How to Approach Your Local Media Outlet

I was on my way to an interview about my debut novel, Every Time He Dies, when I realised that I looked like a funeral-goer. I was wearing a black dress, a black denim motorcycle jacket, leather tights and way too many silver rings. 

Given the premise of my novel, maybe not such a bad thing?

If the journo made anything of my appearance, he kept it to himself. 

We stumbled over introductions, I ordered a decaf long-black in a cup with a side of honey. ‘My order is a bit simpler,’ he laughed and asked for a milkshake. We then spent the next hour waxing lyrical about ‘the craft’.

In my opinion anytime spent talking about writing, books, and reading is an hour well spent, but when the discussion dipped over to my own novel, things got even better.

The internet has provided authors and writers with publishing and business opportunities that weren’t possible two decades ago. 

Now, we can reach our audience directly. 

We can publish our own (high quality) books.

We can create marketing campaigns that target our specific readers and become a part of the online writing community.

The internet is great, truly, but don’t be so quick to discount the power of your local media.

As an ex-journo, I am well aware of how content hungry the news and media industry can be, especially high-turnover publications like newspapers and radio where the pressure to produce daily, engaging, and meaningful content is incredibly high.  

Here are some of the reasons why you should approach local media outlets:

  • Communities love supporting members who are doing interesting things
  • You can target a wider audience who may not have discovered you otherwise
  • Having face-to-face interactions and building relationships with people IRL is pretty awesome.

There are a few things you should prepare before you start emailing media outlets:

  1. a good press release
  2. high-resolution images of the book’s cover 
  3. high-resolution photographs of you holding the book

I may write a blog specifically about how to write a press release, but for now, just know that there are plenty of great sources online. 

When emailing a media outlet be sure to do a few things:

  • Introduce yourself 
  • State why you are emailing them (eg: book release, book launch)
  • Why their audience would be interested in this story
  • When (roughly) you’d like the article published (newspaper, magazine) or live interview conducted (radio, television)
  • Include links to social media accounts, website and YouTube channel

Be Prepared

It’s important that you prepare, at least a little, before being interviewed.

This will help you sort out your thoughts about the writing process, and how you want you and your novel to be present. 

Despite all your preparations, you will be asked unexpected questions. However, rehearsing your responses to basic questions about you and your novel will give you a greater sense of ease and control.

Standard questions may include:

  • Your journey/background as a writer
  • What your book is about
  • Why you wrote the book
  • Your writing routine
  • What you hope readers will “get out” of your novel

Reaching out to local newspapers, radio stations, tv shows, independent bookstores and trendy cafes is a great way to include your local community in the release of your book.

There is tremendous power in getting out there and meeting people face-to-face, and readers love meeting authors and hearing them talk about their work, the writing craft and the writing life. After all, there’s a reason book festivals are so popular! 

When we build connections with our readers, they are more likely to stick with us.

Reaching out to your local media may seem scary at first, but what is life without a little risk, eh? 

Put yourself out there, the worst someone can say is no and I am pretty sure you can handle that. 

We may be in the digital age, but relationships and community engagement still matter.  

So, what are you waiting for? Fire up Google, gather a few email addresses and start soliciting yourself. 😉 I won’t even judge you, promise. 


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Five Things You Need To Know About Every Time He Dies

We’re only five days away from the official publication of Every Time He Dies. YAY!!!!

If you haven’t already, click here to pre-order your copy of the book. Everyone who pre-orders the book automatically gets access to the first five chapters as a thank you.

Pre-orders are vital to a book’s success as these sales are included as part of the release week sales. If pre-sales are strong, the book has a far better chance of getting on a best-seller list, appearing in algorithms or being included in Amazon’s weekly “recommended for you” email newsletter.

This increase in exposure is invaluable. 

So please, if you have been following this blog for a long time or if you are planning on buying a copy of Every Time He Dies anyway, then please consider pre-ordering the book. I sincerely thank you. 

Now, on to this week’s topic.

You guys have been asking a ton of questions about ETHD, so I thought I’d put this blog together as a way to answer them!

1 / ETHD is a Hybrid Novel

When you boil it down, ETHD is a mystery novel as the book is shaped around a central mystery. Dah.

However, labelling ETHD this way is slightly misleading.

ETHD is not a tidy, read once, throw away mystery novel. Oh no, this baby’s got layers. She is about something. 

ETHD draw upon many different genres. There are elements of crime, thriller, horror, supernatural, mysticism, romance and speculative fiction.

Basically, it’s Frankenstein’s monster: a stitched together beast whose parts I’ve pilfered from robbing the graves of multiple genres. But, that’s what makes her so damn beautiful — if you can get past her lopsided smile!

2 / ETHD is Not Your Average Girl Novel

This is connected to the last point, but it’s also a little bit different …

Though the book opens at a crime scene, a double homicide, ETHD is not a crime novel.

In fact, the crimes that occur in this novel do so as a way to keep the story moving forward.

The book isn’t about an unsolved crime, not really, it’s about what happens we bury our grief and isolate ourselves from our community and ourselves. 

What this novel is really about is the characters. An early title for this book was Haunted. Not because the book has a ghost, but because ALL of the character’s are haunted by their past mistakes; mistakes they can never undo.

This book is an exploration of how our mistakes can have huge ramifications and how we can move through this. 

3 / ETHD is Funny

After reading points one and two, you’re probably thinking, “Damn! This book sounds heavy!”

Look, a good book should contain both light and dark passages.

There are some sad moments and some moving exchanges, but this book is also very funny.

I mean, how could it not be?

I attached a ghost with amnesia to an embalmer who is suffering from PTSD and who doesn’t believe in anything woo-woo … I mean, that kind of character friction can’t be anything BUT funny. 

4 / Research

I covered this a bit in one of my last posts, but it bears repeating.

One of the elements that makes Every Time He Dies so unique is the volume of research that informed the writing process.

I interviewed cops, psychic, mechanics, nurses, pharmacists, Filipino witch doctors (boy, howdy!), embalmers, funeral home directors, medics, detectives, and other crime authors. 

Basically, I bought a lot of people a lot of coffee. 

The reason I am telling you this is because I embedded all of their glorious knowledge into my book.

As a result, the scenes are visceral and authentic.

I describe the embalming process, the smell of the chemicals, the equipment used. I go deep into the psychological ramifications of working the beat and I’ve included colourful adaptations of stories told to me by Western and Eastern Healers. 

Basically, ETHD is pretty awesome. 

5 / Effort

I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in order to write this book: financial and personal.

I chose to invest in a master’s program where students spent one year developing their novel under the guidance of established writers and teachers. I worked with a brilliant mentor and hired a slew of professionals. 

I quit my job, moved to a different city (three times!) and rented rooms with strangers (now friends) in order to study. 

Much to everybody’s horror, I turned down a lucrative job in order to dedicate more time to study and writing. 

And I haven’t even touched on the effort it required to write the book.

Needless to say, I’ve totally lost count of how many revisions this book went through.

There is only one scene (the climax) and one single paragraph (the opening paragraph) that has remained virtually the same since the day I wrote them. Everything else has been rewritten more times than I can count. 

But it was all worth it.

When I started writing ETHD, I knew that I’d be figuring out how to write a novel while writing a novel.

It was a long and windy path, but I did reach the top of that summit. Eventually.

There’s no guarantee that my next hike up the novel-writing mountain will be any easier, but at least I will have a map and well broken-in shoes.  

There you have it guys, the five things you need to know about ETHD. Remember to pre-order your copy BEFORE publication date (Tuesday, November 5) and enter my book giveaway. DETAILS BELOW!


EVERY TIME HE DIES

AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER + GIVEAWAY

‘Who knew that a book about murder, grief and disintegrated families could be so funny?’ – Paul WilliamsEverytimeHeDies_3D

‘A unique modern mystery that is one part psychic practices and one part police procedural. The fast pace, dynamic characters and intricate plot will keep readers hooked until the end.’ – Gregory James

‘It’s rare to find an Australian-set book of this scope and genre that could stand among its international peers and hold its own, but I won’t be surprised to see this book find its success in all corners of the crime genre reading world.’ – Shayla Morgansen

‘Can someone please make this into a TV series? This is a fabulous read and I want to see Liam and Daff on the small screen.’ – Carol Seeley


CLICK BELOW TO PREORDER NOW

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PREORDER GIVEAWAY!

Everyone who preorders a copy of Every Time He Dies (paperback or ebook) will go into the draw to win one of THREE MAJOR GRAND PRIZES.

To celebrate the release of Every Time He Dies, I’m running an EPIC book giveaway. The three grand prize packs include signed copies of:

🎉Dying in the First Person by Nike Sulway
🎉Bordertown by Gregory James
🎉Haunted by Shayla Morgansen
🎉The Spark Ignites by Kathleen Kelly
🎉Every Time He Dies by Tara Louise East

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If you preorder a copy, simply take a snapshot of your proof of purchase and fill out the entry form here. 

WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Everyone who preorders a copy will ALSO receive the first five chapters straight to their inbox. Not only will this tide you over until the book arrives, but it’s also my way of saying thanks!

Why I Chose to Self-Publishing My Novel. Part 2.

Last week I revealed why I chose to self-publish my debut novel. In Part 1, I unpacked the benefits of self-publishing. So, for the sake of balance, this week’s post will cover the limitations of self-publishing. 

Another author may make a more extensive list, but the limitations of self-publishing basically fall under two umbrellas: 

  • Money
  • Responsibility

Self-publishing means investing your money
Self-publishing requires you to invest your cash before you make a single sale.

Money

The main reason why people don’t want to self-publish is because you have got to cover ALL of your expenses upfront. You have to invest a ton of cash into the publication and promotion of your book before you can start selling your book baby. (And hopefully, make a profit!) 

Like any high-functioning parent, this can cause resentment. 

First, there are the obvious costs as you hire an editor and a book cover designer, but then there are all the other costs …

  • Editing isn’t a one-round go-around, you have to hire a structural editor ($2000+), then a copy editor ($600 – $2000) and then a proofreader ($500-$1000). For those of you keeping tally at home, that’s three different editors and wheelbarrow of moo-la.
  • Unless you want to do the interior formatting yourself (do you really hate yourself that much?), you’ll have to hire a professional interior designer ($300+) or buy a program ($250+); while this will make things easier, you’ll have to invest x amount of time into learning how said program works.
  • ARC copies. Once you’ve loaded your files onto your publishing platform/distributor, you will need to order a few copies to check that everything is okay ($100+)
  • Membership fee: Some publishing platforms charge an initial sign-up fee (For example, Ingramspark charges $25-$50)
  • Marketing: This can be cheap or really expensive.
    Apps
    Affordable apps like Book Brush and Place It charge a small monthly fee ($8-$15 per month). These apps allow you to make beautiful marketing images of your book that you can use on social media and in paid ads (such as Facebook and Amazon). Other platforms like Canva will allow you to make free images, but some stock background etc come with a fee.
    Website
    You can run your website from a free platform like WordPress, Squarespace or WIX, but if you want a more professional website, then you gotta hand over your credit card.
    Paid Advertising
    Again, this can be cheap or expensive. Unfortunately, it may take a little coin to figure out which ads on which platforms result in sales, for example, Amazon Ads, Facebook ads, or Instagram ads. 
  • Book reviews: Book reviews can cost money, but most reviewers do this for free (thank you kind, generous, book reviewers!). However, it took me SIX months to line up fifty reviews for ETHD. Lesson: This exercise won’t cost you money, but it will cost you time. 
Responsibility
The hardest thing about self-publishing is becoming the CEO of My Novel Inc.

Responsibility

I wasn’t sure what to call this section. Independence? Creative Control? Team with an I? Solo? Basically, the other huge limitation of self-publishing is that you are all on your own. No-one is going to hold your hand through this thing. ☹

You are FULLY responsible for every decision involved in the publication of your book. 

This is additionally difficult because … despite all the research you’ve done … you still have no idea what you’re doing. 

You have to do ALL the research and you have to make ALL the decisions. 

You have to research all the publishing/distribution houses. You have to read blogs, reviews and watch YouTube videos to see what other authors say about these platforms. (Note: self-publishing is changing ALL the time, so the internet is full of contradicting advice and old information). Then, you have to type ‘free-lance editor’ into Google and watch as your bank account shrinks to zero. You will spend days/weeks/months trolling through websites and portfolios as you try to decide who you want to hire. 

In addition to all this, you also have to learn how to build an author platform and how to online marketing works. Being the CEO of My Novel Inc. is a full-time gig y’all, the only problem is you’re tending to this company at nights and on weekends because, you know, you also have that other job, the one that actually keeping the lights on. 

The indie community is a generous one. Every self-published author I have met (in real life or virtually) has been incredibly generous in sharing information and their own experiences. Still, as CEO, you are fully responsible for the success of your novel. This can be exhilarating or terrifying. Usually both. 

In the hopes of saving you all some time, money and heart-ache, here are some of the key lessons I learned when publishing ETHD:

  • You can’t trust testimonials

  • Sometimes you’ll hire a truly stellar professional, but then something happens (they have an accident, fall ill, have a death in the family). This may mean that deadlines have to be extended and the publication date pushed back. If you’re lucky, this happens BEFORE you’ve announced pub date

  • Sometimes you can trust testimonials

  • Some professionals will be great communicators and they will respond to your emails quickly. Some professionals are … not very good at communicating … and you’ll (maybe) hear from them once a month – despite the glowing testimonials on their website …

  • Designing a cover is HARD and so much fun

  • Naming a book is HARD and not very fun

  • When you show the mock-up designs of your book cover to beta-readers, family and friends and NO-ONE picks the cover you liked … you will start to second guess EVERYTHING. Maybe I don’t know my target audience? Maybe I should re-design all my marketing images and adjust all the copy? If I picked the ‘wrong’ cover, maybe the whole book is ‘wrong’? etc. etc.

  • Making marketing images is fun … and kind of a time suck

  • So much of marketing feel kind of like you’re doing nothing

  • Checking interior formatting takes FOREVER and is mind-numbingly dull

  • Applying edits takes FOREVER and you literally live for those tiny compliments and smiley faces your editor has sprinkled throughout the document

  • Publishing a book takes about eight times longer than you think it’s gonna take and it’s three times more expensive. 

Self-publishing has its limitations, but I knew from the beginning that it was the best option for me.

Becoming CEO of My Novel Inc. has been a huge learning curve, but I’m going to ride this crazy roller coaster all the way to the end. If you’re looking for a ticket, don’t worry, I’ll hook you up with one of the scouts out front. 😉

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Why I Chose to Self-Publish My Novel. Part 1.

I chose to self-publish my debut novel, Every Time He Dies, for many reasons; most of which I will unpack in this blog. 

Before we get started though, I do want to add the disclaimer that both self-publishing and traditionally publishing have their strengths and weaknesses. 

There are many factors that you need to consider before choosing an option, such as:

  • what your publication goals are 
  • how comfortable you are with technology 
  • the strength of your author platform (or your wiliness to build one)
  • your budget 
  • how much time and energy you can (realistically) dedicate to this endeavour.

Now, my gut has always told me that self-publishing was the best option for me. However, to be completely transparent, a number of friends who are traditionally published and/or professionals in the industry convenience me to give traditional publishing a go.

I got close twice, but no banana. 

So, why didn’t my novel “make it”?

#1 / It was too similar to a book that had already been published earlier that year

#2 / The company already had an extensive backlog (“And by the way,” … the receptionist whispered … “We might not be around that much longer anyway…”)

I didn’t walk away with a contract, but I did walk away with an important lesson: if the timing isn’t right, it doesn’t matter who you know!

I have to say though, I wasn’t crushed. Like I said before, my gut was telling me to self-published. This is probably because my genetic make-up is one part arrogance and one part naivety. 

Plus, I’ve been a long-time listener to Joanna Penn’s, The Creative Penn, podcast (among others), and there’s a lot of self-published authors out there that are killing it. Of course, most are lucky to earn a couple of bucks a month, but the same goes for traditionally published authors. 

For me, the benefits of self-publishing outweighed the drawbacks. 

Full creative control

Self-publishing means that you get to choose who you work with – time and money permitting. Basically, you are the CEO of My Novel Inc. Congratulations! You are now in charge of researching and hiring the best professional money your budget can buy!

Personally, I loved the fact that I got to choose my own editor; that I could hire the interior formatter that I liked and that the cover wasn’t designed by a department, but through the one-on-one collaboration between ME and the designer I had hired. 

As CEO, I also had the final say on everything. Cos, you know, I was paying for it. 

Marketing

The number one reason why people want to go traditional is because they don’t like marketing. 

Okay. 

So. 

Like.

You’re just gonna have to get over that. 

As part of my community service to the online writing world, I’ve chosen to write an open letter to all the ‘but I don’t like marketing’ Luddites.  

Dear ‘I Don’t Like Marketing’ Luddite, 

It is highly unlikely that you will get a contract with a major publishing house if you don’t have an author platform. If you aren’t willing to promote your books then why should they?

This is especially important if you are trying to publish your debut novel. A publishing company WILL NOT INVEST a ton of cash into a marketing campaign for a DEBUT novel. 

Why?

Cos no-one knows who you are!

You haven’t proven yourself yet and you don’t have a trusted, loyal fan base. 

It doesn’t matter whether you chose to self-publish or traditionally publish if you want to sell books, then you have to market your own books. 

Sure, a publishing house will put some money towards a marketing campaign, but you, sweet innocent writer, will be expected to do some heavy lifting too. 

No one rides the bus for free. 

Love,
Tara 

 

Environment 

I can appreciate that not everyone will be on board with this one, but in case you haven’t heard, our planet is currently in the midst of the sixth extinction. So, publishing 5000 copies (or more) of a book that I may only sell ten copies of seems like a huge waste of our already depleting natural resources. 

Print on demand doesn’t completely solve this problem, but it’s a step in the right direction. Companies like Lulu, Amazon, and Ingramspark (among many others) offer the print on demand option. Every time someone goes onto Amazon, iBook, Kobo, Barnes & Nobel etc. and orders a copy of your book, the publisher (Lulu/Amazon/Ingramspark) will print, package and post that book to your wonderful, generous, and sparkly reader. 

How great is that?

Gone are the days when self-published author had to keep twenty book boxes in their garage and physically distribute said books themselves (probably from the trunk of their car…).

Bookshops and Libraries

Another common reason for going traditional is because authors want to see their book in their local independent bookshop or library. 

Oh, man, I feel like I’m about to tell you that Santa isn’t real …

Okay, look, the thing is, most new releases only stay in bookstores for the first three-six months following their release. 

That’s it. 

If your stock doesn’t sell, then the store will ship your book back to the publisher where it will hang out in a giant warehouse until someone buys a copy online or until another shop orders in extra stock (if you’re really, really lucky). 

So … that book that you spent years writing will be on the shelf at your local independent bookshop for a few months … maybe.

So, you better enjoy that ‘thrill’ while you can, sailor. 

It’s a common misconception that independent bookstores and library won’t/can’t sell self-published books, but that isn’t true. Thankfully, services like Ingramspark make it easy for bookstores to order in (at wholesale price) copies of your book. YAY! 

If you live in a small town, you might also be able to negotiate a deal directly with your local bookstore owner. 

Companies such as Kobo, also make it very easy for libraries to order in your book. However, someone may need to request the book in order for this to happen. (It’s about time your Nan did something for ya, right?) Alternatively, you can always donate a copy to your local library. Now all the local residents will benefit from your literary generosity! 

These four pros are the biggest reason why I chose to self-publish. I would list the cons here too, but that would make the post WAY too big.

Don’t worry, I’m gonna realise part 2 next week. 😉

All that being said, you are in charge of deciding what is best for you and your project.

While I have chosen to self-publish this novel, I would be open to traditionally publishing in the future just so I could experience it. (You may have noticed that I have a writing blog … that means I like to do stuff and then write about so that others can learn from my experience).

Writing, editing and then publishing my debut novel, Every Time He Dies, has been one very long road. For the most part, though, the view had been spectacular. 

I hope you can say the same.

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