This week we talk about the writing program no one is talking about – Microsoft Word. I’m not sure it’s actually a conspiracy (wink, wink) but we thought we’d break the silence and get the word out there. (In actual fact, we think it’s probably because Word is so ingrained into everything we do these days, that everyone assumes that there’s no point talking about it.) However, we’re pretty sure, like us, many of you are still using Word in some part of your writing process, so we decided to go through some of the tools and tips that we know about on Word, to help you upskill yourself in this wonderful, wacky Word program. From track changes to hidden characters, soft returns to right mouse clicks, we go over everything you might need! 🙂read more
This week we talked about ways to speed up the production of your books, from getting your head in the right space from the get-go, to planning, scheduling and lastly ways to make sure you plain-old write faster.
It’s a great episode because it yet again demonstrates how we’re all different and things that will work for one, won’t necessarily work for another. But what we are able to do is offer a whole bunch of ideas and suggestions for practical ways that you can amp up your writing schedule. You don’t have to try them all, but it will give you something to think about as you write your next book. 🙂read more
This week we go through the book page on Amazon, deciphering some of the sections, explaining how each works and how the information gleaned can help you in your Indie career. From explaining the also boughts, to understanding the Amazon algorithms and how they affect you, and looking at the author rankings and understanding what they mean to you, we go through everything we know (and some stuff we realise we didn’t know) and pass it on to you… 🙂read more
This week we run through all the self publishing author courses that we’ve done between us over the last few years and talk about the ones that we liked and would recommend that you could try if you’re looking for a way to upskill your knowledge. As a group, some of the SPA Girls are more into courses than others, so whether you’re a super keen course person, or a more reluctant starter, this episode will give the information that you need to know whether the courses are for you.read more
Australian author and writing tutor, Rachel Bailey, joins us this week to discuss the Black Moment: that point in your story when all hope is lost, when crisis peaks, when things seem bleakest and we start to think the characters won’t be able to find their HEA. We discuss the different types of Black Moment, how to identify which one works best for your story and how to make this crucial element of Story both powerful and believable.read more
This week we interview the delightful Jami Albright, a new author who has just successfully launched her first book. She’s done such a fantastic job of it, we wanted to get her on the show to talk about how she got into writing, how she learned to do such a great job of launching a book, and where she goes for inspiration. She’s such a fantastic person, we could have chatted to her all day! Hope you enjoy the show, we sure did. 🙂read more
We’re out to lunch today, recording in a café (so enjoy the ambience of the coffee machine in the background!) where we discuss all those myths about writing and publishing. Some we’ve fallen prey to; some we’ve debunked through experience.
You need to know everything about your story and characters before you can start writing. There’s a lot more you need to be doing as a self publisher. You’ll never “make it” without a big platform or great contacts. Sound familiar? Yeah, we’ve all heard them. And a lot more besides! But there is more than one path to writing success, and there’s no such thing as a magic bullet or “secret sauce” – so join us in the café and let’s do some mythbusting together!read more
Writing dialogue is a very difficult skill to master, but this week we try to unravel some of the secrets around how to create dazzling dialogue for your characters. More than just a transcription of what people actually say, dialogue can be witty, fast paced and give insights into your characters… or it can be stilted, awkward and boring. Which would you rather have? Listen in to this episode for our take on the best ways to create dialogue that will make your manuscript sing!read more
We did beginnings last week, so we thought we’d pay tribute to endings this time around… 🙂 Many authors rush through the ending of their book, because by the time they get there, they’re sick of the whole concept… But your ending is what will lead readers onto your next book, so you need to spend as much time on your ending as your beginning! If you write a fizzer that ends too quickly or doesn’t deliver on your promises throughout the story, you’re not going to get lifetime readers who follow your every move.
With this in mind, we talk about chapter endings, and endings for the whole book. We give some ideas on what we do to make sure our endings are as good as we can make them, and give a few tips and tricks on creating the best ending you can!read more
Easter is here, a time for new beginnings, so we thought we’d talk about the beginning of your book. It’s always been important, but we would argue that in the days of ebooks for less than the cost of a coffee, creating a kick-ass beginning that will hook your readers into your book is VITAL!
We read out a few of our favourite beginnings, plus some that are less beloved, and talk through what makes them great (or not). There are also some suggestions for the different types of beginnings you might want to try, and how to link it in to the rest of your story. If you’re wondering whether the beginning of your book is as good as it can be, listen to this episode for some of the tips and tricks that we use.read more
This week we sit down and talk through our self publishing goals for the first quarter, and how we’ve been going with our writing. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, with some of us having achieved our goals and others not so much. But there’s always something to learn from our highs and lows, especially how to recalibrate your writing and marketing goals when things happen outside of your control, and how to keep yourself going when times get tough!read more
This week we have a very special guest – Glenna Mageau, book blurb coach and writer extraordinaire – who takes us through how to write a blurb that sells more books. Glenna has a proven system she uses to improve her own book blurbs and she’s been teaching other authors how to do the same thing as well. This is a fantastic episode – we really enjoyed chatting to Glenna, she’s a lovely lady with a wealth of knowledge. We all picked up loads of useful blurb writing tips and we’re sure you will too!read more
This week we tackle the topic of formatting your ebooks. We talk about the difference between outsourcing the formatting and doing it yourself, and the pros and cons of each option. Then we talk about what we’ve done in the past and how we do it now, what we think are the best practices, the programs that we recommend, and why we like them. If you’re about to start formatting, or even considering a change to the way you’re currently doing it, this is a great episode to listen to!read more
Publishing your book to Amazon KDP is the first step … then the second VERY important step is setting up your Amazon Author Central account and optimizing your Amazon Author Page. Too many new self-publishers miss the second step and it’s costing them sales! It’s easy and it’s free, so listen up and we’ll share how to ZHUSH up your Amazon Author Page to make it sparkle!read more
This week we talk about a subject dear to our hearts – author overwhelm.
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed in this digital age, with everything that we are bombarded with and told we “have to” do to succeed as a self published author.
This episode we talk you through the tips and tricks we use to help us work through the overwhelm and keep writing. It’s another fun episode, the SPA Girls were together in person this week, so we had a laugh as usual…read more
This week we talk through the basic marketing principles that you need to make sure you’ve got in place for promoting your books. Think of it as a 101 class in marketing, just for you. 🙂
We talk through tips like ensuring consistency of brand, having the right kind of bio and blurb, and being professional.read more
This week we give some of our best writer productivity hacks – ie a big ole list of tips to increase your productivity, based on things that we do each week to help us write more!
From exercise tips and the best writing apps to use, to setting routines and ways to stay in the flow, we give you the best tips that we could find to help keep you writing!read more
In honour of Valentine’s Day, the SPA Girls fought it out to come up with our list of the Best Romance Novels of All Time. Listen to this episode to see if you agree with our choices… 🙂read more
This week we decided to talk about etiquette for authors; or how to talk to other authors, your fans and your service providers, especially online.
It’s really easy to get carried away, to start acting badly in the online space, and we wanted to give you a few tips on how to keep your online relationships strong and healthy. It’s all about treating people as you would like to be treated yourself – a good mantra to use everywhere in your life. 🙂read more
Wendy, Cheryl and Trudi talk through some common writing mistakes and give suggestions for how to avoid making them yourself.
Based around Jack Bickham’s book, The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes, we talk on topics from not making excuses, lecturing your readers, dropping alligators through the transom (don’t worry, we figure that one out), stopping too soon, giving up and not just sitting there.read more
This week we talk about writing the book of your heart versus writing a book to market. What do these terms mean, and why should they matter to you? Writing the book of your heart means writing what you love, the book you’ve been dreaming about for your entire life, with the characters who feel like they’re your best friends and the storyline that is going to rock the world. You know, that book.
Writing to market is about researching the genres that are selling, finding out what the most popular tropes are and finding a storyline that you feel fits into the research you’ve been doing, and then writing that book. It could be a book you love, but that isn’t always the case.read more
This week we were lucky enough to talk to Zoe York, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, and all around lovely lady. She gave us some fantastic tips on writing in series, including craft considerations, marketing ideas, and some best practice tips for making it work. Zoe really knows her stuff, so it’s yet another don’t-miss episode!read more
This week we get the show number wrong, yet again, and the sound quality is a little bit off, but we still manage to get out an episode talking about our goals for 2017 and how we’re going to achieve them.
It’s a fun, motivational episode that will get you started thinking about your self publishing goals, and how you’re going to make them happen in 2017!read more
This week we talk to screenwriter Kathryn Burnett about planning writing projects, as well as setting goals as an author and keeping them – just in time for the start of the year. We went to a fantastic workshop (on creativity and how to keep it flowing) given by Kathryn at the 2016 RWNZ conference, which is why we thought it would be a great idea to get her onto the show. It was a fun interview; Kathryn gives a heap of valuable information for organising new projects and making sure you stay on track, plus she has some really interesting stories about how she got into screenwriting, and the kind of work she does now for clients.read more
This week we come to you live from our local cafe as we eat, drink and be merry, and discuss the highs and lows of self publishing in 2016. We call it our Hit, Miss and Maybe list, and we talk through the things that worked, the things that definitely didn’t work, and the things we might try again to see if they work better a second time.
It’s a great episode, we give some of our top tips from the last 12 months, and spread a little Christmas cheer!
Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year! xx
This week we had the honour of interviewing the one and only… Joanna Penn! She’s a best-selling author, an international speaker, a podcaster, and a trainer, and one of our role models in this industry. We were super-excited to have her on the show, and she didn’t disappoint. She gave us a huge amount of self publishing advice in this information-packed episode – making it an episode that you don’t want to miss!read more
This week we talk to Olivia Ventura from Hot Tree Edits about being a full time editor. She was a fantastic person to interview, and gave great advice on how to work with editors and how to find someone who will do the kind of edit you want for your book. She talks about the most common grammar mistakes that authors make, how to do edits on your own in preparation for sending your manuscript to an editor, and some best practice ideas for making sure your book is as tight as you can make it.read more
This week Wendy, Cheryl and Shar tackled some of the questions we’ve been getting from eager listeners to the show. The team were without me (Trudi) because I was off celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary, but it’s good to know that they can manage to pull together a show without me… 🙂 The topics covered included how to keeping writing when you have a family, how to find the right editor, and what to do if you hate social media (hint: it’s not throwing out your computer).read more
This week it was just Shar, Cheryl and Trudi, and we talked about writing and publishing a book in an Amazon Kindle World. Cheryl has just published her second book in the Laguna Beach Kindle World and she gives us the inside story on how it works – plus the benefits and the issues around writing in a Kindle World.read more
This week Wendy, Cher and Trudi talk about dealing with unavoidable distractions, and how to maintain a writing schedule even when things get busy.
With Christmas coming up we thought we’d talk about how we personally keep going when it seems that everything in the world is out to stop you writing the next book.
It’s a great reminder that we’re all different and we all deal with distractions and problems in our lives differently, and however you deal with them, as long as you’re still progressing forward, it’s okay.read more
I don’t actually know how many mistakes we covered in this episode, but I thought that title sounded great. 🙂 But we definitely do go in-depth on all the terrible, dastardly, embarrassing mistakes that we’ve made in the process of self publishing our books.
From not getting our books properly edited and rushing through the process of publishing and putting our books up before we should have, to not being organised enough, to not knowing and understanding our genres – we’ve done it all!
Don’t make the same mistakes that we have – listen to this episode and find out how to avoid them all!
This week we talk about the launch of a project dear to our hearts – our new non-fiction book about author overwhelm.
We’ve been working on this project for a while, and we’re really excited about bringing it to you. It’s something we’ve all experienced, and we don’t think people talk about it enough, so we’ve decided to put it out there in book form!
This episode we talk about the book, what it involves, and what we’re going to do over the next three months before the launch to try and make it a success.
One of the big aspects to this launch process is the expansion of our mailing list. We made a goal of getting 1,000 people onto our mailing list by end of February 2017, and we brainstorm some of the techniques we’re planning to use to get our numbers up.
Join us on the journey, and go sign up to our mailing list!read more
This week the SPA Girls chat to three experienced authors – two Indie authors, and one traditionally published author – about their writing tips, their favourite technology as a writer, and why they all say you need to find your writing tribe to succeed.
Join us as we get the inside story from contemporary romance author Talia Hunter, pacific billionaire romance author Toni Kenyon, and author of 35 Harlequin romances Yvonne Lindsay in this hilarious, informative, and insightful episode into the life of an author. If you don’t come away from listening to this episode with a grin on your face, I’ll eat my hat.read more
This week we’re all back! The SPA Girls are reunited again, and we’re on fire with useful and relevant information for you as a self published author. We talk about launching your latest book into the marketplace, and the do’s and don’ts, plus tips and tricks that you might want to try out when you’re publishing your novel to get some of those golden sales…
From when to put the books up, what to price them at, what kind of advertising to do, and when to use your social media and your mailing list, we cover it all in this episode for you. Just listen and take loads of notes! 🙂read more
This week we’re joined by the lovely Kelly McClymer, an indie author who writes in multiple genres, including historical romance, fantasy and cosy mystery. She tells us the story of how she got into self publishing, the kind of marketing and promotion she does for her books, and talks about what she’s been doing in the last week or so in an attempt to get her book onto the USA Today Bestseller list, for her historical romance book, The Next Best Bride. This is a fantastic interview with another smart, savvy indie author!read more
This week we crawled out from our sick beds to provide you with this delayed episode of the SPA Girls Podcast. We managed to talk semi-coherently about creating amazing characters that your readers will love. As far as we’re concerned, it’s all about creating characters with flaws, who your readers can relate to and fall in love with through the course of the story. We gave away all our secrets, so that you can learn to write the best characters you possibly can.read more
This week we celebrate the 50th episode of the SPA Girls Podcast! We’re pleased as punch that we made it this far, and we hope we’ll make it to another 50! We talked about what’s changed for us in the last year, where we are at in our careers, and the highs and the lows of a year in self publishing. A kind of retrospective on what we’ve learned, what we’ve seen, and what we think about it all.read more
This week we’re still without the lovely Cheryl, so we decided to do another interview, this time with Tracey Alvarez, who lives in Wellington, New Zealand and writes contemporary romance based in New Zealand. I (Trudi Jaye) met Tracey in person at RWA in San Diego this year, and had a great time hanging out with her and Talia Hunter. As you’ll see from the interview, Tracey is also a very knowledgeable indie author, with heaps of pro tips to share. This is another ‘don’t-miss’ episode!read more
This week we interview paranormal romance author Steff Green, who writes as Steffanie Holmes and fantasy as SC Green. Steff was a speaker at the recent RWNZ conference and we were keen to get her on the podcast to give us the inside information on her self publishing career.
She was a fantastic guest, and talked to us about her journey toward self publishing, and some of the ways that she’s been able to make self publishing work for her, including topics like box sets, writing in series, and cliffhangers.read more
This week we’re without the delightful Cheryl, the light of our lives. It’s a bit chaotic, but the three remaining SPA Girls managed to talk about the advertising that we’ve done recently and how it worked. We talked about the mailing lists that we’ve advertised with – think Book Bub, Ereader News Today, Freebooksy, Bargainbooksy, and Robin Reads – how we organised it, when we booked them for, and the results that we had.
We also talk briefly about Amazon ads, and how you might use those kinds of ads in your promotional routine. We hope it helps you get an idea of the kind of advertising promotion that you might choose to do for your next launch or advertising schedule.read more
This is another bonus episode from the SPA Girls – a collection of three short interviews that we did at the RWNZ16 conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Firstly bestselling author Heather Graham talks about how she wants to take us all home with her (we didn’t say no…); agent Courtney Miller-Callihan gives a few tips on the kind of books she likes best; and the incomparable Michael Hauge talks about how to create a story that works.read more
This week I (Trudi Jaye) was away, so against my better judgement, I let the other three do the podcast without me. Surprisingly, against all expectations, they managed to do an episode that was moderately okay. 🙂 Don’t miss this episode as Wendy, Cher, and Shar talk about writing in series – why you would do it, what it involves, how to remember all the characters, and some hot tips on marketing your series.read more
This week we had a huge amount of fun talking about the RWNZ conference that we just had here in New Zealand. With an all-star international line up including Hollywood Script Consultant Michael Hauge, multi-award winning author Heather Graham, Australian Superstar Rachel Bailey, Scriptwriting Extraordinaire Kathryn Burnett, Self-Publishing Gurus Leeanna Morgan and Steff Green plus many more, we had a whole heap to discuss. We break down Michael Hauge’s amazing story structure ideas, discuss regency dancing, and talk about why conferences are so amazing. It’s a fun episode, and we hope you enjoy it! 🙂read more
This week we bring you a special episode direct from the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Wendy Vella and Trudi Jaye snuck out of the workshops, grabbed the incredibly talented Leanna Morgan along the way and hid out in one of the conference rooms, making her spill her guts on her self publishing career. And boy, does she deliver. This is a must listen episode for our listeners – Leanna knows what she’s talking about. 🙂read more
This is a special bonus episode of the SPA Girls Podcast, hosted by Trudi Jaye and Talia Hunter and recorded live at RWA in San Diego. We recorded this little snippet on our last day in an attempt to give SPA Girls listeners a sense of what it was like to attend the conference. At the start of the recording we’re joined by Allyson, a Harlequin editor that we harangued into joining us in the recording. 🙂 We talk about some of the workshops that we attended, the people we met, and what we learned while we were there. I hope you enjoy it!read more
This week we talk about covers for ebooks. We’ve mentioned self publishing covers in passing on previous episodes, but this week we put the microscope to the topic and try to work out what makes them great. We talk about our experiences on our own covers, the changes we’ve made along the way, and why we’ve made them. We also discuss how to work with a designer, how to decide what you should put on your cover, and what your readers want from your cover. And finally, we talk about the idea that sometimes the cover you love isn’t the one that’s going to sell your book, and you need to put aside your fragile writer’s ego, and go for the one that’s most suitable to the type of book you’ve written.read more
This week we talk about our experiences (all family-friendly) at writers conferences and give tips on how to get the most out of conferences (aka overcome the sudden urge to hide behind a large pot plant and not talk to anybody). In a cunning plot twist, we got confused at the intro and said this was episode 41 (instead of 42). Our excuse? Too much heat in the SPA!read more
This week’s episode talks about what to post on your Author Facebook page to keep fans engaged and coming back for more! We’ve all experimented with different kinds of posts – from thoughtful quotes through to “let it all hang out” videos, and have been surprised at what’s worked best! Facebook can be an author’s friend, but it’s also a beast that needs constant feeding. Hopefully you’ll get some “feeding tips” from us this week!read more
This week we talked about tips and tricks to keep the pace of your novel moving at the right speed, all the way to the high impact ending. We each talk about the tricks we use to make the pace of our novels work for our readers. We talk about genre and how it affects pacing, also things like sentence structure, word sound, chapter length, and other methods you can use to keep your pacing fast or slow. It’s all about creating the right rhythm for your novel, so that your reader follows you through to the end. 🙂read more
This week we decided to bring back the challenge episodes. It’s the middle of winter here in New Zealand – it’s cold and wet and dreary, and we’re all feeling a little frustrated with where we’re at. So we decided to talk about finding our focus again and pushing forward in our writing careers.
We all talk through the issues that we’re each having, from changing family schedules, to slipping in our usual writing and marketing routines or recovering from illness. And then we talk through the plans we have to solve some of these issues and get ourselves back on the track that we’re aiming for.read more