Monday, 28 April 2014

Three encouraging sentences

The most important quality every writer needs to cultivate is a dogged determination to keep on writing – and then write some more. Easier said than done, but it helps to know you're not the only one struggling with the disappointments and frustrations of rejection.

One of the most encouraging things I’ve read for a long time is this sentence from the acknowledgments page of Henry Mitchell’s novel, The Summer Boy.

Thanks to the almost two hundred agents and editors who passed on my queries, thus compelling  me to keep searching until the right publisher found me.

TWO HUNDRED??  Now there’s a lesson in persistence!

* * *
The Internet is awash with advice on how to get your work accepted by agents and publishers, how to self-publish, and how to ensure your book achieves bestseller status. So if you just follow the rules laid down by all these experts success must be guaranteed, right? Wrong! And that was why this sentence by Beverley Birch leapt out at me from her article in Notes From The Slushpile.

The truth is that no one knows how to publish successfully in the 21st century’s multiple currents, cross-currents and swirls – least of all publishers.

And Beverley knows what she’s talking about. Not only is she a published author of over 40 children’s books, but she has also worked as a commissioning editor for a respected publishing house.

Am I dismayed that someone with her experience and insider knowledge doesn’t have a secret formula for publishing success? No, her words felt like a very welcome gust of fresh air. Her only advice for writers is to keep on writing the story you want to tell – and that’s exactly what I’m doing!

* * *
And finally … perhaps the most encouraging sentence of all.

We would like to publish your Rave in the next issue of Mslexia.

Mslexia’s Rants and Raves feature is where readers describe something they love or loathe. It’s only a paragraph, but I almost didn’t submit my Rave because I thought it would be considered too flippant for a serious literary magazine.

Whoo-hoo! This one little acceptance has cancelled out at least a dozen previous rejections!

Onwards and upwards!

What encourages you to keep on, keeping on?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Alfie Dog Fiction at Realitas

This is me dipping my toe into the big, scary world of book promotion.

I find it very hard to advertise my own work. And that is why I had a big problem with Alfie Dog Fiction.

I’m very proud that Alfie Dog has published a few of my stories as ebooks, but even a modest plug on this blog for one of my Alfie Dog stories seems uncomfortably like showing off. On the other hand, because it specializes in publishing short stories – something many other publishers ignore – I do think the company deserves to be better known by the reading public.

Then I had an idea …

I spend most Saturday mornings with an amateur art group in the Realitas Community Arts Centre in Market Deeping. At the heart of Realitas is a very popular tearoom and I noticed that a lot of customers there use their iPads, laptops and smartphones while enjoying the delicious refreshments on offer. Some people even read ‘real’ books borrowed from Realitas’s art library! It seemed like the perfect place for introducing people to the wide range of Alfie Dog stories.

After getting permission from Neil, who runs Realitas, and Rosemary J. Kind, the owner of Alfie Dog Fiction, I launched a free prize draw with ebook stories as the prizes. It attracted a lot of attention, and I found myself doing a lot of explaining. For example, several people said they didn’t read ebooks because they didn’t have a Kindle. This gave me the chance to explain how easy it is to download ebooks to other devices such as their home computer. Mentioning that the Alfie Dog list includes stories for children also attracted quite a bit of interest – mostly from older people who were concerned about the amount of time their grandchildren spend playing computer games. They thought it was a great idea to have bedtime stories on tablets and laptops.

Spreading the word about Alfie Dog was surprisingly easy and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Perhaps when I get my novel published, and need to boost sales, the trick will be to pretend I’m promoting it for someone else …?

Do you find it difficult to sell your writing?

P.S. If you’re ever in the Peterborough/ South Lincolnshire area, do make a detour into Market Deeping and pop in to Realitas. The people are friendly, there’s always something new to see, and their homemade cakes are amazing!