I’m going to enjoy this … ☺️
I’m going to enjoy this … ☺️
These words billowed through my brain all the way home across the country; it was the primary message I came away with from the 6th Self-Publishing Conference in UK’s Leicestershire on Saturday last.
As a writer of waffle, a blog and captions below instagram photos (Viola_Bleu), the drive to become more efficient and effective has been building for some months and I know if you’ve been here a while you’ll have recognised this in my posts.
Had I been attempting to create pieces of fiction twenty years ago, and had I thought them quality enough to be shown in public without disgracing myself, there would have been only traditional routes open to me – submit to agents and publishers advertised in the backs of magazines, newspapers and throughout the pages of the Writers & Artists Yearbook.
That’s all changed.
The internet and the growth of Amazon and its self-publishing section created a wave, no a tsunami, of previously unpublished works written by thousands, probably millions of previously unknown authors. They took – and take daily – the opportunities offered by the internet, with links to kindle and e-readers, to have their pages available for reading by the masses; the ‘outside world’ of readers across the planet, in fact anyone with internet access and a desire to read.
Clever covers can be uploaded to create the effect of a ‘real book’ (even if it is only available as an ebook) which will hopefully draw those googling readers to their words rather than the hundred listed either side of the result of their months/years of blood sweat and tears. POD (print on demand) options gives writers a chance to sell copies of their books in paperback form as readers press the relevant option on their Amazon app ‘Buy in Paperback’ .. and hot off the press, a copy is printed, packed in those exciting cardboard packages with the special rip open feature that you wish could be repeated, so good is the sound.
Publishing your book is one thing. Marketing and ensuring sales happen is really quite another.
Enter the FairyGodmothers of self-publishing.
There are, naturally, competing organisations offering similar services, but I’m sharing my thoughts with you here of Troubador because I now have first hand experience of their personas and the effort they put in to running this conference. So, already they are leaders in my mind because that right there – the conference – means they understand what marketing is about. A whole day of organised talks by experts in the business of self publishing.
If they’d written their debut novel; I’d now be buying a copy. Just take a look at the sessions which were available;
For self-published writers who choose NOT to use experts along the way, they rely solely on reviews from their early readers (ideally good ones) to invite further readership. It is a little like pyramid selling and your baby is the product, yet you’re no longer in control of its destiny, your readers are.
Now I’m not a pushy salesman type and it is why my day job is in the service industry. My clients recommend me to their friends. In effect, I’ve left the PR to existing clients who are happy with my work, use me year in year out and who talk about me to their friends. My job is to provide top quality repairs on their expensive horse rugs and to deliver back to them ultra clean and waterproof rugs so their precious beasts stay snuggly and dry throughout the winter months.
With my writing, I would prefer my job to be the creation of something worth reading, and leave much of the PR to people who know what they’re doing. Troubadour and their umbrella company Matador, plus the other attached organisations such as The Book Guild Ltd, all offer a variety of services, details of which can be obtained on their website link above. These guys would help me with marketing, opening doors to even more people who know the business. They have tips on how to approach your own PR campaign as your confidence grows.
Here are some tips from the brilliant Guide we all received in our goodie bags …
We also had the privilege to listen to a talk by Molly Flatt who is (her words) an ‘entrepreneur’ of the modern age, a social media guru with many years to her name in the literary world of work. Her book is due out imminently – ‘The Charmed Life of Alex Moore’ … please go and check her out if you don’t follow her already because, quite frankly, your life simply isn’t complete without her in it.
Man of the Woods was simply amazing while I was away moving daughter one day, at a writing conference the next. He fed himself, and our son, went shopping and made sure I would not run out of bisuits for ages, bless him. Look Patty – our favourite!
With the Curtis Brown Creative 6-week online course in which I am partaking from next week, support from MOTW, Matsu always close, and Troubadour up my sleeve, there’s really no excuse is there.
Daily Word Prompt
An hour and a half later the few thespians who had stayed late filtered out of the ‘Queens Head’ into the night air, their breath clearly visible as swirls of white dissipated before reappearing again. Hebe and Jackie walked behind Mike and Jason, the others having gone in the other direction toward the bus stop or the Tesco express carpark. Two blocks down and Hebe stopped to say her goodnights, the propped open and broken gate marking the entrance to her parents’ home.
‘Night Hebe, see you next week!’ Mike didn’t pause but kept his head down against the wind and Jason lifted his arm to wave to her ‘Nice to meet you!’ he added, breaking into a jog to catch up with his dad. Mike lived about three blocks further down and presumably Jason would be staying there until he found digs of his own.
‘Do you want a hot chocolate?’ Hebe moved from one foot to another in an effort to keep warm, the tiny sparse gravel crunching beneath the soles of her boots.
‘Nah, its late lovely. You go on in. I’ll catch the boys up and grab a cab I think at Needle corner. Too bloody cold to walk. Night!’ and she was gone, a reducing shape into the gloom. Secretly, Hebe was glad to be able to grab an early night. A hot bath and maybe she’d take her hot chocolate in with her.
* * *
With her hair in a towel, twisted up high on her head Hebe pulled the fluffy yellow dressing gown tightly round her waist, and scolded herself not for the first time for losing the belt. She lay her script for ‘The Fisherman’ out on the bed, or what was left of the well-handled pages and glanced over the green highlighted lines. The play centred around a fictitious harbour during the 1940s, light in headcount due to war years and the lives of the few resident characters attempting to make the best of what life could offer. Eustace and his wife Esme ran the only pub in the harbour, once a thriving trade house for anything coming in off the seas, but now suffering from lack of trade and custom. Eustace liked to fish and had convinced himself there was money to be made from his increasingly frequent trips out in his trawler, much to Esme’s despair who needed him back home to repair windows and plumbing. The script revealed a love-affair between Eustace and a mermaid and his efforts to keep her a secret.
‘I’ve wanted to do a Margo Spalding for years, and now is the perfect time.’ Mike had explained to the group the previous autumn, handing round copies of his script they would be working with. ‘Sadly Margo passed away this summer and lots of companies are adapting her early plays at the moment. I’ve been working on her first play for some time ironically. It was a story I always enjoyed and I’d like to you to take a look now. Vera, are you ok to prompt again?’ he sat back into the leather armchair having clocked Vera’s eager nod, and flicked through his copy of The Fisherman as he went through the parts he had allocated to members.
Mike had gone on to explain the intriguing true story about a family who had gone to a seaside resort back in the 1930s during which time their six year old daughter had gone missing. Although a police search was carried out at the time, a week or two later with their daughter presumed dead, the family had no choice but to return to their lives in the Midlands never to return to the fateful place which had taken their daughter. Hebe and the cast members listened to his description of Margo Spalding, a playwright of high esteem who had written this, her first play, in the 1970s after she had seen a newspaper article covering the story of the unsolved mystery about the family from the Midlands.
Hebe had not heard of Margo, but had became fascinated by her work and discovered that Margo’s original title for her play was ‘The Child from The Sea’. She opened her laptop and googled Margo’s name and scrolled down until she found a list of plays. She found what she was looking for and another link led her again to the source for the play, the very 1970s newspaper article which she took time to read.
Forty years ago in the quaint english harbour of Bosham Hoe, a young girl went missing. Her body never located, her family from the Midlands continued their lives without her. F.B. Boatbuilders, managed by the proprietor Frederick Broomfield for over a decade in the same harbour has this week admitted he is the missing girl’s brother and an ex-minister. He has one son who helps him in the yard and they are presently building a boat which they plan to name “Elsie”.
With goosebumps crawling across her skin, Hebe sent a text to Jackie, ‘What’s Keith surname, do you know it?” and the reply was almost instananeous; “Yeah … its Broomfield”
Wanted to share with you my funny little piece of flash fiction I typed with no plan last August. It was during that phase when the Black and White photo challenge was doing the rounds on FB … I took a photo of some maize on our farm (which I’ve since deleted so today borrowed from shutterstock for illustration purposes) and rather than merely post the photo on its own, I wrote a few words which randomly popped into my head as I stared at said photo…
A rustling noise made me glance towards the high stems of maize, expecting to see a dog or perhaps a deer but there was nothing. Nothing behind me, or to the side and definitely nothing in front.
I took this short cut through the maize plantations to the cottage on the edge of the wood daily now, as it saved me walking miles round on the track. The farmer had said I could; it had felt wrong to assume so I’d asked a few weeks before.
As I opened the rusty latch her voice filtered down the hallway from the old drawing room.
“Is that you?”
Who else would it be for goodness sake… “Yes Maud, I’ve brought your favourite today”
The surface in the kitchen was exactly as I’d left it the day before, even the teaspoon had not found its way from the draining board to the sink. She can’t have moved from that chair I thought. Maud’s voice sounded frail again as she announced her intention
“I’ve got the next photo all ready to show you. You look really very young.”
“I’ll just serve this up and bring it through Maud!”
Fourteen days I’d been coming now and fourteen parts to a story I’d been told by Maud. A story of long ago.
* * *
Maud did not appear to notice the bit of food nestled at the corner of her mouth and I tried hard not to focus on it as we talked.
“So this is me sat next to who was it .. your sister?” I pointed to an elderly lady wearing a black coat and hat who stared straight out of the photograph, as if she could see something behind me.
“Yes, she was much older than me. Brought me up after mother disappeared. I was wary of her always and hated that coat. She never took it off you know; summer or winter!”
Maud finished her meal and dabbed at her mouth with the napkin I had provided alongside the buttered bread and patè. The piece of food was gone.
“Did they ever find your mother?” I was intrigued but regretted the question the second it passed my lips.
“No. No-one cared in those days if someone went missing. It was always assumed the lost soul had wanted to be alone. Police had other crimes to watch over; not like these days where your modern computers can trace everyone.” Maud nodded at my involuntary surprised expression. How could this old lady who’d not moved from this house for years and who had no modern means of communication know about today’s world? I felt a shiver run through me and stood to take the plates away as a means of distraction.
This random piece grew, Day by Day for the 7 days of the challenge. My FB friends (well, two of them) raved about Maud’s tale.
It then became the base for my book!!
My first few chapters are quite different from what you read above. I now write about Lucy in the third person for a start, and I took out all the references to photographs because as a novel, I needed something deeper. A mystery that would bind Lucy to Maud, even after the latter’s sad passing …..
Lying on her right side, her left arm was free to explore under the duvet towards his sleeping form.
His breathing was slow, deep and regular with the occasional intake of breath a gentle snore.
She’d not slept for a while but instead just lay in the dark listening, absorbing the moment and storing it as a memory.
Just enough light to see his profile, his beautiful head supported by the pillow. She could smell warm skin.
Dare she reach over and touch him… her left hand spider walked across the mattress unsure precisely in the dark where his torso would start.
Then she felt him; his T-shirt, lose against his side. He was lying on his back and her fingertips found his relaxed abdomen, flat and kissed with dark hairs.
Her fingers followed the elastic of his shorts very slowly. Across to the other side, then back. She heard the change of breathing pace and realised it was her own.
Under his T-shirt was warmer and even asleep his toned front lay there, protecting him.
Higher still her hand travelled, to the wider part of his body. His chest rose and fell and instinctively she moved closer and lay her head against his rib cage.
Only a few centimetres between her ear and his heartbeat, which was clearly audible and racing.
So perhaps he was not asleep. Neither spoke. Her hand moved across the contours and back down while she resisted the urge to squeeze him towards her, or better style climb over his thighs.
She did allow her silent lips to touch his side and breathed him in as her fingers once again found his shorts.
Naughty finger tips, investigating beneath the elastic, where the skin had taken on the pattern of the material….. her imagination was running wild!
As promised, Harlequin Mills & Boon did indeed send me some feedback today on that potential first chapter and synopsis which I rather rushed in order to submit before the competition deadline last Thursday.
Their email is a reassuring mix of helpful tips where I have let myself down and positive praise – they like my ‘voice’ and say my style has potential. They explained the difference between a synopsis and the blurb on the back of a book (which is what my synopsis looked more like). Blurbs are what we read stood at WHS in the airport when we’ve thirty eight seconds to choose a book before that final call to the departure lounge.
Synopsis is more of a map illustrating the journeys the main characters take within the plot. Importantly, and quite surprisingly, it should include an outline of the ending. A potential publisher or agent need to know this even before they get into your whole manuscript. I suppose this is what is meant by the arc of a book’s journey. The hook in the opening chapter …. the map listing all the important junctions where characters make decisions … through to the conclusion. You’ll not find that on the back of a book and now I more fully understand the anxieties of writers who struggle when writing their synopsis.
The ‘covering letter’ is the ‘pitch’. That one chance to shine above all the other submission letters on that agent/publisher’s desk. There is obviously an art to this too; as there was no feedback on that :-s
However, I am excited that they gave me two links. One leading to great advice about synopsis writing, and I have printed the contents for some bedtime reading and a second inviting me to submit a ‘new project’ as Radhanagari Damsel (in its slightly altered attire for M&B) was not quite right for this particular series – True Love – of Mills & Boon.
M&B do work to formulas, and these obviously pay off for their loyal readers and the authors within each series. Their website is quite worth a wonder round if you write romance as they are alway looking for new authors. This is not to say my submitted chapter one would not be accepted by contemporary womens’ fiction publishers elsewhere. I shall keep and develop it further when I’ve more time, putting back the thriller element, which I took out for the competition. I mean, JK Rowling was rejected plenty of times before someone took a punt on her!
My main WIP as you may recall is presently one aimed at the RNA’s New Writers Scheme (NWS). This is the Romantic Novelists Association‘s annual initiative to also find and assist new writers, and I am one of 300 lucky people on this year’s scheme, aiming to submit as many words as I can by August (yeah, and how many did you write this morning? All of 379). They recommend between 80,000 and 120,000 for a decent novel, but one huge piece of memorable advice I brought back from that meeting in London a few days ago was keep typing and ‘Submit a ‘partial’ if you’ve not been able to complete it in time. Don’t waste the opportunity for a read and feedback’. And that snippet of anxiety-reducing information was given to me by a longterm member of the RNA, a multi-published author in her own right; OMG, I can’t believe I didn’t curtsy, and turned out one of the readers on the NWS! If you are new to me and didn’t see my post about that enlightening meeting, find it here.
So, a good day in the office I feel. My perception of my life right now Ben? Mike? is a positive glass-half-full type of vibe.
Have a free istock photo of Tuscany to get you in the mood … Lucy is about to meet a man who is going to disagree with her contemporary plans for the vineyard; he’s run it perfectly satisfactorily for the previous forty years thank you very much.
PS I’ve just had a genius idea – you know how I like my mini goals? What if I promise you that every single post from now on, I finish with my WIP wordcount so you can watch it grow, (or not as the case may be). Absolute genius; you’ll be like a virtual homework marker now .. and there you were thinking you could get away with merely reading my waffle, rather than having to take note of numbers!