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On Belonging

This is a blog that's been circling me for a day or two, about themes and the like, and where they come from. What we take from our own selves and put into our books, sometimes unconsciously.

As many of you know, I'm from Northern Ireland, that divided little part of the world that challenges and rewards, often in equal measure. Many people think the divisions here are over religion - and they do, indeed, follow religious lines - without realising the deeper rifts that drive them. Our culture, our upbringing, our beliefs. Our need to belong.

Belonging is important here. You belong to a community. You might well belong to a religion. You belong to the UK, or Ireland or, increasingly it seems, Northern Ireland (where I have always put my identity and sense of belonging). It's important to work out where you belong, here, in the maelstrom of myriad beliefs. And it's important to recognise others have their own right to belong to wherever - or whatever - they chose to.

I s…
Recent posts

LAUNCH PAD!

I’m in the middle of launching my fifth book, Waters and the Wild, and I thought I’d talk about what goes into a book launch – not just in the interest of shameless self promotion, but also in the hope of sparking a few thoughts in others facing the same thing.

I think this whole launch-thing is easier with later books but they do miss the crucial buzz of a first book where people find out about your shady existence as a writer and are excited to try the book. For book one my family and writing friends were the main cheerleaders and sources of the ra-ra-ing that went on.
For later books, I find that has expanded somewhat into actual – get this! – readers. I also have an awful lot already in place. Goodreads page, check. Amazon author pages, yes. Which makes getting reviews in early a little easier – and thanks to everyone who has taken a review copy.
So how did I go about deciding what to do with this book and who to approach? Apart from my now patented method of blag-say-yes-panic-…

LINES IN THE SAND

Being the sort who can’t write books that are all the same market, I’ve found myself straddling the various worlds of publishing.
This week, I’ve been knocking around some indie resource sites. Trad authors, take note – if you ever want to know how to market yourself and your book, go talk to the indies. They know so much about how Amazon works, where to get reviews, about blog tours and hops, mailing lists and loads of other goodies. The work they put into marketing their books – with no publisher support, remember – and building their brand is jaw-dropping. I have huge respect for them.
So, of course, me being me and wanting to do well at this writing lark, I should have immediately ran off and explored All The Things. But I didn’t.
Why not…?
Partly this is to do with the law of diminishing returns. I’ve tried multiple book sites that list my book on offer (speaking of which, Inish Carraig is 99p next week… just saying…) and, frankly, the returns are rarely much more than I spe…

ON DODGING BULLETS

This publishing world is full of bullets and as I gain more knowledge of the world I see more of them, some dodged by sheer luck, some by good advice, and some by research.
That research is something I’m knee deep in. I’m taking a new course about approaching writing as a business, about things a million miles from your muse, like percentages and contracts and sales bases.
One thing that this week’s research threw up was just how much debut authors are struggling in the market – especially debut authors under the traditional publishing houses. Their share of the debut authors’ market has dropped from 22% to 9% over 2014-16 (authorearnings.com).
Just stop for one minute and think about that. You go to the trouble of finding an agent, of getting a big publisher, and then you find out that you’re getting such a low share of the market (and, let’s be honest, debut author income is small anyway…)
Many moons ago (it feels that way, anyhow) I got a response from a big 5 house who cons…

On local communities

I’ve talked, lots of times, about the importance of online support and communities. It’s an important, and valid, subject. Gone are the days of needing a UK publisher and a US one (unless you’re traditionally published and with an agent, where that model still applies). For self publishers, and many of those with small and medium presses, the book is available throughout the world. (I felt like doing a He-Man: “By the power of Kindle!” right about here. I almost desisted.)
What I’ve talked about less is building local networks.
Once, they were the mainstay of any author. Getting a book out meant gaining the support of local booksellers, of visiting reading groups, of having your local press do a little bit of coverage about you. There was no internet, no kindle – your name had to build slowly and surely, like tentacles on an octopus, reaching and reaching.
Then, in the rush to be on facebook and twitter, to have sales in America (and, to make a living as an indie author, you do nee…

Cover - Waters and the Wild

This week I finally (! I'm not a patient person and sitting on this one has been killing me !) revealed the  cover to my next book, Waters and the Wild (out in July from Inspired Quill)

So, let me preen for just a moment before I go on.

Preen, preen, preen, lovely, lovely, lovely.

Okay. Done.

You'll have picked up I really love this cover. Why? Well, firstly, it captures the place and setting so well. It would have been easy, in a book about fairy glens, to have the fairy cliches dominate. But that would have missed the subtleties of the place (and story). Yes, we're in fairyland. But that fairyland isn't just the scenic glens - it's muddy lanes, under dark skies, with shadows all around. It's on bleak hillsides, next to burial cairns. It's in sea caves and gardens. In this story, the fairies are everywhere.

So, I love that we have a laneway, in the glens, with encroaching shadows. And I love that it has Amy on the front cover.

I don't open the st…

Inish Carraig - a self publishing journey

About 2 years ago, I took a decision. I decided to ask my then agent (although we were going through the motions, having already decided to part company) to pull Inish Carraig from the remaining editors looking at it. We'd been on submission over 6 months and the comments coming back patently indicated it wasn't hitting the market it was subbed to (which it wasn't - it had been a crossover novel turned into a YA novel and subbed as a crossover....)

I decided to publish the book myself. I thought it was too good to sit in a trunk somewhere. I wrote Inish on a whim, had fun with it and was surprised by how solid the final book felt. I wanted to share it.

How did it go?

Well, firstly - by the time Inish Carraig came out I knew it was a book to be proud of. My beta readers loved it, my editor advised me it was solid, many of the publishers had nice things to say about it. One editor - at a big 5 house - liked it a lot and mused on it for months before rejecting as they didn…