Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Fun of Being Insignificant



ROAD CLOSED came out two weeks ago and has already started to sell. Of course, I’m a very small scale operator in a world where the big players expect to sell tens of thousands of books every week. Still, there are only 5 copies of ROAD CLOSED left on amazon.co.uk where it’s had its first amazon review – 5 stars from a Top 50 Reviewer and Vine Voice who concludes the review: “Give Leigh Russell a try - I'm sure you will not be disappointed.”

It’s no secret that I completed the first draft of CUT SHORT in six weeks, and two weeks after I’d sent out the manuscript I received a phone call from a publisher who offered me a three book deal. After editing, rewriting and research, my first book hit the shelves and sold out so fast that it was reprinted three times in under a year. Following that success, ROAD CLOSED has just been published ahead of schedule as WH Smith’s Travel selected it for a promotion. I just received an email from the books manager of one branch where ROAD CLOSED has sold 115 copies in 2 days (OK, I was there signing, but still…)

I wonder if book sales are so exciting for the big names? I suspect not, because they must expect their books to sell in huge numbers. I’m still excited when one person buys one of my books. This has been a thrilling rollercoaster but my publishing deal turned up so suddenly and unexpectedly that I still can’t believe this wildly exciting experience is really happening to me. I only discovered my passion for writing three years ago when an idea for a story popped into my head and I began to write it down. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop writing. As Eugene Ionesco said, “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”

I’ve heard it said that finding a publisher is like climbing a high mountain. Once you reach the summit, you see an even higher mountain ahead – book sales. This week is half term so I’m doing four book signings, giving a talk, appearing on a panel of bestselling crime writers, and completing the first draft of my third book. I enjoy giving talks and going to book signings, getting out and about meeting readers, but all this promotion is another demand on my time.

Sometimes I think I must be slightly insane… but I love writing and everything associated with it, and the pressure of limited time seems to help my creativity almost as much as a deadline from my publisher! Another benefit of being so busy is that I have no time to stress about how my second book will be received, and no time to worry about “writer’s block”. If I have a free hour or two, that’s it – I’m writing!

So my really exciting news is that I’ve just sent the COMPLETED first draft of DEAD END to my agent. Watch out for it in 2011 and, in the meantime, here are the links for CUT SHORT and ROAD CLOSED in case you want to take a look.

27 comments:

Val said...

This has to be an exciting ride for you!
I think that even the big names get excited if they get raves on their books.

You will be a big name, I know this!

Leigh Russell said...

It is exciting, Val. When I'm a big name, I'll be able to tell you... (don't hold your breath...)

Debs said...

So exciting. I'm now going to order a copy for my aunt - she's called Geraldine too - as I'm sure she'll love it.

Leigh Russell said...

Another Geraldine! Thank you very much for your support, Debs.

HelenMHunt said...

I'm loving Road Closed so far. Can't wait to finish it so I can write a review!

Becky said...

Wow this is great Leigh. WEll done for following your dream and for going with your drive and instinct to write. I have only just discovered it too. I started off doing music as my creative outlet and posting guitar vids, but now I have opened a new chapter, and its good to meet like minded people here :-)

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you, Helen. I'm so glad you still have time to read with all your own writing going on. Congratulations again on yet another acceptance! You're an inspiration.

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, Becky. Writing is a fantastic creative outlet, isn't it, and it's been very exciting to come to it when I'm not in the first flush of youth (to be polite to myself - and why not?!)

LilyS said...

I am trying to step out of my chick lit comfort zone and join the world of crime fiction. I am definitely going to give this a try. I know my mum and sis LOVE crime fiction so I'll pass on your good news!

Congrats on the books and thanks for the visit earlier.

Leigh Russell said...

Hi LilyS - I admire you for stepping out of your comfort zone. That's something I do all the time - (and the truth is... I rarely try new things, I'm a total wimp and cling to routine... ) so good for you! Let us know how you get on.

Pat said...

Amazon let me know that Cut Short was now available - they keep a record of all my sales apparently - so I shall be ordering it.
However it will be some time before I can read it as I am entrenched in 'Life Class' which is so relevant to my own story and it is a VERY big book and very heavy so reading in bed is difficult. Utterly fascinating though.

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, Pat! Let me know what you think when you have time to read it.
Did you mean ROAD CLOSED?

Randy Johnson said...

I think any writer is justifiably proud on sales. I would suppose the more successful one became, some of the bloom would wear off, though never go away completely.

I know of one local writer in the area who would go around to the various book stores to see how his books were doing. The store in my town, a Waldenbooks, closed years back so I haven't seen him in years and it's been ten years since I last spoke with him. He was a mid-list and hasn't had a new fiction title since 2000. He made more off his articles for gun magazines anyway(he was an acknowledged expert on small arms).

Enjoy your success. You write well.

Talli Roland said...

That's great, Leigh! Congrats on your sales. And congrats on finishing the first draft of your next project!

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Randy, thanks for the praise - much appreciated. I can understand an author checking sales in bookstores. If I had time, I might do that. As it is, I just check my amazon ratings (not too great right now). I did have an email from the books manager at WH Smith's Heathrow Terminal 5 this week to say ROAD CLOSED had sold 115 copies in 2 days, but that was a special promotion and doesn't happen every day... and CUT SHORT was in the top 10 bestsellers at my local Waterstones last year, at number 5 I think.
So I clearly have something in common with your local author, and I have small arms... (sorry, really bad pun)

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, Talli. It's always nice to be congratulated.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Incredibly thrilling news for you, a very big reward for all your hard work, and so much deserved.

CJ xx

Leigh Russell said...

Plus a big helping of luck, Crystal Jigsaw. But it is gratifying when things (occasionally) turn out the way you want,isn't it?

Rick said...

Insignificat and you don't belong in the same sentence, Leigh. I was off finishing a novel for the last two months, and I have to catch up on things just a bit, but I will be mailing you about that interview. You are a marvelous talent and I'm looking forward to the day when you are selling tens of thousands of books per week.

Leigh Russell said...

So am I, Rick. Then it will be the Grand Tour of the US... and perhaps Japan, or the Caribbean, if they ask nicely... finishing with a world cruise - after the Hollywood blockbuster of course...

Minnie said...

Always pleased to learn of a good UK female crime writer - we do it so well! Have read good reviews of your first novel by readers I rely on, and look forward to reading it. All the best for continuing sales and future progress.

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you, Minnie. I thought I'd deleted your comment but here you are! Pleased to hear from you and good luck with your own writing.

Guillaume said...

I don't think you are insignificant. You have been published, after all, which is no small deed.

Leigh Russell said...

Yes, Guillaume - everything's relative. It's important to be proud of our existing achievements as well as striving for the next one, isn't it? No one is insignificant, and eveyone is insignificant, depending on how you look at it.

Pat said...

Yes I meant 'Road Closed'. God I must check I've ordered the right one.

Leigh Russell said...

My life lurches from one senior moment to another at the moment... looks like you had one there, Pat.

Barbara Martin said...

In time you will be a big name, Leigh. Just hang in there.