For prolific author, Zoe Dawson, it’s all about the happily ever afters. Zoe writes across several genres including romantic suspense, small town romance, new adult, urban fantasy and romantic comedy. We talk with Zoe about the challenges and rewards of writing across so many genres, how to juggle writing projects, reader expectations and the key that unlocked her being able to dramatically write faster (a book in three weeks!).read more
This week we talk to bestselling self-published author Dave Chesson, otherwise known (mainly by the SPA Girls) as the King of Keywords. He’s the genius behind the Kindlepreneur.com blog, which provides loads of step-by-step information for self published authors, and he’s also the creator of the fabulous app KDP Rocket, a tool you can use to do research into your next book topic, find keywords and categories for your current book, and to create a massive list of keywords for Amazon Ads.
Among his many talents (which include being a nuclear engineer!!) Dave is a total self-confessed data geek, which means he loves diving into the analytics surrounding Amazon and selling books. Which was great for the SPA Girls, because he was happy to chat to us about keywords, categories and selling more books on Amazon. Yay!read more
This week we talk about Kindle Unlimited, or KU, as it’s commonly known. KU is the exclusive readers’ programme for Kindle customers on Amazon, which authors can join as long as they give exclusivity to Amazon. We discuss the pros and cons of going into the KU programme versus going wide on all the different platforms available to self published authors, plus we cover some of the different marketing tactics you might employ, and ways to effectively use the KU platform as an author. It’s an information-packed episode, and if you’ve been wondering whether to join KU, or if you’re trying to find ways to use it better, this is an episode you won’t want to miss!read more
This week we talk about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Every year in November, writers around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For newer writers, it can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but even just joining in and being part of the NaNoWriMo environment can be inspiring and energising. It’s been getting bigger and bigger every year, and for the writers who manage to ‘win’ (ie finish 50K) it’s an amazing achievement. There are stories everywhere of people who’ve started their writing career with NaNoWriMo, going on to publish many books and have successful careers.
So what’s so great about NaNoWriMo? That’s what we discuss in this episode of the SPA Girls Podcast – why it’s been so successful, the aspects of it that we love, and why we think you should be doing it this year. (And don’t miss our surprise challenge at the end of the episode!)read more
This week we’re dealing out the “truthslaps” – in a loving way, of course. Wendy, Cher and Shar discuss ten truths for self-publishers that will help you navigate the choppy waters of a new indie author career. We want to be positive, but also realistic, so we are holding nothing back here. This is a rewarding (but tough) business and it requires patience and persistence. When you’re starting out you’re more than just a writer, you’re launching a small business with a pretty steep learning curve. Fortunately there’s a ton of help out there and here in the SPA is the best place to start!read more
This week we delved deep into our writing habits from the last ten years, and brainstormed all the ways that we’ve managed to squeeze an extra 30 minutes of writing out of our days. We’re all busy – work, family, other commitments take our time. But even adding just an extra half hour of writing every day can make a big difference to our monthly totals.
It’s a trap writers often fall into – the belief that you need several hours of uninterrupted writing time to be able to produce anything worthwhile. It’s just not true – even just a half hour can move you significantly forward in your manuscript. Here in the SPA we know that it’s about regular, sustained writing over time.
This show is about being mindful, thinking about where you’re spending your time every day, and looking for the loopholes where you’re losing precious time you could be using for writing. 🙂read more
This week we tackle Christmas. Not literally. I mean we’re not going after Santa or anything.
No knocking him to the ground, and sitting on him til he gives us presents.
That would be weird, right?
No, this week we’re talking about what self-published authors should be doing over the Christmas period to promote their books to the hoards of eager Yuletide book buyers. It’s a prime book buying time of year, and no one wants to miss out, right? In order to do the best research for our eager listeners, we talked to several other authors (in forums and people we know) for their advice on this topic, as well as using our own experiences. We even discovered a few tips that we didn’t know about and are planning to use this year for ourselves!
If you’ve been wondering what you should do to promote your books this Christmas, you need to listen to this episode!
This week we talk to fantasy and young adult author Katie Cross about being a military wife, learning to be a nap-time authorpreneur, and making every moment count. She also gives us some amazing productivity tips for authors who are trying to squeeze their writing career into already busy lives. Katie impressed us right from the start of the interview when she talked about having done some writing before we got on the call. My paraphrasing summary of her words: “It was a choice between going on Facebook for ten minutes, or doing some writing. I decided to do some writing, and managed to get almost a thousand words done in that time.”
It’s always good to be reminded of the things that we can achieve if we pay a little more attention to what we’re doing, and how we choose to spend our time!
It’s a great interview, Katie is hilarious, and we loved chatting to her. (And we’re totally impressed by everything she’s able to achieve in her day!)read more
This is a very special episode of the SPA Girls Podcast – our 100th episode! Who’d have thought when we nervously started our first episode that we’d make it this far?? We talk through everything we’ve learned about self publishing and writing over the last couple of years, give some of the top self publishing tips that we’ve gleaned, the advice we’ve been given by our guests, and what’s in store for the future of the SPA Girls… Listen in for some laugh-out-loud moments as we celebrate the last 100 episodes of the SPA Girls Podcast. 🙂read more
This week we have authorpreneur and automation expert Arianna Golden. She’s great at helping authors set up systems in their business, to amp up their productivity, and enhance their ability to write. She talked to us about some basic automations that are simple for authors to put in place, and gave us some fantastic tips on how to save time.
Automation doesn’t have to be a scary word. As Arianna says, think of it as a tool, like a cheese grater. Used correctly, a grater can get you yummy grated cheese to go on top of a baked potato. It’s only if you don’t use it correctly that you might get into trouble… (I’m scared of graters, but not of automation, so I’m not sure where that leaves me…) It’s another fascinating interview, and hopefully a good introduction to automation for people who don’t know much about automation. Enjoy!read more
This week Shar and Trudi interview Wendy and Cheryl about their trip to Orlando for the Romance Writers of America 2017 conference.
They give tips on surviving a conference with 2,000 other people, plus talk about what they learned from meeting self publishing gurus like Mark Dawson, Roxanne St Claire, and Kristen Painter. They also give up the best writing tips, the most-secret self-publishing tricks, and how to network like a ninja just for you. This is another tip packed episode, where Shar and I attempt to get over our abandonment issues by pumping them for as much information as possible…! 🙂read more
This week we interview best selling urban fantasy author Shayne Silvers, who gives us the inside scoop on his writing processes, his beta reading team, and how he markets his popular Nate Temple series. (Spoiler warning: Shayne works really hard, set everything up to work as it should and has amazing blurbs. ie it’s no wonder he’s doing so well!) We loved hearing his story, because he had two books up and nothing much was happening, and it was only when he realised that he had to take his writing seriously, and start treating it like a real business instead of a part time hobby, that things started to change for Shayne. These days he’s doing rather well, thank you very much. 🙂
NOTE: His book Beast Master (number 5 in the series) was also recently nominated for a Dragon Award, which is fantastic news for Indie authors everywhere (and also Shayne)! If you’ve read the book and loved it, be sure to head over to the Dragon Con website and vote for him!read more
This week we’re live from the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference here in New Zealand, and we’re talking with New York Times bestselling author Christie Craig. Christie writes humorous romantic suspense under her real name, and young adult paranormal under the pen name CC Hunter. She talks honestly with us about her writing process, the challenges she’s had to overcome in her writing career, and gives some amazing craft advice for everyone. The one big take away from this interview? Never give up!read more
This week we have a fantastic interview with the delightful Brian Meeks, who talked to us about creating and making money on Amazon Ads. Brian recently published a book on how to master Amazon ads, and runs a very successful Facebook group on the same topic. He was kind enough to break it all down to the simple version for us, and run through the basics of creating and running a successful Amazon ad. If you’ve never been on the inside of an Amazon ad, this episode will give you enough information to get you clicking over to the Amazon Marketing Services website. If you’re a bit more experienced, don’t worry, the insights on copywriting and the tips for creating successful ads will be enough to keep you listening.
We learned so much from talking to Brian, and we know you will too. 🙂
In this week’s interview Shar and Trudi have to soldier on in rainy old New Zealand while Wendy and Cher continue swanning about in Orlando. Happily we managed to score a fantastic interview with the lovely Monica Leonelle who chatted to us about marketing for indie authors, and the lessons she’s learned since starting out.
Knowing what to write about in your newsletter or on Facebook, or even how to connect with your readers can be a big problem for writers. (I know I struggle with it!) Monica took us through some of the psychological triggers that she’s come across over her years as a marketer and copywriter, and explains how you can sprinkle them into your marketing content to make it more compelling and persuasive to the reader.
This interview is filled to the brim with fantastic tips on how to amp up your connection to your readers, find new super-fans, and generally improve your ability to promote your books. Yay!
Note: There is a small echo problem in the first five minutes of this recording – but don’t give up, it gets better. And you won’t want to miss this content!
Cheryl and Wendy are still at RWA in Orlando, and this time they managed to score an interview with the wonderful Roxanne St. Claire, an uber-successful Indie author who opens up about her writing and how she’s been able to create such a successful career. Roxanne started out in traditional publishing, where she learned all about the publishing process, before she made the decision to move into self publishing. These days she’s fully self published, with 17 self published books under her belt to add to 30+ traditionally published books. Roxanne talks with Wendy and Cheryl about the benefits of self publishing, how she’s been able to use her marketing savvy to move her career ahead, what to think about when creating series that your readers will love, and how to stand out from the crowd.
This is another don’t-miss episode, with multiple insights to help your writing career.
Before I say anything else, let me get this out of the way… Sqeeeeeee! We interviewed Mark Dawson! OMG! *coughs* Right. Now back to the regularly scheduled blurb about this episode… This week we have a very special episode all the way from the Romance Writers of America conference where Cheryl and Wendy just spent the week schmoozing and mingling with romance writers from all over the world. They were lucky enough to tie down…er…interview a couple of great Indie authors while they were there, and this Mark Dawson interview is the first of our RWA special episodes this week. Mark was, according to Wendy and Cher, a lovely, gracious interviewee, and despite being completely starstruck, they managed to squeeze out a fantastic episode full of great advice, tips and insider information from the great man himself. 🙂read more
This week we talk about the best ways to find and keep your focus. We’ve talked about it in general terms before, so this time we aimed in on the mental stuff around focus, and how to avoid self sabotage in your writing career. This episode was all about crawling into our brains to understand why we do things that make us lose our focus, take us out of our ‘zone’ and destroy our productivity.
We talked about self awareness, ie knowing what’s going on inside your head that’s letting your focus go, as well as the overstimulation and desensitisation that exists in the technological world we live in, and then finally dun…dun…dun…the deathbed test. Listen in to find out what that means… 🙂read more
This week we’re launching our brand new book: Kick Author Overwhelm in the B*tt!
Instead of forcing you to listen to our overwhelm stories yet again, we invited three very talented self-published authors to talk to us about their writing careers and how they’ve faced and overcome Author Overwhelm in their own lives.
This week we’re launching our brand new book: Kick Author Overwhelm in the B*tt!
Instead of forcing you to listen to our overwhelm stories yet again (we figured we’d talked that topic to death…), we invited three very talented self-published authors to talk to us about their writing careers and how they’ve faced and overcome author overwhelm in their lives.
Louisa George, Toni Kenyon and Karina Bliss kindly agreed to join us for this very special episode of the SPA Girls Podcast and opened up to us about their experiences of author overwhelm. They talk honestly about their writing, their cheerleaders, their challenges and the tricks and tips they have for helping to keep their focus on the writing and away from the overwhelm.
We had heaps of fun talking to three very funny, smart and accomplished authors, and we’re sure you’re going to enjoy hearing their stories too. 🙂read more
This week we decided to go a little bit behind the scenes on the SPA Girls side of things. Instead of talking about our fiction books, we talk about how the SPA Girls came about, what we were trying to achieve when we decided to start the podcast, why we’re doing what we’re doing and what we were hoping to achieve. We also talk about our branding, our mission statement, and why we decided to publish the Author Overwhelm book, having been podcasting now for 89 episodes! 🙂read more
This week we try to nut out our own personal author values, and try to distill down a mission statement for each of us as authors. We believe that defining your core values as an author will help you make decisions in your author career, keep your focus longer, and keep you sitting down in your chair, writing those books!
We talk about the pros and cons of a mission statement, why Wendy doesn’t like them, and why we think they’re valuable for you as an author. We talk about what Joanna Penn and Susan Kaye Quinn say about mission statements, and go through the process of creating one for Cheryl that means something to her as an author.read more
This week we have a meaty topic for you! We go in-depth and take a look at our fears, the mental stuff that’s stopping us from getting ahead.
We all have fears, from the rational ones that motivate us and keep us going, to the irrational fears that keep us awake at night (and me out of the swimming pool – I swear, Jaws could be in there). This episode is about recognising those fears and lessening their power over us as writers, by naming them, and focusing on ways to overcome them.
We look at the fears that have stopped or hindered us in our writing careers, how we got over them and how you can too. We also talk about the fears we still have, and the ones we wish we had!
Wendy hates this kind of episode, so if nothing else, you should listen to it just to hear her squirm… 🙂read more
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