I live in Chesterfield in the UK, and have four boys, one girl, and a granddaughter born this April! My children range from 22 to 12. I have seven cats as well! I’m in my mid-forties (not telling my age!) and I am disabled, I have a condition which means I’m reliant on a wheelchair. I love to crochet, knit and also make quilts. I was born in Essex and lived there until I was 28 when I fled to the country! I loathe the city, and my ideal is sitting in a cabin writing surrounded by trees with a view of a lake and mountains!
I love the country and BBQing! I like to bake and cook with the boys, and we play games except the middle, and youngest boys cheat! I’m a history nut and drag the boys all over the country with me to view castles and stately houses. For my 50th birthday, (cough in a few years!) I am planning a two-month tour of Scotland as I am descended from the Murray clan!
I’ve been writing since I was 11 years old. I started with an essay for an English lesson, and the story kept coming. I’ve still not published it, and yes, I still have it, the thirty years old Attics’ Secret! Maybe one day I’ll release it! I love writing, even though my characters misbehave and go in a different direction for what I had planned for them to go!
My motivation comes from myself, my family knew I wrote but didn’t think I was serious about it. When I said I was self-publishing, they were really shocked, but in truth, the song, ‘This is Me’, convinced me to go for it. Self-doubts are a huge issue for many authors, myself included, but listening to the lyrics of the song I knew I needed to self-publish. This is me, like it or not!
There’s so much to love about writing. I love watching the characters form, take shape, and their stories tell themselves. I like seeing where their story takes me, I’ve been told my writing is hard and gritty, that it makes people remember life is always worse for someone else. It’s a huge compliment when someone sinks themselves deep into one of my books and emphasises with the characters. I find it hard to plan chapter by chapter, as many writers do as they just won’t stay where they are meant to! But I love watching them come to life.
I hate, simply hate editing! This is the worst thing about writing, I get OCD over it, and my editing methods are rigorous. I use the Word editor, then a programme called ProWritingAid and then a final programme called Grammarly. Then I send to my beta reader and make the changes she suggests. After that, I order a paperback and ruthlessly go through that. Only then am I happy to release the book! OCD much, I hear you all saying, lol yes, I did warn you!
I love to read as much as I write, I have over three thousand books lol. From fantasy to romance, to vampires, to shipwrecks to Greek mythology! I have a vast range of genres I love to read.
Authors email: Elizabethnharris74@outlook.com
Your writing journey:
It took me longer to edit my first book than it did to write it. Like many authors, I get ‘binge writing’ where you don’t seem to have as many hours in a day as you need. I’ve literally fallen to sleep in my armchair halfway through writing a chapter, woken up and carried on. I have many books that I’ve written over the years, and the time to write them varied. Courtenay House took me three weeks, non-stop writing, Rage of the Phoenix took longer, two months because I kept re-going over it.
At first, I sent my book to ten beta readers, which then got confusing as their feedback came from ten different directions. So, I decided on one beta reader and then twenty arc (Advance Reader Copies) readers. The agreement I have with my arc readers, is that they will receive the book free in return for a review. Some people will say this is a bad idea, offering the book for a review. The difference is with arc readers is they are your advance audience, these are the critic’s who will let you know if your book is good or not.
I sought advice from a well-known Indie Author on how to self-publish. She gave me several steps which I set in stone and follow for all my releases now.
- Have a website, on the website, have a home page, a book listing page, a coming soon page and an events page. You can add whatever pages you wish, but those are the basics. Even if your book isn’t yet released, have the website up and running. This begins your self-marketing journey, it shows you’re serious about being an author. There are plenty of free ones if you can’t afford to have one built. You can upgrade when you begin making money.
- Write the book, use whatever method works for you. Some people plan chapter by chapter, others use bullet points to write a chapter. Some fly by their seat and just write and then organise it. Other’s start at the beginning and let the story go where it wants. No one method is correct, there are many different types of author. Structuring yourself into how people think you should write stunts your creativity. Be yourself and be true to yourself.
- Join social media, even if you haven’t released the book, you can begin taking pre-orders by drumming up interest. Join Facebook, create a Facebook group dedicated to you being an author. Then join book promotion groups, of course, join some from your genre but don’t just only join them. Say you write a paranormal book, by all means, join twenty or so paranormal book promotion groups, but make the rest of the group’s non-genre specific. And yes, just twenty groups won’t get your book out there! You need to put effort into this.
Join Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media. This is needed to help get your name out there. Of course, you can still promote on pre-order! I also joined Linkedin and Medium.
- Plan your self-marketing plan. No one will pick up your book unless you’ve promoted it! How would they find it? I use every Monday to promote my books on my social media, I plan five hours at least to do this. Self-marketing is a pain but worth it when your books begin to sell. With my plan, I begin advertising the book one month before it is due for release, then I advertise for one month after release and then I start anew with the next release. This works for me.
- Join Goodreads, any author, Indie or not will tell you to join Goodreads! This is vital to becoming successful. Goodreads has million of viewers and has lots of tips and help for new writers.
- Do NOT let that first negative review knock you. It will hurt and upset but barrel through. I found for every negative comment, I had at least ten positive. Not everyone will like your book, that’s fine. They don’t need to, your fan base will build up slowly and over time.
- Don’t react to trolls or negative comments, ignore them. I’ve been trolled, and at first, I nearly stopped publishing and then realised the troll would win. Trolls do it to hurt and hinder, there is nothing worse watching an author get into it with a troll. It’s off-putting, and you may lose fans!
- If you can’t afford an editor, who can when starting out, use recommended programme’s, Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Word Editor. When you begin making money, upgrade those programs to the full version.
- Can’t afford a book cover designer? Yeah, they can be pricey, however, find sites like Unsplash.com or Abode which offer free pictures with no copyright. Always check for copyright. You don’t want to steal someone’s work!
- Can’t get an agent or publisher? That’s fine, nowadays they tend to watch how an Indie Author progresses first. Use Kindle to self-publish or something like Kindle. I prefer Kindle, it has many tools and helpful tips. It is also known worldwide and reaches a vast audience. I also enter my books into Kindle Unlimited! A lot of readers (myself included) have the Kindle Unlimited app, and most readers find books from there.
- Don’t stress over formatting! If you use Kindle, they talk you through it all in a step by step process. It can be difficult and confusing but Kindle’s step by step tutorials are informative.
- Seek out author interviews, several popular sites wish to interview new authors, again, this drives up interest in your book and your brand. There are several on my site you can click on and send in your interview.
- Copyright your work! Piracy happens!
On my site, I pushed my promoting further by running a competition for a month. The prize was for the winner to become a character in the Crafting of Rage. This brought me lots of new readers! I ended up with two winners, and it’s been great writing them into my books. My next promotion will be to win signed copies of The Rage of Reading and one lucky winner of all three Rage books signed. Don’t go overboard on competitions, I run two a year, it is enough, don’t run more than four a year! You lose the specialty of your brand.
Mistakes are easy to make, you will make mistakes, even with the help I had, I still made them! Just learn from them! Some big no- no’s are replying to emails or messages, ‘saying send me your book, I’ll leave a review’. Don’t do this, they don’t leave reviews, and you just gave away your work to someone who could possibly steal it. Don’t pay for reviews, if someone genuinely likes your book they will leave a review. Paying for reviews cheats you and the system.
A huge mistake I made was underestimating how much time would be spent editing and marketing. I didn’t use my time management skills properly, and boy did I run myself ragged. Now I look back and snigger, I used to spend a whole day marketing and promoting, now I’ve cut it to five hours.
Anything else you feel like sharing:
When I saw on Facebook how many comments there were on where to start and how confusing it was, I felt for them. Not everyone was as lucky as me to have help from a well-published author. On my website, I designed a page to help new authors, but I felt it wasn’t enough.
It was then I began the Supporting Indie Authors Project, I advertised on Facebook in two groups for Indie Authors to interview. I got such a high response that I was booked until August! This is a way I could pay forward the help I received. Each week I publicise on my site and interview with the chosen ‘Author of the Week.’ Once their week finishes, I then move their interviews to my blog.
I then promote their interview on all of my social media! This is part of the five hours I was talking about! All I ask in return is they promote their interview on their social media. I know this has helped several authors gain a higher audience, and in truth, I feel great for helping them! This had become quite a big thing. So much so another author Edgar Ramirez also started his own ‘Author of the Week on his site’.
My advice is don’t give up, if writing is what you truly love then write, you may not become the next best-selling author. If that’s why you’re doing it good luck to you, if it’s because you want to write and want people to read your work, I wish you all the best.
I started publishing 1st December 2019, wow, that short a time ago? Yes, and I didn’t expect to sell ten books! I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof and really worried about criticism. I was shocked beyond belief when Rage MC took off the way it did. I have two fans being written into characters in two of my books. I have many demanding the first book of Hellfire MC, which features Chance, who I swear half my fans are in love with. (Me too, Chance is extraordinary!)
I have another fan who has taken Oakwood Manor and made her book group of twenty people read it! Fans will come, with them grows your confidence. Remember, don’t be rude to your fans, don’t treat them like dirt, respect and admire them back, they don’t have to read your work and support you, they choose too!
I wish you all good luck on your journey if you wish to ask me more questions you can reach me through one of the links above or through my contact page on my site!
5 thoughts on “Your Success Stories: Elizabeth N. Harris”
Really useful advice and information. Galactic Mission 2, due out, is a sequel and my sixth novel. Intend to pre – promote on WordPress.
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Love your post which spoke from my heart! I used ProWritingAid for my current Work in Progress and found it so helpful. I also find Scrivener to be an amazing help, as well. You may want to check it out. Lo and behold, I love editing. I took an editing course and became a freelance editor, though now I do it only for myself and those with whom I exchange editing. You may also want to check out Critique Circle which is a fantastic group of folks. I was offered a contract by She Writes Press for my WIP, but for them much too expensive, so now I am look for a publisher and may check out some of your ideas. So helpful!
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Also your advice is good 🙂 Perhaps you could also use some of the free downloadable resources from this blog: https://mybookwhisperer.org/free-download/
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Don’t give up Karen, you may not find a publisher straight off but I can recommend self-publishing, it’s hard work but very rewarding!
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Main stream publishers do have an armament of promotional ability, but that is still not necessarily a guarantee of success. One key area is where you, the author, obtain good reviews from genre relevant source. This might be a journal or magazine whose readership loves the genre of your novel, in the first instance. It’s really only honest reviews from genuine readers, that have relevance to you as the author. The words from prestige publications, which are so often seen on the cover, might well be paid for by a publisher – stupendous, brilliant, best novel this year etc… Praise, that’s pure promotion to sell copy. But has anyone read the novel? You cannot ignore the power of advertising, but genuine reviews from actual readers are the most rewarding.
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