Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Is it better to know the truth about your book?

I can't believe it's the 17th  October already. Seems like only yesterday I did my beginning of the month post.
Over the past three weeks I've been beta reading a couple of books. One, a WW2 adventure from an American I met online and the other a literary fiction by a man I've met in person - but connected through ALLi.
I use four beta readers and don't expect more than a yay or nay from them but, as an ex-reader for the RNA wonderful NWS scheme,  I couldn't read without commenting.
Both books were good, one much better than the other. Both had technical issues and one historical errors. I sent them a one page critique listing what I'd seen and suggesting ways to put things right. I also stressed that these were my opinions and another reader might love the book as it is.
What I'm now wondering is, did they want to know there were things I didn't think worked? Should I have just said it was okay and good luck?
I had a reader contact me about typos in a book - I was so glad she did. The file published was not the final one but  an earlier version - there were indeed  many errors - but no on had mentioned this to me before. Therefore, literally, thousands of people had read the book and I so wished I'd known last year and corrected it. These weren't catastrophic mistakes, just missing letters, extra spaces, the usual things that can be overlooked if not correctly proof read.
I have contacted a few writer friends over the years to tell them that there's a historical error in their books - all have been pleased to know. One famously said that the book was only £0.99, and what do readers want for that money? This reader wants historical accuracy whatever the cover price.
I always correct the e-version of the book if I discover/am told about errors but don't do the paperbacks. It costs £100 to have it formatted and I only sell a handful of copies a year.
Christian Cameron's brilliant book, The Long Sword, had so many errors I stopped counting them after three chapters This was the hard back. The unproofed file had inadvertently been published. I was reviewing it for HNS so contacted Orion and they said they would make sure the e-version and paperback were correct.
I think most writers would want to be told before the book was published but what about afterwards when they could do little about it? I never read my books again once they are 'out' and I doubt that many writers do.  So why tell them as they might remain in blissful ignorance until a reviewer comments?
What do you think? Tell the truth or not?

£1.99 & $2.99
Five books and three of them new titles.
CLICK HERE TO BUY

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Giveaways and Good News!

 Today I'm letting you know I'm part of an excellent giveaways. One AXP, you could win 45 books. The other litring, you could win an Amazon gift card.  https://www.litring.com/bookbub-sept-29/  
The book giveaway is mixed genre as you can see. It's to do with series -the first book in each series is up for grabs. My Barbara's War is featured.

Another thing I want to share with you is that my book, Blue Skies & Tiger Moths, the first book in my new Ellen's War series, has been longlisted for the Millennium Book Awards. There were 1000 entrants and forty books were longlisted. I'm thrilled. I've entered several awards and never been long listed.
The second book, An ATA Girl ,is now out with my Beta readers and should be ready for release early next year.

Thanks for dropping by
Fenella J Miller


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Yay! My Christmas Regency book is out.

A Most Unexpected Christmas was released as part of the Regency Romantics box set winter 2016

Lydia Halstead has no desire to remarry or to attend social gatherings. However, she is persuaded to accompany her brother and his family to Fakenham Manor.
Lord Theodore Fakenham is not pleased to discover his mama has arranged a Christmas house party without his permission. This is not an auspicious start to the festive period.
An infestation of mice in the nursery, a riotous snowball fight and an accident in the study make for a very unexpected and romantic Christmas.

Buy Here

Too soon, I hear you yell but if there are giant boxes of sweets on shelves and even decorations then it's not too soon for a Regency Christmas book.
Hope you enjoy it  - a bargain at £1.50 & $2!!

Fenella J Miller

Friday, 1 September 2017

How far would you go to increase your sales and visibility?

There has been a lot of talk on various loops about authors who have used click-farms and become instantly a bestseller. I'm sure you all know how this works as there's been so much talk about it – but in case you don't – here is a potted version.
Author pays X amount of dollars/pounds to an intermediary. The book is then downloaded via the Kindle library system by the click farm and the book is flicked through as if it's been read. Multiply this by thousands and you get the idea. A title that nobody has heard of can suddenly be in the top ten on Amazon and the author making thousands of dollars.
It was said on one loop that it is possible for the author to have stumbled onto this and not realised they were doing something unethical. I investigated every lead I could find and didn't discover any black sites or any others where I could sign up for such a deal even if I wanted to. Therefore, I think it fair to say that any author who has used this scheme has done so deliberately.
I'm not sure if I had found such a deal whether I would have been tempted to do it. The book everyone was discussing wasn't very good and had made virtually no impression on anyone. My book, the one on the right, is selling around five hundred copies a month, so it's certainly being read and well received.
If a click farm could push it into the bestselling list and not only make me a lot of money but also find me lots of new fans would I do it?
 Doesn't a good book deserve to be read by thousands rather than hundreds?
Would it be so wrong to take a shortcut?
Isn't this just another way of promoting your book – albeit not a strictly moral one?
What about schemes that say they will get you dozens of reviews? It now seems that the Amazon algorithm only kicks in to promote your book when you have 50+ good reviews. Friends and family are not supposed to review your books but I know for a fact that some books with 50+ reviews, all five star, have done just that.  I've read the books and know them to be dire. All right, these aren't paid for reviews, but they are still breaking the rules.
How many of you have asked friends and family to put up a review? I used to, but now don't. I do ask those on my subscriber lists if they could find a few minutes to review my books, but don't get particularly good results. Amazon insists that if you send an ARC (advance review copy) to anyone you must ask them to say this. All reviews are supposed to be from  'a verified purchase' – I'm not sure if this counts if you have borrowed it through the Kindle library. Amazon used to insist that a review was at least three sentences, now a reviewer can put up three words as long as it's a verified purchase.
I read recently that someone spent thousands of dollars buying their own book at dozens of different retailers in order to push it into the New York Times bestselling list. This is breaking the rules too – but if someone is prepared to do it, and is so desperate  to be in the bestselling list, then it's going to continue to happen.
Maybe if I'd bought /bribed/begged for reviews this book, An Accommodating Husband, would have had the orange flag 'bestseller' that all the others got.
How far are you prepared to go to get noticed? If you were offered a deal that guaranteed you a bestselling ranking on Amazon would you take it? It's not illegal but  it is breaking the rules.
Until next time
Fenella J Miller


Friday, 18 August 2017

The Air Transport Auxiliary - female ferry pilots.

Air Transport Auxiliary - ferry pilots in WW2

At the moment I'm writing the second book in my three book series, Ellen's War – An ATA Girl. The first book, Blue Skies and Tiger Moths came out earlier this year. The second book follows Ellie Simpson from June 1940 until December 1941 – at least that's when I think it will finish. I don't really know until I get there. In this one she leaves the WAAF and joins the Air Transport Auxiliary. Therefore, this month I thought I'd tell you a bit about them. The trouble is I find the subject so fascinating I'm doing rather more research then I should and a lot less writing. This is why I love being a historical fiction writer – I can immerse myself in fascinating facts.
The ATA was started by the director of British Airways. He could see that when the second war started there wouldn't be enough trained pilots to protect Britain if they were used to ferry new aircraft from the factories and take back damaged ones for repair. Also there would be a suspension of civil aviation which meant these pilots would have no work.
The RAF had strict entry requirements and many of these civilian and commercial pilots would be considered unsuitable for operational service.
Initially just over a hundred men were recruited from all walks of life. It soon became apparent that these gallant few would not be enough to move trainers, fighters and bombers from storage units to RAF squadrons stop the RAF had thought they could use their own pilots for this but it became glaringly obvious after Dunkirk they would need every able-bodied RAF pilot in active service.
Most of these ATA pilots were limited to flying single engined training aircraft so they were given conversion courses so they could fly Hurricanes and Spitfires and multi-engine types.
Spitfire
Then Pauline Gower stepped in and convinced the powers that be that well-trained women could do the job just as well as men. So on January 1st 1940 eight women pilots were employed to ferry Tiger Moths and Pauline was appointed commander of this first group of women flyers.
Hurricane
They were based at Hatfield in a small office behind the de Havilland hangars. There sole job initially was to fly planes from the de Havilland factory to training airfields and storage units, for the most part in northern England and Scotland. This was the middle of winter and Tiger Moths were open cockpit. This was the first time in history women would be officially given the task of ferrying military aircraft and they did a wonderful job at it.
ATA girls in uniform.
By 1941 the women were at last cleared to fly class II aircraft, Hurricanes and Spitfires. More women from all walks of life were taken on until eventually there were twenty-two ferry pools – some pools like Hamble, Crossford and Hatfield were all women ferry pools but most of the others were mixed with men and women pilots working side by side.
Many foreign pilots also found employment in the ATA. They were known as " The Flying Legion of the Air," as there were men and women from thirty other countries in the organisation.
In 1943 female pilots who had previously earned 20% less than male pilots were at last given equal pay. By now they were flying all class of aircraft, with the exception of class VI flying boats. They flew using only a compass and gyro and could only take off and land when the weather was clear.
By the end of the war ATA pilots had delivered over 300 000 aircraft of 51 different types. The ATAs total complement consisted of 1152 men and 166 women. There were also aircrew, radio officers, ground engineers and ATC cadets. 129 men and 20 women were killed in service, including Amy Johnson.
Fenella J Miller

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Duke''s Alliance - An Accommodating Husband – on sale at bargain price for one week only!

Buy Now
The fourth book in The Duke's Alliance series – An Accommodating Husband – is now live on all Amazon platforms. It is at a reduced price for one week only and will return to the usual price on 8 August.
I didn't put this book on preorder as I've been reading this doesn't work for Amazon – certainly reducing the price and sending it out to my almost 2000 subscribers proved successful as the book is already on six bestseller lists – including Regency.
Needless to say I'm delighted about this and I hope that my new readers will then go on and buy the backlist.
This book tells the story of Lady Giselle Sheldon, the younger sister of the Duke. Beau, of course, features strongly in this book as he does in all of them. I shall be beginning Perry's story in a few weeks and it will be entitled "A Soldier's Bride." Peregrine, you might remember, is the other twin. The previous book in the series was his brother Aubrey's story – An Unconventional Bride.
I'm really enjoying writing this series and will be sorry to get the end of it. The final book will be the duke's romance and I haven't quite decided how that one will go but I do know it will be out next summer sometime.

The Regency Romantic's summer box set, Midsummer Marriages, of which I am part, is also doing well. In future all the stories will be new ones and I'm sure that will please many fans.
Don't forget if you want a bargain by An Accommodating Husband this week as it will be back to the usual $2.99 and £1.99 very soon.
Fenella J Miller

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Regency Romantics Summer Box Set Midsummer Marriages.

Delighted that second box set for 2017 is now live on Amazon. This time four new titles and this is the plan from now on. We are all going to write new books for the box sets if possible - Wendy Soliman, Elizabeth Bailey, Monica Fairview and myself certainly will. Amanda Grange and Melinda Hammond will write one new book a year as they have other commitments.
Elizabeth is now hosting the box sets - we have taken it in turns. I started this venture three years ago and hopefully Elizabeth will host for a couple for years before it's my turn again. 

Here are the blurbs:

Regency Romantics Summer Box Set

Five Bestselling Authors with five glittering Regencies
Including Four completely new stories!

DAMSEL TO THE RESCUE by Elizabeth Bailey
A fugitive stranger and a frantic forest escape.
Four years on the marriage mart have left Delia Burloyne resigned to life as a maiden aunt. Then fate takes a hand. Waylaid on the road to Weymouth, her life is turned inside out by dashing Giffard Gaunt. He’s on the run and desperate.
Plunged into a dangerous dash for freedom with a wounded man on her hands, Delia must dig deep for courage. Can she help Giff win back his estates and still keep her heart intact?

LUCASTA by Melinda Hammond
Lucasta Symonds did not enjoy her one, short London Season and she is happy to remain at home while her beautiful younger sister Camilla sets out to make an advantageous marriage. Viscount Kennington takes one look at the beautiful Camilla and is immediately smitten. He follows her to London, determined to make her his wife. However, when events take a turn for the worse and he is accused of a cold-blooded murder, it is not Camilla who comes to his rescue but the less beautiful, much more practical Lucasta.

THE RECLUSIVE DUKE by Fenella Miller
When Lydia Sinclair is left to care for the orphaned children of her sister she discovers they are distant relatives of The Duke of Hemingford. With the last few coins she possesses she buys seats on a common stage for all five of them, determined to persuade the duke to assume responsibility for his cousins. 
Tee duke has no wish to have these unwanted relatives foisted on him, since his accident he shuns society. However, Digby, his man of business, has other ideas and installs Lydia and the children in The Dower House.
Will the duke evict them when he discovers this deception or can Lydia get him to change his mind?

LADY MYSTERIOUS by Wendy Soliman
Kyra Latimer reluctantly returns to Latimer Lodge to help her grandmother organise a house party in the hope of attracting a rich husband for her beautiful younger sister. Lord Nathan Stanford, the guest of honour, is easily able to resist Melanie Latimer’s charms but is intrigued by Kyra’s secretive activities. Why did she leave her family home and why, at such a young age, has she withdrawn from the marriage mart?
Nate makes it his business to find out more about the mysterious lady who single-handedly holds her fragmented family together. Shocked to the core by what he discovers, Nate sets out to protect her from the gambling curse that has destroyed her family and the evil man who wants to possess her. But at what cost to himself? Will he be able to help her find out why her brother’s wife disappeared without trace? And will Nate find a way to convince Kyra that spinsterhood doesn’t suit her…

THE UNEXPECTED DUKE by Monica Fairview
A carriage accident, an inheritance, and broken promises.
Isabella Chalmers has no intention of becoming a model wife, especially when a marriage of convenience means having to deal with a crumbling mansion and a disagreeable duke…
$2.99 £1.99      CLICK HERE

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Tyranny of Writing.

April 2017

February 2017
These are the books I've written and published so far this year. Well, that isn't quite accurate – The Reclusive Duke is going into the next Regency Romantics box set which will be out this month. Search for a Duke was the last of my Robert Hale books that just needed re-editing so I didn't actually write that one this year.
An Unconventional Bride, the third in The Duke's Alliance series was written last year but published in 2017. The fourth book in this series, An Accommodating Husband, will be out in August. This was written this year. A Most Unexpected Christmas was in the Christmas Regency Romantics box last year. I have written this year's book – A Most Delightful Christmas, and this will be coming back from my editor on Wednesday.
August 2017
Currently I am writing the second in a YA paranormal romance, (the first is with a teenage beta reader and has never been published) and also about to start the second in the Ellen's War series. I've also got on my to-do list writing the fourth and final book in The Nightingale Chronicles, All's Well That Ends Well. I will also need a Regency for the spring box set ready by March next year.
As well as writing these books I also have two rounds of edits and two proof reads for each one, as well as having to organise covers, blurbs et cetera. On top of that there is the never-ending round of social media, marketing and promotion to fit in somewhere.
September 2017
Because sales and pageviews are no longer strong I've also started to take my World War II and Victorian books out of Kindle Select. D2D handle some of the platforms but I'm putting them on Nook and Kobo myself. So far I've got three books transferred and by the middle of August all eleven will be available on all platforms. It remains to be seen if this works – but I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain by spreading myself wider.
I think you get the picture – the more you write the more you have to do. If I only wrote one book a year my life would be so much simpler.
For the past three years I've been obsessed with my writing – not content unless I had written a minimum of fifteen hundred words a day every day of the year. Now that I'm less successful sales wise it's given me a moment to step away and reconsider.
January 2017
July 2017
As most of you know I am my husband's carer, he has vascular dementia as well as the usual problems associated with being eighty-five. I cannot leave him on his own but have a wonderful carer who comes in when I go out once a week. I also have to get up most nights so I'm not getting the sleep I require to function at 100%. In the past six weeks his condition has deteriorated and he needs me more than he did before. I don't know how much longer I will have him with me so he is now my priority.
Therefore, I'm no longer writing as much or feel unhappy if I've not written a certain amount by the end of the day. I don't check my sales, indeed I'm no longer disappointed that I'm not in the top one hundred writers any more.
I love writing and will never stop; as long as my brain allows me to work I will be publishing books every year until I die. However, I'm not driven as I was and I'm happier for it. Writing is an all-consuming passion if you let it be. A very good friend of mine told me she intends to write nine books a year – I'm going to be satisfied with whatever I can produce. In future I'll not agonise over my writing or consider myself a failure if I don't stick to a punishing schedule.
I am a writer and always will be, but in future I'm going to be kinder to myself, not set impossible goals and not feel guilty when I fail to reach targets.
I've written over fifty books in thirteen years – that's something to be proud of and something not many writers will achieve in their lifetimes.
I'm going to have a second hot chocolate and make my husband a coffee then watch rubbish TV and read a book. If I don't write anything at all today it no longer matters. To quote a family saying, "life's too short to stuff a mangetout."
Fenella J Miller



Friday, 23 June 2017

Dunkirk

Are you ready for Dunkirk? So are we! And we’re not just talking about Christopher Nolan's upcoming summer blockbuster movie. Beyond the major motion picture, there is Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novel Sale.




Discounted Books for 99c each


40+ authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have joined together for the "Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novels Sale". From July 21-27 (the opening week of “Dunkirk”), we will discount a selection of our books to 99c to bring you more riveting tales of WWII from around the world.

This is a great chance to discover some awesome WWII stories. To find out more, go to:
http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/

We have tons of fun and interesting online events planned including:


Prizes & Giveaways








Join us too for:

6/26     A viewing Dunkirk Promo Official Trailer

6/29     A viewing of the book trailer for “Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/3       A viewing of the book trailer for “The Yankee Years” by Dianne Ascroft

7/5       A viewing of the book trailer for “45th Nail” by Ian Lahey

7/7       Our Authors’ Pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies of all times.

7/10     A viewing of the book trailer for “Unrelenting” by Marion Kummerow

7/13     A viewing of the book trailer for “Luzon” by Richard Barnes

7/14     The Book Speak Podcast reading of Roberta Kagan’s “All My Love, Detrick”

7/17     Part One of our special two-part blog series on Dunkrik by Suzy Hendersen

7/19     A viewing of the book trailer for “Eternal Flame” by Alexa Kang

7/21     Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale begins with The Book Speak Podcast reading of “The Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/22    Part Two of our special two-part blog series on Dunkirk by by Jeremy Strozer

7/24    Movie review of Dunkirk by Alexa Kang



Bookmark this page and be sure you won’t miss out:  http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/







Thursday, 1 June 2017

New book and new directions.

Pre-order £1.99 $2.99
Today the third book in my Victorian, The Nightingale Chronicles series  – Better Bend Than Break – is available on preorder on Amazon. Hopefully from next week it will also be available on all the other platforms which means it isn't in Kindle Select. The other two books in the series will remain in this system until they come out in July and August.

Here is the blurb:
Better Bend Than Break is the third book in The Nightingale Chronicles, a series of four, Victorian family sagas. Sarah Nightingale marries Dan Cooper and becomes mother to his three boys. They move to a fine house of their own and Sarah has never been happier. Alfie Nightingale is obliged to do the right thing by Sarah's friend Betty, so now there will be two babies in the family. Then one disaster follows another and Sarah and Alfie have dreadful choices to make if they and their families are to survive.

Click here  

The final book in this series will be out next year. The title will be, All's Well That Ends Well. I shall start a second Victorian series sometime next year as these have been very successful for me.

I have decided, with some trepidation, to remove  my historical fiction from Kindle Select and put them on all available platforms. I was reluctant to do this before now as they were doing so well, but now things have changed it's time for me to change direction too.
I shall leave all my Regency books in Kindle Select and will give it a year or so and see if my decision was a wise one. The wonderful thing about being an indie publisher is that I have the choice and can take whatever direction I want. 
I wish I could follow the market the way some people do and write a book entitled "The Little Cupcake Club in Cornwall" but I write because it's what I am and I have to right the way I want to. I could also change the titles and covers of my Regency books – 85% of the top hundred books on Amazon have what used to be called "bodice ripper" covers. But again, the wonderful covers that JD Smith designs for me suit the style of my writing and I'm not going to change that either.
Seven years ago Amanda Grange and I started writing a book together. It was at her suggestion and I was happy to work with such a wonderful writer in whatever genre she suggested. The idea was that we wrote fifteen hundred words each and then passed it back. This was to be a young adult paranormal romance – something I would never have thought of attempting myself.
Unfortunately, Amanda wasn't comfortable writing this so handed the project to me. I then moved to my present address and it took me a further eighteen months to finish this book. I put it up and it sold nothing so I took it down again. It is the first in a five book series and as my Regency titles  were doing so well I didn't want to give up the time involved to write the other books.
However, things change, and so must I. I have just sent this re-edited book to a group of teenage beta readers and when I get there reports back I will do any necessary changes and write the second in the series. I want to have two books ready before I launch the first.
I'm also going to try an Amazon advertisement – everyone is telling me these are the way to go – but the other promotional things I've used have failed to produce satisfactory results so I was reluctant to start yet another "new" scheme. 
I am also joining in group promotions run by the talented and very helpful, Alexa Kang. I did an Instafreebie which gained me twenty new subscribers and I didn't even have the correct link. The next one is a massive book sale of Dunkirk-related books to coincide with the anniversary in July. I think one of the reasons that new younger writers are becoming the bestsellers on Amazon is because they are so much better at this marketing/media stuff.
I might even decide to send a title or two out to agents or publishers – something I vowed I would never become involved with again. 
The only way to remain visible in this overcrowded market is to be prepared to adapt and change. This becomes harder the older one gets – but I shall do my best.
I will be posting about this massive World War II historical fiction sale as soon as I get more details.
I can't believe it is June already – in three weeks time the nights will start drawing in. Just thought I'd mention that.
Fenella J Miller

Monday, 15 May 2017

Is there a solution to falling royalties?

As the weeks go by and my sales and page reads continue at 30% of what they were last year, I am forced to take stock of my options.
£2.99/$3.99 Amazon.
"myBook.to/WW2saga"
I threw everything I could think of at the publication of the first book in my Ellen's War series, Blue Skies & Tiger Moths, but it has still failed to gain traction with my readers despite having only four and five star reviews.
I am participating in a promotion to coincide with the anniversary of Dunkirk in July so am holding fire on doing anything else myself until after that.
I did a Book Bub advert, a Thunderclap, Book Viral, a Twitter campaign and all made no difference at all. A lot of time and money invested for no discernible return.
I am not the only writer seeing this unpleasant downturn – I've been contacted by several others who are in a similar position and, like me, are not sure how to improve things.
It is ironic that my writing is going better than it has for years when sales are so poor. I had got used to having a lot of disposable income and will now have to reconcile myself to having so much less, whilst doing so much more work.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog I don't think it is anything to do with the quality of my books it is that the amount of books available has more than doubled over the past four years whilst the amount of readers has not grown in tandem with this increase.
I'm just going to hang on in there in the hope that writing good books and publishing frequently will be enough for me to maintain the position I have at the moment. My rank both in sales and author on Amazon has remained about the same, which suggests that readers are spreading their buying over more authors. 305 of what I was earning is still reasonable - imagine how bad it is for those who were not in the same fortunate position as I was?
I published the third book in my Regency series, The Duke's Alliance, An Unconventional Bride, in February and this too has failed to become a bestseller which the previous two did. It  sold well enough to cover my costs and make me a reasonable profit but never really took off.
A close friend, also a Regency writer, someone who is on all platforms and not Amazon only as I am, has seen a huge surge in sales and has been a bestseller for several weeks with one of them. I think maybe it is time to try uploading some books on all the platforms.
£1.99/£2.99 Amazon
If anyone has any suggestions as to how writers in the same position as I am can claim back the lost ground then I would be delighted to hear them.
I am wondering if setting up a writers consortium, and then all publishing under the same label, might be the answer. By so doing those involved would be eligible for Amazon promotions and so on. What do you think? Is this a viable option?
Everyone says that growing one's reader subscription list is essential – but mine remains stubbornly around 800+ and every time I send out a newsletter I lose a few, which I slowly clawback.
I've decided I'm not going to go down the Facebook/Amazon/book bub adds route as they are expensive and time consuming and don't necessarily work.
So far this year I have written the two books already mentioned, the third book in the, Nightingale Chronicles, Better Bend Than Break, which will be out at the end of June. I have also written the fourth book in the Duke's Alliance series, An Accommodating Husband, and am 1/3 of the way through my contribution to Regency Romantics box set for the winter. I shall then write the second book in Ellen's War and the penultimate book in my Regency series. If there is time I shall write my spring contribution the Regency Romantics and start the fourth and final book in The Nightingale Chronicles.
As you can see I work very hard. I still consider myself fortunate as I love what I am doing and I get up every day eager to get on with the work in progress.
Fenella J MIller

Sunday, 30 April 2017

New Month -New Venture

For the next five days I am part of a historical fiction giveaway with Instafreebie.  I have not been involved wiht anything of this sort before and will be interested to see how it works. THere are twenty excellent books to choose form and there is bound to be something there for you. I have yet to download a book myself - I mustn't forget to do that.
Here is the link to the giveaway.

INSTAFREEBIE LINK

I am aware I've been remiss in not posting a second time in April but will do three posts in May to make up for it.
 Fenella J Miller

Sunday, 2 April 2017

How much is too much when it comes to promoting a book?

My sales have plummeted over the past few months – I'm not sure if I'm relieved or worried that I am not the only one to notice this downturn. It would seem that a few years ago, when I started this self publishing lark, there were around 400 000 new titles put up on Amazon each year but now there are more than two million. Unfortunately, the surge in sales caused by the arrival of the Kindle in the UK, then again when KU started and thousands of people joined the subscription club, is long gone. Everybody who wanted a reading device has got one and ditto joining KU.
This means the pie (amount of sales) is now being divided into smaller slices. My author ranking remains the same as it was, but I am no longer able to get a bestseller flag for new titles – something that happened automatically in the past.
Before things changed I didn't buy in promotion or pay for advertising when I released a new book – all I needed to do was send out an email to my subscribers list and post on the various loops and forums I belong to. Now everything has changed – and not for the better. Therefore, reluctantly, I decided to be more proactive with my books.
£1.99/$2.99
I bought in two free book promotions which cost me £75 each with BookSends . One was for the first book in the Duke's Alliance Series, A Suitable Bride and the other for Hannah's War. I also did two BookBub ads at the cost of £35. I recovered the costs of my promotions and editorial and cover costs within three weeks.
I don't know which of these made the most impact but sales of all my books picked up – strangely the Nightingale Chronicles – my Victorian saga series – did really well.
My sales returned to pre-slump levels after about five weeks. This meant the cost of the promotions was covered plus quite a lot more. However, as things are now back to pre-promotion levels  I've once again bought into several different promotional things for the first book in my World War II series, Ellen's War, Blue Skies and Tiger Moths.
I have purchased a ninety day promotion with Self Publishing Showcase for £80. I've also got a brilliant package from Books Go Viral - cost £125. I have a Thunderclap campaign (free) running and a professionally designed ad for BookBub which I shall run a month after the book is released on 26 April. This was set me back a further £60. 
Out 26th April
£2.99/$3.99
As the cover for Blue Skies and Tiger Moths was shot for me (again the brilliant JD Smith organised it) that is an extra I don't usually have with my books. Therefore, it's going to take me a long time to recoup my expenses. I also have a paperback copy available – nobody will buy it apart from me – so that's money I can't recoup from sales. 
I know several writers that have their books brought out by professional companies that provide the editorial services normally given by traditional publishers and I think this costs around £1500. Obviously I don't spend anything like that, but I wonder if the benefits of having a large company behind one's work would justify the extra cost.
The holy grail of book promotion is, of course, getting a BookBub one, but they are very difficult to get . I had one last year and the knock-on effect was amazing. I've tried several times since but been turned down – I think only 12% of applications are successful.
My writing expenses are going up because of the money I'm putting into promotion and marketing whilst my income is falling. At what point do I decide to let the market dictate and just concentrate on writing and producing the best books I'm capable of? I have a good writer friend who does no promotion and isn't in KU and her sales are rising - we write similar things - but she published through a company who puts her books on all platforms. Maybe it's time to consider that route.
I would be interested to know your take on this  – is it a temporary glitch that will pass or is it going to get worse? If the latter, then is there anything we writers can do about it?

Blurb for Blue Skies & Tiger Moths
Ellie Simpson is a flying instructor and good at her job but war is coming and when it does she will no longer be able to do what she loves most -fly. The arrival of flying officer Gregory Dunlop, and the nephew of her boss, Jack Reynolds, in her life only complicates matters. When she can no longer take to the skies in her beloved Tiger Moth she decides to join the WAAF. Then tragedy strikes and she has to rethink her life.
  CLICK HERE to preorder.


Fenella J Miller

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Duke's Alliance - Book Three - An Unconventional Bride

£1.99 /$2.99
UK US



I'm pleased that this book is finally released. Thank you if you pre-ordered and I hope that you are enjoying it. If you haven't tried it then here is the first scene for you to read.
There will be the fourth book in this series, An Accommodating Husband, available in August. This will be Lady Giselle's story. Then there will just be  a story for Lord Peregrine and the duke himself. These will be published in 2018.
I'm still not convinced that putting a title on preorder is the best idea as the hundred or so sales have already been counted before release day. If you are going to do any sort of pre publication promotional work, ads and so on, then you have to have the book on Amazon in order to have the correct ASIN to make the link. Also, if you are going to do a Thunderclap campaign – which I'm going to for my next book – the same rule applies.




February 1813, Silchester Court.

'Forgive me, your grace, this letter has arrived by express.' The butler bowed deeply and held out the silver salver.
'Thank you, Peebles.' Beau scanned the contents of the letter and was so startled by the contents he sent his coffee cup flying from the table.
Already this year was turning out to be an unmitigated disaster. First Peregrine, the oldest by five minutes of the twins, had bought himself a set of colours and was at this very moment undergoing some rudimentary training before being shipped out to the Peninsular to fight for King and Country. Why in God's name Perry had felt the need to become a soldier he'd no idea. Perhaps it was because Bennett had had a successful career in the military until he resigned his commission when their father had died.
Aubrey had taken his brother's departure badly and was mooching around the house unable to settle on anything. The twins had done everything together and Beau supposed he must be grateful that both hadn't taken the King's shilling.
Giselle had slipped on the ice and broken her leg two months ago. She still insisted she was unable to walk and was therefore marooned upstairs in her rooms. Perhaps this letter was not such bad news after all.
He looked at it again and smiled. He tucked it into his waistcoat pocket and went in search of his brother. Aubrey spent a lot of the day with Giselle in her apartment. She was missing Madeline, indeed they all were, since her older sister had married Lord Carshalton last year. The fact that Giselle also had to postpone her Season until next year had added to her low spirits.
Beau took the stairs two at a time and walked straight into his sister's sitting room. His siblings were staring morosely into the fire, not even engaged in desultory conversation.
'I have just received a letter from a relative of our mother's.' This announcement caught their attention as no one in the family had known they had any other relatives.
'Who is it? Are they coming to visit?' Giselle said, a welcome spark of interest in her eyes.
He flicked back his coat-tails and settled beside her on the chaise longue. 'Do you remember Mama telling us that her sister married a younger son of the Earl of Guildford?'
She shook her head but Aubrey nodded. 'I think you must have been too young, Giselle, but I do recall hearing that story. Didn't they go to India and perish in some uprising or other?'
'That's what Mama was led to believe. However, it seems there was a child, a girl, who eventually found her way to these shores and has been living quietly somewhere in Somerset. Elizabeth Freemantle, our cousin's name, is now seventeen years of age and it seems that I am responsible for her. She wishes to be presented.'
'Beau, please don't leave me here alone. I couldn't bear it. It's bad enough not being able to go to London myself…'
He reached across and patted her sound knee. 'Don't fret, little one, I've no intention of going myself. I rather thought that Aubrey could do it in my stead. The house in Grosvenor Square is already prepared and fully staffed as we expected to be up there for your come out.'
His brother looked dubious. 'Let me get this straight, brother, you want me to do the pretty with my cousin? Escort her to dozens of routs, soirées and balls? That doesn't sound too shabby.'
'You can't possibly do it, Aubrey, at three and twenty, you're far too young. The poor girl would be better off waiting until next year when Beau can take charge and escort us both.'
This was exactly the response he'd been hoping for from his sister. Like all the males in this family his brother couldn't resist a challenge.
'If Perry is old enough to fight then I am certainly old enough to act as sponsor to our unknown cousin. Can I see the letter for myself, Beau? I think you are keeping something back from us.' Beau handed it to him. His brother read the missive out loud:

Dear Duke of Silchester,
You do not know me and no doubt will be wondering why a stranger has the effrontery to send a letter by express. I am writing on behalf of your cousin, Miss Elizabeth Freemantle, the orphaned child of your aunt, Lady Elizabeth Freemantle. I only recently discovered that she is your cousin and that you are her legal guardian. If I had realised this earlier I would have sent her to you immediately.
It is possible, of course, that you were unaware of the existence of your cousin. When her parents died in India you might well have assumed that their baby, Elizabeth, perished also. I was able to save the child and have been taking care of her since then. I was entrusted with not only the baby but her fortune.
My husband, Captain Cassidy, was an officer in the East India Company and we were also stationed in India. He too was killed by the insurgents. I fled with Elizabeth, and my own daughter Mary, and made my way to Somerset, where we have resided ever since.
Miss Freemantle is a considerable heiress and will be in much demand on the marriage mart. I heard on good authority that her youngest cousin, Lady Giselle, is to make her come out this Season and obviously, Miss Freemantle will be presented with her.
My own daughter, Mrs Mary Williams, will accompany Miss Freemantle as her companion. She was widowed three years ago when her husband was killed.
Miss Freemantle is now seventeen years of age, well-educated and spirited. She will do better in the charge of a gentleman like yourself. She is travelling with my daughter and man of business, and will be at Silchester Court by the end of the week. Mr Gregson will hand to you the necessary papers and legal documents.
I am in uncertain health and being responsible for Miss Freemantle is something I can no longer do.

His brother shook his head. 'This girl is going to be foisted off on us without a by-your-leave? Reading between the lines, Beau, I think Mrs Cassidy is glad to get shot of her. For the word 'spirited' I think we could substitute 'wild'.'
Giselle was having none of this. 'How can you say that about our cousin? I'm absolutely thrilled she's joining the family. Does that mean you will send Aubrey and Cousin Elizabeth away in April?'
'If you would make more of an effort to get about, sweetheart, then maybe we could all go as originally planned? However, if you don't get on your feet by the end of March, Aubrey shall go with Elizabeth and her companion, and you must remain on your own with me.'
For a moment he thought he'd gone too far, that she would dissolve into tears at his harsh words. Instead she pursed her lips and nodded. 'I have allowed my sadness at losing my sister and two brothers to keep me languishing up here. From now on I shall come down to dinner and begin to exercise my leg as the doctor told me to.'
Mission accomplished Beau left them in animated discussion about the possible character and appearance of this new member of the family. He had a nasty suspicion Aubrey was correct – the young lady in question was going to be a handful. His lips curved. He was thirteen years her senior and had no doubt whatsoever he would curb whatever tendencies she might have to misbehave.
*
'Help me get up, Aubrey, I'm going to begin practising walking immediately. It's quite possible I've lost the use of my legs having malingered here for so long.'
'Up you come, sister, but you mustn't overdo it.' He kept his arm around her waist and gently assisted her to her feet. She only managed half a dozen steps before complaining that her leg hurt too much to continue.
'Of course it does, you goose, but I insist that you walk the length of this room and back before you give up. Beau means it, he will send us without you. Surely you cannot wish to miss the excitement of your first Season?'
She pulled a face but did as he asked. By the time they reached the windows she was walking more freely. 'It is painful, but I feel so much better being upright and not being carried around like an unwanted parcel.'
He returned her to her position on the daybed and stepped back. For the first time since Perry had left he began to feel more cheerful. 'I'm going down to talk to Beau, I'll be back to escort you to dinner this afternoon.' He reached the door and then turned back. 'No doubt Elizabeth will require a new wardrobe – why don't you send a letter to your modiste? I'm sure you won't want to be eclipsed by a girl two years younger than you.'
This was exactly the motivation his sister needed. 'Thank you for reminding me, I shall write immediately. She must send me the latest fashion plates and samples of material so we have something to choose from.'
He raised a hand in casual salute and headed downstairs. As he arrived in the vast entrance hall the door opened and Bennett stepped in looking remarkably pleased with himself.
Aubrey jumped the remaining stairs in one go and ran across to embrace his brother. 'Is Grace not with you? We have such exciting news to impart. Both she and Madeline will be quite astounded.'
'I don't believe anything you can tell me will eclipse the news I have to give you. Grace is with child and in September you will become an uncle for the first time.'
'You must come with me and tell Beau, he will be as delighted as I am.'
Bennett and Beau could be twins, like he and Perry, so similar in appearance were they. The news that they had a cousin called Elizabeth was discussed at length.
'I'm going up to tell Giselle my good news. Grace is with Madeline – I shouldn't be surprised if there will be not one, but two new arrivals this year.'
'Make that three, Bennett, Elizabeth is also a new member of the family – albeit a fully-grown one.'
Aubrey remained with his older brother. 'I know none of us are sticklers for protocol, but will this companion, Mrs Williams, be sufficient to silence the tabbies? Should we not find an older woman to act as chaperone to the girls?'
His brother looked at him as if he was speaking in tongues. 'One middle-aged woman in the household is more than sufficient without fetching in another. God's teeth! It is perfectly proper for us to reside under the same roof as our cousin.'
'I suppose so. She's also your ward which would give her double protection. I've probably spent more time in Town during the Season than anyone else.  Don't forget that Perry and I have experienced two Seasons already.'
'Quite true – I tend to avoid London during the months of April to June for that very reason. The more I think about it, little brother, the more convinced I am that you should oversee this project. I will, of course, be there for Giselle and Elizabeth's come-out ball – but will remain here as much as possible.'
'Let's hope our cousin will not prove to be a confirmed flirt. I'm going to have my work cut out keeping the rakehells and fortune hunters away if she is as pretty as either of our sisters, especially as she has a massive fortune.'
'I have every faith in you, Aubrey. Don't forget you will have the assistance of this Mrs Williams. The fact that she is prepared to remain at the side of her adopted sister must mean the girl cannot be that bad.'

Fenella J Miller


Thursday, 2 February 2017

It's being exclusively with Amazon no longer viable?

My sales have been falling over the past three months and I don't know what is causing this. As far as I know I'm doing the same things I've always done and the books I'm releasing are as well presented, covered and edited as any previous titles.
I've done a quick survey of my writer friends and so far everyone is saying there sales have gone up, not down, so this has to be something related to me.
The first thing I considered his that I need to rethink my marketing strategy. Occasionally I try to get a book into a BookBub  promotion, but they are always turned down. I think one of the reasons is that I only publish with Amazon exclusively and I'm not on any other platforms.

I've been told about D2D who will put my books up on every platform in return for a 15% of the net royalty. The good thing about this company is that you can remove your book at any time for any reason with no penalty. The first book in my new series, Ellen's War – Blue Skies and Tiger Moths, is going to go with them. This will probably impact on the royalties I earn from this book initially but if it works then I shall consider putting my longer historical books with D 2 D in future.
I am also going to organise a Thunderclap for this title as it did very well for my Victorian saga last year.
I find promoting my books very difficult – I come from the generation of women were brought up not to put themselves in the limelight. However, I have decided to be more proactive in future and just hope I don't overdo it.
I have taken out a promotion with Book Sends for A Suitable Bride and for Hannah's War. Both of these will run at the end of this month. I was turned down for the second time with E-Reader for a promotion with them for this book. They took the first one which was for a Victorian saga, I've no idea why they don't want to run one for my Regency series.
I post on my author page and on my regular Facebook page every day, I respond to other people's posts and also tweet a couple of times a day. I really don't know what else I can do as I don't think that blog tours work any more. I'm not sure if any of this expenditure and effort will make any difference. In fact, I think that the real problem lies with the fact that I am Amazon exclusively.
 I know another writer who produces seven or eight new Regency titles every year, isn't in Amazon select, and her sales are growing. In fact of the writers I spoke to none of them are in Kindle select so I'm coming to the reluctant conclusion that maybe that's where I'm going wrong. There are a finite number of readers subscribing to Amazon's library system and I think that all of them have now read  my books and there are not enough new subscribers joining to make the difference.
I think it's quite possible that being exclusively Amazon is no longer a good marketing strategy. Most of my writer friends are on many platforms; but I have avoided this as it's so easy to manage one's income and publication by doing it in one place.
What do you think? Are the days of making a fortune through being exclusively Amazon Published over? Doing free promotions was a huge thing four years ago and I was fortunate enough to get in at the beginning and I'm certain that is why I've done so well with my books. The first promotion I did I got twelve thousand downloads – if I do one now I'm lucky to get a thousand.
I would be interested to hear your views.
Fenella J Miller