Monday, 30 July 2012

That Dreaded Word - Promotion!

One of the first questions you are asked when the contract is signed and before you start congratulating yourself, is – how are you going to promote this novel? It’s a real heartsink moment for a writer, like me, who feels it is inherently wrong to beg people to read my book and tell the world what they think!

Research being my thing, I did some on this subject, and most editors say:
You should start to think about promotion before you start to write your book!
Oh dear, failed miserably on that one then. Next Question
What do you want to accomplish with this book?
Er-I want people to read it, enjoy it, have the main character linger in their mind forever and make them want to explore the places she once trod? Or is that too abstract and romantic?
Is this novel a one off or will there be a sequel. Do you see it as a film or TV drama?
Umm-No to both - Next question
Who are you trying to reach with this novel?
Anyone interested in history, England, the 17th Century, The English Civil War -Love stories set in another time.
Do you have a title and cover design that will make readers pluck this novel off a shelf?
Aha, I can answer this one. I have a wonderful publisher with a great art department who has helped me with a strong title and designed a fabulous cover for the book – and now I am beginning to think maybe I can tackle this promotion thing after all.
Will you promote yourself or hire a Marketing Company to do it?
My publisher will probably have to handle most of that, but I appreciate I need to do my part. Now I know even major authors often hire a private publicists, but that option isn’t really available to me – after all I am bashing my novels out on a four-year-old-laptop keeps threatening to die on me! I’m aware I have to let consumers know this book exists…and so I shall try to get review blogs and author sites to help me get the word out.
How do you feel about promoting your work?
Honestly, I would rather be writing my next book, and hate that ‘please read my book’ feeling as if I’m mentally bashing it over everyone’s heads. If they wanted to read it they would, wouldn’t they?
Apparently not –
I need to keep telling readers my book is out there and it’s worth a look - generate some interest, create a buzz about the origins of the book, the characters, author interviews, reviews, etc.make the cover art recognisable, attract fans and followers through blogs and social media.

There are many book-based websites now designed specifically to help authors get the word out - so before the edits begin, I have to get started.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Editing Has Begun on Royalist Rebel

My groups may miss me for a while, well I hope they do - because that thing I have been fretting over for the last three months has finally begun - editing my upcoming novel!

I have handed my manuscript to someone who will take it apart and analyse the way I approached each scene, piece of dialogue or historical event in a certain way. Do I justify, explain and hang on by the skin of my teeth to the way I see it, or make the changes suggested because the editor knows what appeals to the reader?

Rationally, I accept this close attention will make the final product the best it can be, but it's still worrying. Part of me acknowledges that there are areas where what I am trying to convey may not come across correctly and an editor knows how to remove misunderstandings.

I don't yet know if she - and all my editors have been she - will handle both aspects of the process, i.e.content and copy, nor do I know how much re-writing there will be - i.e. whether she will ask me to 'remove all instances of the word xxxxx' or 'this chapter needs a total re-write from a different perspective.'

For those to whom this is confusing, a Content Editor goes through the manuscript  looking for mistakes, not just in grammar but plot weaknesses, story arc, historical facts, etc. The Copy Editor handles the formatting, i.e. missed commas, typos, incorrect tags etc. It depends on how clean my manuscript is as to how many times it goes backwards and forwards to my editor - then I'll receive a galley, which shows how the book will look in print.

From editing my previous books, that part is tough, because after reading and re-reading the manuscript countless times, I have to do it again, because anything I miss this time stays missed!

It's important not to allow this process to become adversarial, and that staying true to my ideas may not always be the best way to go. In the past, an editor told me my heroine's attitude was old-fashioned and made a suggestion for change I didn't agree with. It turned out this was because she worked mostly with writers of contemporary fiction, and when I pointed out the story was set in 1880, we agreed the scene was appropriate.

Editors are a fresh perspective, their job is to find the problems and make recommendations on how to correct them. My job is to address their concerns without taking it personally. I have to keep telling myself that if the story was rubbish, it would not have been accepted in the first place.

I know I am not alone in finding this process difficult, are these aspects other authors like/dislike more than others?

Sunday, 8 July 2012

To Write Or Not To Write

Most people agree that beginning a novel is the easy bit, but someone recently asked me how I find the dedication and drive to keep writing, and not give up until it's finished.

Then there are the hours spent editing, re-writing when something isn't working and the polishing. Not to mention beginning another one when it's finished.

Discipline? Dedication? Drive? Yeah right.

Sometimes I go for days when I cannot summon the inclination, or enthusiasm to write a word, and others when I want to write, even sit down with my books and computer all ready, but then for some inexplicable reason I stare at a blank screen for an hour and end up trawling through Facebook to see what my virtual writer friends are up to, or playing 'Jewels'.

Worse, are the days when I plough into a new chapter and type three thousands words and save the file feeling virtuous. Then when I re-read it the next day, a stomach churning realisation dawns on me that I wasted my time, and it's a load of wooden, senseless rubbish, and that I have committed the true crime of a writer - it doesn't progress the story!

On days like that, I tell myself, this isn't worth it, I'll never me more than a mediocre writer selling a few hundred copies of my books in a good year. I make a conscious decision not to put myself through all the self-doubt and put the laptop away, be a better wife, mother, and even a better housewife and somehow make up to my family for neglecting them for my writing.

I even feel good about it for a few days - then I get an idea that would fit perfectly into my wip. Or I hear a phrase that perfectly describes my main character, or a more credible solution to my plot jumps into my mind - and I'm off again, head down and ignoring everything around me for hours.

I cannot help it - it's who I am, successful or not - I'm a writer.

Other fascinating and funny comments about why people write is here