Five tips for tackling a scary task

Halloween is over, but there are many scary tasks in store for the newbie fiction author. Today was another milestone day.

For the first time, I walked into a bookstore and said, ‘Hi, I’m a local author, and I’d like to ask if you’d consider stocking my book.’


But I really did it. Not once, but twice. And then I added a trip into a strange libary as a bonus, suggesting that they too might like to have my *divine* work on their shelves.

Now that my pulse rate has slowed somewhat, I can share some ideas for this task:

  1. Be prepared. I kind of was. I prepared a one-page ‘Introduction to The Pale‘, on which I listed its freshly-developed tag (‘dystopian sci-fi with talking dogs!’), the link to purchase, RRP, a teaser re the characters (‘Meet the canini…’), and a short bio with contact details.
  2. Have a book to show them. I *LOVE* the cover that Michelle organised for me (thanks to Elijah Toten), and it really goes down well with prospective buyers/readers.
  3. Be prepared to give up a hard copy. Yikes! One bookshop – a very nice bookshop – said they’d love to look into it and could they have a review copy right now – so I had to say ‘Yes, of course!’ and watch the precious paper disappear behind the counter.
  4. Live your local writing scene. It helps that I sometimes go inside these bookstores, as they are in shopping strips near where I meet friends for coffee. When I made my claim to be a local author, they came back at me with other names and a degree of excitement. Lucky for me I know a couple of these people from work (at uni), so I was able to join the booksellers’ enthusiasm. But being aware of similar titles to yours, or of other local writers, seemed to ease the conversation.
  5. Populate your website. The bookstore that didn’t ask for a hard copy wanted to know if Odyssey had published a sample chapter online? I said, adlibbing quickly, not yet, but that there is a sample section about to be published on my own website.

Both bookstores said they have heard of Odyssey and would look to order after checking out the book. Fingers crossed!

The image is from Lilliput Lyrics, a children’s book published in 1899, courtesy of the free images provided by the British Library on Flickr

Image taken from page 180 of 'Lilliput Lyrics ... Edited by R. Brimley Johnson. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson'


Launch day!

This evening is the launch of my sci-fi, dystopian novel, The Pale. I’m very excited and just a little bit nervous.

All I have to decide is what to wear, what to say, and what to read. Problems every author should have 😉

Scary scene number one

This afternoon, I took my courage in both hands and visited my local library branch with the usual pile of books to return … and a copy of My Very Own Book.

I respectfully asked whether the library was happy to speak directly with authors, or whether whoever was in charge of book-ordering would prefer to be approached by the publisher.

Well, they asked me to sit at their desk while they called the library events manager over, who phoned the acquisitions librarian (at another branch) and was very excited to hold, feel, and flip through the book; read the author bio; and take my business card. They were also clearly happy to hear that I would be launching The Pale at Readings Carlton – because (OMG) they use Readings’ monthly book-review magazine as a guide to purchases!!!

Result: they will order in a copy – one to start with, they said 🙂 – and put me on their list to invite as a featured author in the 2018 calendar of events. Result is right!

My tips from this terrifying event:

  1. If you don’t ask, you can never get YES for an answer – this goes for Readings as well as the library
  2. It is definitely worthwhile to have a good-looking, ‘pretty’ business card (I have MOO’s ‘Chelsea Groves’ as seen above)
  3. Elijah Toten’s cover art on The Pale is a real winner (I already knew that!)
  4. Just go for it. They can only say no. Plus I don’t think any librarian would be rude to an author, so libraries should be a safe space for us.

All systems GO!

It’s release day here at the desk, with a great deal of leaping about to celebrate the Actual Bookness of The Pale. Click here to see the announcement by my favourite publisher.

It is also slightly surreal to know that such a thing exists.  Oh my goodness!



A reflection on dying be degrees

One of the things that makes me sad amidst all the excitement of my novel being published is that my mum doesn’t know it’s happening. I will show her the book once I have it in my hot little hand, but given that she now has no idea what day it is or what time it is, events and dates have become completely meaningless. If by next week she is still as (comparatively) alert as she is today, then she will look at it kind of blankly and nod. If I then put it into her hand, she will very probably say ‘Thank you.’

I am grateful, though, that she still recognises me. That’s a blessing in all the sadness.