Tuesday, 28 March 2017

An upcoming book signing... and it's not me.

Book Signing - Books On The Hill, Clevedon - Joanne Hall - April 1st

It's a long time since I went to a book signing event, other than my own recent ones, so I was quite pleased to find an event nearby to go to.

It will be fun to see how others host their event, chat to the author and meet other like minded book readers. It did occur to me that I ought to read at least one of her books before I go. Somehow, I think I need to take a look at her short stories for now, but her books do look like ones I could enjoy and I have already downloaded Spark and Carousel 

to go on my 'to be read' list, after I have finished my current read. I love a good book for my commute to and from work in Bristol, where Joanne is also from.

So, for now I shall do a little homework on her so I am not embarrassed on Saturday and maybe one day she'll come to an event hosted by me.

Ah well, it's nice to dream

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Book 2, the follow up...

It's said that everyone has a book in them, the following part of that quote is dependant on who you attribute it to.

"Everyone has a book inside of them - but it doesn't do any good until you pry it out." - Jodi Picoult 

Christopher Hitchens — 'Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.'

What isn't so sure is whether everyone has a second book in them, and whether that book gets written.

With the first book I had all the ideas from the start and just sat down and typed away.

Book 2 isn't working out that straight forward. Now, I have to work out how to develop the characters, remember what I put in book 1 and make sure it all stays relevant to book 2 and I don't contradict anything. I am a planner and this is taking a lot more planning than the first book.

Maybe it's because this story, set among the Cavemen of Cheddar Gorge in 13,500BC, isn't so well documented as the Great Plague of London in 1665.Samuel Pepys kept a detailed diary of the Plague whilst all I have to go on for the Cavemen is a few cave paintings and some bones. 

But gradually, the story is taking shape. I am finding my characters are evolving, I'm working out the introduction of new characters and realizing where the underlying story is. 

I even know what I want my cover to look like.

I'm realising that book 2 is harder to write than book 1 but I am finally feeling excitement for the story and that hopefully means my reader will too.

Now I understand why writing stand alone novels is a better idea than a series, but I am committed to my plan of a series of children's novels using different British historical events as the background plan. 

Through Time To Cheddar is beginning to come alive.

Exciting News

One of the difficulties of being a new author is the need to still pay bills. I work full-time, as do many authors, and dream of the day when I can finally get my comfy-shed at the bottom of the garden and spend each day dreaming up further adventures for Brandy & Brinkley. 

Having done a few book signings, been featured in the local press and doing an hour interview on local radio, my next wish is to get into giving talks. I would love to get involved in chatting to children in schools so I was totally delighted this morning when one of my work colleagues told me her son had taken my book into school, excited that his mum knew the author and that the book was signed, and the school librarian asked if he thought I would be interested in going in to school to talk to the Y8 children.

Would I?

Well, yes. Tell me who I need to speak to. 

So, fingers crossed it all comes to fruition, but in the meantime I shall enjoy the excitement at another new door opening in this journey of becoming a children's author.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The necessity of Book Signings

As an unknown, self-published author the biggest challenge is letting people know about you and your book. Friends and family were brilliant at buying copies, especially as the September publication date made it a perfect gift for Christmas (marketing strategy no.1)
I saw copies travelling throughout the UK, to Spain, America and Canada. Very satisfying. 

I had a small piece in the local weekly paper and a full page feature in the glossy local magazine. (marketing strategy no.2 - use local resources)

I organised a number of book signings at upcoming Christmas fayres. These were remarkably effective, again the Christmas present focus seemed to work well. The price on the cover is £6.99, but if I am selling them in person, no delivery or postage charges to pay I can sell them for £5.00 and still make a profit. £5.00 seemed to work well and it also meant I wasn't having to carry loads of change for people with tenners, I just needed some fivers.

As my first book signing drew nearer I had my nice green table cloth to complement the colour of the book cover, print outs of reviews and plastic stands to display my book. I had a new sparkly pen and I had my stock of books. I also had a massive attack of nerves. This was something that was so far out of my comfort zone I wasn't sure I would be able to go through with it.

The day arrived and fortunately it was a work day, so I was distracted throughout the day and dashed to the village hall where the Christmas shopping evening was taking place. The majority of table sellers were already setting up when I arrived. To my right was a local artist that drew action figure images and he was trying to find places to display his artwork. To my left was a lady selling scarves, handbags and other accessories. She had an enormous amount of stock already laid out. It turns out she was a market trader and sold at a number of different markets around the area so she was well used to this environment, (she even managed to sell me a scarf).

It took me no more than 5 minutes to set up, fetch a cup of coffee and sit behind my table nervously waiting to see if anyone would show any interest, let alone buy a copy. As the general public started to arrive they began to circle the room, looking at the various stalls from a safe distance so as not to engage with the stall holder. The cake stall was popular as was the stall selling Christmas cards, paper, table cloths and other Christmas related items. 

Then suddenly I had someone stood infront of my table. They were reading the print out of one of the reviews I'd received.

Congrats to Brindy!! Just finished her book and the adventures of B+B and Grace. Very individual, imaginative and fun. She's one bright authoress with a unique story-telling gift. Well done....she'll go far - well, another 10,000 years backwards!!!!!

Ted - London 1st November 2016

Now I had a decision to make: did I leave them to browse, or did I speak to them and risk scaring them off. I chose to speak, I passed them a copy of the book to see the back cover so they could read the cover blurb. They started to ask questions and I began to relax as I continued to speak about my favourite topic, my book. Then success, they said they'd buy a copy, could I sign it and they paid me... real money. £5.00

It became easier after that, I sold another one, my table cost for the evening was covered. With the hall filling up my book attracted more interest and I sold a few more. It was a small local christmas fayre and I sold double the amount of books I had expected to, and more than that, I had done my first book signing and began to learn how to relate to the buying public. 

Since then, I have done several more and each one brings a pleasing amount of sales. Gradually, the numbers of my books out there are increasing, but it's a really slow process. (marketing strategy 3 - get out and meet the public)


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A deadline looms.

Typing the final sentence is a definite high. To know you have managed to complete a story of over 54,000 words and reach a conclusion, having tied up all the various storylines, leaving the hook into book two is very satisfying. But following that, there is a lull and this is where the hard work is just starting. Most people who are writing their first novel do so while carrying on their day job, juggling work and family, grabbing what little time is left in a day to write. Because they haven't written a novel to completion before there is no deadline for completion.

This was how it was for me, the book would be done when it was done. Now that it was finished, I didn't want it to sit on a shelf collecting dust, so I set myself a date for publication...3rd September 2016, 6 months time.

I knew it needed editing and proofreading, I knew it needed formatting for kindle and printing but I felt 6 months was ample time to get all this done and the date would keep me focused. I sent the manuscript out to several beta readers for feedback and corrections. I had the necessary changes made to my cover when a friend made me aware another book had been published called Cavalier Chronicles. While I had decided on the title 'Through Time to London' which could be adapted for future books, I had wanted to call the series the 'Cavalier Chronicles,' but with the publication of a book using this as the title, I wanted to avoid any confusion so I decided to remove that from my cover. I have to be honest, I was a little upset at this, but avoiding confusion was important so it had to go.

While the book was out with my beta readers I was refreshing my knowledge on getting it formatted for kindle, it all seemed straightforward, as long as you were methodical about it. I was using Createspace for the print-on-demand copies, but also needed copies for family & friends that wanted copies so I sourced a printer that would do print runs of 100 books at a reasonable price. 

As comments came back I made amendments, re-read chapters to make any adjustments I felt necessary and the the weeks flew by. I needed the manuscript finalised and off to the printers 3 weeks ahead of publishing date. It was going to be tight. I had orders from friends and family to get ready to post out, I needed padded envelopes addressing, the books needed signing with the correct names and messages. At this point I realised I had never actually signed my author name. I treated myself to a new sparkly pen for signing books and began practicing. 

I made the decision to push the publication back a week and finally, on Saturday 10th September 2016 I pressed the button to make it live on Amazon and I took 3 trips to the Post Office to send out all the orders. 

My book was published, and it felt amazing. I felt amazing. An ambition was achieved.

Now, the hard work was beginning. I could call myself an author, but could I get any sales?

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Not IF but HOW to Self-Publish

As the chapters began to stack up, thoughts inevitably turned to what to do with it when it was finally finished. My ambition was always to hold a copy of a book I had written in my hand. With that in mind I had 2 options as I saw it:

1. To spend a couple of years approaching agents and publishers and to begin a collection of well intentioned (or not) rejection letters and then self-publish


2. Save myself 2 years and go straight down the self-publishing route. 

When facing a challenge I always go back to the days when I was learning to drive. I couldn't get the co-ordination between the clutch and the throttle and the handbrake and... well, you know where I'm coming from. I kept my focus by telling myself 'I am not an idiot and if all those other people that I saw behind the wheel of a car could do it, then so could I' and I did.

So, knowing how many others had self-published I felt confident I would be able to work it out. The one major requirement was that I could get my hands on a physical copy. 

I took an online course in Kindle Direct Publishing - and yes, I was perfectly capable of doing all that was required. That would get the digital copy available and the print on demand option was available through Createspace, which would get me the hard copy to hold in my hand. My overall ambition was there for the taking, I just needed to get the manuscript finished. Spurred on, more chapters streamed from my laptop. 

By early 2016 it was complete. The hard work of editing and proofreading was still to be done, but finally the story was written. The cover design was finished and I was a massive step nearer to my dream of holding my first novel. 

Now it was decision time - traditional publish self-publish - time to choose option 1 or option 2.

At the back of my mind there was always that self-doubt, that it wasn't a good enough story for an agent or a publisher to take a risk on. I read a lot and I know how many excellent books are out there, despite all the comments I was receiving, I wasn't confident enough to risk the traditional publishing route, and so I stuck to my original plan and chose option 2.

It was now time to begin the journey to self-publication. This was February 2016 and I gave myself 6 months to fine-tune and publish. I set myself a goal of September 2016. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Time to let others read my story

Writer's generally work alone. They create stories in their heads and transfer the words onto paper or screen. Many file the stories away, never to be read by another living soul. I have several stories that are started, but not finished. Ideas that run out of steam, or projects that I plan to come back to 'some time in the future'.

But when you have a story that feels like it has something, there comes a time when you have to let someone else read it.

I am used to people reading my various blogs, and that had never bothered me. My blogs are my thoughts and musings, written for my own entertainment. A book is a whole new challenge and sharing it with others was scary.

The first challenge was to decide who to ask to read it. For me, it had to be people I trusted to give me a true opinion, who would not say they liked it, or even loved it, because they didn't want to upset me. I chose a select few to be my alpha readers, to give me feedback chapter by chapter. After all, if it was rubbish, I may as well know sooner rather than later so I could start again.

I sent out the first few chapters and tried not to check my email every 5 minutes to see if anyone had replied with feedback. It was difficult to continue writing while waiting for those first comments.

Eventually my email showed replies and I opened them while holding my breath. 

And they were actually quite good, quite positive and encouraging. I could breathe again and continue with another chapter.

This continued over the next few chapters. Each time I finished one, I would send it out. Back it would come with comments, still encouraging me to continue. My confidence boosted I was driven to get the story completed and, as I typed away in the peace and quiet of the night-time hours, the word count began to build. Soon I had several chapters and 20,000 words. I was no longer worried about others reading my work, I had got over a huge new writer's worry - negative feedback. I took comments on board to improve sections that didn't work and soon the story was nearing completion.

Finally, after many months I wrote the final sentence. My story was complete and it was time for the next stage. 

Time to look for Beta-readers.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Happy World Book Day

It seems as if this year World Book Year has suddenly become main stream business with advertisers costumes every where. Retailers are on the bandwagon and the gist implications significant.

While I thoroughly enjoy the idea of dressing up your child in their favourite book character's costume, I do wonder if as a child who enjoys books, wouldn't you just want the money spent on more books? 

For my part, I am not dressing up but I will be handing out free copies of my book to unsuspecting members of the public, just to celebrate World Book Day.

Have a great day