#38 Struggle with Facebook Ads and Mail Chimp lists

I’ve been so convinced by the conversations on the Self Publishing Formula podcasts that I decided to create some experiments of my own.

In he first experiment, I boosted one of my Facebook posts by paying R$3 (US$1) So that and extra 107 people saw the post on top of the 25 people who would have seen it ‘organically’.

Thid encouraged me to experiment more by creating a Facebook As offering one of my short stories for anyone who signed up to my email list. I paid R$35 (US $12) for this ad which was viewed by 1,489 people. I had specifically requested  people in the UK who had ‘liked’ The Girl on the Train, The Night Circus, To Kill a Mocking Bird and Me Before You. Of the people who saw my ad, two people clicked to request the short story, driving up the number of people on my mailing list to the heady heights of 12.

Not wanting to leave these two individuals waiting for their short story, I created an email in Mail Chimp, created a downloadable link for the short story, and pressed send.

The next thing I knew was that I had received an email from Mail Chimp telling me that they had suspended my account for a breach Id their terms. I’m still waiting to hear what that breach was.

During my acceptance speech for the Novel Prize for Literature or the Mann Booker Prize I am going to refer people to this blog post to show the humblingly slow beginnings that self published authors endure.

Meanwhile, I have finished editing my second novel and am keeping up with my word count on the third.

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#37 Sitting in a hospital waiting room

No matter how much a look after ourselves, which in my case isn’t very much, we inevitably feel a bit under the weather from time to time. Everyone knows that the GP is the first stop for any illness other than a medical emergency but here in Brazil it can be quite tricky to get an appointment with the GP in a hurry so most Brazilians tend to use their local accident and emergency department as a drop in centre. It’s the only way to get prompt attention.

Waiting times vary at these places but there is nearly always a wait and if tests are required then the whole thing could take hours.

Normally all this waiting around would be the perfect time to do a bit of writing but if you are feeling under the weather then writing is probably the last thing you want to do.  If you are accompanying the patient then it seems a bit rude to scribble away when really you’re meant to be keeping them company.

I’ve just started a lead generation as campaign on Facebook so while accompanying my wife while she waits for her tests, I check every five minutes to see whether anyone has clicked on one of my ads. Oh yes, and I’ve written this blog but I don’t think she noticed.

Blogs don’t require the same effort as novels. With novels I have to immerse myself in the world and that makes it a bit tricky when someone wants to ask me a question because it takes a few seconds for my mind to return to the real world. With blogs, I stay in the real world so responding to questions from the real world is less tricky.

So, all things considered, hospital waiting rooms are great places to avoid writing.

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#36 Finding out all about self-publishing

Like a lot of people, I always considered self-publishing to be tantamount to vanity publishing.  However, the more I learn about self-publishing, the more I realise that many authors are choosing it over the traditional route because it gives them much more control over how their work is promoted.

I’ve been glued to You Tube this week watching the Self Publishing Formula podcasts which have interesting discussions about all aspects of the self-publishing process.

Having just re-written the ending to my first novel,  I have still sent it off to agents in the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA but I have also been giving much more serious thought to the process of self-publishing.

I’m already promoting myself as an author through my own Facebook profile and page, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google + and of course this blog. The next step is to set up a mailing list which I have done through Mail Chimp. You can sign up to the mailing list at http://eepurl.com/cvENKH

The next step is to promote the mailing list which I have attempted to do organically through Twitter and Facebook posts and at time of writing, I have the grand total of 9 subscribers.  Yes you read that right. Nine.

The issue is that Facebook have changed their algorithms so that posts reach only a fraction of followers unless you pay for Facebook advertising.  So that’s the next step is to listen to the Self Publishing Formula podcast #47 all about promoting mailing lists through Facebook ads and then try a bit of advertising myself.

In the next post I’ll let you know how I got on.




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#35 Forget your charger and other IT related issues

I do most of my writing on my mobile phone, I also have a tablet which I can use if my phone runs out of battery. I write on Google Docs which means I can access my work on any device, as long as I have Internet access. Occasionally, I also write on a laptop. The latter is the best way to correct the thousands of grammar mistakes I make through Grammarly.


Recently, the hard disk drive on my laptop died and I had to buy another one and ask my brother in law to fix it. Which he did and it worked.  I find that Google Docs works for me until I need to rewrite then I download the file as a word doc and work on the laptop.


I usually charge my phone overnight and sometimes  also at work which gives me enough juice to write my prolific 429 words on the way to and from work. If for any reason, usually one of the cats playing with the cable, the phone fails to charge or if I forget to take my cable to work then my writing day can be ruined and I have to resort to reading a paper copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which I keep in my bag for such emergencies.


On days where everything goes smoothly I write my 429 words while seated on the metro (I have to get the train in the opposite direction first to get a seat) and then listen to an audiobook, currently The Girl on the Train, while walking to and from the metro.
The reason I haven’t been posting blogs for so long is that my routine has been going very smoothly. I understand that 429 words is not a lot for most writers but it works for me. I’ll have finished the rough version of my current novel by July plus have rewritten the first two novels and sent them off to agents. Sooner or later, I’ll probably get around to self-publishing but I don’t think this will stop me from sending new books off to agents. As long as I remember to take my charger.

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#34 Googling

I have a recurring dream in which the CIA or MI6 burst into my flat and pin me to the ground because I am a suspect in some investigation on the basis of some weird combination of searches I have performed on the Internet.

They say write what you know but there inevitably comes a time when you want to write something about something you don’t know and on those occasions, the Internet comes in really handy.

Google saves a record of the searches you perform. You can find it here. Here are a few of my own favourites:

How to make a flying monkey costume
Silent night by chewbacca
Peppa alphabet
Post holocaust music
Max headroom

sex pistols christmas song

dick whittington

How to butcher a goat

How much did fish and chips cost in Hull in 1971

How to make soap

Escapes from high security mental hospitals.

OK, so I admit that none of these are likely to cause the VIA to batter down my door but the point is that as writers we never imagine for what we might find ourselves searching the Internet.  However wacky your internet search, it’s certainly a good way to avoid doing the actual writing.




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#33 listening to podcasts.

Having already sent Living with Saci to four agents I’ve been finding myself becoming more and more receptive to the temptations of the world of self-publishing.

I guess I sent my first few chapters to traditional agents because I sought professional approval for my work but the more I learn about the traditional publishing industry and the self-publishing industry, the less convinced I am that traditional publishing is the correct route.

One of the sources of persuasion has been coming from the podcasts of the Self-Publishing Formula. I am only up to episode 9 but I have already picked up lots of useful tips.

The first thing I have learnt is that a self-publishing author needs an inventory of books, preferably a number of titles in a series. The reason for this is to enable the self-publisher to offer the first title for free in order to generate interest in the rest of the series.

Obviously, I have only just finished the rough draft of my second novel, the first is still riddled with grammatical errors, I haven’t started the third yet and none of them forms part of a series. However, there is still a lot of preparation I can do before my first three novels are ready to be published.

My first step has been to set up an account with mail chimp to create an email list of people who are interested in finding out when my novels are going to be published. I’ve added a link to the subscription form for this mailing list into my Facebook page and also sent a link out via Twitter. I’ve already been trying to build a following via Facebook and Twitter so I’m not starting completely from scratch and obviously, I have this blog as well which is designed to promote my work by blogging about the tortuous process.

I also changed the theme of the blog do that I could include Facebook and Twitter widgets on the menu.

Once the books are finished, they need to be thoroughly proofread (by someone else) to iron out all those silly grammatical mistakes I mentioned earlier and a book cover professionally designed and, to be honest, that’s about as much as I’ve learnt so far.

My plan at the moment is to write the third novel, iron out the mistakes in the first novel and re-write the second novel before I can even think about publishing anything. In the meantime, I’ll keep blogging and tweeting in the hope of increasing my following but will I continue sending my work to traditional agents? On that I haven’t yet decided, I’ll wait and see how the second novel turns out after the re-write and decide then.

Still, I’ve now got a big list of things I can do other than write. Hooray!

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#32 Check grammar

Are you sitting down? Yes? Good. You may want to have a stiff drink or some smelling salts at hand too. You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting to this blog lately and the reason that I haven’t had many tips on how to avoid writing is that I’ve actually been doing some writing.

I know. It’s shocking, isn’t it? I’ve actually done so much writing that I’ve finished a rough draft of my second novel which I have given the working title of The Story of James and David Part 1 The Anniversaries. Not very catchy I know but it’ll do for now. It’s written and I am following the advice of Stephen King and not looking at it for seven weeks before I start re-writing.

Next week I’ll start novel number three which I feel is going to be a post-apocalyptical diary type affair, let’s see.

In the meantime, the first novel, Living with Saci, has been sitting in the slush pile of the fourth agent to whom I sent it.

I haven’t only been working on the second novel the last few months. Following the advice of a friend, I re-initiated my association with youwriteon.com a website where writers can submit their work for review at the price of reviewing the work of other authors. So far, I have submitted the first fifteen chapters of Living with Saci and read a great deal of work of other authors which has varied from very good to very poor.

One of the things I was shocked to discover once reviews of my own work started to arrive was how many simple grammatical mistakes the reviewers were discovering. I think that, as an author, you get so close to the text that you lose the ability to spot even the most obvious of mistakes.

In an attempt to deal with this I have installed the Grammarly app to the browser on my desktop and, although it doesn’t work on Google Docs, I am able to correct the text using the app when I paste it into youwriteon.com. In the first fifteen chapters, there were roughly 200 of what the app described as critical errors, let alone the hundreds of more advanced errors which are revealed if you buy the premium edition.

At least I’ve discovered another good excuse for avoiding writing. And I used it to check the grammar in this post too.

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