Monday 19 October 2009

A lovely surprise

I had a lovely surprise at a book signing at Waterstones in Gower Street last Saturday. As usual, the bookstore staff couldn't have been more helpful. Sales went well and, to add icing to the cake, a fan took the trouble to come along and ask if I'd sign her copy of Cut Short. I was very flattered! Here's the photo she sent me.

I seem to be in demand at the moment, with two invitations to talk in libraries tomorrow. I'm visiting a book group at Oak Farm Library in Ruislip in the afternoon, and a writers' circle at the new Shepherds Bush Library in the evening.

And yes, I'm still working on the edits for Road Closed...

Monday 5 October 2009


I have heard readers boast that they never buy books from bookshops, and never spend more than fifty pence buying from amazon or charity shops. I have nothing against shopping in charity shops – I do so myself – or against online suppliers who are efficient and cheap. But for every book that is sold for 50 pence or less, a publisher loses their profit. There’s nothing wrong with publishers making a profit. There is a great deal wrong if they don’t.
3 for 2, buy one get one free, brand new books half price . . . we all love a bargain, but our gain is someone else’s loss. If publishers lose too much, there will be no publishers. Already the market is swamped with self published books. I don’t claim that all self published books are poor quality, or that all traditionally published books are superior. But, like the proliferation of television channels, more quantity inevitably dilutes quality. And publishers do set some standards. At the very least, they are hoping to make back the money they’ve spent producing the book.
We are moving towards a world where everyone can produce their own books, downloadable free. As for professional authors, they won’t have time to write, they’ll be busy working to pay their bills. There’s precious little money to be made from writing now. With no advances or royalties, the cupboard will be completely bare.
If you never spend more than 50 pence on a book – or even one penny as a reader boasted recently – bear in mind that you may be approaching the point of no return. Like lemmings, many readers are rushing over the precipice to a Brave New World where the book as we know it will cease to exist, lost in a morass of blog-like semi-autobiographical works of flaccid fiction whose prose has never heard the scissor snap of an editor’s keys . . .
We all like to feel we are getting something for nothing. Let's hope we don't end up paying a higher price than any of us bargained for.

Friday 2 October 2009

Finding a publisher

I promised to write about how I found a publisher. I’m afraid my account won’t be of practical help to aspiring authors as, due to my ignorance, I made just about every mistake possible in my attempt to find a publisher.

The reason I think my story is worth telling lies in its outcome. I found a publisher, and reinvented my life in my middle age (if I live a long life). And if I can succeed, why shouldn’t you?

For reasons I may retell in another post, I wrote a story. It was a little jumbled (more so than I realised – I hadn’t researched my market properly – mistake number one of many). Nevertheless, I thought my story was rather good so, without any expectations, I looked in the Writers and Artists Year Book, found three publishers who specialise in crime fiction, and sent off my manuscript.

I’m quite an impatient person. If I hadn’t received a positive response from any of them, I don’t know whether I would have sent the MS off to any more publishers or given up on the idea. I’d only sent it off on a whim.

Two weeks later I had a phone call from the wonderful woman who is now my publisher and, to cut this rambling tale short (!) three months later I signed a contract for three books in a series of crime thrillers.

It’s a long process, producing a book, and there were times when I thought it would never be published. But the process rolled on as planned – and now I’m an author.

I wrote somewhere that I fell into being an author as clueless as Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole . . .

Thursday 1 October 2009

The Icing on the Cake

I had a lovely visit to Havant. We stayed at Brookfields Hotel in Emsworth, a short walk from the sea - highly recommended.
I was fortunate in the audience for my talk at the Literary Festival. They were generous in their comments about Cut Short and probing in their questions about my experience as an author.
Lucy, the festival organiser, and Tim at Nineveh Bookshop made us feel very welcome and all in all I thoroughly enjoyed my first appearance at a literary festival in my new guise as Author.
And the icing on the cake? Here's a photo of the 'literary cake' Tim gave me as we were leaving - a cake decorated with a tiny book made out of rice paper. Almost too good to eat . . .