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Apparently this blog is one year old today. It doesn’t seem a year! So what has the last year brought and what have I learned? Has the adventure been worth it?

I was a little sceptical when I began, if truth be told. Would the blog take away from writing time? Would anyone want to read my posts? What on earth would I actually write about?  I don’t post every day, but I do try and post weekly and vary the interviews, I reblog, I follow others and now I have twitter I tweet the posts. Whether that helps is another post entirely.

The blog doesn’t have a massive following, but it does have followers, and some of them are kind enough to comment on posts, to reblog and to tell others. I’ve had various positive comments and I have more author and character interviews than I ever expected, of a wide variety and I’ve even run editor and reader interviews, which have been fascinating.

Blogging is a great networking tool, in a digital and international world it is a great way to meet people and to build a brand. More than that, however it is a lot of fun. Some people blog in order to rant about things or people which upset them, some to promote their work, some to just voice their opinions and so every blog is different. I have met a huge mix of people through blogging and swapped interviews, bought books and found friends.

There have been over forty author interviews, thirteen character interviews, eighteen reader interviews, six editor interviews and even a couple of cover artist ones. Do I have favourites? Of course – mainly the interviews and posts detailing the challenges faced by a blind author and reader and the many fantasy interviews – including one with the ghost horse from Sacred Band.  I’ve written about reviews, and how useful they might be, courses I have taken, books I’ve read, whether text speak is the evolution of language, the pervasiveness of fantasy and, of course, my new releases.

Have I learned anything? Yes of course. Being a writer is a steep learning curve and the lessons learned from both being a blogger and being interviewed for other people’s blogs have been important.  It has given me the chance to think about what it means to be an indie author, honed my writing skills, what is and isn’t important to me as a writer and what advice I might give to other new writers. I’ve thought as my characters, as a reader and I’ve started reviewing a lot more books.  All in all it has been a busy year – The Shining Citadel and Tales of Erana were released, not to mention the other anthologies and 2014 will be equally busy, if not more so.

Here’s my advice to new writers:

Be patient. Building a following takes time and needs a lot of leg work.

Write what you want to write, if you force the story to be something it isn’t you’ll be unhappy and that will show. Readers will notice.

Readers aren’t stupid, they will notice implausibility, inconsistency and weak plot/characters.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time. There will always be someone who is offended, doesn’t like the book, or perhaps doesn’t see it in the way the author intended. Bad reviews happen. Don’t respond publicly and just move on. Reviews aren’t for authors anyway.

Build a network – indie authors are usually a supportive lot and happy to help one another out. Have a launch day? Ask your blogger friends to mention it. Swap interviews and advice.

Read the FAQ and the TOS of the sites on which you publish. Please! A lot of mistakes and confusion can be avoided. Amazon is not out to con you. If you distrust your publishing site why are you doing business with them?

Produce the best product you can. No book is perfect but try and do the best you can do.

Readers – see above. No book is perfect.

People review for all sorts of reasons and in many ways. A 3 star review is not necessarily bad.

Readers – free does not necessarily equate to rubbish, bad writing does that and that is NOT limited to the freebie pile. It is a marketing tool, nothing more. Authors weigh up the pros and cons before you embark on this. There are still some who do see free books as devaluing literature and if an author doesn’t believe his/her work is worth any money then why should a reader?

Enjoy the book, if you don’t move on. Life is too short to waste on bad books.

Take a chance on Indie authors, there are some real gems out there.