I’m sorry for the delay in sending out a traditional festive greeting. If you read November’s post you’re probably eagerly awaiting news on the decorating/curtain making v writing challenge. I’m pleased to report it all worked out very well. Even the under-stairs cupboard has received a makeover, and there’s only one room left to go (which we’re saving for lockdown 3 because it’s a big one). The curtains are up and look beautiful – if I say so myself, and while on my upholstery high I even recovered an old ottoman to match. Creativity abounds!
My writing mojo came and went between coats of paint, but sadly, Mr T lost his lovely dad at the beginning of December, which has somewhat put a dampener on things. I write very much from the heart, and to be honest, my heart has been elsewhere for the last few weeks. I’m not prolific on social media – that part of ‘authoring’ is not a part I particularly enjoy, so I took even more of a step back than usual. Some people are quite happy posting up their personal stuff for all the world to see, but there’s enough misery out without me adding to it. I don’t enjoy reading about other people’s problems; I don’t want to inflict my problems on others. My social media persona is very much like my books, chirpy and cheerful, and I want to keep it that way.
At times like this it’s hard to find humour. The corona crisis drags on and Boris has stolen a lot of people’s Christmases. We’re not the only parents who won’t see our kids this Christmas, I’m not the only woman with too many sprouts in her fridge (that will teach me for buying my veg too early).
Writing has always been a solace, an escape, and with just the two of us home for Christmas I know there will be plenty of time to retreat to my study and continue my WIP when the mood takes me. And if all else fails, there’s always the jigsaw puzzle. Back in September, in anticipation of a long winter ahead, Mr T bought me a jigsaw for my birthday. Seeking simple comfort during a stressful period, we got it out, restricting ourselves to just an hour a day to complete a nostalgic Amsterdam canal scene. I once read Gwyneth Paltrow completed jigsaws on film sets to help her relax between scenes. Trust me, there’s nothing relaxing about discovering your 1000 piece jigsaw is actually 999. You know you’ve reached a crisis point when your normally laid back, super patient other-half is ripping open the vacuum cleaner bag looking for that vital missing piece. Personally, I blame the cat.
So that’s it. 2020 has come to an end and I’m very glad to see back of it.
Thanks for reading, have the best Christmas you can, and roll on 2021.
There’s been a lot of stuff flying through my Twitter feed regarding the start of the new decade and the end of the old – I’m caught up in a circular post urging me to sum up the last ten years in five words. One of my resolutions for the new year – although I don’t actually make resolutions as such because they’re just more things to feel bad about failing to achieve – is to concentrate on the things I enjoy and I’ve never felt particularly comfortable talking to strangers. I didn’t feel compelled to join in with the Tweet and I’m sure no one was offended.
But it did make me think. Five words. Where would I even begin?
Since 2010 my life has changed enormously. I could probably fill five books summing up the last decade – ten years of international house moves, of leaving a very large carbon footprint and ticking off various sights that regularly appear on bucket lists (but not mine because bucket lists are another thing I don’t do). I’ve been very privileged to have travelled extensively during the last ten years, to have lived in different countries, I’ve come right out of my comfort zone, I’ve made a whole array of new friends and acquaintances, I can speak Dutch (okay just a little and very badly). I’ve watched my 2010 teenagers mature into confident young women, both now making their own independent way in the world and I’ve remained healthy – always a bonus.
But it’s always better to look
forward than over your shoulder.
This was me at the start of 2010 – and that’s another one of those social media things we should all be doing, isn’t it – the ten year photo.
Well don’t be fooled by this idyllic snap because despite that sunshine, that pool, that glorious mountain backdrop – I was in the depths of despair. We had moved from our home in Southampton, UK, where I’d grown up and lived for the last forty something years, to the town of Arcadia on the outskirts of Pasadena in Californina. I’d never felt so lonely and isolated. Sunshine counts for a lot but it’s not the be-all and end-all. One daughter had accompanied us – the other hadn’t. She was only 18 and 5000 miles away – as were all my friends and extended family members. And after younger daughter and husband had left for school and work each day – I was on my own and I knew no-one. Yes, I did feel sorry for myself – and anyone who is ever been in that position will probably tell you, you know it’s totally irrational, you know how lucky you are, you know you need to snap out of it – but on the other hand…
I did have a set of new year’s resolutions for the start of 2010. I developed a mantra. I had a to do list and on that list was walk. I walked every day for at least an hour around the housing estate where we lived. I found a second hand book shop and I read all those classics I’d never had time to read during my busy working life. I found a voluntary job one morning a week doing something I loved – gardening – and although I had to force myself out there amongst strangers – every little bit of social interaction helped. I wrote copious emails to friends back home, and then the idea came to start a blog about the vagaries of our new ex-pat life.
Retaining a sense of humour at all times was vital for survival and I really enjoyed writing my blog, but one post a week wasn’t enough fuel for those creative juices. I received compliments about my style of writing, and that’s when the idea that I could write novel was born.
2010 was the year I began my writing journey and ten years on I’m a published author with two books under my belt. A third is on its way and although I’ll be looking for a new publisher in 2020, I’m still very positive about my writing career. Writing comes naturally, and after ten years I can’t imagine life without it.
I feel far more relaxed and positive about what the next ten years will bring, than I did at the start of 2010.
Ten years older and wiser. Perhaps those should be my five words.
I like to think I’m a generous person by nature, but I can’t be the only author who has reservations about the idea of giving their books away for free, on mass. As the occasional prize or to a charitable cause, yes, to worthy friends and family members, people who’ve helped on the writing journey – well that goes without saying. But to the general public? That elusive audience you’ve been trying to convince for the last eighteen months to dip into their pockets to pay less than the price of a takeaway coffee for a digital copy of your book? That book you spent months, if not years, sweating over, putting your heart and soul into, ruining your posture as you bent over your PC into the small hours for, editing, submitting to agents, publishers, braving rejections, having palpitations and panic attacks for…
However, I don’t always know best. I’ve learned many things on my personal mountain climb of a publishing journey, and free downloads are considered a useful marketing tool. It’s an opportunity to boost a book’s profile, to reach a whole new audience who wouldn’t necessarily take a chance on an unknown author.
Christmas is all about giving. Your Secret’s Safe With Me hadn’t exactly gone flying off the shelves since its launch back in February, and probably needed a good kick up the butt. So last weekend, I bit the bullet and sent it out into the big wide world for FREE.
Although I haven’t yet got the exact figures, a quick check on Amazon Author Central confirms that at some point over the weekend my book peaked as the 105th top-downloaded free book out of thousands in the whole of the US. This feat was mainly due to my big budget $20 spend on a book promotion website mailshot. Facebook, the Great Manipulator, cannot be relied upon to display your promotional posts alone. It pays to pay to reach that wider audience direct – although of course paying to give your book away is something the purest in me would have once cried ‘not on your nelly!’ (I told you it had been a steep learning curve).
Only time will tell if I will reap the rewards. The major downside of book promotion sites is that their audience is mostly US based. The only negative review I’ve ever received on Amazon and Goodreads was from a US reader who gave up after the opening chapters of The Theatre of Dreams. He/She clearly didn’t get my writing style at all and felt I’d over-complicated things by introducing my characters without an explanation of who they were. That’s the whole point mate, you read on and find out…
As all writers know you can’t please all the people all of the time. The general idea is that you hope the readers who fall in love with your book will shout about it from the rooftops, while those who don’t, keep quiet.
I am very grateful to everyone who downloaded a copy of Your Secret’s Safe With Me, and to all those shared the news of my Christmas giveaway on social media here in the UK. I hope there will be a positive knock-on effect from the free downloads, and word will spread about my books and my writing. As this is probably the only time I can make a song and a dance about one of my novels ever reaching a number one spot in the Amazon charts (on both sides of the Atlantic), it’s not such a bad way to end the year!
Life got in the way a little too much in 2019 and I know I have not been as pro-active as I should. Hopefully 2020 will be far more productive. I’ve a WIP to polish off and a new publisher to find. I’ve no deadlines and no pressure, and I feel the joie de vivre has returned to my writing.
Signing off on a high note, and wishing all readers, near and far, a very happy Christmas.
And if you are still scratching your head looking for that perfect present, I can recommend a couple of good books….
After my last post celebrating the highs and lows of my first year as published author, I promised myself I would tackle self-promotion with new gusto. I’d get on and finish my WIP. I’d spend more time being jolly on social media. Have I done that? No, once again that old spoilsport ‘life’ has got in the way.
I only have room for so many worries and domestic/family niggles take precedence. All things ‘writerly’ have currently taken a backseat. There’s more important things in life than stressing about word counts and Facebook likes. However, last week we packed up our troubles and set off on a long promised trip to the north of England – which was to culminate in York, where I had been invited to attend the Romantic Novelists’ Association Afternoon Tea to celebrate ‘graduation’ from the New Writers Scheme.
The New Writers’ Scheme is a wonderful thing – aspiring writers can join the RNA and take advantage of all the benefits of the association. More importantly, they can have their potential book manuscripts assessed and critiqued by experienced authors. When I joined back in 2016, I already had one manuscript complete and a second under way. During my time in the NWS I was lucky enough to submit three different manuscripts for critique, two of which have now been published. Authors who become published during their time in the NWS are nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award, sponsored by Dr Hessayon of the gardening books fame. His wife Joan was a romantic novelist.
So our trip north already had a literary connection, but more by luck than design it turned into a literary feast! We arrived at our first stop Warwick Castle in record time; after a quick whizz around the ramparts (Mr T and I are seasoned speed-tourists) we realised the day was still young enough to pop over to Stratford on Avon for a peep at Anne Hathaway’s cottage and then on to William Shakespeare’s birth place.
It was all very inspiring – as was dinner at the Spanish restaurant I’d booked that evening in Warwick purely on the basis of its Trip Advisor reviews. I’ve bought books on Amazon purely because of their wonderful 5 star reviews and have seriously questioned whether I’m reading the same novel. Not in this case – the food at Tasca Dali was outstanding, as was the service – and the best bit, it was a set menu. Takes all the stress away from the what shall we eat tonight dilemma. If you’re ever in Warwick, check it out https://www.tascadali.com/
From Warwick we headed north west to Blackpool mainly because we’d never been and we thought it would be fun. It lived up to all our expectations so we quickly moved on. Having taken the slight detour I realised we were now close to Morcambe – home to the Midland Hotel. I’d come across the Midland Hotel during my research into art deco restoration projects for The Theatre of Dreams – so it was quite exciting to see the building in the flesh. A lot bigger than my fictional pavilion but it does have a prime spot on the seafront and is a very impressive tribute to 1930s architecture.
From Morcambe we headed to Bowness-on-Windermere, our base for the next four days. I’m a hardened southerner and love living on the sunny south coast, but I could see myself becoming a northern convert. The scenery is stunning. There’s drama around every corner – glass lakes, craggy fells shrouded in clouds, and lush green fields dotted with sheep. We visited Beatrix Potter’s home at Hill Top. We viewed the gloomy rooms where she wrote her books (no kitchen – Beatrix was too posh to cook and had her meals delivered to her by the farmer’s wife next door – every writer’s dream!) and strolled through the vegetable patch in search of Peter Rabbit.
We visited Grasmere, where the poet Wordsworth famously wandered as lonely as a cloud amongst the daffodils. It was a wrong time of year for daffodils and the clouds – and crowds – were out in force so not quite the tranquil spot of Wordsworth’s time, but easy to see why he felt so poetic.
With the Lake District sort of ticked off we headed across the Pennines into Yorkshire and Whitby. If you are a fan of vampires, you’ll know that this is where Bram Stoker’s Dracula first came ashore. From Whitby we headed down to the beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough before finally arriving in York – and the RNA Tea.
The York Tea was my first RNA event and I sincerely hope it won’t be my last. It was a pleasure to meet so many ‘friends’ I’d so far only encountered on Facebook, fellow new writer scheme graduates and also to catch up with Crooked Cat authors John Jackson (the event organiser), Sue Barnard and Lynn Forth.
I didn’t win the ultimate prize of the Joan Hessayon Award, but as Alison May, the chairman of the RNA, pointed out, to become published in today’s fiction market is no mean feat and an achievement worth celebrating in itself. It was the perfect end to our fabulous trip north.
It’s been a whole year since the
official launch of The Theatre of Dreams – and if I thought the path to publication
was a rocky road, then the journey since has been the equivalent of hiking up a
Launch day 1 August 2018 was
filled with excited anticipation – I threw a party to celebrate with family &
friends; I organised an on-line facebook launch, I thought all the hardwork was
done – I’d secured a publisher and my book was out there on Amazon ready to be
snapped by zillions of eager readers.
Ouch, winces at the memory. I was very naïve. Yes I ticked the box saying I was prepared to take on my share of marketing; I’m intelligent and happy to learn, I was on Facebook and already had a blog. In truth I had no idea what modern day book marketing entailed – and why would I? I had no experience of the publishing world. I’d tossed aside a local government career to follow my other half on work assignments to exotic locations overseas. I hadn’t lived in the UK full-time since 2009 and my literary loop was a small group of friends I’d made in a part-time creative writing class. I didn’t know there was a whole network of people I should have been cultivating long before my book launch to get my name out there. The words “author platform” meant very little to me, as did “branding” – that was something for cattle.
So twelve months on I am a lot wiser. I know that having a book on Amazon guarantees nothing – my book is just one of many millions. I know that as an author with a small independent publisher getting my book noticed and maintaining a profile in today’s flooded market requires a great deal of energy, tenacity and a lot of of time spent on social media.
I’ve learned I have to interact with strangers (something shy reserved me has always dreaded) and I know I have to blow my own trumpet (very hard when you are brought up to be modest). I know that having a WIP on the go (the potential next novel ) is vital to keep up interest and I’ve learned that book royalties alone will never be enough to live on (but I do it for love – don’t I? Well yes I do, but my publisher doesn’t and there is an obligation…)
Six months after the release of The Theatre of Dreams my second book, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, was published. I thought I had it all sewn up – I thought yes, my Facebook friends have increased by x-amount, my Twitter following is up into 4 figures, I have colour co-ordinated my Instagram account to make it more appealing…
But it’s still not enough. I need paid promotions, blog tours, mailing lists, newsletters, my own Facebook group. I need to ‘engage’ at every opportunity, continually post comments, be controversial, sympathetic, witty, clever, inane. And these activities can’t be left to simmer, they have to be attacked at a rolling boil.
I need to attend events, to network in both the real and virtual worlds. Mr T already complains I spend too much time on social media; I tell him I don’t spend enough!
And I have to find time to read too. A writer has to be a prolific reader to maintain a presence, comment and review on every Facebook book club and bookish website. That’s without attending tangible book clubs, organising author talks and composing multiple blog posts…
Oh and did I mention Pinterest? I need boards. And lots of pins.
And as for any hope of finishing the WIP, I don’t just have to have one work in progress but a whole series of them. That’s where the “branding” comes in.
Actually, what I really need to do is lay down in a darkened room.
Some people are very good at balancing all these balls, but I’m not one of them. I’ve never had a head for heights and there are times when I seriously question if I will ever conquer the marketing mountain. Yes I would love to sell more books and reach a wider audience, but there is a limit to my time, capabilities and resources.
On the plus side, the writing community is hugely supportive and I have made many new friends who have encouraged and cheered me on during the last twelve months. I’ve gained new skills, and although I’ve never had bags of self-confidence, I’ve definitely been forced out of my shell – although probably not far enough! I love writing and I can’t imagine not doing it. My enthusiasm may have been dampened, but ideas for plots and characters continue to arrive uninvited. I have the notebooks. I will fill them.
The Theatre of Dreams is currently a contender in the Joan Hessayon Award for debut novelists who have come through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. I’m going to attend my first RNA event in September, the York Tea, where the award is announced. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of my new writer friends for the first time. I didn’t think I’d be doing that this time last year.
I’ve had some amazing reviews for both my books – and not just from my family. Comments such as ‘an unexpected gem‘ and ‘a treasure trove of a novel’ are personal favourites, and have done a lot to boost my sagging ego in the darkest times. This last year really has been a huge learning curve. In hindsight would I have done things differently? Undoubtedly. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
You can find out more about either book – and buy your own copy – via the links below!
Everybody is doing a big fat quiz of the year, but here’s my personal postcard from 2018 – edited highlights of what has been a rollercoaster ride.
January – The excitement of starting a year knowing I had just signed my first publishing contract is offset by panicking about packing for a six week trip to Australia and New Zealand. How many pairs of pants…
February – Visit Australia and New Zealand. Too many wow moments to mention and definitely too many pants in my suitcase, but fulfilling a childhood ambition of cuddling a koala pretty much tops the highlights list. I know it’s not ‘PC’ but the opportunity was there…
March – Coming home from Australia and discovering we had missed the Beast from the East and all the fuss about the snow. First steps into the magical world of publishing as I begin working with a professional editor on The Theatre of Dreams.
April – Discovering two short stories I’d submitted to Writing Magazine competitions had been shortlisted in the same month. Another successful competition entry at Hampshire Writers Society for the first 300 words of a commercial women’s fiction novel, is actually mushrooming into a commercial women’s fiction novel. Could this be Book Number Two? Yes it could. Change name of book from competition title of Marrying Mother to Your Secret’s Safe With Me after all sorts of plots twists infiltrate the original idea.
May –The rush is on to finish Your Secret’s Safe With Me so it’s out of the way before the launch of The Theatre of Dreams.
June – Choosing my book cover, writing blurb and dedications and then coming home from a week’s holiday in Spain and finding a paperback copy of The Theatre of Dreams waiting for me on the doorstep.
July – How do I launch a book? Surely if I just throw a few tweets out there, chat about it on Facebook, add a few Instagrams, tell a few friends…that’ll work, won’t it? The first Amazon reviews are in and they’re very good – but they are all written by people who know me. Fulfil another personal ambition and visit Hampton Court Flower Show on the hottest day of the year. We all wilt and have to be revived by large doses of Pimms. I do, however, gather ideas for a winter knitting project if the writing career plummets.
August – The Theatre of Dreams is officially launched into the world and the euphoria soon ends with a look at my sales figures. How do you make one book stand out against so many millions of others? Maybe I should have done a bit more tweeting and making friends on social media. Maybe I should have just paid out big bucks for a professional book promotion service. Maybe I need a much bigger family. It’s a steep learning curve but on the plus side more reviews are in and they are not written by people who know me…
September – We set sail on a two-week cruise to the Baltics. After traipsing through a mere smidgeon of the 22km of corridors at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg it’s easy to see why the Russians had a revolution. It’s jaw-dropping opulence in the extreme. Publisher accepts Book Two.
October – Do what we we’ve been meaning to do since we returned from the Netherlands twelve months previously – put house on the market and plan an escape to the country. Yes we are that couple of empty-nesters looking to downsize to a house with sweeping views in rural isolation but close to all local amenities and obviously we still need something big enough for all our stuff, and our children’s stuff that didn’t leave the nest with them…
November – Onwards and upwards to conquer the Everest sized mountain of book marketing and self-promotion. Meanwhile, start edits on Your Secret’s Safe With Me.
December – First author talk, nobody fell asleep which I take to be a good sign. Continue to try and make self more alluring and interesting on social media. House sold – first challenge of 2019 will be to find a new one that ticks all our 101 boxes. Edits complete on Your Secret’s Safe With Me and launch date set for 18 February 2019. Who’d have thought, this time last year…
Many thanks to everyone who has supported my writing journey and also to my fellow authors who have guested on this blog during the year, either talking about their favourite comfort reads or their own magical books.
I’m not usually one to court controversy but there were a few bits and bobs on Twitter this weekend about book titles, so I just thought I’d jot down my thoughts. Joanne Harris, one of my favourite authors, upset a few people with a list of book titles she no longer wished to see, anything featuring the word ‘little’ – eg café, bakery, coffee shop, titles with The + one other word, and titles referring to a feminine relative – daughter, mother, sister.
I didn’t enter into the argument other than to like a couple of replies, simply because I actually (shock horror) agree with some of the points Joanne was trying to make. Book titles follow trends and I think it would be fair to say there is trend in the women’s fiction market for pretty pastel coloured books featuring a variety of ‘little’ business opportunities.
There’s no doubt that the ‘little’ in the title is meant to convey a quaintness, the romantic idyll, something warm and comforting and a lot of readers like that – as the marketing departments of the big publishing houses well know. Include a ‘little’ something in the title and a reader can immediately identify the genre.
Cosy ‘little’ coffee shops abound between the pages of novels, but rarely do such wonderful places exist in real life. Who wouldn’t want to escape to Cornwall and run a ‘little’ B&B? Well not me actually because running a B&B is bloody hard work, but I’m more than happy to read a fictitious account of somebody else’s attempt to revitalise Granny’s ‘little’ old cliff-top hotel – and dream on.
Likewise tea rooms, which always seem to have a faceless background crew so that the heroine, or hero, has plenty of time to run around the village doing other wonderful things – when of course the reality is that like the small café in the village where I live, there’s never enough customers to make the place a viable financial proposition running it single-handedly, let alone make enough money to employ wonderful support staff.
Any business run along ‘little’ lines is doomed to failure in the real world so maybe it is time to come up with some alternative descriptions. A quick check through the thesaurus reveals some interesting possibilities – besides the size connotations – diminutive, miniature, there is also the unimportant – trivial and insignificant. Perhaps ‘little’ isn’t such a comforting word after all.
Books are subjective. As writers we have to acknowledge the paying public don’t all want to read the same thing and everyone has different tastes and preferences. I don’t want to knock escapism – after all I write it – but ‘a little’ diversity in titles could go a long way in elevating commercial women’s fiction to a more prominent platform, and perhaps even a wider readership.
I heard Joanne Harris give a lecture a few years back at The Winchester Writers Conference and she is an eloquent, inspirational and passionate speaker. The novel for which she is probably most well-known, Chocolat, was first published in 1999 and the publishing world was very different then. The irony is if the book was being marketed today, I’ve a sneaking suspicion the suggestion might be mooted for The Little Chocolate Shop in France…
The last twelve months have passed in a bit of whirlwind with house moves, job changes, and of course, the book. Before acquiring my publishing contract for The Theatre of Dreams my forays into social media were limited to a personal Facebook page and a low-key blog about being an ex-pat. Then I had to up my game and reach out into the whole new world of marketing. If writing a book is Dr Jekyll, then I’ve discovered marketing it is my Mr Hyde. And unfortunately one doesn’t come without the other.
I’ve heard it said before that writers can feel consumed by their book. It’s true. It does take over your life. That baby you created, loved and cherished can easily become a monster. The path from pitch to publication is a rollercoaster. There are the highs – the contract, the launch, and the lows – what comes after. It’s been a whole witch’s brew of new skills. You don’t just have to be creative, you have to be tenacious, relentless and/or extremely well organised.
Sometimes you have to step away from a situation to see it more clearly. When Mr T and I lived overseas we made the most of our weekends. We set out with our guide books to soak-up the history and culture of our adopted homeland. We promised ourselves that once we settled back in the UK, we would attack our local area with the same sense of vigour. It’s very easy to overlook what’s on your own doorstep. In the Netherlands we explored towns – the Dutch countryside can be somewhat samey. But here in the UK even within a short distance of home the landscape changes. We’ve spent several recent weekends setting out on walks and hikes all within a thirty-minute drive of our home. Up on the downs or down on the coast, the scenery and the exercise has proved quite liberating. Not only have we discovered some amazing new places, but more importantly these walks have provided the opportunity to gather thoughts and clear some headspace.
I’m a total novice into the world of book promotion but even I have quickly come to the conclusion that checking Twitter to see how many people have liked a tweet is not good for the soul. I can be quite witty when I want to be, but that wit isn’t always spontaneous. Blink and a tweet is gone – and with it another missed opportunity! I can’t be glued to my phone all day. I’m not a teenager and I have to rise above it (and I’d just like to add in here I’d hate to be a teenager today, or even the parent of a teenager. Nobody needs that pressure!). Yes I am disappointed that my Amazon ranking is heading downhill with the speed of an Olympic skier – but my book is just one of many millions out there. It’s very hard to stand out from the crowd. I have to put it in perspective. It’s important to look at what you have achieved as opposed to dwelling on the perception of what you haven’t.
So okay, although not a bestseller (it always helps to lower your expectations) The Theatre of Dreams has accumulated several 5* reviews on Amazon. People have enjoyed it, and that’s why I write. My Instagram account is growing. Twitter – the necessary evil – has to be dealt with. However, I do now have an author platform that didn’t exist twelve months ago and I’ll admit, I should have put more emphasis on building up that following before publication as opposed to after. I blame it on my upbringing – I was always told modesty is a virtue, but in today’s flooded book market, it really isn’t!
I’ve had my moments of serious self-doubt, but headspace cleared, and a deep breath of Hampshire air I feel ready to continue the challenge. Thanks to my publisher, Crooked Cat, my second book, Your Secret’s Safe With Me will be out next year. More news about the book will follow soon – so watch this space, or even better subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any updates!
I’ve always considered myself to be a modest, shy, person, characteristics which aren’t particularly conducive to self-promotion, which is why I struggle with this whole social media/creating a writer platform malarky.
My other half points out I can’t be shy because after moving abroad, I pro-actively joined social groups and made many new friends. I had to. I’d moved 5000 miles away from the town that had been my home for over 40 years and I didn’t know a soul, but that didn’t stop the dread of having to introduce myself to strangers over and over again – Hi I’m Rosie, I’m an expat, can you recommend a good hairdresser/dentist/doctor/therapist….
Admittedly that first international move nine years ago forced me out of my comfort zone, however, I now find myself in a similar position.
Hi I’m Rosie, and I’ve written this book….
I hate putting myself out there, but I’ve got a book launch coming up and if I don’t publicise it, nobody else will. So besides being ‘active’ on social media, bombarding my friends, what else can I do? Contact the local press…
I’ve had dealings with the local press before. When we moved to the Netherlands I undertook an on-line writing course, and being a model student, during the lesson on writing articles and features for magazines, I contacted my local newspaper back in the UK, pitching a story about a transplanted Southampton woman now living in the Netherlands. I think this might interest your readers, I wrote. I heard nothing….for six months. Then I received an email. Dear Rosie, please could you write us a 500 word article about your life in the Netherlands by Friday…oh and by the way, can we have a photograph of you with a windmill.
500 words and one 4 km cycle ride to the nearest windmill for a photo-shoot later, the article was complete.
Despite the apparent rush, my feature didn’t appear in the paper for at least another three weeks, presumably something better came up. Having said that, three weeks is nothing compared to the two year wait I had for a short-story to appear in another local magazine after it had been accepted!
So, knowing how long it can take to receive a response, let alone publication, I sent off a couple of notices this week about my book and its forthcoming launch on 1 August. The very next day I received a phone call from one local newspaper, the Portsmouth based The News and had a very pleasant chat with a reporter who asked lots of questions about my writing and the inspiration behind it. Oh so you will come to my launch? I said. Yes, she replied and we’ll run a feature on it tomorrow. You’ll be on page 13….’
Tomorrow! Likely story I thought, but just on the off chance, I rushed into my local One-Stop and grabbed its lone copy of The News, and there it was, perfectly filling a slot on page 13 as promised!
‘Mum picks up pen to commemorate town’s demolished art deco building…’
I do actually write with a keyboard and a computer, and my children have both long flown the nest, but what the heck! I’m very grateful to The News for running the story. I’m not sure I’m going to get stopped in the street because of it, but hopefully it’s aroused a little bit more interest for the book.