It seemed like a good idea at the time …After a local book launch in The Cock public House in Pavenham where friends and neighbours gave their enthusiastic support to the new author in their midst, I looked for the next opportunity to publicise the book that I had spent months writing.
I’ve heard other writers say that publicity and marketing are the hard parts of the journey for any author, especially a debut novel in a crowded field of players. I’m lucky, I’m with the amazing independent publisher Bloodhound Books whose team do most of the online publicity, but I have to do my bit. It’s my work after all.
I set up a small stall next to my husband’s at the Classic Motorcycle show in Stafford, a magnet for motorbike enthusiasts from across Europe and beyond. Not the most obvious place to sell a psychological thriller. That much is plainly borne out by the fact that I made one sale. Yes, just the one, to a fellow mental health nurse at that. Bikers tinker with bikes and they were not expecting to buy a book from someone not called Guy Martin, Casey Stoner or Michael Dunlop.
Undeterred, I had lots of conversations with passers by, and handed out dozens of book marks. The chance to people-watch was a gift for researching my ‘work in progress’, book number four.
What else could I do to make the best of a bad situation?
Photographs and Facebook. That was the answer. I sent husband Andy on a mission to see his mate, Ken Fox, proprietor of the Wall of Death who more than willingly had his picture taken with his family reading my debut novel. He’s a keen reader and I’m waiting nervously for his opinion.
That was last weekend.
Yesterday I went to see the manager at the local bookshop, – sorry, that should be ‘bookstore’ apparently – I had emailed several times, with no response. I telephoned, ‘What email address did you send it to? …yes that’s the right one.’
I emailed again with a polite enquiry about local authors and then, with no response forthcoming whatsoever, I decided to introduce myself personally. Not being replied to may result in some people giving up. Not me. I think it’s quite rude. With respectful determination I entered the store, found the manager behind the counter and managed to persuade him to stock A Justifiable Madness. Only five copies to begin with, but I felt I’d succeeded. The truth of the matter is that the manager had to find a way of ending our conversation. There was no escape as I had cut off his only exit.
I don’t think he was too enthusiastic, but then he didn’t spend hours writing, rewriting, editing, proof reading, nervously waiting and risking public humiliation when the birth of a first book arrived. I feel no shame in cornering the poor man. In fact, I’ll be doing it again. I like a challenge.