“If you’re a good marketing person…”

“you have to be a little crazy, ” said Jim Metcalf. I can’t pretend to know who Jim Metcalf is. (Sorry, whoever you are).

Neither can I pretend to be a good marketing person. I can, however, vouch for the fact that I’m a little crazy. That’s what this last month has done to me. Sent me a little crazy.  Marketing and craziness – a chicken and egg situation?

download

Hence, no blogs recently. Not enough hours in the day or brain cells in the brain.

I’ve been researching in depth into the work of good marketing gurus. For which read, I Googled ‘good marketing’ which may or may not amount to the same thing.

One of them advocated this for novelists, in answer to the question how should we divide our time once the book is published:

70% for creative writing and 30% for promotion

(He forgot to mention the time needed to earn some money copy writing, unload the dishwasher, go shopping, walk the dogs, cook the dinner, clean out the chickens, exercise the horses, shave under the armpits, use the bathroom, sleep, breathe occasionally…you know, all those necessary little tasks which keep body and soul together).

il_340x270.522619243_o9z4

Image by Anthony Falbo

I am proud of the marketing I’ve achieved. It has been good marketing.

Endless word of mouth…

images (2)

A book-signing event which could lead to other book-signing events and, certainly, Of Night and Light to be stocked by W.H. Smith…

Book-Signing-5-12-14-300x225

Workshops at Bede’s School which will act as pilots for other workshops…

safe_image

Thank you to everyone for the huge amount of support you’ve given me. I’ve been humbled and delighted in equal measure.

And, you know what? I feel as though I’ve been fed through a mangle!

images (3)

Good marketing? Yep.

Time for creative writing? Nope. For NaNoWriMo – 15000 words. A small triumph in the circumstances.

And now…

More good marketing but DEFINITELY some writing, or my brain will explode.

And that could be messy.

At this rate, you will finish on February 15th, 2015

Not finish until February 15th? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING! That should be November 30th.

download (1)

Oh, how I love NaNoWriMo!

images (5)

Seriously, I do.

It’s the ultimate reality check.

Each day, (if you dare!) you put in your word count and it tells you how far away you are from the target – which is 1667 words a day, to finish a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

And it also lets you know when you’ll finish, if you carry on at the current rate.

 

images (3)

SO – I’ve written, let me see, 7672 words so far. To meet the target, I should have written 26,667 – well, some of the digits are the same. So, just a bit behind schedule then.

I tell you what. I’m feeling fine about it. Even though I went to a self-publishing conference yesterday and met several people also doing NaNoWriMo, who were tearing their hair(s) out and holding dramatic hands to brows and saying ‘I’m SO far behind. I’ve only done 18,000/20,000/25,000 words.’

I KNOW I’ve done as much as I can.

Stuff has happened. Unexpected stuff. Unavoidable stuff. And that has stopped me from spending time writing and I know there’s no way I can finish by the end of the month.

I have NOT been procrastinating, time-wasting, making excuses, not being in action whenever I can be.

It’s a great achievement for me to have written so much.

My new novel, Falling Awake, is off to a great start. It simply wouldn’t have happened without the discipline of NaNoWriMo – and I’m LOVING writing it.

That’s success!

And here’s my philosophy on a carefully-designed T-shirt:

images (4)

And I WILL finish. My self-imposed deadline is by the end of the year.

Go, Caroline!

Amazon-sized annoyance

The River Amazon is about 4000 miles long and that’s about the length of my annoyance…today

River Amazon

Plus meanders…

Having said that, I must add that the Amazon (online retailer, not river) Customer Service response via email was speedy and comprehensive, even if the answers given were not what I wanted to hear.

The trouble is that, as an author who wants to sell her books, I’m kind of hamstrung. I could bitch and moan for an eternity – but Amazon is where many people go to purchase books unless they’re lucky enough to have a local independent book store, like me. (Hoorah for East Grinstead Bookshop!)

The Amazon-sized annoyance is about the synergy between their sites – that’s to say Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Synergy? Seems there ISN’T synergy.

separation-of-power

(That’s the River Amazon running right down that chasm, naturally).

I spent a long time creating an Author Page at Amazon.com – follow the link at the end of this blog.  You won’t be disappointed. Much.

I assumed that Amazon.com was the mother site and material would be shared with its satellites.

WRONG!

images

If I want an Author Page on .co.uk I have to create ANOTHER one.

Then, customer reviews…

You would think (wouldn’t you?) that when people post reviews about a book on Amazon, those reviews would be LINKED TO THE BOOK.

WRONG AGAIN.

images (1)

I have a set of great reviews on .co.uk, but NOTHING on .com

In the email – “Our Customer Reviews feature doesn’t link reviews across Amazon.com and the International Amazon sites.”

Yes, I know that NOW!

WHY NOT?

“Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback about Author Central. We appreciate your ideas; we’re always looking for ways to make our service more useful to authors.”

I’m not holding my breath on this one.

Oh, and here’s the link, now you’ve been good enough to get to the bottom of the page.

Caroline’s very individual and largely unloved Author Page

 

 

I am not Catherine Cookson

No, I am not Catherine Cookson, despite someone at a writers’ group thinking that’s who I was, last night – but he had, apparently, already drunk five mojitos.

Catherine-Cookson

Coxon’s the name. Caroline Coxon.

Not Catherine Cookson.

Am I flattered?

Not in every way.

Here’s why.

  1. I was not born in 1906, despite appearances
  2. I am very much alive and well, despite appearances
  3. I don’t write historical fiction (despite appearances?)

images (5)

But goodness me, Catherine Cookson is an inspiration, if only for the sheer volume of her output.

Between 1950 and when she died in 1998, just 16 days before her ninety-second birthday, she published NINETY-SEVEN novels, still in print today, which have already sold in excess of 123 million copies and have been translated into twenty languages. She was the most borrowed author from UK libraries for seventeen years.

She wrote three or four novels every year.

EVERY YEAR…

There’s prolific for you.

And here’s me, with ONE novel under my belt, kind of resting on my laurels (only without the laurels) and thinking…I really must get Of Night and Light properly marketed and promoted and RECOGNISED by a wider audience before I tackle anything else.

Oh, and by the way, Catherine Cookson was a multi-millionaire. Do I look in any way like a multi-millionaire? I don’t think so. Except maybe after you’ve drunk five mojitos.

What am I waiting for?

skeleton-computer

Let’s work out the maths. Ninety-seven novels before the age of ninety-two.

Yep, that’d be three a year.

Watch me go!

4691230477_99c531d961

A humblebrag from Caroline Coxon?

Humblebrag? This morning was the very first time I’d heard that word, yet it is being added to OxfordDictionaries.com (Not, apparently,  the ACTUAL Oxford English dictionary. Note to self: Does it still exist?)

Mind you, I hadn’t heard of YOLO or side-boob either – mainly, I expect because I’m not sufficiently down wiv da kidz, or whatever it is you have to be. I had to RESEARCH. In the case of side-boob, it wasn’t a particularly uplifting (see what I did there?) experience, but then I’m a girl.

c86e284523348574c57adff2908d2965e5bc167c

Lovely lady, but I’m just not in any hurry to try that look, thank you very much.

YOLO is okay.

images (1)

You Only Live Once – implying – go for it, carpe diem.

On the other hand, it could get a bit annoying.

images

Now, humblebrag. I suppose its meaning is obvious. It’s a new portmanteau word, innit?

download (1)

A portmanteau word is a combination of two (or more) words or parts of words and their definitions, into one new word.

To humblebrag: To show off about something while simultaneously couching it in terms of self-deprecation; false modesty.

Example:”How is it possible that a dimbo like me graduated from Cambridge with a double first?” or “Honestly, I’m such a ditz. Fancy tripping up in my Jimmy Choo’s on the red-carpet at the Oscars…”

(Yes, I made those up).

Now I’m going to try for my own humblebrag.

images (2)

Nope, can’t do it.

Nobody likes a show-off. People like EVEN LESS a person who’s a show off but pretending not to be.

It’s a tough one though, because, as you probably know, I’ve written a book.

Marketing…self-promoting…publicising?

It’s a fine line. Could be so very far from being adorbs.

(Do your OWN research!)

Book launch party venue planned!

Book launch party venue – whoop whoop whoop!

(This is a copy of the blog which appears on the book site, Of Night and Light – just to save you thinking your mind is failing…)

Say book launch and what comes to my unorthodox mind?

31 Aug 1939, Newport News, Virginia, USA --- First Lady at Ship Launching --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

God bless this book and all who…erm…quail in her! (Some bits of Of Night and Light are just a little worrying!)

Well, that’s one way of doing a book launch. Not a bad idea except, 1) Rather a waste of jolly good champagne 2) The book would get ridiculously soggy 3) The pages would most likely stick together and, ultimately, 4) The whole sorry mess would dissolve.

Another way…

Go to visit your local independent bookshop.

When I say ‘local’ – that might mean a few miles away. Sad to say, long gone are the times when every town had its own bookshop. I’m fortunate. East Grinstead is a mere 11-ish miles from Buxted. That’s local. Added to which, I have a business meeting in the town every Friday morning.

East Grinstead Bookshop. A perfect place for a book launch. Just look at it!

download (5)

And inside, you’ll find – book-lovers’ heaven. Books in every nook and cranny. Interesting books. Not your Tesco shelves best sellers, pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap. Quirky books. Books old and new, large and small, for adults and for children.

There’s a café too. Chocolate brownies. Table cloths which match my hair…

And then there’s John Pye.

download (6)

He is great to talk to. Great to talk to whatever, but particularly great to talk to for me as an author used to writing but not used to SELLING. I mean to say, I’m an artist. I can’t get involved with COMMERCIAL stuff.

(Better get used to it, girl, if you want to go places beyond your own wish-list land.)

John Pye has most generously offered the use of his premises for a book launch – which will be a party, a celebration, nothing pompous or stuffy.

It won’t be yetawhile. It WILL be a happening, this book launch. When it happens. Which it will.

 

images (3)

 

P.S.  It doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to buy the book!

 

My self-publishing journey – part 12 – new site!

Announcing a new site!

The time has come for Of Night and Light to spread its little wings – no, I shall rephrase that, because its wings have to be HUGE…

download (2)

…to take flight and to have an independent existence away from mother-site Quirkyworks…

and on to new site, inventively called…you’ve no idea how long it took me to think this up…

www.ofnightandlight.co.uk

Screenshot 2014-06-22 17.18.57

The new site is COMPLETELY STUNNING!

I can say that because I didn’t create it. (In fairness, I could say that if I HAD created it, but that would be un-British!)

Tim Coxon designed the new site – perfect for the mysterious world I wanted to create around the book. He could create something for YOU. (My next mission is to help him update his site to show all his recent brilliance!)

Tim

Yes, Tim, talking to you.

You’ll see, on the new site, that Of Night and Light is available to purchase, right now via Amazon, but soon in other ways too, if you’ve some ethical objections…

(Only Caroline Coxon can mention ethical objections in the same sentence as giving an opportunity to purchase her book, something she’s fought so hard to achieve!)

So…

images (2)

 

My Self-Publishing journey – Part 11 – the end is just the beginning

“Can’t say I’ve ever been too fond of beginnings, myself. Messy little things. Give me a good ending anytime. You know where you are with an ending,” said Neil Gaiman with infinite wisdom.

SO…the moment, THE MOMENT is very fast approaching when I shall have a copy of Of Night And Light clutched in my sweaty palms. (I shall wipe them first as I have no wish to leave stains).

The end of one journey – but very much the beginning of another.

A little fanfare is in order…

Here, at last, after all that talk, I’m very proud to say, is the cover design – with thanks to, well…the cover designer… (at New Generation Publishing), Daria Kudla, (the artist), and Guillaume Seguin, (font creator).

9781910394151-Perfect-new

It’s just perfect, I think. I’m allowed to think that, surely? A little creepy, appealing, alluring, startling? All of those things? Certainly quirky and certainly DIFFERENT, noticeable. The website is nearly there. I have a conversation with the publishers tomorrow. Amazon and Waterstones are waiting with bated breath. (I made that bit up!)

About four years ago, if my recollection is correct, one of my clients gave me a bottle of champagne for Christmas. Taittinger. Real posh stuff. None of your old sparkling white wine rubbish pretending to be champagne. I vowed not to drink it until I had a book published.

It’s still there, lurking hopefully in a dark corner. (Yes, my fridge has about the same level of organisation as my brain).

. photo (14)

Does champagne go off? I’ll drink it anyway.

The end, one ending,  is getting my book to print.

The BEGINNING is getting shops to stock it and  people to buy it, read it, recommend it to their relations, friends, neighbours, pet gerbils (okay, I draw the line at the pet gerbils).

bookcover1

Yes, in very many more ways than one!

My self-publishing journey – part 10 – baby steps

So close now…

The steps I’ve taken over the past few days have been baby steps

BUT

download (2)

Baby steps are just as important as huge great giant steps, when impeccability is my commitment.

SO – I proof-read the amended text and found only a couple of punctuation errors and one phrase,  inserted in the last amendment,  which I TRULY HATE in retrospect, so that came out, to be replaced by something which I don’t truly hate.

More baby steps…

I chose the font for the cover. This was suggested by artist, Daria and I thought it was perfect. Including the somewhat unusual name – Bleeding Cowboys.

bleeding_cowboys

It was designed by a graphic artist from Quebec, called Guillaume Seguin, whose company is called Segments Design.

On the site, it said ‘Personal use free. For commercial usage, please contact me.’  Gulp. I was worried that he might charge mega-bucks. I was worried that he wouldn’t respond quickly to my email.

Fears unfounded.

images

He replied by return. He simply asked me to make a donation – however much I thought his font was worth to me – via Paypal, and keep the receipt as proof of purchase.

I am crediting him on the book cover. He deserves it.

It makes me happy that, in a small way, Of Night and Light may help to promote a very fine artist, Daria, and an equally fine graphic designer – Guillaume.

It’s important to me.

NOW – I’m waiting to receive the cover design options.

I don’t think THAT will count as baby steps!

“The popular idiom is “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but despite how true it might be in an idealistic sense, the reality of the book industry is that the vast majority of readers do indeed use the cover of a book as a deciding factor in not only whether or not they should buy the book, but if they will enjoy it as well.” (From a blog – Why book covers are so important)

images (1)

I CAN’T WAIT!

Next…thinking BIG TIME about marketing.

images (2)

Assuredly, in no way can that be described as baby steps!

My self-publishing journey – Part 9 – I did it my way

The creative writing, that is. I did it my way. Retracing my steps on the self-publishing journey a little bit.

However, if you were expecting Frank Sinatra – who am I to disappoint?

With lyrics too, so you can sing along. You sad person. So am I.

(I do wish someone had advised him before he died that it is, ‘I ate it up and  SPAT it out,’ not ‘SPIT it out.’ Just a tiny grammatical point there, Frank.)

images (3)

Well, for me, it’s quite difficult to do ANYTHING other than do it my way.

Who else’s way am I going to do it?

Sometimes I’ve been inspired by other writers and wanted, so much wanted, to write just like they do. Meg Rosoff, for example. She’s brilliant. Brilliant when you’re 58 as much as she’s brilliant when you’re 15 or 16. (Her books seem to be categorised as YA – but they’re really more ABOUT young adults rather than necessarily FOR young adults.)

But I’m not Meg Rosoff, any more than I’m Belinda Bauer (my latest find) or Keri Hulme (Was it REALLY 1986 when The Bone People won the Booker prize and my heart?)

51DQVWN8MNL

Here, I’m in danger of being side-tracked by the story of Keri Hulme’s struggle to get The Bone People published. She certainly did it HER WAY, asserting, when told it needed severe re-edits if ever it were to go to print, that ‘she would rather have the book “embalmed in Perspex” than re-shaped.’

I haven’t been completely Teflon-coated when it came to advice about Of Night And Light. I have taken advice. I’ve also rejected advice – like the advice from a literary consultant that my protagonist should be 16 not 14. No, she shouldn’t. Rosa is 14. The whole story would be a nonsense if I made her into a 16 year old. In my opinion. And I might be shooting myself in the foot here. Only time will tell. Only reviews which say ‘SUCH a shame that the protagonist wasn’t 16. If she had been, this book would be worth reading. As it is…’ will prove me totally and utterly wrong.

And -it’s no good trying to write like someone else. The slippery path to failure and insanity. (However, I hope my book will be brilliant if you’re 58 or 15 too!)

Yep, I (mostly) did it my way!