Read for Free!

Free Kindle readthis weekend only

Just a quick post to share the exciting news that The Road to Newgate is free on Kindle for the next few days. Why free? Because the success of writing a novel and finding a publisher prepared to back it and send it out into the world properly edited and with a strong cover – wonderful though that is – means nothing without readers.

Here’s the link:

mybook.to/theroadtonewgate

Hoping for new readers and maybe some more reviews. Fingers crossed.

Who doesn’t love a bargain?

For the first time since it came out in September 2016, Charlatan is on sale as an ebook for only $0.99 or 99p or equivalent across all platforms and countries! You can grab it now by clicking here: mybook.to/charlatan

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“A dark, tale of mystery, sorcery, and a woman’s desperate pursuit to charm the most powerful man in seventeenth-century France. A poisoning scandal at the court of King Louis XIV threatens even Athénaïs, his glamorous mistress. She seems unaware of the accusations made against her, but how far has she really gone to keep the love of the King?”

 

Having spent so much of the past year thinking about The Road to Newgate, (especially my characters Anne, Nat, William, Henry and, of course, Titus Oates) it feels weird to put Charlatan front and centre again and read through the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to make some social media adverts like this one:

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It’s my first book. The product of a long and steep learning curve and one I’m still on. I do love the cover, although I’m not sure I’ll ever read the insides again!! But it’s a pleasure to sit here with a cup of tea and look at some pictures of the characters I spent so much time with – only to abandon them when the book was complete.

Here are a few pictures I don’t think I’ve shared before. They are from my copy of The Affair of the Poisons by Frances Mossiker – a book which fell apart during the making of Charlatan!

I’m hoping a few new readers of The Road to Newgate will grab this chance to take a trip to 17th century Paris this week. I’ll be watching Amazon like a hawk, that’s for sure!

2 weeks to go…

With 2 weeks to go until the official publication date for The Road to Newgate, I thought I’d do a little update post on the kind of things keeping me busy/awake at night.

To party or not to party?

One of my main preoccupations in the last month or so has been trying to decide whether to have an actual in-person book launch. I am not good at such things and the whole look at me, look at me, aspect makes me feel deeply worried! Add to that that over here in the Mushroom Capital of America (aka the Kennett Square/West Chester area of Pennsylvania) we are already in week 3 of the long summer holidays and lots of people are away and… nope. No party planned.

Titus_OatesBUT… I am having an online launch on facebook. Not quite sure how this will go, but I’m hoping to do some giveways and have some friendly authors talking about books and particularly about the importance of antagonists to make stories exciting to read. I will talking about this unpleasant chap (among others!)

 

Here’s a link to that: Book launch for The Road to Newgate

 

Book blogs

Ah, book blogs. Book bloggers are awesome at a) reading lots of books and b) sharing their love of books. For The Road to Newgate I’m doing a couple of tours – one this week and another in August. I’ve also done some outreach of my own and so hopefully there will be people reading the book very soon and talking about how they found it. All fingers and toes are crossed. Links will be posted as things appear.

Writing about stuff about the book (Yay. This is the bit I love)

Recently I’ve written about 17th century coffee shops – very important to my character Nat but not the favourite place of his lovely wife Anne. Read that here.

I’ve also done a piece about jobs for women in the 17th century, a time when a married woman pretty much belonged to her husband. Read that one here.

And I have another coming out next week about childbirth and midwifery. Loved writing that one. Will post a link when it is published but here’s a picture from one of the books I refer to in the article, Jane Sharp’s The Midwives Book, published in 1671.

Other bits and bobs are in the works too.

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Posting books

Today I posted off 2 signed copies of The Road to Newgate plus two of the little books my mum has made. One went to a friend’s mum, someone who super kindly read my last book as it struggled through the proof reading stages and helped me catch some late errors that the publisher had missed. And the other went to the winner of a blog giveway. It’s a funny thing to send your words out into the world!

New writing

Oh yes that. Mmm. Well it’s not easy to make a lot of progress during the summer with 3 kids at home and either demanding food or to be driven somewhere. Plus there is the World Cup and now Wimbledon to distract me. However, I am plotting and thinking and doing all that background stuff that will pay off when the time comes. Soon I hope!

10 top tips for attending a bookfair

In the last month I have been to two bookfairs to sell my novel, Charlatan: the Collingswood Bookfair in New Jersey and the Hockessin Art & Book Fair. Both times I went with members of my local writing group, the Write Group of Kennett Square, PA. As a debut author, I was pretty nervous and not sure what to expect. So here are my top ten tips for surviving and maybe even enjoying selling books.

  1. Be prepared to set your alarm. In the case of Collingswood, the fair opened to the public at 10am but we were there at…7.30am. I wasn’t sure why: until I realised lots of other people were there too. Arriving early (but far from the first) meant that we got a good space for our two tables. This fair was supposed to be outside (in which case we would have needed a canopy and some way of tethering it to concrete…) but bad weather forced everything inside. Here’s my view for the day… and yes, that is a cardboard cut-out of the Pope!

2. Don’t go alone. I’m pretty sure I would have struggled to go to either event on my own. In fact I might not have even known about them. This is just one of the many reasons why finding other writers is one of the best things you can do. Writing might be a solitary act, but if your writing is going to be read, then having writing friends who know what writing/drafting/editing/getting published/marketing is all about is essential. Plus it was a lot less lonely sitting there with these lovelies and we could mind each others stock, talk up each others books and help share the costs of the table.

From left to right… Ed, Maryellen and Aurora.

3. Work out how to STAND out. I was a bit on the last minute with this. The day before we went to Collingswood it occurred to me that my small pile of books was not really going to look like much on a table. Thankfully, this light bulb moment happened while I was out buying tablecloths (for our folding tables – my contribution because I don’t own a folding table) and within minutes I had my hands on a suitcase which I was able to deck out like this…

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4. Be able to describe your book: So I thought I was done with elevator pitches and the like when I signed my publishing contract but no, that was naive. I’m not trying to sell to agents etc any more but it felt eerily familiar, having maybe not even a minute to try and get over what my book was about to people who stopped and took a look at my novel. Work out what you will say in advance. Practice it. Grit your teeth and sell your book. Selling might not come naturally to you, but at least at a book fair you can guess that probably eighty percent of other people there to sell, feel exactly as anxious as you do.

5. Set expectations low: On my way out of Collingswood, at about 4pm, I overheard a couple of other writers discussing their sales as they packed their car. One asked the other how many books he’d sold. His answer? 3. But he also quickly added that he felt that this was a reasonable number given how others around had done. Depending on how you are published and what you have paid for each book you are selling, that can mean many different things in terms of money earned. What it does mean though, is that the book fair pathways are not paved in gold. Far from it.

6. But be ready to make change. In my case I sold 6 books at each fair. That may not sound like much but when you describe your book to someone and they are prepared to put their hand in their pockets and pay you for it – that’s a pretty good feeling 🙂 Both times people paid a mixture of cash, check and card. I don’t have the gadget that does that on your phone so thank you Aurora Cannon, for facilitating that for me! The gadget can be obtained free from Paypal – something else to add to the list of things I have learned in the last month or so. Also, think about your price. I sold my book for $5 less than the price on Amazon and made that a selling point.

7. Take bookmarks. Or at least take something you can give away. I love my bookmark which is a good thing since I’ve got a stack of them. I’ve also seen postcards and business cards, free magazines, pens, mugs, you name it. I can see very clearly how easy it might be to slip into a rabbit hole of costly self-promotion. But having something to hand out when someone doesn’t buy your book (and also when they do) is useful and hopefully does help spread the word that your book exists. Here are some examples that I picked up on a mooch around the fair…

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8. Smile: Okay so selling doesn’t always come naturally to writers – at least not to me. I’ve only ever had one sales job and that was in a really tacky jewelers in the centre of Manchester where much of the merchandise fell to bits in my hands when I held it out for customers to look at it. At least my book won’t fall to pieces – thank you Fireship Press! But my point is that although this selling of books is tiring and tiresome… it is also kind of exciting to put your book in the hands of someone else. Even if your book is not selling on the day, keep smiling and be proud to be behind the table with a finished product. It’s a big achievement.

9. Snack: With all the stuff you need to remember – books, display items, giveaways, table coverings, chairs (very important!!) and cash to name a few – it is easy to forget that you will need to eat and drink. My day at Collingwood was LONG! Hockessin was nearly as long. I needed water and I needed snacks. All that smiling takes energy 😉

10. Socialise: So I didn’t make my fortune at Collingwood or Hockessin but I did have a very nice time! I spent the whole day with my local writing friends and feel better and stronger friends with them for having done so. I also met other people and shopped too! I’m particularly pleased with this:

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