OBT was created in October 2010. A few writers and I were working on a three month long book launch festival, book tours were my contribution to the festival. The demand was increasingly high and I spent quite a bit of time adjusting the tours to meet the requirements of participating authors and bloggers to what it is today.
How does Orangeberry Book Tours work and what have the results been for authors who've used it?
The main goal of OBT is to raise awareness for the author and his/her book via social media. This means OBT offers more than blog stops. Hence, the name - BOOK tours not blog tours. I run Twitter Blasts, blog stops and other types of smaller social awareness campaigns which focus on both author and the book.
I understand that a big budget is not something we all have when starting our writing careers, hence, there is a free book tour package (Orangeberry Basic) which allows authors to have a free book tour but they have to host other authors in return.
For those who pay for book tours, the money is then used to finance the Orangeberry Goodie Bag which distributes gifts to blog hosts and the site’s visitors.
Results wise, most authors have experienced increased sales although the exact quantities vary. Some have experienced sales as low as 20 books a day and others have had more than 200 total sales during an Orangeberry Phoenix book tour which lasts for 30 days.
I do want to stress that results differ for each book, and I do point out glaring formatting errors or content issues to authors.
What's the most important thing a self-published author needs to do to help their books gain traction in the marketplace?
First and foremost, pay attention to what others have done - the mistakes they’ve made, the things that have worked for authors such as Amanda Hocking, John Locke and JA Konrath.
Your journey will not be the exact same one as theirs, but work on something that works for you. Be it a writing project, a marketing programme or an advertising campaign, we’re all not going to achieve the same results.
Set your own trail. Be consistent. Keep away from negativity. And then work even harder.
If you’ve started out and you’re still not sure where you’re heading, join up Facebook author support groups such as the Indie Author Group, Author Central and the Indie Exchange. Each have their own “governing” rules but you’ll find loads of support be it from book covers to editing within these groups.
Personally, I would like to spend more time writing, even if it’s not to sell my books I would like to just sit in a corner and write. I would like to stay focused on my health and I look forward to helping others with rare diseases similar to mine.
Work wise – I would like to see OBT grow into a community but I expect that this would take another few years. For my books, as minimal as the target readers may seem, I would like to think that I am able to reach more readers.
I must have pen and paper. Traditional and old fashioned I know but my words will not come otherwise. Once it is written out, it is typed out, edited and so on. Also, I do set aside writing time which is uninterrupted time solely for working on my current book, short stories or my non-fiction pieces (also known as Dora's Essentials).
What’s the single biggest mistake made by beginner writers?
They give up too easily. They write to a few B-I-G publishing companies, get turned down and then they tell themselves it's not worth the effort. Imagine if Dickens believed everything people said about him.
To what extent are grammar and spelling important in writing?
I think it makes the difference between an easy read for the reader and a good writer who conveys his story. Neither can happen without good grammar and spelling. Understood, that all books cannot be perfect and errors can be found but when you find a spelling error in every sentence, what does that tell you of the writer and will the reader keep reading?
How much do you revise your MS before sending it off?
To the point that looking at it makes me want to throw up. I only send it off when I am sick of it. As long as I am turning the pages making changes, I'm not done with it and I'm not happy with it. And if I'm not happy about it how will my readers enjoy the book?
As a writer, to what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
I think it is very useful. It provides a sense of direction. You can't just write a book and say I wrote about 'everything'.
Many authors see marketing as a bind. What's your opinion on this, and how do you deal with it?
This is a frequent and ongoing discussion isn't it? I think to a large extent the publishing industry has become a much wider circle than it used to be. But with this comes a large supply that may or may not have a demand for it. Hence, the process of coercing the supply towards the demand. I've had my moments when marketing has really got to me but utilising social media has been a wonderful tool in aiding my marketing efforts. But as with anything in life, social media marketing has to be consistent before successful results are seen.
What sort of displacement activities keep you from writing?
Noise. I get distracted easily with phones ringing, dogs barking. While this is not an activity it definitely flushes out ideas from my head.
What support, if any, do you receive from family and friends, or a writing group?
I have a few close friends I can go to and there is my partner (Peas as he is known to my readers) who becomes my virtual 'punching bag', critic and idea bag. I think it is important for any writer to have people like these around. It's one thing to have someone close to you read it and say, "that's a great piece" but it's completely another for them to say, "you can do better". Sometimes we become complacent and we need people close to us to nudge us along.
Is presentation of the MS as important as agents and publishers suggest?
I think it is. A well presented MS usually means effort. If the writer doesn't make an effort on his own MS, again, how will the reader be affected?
How long does it take you to write a novel?
About 3 months, it's the editing that takes me longer.
Who or what inspires your writing?
My partner, Peas. Call him a muse if you must but our conversations have sparked more than just one or two chapters of my work.
If there’s a single aspect of writing you find frustrating, what is it?
None that I can think of.
Is there a particular feature of writing that you really enjoy?
Reaching out to people. Nothing in the world tops the feeling of communicating with a reader who has something to say about your book.
Do you believe creative writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
I think it's a little of both, a pleasant mix if you must. It comes naturally then you tame it with some training and chances are, a masterpiece is born.