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……

 

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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?”

 

 

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Musings of a lone long-distance walker/writer

I have just returned from walking the last leg of the South West Coastal Path. It took nearly two weeks and I covered over 130 miles. It has taken me five years to walk the whole path, which is 630 miles long, not including the distance to walk to and from campsites or B&Bs, or getting lost. I did it in sections: Minehead to Bude, Bude to St. ives, St. Ives to Falmouth, Falmouth to Exmouth, and just now Exmouth to Poole.

As a result of this last 2-week walk, I have almost finished hand-writing novel number 2 (working title was “I Castrati”, but is now “Song of the Nightingale”).  I am absolutely amazed at the amount I have written in this relatively short time. If I hadn’t gone on this walk it would have taken me many months to write the same amount, and to be honest, I don’t think i would have been so inspired. I definitely had my muse packed in my rucksack!

So, the point of this blog is to share some of my musings that I thought of as I walked along, and to recommend long-distance walking to all writers. There are not many occasions when you can just focus on your writing  for hour after hour, day after day. So here are just a few thoughts:

  1. Accept that it may take a day or two to clear your mind of your non-writing life – replaying the conversations at work in which you wish you had (not) said something; planned what you are going to do on your return, the next month, year, rest of your life etc. Only then can you lose yourself in what you are currently writing. On one of the days it was cool, windy and damp but my head was in sunny Florence in Italy – the imagination is a powerful thing.
  2. You will have to change your approach to writing. My normal approach is to write at the weekends. I live alone, so I can just sit in my study and write, write, write straight onto my laptop. I am a Planner and so I know roughly what scenes I want to write. I am the sort that likes to get a sentence right before proceeding so I take my time but I rarely go back and re-write a section.  (There is not. of course, a right or a wrong way of writing, it is just my way.) As I was carrying all my camping equipment there was no way on earth I could carry my laptop with me so my writing approach just had to change – which in itself is quite a traumatic experience and takes some getting used to! So my new routine was to break camp in the morning, scoff a bacon and egg bap (that’s what they call batches down south), then spend the better part of the day just thinking about the next few scenes I wanted to write. I almost wrote the whole scenes in my head, working on phrases, getting bits of conversation to my liking. I didn’t think too far ahead – just the next couple of scenes. I don’t dictate into a machine (most people think I am mad walking alone in the first place, they would be convinced if I appeared to be continuously talking to myself), nor do I make notes as I walk – it’s hard enough and takes long enough just walking up and down the multitude of steep inclines that make up the SWCP, without stopping to make notes. Then at the end of the day, once the tent is up, I find somewhere to sit (preferably where I can get a cup of tea and a slice of cake – I deserve it!) and I just write everything down in a sort of literary diarrhoea.  Just a small point – you also have to learn to write again – when was the last time you actually hand-wrote more than a few sentences??
  3. One major lesson – don’t dither, just move on. This is one of the hardest things, for me, anyway. With a laptop you can play around with words, cut and paste, use the on-line Thesaurus, google something. You just can’t do that with pen and paper. I learned, eventually, just to write and if I wasn’t sure of something just put an * and make a note – but move on. I didn’t re-read what I had written, I just wrote what was swilling around in my mind. This is how some people write anyway, but I am a Planner and it took me out of my comfort zone. Just as an example – I wanted my main protagonist, Philippe, to explain to two young boys a way of memorising the Latin words of a hymn. If I had been at home I would have first of all found a Latin hymn, and then googled for different ways of memorising words – and then I would have put the two together.  But this time, all I could do was put my * and move on. It is hard for someone like me to be vague and not finish the detail, but it is possible!
  4. Linked to the previous comment is that as a long-distance walker who also camps, the iPhone must be used sparingly as there are rarely places where the battery can be charged. Therefore I always switched it off during the day and only switched it on in the evening to send a quick message to my children & sisters to tell them where I was and that I hadn’t fallen off a cliff. Therefore I didn’t access the internet as it would have used too much battery. Mind you, being away from e-mails, FaceTime and Twitter is one of the huge benefits!
  5. Another hint – take your watch off. Not only will you not get a white band if you are lucky enough to get sunshine, but really, what does it matter what time it is? You have no meeting to get to, no appointments – just a place to reach when your legs get you there.
  6. My personal recommendation is to walk alone. I think this is quite rare and I certainly didn’t see many solo walkers, but how can you imagine yourself to be a character in your book whilst someone is wittering in your ear about the size of their blisters? Note – buy decent walking boots, then you won’t get blisters.
  7. Don’t think about your writing all the time. I did stop and enjoy the view, smell the roses (literally), admired the colours of the butterflies, looked (unsuccessfully) for dolphins and, as the path I was walking was along the Jurassic Coast, kept my eyes open for dinosaurs.
  8. Don’t forget to say a cheery “Hullo” to everyone you meet. After all, they may be writers too.
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The transmogrification of chapter 13

The definition of “transmogrify” is “to change or be changed completely”. This is certainly what has happened with chapter 13 of the book I am writing and I thought I would share how it has been changed through the three incarnations.

I am writing a novel whose working title is I Castrati. It tells of two seven year old boys, who are bought from their families by Count De Lorenzo, castrated and sent to a conservatoire to be taught to sing. The story is told from the point of view of Philippe, the count’s secretary, who is tasked with accompanying the boys to Florence and remains their friend and mentor as they succeed/fail as castrati.

At the start, Philippe is the lover of the counts’s wife, Eleanora but I want a sub-plot of the book to be the love story of Philippe and a woman, Sofia, who is referred to as a witch, but is actually just a woman who lives alone in the woods and makes healing potions form herbs and roots.

Chapter 13 tells of the first meeting between Philippe and Sofia and I am currently writing its 3rd incarnation. The reasons for the radical changes are:

  • as a result of my sister saying Incarnation 1 was predictable and Sofia was stereotypical. I wrote a blog about how this cut me to the quick – but she was right.
  • as a result of Ann Evans, the writing group leader, providing feedback on Incarnation 2 and advising that I need to put more obstacles in the way of this romance and that Philippe had got over his love for Eleanora far too quickly.

There are three main areas that have changed dramatically:

  1. The description of Sofia
  2. Philippe’s reaction to Sofia telling him that Eleanora is pregnant
  3. Philippe’s reaction to Sofia herself

1. The description of Sofia

INCARNATION 1

In this incarnation I described Sofia as being fey and a bit ethereal – not realistic enough.

She was my height and I looked into eyes that were as blue as a summer sky, fringed by long black lashes and laughter lines that spread out like the rays of the sun. Her pink lips were curved into a teasing smile.

…..

Her smile turned into a laugh and she threw back her head, her long, copper tresses shimmering in the light of the candles that were placed all around the room. I noticed that small flowers were entwined into the locks, those of the meadow and mountain slopes.

…..

“You’re la Strega!” (note – this is Italian for the witch)

“No, my name, as I have just said, is Sofia. I am no more a witch than you are. I live off the land and use God’s gifts to make potions that ease pain and cure simple ailments.”

INCARNATION 2

In this incarnation Sofia is far more realistic and down to earth.

She was the same height as me, tall for a woman, and her eyes glared directly into mine. Her expression was one of disdain with no glimmer of warmth and I felt awkward and unwelcome.

…..

She wore a plain green dress that didn’t quite reach the floor and had seen better days; the hem was frayed and the skirt was threadbare in places. Her copper-coloured hair was left loose and hung in unkempt waves almost down to her waist. She handed me the mug and bread and I noticed her hands were rough and ingrained with dirt.

…..

“The boys told me about you, you’re La Strega!”

She looked at me, her black eyes full of anger and she almost spat her words at me.   “No! My name, as I have just said, is Sofia. The ignorant fear what they do not understand and resort to mockery and abuse. I live alone, as my mother did, and her mother before her, and I make use of God’s gifts to heal. I do not read the stars; I do not speak in a secret language; I do not get rid of evil spirits by sorcery; I do not make magic potions that will make someone fall in love, grow a beard or drop down dead. Those who take the time to know me realise that I am merely a simple woman who can help ease the pains caused by hard work, poor diet and, of course, child-bearing.”

INCARNATION 3

Pretty much the same as Incarnation 2.

2. Philippe’s reaction to Sofia telling him that Eleanora is pregnant

INCARNATION 1

In this incarnation Philippe accepts the end of their relationship far too easily.

I must have seemed so stupid to Sofia for I still did not understand. “Il conte said she was a bit under the weather, but why isn’t she seeing a proper doctor?”

“She doesn’t need a ‘proper’ doctor, she is not ill, signore, she is merely expecting another child. And no, before you ask it is not yours, she is certain of that. Shut your mouth, signore, you look like the village idiota.”

It was so much to take in. I knew that Eleanora had been still sleeping with her husband and I had had no illusions that our relationship was anything more than just sexual, but I had hoped that it would continue for a bit longer. I would miss our secret meetings and romps in the most unlikely places.

INCARNATION 2

In this incarnation I wanted Philippe to be far more upset that Eleanora was pregnant.

My heart beat fast. Was the child mine? If so, I could legitimately take Eleanora away and we could bring him up together. I laughed out loud until I saw the expression on Sofia’s face.

“It is not yours. It was conceived in June when you were away.”

My heart pounded even faster. “Did he force himself on her? If he did, I’ll kill him!”

“No, signore. Eleanora is no longer the child who thought she loved you. She is a grown woman with responsibilities and is content with her place in society. She has grown to love her husband, she just did not know how to tell you. It was she who suggested to her husband that you accompanied the boys to Florence and stayed there awhile. She thought it would make her breaking from you the easier.”

I was overcome with rage and I leapt up and pulled Sofia to her feet and, God forgive me, shook her with all my strength.

INCARNATION 3

I haven’t written it yet, but I am going to change it so that the baby could be Philippe’s – so his relationship with Eleanor will continue for much longer and will become more fraught over the following months.

3. Philippe’s reaction to Sofia herself. 

INCARNATION 1

In this incarnation Philippe had feelings for Sofia far too quickly.

I didn’t know who she was, I had no idea why she was living in the middle of a wood, I didn’t understand how she knew my name or how she had obviously been expecting me, but I felt as if my being here was the most natural thing in the world and that this was where I was meant to be.

The last thing I definitely remembered was Sofia leading me to the curtained corner. After that it was as if I was recalling a dream or a distant memory: I heard echoes of laughter and sighs; I saw flashes of pink, copper and sparkling blue; I smelt earth and fresh grass.

INCARNATION 2

In this incarnation, I still wanted there to be a doubt about whether Philippe & Sofia had made love.

I was lost in my feelings that fluctuated from grief at the loss of my dreams to hatred of Eleanora and her duplicity. I stared into the flames and saw her lying naked upon her bed, the satin sheets rumpled after vigorous love-making. I saw her at the dinner table, her head thrown back in laughter, revealing her slender neck and the swell of her bosom. I groaned as I imagined her sitting astride me, her hair hanging down like a copper curtain. I felt her fingers pulling at my britches, then putting me inside her and her naked breasts swaying as she rode me as if I were an untamed colt. I heard her shout out words of desire and lust, words I had never heard her say before, not even at her most ardent. I smelled her fragrance of fresh earth and leaves.

INCARNATION 3

I haven’t written it yet but as Philippe will still be in love with Eleanora at the end of the chapter I will leave his and Sofia’s love-making to much later in the book. I am thinking that maybe Philippe is so upset one night he goes to Sofia’s and ends up raping her.

 

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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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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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