Saturday, 24 August 2019

Paperback Launch at Steyning Bookshop. How Did it Go?

Have you ever had one of those posts that you can't wait to write? Well this is one of them and the reason? I've just had my first ever paperback launch at my local independent bookshop, The Steyning Bookshop. A dream come true.

Proud? You bet!

The bookshop was established in 1984 just three years before I moved to the town from Brighton, heavily pregnant with my first daughter. Being an avid reader, it was one of the first shops I ever went into and I spent many a happy time with my children in the reading area. Once the children had grown up, I continued to visit with my three grandchildren.

Over the thirty years or so I’ve been living here, I’ve been to many author events organised by Sara the owner: several book launches and a number of talks by inspirational authors such as Debbie Howells, Elly Griffiths, Michelle Paver… even the fabulous Mary Berry. What I couldn’t have predicted is that one day I would be having a book launch of my own.

But why was I celebrating the launch of my second novel, rather than my first? The simple reason is that when my debut, What She Saw, was published, I was scared. It was my first novel, I was a new author and I had no idea whether anyone would want to even read it, let alone like it. But to my amazement, What She Saw went on to become a Kindle bestseller not only in the UK but also in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and sales in the three months since I’ve been published have topped 40,000. It was the validation I needed to help me feel I'd earned my right to be standing there with a novel in my hand.

In the weeks leading up to my paperback launch, I'd posted on various Facebook author groups, asking for advice for the evening. How long should my speech be? How many pages should I read from the book? How could I stop myself from panicking? I received a lot of sound advice but one that stood out for me was 'just enjoy yourself'.

The evening started at 7.30 p.m. with guests arriving for nibbles and Prosecco (there was also wine and soft drinks). The bookshop held a maximum of fifty people and that was how many people I had! A wonderful mix of family, friends, writers and representatives from all the local activities I take part in: tap, badminton, ballroom, Pilates and choir. With everyone under strict instructions to arrive at the start, the room quickly filled up and the sound level rose several octaves.

After twenty minutes of socialising, the guests were ushered into a seated area of the bookshop. Sara introduced me and then it was time to ‘do my bit’ (a talk of around eight minutes consisting of a welcome and thank you, a little about my path to publication, a summary of We Were Sisters and bit about the location, as it’s set in the local area). The bookshop had even organised a sound system so I could be heard at the back! Now, having been a teacher, I’ve been used to speaking to large numbers of people but that had been children, not adults. Would I be able to deliver something that wasn’t rambling? Would I stumble and stutter? Not trusting myself not to blank, I wrote my speech down and decided to read it, but once I’d warmed up, I felt confident enough to ad-lib in parts which was liberating.

Next was a seven minute reading from the novel followed by a roving microphone in the audience for questions. And what great questions they were.

The formal part of the evening was over. I could breathe, have a glass of Prosecco, sign some books and relax while my guests ate my fabulous ‘book cover’ cake.

Then, too soon, it was 9 p.m. and the book launch had come to an end. Sara and her husband, Rob had looked after us so well. As the last guest left, I looked around me at the table of my books, the remnants of the cake, the empty Prosecco bottles. A room that had been filled with the support and love of so many people.

The whole event should have been daunting, scary even, but it wasn’t. It was exhilarating. And that was because I’d taken the advice I’d been given and enjoyed every moment of it. But the evening wasn't quite over as I popped over the road to join my friends in the pub to carry on with the celebrations and wet the baby’s head.

You could say, the paperback of We Were Sisters has been well and truly launched!

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Publication Day - The Truth

Two days ago, my second psychological thriller, We Were Sisters, was published and, of course, I'm delighted. Before I was published, I had an image of what publication day would be like: lounging around in silk pjs basking in the glory or drinking champagne in a bubble bath, surrounded by flowers from my well-wishers.

But what is publication day really like?

You really want to know? Well, okay, here it is. Publication Day... the truth (beware... it's not for the faint-hearted!).

Diary of a Publication Day

5.15 a.m.  Wake up. Check social media in case my social media manager, Noelle, has also woken early and decided to plaster news of my publication across the sites (even though it doesn't go 'live' until 7.15 p.m.). She hasn't.

6.15 a.m.  Repeat.

6.30 a.m. Wonder why husband is still asleep. Why isn't he up making me a celebratory cup of tea?

7.10 a.m. Desperate for tea but scared to get up unless I miss something.

7.15 a.m. Check Amazon. Why does my novel still say 'pre-order'? Check phone and see that my clock is a minute fast.

7.15 a.m. (again) We Were Sisters has been published. Ta da! Yippee! Wait for the euphoria to hit. It doesn't.

7.16 a.m. My publisher puts up posts on Facebook and Twitter. Share and re-tweet.

7.17 a.m. Decide that this time round I will won't thank everyone personally for their messages of congratulations. A 'like' will suffice. It's my day, I shall relax and enjoy it.

7.18 a.m. Start to thank everyone personally for their messages of congratulations.

7.19 a.m. Repeat.

7.20 a.m. Repeat.

8.00 a.m. Check Amazon rankings. Have I hit the #1 spot yet? They haven't moved.

8.01 a.m. Rankings must be broken. Refresh page. No change.

8.05 a.m. Check my first Amazon review. It's a disappointing 3*. But, never mind another one comes in... it's also 3*.

8.10 a.m. Decide that everyone hates me and my book.

8.12 a.m. Check reviews again. This one loves it. Decide they're only being kind.

8.20 a.m. Continue to re-tweet, share and thank.

8.30 a.m. Repeat.

8.50 a.m. Repeat.

8.45 a.m. Wonder if there's another way of saying 'thank you'.

8.50 a.m. Consider putting merci beaucoup then decide it's pretentious. Anyway, I'm not French.

9.00 a.m. Get out thesaurus.

10.00 a.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

11.00 a.m. Repeat.

11.15 a.m. Repeat.

12.00 a.m. Start to feel a bit stir crazy. The walls are closing in. Wish I had arranged to have celebratory lunch with writing buddy Tracy like last time.

12.10 a.m. Decide I could open the celebratory bottle of Prosecco my husband's bought me before remembering he hasn't.

12.15 a.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

12.20 a.m. Repeat.

12.30 a.m. Repeat.

1.00 p.m. Feel hungry but am scared to make a sandwich in case I miss something.

1.30 p.m. Run to fridge, grab a piece of cheese and two tomatoes. Check phone to see if I've missed anything. I haven't.

1.40 p.m. Check Amazon reviews. Someone has entitled their review 'Gripping Thriller'. Decide my book is probably the best ever written.

1.45 p.m. Check again. Someone had entitled their review 'Predictable'. Decide my novel is the worst ever written and everyone hates me.

2.00 p.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

2.10 p.m. Repeat.

2.20 p.m. Repeat.

2.30 p.m. Start to feel I've got caught up in Groundhog Day. Google it because I can't remember the lead actor's name.

2.31 p.m. Click back onto Amazon in case I've missed something. I haven't.

2.32 p.m. Start talking to myself. Wonder if I'm going mad.

2.33 p.m Message writing friend Liz. Tell her I think I'm going mad and make her go for a walk by the sea.

3.00 p.m.  Walk helps. Tell Liz book is rubbish and everyone hates me.

3.10 p.m. Resist urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.20 p.m. Resist urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.30 p.m. Resist urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.40 p.m. Miss what Liz has just said to me as I'm too busy resisting the urge to check Amazon ranking.

3.50 p.m. Feel better after walk. Check Amazon ranking. It hasn't moved. Feel worse.

4.00 p.m. Come home to find huge tin of hand-baked biscuits and cupcakes from my publisher Bookouture.

4.10 p.m. Check Amazon ranking. It's moved up. Have a couple of celebratory cakes.

4.15 p.m. Check ranking. It the same. Have a couple of commiseratory cakes.

4.20 p.m. Wonder if eating four cupcakes, a chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate muffin might have have been greedy.

4.25 p.m. Feel sick.

4.30 p.m. Re-tweet, share, thank.

4.40 p.m. Repeat.

4.50: p.m. Repeat.

5.00 p.m. Repeat.

5.30 p.m. Think I might have finger strain from the re-tweets and thanks. Wonder if I should see the doctor. Decide I can't. She'd only laugh at me and, in any case, if I leave the house I might miss something.

6.00 p.m. Go to FitSteps. Resist urge to check Amazon Ranking.

6.20 p.m. Between rumba and jive check Amazon ranking.

6.21 p.m. Feel bad for checking.

6.30 p.m. Check again.

7.30 p.m. Wait for husband to come home. Wonder how big the celebratory bouquet will be.

7.45 p.m. Husband comes home. Pretend not to care that there's no bouquet.

8.00 p.m. Go for celebratory meal. Drink Prosecco. Wonder why my fingers are stiff when I pick up my glass.

9.00 p.m. Feel a sense of achievement at not having felt the urge to look at my phone.

10.00 p.m. Fall into bed. Smile because I've realised something. I've had another book published... and it's a good feeling.

If you'd like to read the novel that caused me to eat my weight in cupcakes, you can buy it from 
Amazon here. And it's only 99p!