Last year or so we had a lovely article written by Ally. Our girl has been up to a lot so have a read of what she’s been up to since her first article...
Sometimes, it feels like I’m not getting anywhere fast. We all feel like that sometimes. It’s when I take time to reflect I see how far I’ve come. I’m thankful to The Magazine & App for inviting me to write this article and share my progress since publishing “Ocean Heart” in lockdown.
“Ocean Heart” is my debut novel set in Felixstowe. It’s the first book in “The Soul Heart” series. Since publishing I have been working on book two, “Sky Heart”.
Just like “Ocean Heart”, “Sky Heart” begins in Felixstowe. This book will follow Kiely, a side character from book one. It starts off with her dealing with the breakup from her boyfriend, although she doesn’t handle it very well. Her poor choices kick off a catalyst of events, resulting in a werewolf attack in the Spa Gardens, and the reapers coming for her soul in Old Felixstowe. The story travels to the Isle of Skye in Scotland. But, running from her problems isn’t the answer. When she realises what she wants, she must master her powers or lose everything to the crow king.
I spent the start of 2021, working on finishing up my manuscript and fixing plot holes. Then, self edited. By the end of the year I was ready to send off the manuscript to my BETA readers. This version was about 78,000 words long.
BETA readers often read a finished version of the story that still needs work. Although, I edited as much as I could, I had concerns over the plot and characters that I wanted feedback on. I shared these with my BETAs so they could look out for these and share ideas to fix or improve my story. The feedback was very positive and helpful.
To kick off 2022, I worked on my manuscript using the feedback received from my BETA readers and then edited it again before sending off to my developmental editor. This was now my 4th edit of the full story, and the word count is 80,000 words.
Whilst my editor is working on my novel in Australia. I have reached out to my cover designer in Holland. My cover designer got me to complete a survey about “Sky Heart” to identify trends, styles, themes, etc. I’ve booked for her to start working on this in September. The current cover is something I created in Canva Pro as a visual to use on social media when talking about my progress. There could be an official cover reveal in October at the earliest, but hopefully before the end of the year.
Once “Sky Heart” returns from my editor, I will go over all the feedback and action it. Then, another self-edit before sending to my copy editor. Then I will check over the changes before it goes to the formatter.
After that, I will need to write the blurb. Trust me, fitting 80,000 words into an intriguing paragraph is not easy.
The final check is done by my proofreader before uploading to my distributor for production.
Then, I will look for interested ARC readers to send my finished book too. ARC readers are people that get a copy of the book before release. They read and provide an honest review so that when the book goes on sale, customers can see from day one what other readers thought of it.
For “Ocean Heart”, I asked if anyone would like an ARC on Instagram and got them to sign up using a Google form. I then sent my book to them using Book Funnel. If you’d like an ARC of “Sky Hear, be sure to follow me on social media and look out for the invitation.
For my own reading, I love getting ARCs from Net Galley. It encourages me to try books I might have overlooked for not being my usual genre. Here are two ARCs I read this year and loved!
“The Hiding Place” by Simon Lelic - A cold case is reopened when a teen boy’s body is found at an elite boarding school. Simon expertly reveals secrets at the perfect time to keep you on the edge of the seat.
“The Seawomen” by Chloe Timms - This book is like the “Handmaid's Tale” but with mermaids! It’s a dark thriller with a religious cult patriarchal society.
Reading is important for writing. Reading about different people, worlds, and experiences, is a great source of inspiration. I often post my reviews on my blog, Instagram, and Goodreads.
Goodreads is an awesome website for setting reading goals, keeping records of books you’ve read, and lists of all the books you want to buy. You can follow your favourite authors and discover readers with similar tastes and their recommendations. At the end of the year it gives you stats based on the books you read.
Whilst working on all the above, I will continue to market “Ocean Heart”. One tool I use is my website which I created myself. Earlier this year, it was time to move hosts and this didn’t go smoothly. After a lot of panic and colourful language, I got it back online. I then assessed my website by comparing it to other author websites, and worked on improving mine.
Most of my marketing is done on social media. My favourite apps for creating content is Canva Pro and Vita, and my main platform is Instagram.
I’m working on a collaboration project with two other British fantasy authors. Our goal will be to share our publishing journey to support aspiring authors to achieve their dreams. We are hoping to launch this in the autumn of 2022. The two authors are April Grace and Roxy Eloise.
I met April Grace at YALC in July 2019, a book convention in London for Young Adult Books. We dreamt that one day we’d have a stall together at this convention. After twelve years working on her novel, she made her debut in July 2022 with “Steel Princess”.
Roxy Eloise is a fantasy author that I connected with on Instagram. I interviewed her for my blog to share her tips on getting published through a Twitter pitch event called #PitMad. She released her debut novel “The Guidal: Discovery of Puracordis” in April 2022.
Sometimes coming up with content ideas can be hard so I really enjoy taking part in posting challenges. I joined in with #FantasyIndiesJune on TikTok which encouraged me to post more often on the platform. And, I really enjoyed #MermaidMarathonReads on Instagram, which challenged people to share and read books that met the daily prompts with a mermaid theme.
After a successful book launch at Stillwater Books in Felixstowe, it gave me the confidence to approach bookshops in other towns. I’ve started talks with two bookshops to arrange an event but nothing yet finalised. Felixstowe Radio interviewed me for “Ocean Heart’s” release and offered to interview me again when I’m ready with “Sky Heart”.
A highlight this year was the opportunity to visit Felixstowe High School for World Book Day. I sat with small groups of students to talk about “Ocean Hear and books they enjoy reading. The students were really sweet, and made my first face-to-face book event a positive experience.
Sometimes it feels like I’m getting nowhere fast, but I am moving in the right direction. If you keep taking little steps towards your goals, you will get there. Being an indie author isn’t easy, but it gives me a real sense of achievement and I love the variety and challenges it brings.
I hope you have enjoyed discovering a little about what goes into writing and publishing a book, and what I’ve been up to. If you are not working towards your dream, I hope it encourages you to take those first steps. If you are chasing your dreams, I wish you every success.
If you haven’t read “Ocean Heart” by Ally Aldridge you can borrow it from Suffolk Libraries, there are also copies available at Felixstowe High School’s library for their students.
It’s available at all good bookshops. If you can’t see it on the shelf, request for it to be ordered in. You can also order it via bookshop.com which support local high streets. “Ocean Heart” is available from popular online retailers like Amazon, and the eBook is available for Kindle, Kobo, Play, Apple, and many more.
“Ocean Heart” is currently half price in the Smashwords Summer Sale. This site sells universal eBooks. Purchases save to your Smashwords library and stay yours forever. Then you can download it to your favourite ereader. Go check out their deals, including free books!
If you would like a signed copy, this can be ordered directly from Ally via her Ko-Fi page:
You can follow Ally :
Instagram: @Redfae https://www.instagram.com/redfae/
YouTube: Author Ally Aldridge https://youtube.com/channel/UCtb57ts-qOm8jKTh_ucj78g