April’s Pot Luck Club
Welcome to this month’s Pot Luck Club, a round-up of writerly bits and pieces. Another month gone already! And this morning, I had my first swim of the year in our town’s outdoor pool. The wind was a tad chilly, especially between getting out of the water and reaching the changing room, but the water was really toasty. And lying on my back, watching a plane pass overhead high above me, it felt like winter was far behind us and summer can’t be that far away. Another writing year races on apace.
And talking of writing, let’s start with my latest novel, Corruption!. I’ve had feedback from most of my beta readers and will be doing final edits this month. I’m really pleased with the comments; and as usual, the weaker bits, which I knew about, but hoped no-one else would notice, have been highlighted. There are a few changes I need to make, but the final journey is about to begin for the Jones sisters and their friend Francine. The official launch parties are going to be 3rd September (online) and 4th September (in Chudleigh Church). But for anyone going to the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick in August, I’m hoping to have the paperbacks ready for then.
If anyone would like to join my Advance Readers’ team, just give me a shout and I’ll add you to the list. The copies will be available around the beginning of August.
The Business of Writing
Books 1-3 are currently with my beta readers and with my wonderful proof reader, Julia Gibbs. I’m working on Book 4 over the next few weeks. And to all you wonderful writers on my list, I’m looking to set up an Advance Reader Team for these books too. You will receive a free copy of each book a couple of weeks before they go live. There is no obligation to review it, but I would obviously be eternally grateful if you would consider doing so. Just give me a shout if you would like to be on this team.
Literary Festival Season
Last weekend I attended the third annual World Book extravaganza at the fabulous Stoke Lodge Hotel in Stoke Fleming, Devon. The brain-child of Annette Shaw, Books Editor for Devon Life, it is always a fascinating, fun-filled day with writerly conversation, brilliant networking opportunities and truly wonderful food. I took part in a two-header with Holly Jones of Manna from Devon, on Polished Self-Publishing. It was intended to be a conversation between two experienced self-publishers, with audience participation. And we had done a fair amount of detailed preparation. We were worried no-one would have any questions and it would get very boring. But the first hand went up before we’d opened our mouths and we were still answering questions an hour later. Half way through, I threw away my notes. It was a wonderfully energetic session and just shows how important the self-publishing arm of the industry is becoming.
There are loads of Literary Festivals coming up in the next few months. I’m taking part on two of them. At Penzance on 7th July, I will be teaching a workshop on Self-Publishing and also presenting A Woman In The Snow about working in post-Soviet Russia and the writing of Gorgito’s Ice Rink. And then on 11th July, we have our own Literary Festival here in Chudleigh with an exciting programme of events including a free networking event for writers across the South West and guest speaker, Kate Adie.
And if any writers reading this are planning to come to the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick from 11th to 17th August, don’t leave it too late to book your place. They are filling up fast.
Unless you’ve been vacationing on another planet, you will no doubt be aware the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May and applies to everyone doing business in, or with anyone in, the European Union. There’s a huge amount of uncertainty about exactly what it means for those of us with email distribution lists. And a new consultancy industry is springing up all over the place. I’ve not done anything about it yet, but will be sorting out my procedures over the next couple of weeks. (As a production manager in my previous career, I have always believed in the ‘Just In Time’ principle.) So if you are on one of my distribution lists, you will be getting an additional email from me at some point between now and the end of May. Please, please, please open it and check out what needs to happen. I will make it as easy and painless as possible for all of us. I’ve worked hard to build up my lists and it would be a real shame to lose everyone now.
Change in the Rules on Reviews
All authors, especially indies, know the importance of reviews. They give potential readers something to check out before they take a chance on an unknown or untested writer. They add to the social proof that’s so important for promotion. And they increase the visibility of a book in a hugely crowded marketplace. I’ve trained myself to review every book I read (or at least, every book I finish, which is slightly different). Reviews can be left on Goodreads, or on any of the purchasing platforms. But at the moment, the key platform is still Amazon.
Each Amazon site (UK, USA etc) is separate. It used to be the case that anyone with an Amazon account who had spent $50 or £50 at any time was eligible to post reviews across multiple sites . But the new rule is that the spend is per site and per year. And it’s actually difficult to spend money on a site other than your home one. (If anyone knows differently about that, please let me know.) So inevitably, the number of reviews is going to go down. And hence this is an appeal to all readers out there. Please get into the habit of reviewing each book you read. It doesn’t have to be long. There is no minimum number of words. But it really does make a difference.
Writers Are Readers Too
My Goodreads 2018 challenge is running a bit behind at the moment. I have read and reviewed twenty-six books so far this year, and am six adrift of my target, due mainly to a very long, very dense non-fiction book I was reading for Book Club. It was hard work, although worth it in the end and certainly generated a huge amount of discussion. But now I’m back into fiction and hope to power ahead over the next month.
This month’s recommendation came out last September and became an immediate international success. I Am Watching You is the first in the thriller genre from former BBC News presenter and fellow Devon author, Teresa Driscoll. It has sold over 350,000 copies to date and at one point was simultaneously no 1 in UK, USA and Australia.
When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared. I found the book to be well-written in an easy-to-read style. After Anna goes missing we see the aftermath mostly through the eyes of three main characters. With lots of twists and turns, I read the whole thing in just over a day and would highly recommend it.