Dare to be Different

Today I would like to show you the new covers for my sci-fi/dystopian action adventure series – The Song of Forgetfulness.

It has been a challenge to find the right design and I have gone through many covers none of which made me happy. These ones do. I’ve had some excellent feedback from people and have taken on board their comments to tweak my design.

But – it would seem there are some sci-fi writers out there who think my fonts aren’t suitable and should be more like the ones that they use. I took a look at their covers and thought, ‘No, thank you. My books aren’t anything like your books. So why would I want them to look like yours?’

Yes, I understand that I need to make the covers suggest my genre, but I will not create a book cover that does not reflect the content. The Song of Forgetfulness series of novels is a little bit different. I think that is a good thing.

I do dare to be different.

Will readers like that?

Yes, judging by the positive reviews I get.

So, I will continue to write the way I want to and be true to my art, instead of churning out generic narratives that could be written by anybody.

Rant over.

Will I sell a load of books?

Perhaps, if I get the marketing right.

Learn more about the series here:

http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com

Or go to:

http://www.oddlybooks.com

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Would you buy this book?

I have been working on my second short story collection for over a year now. I was going to publish it last Christmas, but like I said in my previous post, I got cold feet.

I have now finished it and will be publishing it on November 5th – Bonfire Night in the UK. May as well start with a bang!

Anyway, here is the blurb and cover. Would you buy this book?

Crow Bones:

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, incest, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint mist from a spray can.

 If you like authors such as Philip K Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Annie Proulx and Franz Kafka, then Crow Bones is the anthology for you.

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I will also be launching my new venture – Oddly Books  where I will be publishing my own weird novels and stories as well as getting together other like-minded authors to produce quality fiction that strays beyond the edge of reality.

So, if you are an author who writes quality, speculative, strange stories, please do get in touch.

Here is a short extract form one of the stories in the new anthology

 Soft Boiled.

“The hiss and babble of a pot brewing up bones and gristle gave the kitchen a sense of bustle despite the stillness of the sole occupant.

Alice, fixed to her seat, did not waft her flushed cheeks, scratch the itch that made her thigh twitch or wipe off the sticky fluid on her fingers. She just sat, stared at the pan and let the blood drip.”

My first short story anthology – Glimmer and other stories – the ebook is on offer at the moment for only $0.99 £0.99. You can purchase it on Amazon:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

Or from a variety of sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:
Any author interested in the Oddly Book anthology, please do get in touch. My email is: nikki@nicolamcdonagh.com. Or leave a comment with a contact for me to get in touch with you.
Thanks for reading!!

What stops you from publishing your work?

There are many reasons an author doesn’t get around to publishing their work. I know from my own experience how scary it is to actually get your stories/novels into the real world. The dread of waiting for that first review, the agonising over the cover, blurb, and oh, the list goes on. I wonder sometimes how any of us manage to do it at all.

I have been wanting to publish my second anthology of short stories for nearly a year now. They have been sitting  in Scrivener for ten months. I have edited, re-edited, edited again, tweaked, cut, added and edited the stories until I hate the very sight of them. Then I wake up and realise there is a plot flaw, or a character’s reaction to something isn’t quite right, and I go back to the story and re-write it. Then when I’m satisfied – ish – I start looking at the contents order, change it around, change it back and when I’m sick of that,  I go onto another project.

Why?

Because I want my work to be perfect. Until I think it is, I know that I will never publish.

Then a friend told me to stop being so precious and ‘anal and just publish the thing!’ She was right, of course. My writing is never going to be perfect. Even if I think the stories are as near perfect as I can get them, I guarantee that I will want to change something at some point.

So I have decided to go ahead and finally publish my second anthology of short stories.

Crow Bones.

crowbonesv-6cfront

Due for release 5th November 2016 via my new publishing company – Oddly Books.

cowbonezsofar12-10

Now that it’s official, I will have to do the deed.

Are there any authors out there who share my dithering when it comes to publishing? If so, what are the reasons you don’t do it? I’d love to hear from you, just so I know that I’m not alone.

My first collection of short stories – Glimmer – is on offer at the moment. Only $0.99 £0.99 on a variety of sites. Just click on this link to take you to where you can purchase your copy:  https://books2read.com/u/4AgOLA

Or go to Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H89AN1M

 Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/
glimmer front red 2

Does changing your book cover help sales?

I have heard many authors say that your book cover is what sells your book. True, to a certain extent. The cover has to reflect the content in some way and be the branding image for your books, especially if they are a series.

These were my book covers after I changed them when my publisher closed down. I was in  a rush to get them out so as to keep my reviews. The one that really stood out for me was A Silence Heard.

my book banner

Now, I really don’t like most of the book covers I see. However, I do realise why in some genres, the images are the way they are, to attract a specific fan base. That would mean for example, that these days a YA Dystopian covers will almost always look something like this.

510FKrsZfwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Yeuk, as far as I’m concerned, but I am not the target reader.

Dystopian with a strong female protagonist, such as Divergent by Veronica Roth, and The hunger Games Suzanne Collins, also my genre for The song of Forgetfulness series, take a more abstract approach to their cover design. They sell a lot of books.

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After delving into the some of these books, the content is pretty much the same, so yeah, the covers reflect that.

I have noticed recently in the Dystopian genre a huge trend  in favour of the fantasy style covers with images of pretty girls on them. They all look like romance books to me.Yet they are listed as Dystopian.

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My problem is that my story is different, my narrative style is very different. If I were to choose a cover similar to the ones above, then the reader would be disappointed with the content, perhaps. At least, it would not be what they expected. That is if they bought the book solely on the merit of the cover.

With that in mind I decided to choose  covers that were very different in style from those in the same genre, yet reflected the content in some way. I want to attract readers who will like my quirky style of writing by using a cover design that would stand out from the others.

SOF_2016_bannerv. 1

In the words of the late, great Umberto Eco. “Eco discussed his approach to writing in an interview at a Guardian Live event in London in 2015. “I don’t know what the reader expects,” he said.

“I think that Barbara Cartland writes what the readers expect. I think an author should write what the reader does not expect. The problem is not to ask what they need, but to change them … to produce the kind of reader you want for each story.”

I have been told by a few authors that I am wrong to do this and that I should get a cover like one of  these.

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Will I sell more books if I use a design like the ones above?

I’ll never know because I will never have a cover like that.

I want to stand out.

Have I ruined my chance at selling my books because I dare to be different?

I took a chance with the narrative style of my book and it worked, so why not the covers?

To my delight, I have gotten some excellent reviews often praising my slang-based language. Echoes from the Lost Ones was even used as the basis for a graduate thesis by Mattia D’agostina. You can read the blog post here: https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/translation-can-it-work-for-every-book/

So, I think I’ll see how these new covers work when I start to re-market my books.

What do you think?

Am I right?

SOF_2016_bannerv. 1

You can purchase any of the books from The Song of Forgetfulness series on Amazon:

US: http://amzn.to/1TlwaBP

UK: http://amzn.to/1O01bZ1

For more information about The Song of Forgetfulness series, please go to the website: http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/

 

 

 

 

The Perils of Publishing

Now that my publishers have closed down, I am due to regain the selling rights for my YA dystopian/sci-fi series, The Song of Forgetfulness.

When I heard they were going under, I had mixed feelings. Part of me was pleased, as I wasn’t all that happy with them, but part of me was somewhat nervous. What now? What is going to happen to all my hard work researching and writing these two novels?

I had some options:

1.    Try to get an agent and a traditional publishing contract

2.    Send my manuscripts off to other Indie publishers. (Already had a few interested.)

3.    Self-publish.

I considered all three options.

Having heard lots of depressing stories from fellow authors about traditional publishing, I decided not to go there on this occasion. Besides, I’m still not sure about the value of an agent unless it is one with a credible track record. Since I’m not a best selling author, or any way near that, I figured a reputable agent wouldn’t want me on their books. Another reason to opt out of traditional publishing.

Since I had such a bad experience with a small publisher, they take 70% of royalties, whilst I do all the marketing and promotion, plus their editing and book covers were pretty sub-standard, I knew that I would not go down that road again.

The third option seemed to me to be the most logical. I have already self-published a collection of short stories, Glimmer and other stories, and although sales aren’t fabulous, I do sell some books on a regular basis. With my publishers I sold hardly any, if at all.

glimmer front red 2

With no promotional skills whatsoever, I decided to pay for an online book-marketing course. Wow! What an eye-opener. I didn’t realise there was so much that a self-published author can do to generate readers/fans and ultimately, sales. I am still learning, but have been working very hard to try and make sure that I do things right this time.

So, it’s just over a week to go before the ALL NEW versions of Echoes from the Lost Ones and A Silence Heard are re-launched. All with brand new book covers.

Echoesforblog

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But, wait, there’s more!!

A Prequel, which will be book 1, Whisper Gatherers, is also being launched.

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Watch this space for more news about how you can get Free copies!

Yes, that’s right – FREE COPIES!!!!

Also, a short story about our heroine Adara, called Changeling Fog, will be a FREE DOWNLOAD

Fogforblog

I’m actually excited!

Wish me luck?

You can learn more about The Song of Forgetfulness here: http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/

Or follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesongofforgetfulness

FREE ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT STORIES

I haven’t done a lot of blogging lately, been burying my head in a book promotion course in an attempt to prepare to self-publish my YA series, now that my publishers have gone out of business. So I decided to experiment with Glimmer and other stories. I re-edited my collection of short stories and changed the cover. Then I targeted Amazon’s key word section, looked at a few successful short story anthologies, and got some ideas to describe my work. After changing the sub categories in Kindle, I sold some books and gained an excellent ranking in two new sub categories. All part of my drive to become better at marketing my books. I hope it works.

glimmer front red 2

To celebrate the slightly altered Glimmer and other stories, it will be FREE to download on Amazon Kindle from 16th-20th April 2015. If you do decide to take advantage of this offer, there is another FREE story for you to download as my way of saying thank you.

A brief description and 5* review snippets to help you make up your mind:

From metaphysical speculation to sophisticated eroticism, these beautifully crafted tales explore human nature in all its diversity. Sometimes disturbing, sometimes inspirational, they all have a metaphorical richness that will take you into an uncanny world that straggles the line between the real and the imagined.

“Glimmer and other stories is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories….they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever.” Review by Lesley Hayes

“Ms. McDonagh has created a world that is like an out-of-body experience almost. The stories took me out of my confined world and took me into science fiction, a little horror, drama, and wonder.” Review by Oscar William Case

Don’t forget that Glimmer will go back to it’s normal price after 20th April, so please do take advantage of this limited offer.

Amazon links where you can download my FREE book:

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?

 http://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-metaphysical-supernatural-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

 

 You can follow me on :

Twitter:                      @McDonaghNikki

Facebook:                   https://www.facebook.com/nicolamcdonaghauthor?ref=hl

Website:                     http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/

A Time for Change – revisited

boris on grass This new year has brought about restlessness within me. There is something about January and February that makes me want to start all over again. So, I decided I would do just that.

I have two YA Dystopian/Sci-Fi books published by an independent publisher that are languishing on Amazon. I have quite a few excellent 4* and 5* reviews, but I’m still not getting the sales that reflect the enthusiasm of the reviewers. I stopped to think why.

Maybe the blurb isn’t right?

Maybe I’m not doing enough to promote, or get myself noticed?

Perhaps it is the covers?

Well, the answer is all of the above, I guess.

My gut reaction was to re-edit both books. I wasn’t happy with the ending of the first novel in the series, The Song of Forgetfulness. Echoes from the Lost Ones had too much of a cliff-hanger finish, which meant that book two, A Silence Heard, would need to be changed to accommodate the revisions. Then I remembered I had a prequel! On re-reading it, I realised that this series could be something special – with the right marketing.

Firstly, I turned my attention to the covers.

echoes cover for email                                 A Silnce Heard cover sml

The cover for the first book in the series – The Song of Forgetfulness – is okay and does have relevance to the content, but the second one does not. In fact it is misleading. I’m not saying that the covers are hindering the sales of my books, but they aren’t helping, in my opinion.

Here are my new designs for the covers of Echoes from the Lost Ones, and A Silence Heard.

I am attempting to reflect the futuristic atmosphere and tension that is present in the narrative. Also, the images I have used are relevant to the story. They aren’t the finished product, just mock-ups, but I like them better than the old ones – so far.

echoes_new_21.01                              silence_new_21.01

It felt good to throw out the old, re-edit my books, and change the covers. Maybe I can attract the attention of readers by giving them a more rewarding reading experience. Plus, I am going to swot up on how to market and publicise for greater effect. I hope it works. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

What do you think? Feedback would be very useful. Especially any tips on marketing and promotion. Thank you:)

You can watch trailers for the books on Youtube:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ8o_mBopYM

If you would like to know more about me and my writing, please visit these websites: http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/ http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/