writing tips

Is there a new style book launch in town?

The idea of a book launch has always been very straightforward.

1- You find your favourite book shop.

2 – You ply people with cheap wine in the hopes that they’ll buy your books.

3 – You sign books and feel like a superstar.

4 – You read from your book and feel like you wanna vomit.

5 – You console yourself that you sold books and people love you, even though you have a sneaking suspicion a lot of them were there for the free wine.

Traditional book launches have the advantage of being very simple to organise, lots of fun, and they make the author feel important and supported. It’s almost a rite of passage as an author. That is what a launch looks like to most people.

But I wonder how many books get sold at these events, really? I know when I’ve had to stand in front of people I love and people I don’t know, reading from my novel and trying to convince them that I deserve to have such a fuss made, I don’t feel like I’m doing my work justice. Also, did I mention about the wanting to vomit?

So the answer? A modern twist on the book launch. After all, many of us are ebook authors, what is achieved by sitting in a bookshop when there aren’t physical copies? A lot of authors run online launches, which can be fun and I’ve seen them done really well, with prizes and giveaways, and they certainly make you pay attention. But getting twenty notifications every hour from other people who have ‘popped by’ the launch can be a bit frustrating, and  might drive away your readership.

Enter Sara Veal, from Huhbub Ltd, a creative company that believe books can be ‘the jumping off point’ for creative campaigns that promote your book, but also benefit the community.

Thing is, I love an event, and I was excited to see what Sara could do with my book, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, a novel focused around the healing power of arts, noughties era nostalgia and some girl power. I wanted an event that placed my story in the centre, without making me the centre of attention: And that was exactly what I got.

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In the basement of one of my favourite spots in London, Drink Shop Do (a place actually used as a setting in one of my other novels!) Huhbub managed to create a night of comedy, music and burlesque, with cocktails, nostalgic noughties music and the chance to raise money for Core Arts, a charity that focuses on using creativity for mental health.

An event that does good for the community, promotes my story, allows me to have fun without having to talk about my work, and gets people talking about the themes in the novel.

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In my opinion, getting called out by a fabulous drag queen MC, dancing to Craig David and drinking sparkly Ruby-themed cocktails whilst people look at the postcards featuring a free copy of my book beats the tepid wine of yesteryear any day.

Ebook authors need to find a new way to celebrate and promote their new releases, a modern way to engage with readers and writers without making it about ego or the money. Here is your answer: build a huhbub around your book.

I think it was a roaring success and if I could do it for every book I write, I would!

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Big thanks to Sara at Huhbub for such a wonderful event, and thanks to all those who came on the night! Share your photos and favourite moments!

 

 

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writing tips

Balance and Control in Publication

It’s the first thing anyone an author will say when you ask why they’re self publishing:

I’m in control of my book, every element of it.

Now, that can sound controlling, paranoid or just like a hell of a lot of work. When you think about the things outside of writing a book, that are just as important, like the editing, the promotion, the cover, the blurb, the reviews, the pricing and the long term plan for a book, it can seem daunting.

I’ve never thought I’d be able to do my books justice. I struggle as it is to write and work and study.

But there is something terrifying about leaving your book at the mercy of others, letting the cover, the angle, the promotion and the pricing be decided by someone else, whether they’re a specialist or it’s the market that determines how it’s seen.

The truth is, your book is never going to be more important to anyone than you. For you, it’s a piece of yourself, a piece of your truth, whether it’s a silly story or a saga you spent years perfecting – it’s yours. And the idea that it might been seen in a way you don’t want it to be, can be painful.

However, at some point, you have to give up the control any way. The minute those words are released into the world, the minute someone picks it up and starts the first sentence, you have no control. The control you had as a writer is done the minute the final draft is finished. The control you have as a publicist is to ensure your book is defined correctly, that the cover isn’t misleading and that you keep the conversation going.

This summer, I’m running workshops at Larmertree Festival in Wiltshire. This will be my sixth year with them, and along with my writing for wellbeing, I’m going to be running a ‘Writing for Publication’ class. This will be focussing on defining your work, branding and owning that branding. Deciding who you’re writing for and what you want to say. But as a dear friend and excellent writer said recently, “I want to work with writers who love what they’re writing.” So publication can’t always be the main goal. It’s got to be a labour of love, to an extent.

That’s how I feel about my latest book, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. It will be released on Friday, and then I’ll have to let it go, out into the ether to make its own destiny, create it’s own history. Perhaps, it will achieve greatness, or perhaps it will sink into the depths of thousands of other books being released this week, month or year – ignored and destined to sit sweetly on an Amazon page. And after it’s out there, all I can do is talk about it, tweet about it, and wish my baby well. There’s a grief and anxiety in that, like not fully preparing your child before they go off to uni.

But most of all, I’m excited to introduce you to Ruby. This is my favourite story, and I’m so glad I get to write two more books in the series, and hang around my fictional friends a while longer!

Keep an eye out on twitter over the next few weeks using the hashtags #goodbyerubytuesday and #houseoncamdensquare and stay tuned for news of a London launch next month!

And to all the writers out there: how much control do you want over your book?

 

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

 

 

Fiction, therapeutic writing

Update: Books, Research and New Projects

Hello all,

It’s been a while since I blogged about any of my goings on – mainly as I’ve been desperately trying to finish a book. Thankfully, that happened!

I’m excited to announce that Goodbye Ruby Tuesday  will be released on the 28th April. You can pre-order it now. There will, as usual, be a blog tour, a (truly) fantastic give away and a really different and creative event to promote the book and raise money for a great cause! The excellent Sara from Huhbub will be arranging all of this for me, so if you are a lovely blogger interested in the blog tour, leave a comment or send me a twitter message (@almichael_).

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

It’s a book about three childhood friends who are brought together by the death of a rockstar they used to know, and start up an arts centre. It’s a noughties nostalgia-filled jaunt through the creative goings on in north London, with three friends fighting to create something special in memory of their friend.

Research:

My research into the application of creative therapeutic writing in eating disorder recovery starts next week. I’ll be running workshops in London, working with some lovely people in order to research how useful creative writing can be. I really do believe in the power of writing to heal and help arrange thoughts. I’m excited to see what this research discovers.

Future Writing:

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday is the first in a series of three books coming out this year. Each main character gets a book, so I hope you love the girls as much as I do, because there’s a lot more coming from them this year. The second book, Nice Day for a White Wedding will be our over the summer. The third, you’ll have to wait and see, but as I’m sure it’s clear, I’m picking some of my favourite songs as titles this time!

Other:

I’m excited to say I’ll be back at the wonderful Larmertree Festival this year, providing some creative writing for wellness workshops. They’ll be focused on nature and the body, really working to be inspired by the natural environment of the festival. If you’re there this year, stop by and try it out!

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons to come to our Marketing for Writers Workshop

People are always trying to sell you something, right? And I don’t like doing that. I’m running a workshop in collaboration with Steven Sparling that’s focused on getting authors to create a marketing plan, so their books can get the recognition they deserve. And I bloody hate having to try to flog stuff. So I’m just going to tell you straight:

1-  I have been through this whole process, with independent publishers, with big publishers, and working with self-publishing authors. I had to learn everything first hand through trial and error with absolutely no idea what I was meant to do. You can come and learn it from us and not have to feel that panic!

2- We’re creative business experts. Steven and I met whilst we were both doing a Masters degree in Creative Entrepreneurship, working on our individual ideas of how to define and ensure success in creative fields. I mostly just work with writers now, but Steven has gone on to do a PhD and work with every creative genre, from actors to singers to journalists to…anyone! He knows his stuff.

3- Creating a community. Meeting other writers and meeting other creative people is a big part of the writing and marketing experience. It’s all too easy to sit in your writing room, reply to blog comments and never truly interact. You’ll meet some great people who have different experiences to you, and that’ll be useful.

4- It’s a day out of your life. You will leave with a complete plan of how you can go about sorting out your marketing, a step-by-step, personalised plan. So you won’t leave panicked. You’ll leave with purpose. And with Christmas coming up, it means you’ve got just enough time to start that stocking-filler promo!

5- Tickets are on sale for £49!!! Come on, now! Where else will you get a whole day of personalised planning and advice from professionals, PLUS a Q and A with a London Publisher for ONLY £49?! It’s madness!

 

And they’re selling out fast. If you want more info about me and Steven and the workshop we have planned, click here. It’s 27th September in Central London. Don’t miss out. It’s going to be amazing!

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Without You To Hold- Christmas Novel Update!

So, incase I haven’t harped on about this enough, Carina UK asked me to write them a Christmas Novel to be released in November. Originally, I was stumped. My mum had watched enough crappy Christmas movies on the ‘christmas movie channel’ this year for me to know what had to be involved, but how do you do it without tinsel covered cliches?

Well, I focused on food and booze (because, duh, Christmas) and just focused on the idea that whatever is normally pretty dramatic and difficult, at Christmas time it’s multiplied by a hundred.

So the book is called Without You to Hold, and yes, there’s a lot of Elvis references! I’m currently editing it before sending it off, but if you want to get a taste for it, you can check out my Pinterest Inspiration board here.

 

And here’s the blurb!

Megan McAllister hasn’t been back home since getting pregnant at 17, and getting the hell out of dodge. Now she’s back, ten years later for Christmas, along with her daughter Skye. Reconnecting with her parents is going to be difficult enough, but when her childhood sweetheart turns out to be still living in town and looking for answers, everything gets a little more complicated!

 
In the meantime, don’t forget you can get hold of The Last Word on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Sainsburys and many more! 

 

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Writing Your Perfect Man- Lessons from a Chick Lit Writer

I’ve written some dreamboats in my books, and the reason I started in the first place was because no man really seemed to be like the ones you read about in books. Which is fine, we live in reality, we don’t expect Prince Charming. But here’s a few things I’ve noticed about the dreamy male characters in books, and maybe they’ll give our real life counterparts some ideas.

 

 

  • They’re capable of explaining how they feel.

 

It’s usually way after something silly has happened, but these guys have enough self knowledge to explain why they’ve done something. That’s always nice, instead of sitting there in confusion, like a real person.

 

  • Some shit happened, but they’re over it.

 

There was a crazy ex, a business deal gone wrong, parental issues. We always meet our leading men at the right time, when they’re done with all that stuff and can move on. In real life, we meet people when we meet them, and we’re usually dealing with our own stuff too. Which is where the understanding that real people aren’t perfect comes in.

 

  • Organisation

 

I think people often mistake what power means. I personally didn’t find Christian Gray a decent male character, he didn’t make me swoon. Neither did that soppy vampire. People were attracted to their power over their women, and in Gray’s case, his money. It’s easy enough to say ‘Oh, he flew her about in a private jet’ or whatever, but the truth of power is the ability to arrange things. To book dinner, to make plans. Whether that’s a private jet, or a private booth at Burger King.

 

  • Surprises

 

Even control freaks like myself want a little surprise every now and then! My male leads are able to make sweet gestures that aren’t so over the top you want to vomit, but make a difference. Who doesn’t love a surprise?

 

  1. Understanding their girl.

 

Your dreamboat male knows what’s going on in his love’s head. Not always, that would be boring and unbelievable. But he knows enough about her history, her quirks, her story to figure out why she’s suddenly freaking out, or why she’s not happy. Understanding goes a long way.

 

  • They Give and Receive.

 

No, I’m not being dirty. A working relationship with a fictional dreamboat involves give and take. Your main man can’t come in and solve all her problems. Why, you ask? Because then she has no purpose. If she can’t offer something, if she’s not what he needs back, then there’s no point. Again, back to Fifty Shades of Shit, she’s poor, he’s rich, she’s innocent, he’s experienced. She likes nice things, and he likes beating the shit out of a willing sex partner. 

Also, I refuse to let my leading man sweep in to solve my leading lady’s problems- I write strong, kickass women who can save themselves. They sometimes need some help figuring out how to be vulnerable, but they don’t need a man on a white horse.

 

  • Faults

 

That leads me nicely to number seven- they have to have something wrong with them! You know how boring it is to be with someone perfect? Tends to give your self esteem a bit of a knock too. Whether he leaves biscuit crumbs in the bed, or has a tendency to flirt, he has to be human.

 

  • He sees her.

 

This is a really simple trope that real life men could learn from. Notice something about your partner and identify that you are paying attention. It could be as simple as Julia Stile’s ‘hey, your eyes have a little green in them’ in Ten Things I Hate About You. It could be Harry’s list of things he knows and loves about Sally in When Harry Met Sally (‘The little crinkle in your forehead when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts!’ Aw) but noticing goes a long way. It shows your male is smitten and your leading lady is worth watching.

 

 

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My Writing Process- Blog Hop!

Okay, I’m a little behind because everything’s been going mental with the book release, and the Christmas Novel I’m working on, but here is a Blog Hop I’m taking part in! You should check out Henriette Gyland’s Blog to see where it’s come from, this post is travelling about! It’s reached most of the authors I know, so I’m putting the call out to YOU dear readers, do you want to join this blog hop?

 

What Am I Working On?

Until a few weeks ago, I was working on my second novel for Carina, another sarcastic snarky chick lit called The Young and Bitter Club. I’ve since put that on hold to work on a Christmas novel which will be released in November. It’s called Without You To Hold, and involves a young woman who ran away from home at 17 when she got pregnant, returning to her home town ten years later, dealing with her family, her first love and having them all meet her precocious (and excellent) daughter. It’s heartfelt and I love it.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, that’s difficult. It’s very sarcastic, usually very London based, or at least urban. I feel like my work really explores what it’s like to be a twenty something these days, and that it’s not always easy, it isn’t always fixed by the perfect prince in a white ferrari, but it’s made easier with hilarious friends and cheap wine.

Why do I write what I do?

I technically was trained to write Literary Fiction, that’s all my university was interested in, and I do still have a few of those ideas in the pipeline, waiting. I wrote my first women’s fictional novel as a break after writing something heavy. It didn’t feel difficult, it felt freeing and fun. And now i get to do it again!

How does my writing process work?

I used to have a really complex process, but now I just gradually work my way into writing by doing some blog posts etc in the morning, then by afternoon I’m ready to get down to it. I usually write down all the fragments in a book and then type them up in order and flesh them out, but that can get a little difficult when you’re playing with timelines!

 

Don’t forget to check out my novel The Last Word if you want to see what I’ve produced through this process. And stay tuned for the Christmas Book!