Wanted: readers

First, some good news that may result in more readers for The Jewel Garden, which was my debut novel. And if they read that and like it, they might read my next novel, and the next ….. In January 2019 I submitted the book for the Chanticleer 2019 Goethe Book Award for post 1750s Historical Fiction, then promptly forgot about it, although it did cost me the princely sum of $75, which is quite ridiculous, but I was working at the time. Anyway, I found out in December that I have been shortlisted. To be honest, I am not sure if this is a big deal or not, but I am hoping it is. I will find out if it gets further over the next few months. Apparently I am entitled to attach a sticker to the book which says I am on the shortlist – as long as I pay  $62 (plus another $30+ for shipping)! This is for 150 stickers – as I don’t have 150 physical books to hand and as I may actually get to be a semi-finalist or even a finalist (which is a different sticker, of course) I will give this a miss.

So, Song of the Nightingale: a tale of two castrati, has been published. If you recall I paid £755 to The Conrad Press to get it published (most of the cost was for the cover, which is absolutely fabulous and well worth the money).

I paid another £525+ for the printing of 300 books, 195 of which were delivered to my house and are now sitting in my study. I have given a few away, sold a few and sent some to reviewers and to competitions, but I need now to find places to sell the rest. I have a long list of things to do to market, which I will share with you.

  1. Book Signings:
    1. Contact Waterstones to see if I can arrange book signings. I have sent many e-mails and even popped into the Nuneaton and Coventry shops, but I have never had a response, when I was trying to do a signing for The Jewel Garden. I will persevere because I think book signings are quite good ways to get your name known. I am hoping that I can use the fact I have been short-listed for the Chanticleer award to tempt them.
    2. I have already done a book signing for TJG in December at Kenilworth Books and as I had just had the new book delivered I took some along. I sold some to my sister (it counts!), 1 to the lead of the writing group I used to attend who came to support me and 1 to a complete stranger who picked it up whilst he was queueing up to buy something else. I will contact Kenilworth books again to see if I can do another signing later in the year.
    3. Find other places I can do book signings.
  2. Submit for awards
    1. I am thinking about submitting to Chanticleer again. I’ll see what results from TJG being shortlisted. Deadline is not until end of year so there is plenty of time. This time it will be the Chaucer Book Award for pre 1750s Historical Fiction. Another $75.
    2. Also thinking of submitting to the Rubery Book Award. It is £37 to enter.
    3. I am submitting to the Encore Awards, which is for a second novel (very unusual). There is no cost but you do have to post 5 copies.
    4. Submit to the Historical Writers’ Association Crown Award for the best historical novel published between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020. It costs £35 to submit.
    5. Keep an eye open for other awards that are not too costly.
  3. Reviews
    1. I am sending the book to the Historical Novel Society for a review. If accepted it will be in their on-line (and possibly paper) magazine in Aprilish.
    2. I am also a member of the Historical Writers Association and they will add the book to their “new releases”. I am going to write an article about castration and why/how I wrote the book.
    3. I am waiting to hear if the Society for Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) will review. If so this is printed in their magazine “The Woman Writer”.
    4. I am thinking about doing a blog tour. I had one for TJG but I am not sure if it resulted in any sales. There will be a cost, of course.
  4. Advertising
    1. I will send a Press Release to local magazines such as Arley News & Your Call, which get sent to very many places but probably doesn’t result in many sales.
    2. I am a member of the National Association of Writers’ Groups and they will advertise in their magazine, “The Link”.
    3. SWWJ and HNS also publish the book details in their magazines.
    4. I am thinking about using a company called Books Go Social Authors (bgsauthors.com) who do different promotion packages, priced at $87 (4 weeks), $229 (8 weeks) and $489 (12 weeks). I have asked some other authors if they have used the company and whether it is worth the money.
  5. Libraries etc
    1. I have asked a couple of people from a reading group I attend if they would recommend both TJG & SotN to be added to the Reading Group List. If this is done then it will be available for reading groups (local or national, not sure) to request. There is no guarantee the books will be added but if you don’t ask….
    2. I will give a copy to Earlsdon library which is now community run and appreciate donations of new books.
    3. I will contact other local libraries, WI, U3A, historical societies etc to see if I can maybe give a talk and sell some books.

The list is long and I haven’t ticked off many and there is potentially a significant cost involved – I cannot see how I will ever sell enough to cover the outlay.

And I would much rather be working on my next novel……



When is it time to say, “Enough, I can’t afford to promote my book?”

If you want answers then don’t bother reading this blog. I have no answers, merely questions.

If you have read my previous blogs you will realise that all I seem to do is moan about how hard and time-consuming it all is, once your book is published. But I am facing yet another conundrum.

How much should I pay out in order to promote my debut novel, “The Jewel Garden”? When is it time to say, “Enough, I can’t afford to promote my book?”

Obviously, if it was easy to determine that a cost of £x resulted in sales of £y, then it would be an easy decision. But it is difficult (if not impossible) to determine why any reader buys a book and what it was that caught their attention and made them make the actual purchase.

I hope I have done all the basic things that I have been advised to do in order to promote my book, some of which have no cost (other than time), others do have a cost.

So, the costs I have paid out so far, which I would not have done if I had not written a book and wanted to promote myself as a write as well as my book, are:

  1. The cover of the book. This was painted by an artist friend. She asked for no money but I gave her a £100 token in appreciation. I have no idea how this compares with any other means of getting a cover produced.
  2. I have purchased about 10 hard-copies so far at discount to send to reviewers at a cost of £60. I have not yet received the reviews from some of the reviewers.
  3. Postcards printed to leave at bookshops, literary festivals, shop windows etc etc. I have had 150 printed at a cost of £90. I still have well over 100 left.
  4.  I have joined the following societies in order to help promote me as an author as well as my book:
    1. Society of Authors – £102 per annum
    2. Contact an Author – £49.50 per annum. No-one has contacted me as yet.
    3. Historical Novel Society – $50 per annum. Not received their review as yet.
    4. Readers Review Room – £26.08 (will no longer be in operation after 2018. No reviews added.
    5. SWWJ – £55 per annum. Not received their review as yet.

There are a few other things that I could potentially pay for:

  1. A blog tour. I gather there are blog tours for historical novels but they certainly don’t get such mainstream visibility as those for crime/thrillers/light romances.  I have had mixed responses about whether these are worth while. Some enthuse and some say they are not worth it. I suppose it depends on whether the author believes the tour resulted in sales. There are, unfortunately, no guarantees, so it is always going to be a risk. The costs vary, the cheapest I have seen is £45, which covers the basics but for £85 I would get my book “promoted over the blogs every day for a week. This includes reviews, interviews, guest posts and extracts. We also provide a professionally designed poster.” This sounds good to me, but I would have to sell a couple of hundred Kindle versions to cover the costs. Can anyone actually convince me that this is cost effective?
  2. Use a company such as Publishing Push to do all the promotion for you. This sounds perfect for someone like me – but comes at a relatively high cost. I seem to have lost the e-mail I had with indicative costs but I seem to recall that it is in the region on £400+. I would have to sell thousands of Kindle versions to cover these costs.
  3. Audio version. This is only something I started to consider yesterday after a writer colleague posted something on FaceBook. Again, there is a cost (I haven’t researched how much yet) and more time and effort.
  4. There are doubtless many more ways I could pay someone, which might possibly increase my sales.

No one cost is high, but there is the potential to spend a small fortune, far more than I may ever earn in sales, especially when the cost of the Kindle version is £1.99 and I get a % of that after the publisher has taken his %.

I still love my book and have faith that others will love it if they read it (based on the reviews on Amazon.co.uk). But how much should I spend before I say, “Enough, I can’t afford to promote my book?”