Posted in Reading, Writing

My Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged! And I mean that in a good way…

The authors Debbie Young and Helen Hollick
With Helen Hollick at the launch of “Sell Your Books!”

I’ve been tagged in “The Next Big Thing”.

This is a blog hop in which one blogger answers a series of questions about their work in progress before nominating other bloggers to whom they’d like to pass the baton. It’s a bit like a chain letter, only very much nicer!

I’ve been tagged by historical novelist Helen Hollick, whose books take pride of place on my mum’s bookshelf. Helen was a special guest at the recent launch party for my first book, Sell Your Books!,  kindly hosted by my publisher SilverWood Books – the company that also publishes Helen’s many novels. Sell Your Books! – my Previous Big Thing, so to speak – is a book promotion handbook to help self-published and indie authors to (yes, you’ve guessed it) sell their books. Published less than a month ago, my book has already received some terrific reviews on Amazon.

“Every indie author should have one!” says Helen Hollick.

But now I need to tell you about my NEXT big thing by answering the ten set questions… 

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Until this morning, it was going to be called Forever Young, but then I discovered there are already at least five books on the market with the same title, so it’s time to think again. (Book promotion tip: it’s always worth doing a search on Amazon before deciding on your final title.) So now I’m thinking it will be called Young By Name, for obvious reasons.

2) Where did the idea come from for your book?

The writer and blogger Laura Zera
My online friend, Laura Zera

As well as writing a book promotion blog for Off The Shelf Book Promotions to supplement the advice in Sell Your Books!, I’ve been penning this  personal blog, YoungByNamefor nearly three years. I’ve put my heart and soul into over 200 blog posts and received some lovely feedback from readers. But blog posts are a bit like newspapers: today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper. Old blog posts slip away into the sunset as new posts are added. When one of my regular readers Laura Zera told me recently that I ought to preserve them in a book,  not least so that my daughter can read them when she grows up, I decided that she was right.  So I’m going for it!

3) What genre does your book fall under?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Some posts are sheer humour,  recounting funny things that have happened to me. Others are travelogues. Many are nostalgic bits of family history and memories from my childhood. So that I can get my marketing right, I’m going to have to invest some time in trawling through publishing websites till I hit upon a category that really fits. This will dictate the cover design, blurb, and so on.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My late English teacher, friend and mentor Joe Campbell, who was a New Yorker, said that the actress Juliet Stevenson always reminded him of me but I think she’d need to put on a couple of stone, like Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones, to play the part convincingly. A cross between the national treasures Tamsin Greig and Miranda Hart would be good: intelligence and ready wit under an outer wrapper of social awkwardness. Miranda in glasses and flat shoes but with her hair curled would be about right. For my daughter, Ramona Marquez, the little girl in the BBC TV series Outnumberedwith her hair straightened, would be fine. For my husband, it could be whoever who played the hero in Dr Finlay’s Casebook or Robert Carlyle in Hamish Macbeth to get the accent right. (“Och, no!” I hear him cry. He’d probably nominate a heart-throb such as Johnny Depp. Well, I could live with that!)

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“These whimsical, witty, moving and memorable observations of family life, written by a Londoner transplanted into the English countryside, are presented in bite-size chunks for perfect bedtime reading.” (With apologies for the excess of adjectives.)

SilverWood Books assisted publishing consultants with author Debbie Young
Team SilverWood with me at my book launch

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

If I had the time and energy to master the technical processes and to organise the necessary professional services such as jacket design and proofreading, I’d do it all myself to save money. But to preserve my time for writing and book promotion, I’m planning to use the services of assisted publishing company SilverWood Books to self-publish. That way, I’ll be confident of a slickly produced, beautiful book that will look at home in any high street bookshop. Yes, it will cost me more, but I think the results will boost sales and so justify the investment.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m aiming at doing a book for each calendar  year of blog posts, so the answer to that is a year to write the original blog posts. I’ll now need to spend a few days organising and subediting the posts before I send the manuscript to SilverWood.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Any collections of essays or articles by bloggers or  newspaper columnists that people are happy to buy to re-read at their leisure in paperback. The best of these are by masters of the art such as Clive James, Alan Coren  or dare I suggest Jeremy Clarkson for those who find his views palatable? Among the younger generation, the actor Michael Simkins, junior doctor Max Pemberton and the wonderful Caitlin Moran are good examples. All completely different personalities, obviously, but each is entertaining and engaging in his or her own way.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always written and always liked to make quips about things going on around me, and the invention of the blog provided the right format for me to set all these thoughts down easily in one place. In my hectic daily schedule, in which I juggle different jobs, family life and volunteering, there is no shortage of ideas for new blog posts!

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There is a serious thread that runs through it about living with Type 1 diabetes – a serious condition that affects both my husband and my daughter. As with my first book, I’ll be donating a percentage of my royalties to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org.uk) to help fund research into a cure. Behind my flippancy lies this serious, purposeful undertone.

And now it’s time for me to pass on the baton to these writers whose Next Thing is definitely going to be BIG!

Cover of To The Fair Land, historical novel by Lucienne BoyceLaura Zera – a wonderful Canadian writer living in Seattle, who I first discovered via her compelling blog, before reading her terrific travelogue about Africa. Like mine, Laura’s  next big thing is going to be in a completely different genre to her previous book. Over to you, Laura!

Lucienne Boyce – like Helen Hollick, she’s a historical novelist published by SilverWood Books. She was invited to read her debut novel, To The Fair Land, at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival of Literature this year, and she’s now working on her second novel – but I’ll leave it to Lucienne to tell you all about it!

Sophie E Tallis – a local teacher who has just published her first book, White Mountain, but I have a feeling she has many more Big Things ahead of her!

Thanks again to the lovely Helen Hollick for tagging me – it’s been a pleasure and a privilege, Helen!