Thursday, 11 December 2014

And here's a novelist making his mark in the Brave New World

It seems to me that we Indies should help each other. Here's a lovely Goodreads review which Donald Platt received for his fascinating new novel.

I am glad to puff it off for him here and hope other readers who like serious historical novels which are well told and tell a good story might read it.

REVIEW of Bodo the Apostate by Donald M. Platt

Donald is a fabulous technical and historical writer overall, but Bodo the Apostate (his newest novel) is nothing short of his best work all the way around. Not only is his writing immaculate and his history engaging, but in this book his dialogue and character's thoughts, personalities, and actions are so real and dimensional that I found myself enamored and smiling from the start.

The Bodo that Donald presents in this book (as of course, little was known of him and one-sided) is highly intelligent and advanced ("gifted") from a very young age. He's curious, inquisitive, thoughtful, analytic (I have some kids like that so I truly understand it), but in the Carolingian period, which is pre-Medieval age circa 8-9th century, religion was serious (yes, even more serious than by today's standards). Bodo is taken to be enrolled at the Academy located at the winter palace of Emperor Louis the Pious (the son of Charlamagne) for his smarts, and as well, his great-aunt just happens to be the mother of Emperor Louis.

So, when on the cover it states, " In a time of intolerance following your conscience is a dangerous choice...." I can totally understand this comment in relation to this book. When one is forced to become a priest and religion gets political and divisions are formed, loyalties demanded and abused, an educated person with a high intellect (these types of people generally think for themselves and don't follow the crowd, but make logical and educated decisions) is likely to not follow the demanded path. Bodo made a decision to change religions and flee to exile (this is historical record so I don't feel it is a spoiler), but the book mostly takes place prior to that. It was so very interesting reading of the path that led to his decision and his thoughts behind it. Donald takes what little historical detail was accounted for and intertwines the best scenarios he could deduce in order to bring us Bodo's story, while simultaneously showing us what led to the demise of the Carolingian Empire. In fact, most of the book really dealt with the political and religious issues of the times, using Bodo as the propelling plot to showcase it. However, he does give us probably one of the only, or at least, best accounts of what his life might have been like afterwards when he lived in Andalusia (al-andalus), Hispania.

I love Carolingian historical fiction. There is something about it that lies between truth and fantasy, so even the facts seem surreal. I've grown up loving this era and Donald's book is another wonderful novel on a list of highly regarded and entertaining books of this time period. Though the book is totally a historical fiction meant to be as authentic and plausible as possible, utilizing best guess based on research, in some way it just so reminded me at the start of something like Lord of the Rings. That's probably crazy, but the book reads as if someone is telling us a legend (like the Legends of King Arthur, but rather, the legend of Bodo the Apostate, not Bodo Proudfoot, Hobbit!!). I totally admire this story and was enthralled by each chapter. I definitely never wanted to have to stop reading it, but would rather have had a day to do nothing but be entrenched in this book.

Donald's writing is detailed, visual, entertaining, informative, interesting, and he creates characters that readers can relate or connect to, creating understanding among all various types of people and their relations with others. He writes with a courageous pen in order to honor little-known men in history that made giant decisions. I believe Donald likes to research, critically think, and put together and forth other accounts of those lost to history that could become their lasting legacy as much as he likes to write entertaining material.

Helping historians, as well as readers, to understand other sides of history and make sense of religious intolerance, strife, and its lasting ramifications does a great service way past adorning bookshelves. Donald writes historical fiction of true meaning in a fashion that is so very captivating.

Highly recommended for the true pre-Medieval or Carolingian reader who are made happy by this time period fantasy feel, as well as those who are interested in historical reference about the angst between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

I was given this book in exchange for a honest review. Opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


If you are an Indie writer struggling to make sense of the Brave New World of the novelist then you soon find that some people help and others don't!

As I wade through the swamps of 'Buy this package we guarantee will sell your novel.' and into the thorny thickets of self-help I have found that there is a lot of sensible common-sense provide by www.indiesunlimited. Definitely a place Indies should spend time at reading all those helpful articles.

Another useful site, although they do sell you things if they can, is Book Marketing Tools - find them at They have a newsletter which drops valuable advice into your inbox. I have much to learn and am discovering how much more I have to learn every time there is a new email from them.

Here's a sample of their advice on building e-mail lists.

Use a Paid Method – Using Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Twitter, etc to push targeted traffic to your offer. I have used FB Influence to help me learn all about Facebook marketing.
Organic – This is all about writing content on your website or blog that is based on the wants of searchers online. Does someone in your target reader group search for “Free Mystery eBooks”, then why not write a post about your free mystery eBook giveaway when you run your next promotion? Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool to get more ideas.
Social – Not only have we been active on Google Plus, but we have had amazing results on Twitter as well, so make sure, when you are trying to drive traffic, you pick the one or two places that will help you the most. Not sure which to pick? Pick one and try it, then analyze a month or two later to see if you should continue or not.
New Media Collaboration – You might have noticed I said, New Media Collaboration. What I mean by this is, why not partner up with one or two other writers in the same genre and start your own YouTube, Itunes or Google HOA show? Instead of having to learn all this technology solo, work together and not only will you learn it, it will be with others that you can brainstorm on making something worth engaging on. Don’t be afraid to collaborate in 2015!

The offer you create is the gateway for someone moving into your sales funnel. Without something to offer them, you are banking on the idea that just because you built a platform and have a subscribe button, people will want to give you their email address. That’s a wrong and faulty assumption. It doesn’t work that way.

A good offer will have the following principle and components present:
The offer is exclusive – I didn't say the offer was unique, because let’s face it, everything has been created before… but the offer must be exclusively given to people via your mailing list. Therefore, the books you sell on amazon should not be the offer. The free list you have on a blog post is not the offer. Anything that is available publicly is not the offer. You make it exclusive, by making it exclusive.
The offer is interesting – You need to make the offer something that isn't just interesting to you, but interesting to the consumer, the readers you are trying to connect with. You should have a clear idea of the biggest pain that your readers have and the real need that they want. Fiction readers might not have a pain you can observe, so you have to ask. Why do people read my fiction book? Escape… freedom… getting lost. Create an offer that helps them to escape!
As a fiction author, maybe you can share a secret chapter in your book that you write just for your mailing list. Maybe you provide the private details about the creation of your story that your readers are dying to know. You can also create a short novella as a prequel or with the back story for your main books. It must be what they want, not what you think they want.
For non-fiction authors, giving someone a checklist, a resource guide or collating information for your readers is always valuable. If you don’t know what the offer should be, then ask your readers and if you don’t have readers, go back to last week’s social media post and find some.
The offer is simple – Rather than making a 50-page guide on something that your readers will never get through, why not give them something that is easy to digest that still hold value in their minds, that they can read in 1 hour. Give them a clear story about your story, so they connect with you.
The offer must be real – When marketing your offer, you want to be sure that you are not making promises about the offer that are hyped up just as a marketing gimmick. The Ultimate Author Checklist that we create is pretty, well, ultimate and it gives you what you need to know to market your book. If we billed it any other way and it didn't deliver, people would not stick around.

Interesting stuff. Is this really what a novelist must do to sell books? Don't writers write?
How on earth do you find the time to do all this?

I do not know, nor do I have the answers. But for some people this has worked. I am trying to find out what will work for me and my Writer's Choice colleagues. It seems to me this might well be part of the new world for novelists.