Talking Crowdfunding Howlers at the Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing

 

Photo of the signatures of the Brontë women using their pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell

I’m very excited to be taking part in the opening event of this year’s Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing on Friday 22nd September at 7 pm. Yes, that’s tomorrow. Between house moves and dodgy phone lines, I haven’t had a chance to mention it here before now. If you are in the area, please come along. There will be a panel of us discussing self-promotion and marketing for writers. Useful for writers of all types, whether you have a traditional publishing contract or are going along the non-trad route. Writer and academic Laurie Garrison will be sharing her digital marketing expertise, novelist Sarah Dunnakey will be talking about her experience in a traditional setting and, instead of passing myself off as a crowdfunding expert, I’ll be confessing to my worst mistakes that I made during my campaign to fund The Backstreets of Purgatory.

The venue is Cobbles and Clay Café in the main street in Haworth. Other events in and around the Parsonage over the weekend include YA author Liz Flanagan running a writing workshop for girls, Adapting the Brontës with novelist Rachel Joyce and playwright Deborah McAndrew who will also be running a Writing for Stage event. The headline event on Saturday evening is Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent which was Waterstones Book of the Year 2016.

I can’t wait to meet the other participants and attendees. And you, if you can make it. Directions below.

 

 

Unbound and Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh

Come along to meet some new writers, discover more about an innovative company and support your local independent bookshop.

VENUE UPDATE: We’ll be reading in the bookshop rather than the Great Hall.

Are you a writer, a reader? Are you interested in publishing or being published? Are you a bookshop devotee or an ebook enthusiast?

Yes, yes, yes, of course!! If you happen to be near Edinburgh on Wednesday 10th May, I’d love to see you at a special panel event featuring myself and three other Unbound authors, Martine McDonagh, Ian Skewis and Tabatha Stirling. The event is being hosted by Stockbridge’s wonderful independent bookshop, Golden Hare Books in the glorious surroundings of the Great Hall of St Stephen’s, Stockbridge.

Photo of St Stephen's Stockbridge, Edinburgh
St Stephen’s, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

We all know the publishing and bookselling industry is changing fast. The boundaries between traditional publishing and the standard model of self-publishing are blurring as innovative companies like Unbound challenge the status quo. Unbound’s radical new publishing model takes traditional publishing and combines it with a crowdfunding platform. Their ethos is to publish adventurous, exciting books, produced to an impeccable standard, for a readership who are eager to support these books.

And how often do we hear about bookshops struggling? Far too often, I’m sure you’ll agree. So it is fantastic to find an independent bookseller who is going great guns. Golden Hare Books opened its doors in 2012 in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket before moving to its current location in Stockbridge three years ago. The bookshop has a small team of knowledgable staff who are all avid readers and deeply involved in the literary world. Community involvement, collaborations with artists and writers, story and craft sessions for youngsters—Golden Hare Books is committed to being a space for everyone to come and celebrate books. And it isn’t only about the words inside but also books as physical objects, as objects of beauty. I can certainly relate to that. Cover designs, the weight of a book in your hands, the ruffle and smell of freshly turned pages. Bookshop heaven.

From 6 pm until 8.30 pm, while you sip a glass of wine in the beautiful surroundings of the Great Hall in St Stephen’s Stockbridge, the four Unbound authors will discuss the pros and cons, the highs and lows, the success and the difficulties of our crowdfunding campaigns. Although we have all written novels, there the similarity ends. Our projects span hardback, paperback and digital editions, some of us are published, some of us funded or still funding. You can find out more about each of us on Golden Hare’s event page (where you can also buy tickets), or follow the links on our names above to our Unbound pages.

The Great Hall is a magnificent space. It would be fantastic to be able to fill it. Admission is ticketed and the tickets cost only £2 (and you get a glass of wine for that). Come along to meet some new writers, discover more about an innovative company and support your local independent bookshop. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

Image credit: St Stephen’s Centre, Magnus Hagdorn, Flickr reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.

 

 

Ecstasy (and a tiny bit of agony)

Celebration time. The Backstreets of Purgatory, my debut novel, has reached its crowdfunding target. The special edition will be published by Unbound later this year. The commercial edition should be available in a bookshop near you sometime early next year. Since I heard the news just more than a week ago, I’ve been wandering around in a bit of a daze with a huge grin on my face, not able to concentrate on anything productive. I’m thrilled, excited, totally chuffed.

And more than a teeny bit scared.

A few years ago, I had a short story published in the (now sadly defunct) Ranfurly Review. Titled very imaginatively as The Kiss, it stars Ade who is in hindsight certainly a forerunner to Finn (the main character in Backstreets), and Crystal, a transvestite who despite not bothering to shave when she goes out on the razz Continue reading “Ecstasy (and a tiny bit of agony)”

Crowdfunding your novel: 3 campaign tips and 5 ways (not) to cope with the stress

I have a good line in quackery and jargon that may assuage many of the problems you are presently encountering

Dear Doctor Taylor,

For the last six months, I have been crowdfunding my novel The Backstreets of Purgatory with Unbound. Although I am making good progress, certain things are beginning to concern me. Recently I have noticed that when I start a conversation, my partner’s eyes glaze and he stares wistfully over my shoulder as if he is reminiscing about a time when our conversations sparked with such intellectual firecrackers as whether it is acceptable to add milk while the tea bag is still in the mug, or whether Cheddar or Gruyère makes better cheese on toast.

Tea bag in a mug of milky tea
Milk before the teabag is out? Unacceptable, surely.

Worryingly, whenever we are out and about and I open my bag to rummage through it, he flinches and distances himself from me as if I’m about to batter him with a baseball bat, which is frankly ridiculous because Continue reading “Crowdfunding your novel: 3 campaign tips and 5 ways (not) to cope with the stress”

Unknown unknowns and my Unbound adventure

The moon stuff came out of nowhere, knocked me sideways, sent me swirling into a vertiginous panic

The first time it happened, I was in the infant class at primary school. At the end of the spring term, the adorable—adored—Miss Hughes announced to her pupils that she would be getting married during the Easter holidays.

‘So what will my new name be when we come back to school?’

Left to my own devices, Rumpelstiltskin would have seemed as sensible a guess as any. No joke though, the entire class replied in unison.

‘Mrs Thompson.’

When I say entire, what I mean is entire minus one.

me-age-4-or-5
Baffled

To this day, I have not the faintest idea how my class mates came by that (correct) answer or where I was (physically or mentally) at the moment they were primed with that particular piece of information. I’d even go as far as to say that I’m fairly certain I wasn’t even aware of the possibility of a Miss to Mrs transition, never mind the idea of a whole change of surname.

So there I sat on my miniature chair at my slice of a shin-high, half-hexagonal, light-grey plastic table, while Miss Hughes basked in the radiance of her future marital happiness and the adoration of her tiny students, and was (as I remain) utterly baffled.

Another time. It’s First Year at High School. A science class and Continue reading “Unknown unknowns and my Unbound adventure”

The journey begins

They seemed effortlessly cool—cool but professional—turning out top quality, exciting, left-field works like one of the good indie record labels from back in the day.

It is almost a year ago now since I met Rachael Kerr, Unbound’s Editor-at-Large, at a National Creative Writing Graduate Fair at Manchester Metropolitan University. She was one of several industry professionals speaking at the fair and I was immediately taken by the whole idea of Unbound. They seemed pretty rock and roll compared to traditional publishers. Adventurous, innovative, and totally down with the digital age. Qualities I’d love to say that I shared but a body of evidence the size of a hairy mammoth pretty much proves the opposite.

Technologically challenged, a late adopter, insecure and hideously introverted would be perhaps to understate my defining characteristics. Not ideal when Unbound’s model relies on crowdfunding, on gathering supporters to pledge to buy the book in advance. As soon as a project has enough support, the book goes into production—special editions for the supporters alongside a commercial print run (in conjunction with Penguin Random House). But to find that support, the authors have to do a large part of the marketing themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m more than willing to work hard (so long as the hard work doesn’t involve picking tatties—worst job ever by the way). But I have issues asking people to sponsor me for a charity run, never mind ask them to pledge for my book.

So, back at the conference, I chatted with Rachael, pitched my idea and she seemed to like it. The basic synopsis of THE BACKSTREETS OF PURGATORY  is as follows: Caravaggio arrives in present day Glasgow to help out a struggling art student and things get messy. Rachael asked me to email her the manuscript. Result.

But I didn’t. Not for Continue reading “The journey begins”