered the DIY "self-serve" version where, like FB and GoogleAds, you can target your book ads to specific readers (via their favourite authors) with  minimal investment. The Goodreads' forums is where the Fifty Shades of Grey saga started: reader word of mouth. With 19 million unique visitors per month, all of them readers, this has to be worth investigating. Goodreads have just issued a detailed breakdown of an advertising campaign - discussed here at Digital Book World.

So far I have got absolutely nowhere. When I emailed to ask what I was doing wrong I got a very helpful response then a follow-up attaching the Goodreads "Self-Serve Best Practices" PDF. Now that is service. Thank you Goodreads and thank you Margo. You can find the PDF in a Toolbar widget to the right of your ad campaign dashboard.

First, my ads are over targeted.

* remove any age and country targeting and keep it to just authors or just genres.

* Run two ads under the same campaign. Sharing the funding, target appx 5 genres in one ad and appx 8 - 10 authors in the other.  Stick to authors with a rating of more than 25,000.

* Keep Tweeking the ad copy. A call to action at the end of the wording, like "click to read more" or "add to your shelf" gets more clicks.

Tick the "engagement box" at the end of the ad to reveal review stats.

You can tailor how much you pay per click. Goodreads recommend 50 cents per click for good ad visibility.

Add your book as a giveaway prize and advertise it in your ad.

I've done the giveaway thing. This will cost the copy of a paperback plus world postage (probably to Australia if your luck is like mine). The giveaway listing can last for a long time, though, months and months, and it will stretch your Discoverability.

26 June Campaign End : Well, my 3 little mini-campaigns have nearly run their course. What have I learnt? Make 3 or 4 ads with different copy (wording) under the one campaign and see which one gets more attention. Then ditch the others and try your top ad against some different copy. I also learnt that targeting particular authors brought very low returns as opposed to targeting genres. So I gave up on the author target thing. Then I gave up altogether. For the return on clicks and "Adds" not worth it. The time needed to get the perfect copy is, for me, better spent elsewhere.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A New Title And A New Identity

I've been meddling again. The book is comedy, but a laugh and cry kind of comedy, so, having done the light side, am giving its darker, Leonard Cohen themed, depths an airing.

Lonely back-up singer Sally Lightfoot is challenged to get out there and lose her wididity, her born-again virginity, before she starts crumbling into sexless middle age. Sally misses her dead husband too much and anyway she's 50, passion and romance are a thing of the past. But when Sally does meet a man who, if she could, she would, he doesn't see her 'in that way'. Why should he when he still has the pick of girls half her age? Does she dare make the first move? Can she fulfill her friend's challenge and put passion back into her life? Or will she just be making the biggest, most deluded fool of herself ever? One minute this book has you laughing out loud, the next you are sobbing. 

 "Insightful and delightful, full of thoughtful dialogue and exceptional clarity. Sally feels real, like a neighbor or a friend and that makes the story take on a presence of its own. You will get lost in the story and not want to put it down until it is finished." LESLIE WRIGHT, HUFFINGTON POST BOOKS

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.