Monday, June 30, 2014

A Book is a Daydream shared

A book is a daydream shared... so why is daydreaming synonymous with wasting time...? From being children we are told to stop daydreaming - but why? It's like telling a child not to play - daydreaming allows your mind to play around with ideas and let your imagination run off into areas you might not expect...

 Daydreaming is not a waste of time, it's where the best ideas ramble about, the shy ideas, the ones that run at the sight of a pen or a keyboard...

Who's to say what is a waste of time...?
Some of my best ideas come to me when I look to the rest of the world as if I'm doing nothing - daydreaming.

In a busy world we sometimes need to find a moment of quiet to call our own. To let our imaginations run riot without the threat to a pen to trap and restrict those ideas.

Then when the imagination is in full flow, take those ramblings by surprise and start to write - write for yourself with no thought of what others might think if they read it and you might just surprise yourself what you come up with... editing can come later.

Books are a daydream shared...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is Etsy the new answer to the craft fair?

Is Etsy the new answer to the craft fair...? Certainly it seems to be where all the craft people are gathering right now, and there are some beautiful and unique items in there

As my own website shop seems to be on a back alley that no one can find, I have been re-stocking my Etsy shop - there's books, there's sheep... what more could you want? And all nestled in the comfortable environment of this online craft fair... so pop along and see what you think.

Meanwhile I'll be putting my thinking cap on (oh no another excuse to wear a hat...), and planning how to renovate my shop, or dragging it into a more prominent position...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Self publish - the new name for multitasking

I think self publish is the new name for multitasking - trying to split my time between writing and illustrating the next book, and the business of marketing. But marketing can be as creative as writing the book - or at least that's what I'm trying to tell myself, to wake up the creative part of my brain when I'm trying to think of ever more inventive ways to get my books noticed, but my brain just wants to daydream about the next book - characters jostling about trying to leap onto the the keyboard.

Book signings are always popular, but why do book signings always have to mean standing in a bookshop or in a  hall at some craft fair...? Isn't the internet the new craft fair, where we can meander about and find just what we wanted without all those wasted trips to town when we found nothing, but  ended up rushing back to the car before the parking ticket ran out...

So all I have to do is move my online bookshop out of the back alley it seems to be residing in, and drag it out into the main stream of internet traffic, but not in so much traffic that my books get knocked off their shelves, I don't want them getting dogeared...

Off to break open the next box of books now, to fill an order - so something must be working.

Living the dream, and dreaming of making a living from it, one book sale at a time...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book quote of the day and book orders

'Pictures started to go flying off the sideboard as it became part of a circuit...'
from Outnumbered by Cats

So how are things going - well I have an order for 5 books, so I'll be getting those packed and posted - and Kryten will get his box at last...
Outnumbered by Cats
Outnumbered  by Cats

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book quote of the day

'So in a world so obsessed with warnings, disclaimers and risk assessment I feel I may have been let down... on the face of it, it seemed that a cat flap was going to make everyone's lives easier...' 

from Outnumbered by Cats.

The cat flap may not have made my life easier, but it has inspired one book Basil and the Flappy Thing, and featured heavily in the next... Outnumbered by Cats

Basil and the Flappy Thing

Buying books online postage free

This morning I've been researching bookshops online, and websites selling books, just to see what works.

On the first website I came to, the inevitable happened - I found a book that I wanted to buy - it was Bridget Jones Mad about The Boy - now I've been waiting to buy this book in paperback as the hardback is such a big book, and I really just prefer paperbacks. My wait is over - it's published in paperback today!!

So I added it to the basket, it said postage free at the top of the page, so there was no down side - I set off to checkout... where I was told I'd have to spend another £6 to get my free postage - to say I felt mislead would be an understatement.

I didn't buy the book on this occasion, so I suppose I had a fruitful morning - managing to do research without actually buying a book (though I do need that book soon...), but it did show me the effect misleading information has a customer. All my books on my website are postage free as I feel that adding postage is what kills internet sales, I did however have a postage fee on my little knitted sheep, which I have now removed, so the price you see is the price you pay.

What's that, you haven't heard about my sheep...? They're in my bookshop, go and round some up...
from But I'm Not Sleepy

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book quote of the day...

'One unexpected indoor activity was to turn the kitchen floor into an improvised skating rink.' from Outnumbered by Cats

There's nothing quite like having a houseful of kittens...

buy now

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Designing a marketing hat... letting loose your imagination

I've got my marketing hat on this week, and trying not to get distracted by designing a hat instead of trying to figure out the witchcraft that is internet marketing - maybe a witches hat... oh, that might send the wrong message, especially as there's a black cat here somewhere among the tabbies...

But maybe a witches hat with a twist... yes, everything has a twist these days - you see this is what happens when I try to bring my brain onto a sensible subject like marketing... it gets all creative and goes off at a tangent.
So... lets go with that - lets design a hat... 
I'm thinking a witches hat, but in purple instead of black, and a tabby sat on the brim instead of a black cat - reaching up for the pom pom on top, ooh ooh and streamers flowing from the top. This is sounding more like a cat toy than a hat - hey it's duel purpose...
Any ideas anyone? Come on lets get creative...

I'm thinking something a bit wacky, that'll stand out and get noticed...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monsters in kids books

Everyone loves a monster book right...?
The thrill of possible danger, while knowing deep down that the monster is trapped in the book, and all we have to do is slam the book shut and they're trapped there... till next time.

So why do so many parents shy away from a monster book, just from the mere mention of a monster in the title?

Picture books tackle all sorts of issues in a caring way, and no one is setting out to produce a book to give children nightmares, children enjoy the excitement of monsters in a story, and for many it can help them to overcome their fears.

In The Monster Under The Bed, now in it's 2nd edition there's a new twist on the traditional monster theme...
"Mum……Mum…..There's a monster under my bed."
Billy sits up in the dark, he can hear something moving around in his bedroom. When his mum puts the light on there's no monster to be seen. But when Mum goes back downstairs the noises start again...

Monday ramblings

Monday ramblings are on time this week, and not delayed to Tuesday like last week...

So what am I rambling about today? Well I've got my marketing hat on again, and trying my best not to get sidetracked into designing a suitable hat for the job... not that I'm a milliner or anything, and the last thing I need is to start off on a new and unrelated project...

So, trying to stick on subject - I've been getting more views on my various internet sites, but people seem more interested in my random ramblings than in my books, so maybe I'm attracting the wrong audience.

Where, I wonder can I find the audience who are going to buy cat books - wouldn't some of you lovely readers like to read about my life with a house full of kittens...? You can share such crazy moments as me wondering around the house in the middle of the night with my cat, looking for her kittens... You can see what drove a normally sane person to hiss at her cat in the middle of another night, or how we shared the job of weaning the kittens - me messing up the kittens with kitten slop, and her washing them... t

©anne m stephenson from Outnumbered by Cats

Friday, June 13, 2014

Are your characters taking over...?

You shouldn't let characters in a book take charge and do their own thing... well why not? was my first thought when I read that advice... and the doodle series was born.

Have you ever sat down to write one story, but ended up writing another? Well that's what happened to me with Doodle Mayhem.
I can't even remember what I thought I was going to write about, but once I'd set the scene with Eric in class doodling, with no idea what he was writing about either, the cogs started turning; and once Eric's doodle started to speak he took on a life of his own and there was no going back.
If anyone else starts hearing voices in their heads it is probably cause for concern, but for a writer I believe it's essential to be able to hear the voices of your characters, and allow them to become real... 
Meet Iver No-Idea and his dog HB 
But to hear the conversation you'll need to read the book... 
Doodle Mayhem is set out in chapters with black and white drawings and is ideal for new or reluctant readers, or just someone who enjoys a fun read... 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Self publishing and selling books

If incentives are needed to achieve sales than here's a good one - I've just paid my print bill, and now I'm skint - so that's the reality of self publishing, it's all down to me... And don't be fooled by the so called self publishing companies - it's still down to the author to sell the books.

But how hard can it be...? People love my books, they tell me so all the time, and when I'm at a book signing they fly off the table, so why is it so hard to sell online?

Is my website tucked away down some side street somewhere, where no one can  find it...? Hmm maybe that's it, I seem to have my blog on the main street though, where lots of people pop in and have a look around, some even stop and have a chat occasionally.

So why not nip along to my online bookshop - I may not have a coffee shop, but you can always put the kettle on, it'll be like a DIY coffee shop, you could even buy a book with the money you saved, and I'll post it to you free of charge!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Monday ramblings on Tuesday...

Yes I know it's Tuesday, but Monday was pretty much taken up by 'stuff to do' which included a failed shoe shopping trip resulting in my usual shoe shop problem - me surrounded by shoes that don't fit, shop assistants trying to help, against all the odds, and me reaching for my trusty cowboy boots where my feet can hide away again in comfort. Yes I know it's June - but it was a thunder storm outside - which just goes to show that boots are the ideal foot wear at any time of year, so why fight it...?

So this week's dilemma is whether to carry on with my online campaign, book another craft fair,or work on the next book in the hope that my books will sell themselves... At the same time as all this, I seem to have developed tennis elbow even though I don't even watch tennis, let alone play it, and now everything I do seems to aggravate the condition, yes even typing. Of course I could put myself on sick-leave and read a book until the pain goes away, but I probably should achieve something tangible with my day.

Just putting the kettle on...

...ok now mustn't get carried away or the tea will go cold - yes it happens all too often. So I think my website should maybe be more fun, buzz words like retail theatre spring to mind - but how do I translate that into a website - oops must take the tea bag out - I don't like strong tea... caught in the nick of time.

So retail theatre seems like a dead end - for now, so what can I take from my experiences at book signings? Well people like to talk to a real live author - well they can always message me ...  OK what I actually take from that is that I still need to do book signings, and can't just hide behind a computer.

Apparently people like to rummage - so how can I translate that to an online bookshop, mess up the shop a little maybe...?  hmm any ideas anybody?

Friday, June 06, 2014

1st editions 1st print run... signed books

So here's the thing...

I've got some pretty special books - first edition first print run  - and what's more it's a short print run of just 100 books, each hand numbered and signed.

And why should you buy one? Am  I famous? - well no, not yet, but with my drive and stubbornness anything is possible, and wouldn't you just kick yourself if you'd missed this opportunity...?

But the real reason to buy my new book Outnumbered by Cats is that you're going to love this true story, it's all there - possibly a bit too much at times - is it normal to hiss back at your cat when she hisses at you in the middle of the night for telling her kitten off...?  ...she was certainly surprised.

Oh and did I mention the photos? You're going to love the photos...

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Self publishing - making the book you want to make...

Hi there, I know I've got your attention - the stats don't lie, so why is nobody talking to me...?

Well, as nobody is going to say anything, it just leaves me to ramble on a bit more...

My next project:

I've made a start on my next project, well, when I say I've made a start, I'm making a start on  the illustrations and formatting - the text is already written, and it's an exciting story, although I do say  it myself.

It could be said that this book is taking me back to my comfort zone - it's another picture book. But on the other hand it means getting my paints out again, which is always a little out of my comfort zone - words always come easier than pictures, which is odd, given my very visual imagination...

So I'm going to be sploshing around with paints for the next few weeks - I can't think of a better way to spend a summer...

But launching into a new book is always an adventure - and the problems that jump out at me, are never where I expected to find them.

My latest book Outnumbered by Cats seemed on the face of it, as if the illustrations were going to be easy, after all  they are photos. But, first I got distracted by all those lovely photos of my cats and kittens, then my cat came to join me and was sat avidly watching videos, and listening to her kittens from when they were tiny - it was a pretty special moment.

Then I couldn't decide which photos to use, and had a terrible time editing them down to a whopping 82 colour photos... at which point my usual stubborn streak kicked in and I decided that as it was my project I would have all the photos I wanted - you can never have too many kitten photos can you...?

Next I had trouble with the picture quality, after all the work editing the image sizes down, it turned out I should have left well alone and just inserted them at original size and fiddled with them from there. Anyway where there's a will there's a way and after a lot of reworking my photos are all there in colour inserts.

So if anyone tries to tell you that a self publisher can't do a book with colour photos - don't listen, be stubborn and make the book you want to make - isn't that the point of self publishing after all...?

Monday, June 02, 2014

Everything you ever wanted to know about self publishing and a few things you didn't - ramblings of a self publisher...

So you found my blog - so I must be doing something right - self publishing is a buzz, there's no doubt about that, and as a creative person I love being able to keep control of every step myself, although when I'm on one of my learning curves it may not feel like it.

My learning curves mostly consist of when technology is trying to beat me, and I'm being stubborn and battling with it, every inch of the way... I seemed to get along with technology better once I stopped thinking that it was logical - I now believe that technology is far from logical, and we get along a lot better.I stopped believing for instance, that just because something worked one day, it doesn't mean its going to work in the same way the next... Technology has a warped sense of humour that I'm still trying to get my head around.

But self publishing meant that I had to get to grips with the technical side of formatting, especially as I like to make life hard for myself and include pictures - so they have to be forced to stick to the bit of the page where I want them, and not pile up at the bottom of the page like a discarded pack of cards. Of course it didn't help that the computer that I first started formatting on, was on its last legs, and that was sometimes the reason for nothing going as planned - not that I'm blaming my tools or anything - just saying.

Selling the books was my next learning curve, when I had to venture out from behind the computer - where I was starting to get quite comfortable. But I soon got used to sparking up conversations with random people about books - and for the most part they are very friendly and interested to meet a real live author, and many then want a book, signed by said real life author, which is all very good for the ego.

Selling online has to be my final learning curve - (until I come against another one that is). And so I find myself back behind my computer stubbornly carrying on against all odds, because books are the ideal product to sell online - customers can easily read the blurb or even an excerpt online and order a copy. They're easy to post and don't need food or water during transit. They won't break when they're launched through  a letterbox... so baring fire, flood, or someone's dog chewing them as they enter the house, they will arrive in good condition...

Thoughts, comments and questions always welcome... or I start to think I'm talking into an abyss...