Interior layout – you what?

Interior layout – you what?

When I wrote my first novel I willingly handed over the interior layout of the both the paperback and eBook to CreateSpace. It cost me money of course, but my brain was reaching new-skill overload at the time, and frankly I felt beyond learning anything else.

You think a book is just printed words right? So did I until CreateSpace started asking awkward questions. Trim size and font were just the beginning. There were fleuron (or dividers) to be selected to decorate white space between the scenes. Front matter, back matter, dedications. Page numbers (If you glance at the book nearest to you, you will see that the numbers don’t start on the very first page, but when they do begin, they still start at number 1. An issue I’m currently wrestling with on my Word document.) I’m jumping ahead. I forgot to mention headers and footers (different on odd and even pages). Blank pages falling in the right places, and margins? Don’t get me started. Gutter width for binding (so you don’t bind the beginning of every sentence), weird and accidental formatting in your manuscript which throws the entire layout . Dropped capitals on the first sentence of the chapter, paragraph indents…I could go on.

It was highbrow stuff for a newbie techno-stresser, so I paid CreateSpace and they did a beautiful, stress-free job.

My second manuscript is currently being edited, and I’m thumb twiddling. I want to be getting on with the re-writes and publishing the book. The cover is ready and waiting. I could make a start on book three. Or I could try to save myself a few quid by learning how to format this one for print myself.

First step for me, in all matters self-publishing related, head for the Alliance of Independent Authors to see what advice they’re offering. I threw a question out on the ALLI members’ Facebook forum, to lots of other indie authors who will have faced this decision. Answers ranged from “do it yourself – it’s not rocket science” (gulp) to “I use this company.” There was a mention of HTML, which sent me into a tail-spin, a lot of reassurance that it is a learnable skill, and a fair few £ signs evident when I researched outsourcing (many variables but the lowest quote was £130 and the highest £450). Time to get learning I think.

I armed myself with Jessica Bell’s Self-Publish your Book (A Quick and Easy Step by Step guide) and a couple of free-to-download templates (one which came with the book and one from CreateSpace because they will be my publishing platform), brewed a strong coffee and settled down for a morning of frustration.

But glory be – the book really is quick and easy! So quick and easy that I decided I needed to make it more complicated by adding a few frills of my own. I’m a sucker for punishment, but I’m almost there. CreateSpace have a very useful online ‘interior reviewer’ which allowed me to upload the formatted Word doc and see the result. A few nips and tucks required, but better than I expected. Mysteriously an entire chapter has developed bullet points (I wasn’t aware I had bulleted any part of the document), and I’m still wrestling with those page numbers, headers and footers. But all in all I think I’ve earned a pat on the back, and saved myself a few quid in the process.

Just the formatting of the eBook to learn now. Maybe I’ll leave that for another week.

Crazy September and Blurb Take Two

Crazy September and Blurb Take Two

Harvest is over, the kids are back at school, and the world gets back from their holidays ready to hit autumn with refreshed vim and vigour.

September has been a crazy month for me so far. Ending the year’s farming accounts, FINISHING THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY MANUSCRIPT FOR BOOK TWO, and moving on to the hard miles; edits, rewrites, loose ends. Covers to be designed (two of them because A Bed of Barley Straw is also getting a makeover), ISBNs to be purchased and allocated. Tag lines, blurbs, synopsis (the latter of which I think should have been written before the novel, but hey I’m still a rookie accidental rebel). Formatting, uploads and tracked changes lurk ominously in my future, with the threat of highlighting all the skills I have forgotten since writing book one.

Today I’m working on the blurbs for both of my books, and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Do the words catch your interest and draw you in? Do they leave you wanting to know more? Leave a comment or email me – writersamrussell@gmail.com (You can also drop me a line there if you would like to be added to my email list for updates on the release).

Here’s where I’m at…all critiques welcome (steady GG)

A BED OF BARLEY STRAW

You can bury the past, but can you ever forget it? Hettie Redfern has no time for men, other than for the most basic of needs. She has learnt from experience that her career is more rewarding, that horses are more trustworthy and her are dogs easier to love.

 So when Alexander Melton returns to Draymere Hall, where Hettie manages the stables, she quickly works out that despite his drop-dead good looks, his arrogance and manners leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to stop Hettie desiring him.

 Proud, judgemental, downright rude at times, Alexander uses women for his own careless pleasure and rarely gives them a second thought. So how has Hettie Redfern got under his skin? A dangerous and idiotic obsession, given her reputation.

A clash of characters, a physical attraction too strong to resist. History unravelling in a perfect storm of frustrated passion.

 

THE SEQUEL

(There is a working title but you’re not getting it yet. I do learn from some of my mistakes)

Hettie and Alexander are back at Draymere Hall, and it was never going to be a conventional love story, no hearts and flowers here.

Proud, passionate, wilful; they are alike in so many ways. That has to be a good thing doesn’t it? Or it could be very bad…they both carry scars, and old wounds have a habit of bringing new pain.

 Their bodies know what they want, and that attraction pulls them together. Hearts and minds can be thorny, less easy to satisfy. One thing is certain, together or apart their lives will move on. Alexander and Hettie’s clashes of passion and spirit will only be part of the story. 

New beginnings which give you the chance to make things right. Or the chance to make the same mistakes all over again.

Thank you for reading.

BookBub, Kindle Countdown and crossing those dastardly time-zones

BookBub, Kindle Countdown and crossing those dastardly time-zones

I’ve been so stuck into writing my new novel, and with harvest upon us as well, that I have to confess to my marketing efforts throughout July and August have being poor (verging on dismal). No surprise then that I have witnessed a drop in sales: For the last few weeks I’ve been flat-lining with only the occasional one-or-two books perking up the sales chart and keeping me from despair.

It was that despair, however, which urged me to bung off a submission request for a BookBub UK Featured Deal. Reading the BookBub submission guidance, I didn’t rate my chances. A Bed of Barley Straw has limited reviews, and the e-book is only available on a single platform (yes, it is Amazon, no surprises there). My personal Magna Carta carries an edict which states that I must embark on at least one marketing foray each month. To be frank, submitting to BookBub felt like an easy way to tick off a checkbox, with no further effort required when my submission was rejected.

To my utter surprise and delight the book was accepted!

BookBub Abobs

My promotion was scheduled to begin on August 20th. A mere seven days from receipt of the acceptance email, with seven days prior payment required. Clearly I wanted to seal the deal and get my $40 off in rapid quick time. (Ideally within half an hour, as I’d promised the Gallivanting Granny that I would take her to market. [PS – I wasn’t selling her])

The first flappy panic – the question “when do you want your deal to end” – involved a trawl through the BookBub Ts and Cs to find out if there were any rules governing this. The information was easy to find in their FAQs (in my haste for rapid solutions I also fired off an email to the BookBub partners, who I’m pleased to say were quick to get back to me.)

Having successfully straddled that hurdle, I decided to complicate things for myself by running a Kindle Countdown Deal concurrently with the promotion. (July’s marketing tick-box checked retrospectively).

Kindle Countdown clock

I have to admit that it was luck rather than planning which enabled me to do so. If your book is enrolled in KDP Select you are permitted to run one Kindle Countdown Deal, lasting a maximum of 7 days, during your 90 day enrolment period. The price of your book must not have been changed in the 30 days prior to the Countdown commencing, and the Countdown must conclude 14 days before your enrolment period ends. Also there are price criteria, and you must be willing to discount your book by a minimum of £1 ($1 US).

That’s a pretty specific set of rules, but luckily KDP enforce them for you. So your book will not show as eligible for the deal if you are sitting outside of their criteria. Phew! It would have taken me more than half an hour to work that out for myself.

The next flappy panic involved TIME ZONES. Simple for some maybe, but my brain was having none of it.

BookBub stipulate that the e-book must be available across all platforms (phew again) at the promotional reduced price (£0.99 in my case) at 12.00pm PST (Pacific Standard Time) and that price must be in place up until 11.59pm on the day the deal ends.

My Kindle Countdown must be scheduled in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and I’m living in BST (British Summer Time). As someone who still hasn’t grasped the intricacies of changing my clocks twice a year, this could be a disaster. Luckily I’ve got 7 days of Kindle price reduction to span a 5 day BookBub promotion. Gotta be possible right? Flappy panic two.

(I’ve emboldened the numbers to allow you to share my hysteria, not as a useful aid to your own cross-time-zone promotional dilemmas. Sorry, but it’s no use looking to me for help with this.)

I read the blog of a fellow author who had scheduled Kindle Countdown Deals to run simultaneously across multiple time-zones. A dizzy spell ensued, which necessitated the use of smelling salts.

I scribbled vague numbers and arrows on to scraps paper for twenty minutes, before bringing in my support team – The Farmer, The Engineer and The Gallivanting Granny. To be fair, they had bigger things on their minds (harvest and market stalls) but between them they failed to allay my confusion. The GG was indignant that there wasn’t somebody else who could do this work for me. Bless. She thinks I’m corporate.

I got there eventually, with a prayer and a whistle. Flappy panic three when the Kindle price didn’t drop at 6pm on the 19th. BST of course, it dropped at 7pm (and yes, I know now, I was way ahead of myself. At 7pm in the UK it was only lunch time in America. I think).

By accident, my over-generous over-lap did provide some feedback. I followed the advice on the ALLi Self-Publishing site, and posted about my Countdown deal on Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog. Those efforts produced three sales from the Countdown Deal alone, in the hours between my price reduction and the issue of the BookBub email. (And I’m not knocking that. Three sales was more than I had achieved in the previous seven days.)

What happened next speaks for itself – screenshot taken at 9am on day two of the BookBub promo (that’s BST if you’re interested).

Amazon sales chart

Glory halleluiah, my best day of book sales to date (although I have done ‘better’ when giving them away). Interesting that I’m also seeing a rise in my Kindle Unlimited pages read.

And look how pretty my Amazon #rating is! (There’s a #39 in there somewhere, in case you can’t see it)

Amazon ranking #39

I fully accept that this is a temporary promotional blip, but I’m not going to let that burst my delusional bubble.

Today’s plan was to push on by shouting about my Kindle Countdown Deal on social media, as per the guidelines in the ALLi blog. But Unfortunately my internet is dead. I am blocked from obsessively checking my sales figures, from posting to Facebook or Twitter. I’m writing this instead, but you may not get to see it. Our internet provider tells me that we have used up our monthly data allowance. It’s only the 21st of the month for mercy’s sake!! Oh yes, YD is home from Uni, and she’s over-fond of NetFlix.

Now, should I fork out more cash to get us reconnected? Or should I take advantage of the downtime and write like a dervish?

If you’re reading this, I must have made my decision. #ammarketing

We’re all romantic fools at heart…

We’re all romantic fools at heart…

As a writer of contemporary romance with a novel to sell I am clear about my target market.  Now I’m not a fan of pigeon holes. Or of sweeping judgements which attempt to predict character by demographic. But having issued that disclaimer, please bear with me as I litter this post with offensive generalisation. It’s the grubby truth of marketing, and I accept that having a criteria on which to base your marketing efforts does make sense.

To ensure the best response to my own marketing, I carefully researched my target audience. Ok, that’s a lie. I gave it my best guess. I mean we’re talking contemporary romance. How hard can it be? Young women of average intelligence education. We all know that it’s the dreamy lasses who want to read about gorgeous hunks – men who will love them completely, and whose hearts they will mend. Passion, adoration (and a soupçon of scorching-but-meaningful rumpy-pumpy). The cynical mid-lifers (of which I am one, which should have told me something as I am writing this stuff) have been there, done that and thrown away the t-shirt. Some have nurtured ill will against romance ever since the departure of husband number three. And the highly educated know enough to understand that it’s all a load of fanciful tosh, they are busy improving their literary minds with important books.

The elderly? Please. You need to ask? As for men, well we all know that their perfect relationship is straight-forward (willing woman – leg over – meat pie for dinner. Depart to watch the match). If the match is showing widescreen at the pub, we have our happy-every-after. I warned you that this would be offensive.

If you are ranting at me right now, please take some solace in knowing that I now understand the folly of these collective ‘isms’. They are wrong, wrong and wrong again. We are indeed all romantic fools at heart. Take if you will as an example, the lovely letter I received this week from a farmer. A man who I happen to know is the wrong side of 60 (strike that, let’s make it the right side of 60!) He qualified his letter with the fact that he wasn’t much of a book reader, preferring the Farmer’s Weekly. He reads, he tells me, one book a year, on his holiday. He usually chooses a romance (did you see that coming? If not – shame on you.) That letter made my week. And there is the card I received in the post from an octogenarian. The photographs sent to me of my book in exotic locations, despatched by a woman who holds rank in City banking. The builder I met in Tesco who apologised for having not read my novel yet. I countered his apology with one of my own; “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, what do you usually read?”  His reply – “Mills & Boon.” I misjudged, again.

One of my closest friends is on husband number three. I realise now that this fact alone is a credit to her faith in true love. Isn’t that really the message of every romance? And she’s read the book three times. Happy endings, I find, can bring a tear to the most hardened of eyes. Boo sucks demographic. You don’t know us at all.

50 Bales of Hay (shameless, I know)

50 Bales of Hay (shameless, I know)

One million book sales in just one week. Woah.

That is a level of book sales that most of us haven’t imagined in our wildest, most optimistic day dreams. An unbelievable storyline (the figures, not the book). You couldn’t write it as the saying goes (and a million is not easy to write unless you are concentrating. That’s a lot of noughts).

I’m talking Grey of course. Isn’t everyone?

Another masterclass in selling from the stable of E.L.James, and the message is starkly simple: Write something that everyone wants to read. And market the living daylights out of it. Respect.

Or it would be simple but for two things. The first is a question – what the hell does everyone want to read? (Submission and lashings might be the answer, but I think that has been done). There are whips in my book, but only the riding sort (and we’re talking horse riding here I’m afraid) so I may have missed a trick.

If you think you know the answer, get on and write that book but my instinct tells me that none of us actually do. We might know what is working now but 50 Shades was new and different. I doubt that James wrote it because she knew it would be the next big thing. She probably wrote the story she carried in her head, as I suspect most authors do. I wonder if she dared to dream one million book sales, right back at the very beginning.

Marketing the living daylights out of a book must surely be easier when you already have one..two…three best sellers and a film under your belt. A supermarket, nay mega-market, full of eager buyers and a proven product to sell. So we have looped very neatly back to the first point. Get yourself a best seller. Write the book that everyone wants to read. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, thanks ELJ.

Or don’t of course. Write the book that you want to write. Write it the best you can. Tell people about it at every random opportunity you trip over. Cross your fingers, and don’t give up the day job. A masterclass in book sales from the stable of Sam Russell. Best week to date (excluding the giveaways which did make my sales chart very pretty) 32 books (thank you the WI) and I was delighted with that. But a hundred would be nice…or even a thousand. Nothing wrong with optimistic day dreams, they are what keeps us going.

As for Grey, have I bought it? You bet I have.

Writing – here’s where I’m at – an excerpt from the work-in-progress sequel to A Bed of Barley Straw

Writing – here’s where I’m at – an excerpt from the work-in-progress sequel to A Bed of Barley Straw

Alexander drank his black coffee on the bench outside the cottage. Rested from a fortnight of undisturbed nights, lulled by the rhythmic crashing of the Irish Sea against the rocks below. The dark stubble on his chin formed the shadow of a beard. The blue of his eyes, mirroring the ocean, flashed from his relaxed, ruggedly tanned face. He rested easy on the bench; long legs stretched out, clad in faded denim, weathered brogues on his feet. His body warmed by the oiled wool sweater which draped over his torso.

Alexander thought he would never grow tired of this view. His gaze took in the ocean and the infinite sky; an ever-changing vista. He watched as the clouds swept in from the West and scudded along the coast or paused to envelop Porth Wen in damp grey mist. At times the weather battered his cottage with heady gusts carrying fierce pellets of rain. He saw the haunting, derelict brickworks emerge from dull haze, and smiled as sunlight on the waves glided teasingly closer before embracing the land with warmth and colour. The occasional distant walker or lone fishing boat could hold his attention until they vanished from sight. Sometimes his walks took him along the coast to Hell’s Mouth where he paused to survey the surfers riding the waves; distant from his cliff top lookout. The days followed a rudimentary pattern. With no telephone, no TV or internet, simplicity was enforced. He woke when the first stripes of daylight settled on his pillow. He stoked the stove, filled a basin with water and placed it on top of the wood-burner. Brewing his coffee and feeding the dogs gave the heat of the flames time to lift the chill from the water before he stood, buck naked on the coarse rug, to wash from head to toe.

He took his second coffee with a wedge of bara brith, spread with salted butter; eaten on the bench outside if the weather allowed, at the table when it did not. The cottage door stood open allowing Digger and Dora to wander. They snuffled their way through the rocky gorse outcrop and explored the path to the cove before returning to settle at Alexander’s feet. After breaking his fast Alexander indulged in a leisurely cigarette and turned on his lap top. He couldn’t connect with anyone, nor did he want to, but he spent an hour going over the plans for the equine wing of the practice. He noted steps that needed to be taken.  He studied financial spreadsheets, listed questions and points that required his attention. On the dot of the hour he closed his laptop and put it in his rucksack, shoving his waterproof jacket on top. He whistled the dogs who scurried to him. The cottage was left unlocked. He did not chose his route but let the path take him where it would.

Mid-day always found him at the Crag Inn. The landlord knew him now and drew a pint of dark bitter as he came in. Alexander read as he absently downed a plate of welsh stew. With his hunger sated he took advantage of the Wi-Fi to catch up on emails. On this particular day he was jolted by a message.

Hettie Redfern is on Facebook: Hettie Redfern invites you to like her page “Redfern Livery Stables”

Alexander deleted the notification. He didn’t want her name in his head.

Striding through the town with the dogs at his heels, Alexander stocked up on basics before hiking back to the cottage. He raised a hand in greeting of the painter as she traipsed the coastal path with an easel slung over her shoulder and a bulky satchel. The woman had passed his cottage twice daily since his arrival. She spent her day perched in a nook on the cliffs above the brick-works. Her silvered blonde hair caught the wind and flew into a writhing nest around her head as she turned to wave in reply.

Yay – I’m ‘Z’ List!

Yay – I’m ‘Z’ List!

I am a celebrity this week. I may be indulging in big fish syndrome, but I insist on enjoying my moment of fame in next week’s chip papers.

The local press were hot on the heels of Good Housekeeping Magazine in bringing my story (From Farmers Wife to Author of Saucy Novel) to the world’s attention. Ok, not to the world. To the UK readers of GH magazine and a very small corner of Essex. And the reason for all this attention? The combined efforts of me, myself, and I, plus the instrumental role played by Eldest Daughter, my home-grown PR, who got me into GH and wrote the press releases.

I received an email from our accountant: Subject: Very Strange Question. Message: Forgive me for asking this, but I’m on the train reading this month’s edition of GH magazine, and I have come across a picture of someone I recognise, bearing your name. Is this you?

The temptation to reply “No, I haven’t got a clue who that is” was strong. This lady does our accounts, I kind of figured she would be bright enough to work it out for herself. She had worked it out, of course (I am being mean-minded for the purpose of comedy) because the final line of the message congratulated me on writing the book. I am using her missive to underline the surprise (should that be shock?) which acquaintances experience when they find a friend/colleague/client in COMPLETELY THE WRONG PLACE. A fish out of water.

I had a similar reaction from the lady who waxes my eyebrows (“Was that YOU in the local paper?”) and to be entirely fair, if my accountant or the lady who waxes my eyebrows had been splashed across the media for writing a ‘saucy’ novel, I would undoubtedly ask them the same question.

Generally, the result has been positively overwhelming, with moments of fear thrown in. Such as when the vicar called to offer her congratulations and confirm that she was “looking forward to reading the book.” I shook in my boots then. “It isn’t vicar reading” my mind was screaming, but instead of saying that I made non-committal choking noises at her. Shame on me, for passing judgement on a vicar’s reading choices; the woman has undoubtedly seen more of life than I have. It does, however, make me uncomfortable when people read my book because I wrote it, rather than because it is a book they would pick from the shelf. Plus, well, you know, it is a little bit raunchy. (I prefer ‘raunchy’ to ‘saucy’, saucy conjures images of Benny Hill which are far more disturbing).

The Gallivanting Granny scared me a little, when she rang up to say the picture was “terrible, terrible, terrible” (yup – repeated three times) and The Farmer added to my disquiet when, having read the article at his brother’s house, he reported back that the headline was “Saucy Farmer’s Wife”. Lucky then that the terrible picture would quickly dispel that notion. Even luckier that when I finally got to see the paper (our house being too remote to benefit from paper delivery) the picture was poor, not terrible, and the headline was saucy novel.

Great fame and fortune have resulted from the articles: An instant invitation (before I knew the piece had featured, which proved confusing) to talk about self-publishing at a creative writing class. A last minute request to speak to the WI (their pre-booked speaker was poorly) and, as a I write this post, a plea from a friend to speak to her Mother’s luncheon group.

So, wha’ do ya know, I’ve become a Public Speaker! I didn’t see that coming. The W.I. were great. Good fun, spirited, enthusiastic. My heart stopped the words getting out of my mouth for the first few seconds, but then by some stroke of luck I remembered that I am a show off and thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was one mildly hostile moment from my audience, when I told them the excerpt I was reading would be free of smut, but we got through that.

As a post note question, don’t chips taste so much better when they are wrapped in newspaper?

My rookie efforts at experimental, almost zero budget, Marketing

My rookie efforts at experimental, almost zero budget, Marketing

I have been dabbling in marketing over the last few weeks, without a budget, although I did fork out just shy of thirty quid on Facebook in April. And three pounds 49 pence on postage… Facebook – Page Promotion and Boosted Posts I love that you can target Facebook boosts to a specific audience, and the fact that it only costs you if a person actually connects with your post. FB allows you to set your daily budget and the duration of the boost, so right from the get go you know absolutely what your maximum spend will be. Great user tools, and targeting too, what more could you ask for! Results and connections are charted for you. I saw an increase in page likes and in activity on all the posts I boosted. FB also tells you which of your (un-boosted) posts are amusing people, so you can make informed choices about what to promote. What you cannot do is work out if all this activity translates to actual book sales. I console myself with the belief that any PR carrying the name of my book is valuable, even if it does not directly translate to financial returns! As the author of rural romance, featuring horses and dogs. I targeted my post at women who like books, romance, dogs and horses. Which feels pretty specific. As I have yet to complete my ‘Facebook Ads training’ I could well be missing a trick. Amazon Giveaway Unfortunately only in the USA – a US address is a requirement of entry (Amazon’s idea, not mine) but as America knows little about me yet, I thought this was worth a bash. I offered three free copies of my paperback (you have to have a physical book – or a physical something- to participate in this) and ticked ‘follow me on twitter’ as one of the entry requirements. You decide the ‘lucky number’ who will win a book, e.g. every 30th entrant or every 1000th. I over-estimated the potential number of entrants and set my number too high. Consequently I only gave away one book in the end. Amazon despatches the book themselves and charges you the retail cost plus postage, so prize giving is delightfully easy (I had to pay £10 to despatch a book to the USA after my Goodreads Giveaway). You can promote the giveaway on twitter with the #AmazonGiveaway tag. Result – an increase in twitter followers, potentially people who actually read books, although probably those that just enjoy giveaways! Cheap Handouts for my upcoming signing An easy one this, I ordered 100 free business cards from Vistaprint, replacing the business name with the name of my book, and adding my tag line where the legend should have been. I’m quite pleased with the result (see below) and I have something to give to those attending my book signing. Total spend £3.49 (on postage) and I now carry a few in my handbag to distribute to anyone who shows a glimmer of interest. P.S. I got a voucher from Visa Print this morning, offering £10 off my next order, which I am about to use to create a poster for the book signing. I think I’m in profit.

Vistaprint card

Pinterest Having become absorbed by Pinterest when creating mood boards for my novel (otherwise known as procrastinating), I finally made the boards public. I find images a great way to stimulate writing, and as many of my readers have said that they would like to “step into the world of Draymere”, I decided it was time to share.

Bibury-Village bobs overlay

The cover image on my mood board “A Bed of Barley Straw – Draymere” offers a link to my book on Amazon. I have absolutely no idea if this will engage potential readers or not but I’m enjoying myself! It also spurred me on to create the mood board for the sequel (not public yet) which had the effect of breaking my writers block and delivered me back to the typewriter. Now that, I call a success.

Talking about my book…

Talking about my book…

That is what I have to do now. Blog tours, author interviews and a couple of local speaking/signing events lurk on my horizon. I will have to talk out loud, in front of people. Yikes.

Numerous niggles are harrying my mind. The blog tour sounds fine; I can sit at my computer, happy in my space, editing and re-editing my words as often as I like before I send them out. Viewers can glance at my post and move swiftly on, or they can read every sentence. I cannot be offended because I will never know which of those actions they have taken (unless they drop a comment or a reassuring ‘like’ – lovely gifts from cyberspace which let you know you have actually connected).

My issue with author interviews is that I’m not sure I’m getting the answers right. This belief is confirmed when I read the interviews of proper, grown up authors. Those familiar with my blog will surely remember that my response to a straightforward query about my favourite books resulted in total brain freeze. (I felt only empathy for Natalie Bennett after that train crash of a radio interview). Also I did not study journalism at the University of Brilliant, I cannot quote Shakespeare (at least not knowingly), I have never written for the National Shout it Out, and there are zero awards to my name.

My author bio is a desperate little paragraph with few writer credentials, and zero proof of wordsmithery:

Left school at 16 ( I couldn’t wait to get out). Worked with horses. Got married, had kids, wrote a book.

There is more of course, but little of relevance. Various eclectic jobs, study and hobbies. You’re taking a gamble on me as an author, but hey, live dangerously. Oh, I’ve just remembered, I won the poetry contest at our village fete – for three years on the run! How the hell did I miss that out? They even gave me a cup (it had to be given back at the end of the year, of course). My poem about the Queen’s Jubilee was an absolute cracker. I would love to share it with you here but it is sadly lost in the mist of obsolete PCs.

Now the book, I can talk about, as friends will verify (whilst rolling their eyes to the heavens). Here are some great sample questions on author interviews which I can’t wait to get my teeth into:

Describe your hero in five words” – Hunky, bloody gorgeous. Bit of a sod. (Oops that’s seven)

Was your novel inspired by real life events?” – No! But no one believes me (mates who have read it are eyeing the Farmer in very different light). Some of the horses and dogs existed in real life…does that count?

“Can you remember where you first saw your book on the shelves” – I can promise you I.WILL.REMEMBER.THAT. When it happens.

And now the biggest Frog – PUBLIC SPEAKING. I’ve yet to find out if I can pull this off without my voice going weird and squeaky. I used to read the lesson in church as a child. That didn’t bother me. In my twenties and thirties I became adept at lecturing my offspring. Do either of those qualify as public speaking? I have hollered across a windy field whilst teaching people to ride, so I know the voice can carry when it wants to.

Luckily I have two secret weapons in my armoury.

  1. The lovely, helpful people on the “Alliance of Independent Authors” Facebook group, who have been amazingly generous with hints and tips.
  2. Gin and tonic.

Wish me luck.