Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Alliance of Independent Authors – a Q&A with Orna Ross

I’m a member, and find it enormously helpful!

David Gaughran

ALLi logoWhen I cover publishers behaving badly, self-publishing scams, or authors’ rights, I always get asked if there is an organization which advocates for self-publishers.

The general feeling seems to be that we are particularly ill-served by the status quo, given that the pre-existing writers’ organizations either don’t let us in, don’t care about the issues that matter to us, or take up positions contrary to our interests.

Lately I’ve been pointing people towards the Alliance of Independent Authors. I’m not a member myself, but I have been impressed with the way they have started, the kind of people involved, and the issues they are taking on. I met several members at the London Book Fair in April, and they were all enthusing about the Alliance.

The Director of the organization, Orna Ross, is a former literary agent, turned traditionally published author, turned self-publisher (and fellow Celt). I invited Orna to…

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6 steps to a better Twitter following

tweet on

I must make a disclaimer at the beginning here: I am a reluctant Twitter user. I am not cut out to speak in 140 character snippets, don’t like doing a lot of promoting of my work (ie spamming), and probably don’t otherwise have a lot to say to thousands of strangers. But as an author, I do find it a useful tool, so I’ve tried to make it as painless as possible. I used to use TweetAdder 3.0, which I loved for its ability to search out followers by hashtag. I find that a very useful tool in an automated program, because following people by hashtag on Twitter itself is an extremely time consuming process involving multiple clicks per person. But alas, TweetAdder 3.0 went away, and TweetAdder 4.0 is not only useless, it crashes every time I open it. I had to go back to the drawing board.

What I use now is Just Unfollow, the Pluto level, which is $9.99 a month. It’s not as good as Tweet Adder 3.0 was, but it’s miles better than TA 4.0. Because it’s not adding followers in an automated way (you have to click Follow manually, but you can do a lot very fast, whereas TA3.0 spaced them out but followed automatically… which for some inexplicable reason was considered “spam” by Twitter, while clicking as fast as your finger can go isn’t…), you don’t get thrown in Twitter jail. That’s a good thing.

The bad news is that you can only search for followers by getting a list of the followers of another Twitter user. So if you write Action Adventure like I do, you can follow the followers of James Rollins or other authors with a Twitter account. This is fairly helpful, although it’s obvious to anyone who’s looked at the followers of any well-known person that many are fake accounts, purchased followers, or otherwise useless. Here’s where my system has come in. It’s not super fast, but not as time consuming as using Twitter directly. A compromise, I guess you’d say.

1.  Just Unfollow says that it “only” selects followers that are active and “good quality.” Not sure what the criteria is, but that’s not strictly true in practice. Don’t just go down the list and click them all! The rest of my tips are how to filter for the most likely people to follow you back.

2.  Look for real people, with real names and real photos. Skip anyone without. Sure, there might be a few real people behind those avatars, pictures of beer steins, and pets. Most likely there isn’t. You’ll just find yourself unfollowing them soon, so don’t bother.

3.  Check out the number of tweets they’ve made in proportion to their followers. There are people who have tweeted tens of thousands of times – some even hundreds of thousands of times – and they have 140 followers. Really? Do you want you Twitter feed taken up by people who apparently do nothing but tweet uninteresting things? You’ll unfollow them soon out of sheer aggravation, so save yourself the effort and don’t bother now!  My general rule is that I don’t follow anyone who has tweeted over 10,000 times, unless they have a huge following AND follow back. And if they have multiple thousands of tweets, but haven’t hit the 10k threshold, I check out the following/follower number. Out of whack? Don’t follow.

4.  A famous person may have a ton of followers, but if they don’t follow back, they don’t do you any good. If you’re interested in what they have to say for their own sake, go for it. But if you are trying to build your Twitter audience for your books, your blog and your brand, don’t bother. Remember, after you’ve followed 2000 people, Twitter only lets you follow 10% more than you are following. Don’t waste those follows on people who obviously aren’t going to follow back.

5,  Are they talking your language? I’m happy that people of other languages appreciate our culture and our authors. But honestly, when my feed is full of Spanish and Korean and other languages I don’t understand, that doesn’t help me to connect with people, which is the only reason I use Twitter. If they’re not speaking/writing a language you understand, don’t follow them just to get followers. Sometimes it happens anyway – I unfollow them. It’s not personal. It’s just not an effective use of my time.

6.  I use Just Unfollow every other day. I give people two days to follow back, then unfollow everyone who I’m following that isn’t following me. I also unfollow anyone who has unfollowed me, and any inactive users that I’m following (who haven’t used Twitter in one month or more). This frees up my account to add new, quality followers.

I follow this system for my account, and my husband’s account. I’ve built up my account by about 4000 followers in two months, and my husband’s by about 5000. When I use it, I get about an 80% return on follower backs, vs when I follow everyone that Just Unfollow suggest. Doing that, I get about 15-25% return follows. It does take a little extra time. I probably spend 20 minutes every other day on our two accounts. But since going to this method, I’ve seen a very definite increase in quality followers. And after all, that’s what it’s all about, right?

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Guest post from author Travis Simmons: Top 10 movies

Desolation blog tour

Today we welcome my fellow author Travis Simmons, who has just released his newest novel, Desolation, a zombie thriller. He’s going to share his Top Ten Favorite Movies with us. Don’t forget to enter the Giveaway for a Kindle Fire!

My Top Ten Favorite Movies

​I am not the type of person that stays up on the newest movies coming out. I rarely go to the theatre, I rarely watch TV to see previews. If a preview pops up on Facebook, that is how I see them. Often my sister will say she rented a movie and I will have no idea what she is talking about, even if it is a movie I wanted to see. BUT I do have my favorites, and they will show my true geek colors.

  1. Star Wars ~ I am sure many people will scoff when I say I didn’t like Star Wars until the newer ones came out. Honestly, when the original ones were out I was too young to even remember them. When my mother and brother used to watch them, I was too young to be interested in them. It wasn’t until the new ones came out that I realized what I had been missing.
  2.  Dune ~ I love the sci-fy channel version of this movie. The original one was silly to me because I haven’t read the books, and I the movie seemed to graze over important elements that would fill in the story for me. The sci-fy channel one had that detail in it that made you feel like you were actually watching a story of a different world.
  3.  The Wizard of Oz ~ I love this movie. It is one of my all-time favorites. I would be lying if I said I didn’t side with the Witch though.
  4.  Star Trek ~ This is the new ones. I think this series will go the way of Star Wars for me. I have only watched a couple of the old movies, and that was in response to how much I loved the newer ones. Into Darkness was just so amazing in my book.
  5.  The Little Mermaid ~ I get picked on for this movie all the time, but I really do love The Little Mermaid. When I was younger I wanted to donate my body to science so they could MAKE me a merman. Now I don’t want to do that, instead I will just have to write about them.
  6.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower ~ Awesome movie. In fact, I need to read the book after watching the movie. It just made me feel so happy and reminded me of friends and times past.
  7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show ~ I laugh every time I watch “Sweet Transvestite.”
  8.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch ~ It has been compared to Rocky, but I don’t think there is really any similarity. It was a movie my cousin recommended to me, and when I was first watching it all I could think was “What on Earth am I watching?” At some point during the movie (I can’t remember exactly when) I fell in love with it.
  9.  Interview with the Vampire ~ I loved this book, and I loved the movie. Surprisingly, it was one of the few Tom Cruise movies I enjoyed, and I think he did a great job as Lestat.
  10.  Legend ~ Yet another Tom Cruise movie I love. BUT I don’t like the uncut version with all the singing and dancing.

So those are some of my favorites. What are yours?

Travis Simmons author photo

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A little promotion… Solomon’s Throne is on sale!

Solomons-Throne-Ebook-Final-2240-for-Amazon-and-Smashwords

Solomon’s Throne is on sale through the weekend, only $1.99 for the Kindle or Nook versions. You know you need summer reading – boy, it’s hot here today! – and this will fit the bill. A “cozy” action adventure treasure hunt, with fun characters and an intriguing plot lone. 4.5* on Amazon, with 39 reviews, so you know people are enjoying the Quinns!

You can also find a link here on the Kindle Books and Tips blog, and if you head over to his Facebook page here and Like it the post, the post will go out to a lot more people.

On Friday, we’re going to have a guest post from Travis Simmons, who has just released his new zombie book Desolation. Stay tuned!

desolation cover

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What’s the deal with IXEOS?

Ixeos Rebellion 800 Cover Reveal and Promotional

IXEOS 800 Cover reveal and Promotional

Imagine a world where most of the humans have been killed and the rest are either enslaved or living a life of deprivation and fear. Imagine a world where you have no say in how to live, and no access to the things you used to take for granted: power, internet, cell phones and motorized transportation.

This is the current state of the planet Ixeos. An alternate Earth, Ixeos was quietly invaded at the beginning of the twentieth century by humanoid aliens. Integrating into society, they bided their time until technology was sufficient to meet their needs, and then they launched a full-scale attack against the human race with the goal of total domination.

They won. They held all the cards. And now Ixeos is a mostly desolate planet.

The Firsts, as they call themselves, are without emotion. They see humans as a lower life form, suitable only for slave labor. Humans are not allowed to marry or have families. Breeding is done in labs. The price for falling in love or having a baby? Death. Or worse.

Life for all humans is hard. Those who are enslaved are tracked at all times by GPS collars embedded in their spinal cords. Rebels live in hiding, venturing out at night to scavenge for supplies or spy on the aliens. Gangs have grown over the years, groups of violent young people who weren’t born when humans were still free and who have no interest in fighting a war with the Firsts.

What the Firsts don’t realize is how many humans are still out there. They have no idea that the rebels have help from our Earth, outsiders who were brought to Ixeos for the sole purpose of helping the humans achieve freedom. And they have absolutely no idea that they haven’t crushed the humans’ innate yearning to be free.

As the outsiders help the rebels organize and communicate with each other, the underground rebellion begins to gather steam. Simon Lockwell, the shadowy leader of the Firsts, had captured and imprisoned the rebel leader Darian long ago. He was afraid to execute him for fear of an uprising. Knowing that the Firsts are outnumbered, Lockwell intends to keep the humans from realizing their strength.

Lockwell’s goal is to perfect the human breeding program so that he can kill Darian and the older slaves who remember being free and finally have all the slaves fully under his power. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s not that easy to crush the spirit inside each man that makes him fully human.

The outsiders’ first goal was to free Darian so that he could mobilize the rebels, who had never forgotten him. Now a rebellion is being mounted, and the Firsts are in the crosshairs.

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