Feedback: Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Books

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As the founder and one of the organizers of the #AfricaOnBookFair Romance Authors & Books, to say my nerves were fried when the weekend of the fair (2nd of June) arrived, would be an understatement.

The hosting of such an event on Facebook was a first for me, though not participating in one. Being a reader and getting to know authors, is the much preferred role of the two. But I was also extremely excited.

Here was an opportunity to bring people together, for authors to network with each other, for readers to discover new talent and for African romance authors to have another platform to showcase themselves. When you set out to do something like this you should 1) take a lot of deep breaths 2) give yourself room to make mistakes 3) surround yourself with positive people 4) surround yourself with people you can count on 5) check your resources 6) do your research and 8) set out to have fun!

Yep those aren’t very technical things except numbers 5 & 6, but they do help you to keep perspective.

That’s from a hosting perspective of the weekend.  Now as an author who also showcased their books for the weekend *smile*

Blog tours and Facebook parties rarely give earth shattering sales. Literary services will tell you that blog tours mainly create exposure and that’s what an author should focus on. Sales that do come from a blog tour are great, but the focus should be connecting with or creating a readership for your book(s).

Now Facebook book parties are a bit tricky, they’ve worked in the past to generate sales. But only when you diligently market your participation in the event. Facebook book parties are not as effective as they used to be. The ‘shine’ has worn off and some literary services don’t recommend having them.

So why did I as an author thought attending a Facebook book event will help me? Why participate in an online book fair? For the simple reason that online book fairs, according to my research, are still at the beginning phase of online book events and authors and those in the publishing industry has caught on that creating a comfortable and accessible space for both readers and publishing professionals seem to be the way forward. Attending an event like this annually creates relationships, networks and consistency that you won’t necessarily find at a Facebook party.

So I had 1hr to put my 4 posts up, and then for roughly a 1hr 30min I got to interact with anyone who responded on my posts. For me the time flew by, I thought the gap between me and the author after me might be too wide, but as the host of the fair *smile* I knew the time had to be allocated to slow down the social media for each author on our networks. That way you won’t have authors infringing on each others time.

As a bit of an experiment I put both my books for Decadent Publishing’s Ubuntu line on sale for the weekend. I offered nothing else. No gift cards, free books, swag, etc. because I wanted to test something. But not just my books. Authors who also write for the line and who took part in the fair, the publisher offered to put their books on sale as well.

I knew that the experiment would be skewed because all of us promoted ourselves differently and one of the Ubuntu line authors pulled out  a day before the event started. This would and probably did, affect the results.

I had invited some of my Facebook friends and also used my other networks to spread the word about my slot at the fair. During my hour, I also sent out private messages via Facebook inviting a few friends and reminding others. I posted in my publishers Facebook groups and also tagged DP on twitter. I thought of running an advert on Facebook or Twitter, but since I was hosting 2 out of the 3 days of the fair, I didn’t come around to doing it.

A few days after the fair I emailed my publisher and asked if the fair had in anyway hiked up sales for the Ubuntu line, and me, and she said it did. *smile* I’ll have to wait till my next royalty statement to see exactly by how big a margin.

One thing I’ve learned about online events the same as with physical events like say, a music concert. You have to tell people about it. Where you are going to be at, at what time, with who (if you’re not alone) and what they can expect from you. And not just once or twice, but multiple times before and, if it’s possible, during the event. Goodness, I got so sick of the Justin Bieber adverts promoting his concerts in SA, but I knew exactly where and when it was happening. (Thanks for the earworms after each advert Justin *raises eyebrow*)

So a heavy dose of marketing is definitely part of the plan next year for me as an author.

The experiment was a success, because I wanted to see if an event like this on a 99c book sale, for two of my books and other books of the Ubuntu line could bring in sales. And it did.

And this is the last thing I want to point out as a positive for an event like the Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Readers.

I’ve made some lasting connections with authors and readers during the fair. I was pleasantly surprised at an attendee (a Facebook friend) who I didn’t think would be interested in a romance authors event, show up with questions and engaging right up till my time was up. I got another writing buddy; I’m keen to hook up with. And as an organizer of the fair, two romance publishers already offered support us for next year.

I’ve already thanked the guest authors for the weekend via email, as well as my co-host Kathy Bosman, but I’d like to say another thank you. Without you the fair wouldn’t have been possible.

*bows head*

Link to the Africa Online Book Fair: https://web.facebook.com/groups/137410896799580/

Twitter: @AfricaOnBookFr

Instagram: @africaonlinebookfair

My “Booth” @ Africa Online Book Fair 2017

Yesterday was the start of the Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Books! I’m very excited to be part of the fair and also to be hosting some awesome writers on our event page https://www.facebook.com/events/372063406523550/

I was the first author to open their “booth”. I have 4 posts: 1st introducing myself, 2nd a Amazon discount offer of Falling for Mr. Unexpected, 3rd a Amazon discount offer of Dance of Love and the 4th a spotlight on my new release The Wolf’s Choice. The discounts lasts until Monday (5 June).

If you want to learn more about me, come have a chat with me at the online book fair. I’m going to hang around the whole weekend!

If you found my blog via the Africa Online Book Fair, than browse around and subscribe to get regular updates from me (I promise I don’t flood people’s email).

If you want to go straight to the Amazon discounts, here are the links:

Falling For Mr Unexpected discount banner

Falling for Mr. Unexpected http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Mr-Unexpected-Inge-Saunders-ebook/dp/B00R4UACZW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418848131&sr=8-1&keywords=falling+for+mr.+unexpected

Dance of Love discount banner

Dance of Love http://amzn.to/1AaLcDS

And if you like shape-shifter paranormal romance here’s the links to The Wolf’s Choice (Black Hills Wolves #64):

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Amazon: Kindle Store https://t.co/gipdx4OYiZ

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/za/en/ebook/the-wolf-s-choice

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/711816

 

The Africa Online Book Fair: Interview Author Elaine Dodge

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The Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Books is a weekend event, featuring 13 authors and 1 interview with an aspiring romance author. Each day will have a certain amount of authors that will showcase their books and who they are.

The online book fair takes place on Facebook. Here’s a link to the event page. https://www.facebook.com/events/372063406523550/

We are also running a sign up for our Newsletters competition that runs with the Africa Online Book Fair blog tour from 17 to 31 May. You could win a 20$ Amazon Gift Card.

Sign up for as many newsletters as you want, each one is an entry: https://tinyurl.com/kvttmhb

The winner will be announced after the fair.

Attending the online book fair and how it works is straightforward, especially for readers who’ve attended Facebook book parties. But also for readers who use the social network site daily.

All you need to do is go to our Event and click ‘Going’. It’s that easy!

And don’t forget to invite your friends!

Hope you have lots of fun and discover awesome reads.

Africa Online Book Fair Links:

Facebook Group Page:https://tinyurl.com/ka3ucvl

Twitter: @AfricaOnBookFr

Instagram: @africaonlinebookfair

Welcome Elaine!

  1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Zambia, grew up in Zimbabwe and am currently living in South Africa. I’ve travelled a lot – the first round the world trip was when I was 4. I trained as a graphic designer, and my brother and I ran our own company – The Artful Dodges – for a while. A long stint in advertising followed. Then it was time for a change. A change of country and profession.So, I moved to South Africa, where I fell head first into the local and international broadcast television industry for the next eight years. I discovered that what I enjoyed the most was telling stories. Apart from white-water rafting down the Zambezi, I feel most alive when I’m writing.

My first book, Harcourt’s Mountain, published byTirgearr Publishing, was nominated for the 2014 RONE Awards. My short story, The Man with a House on His Back featured in the Crossroads Press published anthology, Blue Honey and the Valley of Shadow.I am currently editing my second novel, The Device Hunter.

  1. What do you enjoy about being an author?

I love writing for the same reason I love reading. Stories can transport one to a different age, a different country or even off the planet. Stories can allow the reader to be anyone they like – a ship’s captain in Nelson’s navy, a Georgian heiress being courted by a handsome rake, a close friend of Jane Austen, a surgeon on the front lines, a detective in the 1920’s who has an unusual link to the dead. The possibilities are only as endless as one’s imagination.

  1. What type of romance stories do you write? And why?
    So far, I’ve only written one – Harcourt’s Mountain. But the kinds of romance stories I like to read all have the same things in common. Interesting, intelligent people falling in love against the odds, amidst challenges and adventure and often in unusual places or eras. Some of the reviews I’ve received for Harcourt’s Mountain have compared the book to Outlander, The Far Pavilions and books by Francine Rivers. I do prefer books where the sex happens behind closed doors and I write that way as well.
  2. Favorite place in Africa?
    Mana pools, hands down.
  3. Why do you think African romance authors and stories set on the continent are important?
    Africa often gets a bad rap, and that’s sad. Authors that choose to place their stories on the continent will help to change that.
  4. Do you think romance stories set in Africa & Africans vital to the publishing industry? If yes/no, why do you say so?
    The African continent is a huge untapped resource in terms of book sales. And who doesn’t love a well told story? Romance can be the main theme or a part of a story but everyone is hungry for stories and if they’re set on our continent that’s the icing on the cake. People like to be able to relate to the characters. It’s helpful if the character is the same ethnicity as the reader.
  5. What traditional food do you love, that one can only find in Africa?

Babootie for a savory and Koeksisters for a sweet.

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You can find Elaine online at:                                                                               

Website:www.elainedodge.weebly.com

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/ElaineRosemaryD/

Twitter: @ElaineRosemaryD

 

The ‘Why’ behind the Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Books

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It’s an understatement to say I am excited! The online book fair is a first for me and I am are ready to start.

But before I get into giving you the details of the where and the when, I’d like to explain the point behind #AfricaOnBookFair.

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa, mostly at the end tail of the Struggle. In 1994 when we had our first democratic election I was still in primary school. Buying books, much less writing books weren’t something that was encouraged for any person of color. Yet authors of color prevailed.

They wrote books about the history of the country, books about their daily struggle. Wonderful Drum Magazine writers wrote some of the most memorable short stories that opened up worlds for me when I studied them in high school and university. Poetry like To Whom It May Concern by Sipho Sepamla still touches many around the world. But…yes there’s a but, I didn’t come across prolific romance stories set in my country and the rest of Africa, that didn’t have tinges of colonialism or was written for a specific audience that didn’t include readers outside of it.

The stories weren’t inherently diverse. Stereotypical roles for people of color littered these romantic texts and even till this day when I go to my local library and bookstores I have to hunt for romances written that’s multicultural or even interracial, romance that showcases the beauty and scope of the landscape as well as the people of this continent, and also the authors that come from it.

Romance authors in Africa don’t just write contemporary/historical novels in bush settings or urban settings, they write steamy reads about fairies and werewolves too. Local heroes and heroines making a life abroad. Nail biting suspense and mystery romance novels. Science fiction and fantasy. Young adult and new adult stories. They even interpret characters from different genders, races, cultural backgrounds and religions.

And I asked myself, where can you find these books and authors with so much diversity among them? Where is a place you can walk into and have a good fun old time getting book deals and meeting your next favorite author? You guess right. A book fair.

But because Africa is a really…really big continent, how do you get all of these terrific romance authors and their stories together in one spot for readers to discover them?

Thank God for the invention of the military programme that became the internet! Online is the easiest way to find things you’re searching for. Whether it’s the definition of a word (so guilty of that) or buying a pair of shoes, online shopping, buying and selling, and researching are things we consider common. Even in Africa.

Everyone owns a device they can use to access the internet.

And that’s how the #AfricaOnBookFair was created. It stemmed from this need to say, “If you’re looking for romance stories set in Africa or want to find out who your next favorite African author in every romance genre out there is, here they are. Online. Easy to access. You don’t have to pay to get in. You don’t have to stand in a queue. You don’t have to feel hot and sweaty. Or cold and tired. You sit in your home or wherever you might find yourself and check out what’s on offer.” Money you would’ve spent on gas, food and tickets to get in can go into buying extra books! As a bookworm, that makes me extremely happy.

And I know every little bookworm heart is giving a fist pump *laughs*

The Africa Online Book Fair aims to bring African romance authors and readers together. In a nutshell it is as simple as that. And I really hope you’ll come meet every single one of them.

Event date: Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th June 2017.

Starts: 10:00 am ( Cape Town time)

Ends: 22:00 pm (Cape Town time)

 

So without further adieu, here they are:

Aziza Eden Walker

Bailey Quinn

Elaine Dodge

Inge Saunders

Jayne Bauling

Joanne Macgregor

Kathy Bosman

Leenna Naidoo

Marie Dry

Nana Prah

Sherita Singh

Theresa Beharrie

TM Clark

Link to the Event Page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/372063406523550/

Twitter: @AfricaOnBookFr

Instagram: @africaonlinebookfair

Books I’ve Read Recently

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I haven’t done this on my blog yet and thought, ‘hey why not?’ *smile*

I always talk about what I’m busy writing or what I’m going to focus on writing and post writing tips & motivations, and my own ramblings. But never about what I’m reading. And I do read. A lot *bug eyed*

I think it’s one of those writerly things. You read. Not just for enjoyment but also as a form of study.

So here’s a list of books/series I’ve read recently that stood out to me in no particular order:

  1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
  2. Joining by Johanna Lindsey
  3. Blood of Eve by Pam Godwin
  4.  Knight Security Series by Carole Mortimer
  5. Black Hills Wolves multi-author series by rebeccaroyce-5 & Heather Long

The Dreaded Synopsis

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For the last two years or so, I’ve come to embrace the synopsis. And though embrace is a strong word, since you won’t find me just jumping into one, I have realized the importance of one if I ever want to be considered by a big publishing house.

So instead of listing all my struggles with writing them, I decided to write how I became comfortable with writing synopses.

I’ve read a lot of articles on the topic and watched a few online teachings. I’m not good with textbooks because it makes me feel like I’m back at varsity and my “Am I going to get graded on this?” mentality isn’t so easy to shake off, even years later.

But the light-bulb didn’t come on until I realized that 1) there’s a specific publisher I like to write for and they require a synopsis. Without one I’m toast at the door. They won’t even consider me no matter how intriguing the pitch, hook or first three chapters. My submission won’t make it past the threshold. So to not put myself at a disadvantage, I knew I had to master the synopsis.

2) I came across a Harlequin editor who gave advice on synopsis writing. A side note: whenever an editor from a respected publisher give advice on writing, take note.

She hit all the points I’ve read so far. But what stood out for me from her advice was how simple she made synopsis writing seem. At the end of her advice she said, synopsis writing is you drawing a map. The map contains all the high points, the beginning and ending. You have a good idea of where the highs and lows are going to be. And writing the story are filled with all the meaty parts in-between, like the ditch the car falls into after a deer crossed the road. You write about all the angst and fear that came along with the experience. A minor setback, but the end destination still needs to be reached.

I started writing my synopsis like this. A road map. And that’s how I still view a synopsis, especially one that’s aimed at an editor.

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So besides these things, here are a few points I focus on when I sit down to write a short synopsis:

  1. First thing check the length the publisher wants. This can range from 1-2 pages to 5 pages. Reading the guidelines will save you a lot of time.
  2. Format: Double-spaced, 1 inch margins, Times New Roman font and Header over every page (check with the publisher if they require a specific style of Headers).
  3. Start bold. The same attention you spend on the opening line of your book put the same effort into the opening line of you synopsis. Grab the editor’s attention first before you summarize the book.
  4. Stay focused. In a short synopsis for 1-2 pages there aren’t space for extraneous details. Don’t include secondary plots or characters, unless they play a part in understanding the resolution. Don’t use multiple points of view (POVs) even if they are present in the novel.
  5. Determine your romance’s focus ahead of time. You should determine your target publisher’s preferences ahead of time and use it to guide your effort. A publisher like Harlequin wants romance, so get to that quickly and end on the romantic resolution.
  6. Write in present tense. This is something I didn’t know at the beginning. It is so simple and makes so much sense. Because the present tense creates a sense of urgency. This makes it effective.
  7. Show, don’t tell. Yes, even in a synopsis. Show the story through a good plot. Don’t describe it.
  8. Don’t resort to empty questions. “Will they fall in love?” This is an editorial pet peeve. You’re going to have to answer the question, so you’re wasting space. These types of sentences also yank the editor out of the story. They are views as “author intrusive”. You are not letting the story speak for itself, you are speaking for it.
  9. Many editors make it a rule not to read after the third typo. So be thorough!

 

Sweat the opening three paragraphs. Most editors conduct a “three paragraph” test.  If you don’t grab their attention by then, they simply won’t read on. A strong opening line and a quick tight overview of the hero/heroine and conflict.

These tips I learned from romantic suspense author Lisa Gardner. I look at them every time I sit down to write a short synopsis as a refresher. And even as I type this post, I learned something new.

Learning this skill isn’t a once off thing. You’ll have to practice it and practice some more. It’s not for the fainthearted and it’s not for the lazy writers. It’s not for the ones who are ‘stuck in their writing ways’, the ones who skip publishers because they want to avoid a synopsis. Because it’s a hurdle they can’t exercise enough to jump over.

Hard work do pay off. And I do believe getting the synopsis is one step closer to publication.

#happywriting

The Life and Death of Twilight

 

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I’m a fan. No seriously, I’m a fan of the Twilight series. Only I saw the first movie before I read the first book and wanted to throw the  book against a wall when I finally read it.

I remember arguing with a then friend of mine on just how ludicrous the idea of a 100 year old vampire falling for a seventeen year old was. There’s just no way. Of course there’s the ‘he can’t read her mind’, but then that just makes Edward one of the most emotionally unintelligent 100 year old vampires in literature. And I refused to believe R Patt’s Edward Cullen could possibly be so dense. So the argument raged on.

And then, Twilight Re-imagined happened. *crickets*

Edythe and Beau happened.

And every other character’s name except the parents was re-imagined. (Why do this? *wails*)

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Because I’m a fan of the series I went, I’m going to be required to have an opinion about this because I’ve been so open about my love of Bella, Edward and Jacob, why not give this re-imagining *cough* fan-fiction, a try.

I got as far as page 17 then skipped to the end but didn’t read all of it and don’t think I will return to the book anytime soon.

Nothing was reimagined here. The problems that were pointed out about Twilight are evident in Life and Death. But that’s not even the worse offense to me. It’s the fact that the author stopped being an author when she worked on this book. She stopped placing herself in her characters shoes. Because if she’d done that and she wanted to still keep Beau as awkward as Bella she could’ve done it by not giving him the same exact quirk as Bella, but actually thinking about what kind of quirk would make a teenage boy self-conscious.

Goodness, if she made Beau his own person, apart from Bella I would’ve been fine with that too. Because guess what? Men and women don’t actually think/act alike.

Maybe she should’ve read a few YA novels written by male authors to study how they write male protagonists. Or female authors for that matter since who can deny J.K Rowling brilliantly writing Harry Potter?

The Twilight series isn’t bad. However, this re-imagining is. It hurts to say it, but it does. I feel like Stephanie Meyer should write a couple of books under a pen name. Give herself a break from Twilight and its universe. Then after a few years, come back and give us Midnight Sun *smile*

 

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