You can’t please all the people all of the time

The trigger for this blog was my sister saying she didn’t like chapter 13 of the novel I am writing (working title of I Castrati). She had loved the previous twelve chapters but this one, she says, is predictable and the new character that is introduced is too much of a stereotype. She basically said “no good – try harder.” Was I grateful for her feedback? Did I re-read the chapter myself to see if she had a point? Did I hell! I felt as if she had physically punched me in the stomach and I immediately moved her e-mail to Trash.

Chapter 13 is the start of a love story between the male protagonist, Philippe, and a woman known as La Strega (Italian for witch) because she lives alone in a wood and makes healing potions out of herbs and natural ingredients. It is a sub-plot and I absolutely loved writing it. Ann, the writing group lead, suggested a few things but said it was “another good chapter.” How could two people have such different feedback on the same chapter? And who should I listen to?

You would think that by now I would be used to rejection. There were of course the normal job application failures and the many relationship failures over the years that are all part of life’s rich tapestry and, I am sure, all very character building. But when you become a writer of any sort you open yourself to almost constant rejection and criticism.

  • There’s the failure to win competitions (flash fiction, short story, poetry, 1st 3 chapters of a novel ……) – you name it and I have submitted something and 99 times out of 100 I have heard no more. And when I did win a children’s short story run by the Society of Women Writers & Journalists (SWJJ) my first reaction was that there can’t have been many to choose from, such was my cynicism by that point. You very rarely get any feedback on failed entries to a competition so, as people say, “you just have to keep submitting – you won’t win if you don’t enter”. This is true, of course, but it is very disheartening when you have sent what you consider to be a brilliant piece of work but when you scan down the list of the top twenty – it is nowhere to be seen. I very rarely read the winning entry – I just know I won’t think it is as good as I think mine is.
  • Having had no luck with literary agents the first time I sent out The Jewel Garden, I paid £195 to a professional reviewer to provide a report. His main feedback was that the reader would become more emotionally involved with Mary De Morgan if the story was told chronologically rather than as flashbacks after she had died. The first time I read the report I was almost physically sick. The whole book was basically multiple flashbacks and so, in my mind, he was saying that the whole book was rubbish. After a few weeks I re-read the report and discovered that he was actually very encouraging and was just recommending that I re-sequence the events so that the reader was engaged with the growing relationship as it happens, rather than retrospectively. I had to admit that it did make sense so I did what he suggested and a very much better book was written.
  • The biggie is, of course, rejection by literary agents and publishers. Before the re-write of The Jewel Garden, I sent out to 21 literary agents and 20 publishers. I got 18 rejection e-mails in total over a number of months and no responses from the others  After the re-write, I sent to 37 literary agents and 6 publishers and received 23 rejections. I considered the synopsis and introductory e-mail were sound, the book was well edited and presented, so the reason for the rejections was, as far as I was concerned, that they didn’t like my book, or not enough to bother with it. It doesn’t matter if they say something really positive, such as “I really enjoyed reading your work” – there is always a “but”. And it is these “buts” that tear a writer apart. After every rejection I felt like a little bit of me had died. When I did finally get an e-mail from Williams & Whiting offering to publish the novel I almost deleted it without finishing reading it, being sick and tired of getting to the “but”. I know all writers get rejections. J. K Rowling, apparently, got rejected 12 times (is that all??) before the 1st Harry Potter was snapped up and writers such as Hemingway, Herman Melville, George Orwell and Marcel Proust were all rejected multiple times. This doesn’t make me feel any better, it just proves that literary agents don’t always know a good book when they see one!
  • Even once you are published, rejections abound. There are the unanswered e-mails to libraries, book-shops, reviewers – each non-reply is a rejection. The press-releases sent to newspapers, local and beyond – each non-acceptance is a rejection of me as a writer. Even a ‘friend’ on FaceBook who doesn’t accept is someone else who is judging and rejecting your invite.
  • I haven’t had many reviews of The Jewel Garden yet, and so far they have been really lovely, but I have had a couple of academic books published and there is nothing as vitriolic as one academic criticising another. The feeling of mortification, embarrassment and downright depression after a bad review is almost too much to bear. Obviously the reviewer has to be honest and point out failings (as they see it) but there are ways of doing this that are supportive and encouraging rather than just totally destroying the writer’s confidence and credibility.
  • There are, of course, the positive reviews which makes one’s heart sing, or the publisher who has faith in you and your novel, or a magazine who does print your press-release, or a bookshop who says they are willing to do a book-signing, or a library that would love you to come and give a talk on the upward struggle of being a writer. Or the good feedback from your writing group leader. Or from your sister. These all make you want to continue a keep on putting pen to paper.

It is so hard not to take each and every rejection and criticism to heart. I certainly am not sure which ones to just ignore and which I should take notice of.  I do know that you can’t please everyone all the time. If I changed chapter 13 to please my sister, would Ann like it as much? Would I?

It is a hard lesson to learn that not everyone loves what I write, but at the end of the day I am still writing and producing work I am happy with and which at least a few other people enjoy reading.

Although perhaps not always my sister.

 

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I wish the invisible little man on my shoulder would shut up!

I don’t consider myself to be an author as I don’t earn my living from writing. Therefore, I am an IT project manager who also writes. I write for pleasure because I want to tell a story that I think other people might enjoy reading.

My problem is that since writing for pleasure I am constantly suffused with the feeling of guilt, fuelled by an invisible little man on my right shoulder, who whispers incessantly into my ear.

His sole aim is for me to get my second novel completed. Therefore, if I spend the day in the garden (and by God it needs weeks, rather than days of work), or if I go shopping for frivolities such as a new bathroom blind, which then takes a whole day to put up because I am pretty incompetent at DIY, or if I book a walking holiday so that I can’t take my laptop, then this voice in my ear never stops: “What the hell are you doing? The weeds will just grow again so why bother – or just hire a gardener? Why do you need a blind, no-one can possibly see into the bathroom and you have made a hash of putting it up anyway, so why not just get someone to do it in the first place? If you insist on going away for a holiday go to an isolated cottage so that you can WRITE!!”

The only time he is quiet when I am not sitting at my laptop is when I spend the weekend with my grand-daughters (who truly are the most fascinating and entertaining little girls in the whole world). I think he rather likes them – but I suspect this is only because my visits are infrequent.

But sitting at my laptop is not enough to satisfy him. As any reader of my earlier blogs will know, having just had my debut novel “The Jewel Garden” published, I am now having to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to promote it. As I e-mail libraries & bookshops, communicate via FaceBook & Twitter, try and find reviewers, update my website, write this blog, send out press-releases, the little guy is jumping up and down on my right shoulder yelling obscenities and telling me to stop wasting my time. “Have any of these activities actually resulted in a single sale?? Just focus on writing “I Castrati” because, after all, that is all you really want to do, isn’t it?”

The trouble is, when I do actually work on “I Castrati, there is another little man on my left shoulder whispering, “What’s the point of writing a second one, when no-one is reading the first? And whilst you sit there with your head in 18th century Italy, your house is falling apart and your garden is turning into a jungle. And you have family out there in the real world who you haven’t seen for months. None of you are getting any younger – no-one lives for ever.”

I don’t know where these little men came from, but I wish they would shut up!

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Why write?

Today I have been messaging someone who has written far more books than I have, or ever will probably. She felt she wanted to give up because she just wasn’t getting the books out to enough readers. I asked her why she wrote, but in so doing, I asked myself the same question. It’s certainly not for the money. It’s obviously possible to make a lot of money out of writing but how one gets to that point is beyond my imagination at the moment.

I was always quite good at writing at school but when it came to choosing A-levels I followed the scientific route. I then became a computer programmer and I don’t recall doing any creative writing during those years. I read a lot though. I always have, and still do.

When I was about 40 I decided to do a part-time BA in literature and that was when I started writing. I enjoyed it so much I went on to do an MA and then a PhD. During the 17 or so years (yes it took that long!) all I wrote was academic essays, of course, but I did love the act of researching other people’s writing and then doing my own. When I finished my PhD I didn’t want to stop so I wrote the biography of one of the Victorian writers I had included in my thesis – Our of the Shadows: the Life and Works of Mary De Morgan. At the time,  I didn’t really think about what it was that I wanted to carry on with, but I think it was the whole package: the locking myself away in my study, the searching for articles & books, the reading of all sorts of texts from scrawled post cards, to emotional letters to articles and short stories, the writing of every snippet of information that I could find, then putting everything together into something that would tell the story of Mary. I managed to find a publisher quite quickly, but in retrospect it was not one I should have gone with. They did produce a beautiful looking book but they did no editing and I never heard anything much from them after the first few months. I have no idea how many were sold (I seem to recall that I would get nothing until the 1st 500 had been sold. As I have received nothing, well you do the maths). I am immensely proud of that book, but it was again a purely academic book and, being a biography, had to be factual.

Once I had finished the biography, I again felt bereft. It was then that I thought, I want to keep writing, but what? Despite years of research on Mary De Morgan there were things that I just would never know. Like, why did she never marry, what triggered her going to live in Egypt, how on earth did she get to be a directress of a girls’ reformatory in Helouan? I suppose it was this desire to fill in the gaps that made me think that perhaps I could tell her story again, but as fiction rather than fact. But to do so, I would have to use my imagination and the last time I had done that was some 40 years previously!

This is when I joined a writing group (led by Ann Evans), which helped me to undo the bolts and knots with which academic writing binds one’s imagination. Not only have I written a novel, The Jewel Garden, which does what I wanted it to do – tell Mary’s story, some of which is fact, much of which is fiction – but I also found I enjoyed writing short stories and poetry. I have submitted quite a few to competitions but have only ever won a a children’s short story competition run by the Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

Now, I don’t think I have actually explained why I love writing. I could flippantly say it’s because it’s a really good excuse for not doing the housework, gardening, ironing or even having a relationship. I can’t say it has been a driving force all my life – because it obviously hasn’t been. Nor can I say that I have a head full of stories because I don’t. I am not one of those people who carry a notebook everywhere and make notes of scenes and conversations. Nor am I the sort of person who spends every spare minute writing. I am usually too tired in the evenings (I still have a full-time job as an IT project manager) so I tend to set aside my weekends  – this is when I will spend all day just writing. I love walking and often spend my holidays going on long distance walks by myself and I always “write” in my head. When I get back to base I hand-write into a book and then put it onto my laptop when I get home. Some of my best writing has been conceived walking along the South West Coastal Park.

So, I don’t really consider myself to be a “proper” writer – but I do love the act of writing, although I still haven’t really answered the question, why do I write. I think it is because I find it hard to express myself verbally and I can’t paint, or make pottery, but I find I can express myself in words.  I can’t seem to keep a relationship, but I can find the words to write about a loving one.  I have suffered the loss of a child and although I couldn’t speak about it even now, I have written about my feelings in a poem.  I have two wonderful grand-daughters who I love so much it hurts, but with love there is always fear, which I cannot verbalise, but I can write about.

Will I continue writing? I hope so, but I don’t have a third novel waiting in the wings. Maybe I could write about being a writer!

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It would bore me to death to be rich!

I have written quite a few posts complaining about how hard it is these days for a writer to get a book published in the first place, and then to get people to read it. However, I was thinking this weekend what it must have been like for Mary De Morgan, (1850 – 1907) the Victorian writer whose biography I have written (“Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan”) and who features in my debut novel “The Jewel Garden.”

So I thought I would see how my writing activities compare with Mary’s.

Research

I did most of my research for the biography and novel on-line. If I couldn’t read the article/book on-line, I could at least order it on-line, or worst case be told at which library I could find it.

Mary wrote many articles that were published in journals, such as “The Education of Englishmen”, “Co-operation in England in 1889”, “The Jewish Immigrant in East London” and “The New Trades-Unionism and Socialism in England”. I don’t have any real evidence for this, but based on a short story she wrote, I suspect that she spent many hours in the British Museum Library. Otherwise, how did she get the details about the public schools such as Winchester and Eton, when none of her brothers went there? And the facts and figures included in the other articles can only have been gleaned from reading many reference books. She wrote one article entitled “At the Foot of the Pyrenees” – I have found no reference to Mary making such a visit, so can only assume that she read books on the subject and then wrote an account as if she had actually gone there.

Writing

I, of course, wrote everything straight onto my PC, where my spelling and grammar was corrected; I could cut-and-paste sections back and forth until I was happy with its final resting place; I could change the font, size and line spacing at the press of a button; I could send chapters via e-mail for someone to sanity check.

Mary either hand-wrote or used a type-writer. There are some of her short-stories in the De Morgan archives in Senate House, London University (her father was a renowned mathematician, hence the archives) and they are very badly typed, with much crossing-out and changes made by hand. I am sure the type-writer was a great advance, but even so it was still a slow process and once typed, not easy to change.

Submissions

Having completed the book I then searched for literary agents and/or publishers on-line, filtering by genre or any other relevant criteria. I then sent out the relevant number of chapters to multiple recipients via e-mail, without the need to use 1 sheet of paper or buy 1 postage stamp.

Mary, on the other hand, would have had to make a fair copy and probably hand deliver to a publisher – she lived in London, where I assume most of the UK publishers were.  There were no such things as literary agents at the time. I don’t know if she submitted to more than one publisher – if she did, she would have had to write/type the additional copy. I don’t know how hard it was to get published – maybe the fact she had a famous father helped, maybe not.  Some of her articles were published in US journals and magazines, so she would have had to post her manuscript and wait for a response by mail.

Publication

Having had a book published, I can promote it myself on FaceBook, Twitter etc. I can join multiple on-line sites to request reviewers and reviewers can leave their feedback on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. I can promote myself and my book via Blogs and my own websites. All, without actually having to move out of the chair.

Mary, on the other hand, would not be able to do anything but leave everything in the  hands of the publisher. He would do all the advertising, he would get the books printed and distributed, he would arrange for the book to be translated and he would obtain reviews from papers and magazines.

I would just like to share one review for Mary’s second collection of fairy tales, “The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde.” I read these stories today as incisive critiques of Victorian society, but the contemporary reviewers considered then to be mere children’s stories. Maybe because this is how they were promoted?

It is chiefly for children, however, that Christmas books are now produced, and if in them the matter is not often above the old level, there is, as a rule, a most praiseworthy improvement in the style of illustration. The most remarkable portions of Miss De Morgan’s The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde, for instance, are the five-and-twenty dainty illustrations by Mr Walter Crane, though in these days, when the fairytale-telling faculty is but feebly shown, Miss De Morgan’s not too didactic stories are not to be thought meanly of.

Faint praise indeed!

Apparently the review of Mary’s novel “A Choice of Chance” was so bad she never wrote another. I didn’t think it was that bad.

Renumeration

My current novel is priced at £1.99 for the kindle version and £9.99 for the hard-copy. I don’t know yet how many have been sold.

I found the following statement of account for Mary’s first collection of fairy tales, “On a Pincushion”, published in 1870, when Mary was just 20 years old. It was obviously still selling six years later.

Date Item Expenditure

(£ s d)

Income

(£ s d)

Sept 1876 To paper & printing 1500 70 6 6      
  To engraving illustrations 18 5 0      
  To binding 1250 @ 82/6 per 100 57 11 3      
  To binding 250 @ 64/- (for America) 8 0 0      
  To engraving Binders Block 7 7 0      
  To advertising 13 1 8      
  To trade expenses 7½% on £206 18 9 15 9 4      
  To profit to Miss De Morgan 14 8 6      
  To profit to W. De Morgan Esq. 14 8 6      
  To profit to Seeley & Co 14 8 6      
  By 47 copies presented            
  By 1203 copies sold as 1155 @ 3/7       206 18 9
  By 250 copies sold to America for       21 17 6
  TOTAL 228 16 3 228 16 3

You will notice that the author (Mary), the illustrator (Mary’s brother, William) and the publisher (Seeley & Co.) all got the same amount of £14 8s 6d – I think this is the equivalent today of around £1,060

The cost of a book was 3s 7d – interestingly I paid £200 for a copy of this book. Well worth every penny!

Mary certainly never became rich by her writing – she apparently said to her sister-in-law, ““I am so thankful I have only a small income―it is so delightful planning things and deciding what one can afford. It would bore me to death to be rich!”

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More about reviews, or lack thereof

I now have 4 reviews on Amazon – they are all 5 star and they are all incredibly positive. One has also been posted on the The Book Club (TBC) group on FaceBook, so maybe that will prompt others to read.

I also am included in the Heggerwoord Realms Showcase.  Two authors are showcased in a week and the authors themselves have to promise to buy books from the 3-week tranche. So I need to buy 5 book and 5 other authors will buy mine. The commitment is to buy, not to read or review.

I also had a short story called “Joy” published on-line by CafeLit. They try and publish one short story per day to be enjoyed with a drink. This is a great idea and is another way of getting your name out there. I will try and send them a few more over the weeks.

Last week I sent out numerous e-mails to libraries, newspapers and bookshops but have not had a response of any sort, other than from  the editor of the Rugby Observer saying I am not “local” enough to be of any interest. Well, he didn’t say the last bit, but that is what he meant.

I suspect I am going to have to physically go to some of these places with a book in hand. But this will be so time-consuming and possibly costly. And I have heard such different answers as to how effective book-signings are, I am really not sure whether to bother. And that is it in a nutshell – it is all such a bother and I feel I am having to be so pushy all the time, which is not in my nature. I am wondering whether this isn’t where the publisher could help?

I feel particularly depressed at the moment because yesterday I was on a 10-hour flight from UK to USA and I spent about 5 solid hours just writing. It was wonderful. Because I was using pen and paper I didn’t spend hours just trying to get a sentence right, which is what I tend to do when I use my laptop, I just wrote and wrote. And that is what I want to do with my time, research and write, not keep trying to tell complete strangers that they should buy my book, as opposed to all the other hundreds of book that are being thrust under their noses. I know, I know, I need to be grateful that I even have a book to thrust at them.

Am I being to impatient and unrealistic? Probably.

 

 

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Reviews,

So, as part of my attempts to market my book I have been trying to get my book reviewed. I have, or am trying the following:

  1. A “proper” review in a literary paper or magazine. I am a member of Society of Women Writers & Journalists (SWWJ) and the Historical Novel Society, both of which luckily accept books for review. I had to send a physical copy. There is no guarantee that a review will be published and even if it is it may be many months before it sees the light of day. I can’t think of any other magazines at the moment – I guess most choose what to review rather than allow an author to recommend  their own book.
  2. Reading groups. Again they choose and do not like authors approaching them waving their books in their faces. However, I am lucky enough to know someone (she used to work at TNT with me many moons ago) who contacted me on FaceBook and said she was in a small reading groups in Rugby and she would choose The Jewel Garden when it was her turn, which was this week! So I raced over to Rugby one evening taking 6 books for her group. They don’t meet to  discuss for another 2 months.
  3. On-line reviews.
    1. I joined Readers Review Room. For $35 they add your book and an author profile onto their website for a year. There is a library of books waiting to be reviewed – mine included. I assume I just have to wait for one of the reviewers to pick it.
    2. Review om Amazon (or Waterstones). This is, so I understand, the all important one and the hardest for me. I have as of today one lovely review on Amazon written by my sister. She said she meant it when she said it is a “brilliant” book – but I have to accept that she is biased. The only other review I am aware of is one from a friend who texted me today saying “Started reading The Jewel Garden and can’t put it down. Absolutely loving it.” Now I suspect I should ask her to put that in a review on Amazon, but I would feel dreadful doing so. She bought the book, is reading it and bothered to tell me she loves it – that surely is more than enough.
    3. I am a member of a FaceBook group that allows authors to put their book forward for review. But you have to be a member for 3 months – still got quite a few weeks to go.
    4. I have submitted the details of my book to BookLore, who reviews for free. If accepted I will need to send them a copy. They don’t guarantee they will review.
    5. It is worth mentioning that there are also sites that, for a price, offer to review your book. Paying for a review is a bit like paying someone to write your essay or thesis – it doesn’t mean diddly squat.
  4. A review in the Times Literary Supplement. A woman can but dream.

All in all, a lot of effort with minimal results as yet. Still, I guess even best-selling authors at one point must only have had 1 review.

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Press Release – Final Version

So it took three attempts, but Ann Evans (leader of the writers’ group I attend) but here is the final version.

So far I have sent it to the following:

  1. Coventry Evening Telegraph – no response
  2. Coventry Observer – no response
  3. Chatterbox magazine – no response
  4. Your Call magazine – had an e-mail about 10 minutes after submitting in the evening with Lynne saying she would try and get it into the 10 different copies sent out to local towns & villages.

I have asked via FaceBook if anyone has any ideas on where else to send.

Ann has suggested sending to national papers but I am not sure I feel confident enough to do that yet. But it is still on the list.

PRESS RELEASE                           PRESS RELEASE

 For Immediate Release

 The Jewel Garden, a beautifully written historical novel by local author

 Coventry born Marilyn Pemberton celebrates the recent publication of her debut novel, The Jewel Garden, a fictional account of real-life character Mary De Morgan (1850 – 1907), a writer of fairy tales.

Marilyn began the book four years ago when she started going to a writing group in Nuneaton, run by Ann Evans. Marilyn says, “Ann’s support and encouragement were invaluable and she just wouldn’t let me give up, which was very tempting at times.” Marilyn started sending her manuscript to literary agents and publishers in July 2017, always with the same response, “I’m afraid this isn’t right for our list, so I’m going to pass, but wish you the best of luck with your writing.”

Marilyn admits that with every rejection a little bit of her died. It was on January 1st 2018 that Marilyn received an e-mail from Mike Linane of Williams & Whiting Publishing, who said he loved the book and would be happy to publish it. He suggested that others had rejected the book because it does not fit into a single, popular genre; it is historical “faction”, an unconventional love story between two women and a travelogue all rolled into one. Marilyn is particularly thrilled that Mike agreed to the cover, which was painted by a local artist friend of hers, Linda Claridge-Middup.

The 104,000 word novel tells of fictional character twenty year-old Hannah Russell, who meets and becomes a life-long friend of Mary De Morgan. It is written in the first person and tells of Hannah’s physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End, to the noisy souks and barren deserts of Egypt; from the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent.

Marilyn has always worked in I.T. but at the age of 40 she decided she wanted to exercise the creative side of her brain and so attended Warwick University as a mature, part-time student. Over a 17-year period she gained a BA, MA and PhD. During her research Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan and became somewhat obsessed with the feisty, never-married female and wrote her biography (Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan). Despite her intensive research there were still many gaps in her knowledge, so she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life – the result being The Jewel Garden.

Marilyn says, “In this day and age a writer has to do a lot of the marketing herself, so I am having to join the world of social media and I will be planning local book launches and signings wherever anyone shows an interest.”

Marilyn is busily working on another historical novel, this time set in eighteenth-century Italy at a time when the ends of a beautiful singing voice was justified by the means of castration.

The Jewel Garden is published by Williams & Whiting (ISBN 9781912582037) and is available to buy now as an e-book for £1.99 and paperback for £9.99 from:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jewel-Garden-Marilyn-Pemberton-ebook/dp/B079ZY877T  or

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-jewel-garden/marilyn-pemberton/9781912582037

Editor’s notes:

For further information please e-mail marilyn.pemberton@yahoo.co.uk

or call 07775801010

Publisher’s website: williamsandwhiting.com

Website : https://marilynpemberton.wixsite.com/author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.pemberton.391 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mapemberton54

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/writingtokeepsane.wordpress.com

 

 

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A Press Release, how hard can it be?

Well, a lot harder than I thought. Ann Evans (the leader of the writers’ group I attend) suggested that one of the things I need to do to market the book is to write a press release. So I googled to get a couple of templates and wrote what I thought was a pretty good press release. I sent to Ann and jokingly said she could trash it if she needed to – which she duly did, good and proper.

Here is my 1st attempt – and her comments (in red italics). It is quite difficult to read it has so many faults!

It needs the words: PRESS RELEASE emblazoned at the top, so the journo knows he is free to use it.

                                                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  I wouldn’t have put ‘For immediate release’ so prominent. Normal typing to the left would do.

The Jewel Garden, a gift for Mother’s Day (or for any day) . “Girls can slay dragons too!” The ‘gift’ bit makes it seem a bit like an advert, and the journalist who deals with stories, will possibly be different from the journo who deals with gift features. It might get passed about and end up nowhere. Be precise as to what this is.

Coventry 1st March 2018 No need for a date, particularly as this has gone now.

2018 is the centenary of when women were allowed to vote for the very first time. This was indeed a giant step, but it was preceded by smaller steps taken by women who craved for their own identity and the right to live according to their own rules. The Jewel Garden tells of a time when women were starting to rebel against Victorian conventions and to strive for their independence. These women are our forebears and should be celebrated. This para is interesting and better saved for an article for a specific mag, such as The Lady. Not really Press Release stuff

Marilyn Pemberton, Coventry born and bred, has always worked in I.T. At the age of 40, however, she decided she wanted to exercise the creative side of her brain and so attended Warwick University as a mature, part-time student. Over a 17-year period she gained a BA, MA and PhD. In a press release, you need to get the facts out immediately. Ie. Coventry writer Marilyn Pemberton celebrates the publication of her novel The Jewel Garden – a fictional book, based around the true story character of Mary de Morgan, a Victorian writer of fairy tales. Then go onto the IT bit, and the during her research bit. 

During her research Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan, a Victorian writer of fairy tales, amongst many other things. She became somewhat obsessed with the feisty, never-married De Morgan and wrote her biography (Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan). Despite her intensive research there were still many gaps in her knowledge and because she just could not let De Morgan, or the act of writing, go she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life – the result being The Jewel Garden.

The next para should say something of your journey to getting published – briefly. Ideally this press release needs a quote from you somewhere. This would be a good place to put it. E.g. Marilyn Pemberton said: It wasn’t easy to find a publisher as the book doesn’t really fit into the popular genres such as crime, romance and so on. But I was thrilled when publisher Williams & Whiting accepted it. // They allowed me to be involved with the cover illustration, and an artist friend (her name) had actually painted some beautiful images which I loved. The publisher agreed, and the book now is due to be released…(when?)”

Hannah Russell is twenty years old, recently orphaned, wealthy and totally uninterested in marriage. She meets the thirty-year old Mary De Morgan, a writer of fairy tales and one of William Morris’s circle of friends. Hannah immediately falls for her charm and so begins a physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End of London to the noisy souks and sandy wastes of Egypt; from the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent. Hannah thinks she has found the love if her life, but where there is devotion there can also be deceit and where there is hope there also dwells despair. This para is too detailed and seems a bit out of place for a press release. It needs to say something like: The 100,000 word novel tells the story of 20-year-old Hannah Russell and her relationship with Mary de Morgan, writer of fairy tales in Victorian times, taking the reader on an emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of London’s East End to the hot and dusty(You’ll think of something better Marilyn) plains of Egypt.

It needs a final short paragraph. Something like: Marilyn plans some local book launches for The Jewel Garden, and in the meantime she is busily writing another historical novel, this time based around the churches of Venice (Marilyn, you’ll put the right words here)

Where you can buy the book needs to be above the addresses, as the paper probably won’t publish your social media stuff (but they might) but the important thing is the book. Keep the phrasing simple, don’t ask anyone to leave a review in a PR, and the ISBN number is important.
Say: The Jewel Garden, published by Williams & Whiting, (ISBN ,,,)will be available from all good bookshops priced £9.99 and on line at £1.99

Add in: You can find out more here: Then list the FB and blog addresses etc

Read her blog on https://wordpress.com/view/writingtokeepsane.wordpress.com

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.pemberton.391

Twitter https://twitter.com/mapemberton54

E-mail marilyn.pemberton@yahoo.co.uk

Better still, buy her book (available as an e-book for just £1.99 and paperback for £9.99) and leave a review:

https://www.co.uk/Jewel-Garden-Marilyn-Pemberton-ebook/dp/B079ZY877T

 

I’m not sure it could have been more wrong!

So, here is my second attempt. I’ll let you know my mark from Ann.

PRESS RELEASE

 For Immediate Release

 The Jewel Garden, a beautifully written historical novel by a local author

 Old Arley

Coventry born Marilyn Pemberton celebrates the recent publication of her debut novel, The Jewel Garden, a fictional account of the real-life character Mary De Morgan (1850 – 1907), a writer of fairy tales, amongst many other things. Marilyn has always worked in I.T. but at the age of 40 she decided she wanted to exercise the creative side of her brain and so attended Warwick University as a mature, part-time student. Over a 17-year period she gained a BA, MA and PhD. During her research Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan and became somewhat obsessed with the feisty, never-married female and wrote her biography (Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan). Despite her intensive research there were still many gaps in her knowledge, so she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life – the result being The Jewel Garden.

Marilyn began the book four years ago when she started going to a writing group in Nuneaton, run by Ann Evans. Marilyn says “Ann’s support and encouragement were invaluable and she just wouldn’t let me give up, which was very tempting at times.” Marilyn started sending her manuscript to literary agents and publishers in July 2017, always with the same response, “I’m afraid this isn’t right for our list, so I’m going to pass, but wish you the best of luck with your writing.” Marilyn admits that with every rejection a little bit of her died. It was on January 1st 2018 that Marilyn received an e-mail from Mike Linane of Williams & Whiting Publishing, who said he loved the book and would be happy to publish it. He suggested that others had rejected the book because it does not fit into a single, popular genre; it is historical “faction”, an unconventional love story between two women and a travelogue all rolled into one. Marilyn is particularly thrilled that Mike agreed to the cover, which was painted by a local artist friend of hers, Linda Claridge-Middup.

The 104,000 word novel tells of fictional character twenty year-old Hannah Russell, who meets and becomes a life-long friend of Mary De Morgan. It is written in the first person and tells of Hannah’s physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End, to the noisy souks and barren deserts of Egypt; to the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent.

Marilyn says “in this day and age a writer has to do a lot of the marketing herself, so I am having to join the world of social media and I will be planning local book launches and signings wherever anyone shows an interest.” Marilyn is busily working on another historical novel, this time set in eighteenth-century Italy at a time when the ends of a beautiful singing voice was justified by the means of castration.

The Jewel Garden is published by Williams & Whiting (ISBN 9781912582037) and is available to buy now as an e-book for £1.99 and paperback for £9.99 from:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jewel-Garden-Marilyn-Pemberton-ebook/dp/B079ZY877T  or

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-jewel-garden/marilyn-pemberton/9781912582037

You can find out more here:

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.pemberton.391

Twitter https://twitter.com/mapemberton54

E-mail marilyn.pemberton@yahoo.co.uk

Marilyn’s blog on https://wordpress.com/view/writingtokeepsane.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published – now what??

So my debut novel “The Jewel Garden” is now available on Amazon as an eBook and Print on Demand. I should feel really proud and excited shouldn’t I? But I feel surprisingly deflated because now the really hard part comes – self-promotion & marketing. I’ve written a bit about marketing in an earlier blog but I didn’t list the things I need to do. I had a meeting today with Heide Goody, a friend who has co-authored a number of popular comic fantasy books (The Clovenhoof series and others) with Iain Grant (I have added the link to their website). She had some more tips so I thought it would be useful to share the very long “to do” list, not in any particular order but obviously some may take a lot more time and effort to achieve.

When am I going to find time to finish my 2nd novel??

 

  • FaceBook – I am now a member of about 7 groups – all related to writing or reading. I have read some great books as a result of recommendations – hopefully someone will recommend mine in due course. Some groups you can’t promote your own book – but others you can. This is not something I am comfortable doing – but needs must. I long for the days when the author just wrote the book and the publisher did everything else.
  • Twitter – I have made about 2 posts and am still not sure who will pick them up.
  • Own web-site – I don’t have one yet but a few people suggest I should have one. I thought a blog would suffice but apparently not…. I am told one’s own web-site is a better way of tying everything together in one place.
  • Linked in – I have been on this for ages for work but have never really bothered with it as I am quite happy in my current job. I have, however, updated my details and put my job role as “Senior IT Project Manager and now published author”
  • Goodreads – added my profile.
  • Bookmarks, postcards, business cards, compliments slips etc Apparently VistaPrint is a good means of printing bookmarks, postcards, business cards etc. I’m not sure when I would use these but Heide had some cards and she said she just handed them out at every opportunity – but she is a much more sociable and chatty person than I am. I think I may investigate getting some printed though – just in case.
  • Elevator pitch – Heide suggested I had a one-sentence elevator pitch on the tip of my tongue. I found it difficult enough to write a 100-word blurb for the back of the book never mind trying to condense the whole novel into one pithy sentence – but I need to try and do this.
  • Blog – you are reading it!!
  • Blog tour – no idea what this is but I will investigate
  • SWWJ – I am a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and they print any “successes” – so I have told them about the publication of TJG.
  • SWWJ – also review books. I need to send then a physical copy. I have ordered some from the publisher so will send out on receipt.
  • TLS – So my dream is to be reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. I have no idea how one gets one’s book reviewed here. I suspect they come looking for you, not the other way round.
  • Book launch/signing – need to see if any local bookshops are interested: FARGO (Coventry – 2nd hand books only?), The Astley Book Farm (2nd hand book only), Warwick University Bookshop (I studied there for my BA, MA & PhD and I am sure they used to promote local writers), Waterstones  – any any others I can find
  • Historical Novel Society – I have joined and have added my profile. I have also sent notification of the publication so they can include in the next magazine and also asked them if they would be interested in reviewing the book – awaiting a response.
  • Society of Authors – have joined and updated my profile
  • Author’s Central (Amazon) – Updated my profile
  • Contact readers groups – Not sure if this is possible. Do they read only what is suggested by their members? Will they resent being asked by an author to “read mine, read mine!”
  • Literary festivals – I need to keep my eyes open and see if there are any and then how one gets invited
  • Local papers – I have downloaded some details on how to write a killer press release. Just need to write it and send out!
  • Talks to WI and U3 – maybe worth seeing if I could give a talk on my novel or Mary De Morgan or the art of writing a historical novel.
  • Join Writing West/East Midlands – have asked WWM to include my book in their next newsletter. WEM seems to be for writers from all counties except the one I live in. I might try them anyway as I live very close to the Leicestershire border.
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