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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Why Big Breaks are Bullshit, and other tales from the Writer’s Life

My housemate is a lovely person. She tends to talk me up to people. When she was explaining what I do for a living, and that I’m an author, her work colleagues asked, ‘that’s great. Is she just waiting for her Big Break now then?’

Big Breaks are a myth. There is no one defining moment in a writer’s life that means they’ve ‘Made It’. Often, we think getting an agent, or getting a publishing deal, or finishing a body of work is the Big Break. But I’m a firm believer in the fact that even though those rituals are recognised (and really exciting) they are only one more step on the journey.

We don’t wait around for breaks, we make them. By writing the book, by talking to authors and bloggers and reviewers, by blogging and connecting and entering competitions and continuing to have belief in our goals, no matter what.

The goal posts are constantly shifting for authors. First it’s agent, then publishing house, then bestseller, then multi-book deals, then royalty percentage. Then what about the movie deal? And is it really any good? Maybe you’ve got all these things, but people still think you’re waiting to ‘make it’ because they haven’t heard your name, or haven’t seen you on the cover of Hello Magazine.

We confuse success with fame, and we confuse creative lives with lives of ease. When you do something as a job, it involves dedication and hard work, regardless of whether you love it or not.

The writers who ARE sitting around waiting for their big breaks, well, I don’t classify them as writers. I consider them to be Writers-in-Waiting. If you don’t have the confidence or commitment to chase after your dreams, even in the face of derision or judgement, well, you’re in waiting. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s the nature of the game that no-one is going to come along and drop a multi-billion pound book deal in your lap if you’re not doing all the groundwork.

Ways to Make your Own Breaks:

Write. Every day. Find your pattern. Find your story. Make it happen.

Talk to people, but more importantly, LISTEN to people. Out of interest, not just about how they’re of interest to you.

Enter competitions, blog, tweet.

Build a brand based on who you really are. Spend some time navel gazing. Think about what you want to write about, what kind of writer you want to be, and where you want to go.

Think about how you define success for you. When will you feel like you’ve achieved what you wanted? What are your goals? What are you working towards?

Keep doing this every day, every week, every month, and regardless of whether you even think you’re any good, I guarantee someone else will. Baby steps. Not one big break, but many little ones.

 

 

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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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SALE! Only £49 for a full day workshop: MARKETING FOR WRITERS

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I’m working with Steven Sparling of The Thriving Creative to offer a day workshop specifically for writers. It’s not all about writing the book anymore. Being an author is a full time job, what with promotions, sales, tours and doing anything and everything to get your book out there. What this workshop does is works out what bits you should focus on, based on your style, your work, and your life!

Whether you have a publisher, you’re self publishing or you’re still writing your bestseller, this workshop will give you the tools and the tricks to ensure you’re selling the way you should be.

We’ll also have a guest speaker from a London publisher, who’ll do a Q and A so you know exactly what you need to get your book selling.

And with the special sale price of £49 until 17th September, what have you got to lose?

Click HERE for tickets and info

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Ten Things Writers Need to Know To Keep Upbeat

  • Yes, your current WIP might be rubbish right now. And that’s okay. No-one shits gold. Give yourself a break, keep plugging away at it. Rubbish written down is better than genius never created. You’re doing something, keep going.

 

  • Someone, somewhere will like what you’re doing. There is something for everyone, people are varied and random and have all different tastes. This is not to say you shouldn’t edit, or work harder, or be humble. But trust that if you like it, someone on this massive planet probably will too.

 

  • This brings me to the third realisation. People who are worse writers than you have publishing deals. They have agents. They occasionally create million dollar franchises based on moody teenage vamps or bondage. Some days, this can be depressing. Seeing five star ratings for something that makes you want to bang your head against a wall can be difficult. But flip the argument- if they can do it, you definitely can.

 

  • 50% of writing is marketing. If you want to get anywhere you need a solid understanding of blogging, twitter, readers and how to reach people. Do I particularly like that it works that way? Nope, but times are changing. If you’re writing, talk to people who might become readers. 

 

  • 50% of writing is ACTUALLY WRITING. Yes, social media matters. So does online presence, author profiles and all that other stuff. BUT, you are a writer because you write. There is no point having a great following, with people eager to read your stuff when you have nothing to present to them. That’s just a waste of great marketing.

 

  • Stop talking about your work. No, okay, I know that clashes with number 4. Reveal bits, ask questions, put up quotes. But your WIP is In Progress for a reason. I know talented writers who have been talking about the same book they’ve been planning to write for years. If you’re not writing it, eventually someone else will come up with the same idea. So get to it. The more you talk about it, the less you’re focusing on it. Writing is internal- keep your work safe until you’re confident in it.

 

  • Talk to other writers. Not necessarily about your work, but about your process, about how you find writing. Hell, sometimes you don’t have to talk about writing at all, but finding someone who shares that passion is important. I love having friends call up to discuss a plot point, or texting a writer friend when I’ve finally fixed a developmental character issue. It’s nice to be part of a group.

 

  • Check your ego. Ego is a funny thing when it comes to writing. You need enough of it to keep you going, but you also need to reign it in. Why? Well, for starters you become an arsehole who no-one wants to hang around with, but mostly because if you start believing you’re a writing genius, nothing you do will live up to your own expectations.

 

  • Think about why you started writing. Are you doing this just for the publishing deal? Or would you be writing anyway? Do you love what you do, does it relax you? Are you so wrapped up in your characters and stories that it brings you joy? If you’re only doing it to try and make a quick buck, well sorry Bud, this ain’t the life for you.

 

  • What would you do if you weren’t writing? If you packed it all in, stuck the WIP in a drawer, and never looked back- what would you be doing right now? Would it be as fulfilling? Would it change anything? Would it be creative? Give yourself some time to do these things, but hopefully it makes you realise that you wouldn’t be you if you weren’t writing.

 

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How to Make Art and Influence Your Bank Balance

(Or ‘Why I’m Poor’)

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Having been spreading the gospel of creative entrepreneurship left, right and centre, you think I would have figured out how to be a millionaire by now. Sadly not. It still remains that often creative fulfilment and the ability to buy a pair of Louboutins are not aligned.

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I am (technically) quite successful at the moment. I am working, I am getting published, I’m moving into the area of adult creative writing workshops, something I’m absolutely passionate about, and all in all, life is good. To feel creatively content, I think the only qualifiers are that a) you’re writing and b) people are recognising that you’re writing.

However, that doesn’t mean that you’re being commercially successful. Talking to another creative entrepreneur recently, we came to the conclusion that whilst both reaching artistic milestones, and being happy with our achievements; we’ve never been this broke.

How can the creative entrepreneur align this? Surely the idea is to make art, and then sell it and make a lot of money doing it. Or alternately, make two types of art: one for your own enjoyment and one for the monies.

So does being creatively ‘in the zone’ mean that you’re not focusing enough on profitability? Perhaps you’ve just wanted to create something you love. Fair enough. If you haven’t been focusing on your cash cow, maybe you should be considering your target market. How can you maximise profitability on your current project?

Mr BrainWash. From 'Exit Through the Gift Shop'. Biggest artistic sell-out I've ever seen
Mr BrainWash. From ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’. Biggest artistic sell-out I’ve ever seen

I have never written books expecting great wealth. I do, however, lead classes and do workshops and work with kids, and explain the themes in ‘Of Mice and Men’ over and over again until I want to punch myself in the face. These are the compromises we make. I’ve recently been wondering if maybe I could just do a nine-to-five and write in the evenings, like countless writers do. But somehow, that feels like it reduces my sense of legitimacy. Plus, I hate routine. And being told what to do. And sitting down for eight hours a day.

So, as my mother very politely tried to offer me alternatives, I realised one thing: Commit to a career in the same manner you commit to a project. I write a novel knowing that there are going to be certain bits I love (the random scribbling) and the bits I hate (the fourth round of editing) and that it will eventually have a purpose and an end. I may not know what that is whilst I’m writing it. I have a chic lit book I wrote last year sitting in a box, that I may not use for years or so. But I trust that at some point, it will find its purpose. I must look the same way at my career. The jobs I am doing now may not be particularly profitable or enjoyable, or easy, but they are paving the way to their own purpose. I just may not be entirely sure what that is, yet.

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Dear entrepreneurs, we have always said to have an endgame, and find your focus. But sometimes, it’s just about riding the waves and getting on with it whilst you’ve got your creative head on. And that’s fine. You don’t always know the end before you’ve written the middle. Trust that what your doing will either serve a purpose, or it will reach its limit, and be left behind. If we do that, perhaps, the penniless artist will cease to be a cliche, and the business-minded artist will have both creativity and cash.