An award for Song of the Sea God

I came back from my hols this weekend to the very welcome news that Song of the Sea God has won an award. It’s been named Best Literary Fiction novel in the eFestival of Words Book Awards. You can see the full list of winners and a natty little video if you click here.

I’m particularly pleased because, for these awards, the nominations are made by my fellow writers and by publishers, and the winners are chosen by the readers in a public vote. So, in the same way as the reviews Sea God has received on Amazon and Goodreads, this is an accolade from the only people whose opinions really count – those who have read the book.

A huge thanks to those who nominated my book for the awards and those whose votes helped it to win!

Having an award of this sort doesn’t change much for me of course – it’s not like winning the Man Booker prize where the winner gets their mouth stuffed with gold, but those sorts of award only ever seem to go to authors signed with the small cabal of giant publishing corporations anyway. I get a little badge to stick on my blog and the knowledge of a job well done.

I’m pleased for the book, if that doesn’t seem an odd way of putting it. Song of the Sea God is a decent effort I think – people get wrapped up in it, it stays with them after they have read it and they often have views to share on it which add to the book and nourish it. I’m pleased that its success has been acknowledged in this formal way. Before it was published it was short-listed for a couple of awards – the Daily Telegraph’s Novel in a Year award and the Yeovil Literature Prize for best novel, but this is the first time it has actually won anything. It’s done ok for a book published by a small press without the industry clout and marketing budget of the big boys.

It also feels like a fitting tribute for Sea God as I move on to final edits for my publishers on my new book, The Pick-Up Artist, which they plan to release in February next year. It’s a very different kind of book but, if it shares one thing with Sea God then I hope that will be the warm and generous reception it receives from readers.

Song of the Sea GodIf you get a moment to take a look at the (ahem) award-winning Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

How to get on WordPress Freshly Pressed

freshly-pressed-circleOne of my blog posts appeared on Freshly Pressed a few weeks ago and, as I know there is a reasonable amount of interest among WordPress bloggers in how you get on there I thought I’d explain how it happened for me and what the effects of it are.

For those who aren’t aware of it I suppose you’d describe Freshly Pressed as the front page of WordPress – it’s the display page where blog posts chosen by editors appear and if one of yours appears there it suddenly becomes very visible indeed.

Getting on there has been described as like winning the lottery since around half a million new blog posts are created each day so the chances of yours getting picked up are pretty slim. But it happened to me – so it could just as easily happen to you.

My post which was chosen was ‘Do you Have a Writing Routine?’ Which you can read if you click here.

So what was the effect for me of appearing on Freshly Pressed? Well – I think you can break the effects down into short term ones, which are dramatic, and long term ones, which are probably a lot less so.

The first thing you start to see when your post appears on Freshly Pressed is a big spike in views – and this goes on for about a week or longer – but gradually falls away as your post drops down the Freshly Pressed pecking order as new ones are added at the top. I would say, over the period, I had around 1000 more views than I would have expected – which is a lot for me on a blog where I normally average a few over 50 hits a day. Being on Freshly Pressed didn’t actually give me my best ever day for visits to my blog – but it damn sure gave me my best week, wiping the floor with any other.

The second thing you find is that your email inbox goes crazy with all the alerts from people interacting with your post – I had getting on for a thousand emails to clear. I suppose if I’d known what I know now I might have turned off the email alerts from WordPress so save myself the bother – but it’s nice to be popular.

And what those alerts are telling you about of course is all the likes, comments and reblogs your post is receiving.

  • My post was reblogged by 50 other WordPress bloggers, which gives it some kind of a legacy in that I might get views back through their sites.
  • It was liked by 433 people.
  • It was commented on 169 times.
  • And my blog now has more than 800 followers, I think from memory I had a few over 200 before my post appeared on Freshly Pressed.

Now ok, this was a post which had been around a while – it had a handful of comments and likes already – but the vast majority of these interactions came through Freshly Pressed. Appearing on there made me very visible for a short while.

Why do so many people bother to comment on Freshly Pressed posts? Partly just general interest in the topic of course, but also because they are linking their blog to a popular post in the hope of getting SEO benefits and people clicking back through to their blog.

Longer term effects? Well, I doubt those will be so dramatic. My daily views have dropped back to what I would expect now. Though you could say of course that there is a legacy for me in that I now have many more followers – all of whom will see my blog in their reader or get an email every time I put on a new post.

Oh – and I do get a nice little ‘Featured on Freshly Pressed’ badge to stick on my site and, you know, we all like a badge don’t we?

So it’s not a life-changing event in blogging terms but it is an exciting ride, as you watch your stats climb and read the new comments as they come in. Normally I’m fairly scrupulous about replying to everyone who comments on my blog and following back those who follow me, but those rules had to go out of the window temporarily such was the pressure of incoming traffic.

It’s also a nice little pat on the back for someone like me, who’s been blogging away in relative obscurity for a couple of years.

So how do you get on there? Well, there’s no way to apply, your post has to be chosen by the editors, and as I said at the top, they have a lot to choose from.

I think it helps if you can make your post visible to a lot of people, then you have a chance of a WordPress editor being among them. That’s how it happened for me.

I take part in #MondayBlogs on Twitter which is an initiative started by author and book marketer Rachel Thompson. It’s a useful thing for all bloggers I would say. Basically you tweet your post with the hash tag – then retweet some other people’s #MondayBlog posts which take your fancy. You can also follow @MondayBlogs there is no guarantee your tweet will be retweeted but it has worked for me. I have around 19,000 followers on Twitter and I find #MondayBlogs well worth using to reach new people.

My #MondayBlogs tweet linking to the writing routines post was retweeted 28 times and when my email arrived from the WordPress editor Cheri to say she had chosen it for Freshly Pressed she told me she’d seen it on Twitter that morning.

So that’s how it was spotted. But, once the eye of the WordPress editor had fallen and rested on that particular post, why did she pick it?

Well there are some general guidelines about what they pick for Freshly Pressed if you click here, but they are necessarily vague given the whole aim must surely be to provide a wide variety of posts in both themes and styles.

Cheri did offer me this little explanation in her email, she said that, despite it being one of my older posts: “I think it’s a timeless read on writing that still resonates.”

I think maybe that last word is the important one. For a post to get chosen for Freshly Pressed there has to be plenty in it for the reader, it has to resonate.

Song of the Sea GodDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

A new book on the way!

10563217_545777922221017_6114809158228153280_nSome good news for me this week, I’m delighted to be able to say that I signed the contract for my next book. To celebrate, here’s a slightly cheesy picture of me actually signing the actual contract (yes, yes, I know – it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

The book’s called The Pick-Up Artist and it will be published by Magic Oxygen publishing who have given it a tentative release date of February 14th, Valentine’s Day, 2015.

I’m thrilled to have a second novel coming out – it makes me feel like a proper author, I mean, getting one book published could have been a fluke couldn’t it? Having a second on the way feels like I did it on purpose.

magic oxygenMagic Oxygen is a small UK-based publisher. From my dealings with the team there so far it’s clear they are incredibly enthusiastic and committed to doing a great job for their authors, both in producing the book and in helping the author to promote and market it. I am very much looking forward to working with them. To find out more about them on their website click here.

I should say a little about the book. I’m conscious of the fact I’ll have plenty to say about it nearer the time when it comes out, so I‘ll just give you the headlines. As I said, it’s called The Pick-Up Artist and it’s a little lighter, perhaps more commercial, than my current book Song of the Sea God. It’s about a young man’s attempts to find love using the PUA method which claims to teach psychological seduction techniques.

I suppose the title is ironic as it’s about someone who would like to be a great seducer, but isn’t really.

I’m not a big worrier me, can’t be bothered to put in the effort required to really fret about something for longer than five minutes, but I suppose if I do have a little cloud on the horizon at the moment it’s the thought that the people who were most in love with my current novel Song of the Sea God, might not feel the same about this next one. It is a very different sort of a badger. But, in the end, it is still by me and I suppose that comes through. My hope, of course, is that I bring old friends along with me on this new journey and make lots of new ones on the way – but then, that’s what all authors hope. We shall see.

I had fun writing The Pick-Up Artist, people who have read it so far tell me it’s fun to read. But, of course, you, the reader, will be the judge of that when it comes out in a few months time.

Until then I have plenty to do – rewrites on the horizon once the editor at Magic Oxygen has finished with it. And myriad other pieces of work to get involved in from a website the publisher has planned for me through to thoughts about the book cover.

It’s an exciting time, a time of anticipation, like waiting for a new baby. And I am very glad to be involved in preparing for the birth of my second book!

Song of the Sea GodIn the meantime, why not take a look at a book which actually exists? If you get a moment, here’s my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.