Posts Tagged ‘Book Promotion’

With 45 hours to go…….

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I’d like to open this particular blog post today by mentioning for the fifty-thousandth time my FIRST EVER REVIEW!!!!!!!  And how amazingly pleased I was with it; you will see the link to it on this page but if I can just give you a small extract: “….Sarah Haynes…… is definitely an author I want to read more from based on this brilliant book .” To be honest, even if I’d have written it myself I wouldn’t have made it as good as Chloe from did. I was astonished when I read it. And thrilled, clearly, but I hadn’t predicted what she wrote in the slightest. It’s a very strange feeling to know that someone has read your book and was entertained by what you’ve written and sort of mind-boggling to get such a glowing review. And yes, I know, it’s only one and there are (hopefully) many more to come and they won’t all be so good but I was very anxious about my first one and consequently very relieved. I smiled for ages! Days, in fact.

But moving on to more pressing matters, I must say that – if I had drums, I’d be rolling them.

If I had a Geordie accent I’d be saying “It’s day 10,454 in the life of Sarah Haynes and there are only two days to go until the release of her debut novel”.

If I had enough breath I’d be holding it – but no. Instead I am settling for a tense feeling of nervous anticipation and excitement as I rapidly approach the publication date, which I actually can’t believe is almost here. Just think back to mid-May of this year when I sent a very casual email to the publishers enquiring when my book was actually due for release and received the startling response of “July 30th” which was a lot sooner than I had anticipated. I wondered briefly why they hadn’t sought to mention this to me before? But no matter, my book was being published! And having an actual date made it all so much more real. Being slightly naïve I had no idea that there was potential for me to fiddle around with the release date, and for a couple of days I just accepted it and, in fairness, was quite excited. Then I thought about it a bit more and realised that I had no front cover. Or news release. Or book summary sheet. Or website. Or – well – anything really. And after some to-ing and fro-ing and gentle persuasion from friends I eventually decided that yes, it was better to push it back by two months and plan properly. My instinct was to rush headlong into it and see where the pieces fell. Luckily I had some firm hands of guidance and thus the date of 24th September was settled upon and my preparatory Task List was born. Much like a real child I have resented it at times, but equally like a real child I couldn’t do without it. And believe me, I’ve tried (with both the task list and children).  But as I sailed forth in blissful ignorance into the feverish world of book promotion I have been very grateful for its steadying presence. And that of its offspring, because the master Task List spawned smaller lists; media targets, review targets, guests lists, potential launch event venues, costs, items that were/are needed, priorities and a sequence for which these things should be approached. I must be brutally honest here and admit that I haven’t always adhered to the Task List as I might have done….it has, at times, been overwhelming. It didn’t help that the summer holidays and therefore the continual presence of both of my young-ish children fell right into the middle of when I needed to be most productive. As some of you will know, it is very hard to write/organise/speak to people charmingly on the phone simultaneously whilst one child begs for Charlie and Lola DVDs and flapjacks and the other one wants immediate details of exactly how the human body can manage all of its many functions at once. My answer was “The brain, darling,” whilst fearing for the wellbeing of mine.

So as fast as I seemed to be accomplishing things, more were being added on to the bottom of my List – from Florida by this point as you might remember. But counting my blessings, I had (and still have) a form of website where information is available to people, I have this blog site (which I LOVE) and very luckily a few people who saunter along every so often to see what I’ve written. I mean of course those of you who I haven’t directed here imperiously from Facebook. God bless Facebook and its whip-cracking effect. I think if I ever do become a highly-successful author I shall have to credit Facebook with some of my success.

With all this under my belt the next thing I began to tackle was Twitter. And you all know I was far from enchanted at the beginning but, begrudgingly, I have to admit that it is useful, but as well as that I have made contact with some very lovely people through it. Cari Rosen being one, and Elizabeth Buchan (author of Separate Beds which I am currently reading and loving) being another. It’s still an unfamiliar sphere, but I am getting there with it. Of course something did threaten to stop me in my twittering/facebooking/skype-ing/emailing tracks and that was the demise of my old laptop. This was a disaster in the most forceful meaning of that word (in my world at least). Not only did I lose the ability to do any of the above, I couldn’t work on my new manuscript (which I must start doing at some point) or write blog posts or indeed anything at all. I swiftly came to see that I must have a new one and although this was far from financially ideal, it really could not be avoided. And I must say, it is a huge relief to have a computer than I can rely on to function and save things and not overheat and that the latest version of iTunes works nicely on.

So with the last, pitifully short four months behind me, I am now sitting here just two days away from publication, feeling slightly wondrous and amazed at everything I’ve managed to achieve in that time and I’m waiting for a sense of relief to hit me. Of course it won’t because this is far from the end; in fact it’s only the beginning of the beginning as far as I’m concerned. But I’m changing direction now, and rather than focussing on preparation I feel like it’s time to charge forwards into everything that I’ve prepared. Instead of lists of media targets and guests and business cards I need to concentrate on the launch (SO EXCITING! I do adore parties) and book-signings and promotional appearances. Rather than reading proofs and approving covers and posters, my mind should be turning towards getting my book stocked in as many places as possible, and indeed getting myself around as many places as possible to sign them for people.

I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved over the last four months and all the things I’ve done, and I should be looking ahead with excitement and confidence. Of course I am, but as well as that there’s something else – and that’s a vague sense of unease about the things I haven’t yet done. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

Except for Boris of course.

cardboard cutout

Too Few Books……

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Well, what a busy few days! It’s been my husband’s birthday, from which we emerged tired and hungover. Obviously.  From there I went straight into a day of visiting bookshops and finalising launch plans at La Place, which involved a bottle of wine. Obviously. Which meant that my meetings went very, very well indeed. Obviously. In all seriousness – I had a fantastic day on Friday. Waterstones in Winchester were very accommodating, took me very seriously and I was thrilled with the outcome. Subject to them liking the book (emphasis on THE, I’ll explain in a minute) they are going to stock it for me, display it prominently, put it in several different sections and organise a signing for me – for which they anticipate needing 50-75 books. That seems like a wild amount to me! So a good result all in all.

However on Friday I could have done with 50-75 books; I went to Winchester for the express purpose of taking the book around several different places for people to see it. Bookshop managers are always keen to physically hold the book, I have learned. There are no conversations to be had unless they are literally able to have it in their hands – I presume this is to make sure that you haven’t glued it together yourself or something. So I in my wisdom took only one copy of the book with me to Winchester. I consider myself a veteran of selling my book to managers and I have never needed more than one copy. You will already know where this is going. Waterstones was the very first bookshop that I went into, I had a terrifically exciting conversation with the manager (lovely chap but I don’t think he made eye contact with me once; he stared at a space somewhere above my right shoulder for the duration) and at some point the sentence “….will give the book to our fiction buyer, who will read it to see if she likes it…..” was uttered. Swiftly followed by “Do you have a copy that I could keep?” Let’s think about that for a second – can I spare a copy of my book to give to the fiction buyer for Waterstones in Winchester? That would be a YES. What could I do? Possibly something other than what I did actually do; I said “Yes of course, do keep that copy,” and watched my plans for the day slide down into a sad little heap. My fault of course, I should have brought more. So I thanked him, looked longingly at my book and walked out of the shop, essentially thinking “Oh bloody hell, what do I do now?” I hadn’t taken anything else. No posters, no flyers and definitely no more books. I stood outside Waterstones for about a minute before I realised that I really had made a major error. So I swivelled around on my very high (and painful) heels, sort of slunk back into the shop, sidled up to the counter – of course the manager had vanished – and had to say “Well yes, I’m Sarah Haynes, I just left my book for the fiction buyer but could I possibly have it back?” Great start Sarah, well done.

From there I went to the next bookshop, also a major chain, and again asked to see the manager. There were muttered discussions about where he might be and it eventually transpired that he was in his Office. Which was spoken in tones that suggested the word ‘Oval’ should be in front of it. I was solemnly led upstairs and told to wait while they fetched this great person from The Office, so I did and looked at books while I waited. About ten minutes later this man appeared. He was just about a man anyway, he couldn’t possibly have been more than twenty, and he also looked like he’d been in a major car accident. One eye was black and swollen, the actual white of his eye was deep red, his eyebrow was being held together by a steri-strip, his cheek was bruised black and puffy and his arm was in a cast. It was a forlorn picture.

“Oh my goodness,” I gasped. “What on earth have you done?” It was an accident of some sort, the question was how severe and whether anyone else had died.

“Oh – I got into a fight at the weekend,” he said, and from that point my words deserted me. I was all ready with sympathy, etc. but you can’t sympathise about a fight. So I settled for just looking at him for a second, at a bit of a loss, and then launching into “I’m Sarah Haynes, a local author…..” Incidentally, when I’d said the same line in the previous shop the manager had immediately responded with “By local, do you actually mean Winchester?” To which I replied “Yes” because “No” would have been the wrong answer. And then had a fleeting panic whilst I tried to recall the addresses of friends in case the conversation became more specific.

After the bookshops I went to La Place and drank some wine. Obviously. Whilst finalising plans for the launch. It was initially going to be held downstairs in the bar area but now we are upstairs because the numbers attending suggest that this is a better idea. It has the potential to get very crowded, very quickly and upstairs will give us more space, a table for signing books and most importantly a free rein over music. I am so terribly excited that I can hardly bear to think about it. And I liked La Place so much that I went back on Saturday for a bit more wine. I do love Winchester.

I can also reveal that the newest member of the Haynes household has arrived! No, I haven’t had the world’s quickest and most secret pregnancy, our new addition is a fish called Octopus. Some time ago three year old Alice decided that she wanted a fish after seeing a pink, princess tank in a shop. My sister Kim (to whom Things He Never Knew is dedicated) is Aquatics manager at a pet shop so she obtained the tank for us and we withheld it until Alice had reached the required behaviour levels that would entitle her to it. This she has done and so we told her that yes, she could now have her tank and some fish. We were unprepared for the question: “And some sea?” But for as long as she believes that the sea comes out of our bathroom taps, that’s fine. However the next request was “And an octopus please.” Ah. Bit more tricky. And we didn’t like the tantrums when we answered in the negative so we quickly settled on calling her pet fish Octopus. Everyone’s happy.

Apart from me, because there’s still no sign of Boris.

And the countdown begins….

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

I’m officially on a countdown! 9 days until publication and exactly two weeks until the launch party. It has suddenly occurred to me that I have no celebration arranged for the day that I finally become a published author. WHAT an oversight. I think it’s because actually, nothing will really be happening for me that day. I know the book will be released, but that’s like knowing that Boris Johnson is alive and out there somewhere – it’s interesting and terribly exciting but has little impact upon me. Unfortunately. I’d be more likely to organise a celebration if he were going to come along to it.

Yesterday was a VERY good day for me. I am still smiling this morning! The first good thing that happened was that I heard that ‘really enjoyed’ (and I quote) my book! This came as an absolutely massive relief to me; I’d been scared ever since I read a bad review on their site. It struck terror into my heart in case mine got the same treatment. They are entitled to post bad reviews obviously, this is a subjective thing, and in fact I would wish them to do so because it makes their reviews very genuine ones and therefore reliable. A book should get what it deserves. I’m just rather keen that mine deserves niceness for its first review, poor thing. But it seems that it will, as I heard via the veritable jungle of drums that is Twitter. Tweeting is a skill, I have learned. It’s like being involved in one massive conversation and you must learn where, when and how to interject and add your thoughts. I’m a bit annoyed with it at the moment though because people keep un-following me, and it won’t tell me who which is frustrating. It alerts me via email every time someone new follows me, but when tweeple (nauseating word but I’ve never used it before so I’m going to on this occasion) drift off, Twitter’s lips are sealed. I wouldn’t mind, but I just want to know WHY they un-followed. Did I annoy them? Offend? Irritate? Or did I simply manage to bore them away???? It’s a mystery to me.

The second piece of good news was that fifty copies of my book have been ordered THIS WEEK! Bearing in mind it was Tuesday when I got this news, which counts as early in the week in anybody’s view, AND this is pre-publication, it does sound promising. As ever I am hugely grateful to anyone who has made the effort to order it. It means a lot to a debut author! Plus by my reckoning I have access to approximately another one hundred people that I can coax/cajole/bribe and ultimately force into buying it. This not a mercenary outlook you understand (fat chance of that on royalties) but just to raise my profile a bit.

The guest list for my launch event is looking pretty healthy too. I’m pleased with progress so far. I’m managing a good balance between personal friends and more ‘professional’ attendees (not that my friends aren’t professional) plus some people are coming whom I haven’t seen in ages and I’m excited to see them again. Could I put in a small request at this stage: if anyone knows Boris, do invite him along?

This week was also supposed to bring a brand new experience to me (and there aren’t many of those left) but unfortunately it turned out not to in the end. I was meant to be doing my first ever radio interview. It was a very last minute thing, I had an email from my publishers in the morning saying that an author had let them down for an afternoon slot and could I possibly replace them? I won’t mention what the station was for reasons that will become apparent, suffice to say that it was fairly small and low-key and not one that I was especially concerned about impressing. Hence my immediate agreement to do the interview, despite not being prepared and never having done anything like this before. So a time was arranged, I was told the presenter would call me about ten minutes before to put my mind at ease and then I would be interviewed for approximately five minutes. Not a problem, I thought. So I disposed of my youngest child, reminded myself what my book is about and made sure stock answers were available to things I might be asked – name, age, career history, etc. etc. and settled back to wait. Unfortunately, perhaps twenty or so minutes before my call it occurred to me that maybe I should go online and have a listen to this particular radio station – so I did, which was a mistake. The music they were playing was – er – unique, shall we say, and I couldn’t stop laughing. If any of you have gone into an interview in fits of laughter you will know that this is just not a good look. Luckily they didn’t ring me for reasons unknown so I was saved any potential embarrassment/disaster.

Also in this week it is my husband’s birthday. I think he is twenty-seven……however I know it was a mistake to allow my youngest daughter to choose his wrapping paper. And then the day after that I am going to Winchester for the day. This is partly a promotional visit, and partly shoring up last minute plans for the launch event – about which I am very, VERY excited. My guest list is getting there, my outfit is sorted (minus shoes), my cut-out is ordered – I can’t remember if I have mentioned this? In case not – I’ve ordered a cardboard cut-out of just the figures from the front cover and it should be approximately ¾ of life-size. I’m not sure of its exact purpose but it seemed like a good gimmick to have.

So now it’s just final arrangements for the launch – two weeks today ladies and gentleman! I’d like to reiterate that it’s an open event, all are welcome. And any questions can be sent to me at or put up on my Facebook author page. On the note of questions, I’ve recently completed a Q&A sheet, which some of you may be interested in. It was compiled by me out of a list of the questions that I am most often asked – in my capacity as author, I hasten to add. It makes interesting reading and if you want an insight into my mind as a writer then keep an eye on my website, where it will be appearing shortly!