Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

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

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!

The Importance of Being Reviewed

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Right, this is it. I have come down from the dizzy high of receiving my books and now it is time to get serious (I am mostly lecturing myself here). Things He Never Knew is going to be released in 24 days and I need to be prepared.

You would think that my time management skills are excellent, having juggled a baby and a Law degree in the past – not to mention my hectic social life at the time – and indeed they might have been back in the day. Now, they are lamentably awful. Clearly a lot of you will be used to working and running a household with everything that entails, but I am not. This is all very new to me and I am struggling a bit to fit everything in and get it all in the right order. For example, my house is quite clean but my children still look a little bohemian; this is not by design but rather through lack of ironed clothes. I can get away with this because as a writer it’s possible that I could be slightly bohemian myself, but as anyone who knows me will tell you – I am not. Headscarves and flip-flops and maxi dresses and coloured beads and string bags are not to be found in my wardrobe. I’m not very tall and I think I’d look silly in a maxi dress. Mini is more my style.

So obviously I am thrilled and delighted to be in this position of having a book published, not to mention lucky, but that said I had no idea that so much – well – work went along with it. I have a friend who is knowledgeable in the fields of marketing and promotion and things and I am exceedingly lucky that he has taken me under his very skilled wing, but along with that comes a task list which is longer than me. And enforced rigorously. Even from afar. For example, he is abroad at this moment on holiday in Florida which I thought might lessen his communication levels. Not a bit of it, in fact he’s become inadvertently more effective at nagging because of the time difference. Every morning when I wake up and check my emails, there is always a little one entitled “Task List” sitting menacingly in my inbox, and it contains tasks – obviously – and then the final, killer, line: “….and when you’ve done them, send them to me.” It is precisely like being at school and catches me at my most unaware. But I must admit that it has the effect of making me do things that I might otherwise prevaricate about. Like thinking of ways to get people to review my book. At this stage they don’t even have to be favourable; just someone reading it would be fab. No, I am JOKING. Let me tell you that the idea of getting bad reviews strikes a chill into my very soul. It would silly of me to think that I can avoid it forever but frankly, the longer the better. For those of you not in the know, good reviews are completely necessary to the success of a book. This is because they draw the attention of far more people than mere advertising could do and not only that, but it’s a very effective method of imparting the salient information about the book and then hopefully following it up by a recommendation. Which brings me onto my next point, it needs to be a recommendation from someone whose opinion could be respected. I could get one hundred of my friends to write nice things about my book but it doesn’t count so much if I could have bribed/cajoled/threatened/blackmailed them into it. Far be it from me to do that, of course. In fact I have offered it out for review to a couple of important people so far and happily they have said yes, but the caveat that I have given them is that they are under no obligation to deliver a good review. All I’ve said is that I’d love them to read it and if they have something nice to say would they mind writing it down for me to use in my promotional material? I think it’s important not to make people feel that they must say nice things, which is a risk if you’re doing it through a semi-personal route, as I have done. When I begin approaching people and publications in a more formal manner then I will include no such caveat; I will simply request a review. But it will be done in an artful and persuasive manner.

Featuring prominently in this morning’s email was compiling a suitable list of people to target for review. As it has been for the past sixteen mornings. When I say ‘prominently’ I mean number one out of approximately 164. I have never known a task list to breed so prolifically. And I have 24 days in which to complete it………I can’t help feeling that I need an urgent lesson in time management; the way I did it before was a little extreme. In my defence all the stuff that I need to do is necessarily creative, and you can’t just switch creativity on at the drop of a hat. But I am also easily sidetracked.

Damn you, facebook.

Compiling my final list will take careful research and time, of which I am perilously short. I think I know this sub-consciously because I’ve started waking up in the night wondering what I should do next – the minute I can translate this into useful output during the day I will be sorted. The target review list has become something of a hurdle, and even when I had my ponies I was never very good at jumping. It’s even harder to scramble over a hurdle when circumstances conspire against you – take Monday night for example. I was trying to write (and trying is the operative word) but every five minutes my laptop just shut itself down with no warning. And I’m sorry but I cannot write whilst having to pause every two seconds to save the blasted thing. This malfunction nearly caused a complete meltdown from me – my husband watched me out of one eye anxiously whilst I watched him to see what he was going to do about it. I effectively lit the touch paper by mentioning the words “buy”, “new” and “laptop” all in the same sentence, whereupon he leapt up, took the computer apart, cleaned five years worth of dust and crap from it (ooops….) and then, magically, it worked. And whilst all this was going on, I was trying to remember what I was going to write, do the ironing and watch Coronation Street.

It’s a hard life being a writer.