Posts Tagged Anne Harvey

How to Sell Books?

It’s about six weeks since The Promise was published and I’ve tried not to flood this blog with constant references to it. However,  today is my birthday and so I’m going to indulge. Here is a look back at what publicity the book has received in its ‘honeymoon’ post-publication phase (on a less self-centred note, I hope there might be some ideas here that you can use for your own books).

Sally Jenkins Public Speaking

Speaking at Boldmere Library

Author Events
So far I’ve done three author talks for The Promise, one at a library and two at community groups. A bonus from the library talk was the sale of two books to the library and the satisfaction of seeing them borrowed whilst my talk was still taking place.
I have another three talks lined up for April and May. The title of my talk is ‘How to Make Money Out of Murder’ and it covers writing a novel, readings from The Promise – and the best tools to use when committing a murder. The flushed cheeks in the photo show that I still get a bit nervous when speaking but hopefully it doesn’t show too much!

Print Media
I find this the hardest way to generate publicity, however the Warner Times (posted to all guests of the Warner Hotel Group) interviewed me and I was thrilled when below the interview, in their ‘Armchair Thrillers’ recommendations, The Promise was placed next to Cover Her Face by P.D. James. Not sure that will happen again!

The lovely Margaret James also gave The Promise a much appreciated and well-timed mention when she asked my views on grip lit for her column in  the March issue of Writing Magazine.

Retail Outlets
The Promise is available via bookshops but it was particularly pleasing to see a display of all three of my paperbacks in the window of my local WH Smith Local.

 

Internet Publicity
Lots of lovely bloggers supported me during the first couple of weeks publication.
In week 1: Helen Yendall and Julia Thorley published guest posts, as did the online magazine Female FirstAnne Harvey and Janette Davies interviewed me with lots of interesting (and sometimes difficult!) questions. Lou’s Book Blog did a spotlight post.
In week 2: I went on a 21 stop blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. This threw up some lovely reviews and the full tour list is on Rachel’s website.

 

Sally Jenkins has woven a dark tale of murder, blackmail and retribution. As the plot thickens it’s hard to imagine where it will all end for the characters caught up in a web of intrigue and deceit.” – Amazon reviewer.

I’m very grateful to all the people and organisations mentioned above (if I’ve missed someone out, please let me know!) for the interest they’ve shown in my writing and their willingness to help. The Promise is also available in e-book format and from a range of online retailers such as Amazon and Waterstones.

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Publication of The Promise

Today The Promise goes out into the big wide world! The Promise by Sally Jenkins

It’s been a long time coming. I signed with The Book Guild last June and since then there’s been cover designs (back and front), proof reading, a marketing meeting, sorting out a blog tour etc. etc. Lots of people have been involved in bringing The Promise to publication. As well as the lovely people at The Book Guild, there’s my writing friends who have cheered me through the whole process of blank page to finished manuscript, my husband who puts up with a wife hiding herself away with a computer (at least I’m not hiding myself away with another man!), my mum who totally believes in me, everyone who bought Bedsit Three and made me think it was worthwhile trying to write another, all the followers of this blog who let me know I am not alone in my endeavours plus everyone in my non-writing life who has asked when the next book is coming out. The dedication at the front of The Promise is to you all with very many thanks:

For all those who have helped along the way – your support continues to be invaluable.

The Promise is dark fiction and the back cover blurb reads:

Olivia has recurring nightmares about the murder of a man which took place when she was a teenager. She refuses to explain the dreams to her worried fiancé, Mark.
Petty criminal Tina is diagnosed with a terminal illness and becomes concerned for the future welfare of her younger brother, Wayne.
When Tina finds a forgotten letter from her ex-cellmate, Audrey, a promise made decades before links the two families.
But the letter also contains a sinister secret…

The book is available in paperback from all major online book retailers and in high street bookshops. It’s also available on Kindle, iBooks, GooglePlay and Nook.

In the coming week I’ve got wonderful bloggers helping me get publicity for The Promise off to a flying start:

Monday 29th January – Helen Yendall’s Blog About Writing. Helen is my longtime writing buddy and fantastic womag writer.
Tuesday 30th JanuaryLou’s Book Blog. The lovely Lou will be shining the spotlight on The Promise.
Wednesday 31st January – Anne Harvey’s Passionate About The Past. I met Anne through my contact with the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA and we’ve helped each other along the way.
Friday 2nd February – Julia Thorley’s Life, Yoga and Other Adventures. Julia is a woman of many talents. She and I are virtual friends.

And week commencing February 5th there’ll be a 21 stop blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

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Birth of a Novel

My first novel has just been launched into the big, bad world and I’m sitting here fretting. Perhaps it will sink without trace or people might hate it … Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

So, to stop me brooding, I’m going to tell you about how it came to be.

Let’s go back two years to October 2013. I went on a weekend writing course organised by Lois Maddox of Relax and Write. The title of the course was ‘How to Write the Mystery Novel’ and it was led by Eileen Robertson. At the same time I spotted a free-to-enter novel writing competition organised by WordPlay Publishing, there was no theme or genre specified but the hero had to be named ‘Ian’ (incidentally, that competition is on-going annually until 2017 if you want to have a go). I combined these two things together for NaNoWriMo 2013 and drafted the first 50,000 words of Bedsit Three.

I spent December 2013 writing a synopsis and polishing the first three chapters. I submitted to the competition just before the 31st December deadline. Then I gave up being a novelist and went back to short stories.

In May 2014 I received a phone call out of the blue. It was Michael Barton of WordPlay Publishing to tell me I had won the competition! The prize was formatting for Createspace and Kindle plus 250 Euros marketing budget and a financial contribution towards a cover design.

After my elation subsided, I realised that I had to knuckle down, finish the manuscript and get it ready for publication. When I thought it was done, Anne Harvey acted as a beta reader and I also had a critique from Patricia Fawcett. Lots of changes followed, including getting rid of a superfluous character, an unlikely coincidence and a lottery win. The ending of the novel also changed.

Then I decided that if Bedsit Three had won one competition, perhaps it could win another. So I entered a few more and was shortlisted in the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition. This gave me confidence and I had the manuscript professionally edited by Mark Henderson. Then off it went for formatting and I looked for cover designers. I chose John Amy. He gave me five initial designs which I showed to a handful of people and their verdict was unanimous.

The back cover blurb was put to the vote in this blog post and I am most grateful to all of you who took the time to comment.

My first novel looks and feels very professional. Here’s the Amazon blurb that goes with it:

“A word of warning to anyone who picks this book up: be prepared for a sleepless night, because you won’t want to put it down until you get to the end,” Michael Barton, WordPlay Publishing.
A stupid mistake ended Ian’s marriage. Now he’s trying to put it right.
Sandra was a teenage mum. Now she’s fighting to make a good life for her daughter.
Maxine made an important decision behind her boyfriend’s back. His reaction devastates all their lives…
Every mother tries to do her best for her child. But sometimes that ‘best’ creates a monster.

Bedsit Three is a tale of murder, mystery and love. It won the inaugural Wordplay Publishing/Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.
Michael Barton, Founder and Managing Director of WordPlay Publishing said of Bedsit Three, “This novel is well-constructed and well-written. But it’s also far more than that. It’s a book that elicits emotional reaction, drawing the reader into the story and placing him or her in the middle of the action page after page.”

‘Bedsit Three’ is available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon and also as an e-book for Kobo.

 

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Blurb Poll – The Results

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to vote and/or comment on the possible blurbs for my novel.

The poll winner, taking 50% of the votes, was the second blurb, ‘Single incidents shape our lives’. But Hilary Custance Green wisely pointed out that the shout-line was a little preachy. She suggested ‘The  Butterfly Effect’ instead, which I think is much better too.

In second place was the final blurb, ‘Opposites attract’. This attracted 42% of the votes, including Anne Harvey who beta-read an early version of the manuscript – does that give her opinion more weight?

Last was, ‘Nature or nurture’ which gained only 8% of the vote. But one of supporters of this one was Julia Thorley, who used to write blurbs for non-fiction titles in her role as an editor – so perhaps it shouldn’t be ruled out completely?

Which blurb will I go with?
My personal favourite is the blurb that topped the poll, especially with its new ‘Butterfly Effect’ shout-line. I’m pleased it won. When I did this voting exercise with the three members of my immediate family, none of them chose it. That made me think I may be out of tune with what attracts readers, hence the reason I did the poll.

I have learnt that opinions on blurbs are very subjective. No blurb will attract every reader, so going with the poll majority may be the best thing to do.

Thanks again to everyone who voted and here’s the winner again:

The Butterfly Effect
A stupid mistake ended Ian’s marriage. Now he’s trying to put it right.
Sandra got pregnant as a teenager. Now she’s fighting to make a good life for her daughter.
Maxine made an important decision behind her boyfriend’s back. His reaction devastates all their lives…
Bedsit Three is a tale of mystery and romance. It won the inaugural Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

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CreateSpace Tips from Anne Harvey

Anne HarveyA couple of weeks ago Hilary Custance Green impressed us with her totally independent self-publishing journey. Today Anne Harvey has kindly agreed to share her CreateSpace experience with us.

Anne is the author of A Suitable Young Man.

It’s a nostalgic tale of friendship, family, love, loyalty and loss, set in a Lancashire mill town in the 1950s. One dark December night, Kathy Armstrong is rescued from two thugs by Nick Roberts, whom she’d known as a schoolgirl. But Nick is a Teddy boy, hell-bent on having a good time in the pubs and dance halls of the era. Shortly after, she meets accountant John Talbot at a party and is captivated by his middle-class charm. To the background of the new rock and roll, a mounting crisis over the Suez Canal, family and personal crises, Kathy struggles with a wayward attraction to Nick and her incubating love for John. But which one is ‘The Suitable Young Man?’

I read A Suitable Young Man during its beta phase and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now, how did Anne get on with CreateSpace?

I published my debut novel ‘A Suitable Young Man’ on Amazon Kindle at the beginning of December but always knew that I wanted to bring it out as a paperback as well. Having only a limited budget, I chose to go with Amazon’s CreateSpace facility.

It looked a pretty scary project to undertake. Then, I learned of a book, ‘Format Your Print Book’ by Tim C Taylor, which promised to guide me through the process. I would recommend purchasing the paperback version for easy referral. The book proved invaluable but even though this was a second edition, certain things had changed which I needed to work my way through.

Although there is a Createspace template available, I didn’t like it because there seemed to be too many spaces between paragraphs which would have amounted to extra pages. Instead, I chose to format the book myself following Tim Taylor’s guidelines. It wasn’t easy but I took it a step at a time. The main thing to remember is to use section breaks instead of page breaks and first line indentation instead of tabs. Fortunately, there is a previewer so that you can check your work at all times. (Tip here: when formatting make use of the ‘print preview’ facility in Windows so that you can see how it’s going to look as a book.) Berni Stevens, who had designed my cover for the ebook, had had experience of formatting a full cover (including spine and back cover) and was a big help, eventually providing me with a print-ready pdf copy to upload.

Once everything is uploaded to your satisfaction, it has to be submitted for review (to ensure that it doesn’t contravene any of their regulations). This usually takes 24 hours after which you are emailed to say you can go ahead and order a proof copy. There’s a drawback here in that the proof copy has to come from the US. While waiting for that, I completed all the pricing and distribution details on my ‘dashboard.’ When working out a sale price, I took into consideration the cost price of author copies plus shipping from the States and added a profit margin onto that. Incidentally, cost of author copies and shipping costs are clearly given and simple to follow.

So, I’ve ordered my proof copy which should be with me some time in January. On receipt of that, I will need to check carefully through, make sure there are no typos or glaring formatting errors. Then, I will be ordering author copies which will take another few weeks to arrive. Because of this, it will be impossible to arrange a book launch in advance, which is a drawback. In the meantime, it will be available as POD for single copies for anyone who wants to purchase it through Amazon UK, no waiting time involved. I hope my experience helps anyone else thinking of trying Createspace.A Suitable Young Man by Anne Harvey

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