WordPlay Forum: November Minutes

WORDPLAY FORUM

Minutes of meeting held Monday 11 November 2013 at ‘Emerald Isle’

Present: Michael Barton, Gareth Barton, Evie Barton, Nigel & Pat Grundey, Janet Waters, Joy Lennick, Gerry Wright, Drummond Marvin, Nikki Dee, Jan Davies, Ann Mancey, Maggie Hegarty, Migel Jayasinghe, Kathy Rollinson,  Janet Pogson, Peter Hayward, Lynda Kiss

Apologies: Georgia Varjas, Margaret Rowland. David McCall

Margaret is still in the UK recovering from a broken bone in her foot, and we all wish her well.

Welcome – new members Nigel and Pat Grundey

1. NEW PUBLICATIONS:

last night  on Kindle ‘Precinct Murder’ six New York murder stories. Authors: Joy Lennick,  Maggie Hegarty, K.J.Rollinson,  Drummond Marvin, Gerald R.Wright and Warren Kent (Michael Barton).  $4.99. Also available in paperback. Any one who would like copies to email wordplayenquiries@mail.com by 20th November at the latest. Should then arrive by next meeting.

‘The Great Spanish Adventure’ Author – Janette Davies  Book launch 16th Nov.     ‘Friendly Bar’ Citrus Centre, Playa Flamenca.  Congratulations – two books in a year.     Opportunity for other members publications to be available at the Bar.

2. WEB SITE – Apologies for lack of input but will be updated.  Search Engine Optimisation –  having dropped off social media, within two weeks there was a drop of 80% hits – Twitter/Facebook.  Social media really important – Workshop 25th November 11 a.m. at Emerald Isle.  An Australian client confirmed that by adding # to his tweets, increased his site hits by 40%.  Get it on your Tweets!  Janet Pogson queried quantity of search hits without the ‘ok’ marker on Google when searching under WordPlay, and also the number of other WordPlay’s out there. Very little we can do about the other WordPlay sites, but Michael will look into the security issue.

3. KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING – Amazon news.

It appears that Amazon have been increasing its minimum list price on paperback self-published books, possibly pushing to get rid of paper backs in order to turn to Kindle?

Kindle introducing ‘match book’ – if you have published a paper back you can tick ‘match book’ and its owners will be able to buy the Kindle version for at least half price.

Reminder: A Prime Amazon member can ‘borrow’ one book each month.

‘Kindle Fund’ – if your books are borrowed you get a proportion of the fund.  A few members earning more this way than sales.

‘Count Down’ deals – a period where author can set price and the availability of that book at that price is ‘counted down’.

4. KEY WORDS – Kindle have a ‘Help’ page.

Five basic headings.

Go for less popular words, can be short phrases, and look at less competition.

Book tracking – see website.

Kathy was congratulated – used key words, and during a 5 day free period, did considerable tweeting and got into first 100 list.

Janet Waters also congratulated; her book ‘Truth Hurts’ has had 1,000 Kindle downloads in six months, November royalties donating to Philippines disaster fund.

5. ANNUAL DINNER – February 2014.  Organiser needed.  If non volunteer forthcoming in two weeks then Michael will organise.

6. BOOK WEEK – see newsletter, and come back next month with your thoughts and ideas.

7. SPRING ANTHOLOGY – information sheet: get by emailing Gerry or Drummond at wpspringanthology@gmail.com

8. COLLABORATIVE NOVEL PROJECT  – will disseminate on newsletter.

Next meeting 9 December 2013.

Meeting finished 1 p.m.

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September 2013 Forum Minutes

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 9th September 2013 at ‘Emerald Isle’

Present: Evie Barton, Michael Barton, Jan Davies, Peter Hayward, Maggie Hegarty, Migel Jayasinghe, Lynda Kiss, Joy Lennick, Ann McCall, Dave McCall, Ann Mancey, Drummond Marvin, Kathy Rollinson, Margaret Rowland, Joanna Rich, Georgia Varjas, Janet Waters and Gerry Wright.

Apologies:  Nikki Dee and Rosemary Westwell

1.      Welcome

Michael welcomed new members, Ann Mancey, Ann McCall and Dave McCall, and introductions were made.

2.      Royalties

These amount to 31 Euros and monies were distributed at the end of the meeting.  Michael mentioned that authors should push sales through Createspace, as it gives a higher rate in royalties.

It was agreed that the £250 cheque received from the Writers’ Magazine will go into the bank account and will be used to promote the group or for a future group event.

3.       Website

Michael continues to work on this and is actively encouraging traffic through it.  At present he is using very little Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and believes its traffic driving relevance will be usurped by other methods in the future, such as social media networks:  Twitter, Facebook and others. However, he will be increasing the SEO work he is doing on the site over the coming months.

He mentioned that it helps Search Engines if you put links in.  Michael is linking internally with the aim of keeping people on the site longer. WordPlay have also started a monthly newsletter. To begin with this will be for members only, but eventually this will be for site followers.

Dave McCall mentioned that he produces a newsletter each month to promote his work and he keeps his own e mail list.  Readers are interested in what the writer is doing.

4.      Blogs

It was noted that ‘personal’ blogs generate more hits that purely informational ones. Tips for blogging:

  • When creating a blog, you need to be clear in your own mind what you wish to communicate.
  • You need to decide if you wish to inform, engage your reader or do both.
  • Postings need to be done regularly otherwise numbers will drop off.
  • They should not be too long and an ideal of 400 – 500 words was suggested.
  • Other suggestions to enhance blog:  subtitles, title each paragraph, use bold text, use bullet points and images can improve the message and presentation.
  • Think about a ‘Call to Action’ on each post. For example getting readers engaged by conducting a poll.

if you have a website, get blogging, and link to your fellow members blogs/ websites –  because we need to work as a group to drive sales. Try to drive traffic to your website through Wordplay.

Targeted traffic numbers remain at 1,000 hits on the website per month in December. However, we have already passed 500, and hits are growing at around 20% per month. With some SEO work, and other methods employed, Michael believes it likely to break through our target by November: when we can start working on our big target of 1,000 hits per day.

5.      Project Ideas

In November three anthologies will be published:  Winter Gems, Lifetime of Childhood and Precinct 22.

The intention is to publish another anthology in March/April 2014.  Michael asked members to volunteer to oversee this project.  The work entails:  choosing a theme; deciding on parameters and genre; collating; and producing a timetable (stories will need to be completed by the end of January).  Thanks go to Drummond and Gerry for volunteering.

Another project was mentioned:  there is a competition which is held each November with the aim of writing a novel in a month.  It could be a group effort and creation.  The following procedure was suggested:  chapter 1 on Website; another member writes chapter 2 and so forth.  Members who wish to be involved would create a Wordplay novel.  Michael will put something in a newsletter concerning this and will ask for a response from members.

6.      Book Presentation

Dave McCall had a book launch at Guardamar library and Michael invited Dave to explain his approach.  Dave suggested that it is not a good idea for the author to read from his/her book.  The audience are usually more interested in the author at this stage and the aim is to adopt a personal approach and inspire and intrigue the audience.  The location of a launch is very important and, where possible, the author is advised to choose a location which has some connection to their work.

 A.O.B.

Georgia mentioned Toastmasters and gave out information about the next meeting and change of venue.  This has proved an excellent platform for her work and she urged other members to attend.

Miguel has had his book of poetry published and was congratulated by the group.

Date of Next Meeting:  Monday 14th October

July 2013 Forum Minutes

WORDPLAY FORUM

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 8th July 2013 at ‘Emerald Isle’

Present: Evie Barton, Michael Barton, Jan Davies, Nikki Dee, John Francis, Peter Hayward, Maggie Hegarty, Migel Jayasinghe, Joy Lennick, Drummond Marvin, Kathy Rollinson, Margaret Rowland, Joanna Rich, Georgia Varjas and Gerry Wright.

Apologies:  Linda Kiss

1.      Welcome

Michael welcomed new and returning members:  Migel, John, Joanna and Janet.  Each person introduced themselves and gave us an insight into their work and experience.  Michael explained that they were joining a diverse and talented group with experience in many different genres.

Michael requested an up- to- date list of e mails and telephone numbers.

2.      Royalties

Monies were distributed.  In June, every book on the list was sold via Kindle.  Kindle books are outselling tree-books by four to one.

3.       Website

It is presumed that prospective readers have visited the site and looked at the Anthology.  There have not been many sales of “Shorts for Autumn” but this has linked them to the novels of authors listed and has resulted in sales.

Since the first quarter, the number of hits on the website has increased exponentially. The ultimate target is for 1000 hits per day to the WordPlay website.

4.       Publishing

Michael has published a collection of Ian’s articles from CBN:  “Keep Write On”.  50% of the royalties will be contributed to the Ian Govan Award and the other 50% will be donated to Alzheimer’s.

Next year Michael has offered to publish a book for a Children’s Charity for free in exchange for acknowledgement of Wordplay Publishing.

5.      Marketing/Publicity

At the last meeting, members were asked to research marketing/publicity opportunities.  Kathy filled in the forms for Kinship.com but this contact was unsatisfactory.

Georgia has gone down a different road.  She is a member of Toastmasters and has promoted her books at these meetings.  There are Spanish members and, because they want to become proficient in the language, they are interested in English authors and books.  She is doing two University gigs in September and, from past experience, is confident she will sell more of her books. Self- marketing requires a lot more effort but is proving successful for Georgia.

Gerry called in to the Euro Weekly offices in Benijofar concerning Wordplay’s Award but there has been no feedback.  U3A will mention the group and the Award on their Website and will include a link to ours.

The overriding message was that members have to fully utilise social media in order to sell themselves and their writing:  blogs, websites, facebook, and twitter.  Members have to use strategies to get their books into ratings:  interact with readers by enabling fans to contact characters from novels on facebook; offer your book free on Kindle for a few days; or offer three books for the price of two.

Michael helped Jan with the publishing of “Truth Hurts”.  She put it on to Kindle and the original price was £1. She then raised it to £1.98 and put it on for free for two days.  Her strategies paid off and her sales ratings increased. Jan highlighted the advantages of using Goodreads, a free website for book lovers, and members are urged to review each other’s books.

Members then detailed their efforts to publicise their work and Wordplay:

Georgia has approached Talk Radio Europe and has set up a pre-recorded interview.

Cathy has investigated Sunshine Radio with a view to publicity.  Sunshine Radio invites local people to contribute.  As Michael is away for a month, it was decided to postpone this until early autumn.

Nikki has produced a press release and has submitted it to several publications.  Michael read it to the group and it was agreed that it hit the spot:  targets audience; has a personal angle; and advertises her novels and short stories.

Carol Naylor, a former member of Wordplay, has approached Michael and offered to review books.  She produces reviews and enters them on different websites.  She is interested in promoting local authors and will not charge for reviewing our work.

6.      Future Plans

Linda Kiss would like us to consider holding a Book Week next year.  We need to start thinking about this and Linda wishes to include it on the next agenda.

Action Points:

  • Bring ideas for a ‘Book Week’ to the next meeting in September.

Ian Govan Award – Writers are invited to write a novel, in any genre; the name of the hero has to be Ian.  Ian’s point was that it was a very unlikely name for a hero.  Entrants should submit first three chapters and a character study of the hero, Ian.

In November Michael is visiting England and Scotland and will be involved in a tour of writing groups.  He will be promoting Wordplay Publishing and, hopefully, spread the message in the U.K.

Date of Next Meeting:  Monday September 9th

June 2013 Forum Minutes

WORDPLAY FORUM

Minutes of meeting held Monday 10th June 2013 at ‘Emerald Isle’

Present: Michael Barton, Margaret Hegarty, Nikki Dee, Drummond Marvin,

Gerry Wright, Jan Davies, Georgia Varjas, Janet Pogson, Kathy Rollinson, Lynda Kiss

 Apologies: Joy Lennick, Evie Barton, Margaret Rowland, Peter Hayward

 1.      Welcome

Michael welcomed everyone, thanked Lynda for recording the minutes of the May 13th meeting, and proposed that minutes be taken every meeting and then published on WordPlay website – unanimously agreed.

 Action Points:

  • Lynda Kiss to act as Minutes Secretary
  • Margaret Hegarty to take minutes in Lynda’s absence on July 8th
  • Minutes to be emailed to Michael (wordplayenquiries@mail.com) for website publication.
  • If any member had items to be discussed at following meeting, these to be emailed to Michael at wordplayenquiries@mail.com by the first Monday in the month. Michael to then collate and send to Minutes Secretary.

2.      The Big News

Michael re-affirmed the clear vision he and Ian had when founding WordPlay: “encouraging writers to write, and then getting them read”. They knew when they formed Wordplay Forum there was a lot of talent out there untapped and unseen and that one day one of us would become recognised and make it big. This has now happened for the Forum – the anthology ‘Shorts for Autumn’ has won the (UK’s) Writing Magazine’s Writers’ Circle Anthology Award for 2012.  Michael received the news (which is formally announced in the July 2013 issue of Writing Magazine) by telephone from the magazine three weeks ago.  Read about it here.

This success proves the Group’s mission is working, reinforcing our view that self-publishing is the way forward. The Editor of Costa Blanca News has confirmed the exciting news will be in this Friday’s issue.

On behalf of the Group Gerry gave a vote of thanks to Michael for all his motivational support in obtaining this success. Michael emphasised he saw it as the group’s  achievement and not as an individual success. He also said he has offered a two page article to Writing Magazine about WordPlay and WordPlay Publishing (if and when to be confirmed).

He plans to prepare a two page spread for the Magazine about the Group and the Publishing Company – detailing all the books and possibly with a Group photo.  This article will then be used for publicity, giving details of future publications of anthologies and the books of Forum writers.

Action Points

  • Michael to circulate a press release to all local English newspapers
  • Group photo needed at next meeting
  • Michael to liaise with Writing Magazine re article possibility

3.      Anthologies on the go

 P22

Work continues, expected publication within 2 months

Kathy’s stories in process of publication in Kindle format

Drummond’s stories in process of publication in Kindle format (with profits donated to charity)

Winter Gems

Ready to be ‘officially’ published later this year

Lifetime of Childhood

More stories needed. A story of a day (or two) in your life between the ages of 8 and 14. No comparisons between then and now, and no schoolday stuff. Pastimes, play, and puddings (!).

Max 5,000 words – minimum around 1,000.

Send to wordplayenquiries@mail.com

Action Points:

  • All stories submitted to be submitted via email with the subject line as, for example, ‘Lifetime of Childhood’
  • Michael to follow through on all three anthologies

 4.      Anthologies in the future

 Need volunteers to take control of future quarterly anthologies (either flying solo or as a mini team) to administrate the following:

  • Themes (if any)
  • Collate all stories
  • Self-editing process pre-publication process
  • Ideas for book cover
  • Back page blurb
  • Pre-formatting (putting it all together)
  • Timetables
  • Separate email needed?

In this way, the anthology will then be passed to Michael with all editing completed and ready for publication work to begin.

Action Points:

  • Members to go away, think about it, and if they want to become more involved and take on an anthology project then to email Michael at wordplayenquiries@mail.com

5.      Michael’s Working Diary

Due to work commitments, Michael can only commit to WordPlay work on Mondays = this will become his ‘WordPlay Day’. Members can send emails etc through at any time, but may not get a response until the following Monday.

6.      Book Reviews

Georgia reported that her contact at the Courier had resigned.  Suggest we wait to see quality of paper with new editor.

Michael proposed that the writers who volunteered to write book reviews should still do so, and they will be added to the WordPlay website – reviews to be targeted at 300-400 words, no more.

Each month there should be a reviews of a WordPlay published book (by an unassociated writer).

Reviewers confirmed as:

  • Joy Lennick
  • Gerry Wright
  • Janet Davies
  • Rosemary Westwell
  • Nikki Dee
  • Michael Barton
  • Drummond Marvin

Action Points:

  • Reviewers to start posting reviews to Michael as wordplayenquiries@mail.com. Reviews as a word attachment to the email, with subject ‘Book Review’
  • Michael to post on website with appropriate linking.

7.      Bookworld

Bookworld have folded. A tragic occurrence, but perhaps not a surprise. View on future of bookshops around the world again reinforced.

8.      Bargain Books

Michael and Gerry have met with Gaynor. The financial deal was discussed, with implications also.

Proposed that we test the potential by using the books returned to WordPlay from Bookworld, thus individual members will not be hit with financial risk. Then to review in September/ October.

Action Points:

  • Michael to liaise with Gerry to arrange meeting with Gaynor of Bargain Books to confirm final details and set up sales arrangements
  • Report of progress at next meeting

9.      WordPlay Publishing

Michael outlined future plans, and discussed sales based awards.

The Ian Govan Award will be managed by the company.

10.  Website Work

The website has been fully updated.

Details of members publications are now on site, with links through to WordPlay Publishing (www.wordplay-publishing.com) and to where books can be purchased.

Also have registered on Twitter and a new page on Facebook.

We are now paying someone to post a weekly blog on the WordPlay site, which will be increased to two blogs per week when that person is up to speed.

Blogs are automatically tweeted and Facebooked.

In first days of this project, hits on website increased tenfold.

Action Points:

  • Members to share WordPlay Facebook notifications with friends (prompting them to share?)
  • Members to retweet any tweets
  • If you have any personal writing related news, please send through by email to wordplayenquires@mail.com, with subject line ‘Writing News’

11.  Publicity and Marketing

Kathy suggested we hire a marketing expert.  Agreed we would investigate and come back with quotes and profiles. Nikki pointed out that it is possible we may be approached by such people in view of our recent success!

Next meeting will concentrate on Marketing.

Action Points:

All members to research marketing/ publicity opportunities – who are the people we could talk to, what do they offer and what cost? Bring findings to next meeting. Don’t approach these agents/ companies with the WordPlay name just yet.

12.  View of the future

Michael expressed his opinion that in the future all books could be free – we’ve seen this move in music: as the internet has taken over record shops closed in favour of downloads, and downloads are becoming free. Albums and singles are now ‘business cards’ promoting the sale of merchandise and concert tickets.

Similar way forward in books, perhaps? Need to find other ways of making revenue from writing books – speaking spots, courses, advertising (eg the hero drinks a certain drink).

Reiterated his opinion that traditional publishers also have a limited shelf life, and agents, too. But then they are starting to change to the new world of self-publishing.

Something for us all to be aware of. Don’t see these changes as a problem, see them as an opportunity.

AOB

  • Georgia gave update on publication of her book ‘Divine Damages’. Advertising posters were distributed; these have been given to friends and family.  Has a couple of speaking engagements; at University of Murcia to a English language group and to a ladies birthday party.  Contact with boutique shop fashion show, book used as raffle prizes.  Interviewed on Radio Europe.  Emphasised benefit of experience in public speaking as asset for marketing.
  • Nikki reported she has a potential speaking engagement with a group of Spanish teachers. In view of the Anthology success, she suggested that she use this book and perhaps a couple of members would be happy to join her? All were positive, Nikki to arrange and then give date and details.

Please email your commitment to this at wordplayenquiries@mail.com with the subject ‘Nikki’s Day Out’.

  • Joy Lennick sent an exercise in writing a profile of a real or imaginary person.  Michael to post on website.