Saturday, 9 November 2013

Reigning On My Parade


Excitement is building at Hedges Towers. It is three weeks until the official Facebook launch of Diamonds & Dust: A Victorian Murder Mystery (publ. Crooked Cat Books) and suddenly, the reality that it is actually going to happen is dawning. This book is special for many reasons. It is my twelfth published novel (I have loads of unpublished ones). It is my first adult novel, as opposed to the teenage and YA fiction I have previously written. It is also the 'unexpected' book - in that, despite writing a novel a year, I had not been able to break back into mainstream publishing since 2008, when Usborne decided not to publish any more Spy Girl books.

Unexpected also, as those of you who are aware of the back story know, because prior to placing it with Crooked Cat, I parted company with my agent, who had told me that there was no market for this book, so she was not going to bother sending it out to publishers; comments that resulted in my almost losing heart and deciding to give up writing altogether. Take whatever lesson you wish to learn from this.

So, apart from sorting out the party fairy lights and discovering they don't work because one of the bulbs has blown, ordering in crates of prosecco and wrapping crepe paper streamers round the PINK SOFA who has been in launch mode since the summer, I am also gearing up for some publicity, because I have promised the family that there will be a villa in Tuscany and a black Maserati from the profits.

Publicity has become vitally important in today's frenetic book market. In the 1950s when I was growing up, there seemed no need for authors to get involved in marketing their books. Nobody was interested in them. I could have passed Ruby Ferguson, Primrose Cummings, A Stephen Tring, Pamela Brown or Don Stanford in the street and not recognised them. Now if you publish a book, unless you are happy just to have achieved publication, and content that only your immediate family, and close friends will buy it, you HAVE to put yourself out there.

There are a couple of myths currently going round about publicity. The first says that mainstream published writers don't have to do much if any publicity, as they have marketing wonks to do it instead. Wrong. If you read last week's blog, where best-selling author Kate Long talked about her writing, you will see I asked her that exact question. You can read her reply here.

My own experience, based on OUP and Usborne, my two previous publishers, is that at my level of importance, publicity wonks will send your book out for review, feature you in the publisher's catalogue, and produce press releases, but that's pretty well it. The rest you sort yourself, unless you are a 'famous or favoured writer' - of which more anon. Sometimes, they don't even do that - one year, I was told by OUP that they were going to spend the entire marketing budget on a couple of well known childrens' writers who brought in more money than a mid-lister like me. Seriously.

The bottom line is always money. If you don't sell enough books, and make sufficient money, big publishers will drop you. Actually, most publishers of whatever size will drop you - so those authors I recently came across on Facebook moaning that ''they can't do publicity, it isn't ''them'' and why doesn't X (their small publisher) do it all for them like big publishers do'' really need to wake up and smell the coffee.

The other myth is that 'popular' mainstream authors get taken on lovely trips and outings to promote their books. Hollow laughter. I recently caught up with one such writer, just back from the US. It was a nightmare. Meetings with publishers, followed by book talks, followed by signings, followed by working dinners, followed by total exhaustion. And one of the famous OUP writers I mentioned earlier didn't get to write a thing for two years, had a nervous breakdown, and had to force herself to inch back into writing again. So there you are. Myths well and truly busted. Next week, I shall explore some of the publicity portals just waiting to be explored, and how I hope to use them without annoying all of you too excessively.

***** I am currently up for Blogger of the Year 2014: If you would like to vote for me (or any of the other bloggers) please go to:  *****








40 comments:

  1. Excited for the launch and dusting off the cobwebs from my Victorian partywear ready for December 3rd!! : ) x








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  2. Thanks. You usually manage to be first commentator! Extra tripe for you at the launch!!

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  3. Holding everything crossed for you CarolStar! You are an incredibly hard worker, so I'm sure your efforts will be super rewarded. You of all people deserve it. Lovely you!

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    1. Thanks Val. I have everything crossed too - probably why I keep falling over.

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    2. Just as long as you don't tie yourself up in knots too...

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  4. Quite right Carol. I had no interest in social media, blogging etc before my book was published. Since then I've had to get all of that sorted out. Luckily my day job in PR helps with this a little in terms of technical knowledge and awareness of what works. My book has hardly been a big seller but I believe it has done a lot better than it would have done if I had made no effort. Before it was published my publisher was very frank with me that they didn't expect it to sell - they said they were publishing it for love not money. You have to make yourself visible I think, to be in with a chance.

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    1. I agree. Maybe you and I are lucky, as we have both had jobs where we have had to self-promote (and running a local activist campaign is a real self-promoting learning curve). As you say, both of us started from a low base, and you have done very well with your book - due to your own unstinting efforts. I have lost count of the number of writers who I know have had books launched, and whom I do not see regularly blogging, tweeting or engaging with people.

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  5. Good luck with your launch Carol. I'm very excited for you and you deserve every success. My Miss Havisham costume is hanging on my wardrobe door collecting a bit more dust ... all ready for the occasion! x

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  6. Very excited about the launch. I shall wear virtual Victorian clobber and talk with a virtual Victorian accent. It's very sad how the publishing industry has changed so much in a single generation. Large publishers will one day soon face the consequences of concentrating on one or two favourites.

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  7. Goes without saying that I wish you every success with the launch of your new book and its forthcoming triumph.....but I've said it any way to spare me going through the mime again!
    I too am heartily excited about the occasion...indeed I plan to exhume my black party dress from the bowels of my wardrobe...( I don't get out much )...and wear it with pride as I mingle with your honourable guests...( actually I'll probably just hang with the dishonourable ones...they're far more interesting ).
    In truth, I'm seriously looking forward to reading Diamonds and Dust not only because I believe it has all the ingredients necessary to pique and maintain my interest but because it's written by one of the most talented writers I have ever met...so I just know it will be a damn good read!
    See you at the launch Hedges...I may even trim my beard...x

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    1. Actually,beards were very fashionable at that time ...so I wouldn't bother trimming it....we can stand you in a corner and you can be The Freak Show (also very popular!) It's a win-win situation...

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  8. That's really interesting Carol, lots of things I didn't know. I too thought that if a big publisher took someone on they helped with publicity, now I know the truth. Just like everything in life, you just have to do it all yourself

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    1. I find some of the illusions held by both Indie writers ...and by those who are mainstream published ''interesting'' ...and wrong on most counts!

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  9. Great post, my friend, and very enlightening.

    Good luck with the launch. I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished product :-)

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    1. Your contribution was invaluable!!!

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    2. It's very kind of you to say so. But it was a pleasure.

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    3. Hopefully ypu will be around for the sequel.......

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  10. Excited to hear about your new book, Carol. I hope it will bring you the success you undoubtedly deserve!

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    1. Thanks, Breanster!! Friends' encouragement is what keeps me going. That and prosecco

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  11. Although not with a publisher, because I am not a real writer like wot you are, I am already thinking about how best to publicise the book I am currently writing; it is not histfic but has a historical twist to it, so I shall be interested to see what your methods are, and nick all your ideas. HAAAAAA!!!! This is a most interesting blog post, CJ. I know what book tours are like because I've read Bill Bryson talking about his. Sound horrible. I discovered recently (ie, when visiting a lot of old friends the other week, who I hadn't seen since publishing on Amazon) that I really hate talking about what I do, apart from chatting to other writers in private. Must be horrible to have to do interviews and SOUND ARTICULATE. Argh!!!!

    Lotsa luck wiv the book, Mrs!

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    1. Thanks! You will probably find that most of my ideas are a re-hash of what you/Alice from the Palace have taught me! Don't think I know anything more than you!!

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    2. In that case you might like to do as I shall - ie, start adding followers who like histfic, and doing the network thang with other histfic writers. And don't call it histfic, which I shall stop doing from this moment on!! BTW, you were supposed to say 'what do you mean, you are not a proper writer like me?' But I suppose you knew that, which is why you didn't. Either that or you agree. I was joking, too. Oh, well!!!!

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    3. I didn't comment because, as you well know, from your sales and your followers and your awards, there is NO WAY yu are not a 'proper writer''. So stop fishing!!!!!

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    4. But fishing is fun if you do it in a tongue in cheek way, and then get publicly annoyed when it hasn't worked, afterwards...!!!!

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  12. I'm dusting down my bodice ready for the launch. You are an inspiration MrsH x

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  13. wishing you all the luck for Diamonds and Dust, Carol. Wonderful title by the way. As relative newbies, Anita and I appreciate all the info that comes our way from helpful souls like yourself, and are looking forward to future posts with great interest. Thanks again, Carol... ( we have just voted!)

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    1. Thank you ladies. I shall endevour to live up to your expectations!!! No pressure.

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  14. Great myth busting. It doesn't matter who your publisher is. You. Have. To. Market. No matter how much we hate to. ;)

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  15. Excellent post. You've really cut to the heart of the matter here, Kelly. There are so many naive ideas floating around out there about what happens after you publish (and how glorious it all is). I've also had occasion to lose heart because of the comments of agents and editors. I bounced back, and I'm glad you have, too. Congratulations on the soon-to-be publication of your 12th book!

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  16. Excellent post! Something all new writers need to read and become aware of. I am releasing my debut eBook at the end of the month, but I have been dedicated to getting published for many many years and learned all of this on my own Sadly, not many new writers do that and wind up being really disappointed. It's not all glamorous as certain popular authors make it look and it is hard work.

    Good luck with Diamonds & Dust! And congratulations on the nomination! :)

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    1. Thanks CXhris..next week, what I do...and why....

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  17. I think your book will be fabulous! I can't think of anyone who is better at publicity and promoting than your goodself so I don't forsee any problem there. Wishing you lots of luck and a villa in Tuscany.

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    1. thanks, lovely. Tell me if I become a pest!!

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  18. This is very interesting- you paint, I think, an accurate picture of where we are at as authors. You have to do it for yourself-no one else will.
    Can't wait to read the new book!

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  19. Congrats on the upcoming release! And you've done so well promoting yourself for the past year or so, I'm sure you'll be a natural.

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  20. Jonathan Broughton12 December 2013 at 01:42

    Just voted for you Carol. Great blog. Wishing you every success with Diamonds and Dust.

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