A Jacqueline Wilson Moment

Well, maybe not EXACTLY Jacqueline Wilson but still … World Book Day saw me running a full day of workshops at a Cambridgeshire school and at the end there was a signing that felt somewhat Jacqueline Wilson-ish. OK, so there were no entertainers on hand to keep the crowds busy by making balloon effigies of my characters, but there was a queue and a huddle, lots of excitement and a definite forward thrust of the table that dug into my waist as the (small?) huddle pressed forward. In fact, the whole day was a blast. The kids were engaged and interested, the staff incredibly friendly (one had even read and enjoyed UMA & IMP!), and my contact person was on hand at every turn when I needed something – IT support, paper, pens, help collecting wads of cash that had me feeling and looking like Fagin on market day … My first World Book Day on the Author side of the table. It involved a ridiculous amount of preparation and a tension headache the day before – but here’s hoping for many more to come!

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This week I’m very excited to post an interview with Pat Walsh, much-acclaimed author of THE CROWFIELD MYSTERIES. As you likely know, THE CROWFIELD CURSE, was shorlisted for The Times/ Chicken House Prize, and for the Waterstone’s Children’s Prize. It was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and was on the shortlist for the Branford Boase award. In 2014, Pat published THE HOB AND THE DEERMAN through the Amazon White Glove Programme and then independently. Clearly she has a lot to share! Here goes:

Could you describe a little about the White Glove Programme and how it works?

The Amazon White Glove Programme is agent-assisted self-publishing, available only to agented writers. It is Amazon’s way of adding a level of ‘quality control’ to self-published books. As part of the package, Amazon uploads the formatted text and creates the cover, either using an image provided by the writer or sourcing an image themselves, but apart from that, the process of creating an ebook or print edition is the same for both WGP and non-WGP self-publishing.

What were the plus points of the programme?

Amazon offers certain marketing and promotional extras for your book: a month’s rotational placement on the relevant genre page, and on the Digital Exclusives page on Amazon.co.uk. These are in addition to the usual benefits of being part of Kindle Direct Publishing; inclusion in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, and access to promotional tools including Kindle Countdown Deals.

Ultimately, what made you decide to go down the self-published route?

It was mostly curiosity, to begin with. I’d read other people’s experiences with self-publishing and I wanted to try it myself. The idea of having control of every aspect of a book appealed to me and The Hob and the Deerman was not something I felt would hold an obvious appeal for a traditional publisher. At that point I had an agent, so we discussed the White Glove Programme. I had reservations from the start about taking this route to self-publishing, but decided in the end that having an agent involved would make the whole process less daunting. I have since moved on from my agent and as a result, the book was removed from the WGP. I then had to start again, opening a new account with Amazon and uploading the book from scratch to Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace – the ebook and print edition platforms. The whole process was straightforward and the Amazon helpline was always there for advice. It was interesting to compare the two routes – the WGP and self-publishing. With the WGP, the agent deals with Amazon and has exclusive access to the account page, and therefore the sales figures, promotions etc. This was something I was not at all happy with. Also, with the WGP, Amazon has six months’ or one year’s exclusivity, during which time your agent cannot sell the English language rights of your book anywhere else. This isn’t the case with self-published books.

How do you go about marketing and promoting your book?

This has been the hardest part. I write mid-grade fiction and children in that age range (8-12) still tend to read print books, bought from book shops and borrowed from the school or local library. With self-publishing, distribution to the library and school market is a huge stumbling block. The Hob and the Deerman is only available through one distribution channel – online, via Amazon. Older readers, from YA upwards, are more used to browsing for books online and tend to buy their own books and ebooks, but mid-grade readers often have books bought for them and are guided in their book choices by parents and school librarians, who source books from a variety of distribution channels. Bookshops stock very few self-published books. You might get your local branch to take a few copies of your book but that’s about all. If you did manage to persuade independent bookshops to take your book, the discounts they would want would most probably wipe out any profit you might make.

Promoting the book has been very hit and miss; I contacted a number of reviewers and bloggers to ask if they would be willing to review the book, and several agreed to do so, which was very generous of them, but quite a few blog and review sites have submission guidelines which clearly state that they don’t accept self-published books for review. I think there is still a perception that self-published books can be very poorly written and edited, and unfortunately this can be the case. Several reviewers found my book by themselves and wrote very positive reviews, for which I’ll be eternally grateful! But the hard truth is, whether you are traditionally or self-published, you have to be prepared to get yourself out there, make sure you have a website, be on Facebook and Twitter, maybe have a blog – do whatever you can to raise your profile. It’s hard work and time consuming, and not everyone enjoys or feels comfortable putting themselves in the limelight. The harsh reality of self-publishing is that you are just one tiny figure waving from the middle of a vast crowd and it’s hard to get noticed. And nobody is going to buy and read your book if they don’t know it’s out there.

Has this changed much from when you were exclusively published by Chicken House?

Yes indeed. It’s easy to undervalue just how much a good publisher does for a book. My first book, The Crowfield Curse, was put forward and shortlisted for various awards, including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award, and was chosen for the Booked Up scheme. Chicken House worked hard to get the book out there and they sold the foreign rights to a number of countries. They understood the market and made the whole business of selling the book look effortless. I still had to do a certain amount of promotion, interviews and talks, which I found very daunting at first. As I said earlier, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and I had my share of nerve-shredding moments.

And from when you were published through the WGP?

The Hob and the Deerman was part of the WGP for just four months, during which time I found it hard to gauge how the well Amazon’s promotions were working. As I mentioned, I didn’t have access to my account page and had limited feedback on what was happening. Since going it alone, I have a much clearer idea of how the book is selling. I suspect my biggest marketing tool has been the fact that the book appears on the Amazon pages for The Crowfield Curse and The Crowfield Demon, and is set in roughly the same world. In that respect, the new book already had a readership.

Can you say, on average, how much time you spend on marketing/promotion?

It varies. It might be a few hours a week, or it might be a couple of days. I’m busy writing the next book, so I’m not spending as much time on promotion and marketing as I should. There are writers out there who work tirelessly to market their work and it really pays off for them.

In terms of sales, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

Goodreads is a great site to have your book listed and reviewed on. There is an option to have an author page and a blog, which allows you to reach out to potential readers. Goodreads also gives you the option to have a giveaway – people can enter a draw to win free copies of recently published books, and the Goodreads team pick the winners after a set period of time. I found this brought in a lot of potential readers and I saw a big spike in book sales. I also approached several book bloggers to ask if they would host a stop on a blog tour and that resulted in a rise in sales.

In terms of exposure, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

My website has been useful, mainly because it gives readers a way to get in touch, and that’s when you find out what they really think of your stories and characters! You’ll also receive invitations to do talks or appear at book festivals, all great ways to meet your readers. I have Facebook pages for each of the books but for me, these have been of very limited use.

What advice on marketing and promotion would you give to someone starting out?

I would strongly urge anyone starting out as a writer to have a website. Keep it up to date, keep the content interesting and consider starting a blog. Make sure you use your Author Profile page on Amazon and on Goodreads. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you and get to know a little bit about you and your book. Approach reviewers and bloggers – they are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and will give you a fair and honest review. If you’re lucky they might even offer to interview you or host a stop on your blog tour. It all helps to get your name and your book out there. There are plenty of people who have gone down the self-publishing route and many of them have written about their experiences on their websites or blogs, so read and learn as much as you can before you start out.

Is there anything you have learned that would make you do things differently when it comes to promoting your next book?

Self-publishing The Hob and the Deerman has been a steep learning curve. I wasn’t prepared for how much work was involved or how hard it would be. If I self-publish in the future, I will spend more time on marketing and promotion in the early stages of the book’s life. There are always new marketing avenues to explore and I suspect there are quite a few I haven’t tried yet. But I think the best advice I can give to anyone considering going it alone is, write the best book you can and have it edited professionally. All the marketing and promotion in the world will be for nothing if your book is not the very best it can be. And good luck!

Thank you, what a great set of answers. And not only is all this going on but Pat is steaming ahead with completing the next book in THE CROWFIELD MYSTERIES, which is due for publication later this year. Way to go! (says the person only four chapters into her next book. Sigh.)

This post was a little late going up because of World Book Day shenanigans, so see you again in a little less than two weeks.

Thanks for reading!

Larisa

Going Nowhere Slowly

Everyone knows that self-publishing is a long haul. Of course. As a self-published author you’re ‘nobody’ and there’s no handy track record to fall back on (not your own, or a publisher’s). Except, as it happens, knowing self-publishing is a long haul is a bit like knowing what people mean when they say having a child “will change your life”. Fact is, we’re all clueless until the first flying diaper launches across the room.

Publishing of any kind is a tortoise’ game. Writing is a slow craft. Yet on a cellular level I’ve always been a hare … manically emptying my email inbox, whizzing through items on my to-do list. My piano teacher called me a speed merchant. But hang on a minute … it took seven years to write UMA & IMP. Maybe not such a hare after all?

In case anyone thinks I’m building up to an insight here – be warned: I’m actually building up to a cliché. Thing is, my hare nature WAS frustrated by how long it took to properly finish UMA & IMP. And since the beginning of the year I HAVE been frustrated by the prospect of a grindingly slow eking out of book sales. But what I’ve realised is that the reason I was a speed merchant at piano is because I hated lessons and just wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Similarly, when I get frustrated about writing or self publishing it’s because I’m not enjoying the process and am getting hung up on outcomes.

Contacting schools and not hearing anything back has been a real challenge to the ‘outcomes focus’. For a while there, I was judging my productivity not on what I was doing but on whether there was a result. But down that road insanity lies – and I’m starting to give myself a pat on the back for getting things done – regardless of the outcome. This proved particularly important after I’d trundled into a library about doing another Chatterbooks event. The librarian was very positive but the phone call that followed with a (very polite) more senior person was spoken in a tone of astonished ‘why would we want you to come in? why?’. Ouch.

Fortunately, there has been movement on the Skype in the Classroom front. Lots of enquiries and so far, I’ve signed up three schools for sessions.

Could be winter, could be age, could be settling into a groove, either way over the last few weeks I’ve happily adopted a tortoise’ pace. So far this month, I’ve sold 8 copies. Who knows where the self-publishing malarkey will go, whichever way, I’m chewing on a flower, plodding along, one foot in front of the other because, after all, it’s not a race … **cliché fanfare** … it’s a journey!

tortoise_and_hareNext blog, I have another interview coming up. This time with Pat Walsh, awesome author of the CROWFIELD MYSTERIES, and THE HOB AND THE DEERMAN. Pat is in the singular position of having been published traditionally, through the Amazon White Glove Programme and self-published. I’m looking forward to sharing her incredible insights.

Thanks for reading!

Larisa

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A Voice of Experience

As promised, I’m posting an interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager this week.

For those who don’t know, Krysten is the author of TRUE COLORS published as an e-book by small independent Astraea Publishing. The idea for an interview followed on from a conversation about guest-blogging … it didn’t take me long to figure out that what readers of this blog would really want to know is – WHAT is involved in getting sales when post publication? No doubt there are as many answers to the question as there are authors but here is an insight into Krysten’s experience!

How did you get your publisher?

I was in a freelance writing group while I lived overseas and two of the women in the group had mentioned they also wrote books and named their publisher. I guess I sort of filed the name away and years later when I moved back to the United States, I decided to send my manuscript to that publisher.

How have you gone about marketing and promoting your book?

I was a journalist and essay, short story, and humor writer before I got my book published, so I had begun to make connections with people and gain an audience. I think it’s key to start that before you get a contract.

Can you say, on average, how much time you spend on marketing/promotion?

No clue! I’m not a structured type person, so you’ll never see me with a schedule that says this time is devoted to xy or z. I’m sure people who do live their lives that way get way more accomplished in a day than I do, but I don’t do well that way. I’m too much of a free spirit to say, “Okay, ten a.m. it’s yoga class, then I’ll deal with emails, then lunch.” Nope, that’s not me at all. I try to get my emails out of the way before I write, but that’s about it.

In terms of sales, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

Writers always say you never know what it was that you did that made a sale. I always thought, oh they must have a clue, but nope, you really don’t. I try to stay away from focusing on sales and that side of it because it really zaps the creative energy.

In terms of exposure, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

Making connections with people well before you ever get a book contract. Going to conferences and workshops beforehand is crucial. Learning as much as you can about the business is so important. And you have to start before the book comes out.

What advice on marketing and promotion would you give to someone starting out?

Make sure you get other work out there well before you sign a book contract so you already have people aware of what you do. People need to see what you can do before they’ll consider investing in your work. If people hadn’t read my articles and essays before the book came out they wouldn’t have known what my writing style was like. It’s kind of like how you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive first.

If you wanted to become a doctor, you’d go to med school. The same is true of writing and publishing. If you want to be successful then you’ve got to learn how to do it—take classes, go to conferences, workshops, read, read, read. There are no shortcuts.

Is there anything you have learned that would make you do things differently when it comes to promoting your next book?

I was so busy the day the book released that I didn’t have time to enjoy the “book birthday.” People kept asking how I celebrated and I didn’t celebrate at all—I was busy ALL day. I wish I could go back and just appreciate that moment and not get caught up with all the rest. You only get one big debut birthday and really, I missed it. I had one moment at about one in the morning where somebody said it had become an Amazon bestseller and it was the first time all day that I just stopped for a minute (basically because I was falling asleep) and I thought, oh wow, but by then the exhaustion had kicked in because I had been awake over 22 hours! Oh yeah, there’s another tip for ya—get some rest the night before!

Thank you Krysten!

Though … nothing at all what I’ve done. Ah well.

Back on the coal face, in the last couple of weeks my main focus has been reaching out to schools ahead of World Book Day because I realised that, surprisingly, not all schools had yet got themselves sorted with author visits. So far I’ve sent out something like 20 emails … but I’ve not heard a sausage back, even though much effort went into honing my pitch. Anyhoo – there’s still time to hear, so fingers crossed! Other random progress has been:

– Contacting Dulwich Books. Although the person on the phone was very nice and gave me an email address, my impression is that I will have to write a really good letter if I want to get anywhere. As if by magic, someone very handily posted this on the SCBWI FB page: http://dulwichbooks.co.uk/independent-authors-tops-tips-from-a-bookshop/ Couldn’t be more useful … but I haven’t quite got round to putting fingers to keyboard.

– Being contacted by the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries for 5 copies of UMA & IMP to be kept by such illustrious bodies as the Bodleian Library. It cost me postage and the price of 5 books and yet … I was chuffed. It is standard for publishers (reminder to me: yes, I am one) to send a copy of every publication to the British Library, which I did but had half been expecting them to send it back so being asked for more seems positive … very illogical, I know.

– Completing the registration for Skype in the Classroom. And already receiving one enquiry from a school in Virginia.

– Registering with PLR (Public Lending Rights) because, after all, there are now a grand 5 copies of UMA & IMPh in the Chelsea Library. Small acorns and all …

– Writing two chapters to the next book (woohoo).

– Receiving a glorious bunch of Thank You cards from the class I visited early in January. Really touching and made my day.

And that’s it – doesn’t feel like the most productive fortnight but hopefully some of this will bear fruit in the weeks to come!

In terms of sales, through the whole of Jan, 12 books sold plus 14 going through Amazon, though that’s a bit of a puzzle, more about which at another time …

Thank you for reading!

Larisa

Is it January …

… or is it MUD? Anyone?

Seriously … I can’t see because there’s thick goo weighing on my eyes and brain; moving forward is really hard work and I have a distinct sense of needing to fight against a strong downward pull just to stay upright. So: is it mud (maudlin, unwieldy and dark)? Or January?

Despite feeling like I’m walking through sludge, outwardly nothing seems any different. There has been progress – it just doesn’t feel that way. Maybe because it’s been a fortnight of two halves, with most forward movement and arrow-sending having happened in the first week. But that can’t be blamed on January (or mud) because there have just been other things to get done. Still, book-wise this is what has been going on:

– The Chatterbooks event took place on January 10 at Chelsea library. Only two kids (brother and sister) showed up but that was ok because I’d been worried nobody would come. Turns out it’s hard to get bodies through library doors – especially in mud, I mean, January. The library bought 5 books plus one copy sold on the day.

– Had a book reading and “author chat” at a local school for one class of Year 5s. Great fun – and I was blown away by how SMART and engaged the kids were. No mud (sorry, fleas) on them. One boy was close to finishing UMA & IMP and was really enjoying the read, which is encouraging. Left feeling like I’d fluffed my “closing” because I didn’t explicitly say where the book is for sale. It wouldn’t necessarily make a difference but still worth getting into the habit of swapping the Author Hat for the Publisher Hat at some point during a visit.

– Booked a one-day event for World Book Day at a Cambridgeshire school – woohoohoo – and have had great fun dreaming up a theme for the day. Having learnt from the “author chat” event, I’ve broached the subject of book selling ahead of time – once the workshop ideas had been approved with enthusiasm.

– Registered with Skype In The Classroom. Will be speaking to the organiser on Monday re logistics, etc. This is about experience and exposure rather than sales.

– Heard back from the two independent bookshops approached early Jan. No go from both.

– Have started snooping for school Spring and Summer Fairs where I might get a space.

– Contacted a local hospice with a view to getting involved in their summer fundraising event as an author.

– Sadly none of the independent reviews that are in the pipeline have come through as yet. Guess I’m not the only one wading through mud.

– So far this month 9 books have sold. Not Jacqueline Wilson, but pretty good bearing in mind ‘nobody’ knows my book or me.

Written out like that, things sound more ‘flow’ than ‘sludge’ but it’s taken a ridiculous amount of time to write this very short post. So maybe I can’t blame January … ah well, they say mud is cleansing …

Next time (in February!!) I’ll be posting an interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager talking about promoting her indie-published book TRUE COLORS.

Thanks for reading!

Larisa

New Year’s Dissolution

As someone who is more Stalin than St Nikolas in the personality stakes, the challenge of juggling work, family life and now the many and varied bits of a writing life can prove a particular, well … challenge.

My basic nature is to be organised and compartmentalized. Sound a little rigid? Well, just call me ‘plank’. On top of that, like many writers, I really just want to be left alone to scribble and dream. Add those together and you get an approach to writing that involves carving out and religiously guarding “writing time”, then getting really stressed (and resentful!) when this time is encroached on by something else – and there are always plenty of something else-s, right?

The thing is, by publishing UMA & IMP I’ve opened a door. One that leads onto a long corridor of promotion, school visits and, perhaps most importantly of all – more books. That is, books I’m supposed to WRITE. But how? And when?! There just aren’t enough compartments in my life to fit in a whole new book!

So the compartments have to go. And I’ve come up with my New Year’s Dissolution, which is to melt the boundaries and see everything as a whole. I’m no longer a mother and a writer and a translator and a sister and a friend and a … Nope. I just AM. Sometimes I write, other times I cook, or translate, or … Spot the difference? No?! Well, in my mind’s eye, I see myself sitting at a big wooden table spread with a (non-food) smorgasbord of all the different bits of ‘doing’ in my life. And I see myself calmly taking up separate bits then setting them down – as needed – to move on to something else.

It’s like juggling but without the panic. There’s nothing to keep in the air, there are no balls to drop, it’s all just a continuum of Being sprinkled with various types of Doing. So far it’s working and I feel much less fractured and torn than usual. Let’s see if it holds!

On the subject of Doing, there was almost no book-selling or promoting going on over the Christmas period. After the flurry of launch, a smattering of publicity and all those Christmas fairs, this phase has felt like a strange dead zone. And my Amazon number has tanked to the levels of someone who isn’t selling any books because, well, I’ve shifted only two copies in the last few weeks. Oops. Still, it isn’t all bad news because some excellent reader feedback has filtered through, and a first piece of fan e-mail (from an 8-year-old girl, addressed to Uma and Imp) plus an awesome review posted by the girl’s dad on Goodreads.

And it’s January now … time to start sending out more arrows.

“Stuff” so far this year:

– A phone chat and photo-taking with a local magazine was scheduled then cancelled because of a post-code issue of just not being ‘local’ enough. Ah well.

– Sent a press release to a properly local magazine to see if I can get something in there. Let’s see. Never heard back from the other properly local magazine approached in November.

– First library visit is on Saturday. Need to prepare. Thank you Dawn Finch for your awesome (and, for me, timely!) post on what School (and other) Librarians hope to get from an author visit.

– First class visit on Tuesday. Need to prepare!

– Penciled in a school visit for World Book Day. Fingers crossed Senior Management will approve my fee!

– Did a start-of-year books-sold tally: smidgen over 200 copies flogged between the launch on November 6 and December 31! Awesome.

As I get down to the nitty-gritty of sales and marketing over the long term, this blog is reverting to a bi-weekly affair: hopefully there’ll be news a-plenty to share!

Thanks for reading – and Happy 2015!!
Larisa

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5 Shades of Green

Every (almost every?) author wants the validation of a publishing contract – an affirmation of talent from industry professionals willing to invest in their career. Since starting this self-publishing process one of those niggling, shadow parts has expected me to wake up one fine morning … covered head-to-toe in green, unable to hold back that twisted, Gollum voice any longer: “why not me?”; “I want one too”; “is it too late?”; “what must I do to get one?”. Yep, green with envy at other authors who’ve managed to secure those contracts that seem to be ever more difficult to come by. Bizarrely, the exact opposite has happened. One of the rationalisations I used for self-publishing was a vague awareness that publishers’ investment in authors doesn’t necessarily extend to a marketing/PR input. I told myself that if promotion was going to be left to me anyway then I might as well just get on with the job. But that was a vague awareness. Since going down this road I’ve come across SO MANY more stories of traditionally published authors getting little (or no) sales support. A week ago at a school Christmas fair a lovely YA author and parent bounced up and told me how she had zero marketing support and barely sold any copies of her book at all – then was dumped by her publisher a year in for not making enough sales. Grim. Because despite having three new manuscripts and the support of an outstanding, enthusiastic agent after twelve months of looking she still didn’t have a new publisher. The grass is far from greener on the published side. Another reality check has been this whole Zoella thing … not the fact she used a ghostwriter (how is that new and different from what has been happening for years and years?!) but the fact of once again witnessing that if you have an existing media profile getting a publishing contract is no biggie. A point further confirmed by a friend working in a creative industry where a string of publishing contracts for celebs are currently in negotiation. It’s enough to make any struggling writer who has spent years developing his/her craft turn Hulk green with rage and frustration! More … yesterday, I got round to reading an interview in Publishing Talk with Kit Berry, self-published author of the STONEWYLDE series. Having built up a huge fan-base Berry changed tack and signed with a traditional publisher. The article is a great insight into one self-published author’s marketing strategy … in it she also says: “Having spent so much on acquiring Stonewylde, I’m amazed Gollancz has invested so little in promoting the series.” So are publishers just getting lazy about marketing? Or has marketing become overly difficult and expensive? Personally, I have no doubt that publishers are doing what they can – while simultaneously trying to stay afloat. Publishing margins are tiny. Breaking even on a debut author is very hard. It might seem logical that promoting a book will increase its chances, but it costs bucks to promote a book – bucks that will make it even harder to break even. Conversely, publishers need the big hitters to keep the company going because otherwise they would sink. Or am I being overly naïve and green? As well as cash, good PR and marketing needs creativity. “Author Writes Book!” isn’t exactly an attention-grabbing headline. So every time a book is published (trad or otherwise) to stand out you need some kind of media ‘in’. Or a lot of hard work … which is where, I’m afraid, the author comes in. One of the biggest rationales I hear from authors who have shied away from self-publishing is “I want to spend time writing, not promoting”. Even though I’ve found the process incredibly liberating, in no way would I recommend self-publishing over a trad publishing contract … it’s just that these days anyone who wants to make a living as an author won’t be able to get away from the graft of a large amount of marketing work. Where in the past school visits were an important way for new authors to make ends meet, they are increasingly becoming a key means to getting your book out there, as well as social media – or any other tactic an author can come up with. But you will be expected to come up with something. If there are any trad published authors reading this, thinking ‘oh no, that’s not my experience at all’ – I would LOVE to hear from you!! Because I’m sure there are exceptions – and can think of a couple of books in the last months that seem to have had a lot of publisher instigated PR … In terms of UMA & IMP’s progress, this week I was at two Christmas events and sold a total of 27 books. Even though according to IngramSpark none sold through Amazon, my number did have a big spike so … go figure! Otherwise, the Wimbledon Guardian sent round a photographer to get a pic for an article due to run this week (next??), and I’ve sent out more school visit and review arrows – no hit so far! So, this is my last blog before Christmas as there probably won’t be much happening – but I’ll be back in January. Have a great holiday and best wishes for 2015! Thanks for reading, Larisa

Buzz and Bust

This week I have sold zero copies of UMA & IMP through Amazon. Yep, zero – and that’s not to mention the sorry state of my Number. It’s quite distressing in an overly ambitious, megalomaniac sort of way.

On the other hand, I’ve done two sale/signing events so between those and other ‘flogging’ efforts, a grand total of 47 copies have been sold. And that’s what this week’s blog post is about – the other hand …

… the buzz of getting a Chatterbox reading event at Chelsea library two weeks ago – supported and organized by a super-enthusiastic team of librarians … tempered by the bust of getting less than the tiniest miasma of interest from Battersea library.

… the excitement of getting a mention in the local paper (again a couple of weeks back) … contrasted to the flop of not having any other print publicity success despite getting a few seemingly interested (well, a little bit interested) journalists on the end of the phone.

… the grind of calling, then writing to, numerous schools about the possibility of doing author workshops only to get NO response from ANYONE … balanced by the breakthrough success of scheduling workshops for next term at my daughter’s school.

… the thrill of knowing that a couple of copies of UMA & IMP found a (temporary?) home in my local independent bookshop … followed by the reality check that, at best, they will take a couple of months (!) to sell. Cripes.

… the fantastic opportunity of being able to get into school Christmas fairs to sell the book … juxtaposed against the dawning realisation that Christmas madness has officially descended and this is a terrible time of year to try and approach people about something as tenuously positive as a self-published book by an unknown author who has not even the faintest claim to fame.

And such is life. Good and bad. Positive and negative. The last ten days seem to have been more bust than buzz but hopefully the balance will shift the other way soon too.

Last week I noticed a slow down in my marketing efforts, and this week things have ground to a near halt. The run-up to Christmas isn’t a great time for the stimulation-challenged and I’ve felt myself retreat … because (buzz!) it is a great time of year to hunker down and relish staying snuggled and still on cold, dark nights.

My instinct is to pull back on contacting reviewers, newspapers/magazines, bookshops until January descends. Everyone has their plates full. But all is not lost because I still have a few sale/signing events lined up – four to be exact. Two of those are more about exposure than sales, but I’ll take what I can get!

This week, apart from the sales, I have:

– Put out feelers for some more independent reviews and managed to secure one (yey!).

– Got my Associate membership for the Society of Authors through (www.societyofauthors.org) … today. I still need to go through the ‘bumpf’ so that I make the most of it, because at the moment apart from liking the sound of being a member, I’m not too sure what the tangible benefits are.

– Written an Imp interview as ‘guest blogger’ on Victoria Addis’ The Hermit’s Progress. It was fun!

Despite selling a decent amount of books (just call me Zoella!), I’m a little panicked and feeling like I’m not doing enough … saying it will be a long haul seems to be easier than actually being ok with it being a long haul!

Thanks for reading,

Larisa