Ducie’s Diary: January 2022

Okay, so I can read a calendar as well as anyone. I know it’s the first day of February. I know this should have been posted yesterday. But I have an excuse! I’m recovering from knee surgery, having had the second replacement operation on 20th January. And although my brain is much more switched on this time around than it was before, I’m still struggling to fit everything else in around the relentless schedule of pre-exercise icing; exercises; post-exercise naps and trying to remember exactly which of my five types of drugs I have already taken, and which is due next! (Spreadsheets are a wonderful invention!) So I’m sure you will forgive me, if I say I’m sorry and promise to try harder next time! And having got my excuses out of the way, how’s the month been, writing-wise? Actually, it’s not been bad at all.

Writing This Month

I completed the initial edit of the second Coombesford Chronicles with hours to spare before going under the knife (okay, I know, enough with the sympathy search) and sent it off to my alpha readers. They’ll be reporting back to me at the end of February before the next stage of editing begins. I also began the final polish of the twelve stories which are going to make up Coombesford Calendar Volume 1, which is due to be published in April. No titles or covers yet, more about that next time around.

Sales and Marketing

The main promotion of Murder at Mountjoy Manor came via a wonderful two-page spread in Devon Life. I am extremely grateful to Sharon Goble of If… Media Ltd in Exeter who not only arranged the commission, but also interviewed me and wrote a superb article as a result. I kept up a steady level of sales throughout January purely on the basis of that article. I think we sometimes forget in this digital age that the traditional press is still a viable channel for promoting ourselves and our work.

Having said that, I am very aware that digital marketing is a huge part of the picture and I am determined this is the year I finally get that sussed. I made a start during January with two sets of training materials. Firstly I dabbled in the shallow end of the huge pool that is TikTok. I took part in the Expedition run by Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula, which was a lead-in to the new course being launched later this month. It’s early days, and I don’t think it’s ever going to be a major part of my marketing strategy, but it was a fun interlude.

Secondly, and much more importantly, I took part in the latest Amazon Ads Five Day Challenge organised by Bryan Cohen. These challenges run once a quarter and although they are primarily used as a sales engine for Bryan’s Ads School, you can take part time after time without signing up for the paid package. This was my first time, but it certainly won’t be my last. It’s a brilliant piece of training and I learned so much that I am only just starting to put into practice. More about that in later months as, hopefully, the efforts start to pay off.

Out and About

For a variety of reasons, I’ve not been anywhere recently, but there are a couple of very different events coming up in the coming weeks. Firstly, I have a long-standing booking with my local WI group to talk to them about my novels. It’s going to be refreshing change to be back in a roomful of people, rather than talking to a screen.

And then early in March, I have the honour to be a speaker once again at the Women in Publishing Summit. There’s an early bird deal on tickets for the summit, saving you $100 on the entry price, and I would highly recommend checking this out if you want to take your writing and publishing journey to the next level. But you need to be quick as the offer closes very soon. (Having said that, even at full price, this is a wonderful conference and gives you access to a great community of writing and publishing professionals.)

This year I’m talking about turning your writing hobby into a business. Plus I’m taking part in a Round Table with other member of Authors in a Pickle, talking about the benefits of networking. The Pickles started off as a study group during last year’s Women in Publishing School, but we’ve morphed into a support group covering all things writerly (and often non-writerly too) and are rapidly becoming friends as well. We cover four countries and nine time zones, so getting together isn’t always easy, but it is so worth it when we do.

What Have I Been Reading Lately?

This month, I want to talk about an author, Lucinda Riley, who I’d not come across before I was recommended her Seven Sisters novels by an old school friend. Inspired by the mythology of the famous star constellation, there are currently seven books in the series with an eighth due for publication in 2023.

At the start of the series, Maia D’Aplièse and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home – a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva – having been told that their beloved adoptive father, the elusive billionaire they call Pa Salt, has died. Each of them is handed a clue to their true heritage. And in each book, one of the sisters follows their clue via a dual narrative: the contemporary story of the sister is interwoven with the historical story of where they came from. There is a wonderful intermingling of fact and fiction; and the level of research is evident. Unfortunately, Lucinda Riley died in 2021, but the final book, which tells the story of the mysterious Pa Salt, has been completed by her son, with whom she collaborated on a number of projects.

Normally, when reading a series of books, I mix them up with others on my To Be Read List. I bought book 1 just before Christmas. I followed it with book 2 last week. And I know I am going to be downloading the rest of the series within the next couple of days and binging on it. I’ve seen this series described as the literary equivalent of a TV box set – and we all know how irresistible that is when we find a really good one.

By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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