In November, my UK publisher and I broke up. Which explains the delay in the publication of Telegram Home. All three books are now with a new publisher. Fifteen Postcards will be rereleased in May, The Last Letter in June, and then Telegram Home in July.Read More
I've been to Italy twice now, once on a school trip in 1992, where I was mostly interested in eating gelato and eyeing up the good looking Italian boys, and then again last December, where I finally appreciated the abundance of art and culture which Italy is famous for. And I'm more than happy to go a third time, should the need arise.
After Painted was published in June this year, I could never have anticipated that of all the Amazon platforms, my horror novel would take off in Italy. Don't get me wrong, it has done well in the other Amazon markets, but the success in Italy has taken us by surprise.
The French translation rights for Painted have been negotiated, and I'm hopeful that the French version will be available in time for Christmas this year. Now it looks like we need an Italian translation. That's something we'll be working on in the coming weeks.
Launching a standalone book is so different to launching a series. When Fifteen Postcards and The Last Letter were published, I knew I was writing a series and that I could tempt people to follow me to hear about the next instalment. But what about writing standalone novels? How do you get people coming back for more? How do you keep the momentum going?
As a starter, we decided we could increase my reach by actively targeting smaller markets, and having Painted translated into different languages will achieve that. Greater reach equals more sales, which results in more reviews, which results in more sales. Hopefully.
Secondly, write a good book to start with and hope that people want to read the next one. That worked for Stephen King, and still does. There are horror writers out there who don't write series and they seem to manage it just fine.
And finally, write another book. Which I'm doing. Slowly. I'm 15,277 words into book #4 so far - another horror. Although I also have 60,000 words of The Ruination of Art sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to return to my Florentine based novel. That needs about another 60,000 words written. Probably now would be a good time to finish that one! I must have subconsciously known Italy was going to be good for me! I started The Ruination of Art after I finished writing The Last Letter, so it's been percolating for a while now.
The goal was to publish one book a year. We've decided to contract that slightly, and I'll aim for one book every ten months. With a husband, two children, and a cat who thinks that they are a puppy, ten months is a comfortable time frame, although I did manage to write Painted in the space of eight months, So maybe it'll be one book every eight months. We'll see. Should I be required to travel to Italy to run a promotional book tour for Painted, I'm sure my writing would speed up. It's amazing how many words I could do sitting at the window of a Tuscan farmhouse, sipping my chianti, admiring the landscape as I ponder how my next novel may end...
I've found a small villa for sale. It might be a little out of my price range this year, but next year, maybe, so I'd better get back to my writing...
This is a blog post about how to sell books at a book festival. I'm going to break it down into seven easy steps:
1. Book a stall. You'd think this was obvious, but last year, one errant author stomped around the NZ Book Festival asking if he could join someone else's table, anyone's table, as he hadn't organised himself a stand (and didn't want to pay for one). Don't be that person.
2. Have copies of your book available for sale. Fairly self explanatory. But, some people don't... I'm a firm believer that people go to book festivals/fairs to meet authors, and to buy copies of their books, which they then see the author sign - usually with a dedication. I know that's why I buy books direct from authors at festivals, or am happy to stand in a queue for two hours for a signature & photo (David Walliams!)
3. Unless you ARE David Walliams, you are going to need more than just a trestle table. A simple white sheet works wonders. No one wants to see the cartons under your table. A vase of flowers perhaps? A professionally printed sign saying who you are and what your book is. Something on an artists easel behind you? BUSINESS CARDS. You want to draw in the eye of the passersby. You have to make it easy for them. Most people are shy, and won't necessarily ask you what your book is about, or even how much it is. Signage is an easy fix. Invest in something professional.
4. Money matters. Have you got change? Lots of change? Do you have an EFTPOS machine (or another electronic payment system). How often do you carry cash? Do you think the attendees at the book festival will all be carrying cash? They might have $30, enough for one book maybe, but probably not. Make it easy for them, and you.
5. Gift with purchase. Ah, those are three lovely words aren't they? What can you give away with your book to make the purchase of it that much more enticing? A bookmark? A free novella? A book bag? Sweets? The list is endless, and should align somewhat with your book - if you can.
6. The right attitude. And yes, this includes dressing the part, and I don't mean dress ups. Are you schlepping around the festival in jeans and a singlet? Or are you wearing smart trousers or a skirt. Have you brushed your hair/done your teeth? All fairly benign things, but gosh it makes a difference to how you are perceived by people who don't know you or your book. You know how we all judge a book by its cover? You will be judged by your personal presentation. Make an effort. You're there as a serious author, selling your books, trying to gain traction in a market full of other authors doing the exact same thing.
7. Smile. Also self explanatory. A smile goes a lot further than you think.
I will be selling my books at the New Zealand Book Festival on Saturday 5th November from 10am-4.30pm at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, 487 Dominion Road, Mt Eden (across the road from Potters Park).
I would love to see you there, sell you a book or two, and sign them for you. xxx
THE SEQUEL TO FIFTEEN POSTCARDS IS COMING.
In late May I signed my second publishing contract with Accent Press, a publisher in the United Kingdom. The contract was for the sequel to Fifteen Postcards, titled The Last Letter. And now the work begins...
Now my manuscript is in the very capable hands of my editor, David Powell, and he'll massage it into something far better than what I sent him.
When I say he'll massage it, he'll make a few thousand notations down the sides of the pages, correcting grammatical errors, and querying a myriad of issues he'll no doubt discover in the 131,000 words I wrote.
Then we'll spend several weeks sending the document backwards and forwards across the Tasman Sea, via email, until we are both happy, and then the final product gets sent to the UK for my publisher to typeset, and massage into book form.
In the meantime, I'll also be sent a draft of the cover for approval, or comment. That may go back and forwards a couple of times. I suggested some concepts this time, and now I wait to see if those meet with favour on the other side of the world.
It's a scary thing putting your creative efforts into the hands of others, who then have the power, and the signed contract, to do with as they please! But this is the way of authors who have chosen not to self publish. There are pros and cons with both sides of the coin. I've chosen this side.
It's not a free ride, either way. Even authors with one of the big five publishers have to do their fair share of the marketing. Blog posts, guest posts, book signings, media articles, radio interviews, library visits, book club attendances, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, yes, even Google+. Don't forget LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. I've drawn the line at Snapchat - there is only so much time in the day, and my family would like me to speak to them at times.
There's all this, and...you still need to write the next one!
A tricky question indeed!
Having written two books in the Old Curiosity Shop Series, I could just as easily work on Book #3...which will come as a surprise to those of you who thought I was only going to write two books in the series. I changed my mind. There will be three. A trilogy.
But should my next book be the third (and final) book in the trilogy, or should it be something else? I think it should be something else. My mind needs a break from Sarah Lester and Warden Price, and the poor Raja.
Last week I stumbled upon a snippet of information while researching our family trip to Italy later this year, and it stuck with me. I wrote it down, and today I visited my local library. Have I mentioned how much I love my local library? I do. I love it. I love my librarians. I love the building. I love its contents, and I love how welcoming they are. Anyway, I found a couple of books which will help with the background for my next book. My children checked out their books - Geronimo Stilton for my youngest daughter, Jacqueline Wilson for my eldest, and off we went.
The TBR (to be read) pile next to my bed is heaving with books set in Italy, through the ages. That should give you a hint... I'm excited. And tomorrow I'll start putting some words down, but only after going to see Antony & Cleopatra at the Pop-Up Globe in Auckland. Nothing could be more stimulating than seeing the work of Shakespeare on stage.
Today I emailed off the first draft of my second book, The Last Letter, to my editor.
When I say I emailed off my first draft of The Last Letter, I actually mean I emailed a version of my manuscript where parts of it are version eight, other parts are version six. Some chapters, mainly the later ones, are versions three or four. Some sentences, nay, whole paragraphs, have gone through so many edits, they bear no resemblance to the very first draft I wrote.
So when I say I've emailed off my first draft of The Last Letter to my editor, what I really mean is that I emailed off the first version of my manuscript that someone other than myself will read. A scary thought. Exciting, and terrifying too.
About twenty minutes after I hit the send button, I started thinking about all the things I could have done to improve that first draft. What about the Raja? Will how I've left things at the Old Curiosity Shop make the readers happy? Thoughts tumbled over and over in my mind, querying my attention to detail, my historical accuracy. Did I have enough tantalising tidbits about antiques? Have I done justice to India? To New Zealand? To my characters and their hopes and dreams?
But, in the immortal words of Queen Elsa (from the Disney juggernaut Frozen), I have to let it go. It's out there now. My editor will tell me, in his gentle manner, whether what I've written is good enough, or whether I need to brood over it for a period of time before I send it back to him. And somewhere along the line we'll go through the manuscript page by page, line by line, where the annotated word document flies through the internet at various speeds, correcting comma's, tenses, removing Americanisms (which tend to creep in), and various other issues.
And so I wait. And in the time it will take my editor to read my 131,000 word manuscript I'll attend to my social media platforms, which I have left forgotten in the corner while I tried to fill plot holes and create characters who pushed their way off the page.
Thanks for your patience everyone. This will now very much be a case of watch this space!