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London Book Fair

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After years of writing, editing, and living Silencio, it was incredible to see my novel on the stand at London Book Fair 2016. The fair is an industry event and some authors find it difficult to enjoy however I love everything about books and so the business side also interests me. Well-known writers including Marian Keyes, Jeffery Archer, Meg Roscoff participated in interviews but the most impressive was Judith Kerr, in her 90’s and as sharp as a youngster. As usual, there were interesting presentations at the Writer’s Centre which included advice about public relations, marketing, self-publishing through different forums and how to beat the slush pile.

I have returned to my office ready to write.

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Radio Interview on Saturday 2nd April

I will be discussing my novel Silencio with Gill Henry on Total FM 91.8 Costa Blanca at 13:30 Spanish time. In addition to the inspiration and stories behind the book, I will be talking about some of the influences on my writing, the music I love and anything else we can fit into our one hour slot. Send me in some questions in the comments section and I’ll try to answer them during the time I am on air.

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5* Review of Silencio

The following is a copy of a 5* review of my debut novel Silencio on Net Galley. Needless to say, I am delighted.

Totally love this book and pleased to be able to review it for Net Galley. Well researched, full of suspense. A mothers worst nightmare, her newborn is stolen. Overtime Mercedes is relentless in her search for the truth about Spain’s stolen babies.

I cried so much reading this brilliant book about baby trafficking, how 40years after franco’s death people in Spain searched for so many “lost” babies. I live in Spain for part of each year. I did not know about this and am reading more about it since reading Silencio. A heartbreaking true fact. I cannot imagine how these mothers must have suffered. I loved the ending, can’t wait to read her next book. This is a winner.

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I’m going to be on the Radio

On April 2nd at 13:30 spanish time, I will be on Total FM Radio Spain http://www.totalfm.es/ chatting with Gill Henry about my novel Silencio, my writings, and life in Spain. If you have any questions for me send them here and I’ll try to answer them on the day.

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SILENCIO – Now available for pre-order on Apple

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I have just been told that my novel is available for pre-order through Apple. Other retailer links to follow.

http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=3707

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Scrivener Progress and Other Writer Things

I’ve bitten the bullet (sorry for the cliché) and, after 18 days of trial, bought the Scrivener package after an evaluation that revealed keeping track of the progress of my new novel and the various short stories that I am writing seems to be easier. When I need to refresh my knowledge and memory about the characters, setting and plot, the package enables me to do so with ease, and after the initial wobbles using the software, it seems to be second nature.

So far, I have written about 15,000 words of my second novel and I am reminded of the excitement there is in developing a plot and interesting characters. The biggest challenge is what happens to me when I do research; I lose valuable hours. To give you an example, the other day I wanted to find out about the railway service and town plan for one of my settings in the 1960’s. Three hours later, I had followed the little person on Google street view all around the town, read all kinds of interesting stories about local celebrities and discovered how the rail network has changed in the past 50+ years but I had not written a word of my novel. Scrivener allows me to record my research into a folder where I can refer to it as I continue writing and that is a great feature however it is hopeless for someone with my sense of curiosity as I do get sidetracked by all of the interesting history.

Another useful tool has been Pintrest. Despite signing up for it a long time ago, I had never used it effectively until this novel. Now I have a pinboard plastered with people, cars, uniforms, food, etc from the 1960’s and I think that is going to bring my writing to life in this new novel.

One can only hope that this will be the big one.

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Inspiration

Yesterday I was at lunch with another writer, a man whom I had never met nor heard of. He is writing his third novel and sells the others as e-books on Amazon. By co-incidence, I met another writer last week who is writing his first novel.

All three of us are having a completely different experience. One pays for and uses a mentor to review his work while it is in progress. The other writes and sends to an editor. I, on the other hand, like to get my work well under way before I show it to anyone, although I am a member of an on-line support group.

Yesterday’s writer approached a few agents in the early days but found it a frustrating exercise and is managing to market and sell his work on the internet. The other is not at the stage of approaching agents; however, that is part of his plan.

All of us are over 50 years old and have the luxury of time to write. We are also inspired by our life experiences and have decent stories to tell. Self publishing allows us to put our work out there yet each of us would love to acquire the ultimate of a literary agent and a publishing deal.

There are so many of us with that goal that it could frighten an aspiring author.

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Feedback About the London Book Fair

This is a a summary of an article that I recently wrote for my Faber Alumni Group about the wonderful experience of visiting the London Book Fair. I hope that you like it and welcome any comments or contributions about the value of such events to an author.

Heaven can wait as I recently discovered a place here on Earth populated by like-minded people, who share my interest in the written word.

The three days of the London Book Fair at Earls Court were great value for £30, providing me with an enriched understanding of the publishing side of the writing business. I have realised that I cannot make an informed decision about the publication of my first novel if I do not understand the dynamics of the business. Even respected authors with secure publishing contracts are changing their approach to their future publications in the changing industry and all authors must be aware of the current issues facing the book publication business.

I decided to attend LBF after reading about it on a post by Susannah on the Faber Alumni site and I am grateful to her for bringing it to my attention. The event is historically aimed at the providers in the publishing business, including companies involved in the technical, legal and marketing areas. However, during the past few years a revolution has taken place and writers and authors are commanding greater recognition in this trade fair.

Earl’s Court is divided into two venues Earl’s Court 1, EC 1, and Earl’s Court 2, EC2. EC1 contained stands of the major publishers, printers, rights companies, distributors, bookshops, etc. EC2 was dedicated to the specialist area of the year, in this case the Turkish publication industry, Digital developments, and The Authors. In The English Pen Literary Café celebrated authors participated in presentations and question and answer sessions. When I arrived on the Monday morning at the LBF, I went to watch William Boyd discussing his writing day, inspirations, and his new James Bond novel, Solo.

It was interesting to listen to the experiences of such a renowned author and my plan was to attend more of these sessions; however that was before I discovered The Author’s Lounge. This amazing section of the LBF was organised by Authoright in conjunction with some of the major self-publishing companies such as Kindle, Matador, and Kobo and other industry providers in such areas as marketing, book cover design, etc. The Lounge was divided into two sections, one with a small stage and seating for approximately 60 ish people, and the other with some small tables and chairs for meetings and working seminars. There was also a television running specialist films and re-runs of some of the speeches throughout and four sets of headphones so that the viewer could listen without disturbance.

Each day in the Author Lounge a programme of seminars and presentations ran throughout opening hours, lasting approximately forty-five minutes to an hour. The topics covered were varied but always of interest and value to the author. I can’t repeat all of the lectures and was unable to attend many of them due to conflicting interests however I thought that it might be useful to give you some of the key points which arose.

 

  1. Self-publishing is a realistic option for any author.
  2. The author will potentially make more income from self-publishing. The cost could range from between £2000 to £3000 for a hard-press copy rather than an e-book however this is variable and depends on how much help the author needs with the process. One company, Matador (this is a self-publishing arm of Troubadour mainstream publishers), produce books at a level of quality which equals anything you would see in a bookshop and they also have connections with some of the bookshop outlets.
  3. Mainstream publishers do not necessarily do your editing, marketing, etc for you and the author is expected to be active in their own marketing with a strong brand image.

  4. The advantages of the mainstream publisher deals still seems to be the kudos given to your work. This for many of us, me included, probably would be the Holy Grail.
  5. There are many firms, such as Authoright, that exist to help the author prepare their book for publication and identify the most appropriate way to get their book to market, whether it is through an agent, a mainstream publisher or self-publishing.
  6. The role of the agent is changing. They exist now as the gatekeepers to the publishers and few of us will ever get past their stranglehold so if mainstream is where you want to be published, find the best agent for your genre. Make your introductory letter count – have a way of catching interest in the first line. A synopsis should give the genre, the breakdown of the chapters, identify the key characters, state the premise and the obstructions to it and also the outcome and resolution. All of that needs to fit onto one or two pages, no more.   A biography should state something interesting about yourself which is your key marketing point.
  7. The industry is changing each year and some of the big players now are under threat. Most big publishers will not be paying out big advances and, if the information is correct, an author can only expect to make a small amount from the royalties. More money may be made from author events, speaking engagements etc.
  8. Some companies are making progression into the digital world (Faber and Faber is one of these).
  9. Paper books still outsell eBooks in this country but their market share has declined during the past few years. In the States eBooks account for about 40% of book sales.
  10. Choose a book cover which can be reduced and still recognised in the Amazon type of market place.
  11. Put your eBook everywhere. One is not exclusive and you can self-publish on Amazon, Kobo, etc at the same time and should do so to achieve maximum market potential.
  12. The meta data, used when listing a book on the internet, is vital so make sure that you identify all key words which you want people to use to search for and identify your book. For example if writing a romance then words such as love, sex, heart, couple, are essential.
  13. Use GoodReads as an author. This is a whole subject in itself and I haven’t done it yet but is definitely something that I will do.
  14. Networking is useful and everyone agreed that Twitter is the most valuable tool with Facebook receiving the most negative feelings.
  15. At the LBF there is an opportunity to display your book in the New Titles Showcase and also, if you are quick on the button, to secure a meeting with an agent. I did this and lucked out on my allocated agent as she was interested in me and I liked her however the whole thing is very random so don’t expect a contract; just valuable experience.
  16. You must be able to work with whoever you choose so agents, publishers etc matter in how they relate to you as a person. There are many authors who feel that they have lost control in the big business of publishing.

    Well, I could go on and on so I am going to complete this by urging everyone to try to attend the LBF or other industry fairs if they can and if not then read as much about the industry as you are able before committing to a contract.

    This event will be on my ‘must do’ list for the next few years.

     

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Fun at the London Book Fair

This is a quick post to say that if you live near London and are a writer get down to the London Book Fair. Today I have seen some excellent presentations about marketing a new book, expanding readership, how to get an agent, lots about the digital age of publishing, and also some inspirational talks by renowned published authors. Fabulous value for money.

Tomorrow I try my pitch for the first time. I hope that I sleep.

 

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Trying to Win at Winchester

Today is the day for preparing submissions for the competitions at the Winchester Writer’s Conference in June. I hope to enter two of the categories – The First Three Pages of a Novel and The Shorter Short Story.

My self edit list reads as follows:

Follow the instructions for entry

Every word must count

Use meaningful verbs

Spelling, structure and grammar

Every word must count

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