Category Archives: Author Updates

MTMail: with added incentives. Are you on my mailing list?

Would you like to be? That, my lovely peps, is my question for today. What would get you signing up for MTMail?

You see, I’ve been doing some more navel gazing and the piece of fluff I’ve prepared for us to examine today is my mailing list. I intend to revamp it a bit, ie, actually do something with it. I want to offer interesting bonus things to people who join and I want to make the idea of joining my mailing list sound a bit more interesting.

It’s not just that I want to shower people with mail shots though – lordy me, even if I’m ruthlessly efficient about it my mailing list members are going to be lucky if I can organise more than about three a year. There is an ulterior motive, in that you folks have offered me support, bought my books, left me lovely comments when I was down and humoured me by laughing at my crap jokes. So I’d like to set up some kind of thing where my mailing list and blog peps who are mostly one and the same, anyway, get bonus stuff. Either things nobody else gets or stuff early… that kind of thing.

In addition, I’d like to bribe incentivise folks to join my mailing list list. Not in a Lord Vernon, I-will-murder-each-and-every-one-of-the-people-who-you-hold-dear-until-you-do-my-bidding-and-I’ll-make-you-watch, manner but in a nice way, as outlined above: a touchy-feely, let-me-give-you-gifts kind of approach.

I’ve had a think and come up with some ideas… I was just wondering… if you’re able to give me any feedback, in the comments or on the poll.

Here are some of the things I’ve been mulling over.

First up, would you like a choice between general mailings and just hearing about the books? General mailings would probably take place once a quarter if I really got my finger out and tried hard so it’s not as if I’d be raining folks with spam. Although if I mailed subscribers about interviews and things it might be more often but I doubt I could manage to make it more than once a month: tops.

Second, what kind of free things would appeal? I can give away short stories or secret blog posts and I can also give away versions of my short stories read aloud, by me – this is something that a couple of folks have requested. Unfortunately, I don’t have the budget or equipment to produce audio books properly: I have a cat, a son and I live on a main road for starters – all things that make the recording process … interesting.

Thirdly, I wondered if you’d like to read out takes. Bits that were honed and toned but didn’t make it into the books. They are un-edited; by a professional at any rate.

Finally, if you’d like to sign up to my mailing list anyway, before any bribery incentives are in place, you can sign up from this link.

 

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Press and publicity. Could I? Should I? M T’s upcoming stall at #BurySt Edmunds Christmas Fayre.

McMini’s latest, as he looked out at the pouring rain and the dark, sub-aqueous sky this morning.

“Mummy, I think the sun has decided not to get up this morning and it is hiding under the covers with its underpants over its head, refusing to come out.”

Very succinctly put. Naturally a long conversation ensued about the specifications of inter galactic underpants as we discussed size, standard of flame retardancy would be required when constructing (make doesn’t reflect the size of the undertaking) underpants for a star.

To be honest, today, I’m feeling a little bit like the sun, myself. I’m doing an event at the end of the week, so I have been having a go at press stuff. I started yesterday – nice and early natch (not). I’ve got something going that reads a bit like this:

“Hello I’m M T McGuire, an author based in Bury St Edmunds and delighted to be taking part in the Fayre this year at Cornhill Walk Shopping Centre (just behind Moyse’s Hall Museum). Come and visit to see the wonderful crafts and gifts made by local artists and while you’re there, why not say hello to me too? You can pet Bob the voiceless Tribble, pick up a free bookmark, and if you want to sign up for my mailing list, your name will be entered a free draw to win a book related mug (no, I’m not talking about the one behind the table).”

It’s very difficult to market a funny book. It’s difficult to market any book actually and as you know I’d kind of decided to give up on the idea. Indeed, my strategy for all marketing has been this:

Marketing? Pfft, easy. Ignore it until it goes away.

Marketing? Pfft, easy. Ignore it and write books.

However, there are people locally who have actually enjoyed my books and with the Fair, sorry Fayre, looming I thought I should at least make a token effort to tell the local folks I would be there.

In this post, I’m going to give you some advice. I’m also going to share a powerful secret: i.e. the many and varied ways I’ve bollocksed it all up so that you don’t have to.

In theory I’m supposed to be good at this. I was a brand manager for a household name company. But when 98% of the population knows who you are you don’t exactly have to try. Everyone is agog to know what your brand’s view on x, y or z is or what it’s doing next. You are, basically, insanely newsworthy AND not only that, but you have half a million quid to throw at making the 2% of the population living under a rock which is unaware of your brand well… aware.

Interestingly, as the brand manager, representative of the corporate heavyweight, I developed various techniques for putting others at their ease, most of which involved humour. In the bus and coach company, they worked. Unfortunately, public passenger transport is not your usual public relations arena. I found that people wanted you to be able to do your job, but if you could be humorous about it at the same time, they considered this a bonus rather than any lack of professionalism. I remember lengthy conversations with a freelance representative from one magazine about a mythical agency we would found together called “we write shite” you get the picture.

Since then, I have learned – possibly to my detriment – that this is not how the rest of the business world works, indeed, it may be that the transport industry doesn’t work like that any more. It’s been 12 years and one child since; a lot of my brain has gone missing and I couldn’t possibly comment. Coupled with my genuine lack of professionalism (cf 12 years: one child: no brain comment) this has not done me any favours.

Yes people, even if you are marketing a humour book, for God’s sake, don’t try to be funny: not until the interview, anyway, then you can be as funny as you like because you’re talking to your audience. I think, if you are able, it’s worth waiting until there’s some point in the press talking to you, too. Until there’s something in it for them. As a very small time affair, I feel quite arrogant and jumped up approaching them now.

Press coverage will not necessarily win you fans but it will put your name in front of a lot of people. However, if you can win yourself enough fans, it might bring you some press coverage anyway. A lot of fans is reason enough for the press to write about you. And if you have a following, your hopeless ditzyness melds magically from unprofessional conduct to cute eccentricity.

If, like I am this week, you find yourself called upon to abandon your concentrate-on-the-writing-and-wait-until-you’re-established-enough-for-them-to-seek-you press policy, here are a few handy hints.

  1. Make the information as interesting and up beat as possible.
  2. Target it. Use a press guide like Willings (or Pimms Media Guide if it’s still going). You should be able to find one at your library. Obvious suggestions are to try your local press, if you think they will be interested as well as magazines or new sheets aimed at fans of your genre(s). It might also be worth looking into press dealing with any other area in which you have a hook. In my case, magazines for mothers or families might be the way forward because I’m a stay at home mum. If you’ve written a thriller set in the world of competitive hang gliding, then magazines aimed at people who enjoy hang gliding or are fans of hang gliding might be a place to start.
  3. Check it. Make sure all the dates, times etc are correct. If you have discalculia, take extra special care to avoid doing what I did and telling everyone that your event on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th November is on Friday the 29th and Saturday 30th. That doesn’t look cool. However, if you have done that. Accept you’ve stuffed up and move on.
  4. Send it to them. Yes, very obvious this one but you have to be in it to win it. Even if you are pretty sure, in your heart of hearts, that nobody is likely to tell their audience about your event, send in the info because you never know. Let’s face it all they can say is ‘no’… or nothing. But if the information isn’t with them, they can’t magically know about it. Try to imagine ways you can make it useful to them as well as yourself. If they can see an obvious benefit from using it they may be more interested. Avoid doing what I did, though which was suggesting topics I could talk about for a radio interview. I was unsure at the time, because it’s kind of teaching Grandmother to suck eggs, but a day on I am cringing so I reckon it was a bad move. Er hem, there are reasons my publicity for this event hasn’t gone too well and the biggest one, so far is me. Perhaps that could be Thing Five.
  5. Avoid being the thing that holds it back. Ask nicely: be as courteous, cheerful, pleasant and polite about approaching as you can and try not to do anything dumb.
  6. Give them time – I have failed miserably on that score too – remember they plan their stuff in advance and so a couple of weeks’ notice rather then ‘oh tomorrow I am…’ is always going to be more effective.
  7. Be patient. Sure you can follow up (once, possibly twice if they sound interested) but don’t hound them. They’re busy and you are not the centre of their world; they have a lot of other stuff to do, deadlines to meet etc.
  8. Accept their verdict. They know what their audience wants. If they think that news of your stall/book/appearance/existence is unlikely to be of interest, you’re just going to have to suck it up and accept it. They probably have a much better idea of what their audience wants to hear about than you do.
  9. If they do give you some coverage, thank them.

So to sum up:  firstly, if you have an event on, then, obviously, you must tell the local press and anyone else who you think will be interested. After all, all you can do is ask. However, if you’re an obscure nobody, such as myself, accept that your information may not be used.

Secondly, I believe, more and more, is that for obscure and little known writers, our efforts are best put into writing books, good books that people will love. I’m sure there is a tipping point, I’m sure there is a critical mass at which sales suddenly skyrocket and members of the press start calling us. I’m sure that some people hit that tipping point with their first or second book; through luck, hard work, judgement or all three.

However, I’m equally sure that for most of us, that stuff is years in the making. So you and I, how do we go about it? We just keep going. We do stuff, we courteously advise the press it’s happening, we follow up and we carry on. The best products sell themselves, grashopper, but it takes time. And for all the events, appearances, signings and publicity that you do, the place you’ll sell the most copies of your next book is between the pages of your previous one.

—————————————————————————

 

M T McGuire will be at Cornhill Walk Shopping Centre, in Bury St Edmunds, on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th November. That’s the one behind Moyse’s Hall Museum and opposite McDonalds. She will be giving out free book marks and selling copies of books from the K’Barthan Series to anyone who wants to buy them. Should you wish, she can even devalue them by signing them for you. You can also purchase Christmas cards and there’s an alphabet poster on sale. You can pet Bob the voiceless tribble and watch him make a noise like an annoyed lawn mower. If you sign up for the mailing list your name will be entered into a free draw to win a K’Barthan Series mug (not the one who wrote it, obviously, I mean a thing to drink hot bevvies out of).

 

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Entrails, Omens, Eggciting News and Eggstraordinary Matters…

Well, OK, not entrails. Moving on.

Big is the order of the day, it seems. Our garden has been surprisingly free of random cats this week, not because of Harrison, who hasn’t had his shots and isn’t allowed out yet. Nope, not Harrison but because of a new random cat arrival.

Big Merv, as I am calling him is a monster of about the size and build I’d expect from the Beast of Bolsover. A true juggernaught of a cat, he is a little lardy but mostly he is just built like a brick shit house. He is a dark brown tabby with a white tummy which he likes to show me at every available opportunity. He is clearly very loved by someone somewhere because he’s a sweetie. He’s also confident, placid and yeh. Huge.

Meanwhile this morning, I encountered another enormity. With the preparation of a birthday cake in the offing I went to the market to buy some extra eggs.  Naturally, I went for extra large, in which there was this.

IMG_1541

Yes. That’s a chicken egg on the right, the one with the terrible wart. And the one on the left? Well, believe it or not that’s a chicken egg too. All I can say is, I sure wouldn’t want to meet that chicken – and if she’s normal chicken sized then all I can say is, boy, she must have been screaming for an epidural. I bet she was in a bit of a scramble, eggcetera, eggcetera. [no more eggscorable egg jokes: ed]

So here’s hoping that all this bigness of eggs and cats is an omen for big success for the K’Barthan Trilogy… says she, jemmying in a buy-my-book reference with a large crowbar. Ooooof, kadang. Ouch, my toe.

CoverOneManNoPlan

Feel free to buy my books, if you want to and if you already have, thank you. And if you enjoyed them, feel free to tell your friends and/or leave a review in as many places as you like. And thank you to those of you who did.

In the meantime, Book 3 of the K’Barthan Trilogy is out today. I’m afraid it isn’t the last one. There are four books in it. Yes, I count like Baldrick. But there you go. If you’d like to purchase it, you can do so in these places:

In e-book format from…

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Your Local Amazon – wherever you are.
Kobo
Smashwords
iBooks – coming… eventually
Barnes & Noble (nook)

In Paperback format from…

Book Depository
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Your Local Amazon – wherever you are
Waterstone’s

 

One Man: No Plan M T McGuire

The back cover of One Man: No Plan by M T McGuire

 

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K’Barthan 3 is out soon… oh yes it is!

Squeeee! K’Barthan Three…

photo

Picture taken in the few moments available when the cat was not in the box with them. He was busy killing some of the packaging on the floor at this point.

And just a reminder… it is available for pre-order in multiple formats at Smashwords and as an epub at Kobo.

Kobo

Smashwords
The ebook should go live at Amazon on 12th June, at or around 9.00 a.m. GMT.

In print:

Pre-order from the Book Depository.

From Amazon.co.uk.

From Amazon US.

From your local Amazon, if you live outside those two.

 

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One Man: No Plan is available to pre-order from…

 CoverOneManNoPlan

One Man: No Plan is finally available for pre-order on some sites: Kobo and Smashwords so far, B&N and Apple soon. Amazon does not do a pre-order service so, Ammyphiles, I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to hang on.

It will be available in paperback and in all digital formats, everywhere, on the launch date: 12 June, 2014.

So, the main points again:

One Man: No Plan is on target for release in paperback and e-book on 12 June, 2014.

AND… You can pre-order it in electronic format from these places so far:
Kobo
Smashwords

You can pre-order your print copy from:
The Book Depository, here.

Amazon, here.

OR… you can check this page for seller links – each site will be added as the links go live…

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Amazon Recommended Reading.

No, really! Look! Mwah hahahargh!

Check out Number three!

Check out Number three!

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An ad hoc sort of world: Introducing Mr Jim Webster and the Tsarina Sector.

This week, I am mostly featuring a guest post by my good cyber friend and fellow writer, Jim Webster. I have voraciously consumed Jim’s fantasy books and now he is dipping his toe in the water of Science Fiction Whodunnits – is that a genre? I guess it is now – I will be voraciously consuming them an’ all. Jim’s new book, Justice-4-1, Tsarina-Sector will be out soon. You can check it out on his author page at Safkhet – his publishers – here, while his author page on Amazon, which gives you details of all his books, is here.

Right then, take it away….. Jim.

Jim Webster standing in front of a hedge he made earlier.

Jim Webster standing in front of a hedge he made earlier.

When I got the idea for ‘Justice 4.1’ I had a world in mind. I’ve read a lot of SF and Fantasy over the years, and I’ve ‘lived’ vicariously in many, many worlds. I wanted mine to be different.

Firstly I wanted the reader to like the world, to feel sympathy for it, to feel as if they might like to live there. After all if I’m writing a book about someone trying to save their world, if you don’t like the world, you are likely to wonder why they bother.

Secondly I wanted the world to be complex. I wanted a range of technologies, a range of lifestyles, a lot of different communities who all had their own rules, mores, cultural norms, but who somehow managed to rub along without too much bickering on the margins. This is something that probably stems from my love of work of the late, great, Jack Vance. He was a master of creating strange but somehow convincing communities and cultures.

Finally I wanted a world that was somehow ‘just getting by.’ Not actual poverty, just a series of hasty improvisations to keep the show on the road. Here I think I was influenced by a lifetime in agriculture. I can tackle most things, but if I ever had to do something properly, using the proper tools and the proper materials and document it properly, I’d be lost. So I ended up with Tsarina, a world that “wasn’t as much colonised as infected by humanity – explored for the sake of completeness and named after the exploration ship’s purser’s dog.”

And the people? Well I long ago learned that there are no ordinary people. Stop and talk to them, walk a mile in their shoes, and you realise that ‘ordinary people’ do extraordinary things all the time. So I assembled my cast from such people, amongst my heroes are insurance loss adjusters, a pop station DJ and a middle aged traffic cop.

And the villain? Surely we’ve got to have a really good villain, dyed in the wool evil, cunning, with subtle plans that will subjugate star systems and bend worlds to his will. Well, here you’re in luck. We have. Probably.

Thank you Jim. I hope your villain is evil, I like a good baddie gah no an oxymorn… but you see what I mean.

You can buy the Tsarina Sector from Amazon UK here and from Amazon US here. You can also read an exerpt right NOW on this blog. HERE!

Tsarina book coverThe flitter was hardly luxurious. It was a spacious workhorse with just enough concessions to comfort to deter personal injury claims from those who hired it. At the moment, it loitered over the northern highlands of the Border Kingdoms at a safe altitude. To their north, the highlands rose steadily until they became snow-capped and were lost in the clouds. Below them was a jumbled badlands of gorges and ridges, twisted rock, frost-shattered and crumbling. Wheeling below them was a pair of great four-winged aradons, keen-eyed carrion feeders. In the distance, perhaps five miles away, Kilonwin Kardoverin could just make out what might be another pair. As far as he could tell, they were the only signs of life in sight. He looked down; even with vision enhancers, the ridges showed virtually no sign of life. He counted three stunted bushes with occasional blades of grass poking through the loose scree.

Kardoverin strapped himself into the co-pilot seat and fiddled with the camera array, determined to get as much footage as possible. Kardoverin had a reputation in the industry as one of the best documentary makers in the sector. This reputation was based on arrogance, a casual disregard for personal safety, and painstaking camera work. He was reputed to get five times as much material as was needed, even for top quality holo work. He turned to the pilot. “Can we get lower? I’d like to film into those gorges.”

“Why?”

“Well, there’s damn all up here.”

“Why not zoom?” The pilot sounded nervous.

“They’re in heavy shadow.”

“Look, this is the Border Kingdoms, it isn’t safe.”

Kardoverin adjusted the central rig and raked the peripheral arrays so that they covered both flanks.

“Take us down fast; we’ll be through and out.”

“They’re barbarians! They shoot at people.”

“With black powder weapons.” Kardoverin’s tone was dismissive as he checked the satellite relay. It seemed to be working perfectly. “Look, just go in, one quick fly-through. It isn’t as if I’m asking you to land, or even hover.”

The pilot muttered something blasphemous under his breath and brought the flitter round. “I’ll take us up that gorge on the left, it’s narrower. Being so overcast, it’s less likely to be inhabited.”

He opened the throttle and brought the bow of the flitter sharply down. The clumsy craft accelerated rather faster than Kardoverin had expected, and he hastily checked the camera focus. This model of vehicle was effectively a rectangular box which flew and had little consideration of style. But for his purposes, the open top meant it had been comparatively easy to fit the cameras. The pilot brought them down sharply, heading south, gaining speed as he lost altitude. Then suddenly, he spun the controls and the flitter turned and banked so sharply Kardoverin felt himself hanging in the harness. Then the pilot pointed the nose of his craft straight into the mouth of the gorge, still dropping and gaining speed. As they entered between the towering rock walls, they were barely twenty feet above the ground and moving faster than Kardoverin would have believed possible. Kardoverin kept his eyes on the monitors, running his fingers over the controls in front of him, altering the zoom, the angle, the filters. They were deep in the gorge now and the boxy craft was travelling at breakneck speed. Kardoverin constantly re-adjusted the controls. “Isn’t this a bit fast?”

The pilot’s answer came through clenched teeth. “If I could go faster, I would. I want us out of here and—” He paused. “Oh hell, we are in deep—”

There was a staccato rattle of automatic weapons fire from one side. The burst struck the pilot, jerking his body against the seat harness. Kardoverin tore his gaze from the monitors and looked towards where the noise had come from. The second burst hit the front of the flitter, and the engine began to whine. Kardoverin frantically unbuckled his harness and stood up to reach over the pilot’s body for the controls. The third burst struck him in the chest, spun him round and left him draped over the side of the flitter. Thirty seconds later, with no one at the controls, the flitter struck the rock wall of the gorge and exploded.

Wow. So, that was an excerpt from Justice 4.1 The Tsarina Sector. If you would like to find out more or stalk Jim on social media you can do so in the following places:

Find out more about Jim:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jim-Webster/e/B009UT450I/
Smashwords:   https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/fjpwebster
Safkhet publishing:  http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/authors/Jim_Webster.htm

Stalk Jim on Social Media:
Blog: http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22998.Jim_Webster
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JimWebster6

Find out more about the book:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TsarinaSector
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1908208236/
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1908208236/

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