How Far Have You Travelled?

In this age of accountability tools and gadgets, and this way and that way to measure performance and increase productivity, sometimes it’s good just to sit back and reflect on how far you’ve travelled.

Occasionally, we get a reminder of the journey, and that’s what happened to me this week in regard to my writing and publishing.

Family Matters April 27th

It’s ten years since I published my first novel, Family Matters, in paperback in 2008, with Making it Home following in 2009. It wasn’t until Flying Free was published in 2013 that I started uploading my novels to Amazon Kindle to give my readers the opportunity to choose paperback or ebook format. I now have nine novels available in both.

That was a huge step in my publishing journey – the first building block of  an online presence. Next leap forward was starting this blog, then creating an author page on Facebook. I now even have a Facebook group as well. Step by step I am building my online profile as an author, and what a fun and rewarding journey it is.

But not a journey that has always been smooth.

After a while, I discovered that, although I uploaded a correctly formatted book to Amazon Kindle, depending which device my readers were using, there was sometimes a problem with how the formatting appeared. So I set about attempting to rectify the problem – with many false steps and frustrations. It wasn’t until Kindle Create, a formatting tool offered by Amazon Kindle, appeared on the scene that I was successful in my efforts.

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So I started with my newer books and have been working backwards reworking the formatting, book by book. Seven done, two to go. The one I’m working on at present is Making it Home – and that’s when I realised how far I’ve travelled!

Making it Home is still a great story, still receiving great testimonials and reviews:

“This was my first Christine Campbell book, I met Christine through a mutual Facebook group and when I found out she was an author I wanted to read one of her books. I think her writing voice is so lovely, like Kate and Dan and Phyllis and Naomi and the whole rest of the clan were people so similar to friends I have and want to have. Not every page was happy, there’s some heavy life moments! But also hope in equal measure. Loved it!!!”

“I really enjoyed the way in which author brings the women together and describes their developing friendship. They don’t become best buddies in a simple linear way. Their false starts and awkward moments reveal the complexity of friendships. While I was intrigued to discover the reasons behind Phyllis’ benevolence and Naomi’s isolation and depression, it was Kate’s story that really gripped me.
The theme of home is woven throughout the story in subtle, unusual and satisfying ways.
There is a gentleness, warmth and piercing honesty in Christine Campbell’s writing that both comforts and makes you think.”

But, back then, I didn’t know how to do things I automatically do now. Simple things like ‘page break’. No wonder my formatting was dodgy on this one! It will take me a little while to put it right, and meanwhile the book is still available in both formats. The paperback is unaffected by these issues, of course, since there is really only one ‘reader’ used by my paperback readers – eyesight – arguably the best of them all 🙂

How far I’ve travelled along this road of publication. I’ve learned so much since 2009 when Making it Home was published. Back then, I wasn’t sure about this new fangled thing called a ‘Kindle’. I wasn’t convinced it would catch on, that readers would not always prefer to hold a ‘proper book’ in their hands – and many still do, but I am so happy that I moved with the times and started publishing ebooks too. It’s been a fun journey, just like the writing journey I’m on and how far I’ve travelled along that.

I’ve been trying new things there too – For What it’s Worth, was the first book I wrote in first person, present tense, and I enjoyed it so much I did the same in my latest release, Gold Plated. And Gold Plated has been receiving great early reviews too:

“I started reading Gold Plated at 7 am this morning. And finished it late this evening. First book I’ve read from beginning to end in a single day in quite some time. I simply had to devour it!!! Thank you for an exquisitely entertaining read! A beautiful treatment of love, betrayal, and resolve where self-love triumphs ultimately.”

“Through life’s ups and downs this story was very enjoyable to read. I loved the different settings and how clearly I could see them along with the characters from the descriptive writing. Gold Plated is a perfect title and this book took me on a lovely journey into Rosanna’s life which is inspirational… I believe it’s never too late to start again, I will also now think differently when I hear something is gold plated. I highly recommend this to anyone wanting a good read.”

So, how far have you travelled? I’d love to hear about your journey, whatever it is and wherever it’s taken you. And if you want to see how far in my writing and publishing journey I’ve travelled, do read my latest novel, Gold Plated. I’m told the story is “A journey worth taking.”

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Author Interview

Author and Blogger, Drae Box was kind enough to interview me on her blog. I thought she asked some interesting and thought provoking questions, so I have copied and pasted the interview for you here now that it has run on Drae’s blog for a week or two.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: CHRISTINE CAMPBELL

Christine Campbell

Today I welcome back to Drae Box Books, Christine Campbell. She’s taking part in my short series of author interviews. Christine Campbell was born in post-war London but has lived most of her life in Scotland. She now lives near Edinburgh with her husband and within an hour’s car journey from each of her five married children and ten grandchildren.

Christine writes contemporary novels about people who could just as easily be your neighbours or friends…or even you.

She began writing novels more than thirty years ago but did not seek publication until 2008 when she published Family Matters. She has released four other books since then too. – Five now – Traces of Red was published since Drae first did the interview.

Let’s get to the interview!

What are 3 things you have experienced as an author that have helped you during the writing stage?

The understanding that you can’t edit a blank page. Sometimes the fear of writing a load of old codswallop/making mistakes/not being a good enough writer can get in the way of even making a start. The realisation that every author worth the name has probably written a rubbish first draft, maybe even a rubbish second or third draft, but the trick is to get it written anyway then edit, edit, edit.

Learning the importance of checking over your writing for typos/spelling or grammar mistakes/formatting errors before letting anyone else read it. It is important to respect the reader. They shouldn’t have to work hard to decypher your work in order to read it. So I am in the habit of checking absolutely everything I write, whether texts, emails, submissions or shopping lists, before they leave me.
It is a good habit to cultivate – being careful as you write – and believe me, once it becomes a habit, it doesn’t actually interfere with the flow of your work. I also do my best to write with good grammar, spelling and formatting all the time. The checking takes much less time that way. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, no matter how many people proofread, no matter how much you pay for it, sometimes errors slip through. For these, I humbly apologise.

NaNoWriMo. I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it. It used to take me years to write each novel. Years. The first time I did NaNoWriMo, it taught me to stick at my writing every single day. To press on through the story and edit later. To get the work done. So I wrote the first draft of a novel, all 60,000 words of it, in the month of November 2013. It took me a further five months to edit, polish, proofread and publish it as a completed novel, Here at the Gate. The joy of starting from a vague idea on October 31st 2013 to a published novel sitting on my bookshelf six months later…wow! It was the push I needed to take my writing seriously on a daily basis.

What are three things you have experienced that have helped you promote your books?

The value of the G+ Communities. They are great for finding your target audience grouped together to appeal to. Great for fellow authors to call on for advice and help too.

Building a presence on Social Media. Not something that comes easy to me. Takes me well out of my comfort zone, but I know it is necessary. Having a blog: https://cicampbellblog.wordpress.com has been a lot of fun and has given me a base from which to work. I don’t post about my novels all the time, but my books and their links are shown in the sidebar, along with the trailer for my novel, Searching for Summer. I read somewhere that we should operate an 80/20 plan: 80% of the posts about other people’s work, writing tips, interesting articles, and other miscellaneous bits and bobs/20% about our books. I try to balance my blog that way, as well as my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Face to face interactions are important, particularly since a proportion of my target audience are older ladies who are not adept with computers, so I make myself available for readings, talks, discussions, and book signings, both in and around Edinburgh and online. That has worked well for me.

What are three things have you done that weren’t as successful at promoting your books as you had hoped or expected?

Twitter. It is difficult to know for sure, but I don’t feel there is a correlation between number of followers, tweets, etc and books sold. I love Twitter. I’ve made lots of contacts there. I know I’m ‘building a platform’, but I just wonder if it brings in any sales.
Fortunately, I’m not in the writing business to become rich and famous – though that would be nice – but because I love writing and would write anyway, even if no-one ever bought my books.

Some online Book Review sites, I won’t mention which, where I haven’t felt it worth the joining fee since it didn’t result in any reviews or sales as far as I can tell. Others have been better, so I’m by no means knocking them per se, but I have been disappointed with some.

Trying to get my indie published books into local bookstores just hasn’t happened for me. Partly due to the fact that I don’t have the energy to traipse round all the smaller independent bookshops that may have survived on the High Street in this age of online buying and supermarkets. I possibly gave up trying long before I should have.
The ones I tried made it very clear they only bought ‘sale or return’ and were not interested in ‘print on demand’. When I offered them my personal ‘sale or return’ policy, they wanted the books at a price so discounted I’d make a huge loss.

If you could recommend three other writers or bloggers to check out, who would they be and why?

C.S.Lakin on http://www.livewritethrive.com
I love her book The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction and its accompanying workbook. She always offers such practical sound advice on writing, and, being a successful author herself, she knows what she’s talking about.

Chris Graham at http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com
He is a tremendous supporter and promoter of writers and authors, and he is loads of fun. A visit to his blog always makes me smile and I always get a warm welcome there.

Erin Hanson at http://thepoeticunderground.com
This one I go to for pure pleasure and inspiration. This young woman’s poems blow my socks off. They are so simple yet so profound. Her work shows a maturity way beyond her years. When I read her poetry, I find it hard to believe she has not lived much more of life than she possibly can have in her twenty years.

If you were kidnapped, which of your characters would you want to be and why?
Mirabelle from The Reluctant Detective Series, because she is very resilient, not easily intimidated, and could probably hold her own with anyone. I suspect she could talk the kidnapper into letting her go – and give her a couple of chocolate bars to take with her.

If you had to be in one of your books, which one would it be and why?
Probably Searching for Summer, the first book in The Reluctant Detective Series, or Traces of Red, the second one, which is poised ready to be released in a few weeks, (it has now been released) because I’d love to meet Mirabelle, Yvonne and Sam. They sound good company and good fun. I’d like to go with Mirabelle as she checks in with her motley assortment of contacts, because they sound fascinating. They must each have so many stories to tell, if only someone knew….oh, yes, that would be me, wouldn’t it?

If someone blindfolded your favourite character from any of your books, what kind of trouble have they got themselves into?
Hahaha! What a good question. I would think Mirabelle could give them a lot to think about, unless they remembered to tape her mouth shut too!

Where should readers go to check out more about you and what you do?
Amazon Author Page
Blog
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter @Campbama
YouTube
Instagram

 

Why Social Media Is Like A Kitten

A routine, you say? Discipline?
I know, I know, it probably works but the sweet little kitten keeps ‘meep-ing’ at me at all sorts of odd hours of the day…and night…
But I shall let myself be advised by one who knows and try to discipline the kitten and my social media habits. Thank you.

Jumping From Cliffs

Social media for writersGo on, admit it – I had you at “kitten” didn’t I?

I see an awful lot of posts from indie writers complaining that they simply don’t have time to market themselves and their writing on social media. An awful lot. What with the demands of a ‘real life’ and the time we need to dedicate to writing whatever it is we’re trying to publicise, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

And let’s be honest, there’s no point in spending all your time on marketing if it leaves you with nothing to market. I’m no economics expert (a lucky ‘C’ in O-Level maths in fact) but even I can see that the laws of supply-and-demand demand that there’s at least some supply.

And that’s where the kitten comes in.

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