Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Lad Lit Blog to go on tour!

Blog Tour, Book Tour, Steven Scaffardi, Lad Lit, The Lad Lit Blog Tour, The Drought, The Flood, Sex Love and Dating Disasters

I am delighted to announce that next month I will be taking the Lad Lit Blog on tour! Following my recent guest posts on By The Letter Book Reviews and Linda's Book Bag, I have decided to spread the word about lad lit as part of my promo drive for the release of The Flood.

This will be my first ever Blog Tour and starting on April 19 I will (hopefully) be visiting 30 different book blogs around the world before finishing with a round-up back here at The Lad Lit Blog on May 19 - the same day The Flood is published in paperback on Amazon.

So far I have 10 confirmed blogs including Boon's Book Case, Bookaholic Confessions, Linda's Book Bag, Chick Lit Goddess, Rachel's Random Reads, Chick Lit Plus, 23 Review Street, Chick Lit Central, By The Letter Book Reviews and lad lit author Chris Hill's blog. I am hoping to confirm the full schedule within the next week so watch this space!

The Lad Lit Blog Tour Press Release, The Lad Lit Blog Tour, Press Release, Book Tour, Blog Tour, Blog Tour Press Release
Press Release London, UK (28th March 2016)
Author Steven Scaffardi is on a mission to raise awareness of the lad lit genre by embarking on a one-month blog tour.

Starting on April 19, Steven is going to combine his efforts of promoting his second comedy novel Sex, Love & Dating Disasters: The Flood alongside a campaign to get more people reading lad lit.

“After publishing my first novel, The Drought, I soon realised that lad lit was not very well known, despite the success of authors like Nick Hornby,” Steven explained. “So with my second novel I wanted to not only promote my book, but the genre as a whole.”

Steven – who started the #LadLitSunday hashtag recently to get more people on social media talking about lad lit – is hoping to sign up 30 blogs to the tour, with the final blog post coming on May 19 on his own Lad Lit Blog to round-up his experience and the results of the tour. You can follow the journey on Twitter using the #LadLitBlogTour hashtag.

“It’s an ambitious number,” Steven said, “but with a combination of author interviews, book reviews, guest blogs, character Q&A’s and perhaps the odd surprise or two, I’m hopeful it can be done! I’ll also be offering a free download of my first novel The Drought on Amazon on April 28-29 to give readers a taste of lad lit if they have not read it before.”

The Flood will be available as an eBook for 99p from Amazon on April 30 with the paperback version published on May 19 for £8.99. 

The Lad Lit Blog Tour FAQ

What is lad lit? 
Lad lit is best known as the male equivalent of chick-lit, primarily written by men exploring relationships, emotions and day-to-day life experiences from the perspective of a male protagonist. Often told with humour, charm and wit, lad lit leaves many readers laughing out loud at the scenarios men get into.

Who writes lad lit? 
There are a cluster of best-selling authors in the UK writing lad lit including Mike Gayle, Danny Wallace, Nick Spalding, Matt Dunn, Tony Parsons, Jon Rance and the undisputed king of lad lit – Nick Hornby. A Bafta winner and two-time Oscar nominee no less!

So why haven’t I heard of it before? 
Lad lit has been living in the shadow of its older and much more successful sibling, chick lit, for quite some time now. Plus there is a common perception that women read more than men, so sometimes it is not obvious where the fan base would come from.

Is lad lit just for men then? 
No, not at all. It’s certainly a genre that men can relate to with great hilarity, but at the same time it offers an alternative to chick lit and opens up the door to a man’s mind leaving women to worry if that’s what men really think with a nervous laugh!

For more definitions on lad lit, check out these links:

Talking Lad Lit (Linda's Book Bag)
Lad Lit Explained (By The Letter Book Reviews)
Chick Lit For Men (The Lad Lit Blog)

If you are interested in taking part in The Lad Lit Blog Tour, please email Steven Scaffardi at steven.scaffardi@gmail.com.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

#LadLitSunday: Lad Lit explained, Chris Hill interview, and Bourbon Kid rejection letters!

Keep Calm It's Lad Lit Sunday, Lad Lit, Lad Lit news, #LadLitSunday,
Happy Easter everyone! It's been a fairly quiet week on the Lad Lit news front. From a personal point of view it's been a really busy week. At the start of the week I was invited to write a guest post on By The Letter Book Reviews about lad lit.

And then earlier on today I was talking lad lit on Linda's Book Bag. Click on either of the links to read the full articles or check out this blog post.

Lad lit stalwart Mike Gayle took to the airwaves on Friday night on Brum Radio alongside book obsessive Blake Woodham. Their book for March is the bestseller A The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett - a story about small changes making big differences for two people.

I interviewed Chris Hill yesterday, author of The Pick-Up Artist and asked him about his story of A Lad Lit Rom Com about Dating in the Digital Age. You can see the full interview here.

And I started with a bit of news about myself and I'll finish with a little bit more news (like I said, it's been a slow week in the lad lit world...). I was delighted and extremely grateful to book blog My Book File for reviewing both The Drought and The Flood.

Quick Bits
  • Nick Spalding has a special Easter offer for his novella Buzzing Easter Bunnies - offering the laugh out loud comedy for just 99p this weekend.
  • Next week I am interviewing Ben Adams, author of Six Lies and Six Months To Get A Life.
Tweet of the Week

Following on from JK Rowling publishing some of her rejection letters this week, the anonymous author of the best selling Bourbon Kid series posted this amazing rejection letter. Should these rejection letters give indie authors hope or make us seriously worry about the judgement of some publishers and agents?!

Lad Lit explained on Linda's Book Bag and By The Letter Book Reviews

Keep Calm It's Lad Lit Sunday, Lad Lit, Lad Lit news, #LadLitSunday, Steven Scaffardi
This week I was delighted to be able to guest blog on two wonderful sites I was introduced to via the Facebook group Book Connectors.

I kicked the week off on By The Letter Book Reviews, attempting to explain to Sarah Hardy why some people might be put off by the genre. However, I think I did a good job of debating the merits of lad lit. Here is a snippet:

If lad lit was a Hollywood movie genre, surely it would be a comedic triumph. Just take a look at some of the recent loveable rogues who fit that lad lit description: Stifler from American Pie, Phil from The Hangover, Seth from Superbad, Jay from The Inbetweeners. They all arguably steal the show in those respected films. They are not characters we love to hate, they are quite simply characters we love.

And then it was off to Linda's Book Bag to talk lad lit with Linda Hill. Once again I was set the challenge to paint lad lit in a good light and to explain why it deserved to sit alongside its older sibling, chick lit. A quick sample:

Even Wikipedia, that bastion of internet information, seems to be so upset that if you type ‘lad lit’ into their search box, it can’t even bring itself to refer to it by its rightful name in the first line of its description of the genre.

A huge thank to both Sarah and Linda for letting me blog on their sites. Make sure you click on both links to check out the blog posts and continue to support #LadLitSunday to fight the cause for great lad lit!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Author Interview: Chris Hill

Author Interview, Chris Hill, The Pick Up Artist, Lad Lit
Hey Chris, welcome to the Lad Lit Blog. So tell me what's going on in your world right now?
Hi Steve, many thanks for inviting me along today. It’s a real pleasure. What I’m up to is the usual double life authors have of writing on the one side and the real world on the other. So I’ve got my day job, working as communications officer for the children’s charity WellChild, my family - teenagers, dog, the whole works. Then on the writing side I’m still promoting The Pick-Up Artist which has been out for about 12 months now with Magic Oxygen Publishing, plus I’ve started on another book.

The Pick-Up Artist, A Lad Lit Romcom About Dating in the Digital Age, Chris Hill, Lad Lit
You published The Pick-Up Artist last year. Tell me a bit about that book and how it has been received so far?
It’s essentially a romantic comedy, it’s about a shy young man’s attempts to find love, or sex at least, with the help of a peculiar online community called the Pick-Up Artists who claim to be able to use psychological techniques to attract women. It’s not giving much away to say it doesn’t go as smoothly for him as he might have hoped. But it’s also about the women he meets who are my favourite characters in the book I would say, they’re rude and funny and don’t take any prisoners. I’d say it’s done maybe a bit better in terms of sales than my last book which was literary fiction, but they are both with smaller publishers and that kind of puts a cap on what they are likely to sell as you don’t have the marketing machine and distribution network that the big publishing houses do. They’ve done okay though, I’m very grateful they are out at all and that I found publishers who wanted them.

It is described as 'A lad lit romcom about dating in the digital age.' Have you got any experience of dating in the digital age and how much of this novel was based on true life experiences?
No experience personally, I’ve been happily married for about a thousand years. Luckily, the beauty with fiction is that you get to make things up, or use stuff you have observed in others, I spent lots of years as a journalist which you could describe as being a professional observer, so I’m quite good at people watching. The lad lit description came from my publishers. They decided that was the way to market the book and I deferred to them on the subject as it’s their area. I was a little uneasy about it at first - the majority of my readers are women, both for my first book and for this one. I didn’t want to do anything to put them off or make them think this book wasn’t for them. Luckily I needn’t have worried, most of the readers who have contacted me about PUA are women and most of the reviews have been from women, and thankfully they seem to like it.

What is the best pick-up line you have ever used? And more importantly, what is the worst?!
I didn’t used to use pick up lines - maybe that’s where I was going wrong. The PUA people in my book are a real movement who believe you can attract women through supposed psychological techniques. A lot of their ideas sound barking mad, others sound like they have a grain of truth in them, many of them are described in the book. Do they work? I don’t know, I’ve not tried them. I’m uneasy about the whole idea really as it sounds like a recipe for using people and trying to bend them to your will. I suppose if The Pick-Up Artist has a moral position then it’s that, though it is basically a comedy.

Do you think the lad lit genre gets the praise it deserves?
If I’m honest, until the publisher told me I’d written a lad-lit novel I didn’t know I had done, or really that it was a genre. What I do believe is that the best writers, and the best books, in any given genre transcend that genre and are just appreciated as great writing.

Who is your favourite lad lit author/book and why?
I’m no expert on the genre I’m afraid. What I did with this book was try to pitch it around the area inhabited by say Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis, or The Rachel Papers, which was Martin Amis’s first book. I think maybe it has a little taste of Nick Hornby, that kind of thing. But I was also influenced by the more romantic literary fiction books out there such as Love in the Time of Cholera and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. I read a lot and it all gets into the mix - I find it easier to see what has influenced me with a book when I have finished it.

You are a winner of the Bridport Prize. What can you tell me about that award?
It was years ago I won it but it still follows me around, in a good way. It’s one of the bigger short story prizes in the UK and is considered reasonably prestigious. On the one hand, winning something like that doesn’t mean very much to you as a writer, it’s not like I had agents and publishers banging my door down because of it, but on the other hand it did give me a boost of confidence and made me think I was perhaps on the right track, which was great. It’s also something which pops back up again from time to time, publishers like sticking it on blurbs and websites, and I even get the odd gig off the back of it. I’ll be at Evesham Festival of Words on July 1st giving a talk on ’Winning the Bridport Prize’ (and hopefully flogging some books) so, be there or be unfashionable.

Song of the Sea God, Chris Hill
Your first book, Song of the Sea God, is not exactly what you would call lad lit. What made you make such a jump from one genre to the other?
I basically write the books I feel compelled to write and then try to find a publisher who loves them enough to put them out. So my first book is nothing much like my second and the one I’m working on now will be different again. Wiser authors than me will say I’m doing it all wrong and that I should write in the same style every time to build up a readership, but I think what the hell? I’d rather write what I’m inspired to write and see how that goes - that’s the fun of it surely. There’s not much money in this so I might as well enjoy it. Song of the Sea God, published by Skylight Press, is a literary novel set on a small island of the coast of England where a strange figure washes up and tries to convince the local people he is a god. It’s like a kind of creepy fairytale. Some people really seemed to like it - they wrote all kinds of essays about various aspects of it, what it secretly meant and so on. PUA is a lot more straightforward but I like to think it’s just as worthwhile in its own way.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Practice - nobody gets good at this straight out of the box. It’s a funny thing that people wouldn’t expect to pick up a guitar and know how to play it without having learned, or paint a great picture the first time they pick up a brush. But, perhaps because everyone can write there’s this belief that everyone is automatically a writer. Put in the work and eventually you will get good.

And finally, what is next in the pipeline for Chris Hill. Any more lad lit?
My next book will be different from either of the others but I’m not quite sure yet what it will be. It takes me two years to write a book, soup to nuts, a year for a first draft and another for rewrites, at the moment I’m right at the start of that process which is quite an exciting place to be but also quite daunting, who knows where I will end up?

Thanks Chris and good luck with that third book!

Chris Hill is an author from Gloucester in the UK whose new novel The Pick-Up Artist is published by Magic Oxygen Publishing. You can find it on Amazon here.

Chris is a social media addict with 25,000 followers on Twitter @ChilledCh he is on Facebook here, and has a popular blog where he talks about reading, writing and more at http://www.chrishillauthor.co.uk/.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

That awkward moment a Newcastle fan ruined Aleksandar Mitrović's goal celebration!

howay the lads, Aleksandar Mitrović, goal celebartion, fan running on to the pitch, Newcastle, Sunderland
Your team is staring possible relegation in the face. You are losing to your bitter rivals in the race for the drop. But then you score with only eight minutes left on the clock. What do you do? What do you do?

Well if you are this Newcastle fan, you run onto the pitch and completely ruin Aleksandar Mitrović's special moment as he celebrates being the Toon hero by grabbing a vital late goal in the Tyne-Wear Derby. Howay the lads!

Urgent Appeal: Arsenal Choking Syndrome - you do not have to suffer alone...

Arsenal Choking Syndrome
I would just like to take a time out from the seriousness of lad lit to make an urgent appeal to people up and down the country. There is a new epidemic sweeping across North London as we speak and if we don't come together and do something now, it might be too late.

Please spend just two minutes watching this video clip and remember - there are always those less fortunate than you. And if you are one of those fans suffering, get in contact now - before it's too late and you celebrate finishing fourth like it's 1999...

#LadLitSunday: GQ 30 best books for men, Danny Wallace and the Passport to Poetry, and Sreemoyee Piu Kundu on lad lit

Keep Calm It's Lad Lit Sunday, Lad Lit, Lad Lit news, #LadLitSunday,
GQ staff this month chose their 30 of the best books for men. The list had a selection "from drunken poets to record-breaking boxers, from sci-fi pioneers to master stylists, these are the books you should be reading for the rest of the year."

Included in the list was Quicksand by Henning Mankell, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, Ask The Dust, by John Fante, On Writing by Charles Bukowski and Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.

Danny Wallace is taking part in a new lyrical initiative at Heathrow airport called Passport to Poetry. The lad lit author will be joined by performance poet Laura Dockrill and fellow authors M.G. Leonard and Michael Rosen, as they all write poems to entertain the record number of people setting off into the skies for Easter.

Wallace is focusing on aiport codes for his ditty ("My friend once flew to CLA / He came back tanned and A-OK"). Speaking in The Guardian, Wallace said the project "sounded like a lovely thing to be a part of" and the amount of travel he had done with his family inspired his creative rhymes. "There’s so much to work with at an airport. A million stories in and out every day,” he said. “But I decided to focus on one of the things that makes being there exciting – those thousands of possibilities all tied together by a few letters.”

Sreemoyee Piu Kundu was talking to the The Telegraph in India this week about her new novel You've Got The Wrong Girl, describing her book as lad lit and flying the flag for the genre. She said: "We need more of it (lad lit) because in literature today, which books celebrate men? We hear so many feminist voices and kudos to them, because we need the feminist voice to be kept alive. But we need the male voice to be represented as well."

Quick Bits
  • In his column in GQ this month, Tony Parsons addresses the mindless atrocities carried out by radical Islamic terrorists and urges the West to unite on home soil.
  • I posted my review of Adrian Simon's Milk-Blood today. I gave the memoir "Growing up the son of a convicted drug trafficker" a five-star rating - check out it here.
Tweet of the Week

Irvine Welsh pulls no political punches with this assessment of Iain Duncan Smith's resignation from the Conservative Party.

Lad Lit Book Reviews: Milk-Blood by Adrian Simon

Lad Lit Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Adrian Simon, Milk Blood
A few years ago I read and reviewed a book called The Damage Done which was about an Australian called Warren Fellows who spent 12 years inside a Thai prison for smuggling heroin. At the time I'd taken a keen interest in reading books about people who had been locked away in foreign countries; fascinated by human survival in inhumane conditions.

I enjoyed that book and others like it immensely, but like most good life stories written down on the pages of a book, I always find myself wanting a bit more. I wondered what had happened to Warren after he had been released. Could he go back to a normal life? How does someone pick up the pieces after an experience like that? What was his family going through during that period?

And then I got an email from the lovely Lou Johnson at The Author People asking if I would be interested in reading the story of Adrian Simon, son of the infamous Warren Fellows, in his memoir Milk-Blood: Growing up the son of a convicted drug smuggler.

I jumped at the chance of course. I knew the backstory, although I wasn't quite aware of how much publicity the Fellows conviction had made in Australia at the time. But what started as an interest in finding out about the wider ramifications of a convicted drug trafficker became more about wanting to know if Adrian and his courageous mother Jan had their happy ending.

I don't say this very lightly, but Adrian's story blew me away. It was much more than a young boy transforming into a man whilst at the same time trying to come to terms with the impact his father's imprisonment and notoriety had on him. Quite simply, Adrian has led an incredible life and the snippets he shares of his mother's life story is 10 times more worthy of your sympathy than what her husband went through.

But I don't want you to think this is all doom and gloom. Yes, there is tragedy and heartbreak at the spine of this story. Adrian sees his father locked away at just two-years-old, his family life is violated by the media and they are shunned by those around them, and then he suffers a nervous breakdown at just nine-years-old. And at this point he still has another three decades of life to live!

But boy does he live it. No matter what the setback, no matter what the knock, Adrian just rolls with the punches and he has more life experiences by the time he is 30 than most people have in a lifetime. The tales of him traveling around Europe and the people he meets are worthy of a story on it's own.

Did it help that I had read The Damage Done? Yes, I would be lying if I said it hadn't, but that was only because my knowledge of that history helped me empathise and understand the emotion pouring out across those pages a little bit more. I was ferociously clawing at the pages, waiting for the moment when his father was released from prison to re-enter his sons life. It filled a lot of gaps for me.

With that being said, if I had not read Warren Fellows' book then I would still give this book a four star rating and recommend it to anyone who didn't know the backstory already.

But because I do have that knowledge, this one gets bumped to a five star rating, and it has nothing to do with Warren Fellows. This is my small pat on the back for the courageous bravery shown by Adrian and his mother Jan, and the incredible lives they have led all told with charm, wit and brutal honesty.

Buy Milk-Blood by Adrian Simon at Amazon.
Check out my interview with Adrian Simon.


Friday, 18 March 2016

Indie Author Advice: Interview with Sabrina Ricci from Digital Pubbing

Indie Author Advice, Interview, Sabrina Ricci, Digital Pubbing

Hi Sabrina, thanks for taking time out to talk to me. As you know, I am using your article 7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors FindReaders and Reviewers as a guide to help promote my new novel The Flood. I'd like to focus on the seven categories individually starting with Free Promotions/Giveaways. What would you suggest to be the best approach when offering books for free? 

Thanks for having me, and for doing this challenge! I'm really honored and I hope it helps you find new success with The Flood.

Personally, I've seen the most success with LibraryThing giveaways. Though the site is not always the easiest to navigate, it's great to be able to give away 100 copies of an ebook. Most of the people who win one of your ebooks likely enjoy reading books in your genre, so there's a decent chance they'll leave a review.

But it's only a start.

One author I've worked with, Pedro Barrento, said he thinks authors who have sold a lot of books "in most cases [...] can be traced down togetting a lot of books into the hands of readers through free downloadsand then having the good luck of being mentioned by influential people wholiked what they read and who have clout and have their opinions voiced inwidely circulated media.".

There are also a number of success stories for people who use NoiseTrade. One example is Ed Cyzewski, who shares on Jane Friedman how he was able to collect reader emails through NoiseTrade and build a list to promote his future books.

Tell me a bit about crowdscourcing, and the pros and cons of doing it in your opinion.

Crowdsourcing is great because you can get feedback on your works in progress, and potentially build up a fan base. On every site I've used for crowdsourcing, I've found the community to be supportive and interactive.

The site you choose to use should depend on your goals. Bookrix and Widbook are about connecting with people who are serious about writing and willing to give notes (who are also looking for feedback). Book Club Reading List is more about getting exposure.

My favorite site listed in the article is Wattpad, which is probably also the biggest. One of the cons of using Wattpad though is that to take advantage of all their promotions, you have to upload your full manuscript.

If your strategy is to make a book permafree, say it's the first book in a series, and you plan on making your book free everywhere, that may not be a big deal. On the other hand, if you have a big enough following, you may evenattract the attention of a traditional publisher.

In an ideal world every indie author would have a huge amount of cash to splash on advertising - it would make life a lot easier! From your experience, what advice would you give to an author working on a tight budget? Where can you get the most bang for your buck?

Ha, well as an indie author who is very strapped for cash, I say go for as many freebies as you can. Addicted to eBooks, Book Deal Hunter, and Snickslist all work. There are also a few paid sites that can really help you out. BookBub is the biggest, but Bknights on Fiverr has helped out a lot of people.

However, even if you get a BookBub deal (they are pretty picky), whichregularly leads to thousands of downloads, you need to have a plan in place if you want the book to be successful for more than a few days. That's why it's good to multiple books that you link to in your promoted book, so that readers who like your work know what they can read next. Also give them an option to sign up for your mailing list, so you can easily let them know about your upcoming releases.

Offering your book for free throws up a dilemma for authors like myself who have signed up for the Amazon KDP programme. Do you think it is a good idea to throw all of your eggs into one basket or is there a greater benefit using these 'free' listings sites?

I agree with Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, on this one, and am a fan of distributing in as many places as possible. I think it gives you a wider potential reach, and it gives you more marketing options. You can have your books enrolled in KDP though without being exclusive, and actually you probably should, since Amazon is the biggest ebook retailer.

On the other hand, I do have one book enrolled in KDP Select at the moment. That's because I'm also a big believer in experimenting. And it'skind of fun seeing how many millions Amazon is putting into the fund eachmonth. (Keep in mind though that retailers such as Amazon can and do change their terms and algorithms often, and if you put all your books into one retailer's basket, you may lose money some months if an algorithm changes so that the site no longer promotes your book or the amount of money per page read is lowered.)

Tell me about your experience, or experience of others, who have used sites where they request payment for a listing. I am always concerned that you end up spending a fortune for very little in return. Is there any truth in that?

In my experience, I haven't had much luck paying for a site to list my book. That may be because the sites I've used were very new and didn't yet have a big following (as I've said, I like experimenting). I can't really speak for others though.

How would you advise an author to approach a blogger when requesting interviews/Q&As on their site? And what is your advice to someone who has never done a blog tour before and have no idea where to start?

Great question! I'm biased on this one since I often blog book reviews. A few things:

  • If a blogger has a set of guidelines for how to submit a book request, follow them. 
  • Please take the time to figure out the blogger's name. My name is all over my blog, yet it's amazing how many requests I get that start with "Hey there" or just "Review my book." 
  • Use your real name. I say this because I had one author who submitted a really bad book for me to review (meaning I couldn't get past the first page because there were so many typos and none of it made sense). Then an hour later the same person sent me another really bad book to review (same genre, nearly identical storyline, same writing style, lots of typos) but using a different email address and name. I emailed the person back asking if they were the author of both books. They replied yes, and so I asked, "why?" and then never got a response. I've heard that happen to at least one other book blogger. Side note: I guess if you use a pen name and really want to keep your name a secret, you can go by the pen name. I've reviewed books before though where the author contacted me under their real name and asked me to use their pen name in the post, and I did. 
  • For your own sake, make sure the blogger is interested in the genre you write. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time for everyone and could lead to a negative review. 
  • Give the blogger plenty of time, either to read your book or to be a part of your blog tour. Most bloggers review books for free, just for the love of reading. Sometimes life gets in the way, and it takes longer to read a book than expected. That said, if you haven't heard back from a blogger after a few weeks or months, you can always send them a polite note asking if they've had a chance to read your book yet. (I usually feel pretty guilty at that point, and make reading the book a much higher priority). 
  • For blog tours, you also want to give bloggers at least a month's lead time. They may have other posts scheduled already and won't be able to fit you in. It also takes a while to set up posts, so they need time to prepare.

For authors who have never done a blog tour before, make sure that you are well prepared. Have a media kit ready with a high-resolution image of your cover, your book description and author bio, a profile picture if you'd like or an image for the blog tour, and any quotes or editorial reviews you may have (if applicable). You may also want a few guest posts ready to go, such as a Q&A or a post as one of your characters.

Have everything ready at least a month in advance, and contact bloggers to schedule your tour at least a month ahead too. Keep a spreadsheet of which blogs are posting what and on which dates, and on those days make sure to be a good guest. By that I mean comment on the blog, respond to questions, thank the host, and tweet or share as much as possible on social media.

Doing all that may seem daunting, in which case I recommend using a service such as Bewitching Book Tours. These services also need advance notice, sometimes as much as three months. (I'll be using Bewitching Book Tours for one of my novels later this year!)

A good review is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. How can you make sure you are getting the maximum amount of exposure for your book and how many reviews should you be aiming for during the first three months of publication?

The magic number I've heard is 8, and you want an average of 4 stars. I think this is because it's what BookBub requires.

In the beginning, aside from asking family and friends, you can seek out beta readers, offer them a free copy of the finished book, and ask for a review. You can also contact Amazon reviewers. Make sure they read books in your genre and address them by name when you politely ask them to read your book.

The showcase/sell section - which sites do you believe are the most effective and why?

Personally, I think it's Amazon Author Central and Scribd. Amazon makes a lot of sense, since it's the biggest retailer and has the biggest audience. I like Scribd because I can share snippets of my book for free and potentially attract more readers.

I've had some success with About.me and Slideshare as well, but more for my non-fiction work. I've gotten a lot of views on both, though they didn't really lead to sales.

You wrote the 7 Strategies blog post back in 2014 so I'm sure you have come across some new techniques and sites to use over the last couple of years. Can you share some of the better ones you would advise indie authors to take a closer look at.

Bknights on Fiverr is one I learned about after publishing the blog post. KDSpy is another great tool. It lets you research other books in your genre on Kindle.

I've also recently signed up for the online course, Your First 10,000Readers. It's a bit expensive (around $600), and since I am cash-strapped I scrutinized it a lot before deciding to buy it. The tipping point for me was the fact that Joanna Penn recommended the teacher, Nick Stephenson. So far, I haven't been disappointed. He's shared some valuable insights about building relationships and setting up email funnels. Some of it is a bit techie, but I like it.

Aside from that, audiobooks and podcasting have really grown in the last couple years. Indie authors should create audiobook versions of their books if they can. I'm nearly done making a free PDF guide on how to make audiobooks, and I'll be sending it out to anyone who joins my newsletter.

There's a number of podcasts out there that are specifically for indie authors (Authors Marketing Suite, Aerogramme Writers' Studio, The Creative Penn). If you follow their guidelines, you may be able to get an interview on one.

I've also found podcasting to be a great platform builder. My husband and I have a podcast called I Know Dino about dinosaurs, and we've managed to build a wonderful and engaged audience who even buy some of our dinosaur books!

Tell me a bit more about Digital Pubbing and what other articles on your site would you recommend indie authors check out?

I started Digital Pubbing in 2010 when I was a grad student at NYU, getting my M.S. in Publishing. It started as an experiment and as a way to share what I was learning about the industry, both at school and working for book publishing houses. Over the years it's evolved to be more about indie authors. Twice a week I publish posts about ebook creation tips, marketing advice and tools, book reviews, author interviews, and when I can, more in-depth articles about success stories or the industry.

If you have the time, I'd recommend checking out By the Numbers: 189+ Tips and Tricks on How to Write, Edit, Market, and Sell Your Books and my Indie Author section.

And if you're interested in learning how to create your own ebooks, check out my online course How to Create Beautiful Ebooks or my How to Ebook series.

Thanks for joining me Sabrina. You've given me a wonderful insight into the world of self-publishing, and also worried me slightly with all the work I have to do!

Thanks so much for having me. This was a lot of fun!

Sabrina Ricci is a writer, wanderluster, ebook developer, UCSB and NYU alum, co-dinosaur enthusiast @iknowdino, blogger at Digital Pubbing. Make sure you check out her blog!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Pre-order The Flood now at Amazon for just 99p!

Pre-order, Amazon, Kindle, 99p, 99c, Bargain, eBook, Lad Lit, Comedy, Humor, Humour, The Flood, Sex Love and Dating Disasters, Steven Scaffardi
Sex, Love & Dating Disasters: The Flood is finally on Amazon and you can pre-order your copy today for just 99p. I know, I know - I said it would be available in March, but I am trying to meet you halfway here!

The manuscript is now sitting with the publisher about to go through the proofreading stage, but by ordering the book now you can rest easy safe in the knowledge that it will delivered to your device on April 30.

The Flood is the hilarious follow-up to The Drought by lad lit author Steven Scaffardi, chronicling the adventures of unlucky-in-love Dan Hilles. Check out the official book trailer:

If you haven't read the first book you can download The Drought for just 99p by clicking the link. However, you do not need to have read The Drought in order to pick up The Flood - it has been written in a way that new readers will be able to follow the story quite easily without reading the first installment.

Early preview reviews on Goodreads have been very positive with an average 4.33 star rating out of 5. Check out what readers have been saying already:

"Oh My Gosh, Laugh Out LOUD funny! my roommate ran in the room asking what was so funny and when I told her, she laughed so hard she could no longer walk!"

"I was nearly dying of laughter most of the time while reading this book."

"The bittersweet escapades of Dan Hilles just makes the reader cry with laughter."

"Funniest bar fight scene in the history of literature. I laughed so hard I woke up my snoring girlfriend."
Clint Forgy, author

"There a couple of scenes on a train which contain some of the funniest writing that I have read in a long time."

So there you go! You can read a sample chapter by clicking here and after that why not click the link below and go ahead and pre-order yourself a copy. Go on, you know you want to!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Indie Author Advice: #‎TenTweetsOnContactingBookBloggers‬ by @Joannechocolat

#‎TenTweetsOnContactingBookBloggers, Joanne Harris, Twitter, Chocolat
I recently joined this wonderful Facebook group called Book Connectors which has opened my eyes up to a great new world of authors and bloggers. One post drew my attention to a hashtag started by author Joanne Harris (of Chocolat fame) called #‎TenTweetsOnContactingBookBloggers.

It was a brilliant series of tweets highlighting the mistakes some of us make when trying to promote our books, and reminded me of one of my posts Indie authors beware! Do not feed the reviewers! 

Here are the ten tweets in their entirety...

Sunday, 13 March 2016

#LadLitSunday: Hollywood deal for The Bourbon Kid and Jon Rance works on new book

Keep Calm It's Lad Lit Sunday, Lad Lit, Lad Lit news, #LadLitSunday, Welcome to the first of a new weekly column called #LadLitSunday. This is a weekly round-up of everything lad lit from book launches and author news to latest reviews and giveaways to cool articles and lad humour that has appeared across that thing called the internet in the last seven days.

First up this week is the exciting news that the bloody masterpiece that is The Book With No Name could be coming to the big screen in the near future. I caught up with the author behind The Bourbon Kid series this week and he told me: "The rights for The Book With No Name are now in the hands of a company called Belga Films. I’ve worked with them on the script for a movie. I’m really happy with what they’ve done and it’s already caught the eye of one of my absolute favourite Hollywood A-listers (although I can’t say who just yet!)."

Furthermore, his next novel see's The Bourbon Kid return to action with his new anti-hero, The Red Mohawk, in The Plot To Kill The Pope which has already been a big success in Europe. Watch this space!

New York based Epoch Times this week published an article titled 6 Action Page-Turner Book Series That Oddly Haven’t Been Turned Into Movies Yet featuring the likes of The Gray Man, John Rain and Earl Swagger. The paper said: "Here are six series of books for men, that have been absolutely ripe for the picking for years now, but which for some reason haven’t been turned into movies yet." Well worth checking the article out.

Another author I had the pleasure of interviewing this week was Jon Rance. He is currently working on novel number five and told me: "It's a romantic comedy set in London. That's all I can say at the moment. It's really my first romantic comedy novel and I'm very excited about it."

Helena Bonham-Carter has been talking this week about the new BBC drama Love, Nina which has been written for screen by by Nick Hornby. The five-part series is inspired by Nina Stibbe's book of the same name, and is sure to be a hit what with Oscar-winning Hornby seemingly having a never-ending golden touch.

Quick Bits

Tweet of the Week
Nick Spalding posts this wonderful review straight from the heart. Or the pants...

To take part in #LadLitSunday simply use the hashtag when posting a comment on your social media feeds and I will do my best to mention all of the best comments here on my blog.

Author Interview: Jon Rance

Author interview, Jon Rance, interview, lad lit
Jon Rance is the best selling lad lit author of This Thirtysomething Life. The success of that novel earned the self-published writer a two-book deal with Hodder and Stoughton and set him on his way to a number of other successes including Happy Endings and most recently Sunday Dinners. 

He took time out of his busy schedule of working on his next project to talk to me.

Hey Jon, thanks for taking the time out to speak to me. So what are you working on right now?
Hi Steven, thanks for having me on your blog! Right now I'm working on novel number five. It's a romantic comedy set in London. That's all I can say at the moment. It's really my first romantic comedy novel and I'm very excited about it. People sort of pop me in the Rom Com genre, but I don't think I've actually written a straight up Rom Com before. All of my other books were about relationships that were already existing or family while for this book I wanted to write a 'classic' romantic comedy. It's actually been a lot of fun!

A Notting Hill Christmas is your most recent published work. How has the book been doing and what can readers thinking about picking up a copy expect? 

Sunday Dinners, Jon Rance, Lad Lit I wrote A Notting Hill Christmas at the end of last year after my novel Sunday Dinners was finished. A Notting Hill Christmas is a festive novella about one man's attempt to host Christmas at his small Notting Hill flat. It's a very funny look at Christmas, family and love, all set around the backdrop of the biggest day of the year! It's done very well and it was very much a short, fun project that I just wanted to do. My last novel, Sunday Dinners, which came out at the end of October last year is doing really well too, which is quite exciting and good for the bank balance! Sunday Dinners is different from my other books in that it's definitely a comedy drama. All of my books are essentially comedies that touch on difficult and dramatic subjects, but Sunday Dinners definitely goes to some darker places.

You have made that elusive transition from self-published author to author with an agent and a book deal. Is the grass greener on the other side or are you a bit like Del-boy from Only Fools & Horses who misses the chase after he made his millions?
I've actually been there and back again. My first two novels got picked up by Hodder and Stoughton and on the back of that I got an agent. However, Sunday Dinners didn't find a publisher and I self-published that on my own. I really think we're in a world now when you can do both and it can work. Sunday Dinners has done really well and that is all down to me and I have to say, it's a great feeling. However, saying that I will be looking for a publisher for my new novel and so going forward I'll probably end up doing a bit of both.

This Thirtysomething Life was the book that put you on the map when it became a Kindle best seller. Has anything else come quite as close (professionally speaking) to the feeling you got watching that book climb the charts?

This Thirtysomething Life, Jon Rance, Lad LitProbably not. The first one is always the best. I think because I really didn't expect This Thirtysomething Life to do so well, the whole thing felt a bit dream like. This is going to be a horrible thing to say and will annoy lots of other indie authors, but I didn't really do very much for This Thirtysomething Life. I didn't market it very well, do lots of interviews and work with bloggers to get reviews. It just took off and I have no idea why. So as I watched it climb the charts and eventually reach number 7 on the Kindle chart, I was just in complete and utter amazement. It was definitely one of the highlights of my writing career. That and signing my book deal, getting the first paperback from Hodder HQ in London, and also the success of Sunday Dinners.

What do you think it was that caught people's attention with that book and what sort of advice would you give to an indie author trying to climb that ladder today?
Like I said, I really have no idea why it did so well. There's so many things that have to happen for a book to do well in the charts. You need to write a decent book, but after that it's all about timing, luck, and getting momentum. I think the last one is key. Momentum. The way the Amazon charts work is that you need to get visible. Visibility is everything. You need to get your book attached to as many bestselling, popular authors as possible and then you get momentum. When This Thirtysomething Life and to a slightly lesser extent Sunday Dinners were doing well, I wasn't doing anything because they had momentum. Once a book gets high enough in the charts it starts to sell itself. Plus once books start doing well Amazon will promote you for free. I suppose it's a giant Catch-22. You need to do well to do better and the better you do the more promotion and visibility you will get. It's super hard for first time authors because no-one knows who you are. It's why you need to have a huge online presence, get to know book bloggers, get your work read and reviewed as much as possible. I think the best advice I can give to first time authors is don't expect to make any money. Charge 99p because you want as many reviews as possible. Offer your book to as many bloggers and reviewers for free as possible and use the first book as a way to get your name out there. And don't be afraid to ask other authors for help. I've met so many lovely people and most authors will help you out if they can. It's about getting your work read and if it's good enough you will get the rewards.

One question I love to ask authors is out of all the books you have now written, who is your favourite character and why?
Probably Harry Spencer from This Thirtysomething Life and the sequel This Family Life. When I wrote those books the character of Harry was based very loosely on me. He's far more gullible, stupid and gets in far more trouble than me, but what I love about Harry is that he always tries to do the right thing. He's a fighter. He just wants an easy life, but the harder he tries the more he seems to cock everything up.

You are part of a growing number of successful UK male authors writing romantic comedy from the male perspective. Will lad lit become as big as chick lit one day?
I don't think so simply because the majority of readers are women. One of my biggest and luckiest breaks was working with an amazing and lovely editor at Hodder. We became good friends and still are. One of the first things she told me was that most of my readers were women. It made me realise that I wasn't writing books for blokes like me, but women, who were not like me at all. You have to take this into account when writing. I don't think lad-lit really exists because not enough men read it. This is why it's so hard for men to tackle the world of romantic comedies. We're at a disadvantage going in. There's also a lot more women writing in this genre than men. But that doesn't mean a handful of men can't be successful.

Ever thought about trying your hand at a different genre and if so, what would it be?
I have and I might write something in a slightly different genre. I don't think I'd ever tackle thrillers because that's just not my thing. Despite the fact they sell infinitely more copies than romantic comedies, I just wouldn't be very good at it. I've thought about writing a children's book and that might happen one day. I have an idea I'm working on at the moment that's a bit different, so I'll see how that goes.

Craig David, England football, football, Matt Le Tissier, Southampton
You're from Southampton so the burning question has to be who is Southampton's greatest son - Craig David or Matt Le Tissier?
Come on Steven that's not even a question. Le Tissier of course. The most talented player of his generation. It's unfortunate he isn't playing now because England could use some of that magic!

And finally, and I have saved the best question til last - you state in your 'About Me' section on your website that Three Lions is the best football song ever made, when quite clearly World in Motion is the number one footy anthem. Please explain yourself?
They're both great songs. I love World in Motion and the John Barnes rap is a thing of beauty. I also love New Order so it should be my favourite. "Some of the crowd are on the pitch" - brilliant. But the reason I chose Three Lions is that EURO 96 in England holds a special place in my heart. It was in the 90's the time of Oasis, Blur, Gazza, TFI Friday, and then we had EURO 96. I was 21, the pubs were packed for every game and that song was sung around England. It became like a National Anthem. So it's more about what that means to me than the quality of the song. Although it is a cracking song! "Thirty years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming! England! England! England!" Come on, Steven, you know it makes sense. At least I didn't go for Fat Les and Vindaloo!

Find out more about Jon Rance at his website and but his books at Amazon and all good book retailers.

Enter the Sex, Love & Dating Disaster book giveaway!

Sex Love and Dating Disasters, The Flood, The Drought, Steven Scaffardi, Book giveaway, giveaway, Goodreads giveaway, goodreads, BookLikes giveaway, booklikes, LibraryThing, LibraryThing giveaway, Lad Lit,
Happy Sunday guys! Just a quick post to let you know that this month I am running a giveaway competition on Goodreads, Book Likes and Library Thing for paperback and eBook copies of The Drought and new book The Flood.

You can enter the BookLikes giveaway by clicking here for a chance to win one of 25 eBooks or one signed paperback copy of The Drought, and I have 100 eBooks to giveaway in exchange for reviews on LibraryThing. You will have to scroll down the list to find it at this link.

Here are the details of where you can enter to win one of sic signed copies of The Drought and The Flood at Goodreads:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Drought by Steven Scaffardi

The Drought

by Steven Scaffardi

Giveaway ends April 08, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Flood by Steven Scaffardi

The Flood

by Steven Scaffardi

Giveaway ends April 08, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Good luck to everyone who enters!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Author Interview: The Bourbon Kid

Author Interview, The Bourbon Kid, The Book With No Name, Lad Lit,
 Have you heard about that international best-selling book that doesn't have a name? You know, the one written by that anonymous author?

No? Hmmm, let me ask you another question then. Have you heard about the white-knuckle roller coaster thrill-ride sandwiched into 450 pages of blood-splattering, side-splitting wit and carnage, fused together by a hitman who has spent far too much time at the Heartbreak Hotel, a Mexican barman who is serving up more piss than Bear Grylls could handle, and an alcoholic supernatural serial killer who Van Helsing couldn't even compete with on his best day?

No? No?! In that case you had better get the hell of my blog and never return because you must have been living under some sort of literary rock to not be familiar with one of the most exciting authors of his (or hers?) generation. With comparisons to Quentin Tarantino and Hollywood queuing up to transfrom the blood-thirsty residents of Santa Mondega into a cinematic psycho's playground (not to mention Margot Robbie being a fan), the man who uses the moniker of his most famous creation is on a mission to make sure you never forget the name The Bourbon Kid

But because I'm feeling in a charitable mood, I'll let you watch this video so you can be introduced to the best book you haven't read yet. For those of you who have already welcomed The Book With No Name and it's three sequels (The Eye of the Moon, The Devil's Graveyard and The Book of Death) into your heart and know why you should avoid the Tapioca bar at all costs, feel free to relive the wonderful story again before reading my interview with The Bourbon Kid as he talks about his crazy creation and his new soon-to-be-a-cult-success book The Red Mohawk.

Hey Bourbon Kid, pull up a seat while I pour you a drink. So let's get down to business - Sanchez was and always will be the real star of show right?
Absolutely! Initially I stuck him in The Book With No Name just so that he could be the eyes and ears of the reader, but he ended up becoming so much more. I used to be a bartender myself, so lots of the things Sanchez sees, hears, thinks and does, are things I experienced. I never poured piss in anybody’s drink though.

You tied up all the loose ends in The Book of Death to complete the story, but do you miss Santa Mondega?
I miss it a lot. By creating a fictional city where pretty much anything goes, I was able to get away with some pretty crazy shit that readers would never accept if the stories were set in New York, London or Paris. It also gives the story more appeal to international audiences than say, a book set in a quiet English village.

Your writing style and stories have been compared to the likes of Quentin Tarantino, but where do you really get your inspiration from? Hopefully not real life experiences!
Actually some of it is from real life. In my days as a bartender I met characters like the Bourbon Kid, Rodeo Rex, Elvis and Marcus the Weasel, although I obviously exaggerated them for the book. Some of the stuff that happened in TBWNN was based on events that happened when I was working. For example, I once did see Papa Smurf get beaten up by a couple of angry nuns on a fancy dress evening. That made it into the book. But mostly my inspiration comes from movies. I like to take little pieces from lots of movies of different genres and then stick them all together and see what happens. It can be fun. In The Red Mohawk for example, I imagined what would happen if the killer from the Halloween movies showed up in Dirty Dancing.

The Red Mohawk is your latest outing about a crazy serial killer stalking the residents in the small town of B Movie Hell. Tell me where this new idea came from and is this the start of a new series of books, and if so, what can we expect from the next installment?
I was watching the movie Drive one day and there’s a scene about an hour in, where Ryan Gosling (who is the hero) sticks on a rubber mask and starts stalking Ron Perlman. And I started thinking, what if that was the opening scene of the movie? You’d think Gosling’s character was a total psycho. So I decided that it would make a good starting point for a novel. Consequently the opening scene of The Red Mohawk involves a masked serial killer stalking a police officer.

I read somewhere that you might be thinking about pairing The Bourbon Kid and The Red Mohawk together later on down the line. Any truth in that?
It’s what’s coming next. It’s called The Plot To Kill the Pope and it’s already been a success in Europe and it will be out here in a matter of weeks. It’s pretty insane and features the Bourbon Kid, the Red Mohawk, Elvis, Rodeo Rex and a plot to kill the Pope that also involves Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll. I’m pretty sure there’s never been a book like it before, which is always my aim when I write something. If it turns out there is already a book like it, I’ll be livid.

The characters you have created are all very unique and endearing (in that serial killing, blood thirsty, anti-hero type of way). Which one is your favourite character and why?
It’s a toss up between Sanchez and the Bourbon Kid. They’re actually very similar characters except that Sanchez is a coward who pours piss in people’s drinks if he doesn’t like them, whereas the Bourbon Kid kills them. But also in The Plot to Kill the Pope there is a character called Jasmine who first appeared in The Red Mohawk. She’s great fun and provides the comic relief that’s normally reserved for Sanchez.

The Book With No Name was commissioned for a TV series called Pulp. What happened with that and is it true that Tobey Maguire’s Material Pictures are developing The Red Mohawk into a film?
Unfortunately Pulp got cancelled before it really got off the ground which was a big disappointment. But the rights for The Book With No Name are now in the hands of a company called Belga Films. I’ve worked with them on the script for a movie. I’m really happy with what they’ve done and it’s already caught the eye of one of my absolute favourite Hollywood A-listers (although I can’t say who just yet!). And Tobey Maguire’s Material Pictures are working on a TV series based on The Red Mohawk. So it’s all looking very good at the moment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that at least one of these projects makes it to the screen.

You made that successful transition from self-published author to best selling author. What is the best advice you would give to all aspiring indie authors?
I guess from my own personal experience I would say, "Don’t write what you think publishers want. And don’t try to write like anyone else. No one can write like you better than you can, so do that instead! And cut out all the boring bits."

Your books have received quite a cult following over the past decade. What is the strangest thing you have had a fan ask you or request?
I’ve had quite a few people pitch me their idea for a novel and then offer to split the royalties with me if I write it for them. Can you imagine that? Cheeky bastards.

Tell me about it. Hey, how about in your next book Dan Hilles from my novel The Drought teams up with The Bourbon Kid and they go around killing every girl who refuses to sleep with Dan? You can write it and then I'll help with the administrative side of things like looking after the bank accounts. What do you think? Why are you looking at me like that? Oh no, please put the bourbon down! Let's wrap this up before you do something stupid! Finally, what can we expect next from you?
Well The Plot To Kill the Pope will be out soon. And that will be followed by a new one I’m writing which is currently called The Roman That Followed Jason. But it will probably end up being called something else. But it’s got Sanchez in it, so it’ll be good fun.

Sounds amazing - I can't wait to read it! Thanks again for agreeing to do this interview. I'm genuinely a huge fan of your books - The Bourbon Kid series is definitely up there in my top 5!
My pleasure. And I wish you all the best success with your novels The Drought and The Flood.

For more information on The Bourbon Kid and my book reviews click in the links throughout this article and make sure you check out this amazing rogues gallery of Santa Mondega's finest.