This post gives you the link to my interview by thriller writer Alison Morton and fills in a bit of background.
I’m very pleased to be interviewed on Alison Morton’s action-packed author blog, under the deeply flattering headline “Debbie Young – Marketing Superstar”. (She knows how to charm, does Alison!)
In it, her interesting questions include a query as to whether I’ll ever write a novel and, if so, what would it be about. Hop over to her blog to find out the answers, and also to read more about her terrific Roma Nova series of alternative history thrillers (or alternate history, as the Americans call it, to the irritation of purists everywhere).
I’ve known Alison for a couple of years, during which our writing careers have been running in parallel.Not long after SilverWood Books published my authors’ marketing guide Sell Your Books!, Alison launched her first novel, Inceptio, assisted by SilverWood’s excellent author services.
Although Alison is energetic, computer-savvy and tremendously clever – in short, capable of doing all the self-publishing work herself – she preferred to delegate it to SilverWood, freeing up her own time to devote her time to writing and marketing her books.
Her strategy paid off, because she’s now published three books in the series – Inceptio, Perfiditas and Successio – and is writing the fourth. Her books have had fabulous reviews (including some from me here), they’ve won all sorts of awards, and she’s just been snapped up by A for Authors agency for her subsidiary and foreign rights.
Ironically, although Alison now lives and works in France, and I live in England, I’ve seen her more often than any other SilverWood author lately, our paths crossing at the London Book Fair, SilverWood’s Open Day, at the RNA Conference earlier this month, and other authors’ launches.
Or maybe it just feels that way because she has such a high profile on line. She’s also guested on my Off The Shelf Book Promotions blog, her latest appearance being to share her top tips for book promotion here.
Either way, she’s a great role model for any aspiring self-publishing author, and, as you can see from our selfie above, a lot of fun.
(A post about one of my writing roles – as Commissioning Editor of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ blog of Self-publishing Advice)
Writing my latest post this morning on the ALLi blog, it occurred to me that many people who read my Writing Life blog will have no idea of the double life I lead.
Well, much more than double, really – I am a classic example of a multi-tasker (and that’s probably why I’m permanently tired!)
What is ALLi anyway? I hear you cry. And what are you doing writing on its blog when you’ve got a perfectly decent one of your own?
A Brace of Blogs
Actually, I’ve got more than one blog of my own. Echoing those car stickers that you see in rear windscreens saying things like “My Other Car is a Porsche”, my other blog is about book promotion, offering tips to authors on how to sell more of their books. Which in itself echoes the title of the book I wrote for Silver Wood Books a couple of years ago called Sell Your Books!See what I mean about the multi-tasking? That second blog is called www.otsbp.com – which is short for Off The Shelf Book Promotions. But back to the ALLi blog…
ALLi for One, and One for ALLi
ALLi (pronounced to rhyme with “ally” rather than “alley”) is the acronym for the Alliance of Independent Authors. It’s the professional organisation for self-published writers and indie authors all over the world, launched by bestselling novelist Orna Ross just over two years ago.
As a self-published author interested in networking with other writers and in improving my writing craft and self-publishing skills, I joined ALLi not long after it was launched. ALLi members may write guest posts for its blog of self-publishing advice (www.selfpublishingadvice.org), and after I’d written a couple of guest posts, I was flattered to be invited by Orna Ross to join her small staff as the Commissioning Editor of the blog. It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, and so about a year ago I assumed the role, working from home, at hours that fitted in well around my other work and responsibilities.
The job of Commissioning Editor is to, er, commission articles for the blog, adding to its extensive resource of advice and information for authors who self-publish their work. There are specific themes for each day of the week, and I’m responsible for filling four slots each week:
Reaching Readers aka book promotion or marketing (Saturday)
To fill these slots, I track down ALLi members who have relevant messages and advice to add, and I give them a broad brief on what I’d like their post to be about. I plan the schedule of posts to provide a good variety and range of topics to appeal to writers in all genres, wherever they are around the world. When I receive the copy, images and author bio for each post, I input it to the blog via WordPress and add the necessary metadata and other details.
Keeping Myself Posted
By definition, I have to read every post – so it is a great way of keeping myself up-to-date and well-informed about self-publishing trends and developments, which complements the other writing activities and ambitions in my life.
But it was only when I was looking through the site index that I realised just how many posts I’ve written for the blog myself – some of them composites of comments by other writers, some them exclusively my thoughts. And it occurred to me that they might interest readers of my Writing Life site. So here are links to a few of my favourite posts, for your convenience:
But for now, I’m heading off to slip on one of my many other writing hats – working on my new collection of flash fiction, Quick Change, due out next month. If you’d like me to let you know when it’s available, please feel free to sign up to the mailing list for this title.
PS In case you’re wondering, my other car is a Ford Ka – but more about my vehicles another day!
Last weekend I came across a terrific new scheme to entertain bored commuters and tourists as they travel beneath the streets of London on the city’s famous Underground system, commonly known as the Tube.
It’s called Books on the Underground and does what you might expect from its name: it distributes books on the London Underground system for people to pick up and read for free. They may either dip into a book on their journey and leave it where they found it, or take the book home to read in full. The only proviso is that they release the book back onto the Tube afterwards. A branded sticker on the cover makes it clear that each book belongs to the scheme and acts as a reminder to return it.
I’m sending a copy of my own book underground this weekend. As Sell Your Books! has a narrow target market (it’s a self-help book of promotion advice for authors), I wasn’t sure the scheme would want it, but their lovely administrator Hollie assures me that they would. After all, authors travel by Underground too.
My Top 10 Books for Reading on the Tube
I began to wonder what other titles might be appropriate for Underground travellers. Here are the 10 titles I’d most like to find there:
Alice’s Adventures Underground (the original title for Alice in Wonderland, seen on old copies) by Lewis Carroll
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Travels with my Aunt by Graham Greene
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Odyssey by Homer
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
and finally, ending on a lighter note: Are We Nearly There Yet? by Ben Hatch
As a former London commuter, I’m well acquainted with the Underground network. I can easily picture the books travelling through the different stations on familiar lines. So it struck me as especially magical if a passenger picked up a book at a particularly relevant Tube stop. I’m longing for someone boarding at Covent Garden to pick up my friend Lucienne Boyce’s fab historical novel, To The Fair Land, which opens with a vivid scene in the Covent Garden of 1789. What a great way to escape from 2013 London for the rest of their journey.
Here are another top 10 titles that I’d like to find at a particular station:
A Zoo in my Luggage by Gerald Durrell (Regent’s Park)
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Westminster)
1984 by George Orwell (Westminster again)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle (Baker Street)
Peter Pan by J M Barrie (either of the Kensington stops)
Babar the King by Jean de Brunhoff (Elephant and Castle)
The Adventures of Paddington Bear by Michael Bond (no prizes for guessing that one’s station)
Heidi by Johanna Spyri (Swiss Cottage)
The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford (Wimbledon)
The House at Pooh Corner by A A Milne (just about anywhere on the grubby old Northern Line)
I’m sure you can think of more books you’d love to find Underground. Please feel free to add them in a comment below – I’d love to hear your ideas. And if you’re travelling on the Underground and come across my book, please send me a photo!
Beware of the Tetbury Advertiser – you never know where it might lead! I mean that in the nicest possible way, for a few years ago, the Advertiser was the starting point of a trail that led to the publication of my first book. Here’s the tale of how it came about.
In the summer of 2010, a few months after I’d started writing my Young By Namecolumn in the Tetbury Advertiser, I was contacted by one of its regular readers, the writer Paul Newnton. Though now living on the other side of the country, he kept up with local news via a postal subscription to this popular monthly magazine. Having enjoyed my column, Paul asked me to help him promote his new novel, the first in a proposed series. Despite my protest that I had no experience of book promotion, I agreed to meet him for tea in the Snooty Fox on his next trip to Tetbury. With the help of an excellent cream tea, he convinced me that by drawing on my long career in journalism, PR and marketing, I could be of valuable assistance. He was right: within a very short time, I’d arranged for his book to be stocked in the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, generated news coverage in the local press, and fixed up an interview on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.
A few weeks later, a graphic designer friend mentioned that his wife, who runs the Bristol-based assisted publishing company, SilverWood Books, was enjoying the online version of my Young By Name blog. We arranged to meet, and I came away with a commission to write a self-help promotion handbook for authors. The book was particularly to address the rapidly expanding group of self-published or independent authors – but what author doesn’t want to sell more books, even those commissioned by traditional publishers?
To explain the jargon, self-published authors are those who produce their books independently of traditional publishing companies. Thanks to the latest developments in digital printing and e-book technology, it’s possible to put your book on the market without a publisher’s contract, thus avoiding the nerve-wracking round of submissions and rejection letters. Authors who are willing and able to master the necessary technology do this themselves, but for technophobes – or for those who prefer to spend their time writing – there exist excellent publishing consultants who can do this for them, adding value and expertise. These are far removed from the “vanity publishers” of the past, who simply took your money and treated your manuscript as a routine print job, often with dire results.
To fulfil my commission, I undertook extensive research, interviewing many authors – including Tetbury’s Paul Newnton, of course – and members of the book trade, not least Hereward Corbett, proprietor of Tetbury’s Yellow-Lighted Bookshop.
Pre-publication, the first reviewer of Sell Your Books! was so enthusiastic that she even agreed to write a foreword. This was no small compliment, as this reviewer was Dr Alison Baverstock, senior lecturer in the MA in Publishing at Kingston University and all-round publishing guru. She deems it to give “motivating, practial and cheerful guidance on the process. It raises the spirits and promotes author confidence. It’s an investment in your writing now – and your future development.”
In another bizarre demonstration of all roads leading to Tetbury, I discovered that I’d met Alison a few years before, when I was working at Westonbirt School and she was guest speaker at Speech Day. I’d taken her photo to include in the school’s newsletter.
I hope that knowing its local origins and inspiration, authors living in and around Tetbury will take a special interest in my book. I’d love to hear any feedback or input from them, which I might also be able to share, with their permission, on my blog of book promotion tips for authors at Off The Shelf Book Promotions.
Finally, a big thank you to the wonderful Barry Gibbs, editor of the marvellous multi-faceted Tetbury Advertiser for commissioning my Young By Name column in the first place. Without you, none of this might have happened!
This post was originally written for the Tetbury Advertiser and appeared in its February 2013 edition.
Sell Your Books!, a book promotion handbook for authors, is now available to order from good bookshops and online. (RRP £8.99, ISBN 978-1-906236-34-2, Publisher SilverWood Books) It is also available as an e-book.
SilverWood Books provides helpful, expert and services to authors seeking to self-publish their books. For an initial chat, free of charge and with no obligation, please call Helen, Sarah or Joanna on 0117 910 5829 or visit their website: http://www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk
For more information about Paul Newnton and his books, visit his website or pop into the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop which stocks some copies and will always be happy to order more.