The point of this blog post is that I am recommending a new author and reader website that I think is great but I wanted to add a little preamble. If you are in a rush and have had enough of my drawlings-on from previous posts then please just hit the link below and sign up or scroll down to the end of the post for the explanatory video and then sign up!
The link to register (for free) is:
(If you are an author/publisher sign up and enter code 5A82Z5QB
for a free £10 worth of advertising credits.)
Okay, you have stuck with me, thanks. This post I’m writing with pleasure because it highlights one of the biggest surprises I experienced when starting my company, that of re-connecting with the concept of community. As someone who was born and raised in London, community is a strange thing. In one sense, I come from a town that has a very strong community (in plenty of others senses it doesn’t but let’s just concentrate on the positive here) and to list just a few of the more obvious and outwardly experienced tangible outcomes, I know several of the shop owners and pub landlords, I know the dry cleaners, I know the people who work in the restaurants (a constant battle with the waistline doesn’t come between our friendship) and it’s a very nice feeling to be able to converse when I visit; children of friends go to the schools I went to and you get a lot of conversations that start, ‘Do you remember so-and-so, well she married so-and-so and her daughter goes to the same ballet classes as so-and-so's son, would you believe,’. It does give you a sense of belonging. You bump into people you know when out walking, having a coffee or shopping. There are other not so personal outcomes too such as the combined experiences we share when local events happen, fireworks night, Halloween and that sort of thing to the very mundane train cancellations or all rushing up to the park on a sunny day. So, that’s the first point, community can and does exist. Although as I said I certainly have issues with it too, I’m deliberately painting a nice picture here, I’ll save the sadder and more depressing aspects of community (and lack of community) for another time.
The reason I mentioned London above is that community isn’t necessarily the first word that comes to mind when describing London life in general. I could write an entire essay on this point but let’s just summarise it by saying the people on the train station concourse at London Bridge/Charing Cross/Cannon Street/Waterloo/Vauxhall/Blackfriars first thing Monday morning can sometimes be pretty damn far from my ‘bestest-everest-pals’. Now, I love London, don’t get me wrong but as anyone from a similar sized city could attest to, there are very stressful pressures that you have to get used to and adapt to, which isn’t always easy. So as amazing as it is (apply any brochure speak you want, vibrant, colourful, dynamic, etc.) it is not always an easy place to live.
Of course, it’s such an enormous place. The difference from town to town, from East to West, from South to North is real, it’s not as exaggerated as what people make jokes about for sure, but there are certainly differences and that’s what makes it such an interesting place to live in.
Now let’s convert that to the online world. I stepped into the vast universe of independent writers and publishers three odd years ago having pretty much zero idea of what to expect. Here’s the crazy thing. Community does exist. I’m 34 so having grown up during the advent of mainstream home computing I thought I had a fairly good idea of what the internet was all about, and to be honest, being brought up in a consumer environment I also thought that everything would be a done deal i.e. there are only two ways to spend/make money, everything either comes from a giant corporation, or it’s a scam. The other thought I had was that the only way to create something of your own was to be a natural programming genius, live in silicon valley and have a degree in political science from M.I.T. I was a little skeptical you may say, I didn’t expect anything and certainly wasn’t going to put my trust in anything. I was proved very wrong.
When I first ventured onto online community boards on sites such as Goodreads I found people willing to teach, explain and help just for the sake of it, for the sole purpose of assisting someone who is interested in the same things they are. I found message boards where people freely exchanged information, one of the most helpful for me at the beginning were the numerous postings on formatting issues, how to convert files, what the different ebook formats were and so on. Even basic questions on Word were covered for the people who may well have just switched from the typewriter. There were countless standalone private blogs and websites that offered help and advice, newsletters and I realised that calling the indie writing community ‘a community’ was not false or misleading. I have had so much help (and I hope I have also helped) that my journey into self publishing, for all of the tough times, has been a fun experience and I have had the fortune to have met a lot of fantastic people along the way.
To finish off my half thought out attempt at an analogy, for the most part the indie community has been like stepping off the train in central London and finding that people actually want to help you get to where you are going. Please, again, there are always problems and problem people but I’m determined to stay positive here!
I have made contacts in the online world through writing (and reading) that I never would have imagined before, I have Facebook friends that I have never met in real life yet share interests and in some cases have exchanged very personal and meaningful messages that without this 'community' I would have missed out on. I have had a lot of fun meeting some out-there characters on Twitter (crazy isn’t always bad!) and the same goes for Goodreads, LinkedIn, Amazon, Flickr and in some cases things have expanded drastically beyond my expectations, I have had nearly 28k visitors to my blog and have nearly 25k followers on Pinterest.
As much as it feels odd to say it, I do feel like I am part of a growing community. It feels like I am setting my sights much higher because I am no longer scared that an individual cannot make an impact. As much as the world will always be a big bad place, you can navigate your way to achieve your goals with, as the song goes, a little help from my friends.
That said, I still need to finish writing my stories…that’s on me alone!
That’s why I wanted to preface this blog with this little speech. There are real people behind these companies, logos, book covers, make the effort to introduce yourself, respond to people who comment on your sites, review your books, like your pages, etc. and it will be a rewarding experience. Help others if you can and make sure you stay in contact as it’s a very long term business we are in and you never know where a relationship can go over the years. (By the way, I have listed many excellent companies and websites that help people with social media skills, workloads and strategies on the right hand side of this blog, scroll down to the Writing & Social Media Tools section.)
So enough with the melodrama. After a thousand words, I finally get around to the purpose of this blog. A gentlemen named Simon Denman and I became acquainted a couple of years ago due to our crossover in the self publishing world. He had written a very successful book ‘Connection’ (UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1pYRefD and US Amazon: http://amzn.to/V40pCQ) and very generously liked one of my short stories. So, a contact made.
Two years later and Simon has created something rather brilliant. It is a site whereby a reader can identify the types of books they are interested in (this is for Amazon, but specific to ALL countries, not just directed to the US site, you get info relating to your residence) and be notified when books that match your criteria are on a free download period, countdown promotion or any other type of marketing event (blog tour, video, signing, etc.) For authors, it has great promotional potential, you can set up a publisher and/or author profile, list all of your books and social media sites, all of your reviews will be linked (that’s all countries!) together and you can then attract readers (who are notified by email and by an online calander) by entering the marketing/promotional details your book is running. It has great user friendly functionality with fantastic features, but I am summarizing, probably best to hear it direct (there are more instructional videos on the site):
For a fuller ‘About Me’ introduction from Simon himself please visit here:
And the Facebook page is here:
To Sign Up
If you are an author/publisher sign up then enter code 5A82Z5QB for a free £10 worth of advertising credits.
The link to register (for free) is:
I’m recommending this site for two reasons, the most important is that it is good. As you can imagine over the course of the last few years I have seen the ins and outs of lots of different author and reader platforms. Secondly, because of the community aspect I started off talking about. We must help promote each other (again, only if it is good!) as it is hard enough to be seen in such a competitive and huge marketplace as it is. Please check it out and if you like it as I'm sure you will, then spread the word and recommend it to others. It has only recently gone online and already they have a significant reader and publisher membership.
P.S: Please join me on all my social media pages:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Robert.G.Rankine
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/thinkingplainly
- Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RGRankine
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rgrankine
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/rgrankine
- Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/people/thinkingplainly/
- YouTube 1: https://www.youtube.com/thinkingplainly (Personal Channel)
- YouTube 2: https://www.youtube.com/thinkingplainlyltd (Company Channel)
- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thinkingplainly/
- Foursquare: https://foursquare.com/thinkingplainly
And Author Profile Pages to keep informed of the latest releases:
- Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/IqRZK (Click 'Add to Favourites’ under profile photo)
- Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1CIEjaf (Click 'Add to Favourites’ under profile photo)
- Nook: http://amzn.to/1CIEjaf
- Google: http://bit.ly/1yyMhQx
- Scribd: http://bit.ly/1xVQlLh
- Apple: Author page not available yet - search R.G Rankine
- Kobo: Author page not available yet - search R.G Rankine