22. Banging the Drum


SORRY I haven’t been in touch but I’ve been very busy.

There are 11 days to go now before Crossing The Whitewash hits the streets and while I was keen to keep you updated I’ve been up to my neck in formatting, editing proofs, marketing and getting all my ducks in a row for launch day: Saturday, August 1.

I got the book formatted by a wonderful little operation called Bookow in the States and have found owner Steve Passiouras’ help invaluable. He may be a whole continent and several time zones away but he has always been ready to answer queries and help out generally. I can recommend his formatting tool, which will prepare your books for print, Kindle and other tablets. To me it was all done for the incredible giveaway price of $40 because as a NaNoWriMo winner back in November one of the prizes was a half-price discount from Bookow. Bargain.

If only everything was so easy, like proof-reading. Luckily a number of Beta Readers selected from my mailing list have stepped in to help, so thanks to Bridie, Mark, Laurie and Zoe for your expert analysis and eagle-eyed assistance.

Now onto the hard bit. By its very nature writing is a solitary business, and a lot of us like to shut out the real world when we are tapping away. But to self-publish a novel means you also have to do your own publicity and marketing.

Hopefully by picking a topical subject – the Rugby World Cup – and some memorable locations and strong characters the book will do a bit of the work itself, but if you don’t shout about it you won’t get very far.

Last week I spent much of my time putting together a press release. Of course, I am at a bit of an advantage having worked for various press organisations. Even so, I needed a story to tell rather than just “I’m writing a book and its setting is the Rugby World Cup”.

Here, too, by a cosy coincidence, the chance to make headlines fell into my lap. Four years ago this month I was made redundant by the News of the World, two years after taking up a dream job I thought would see me through to retirement. Writing the press release in the third person, providing pics of family, location, friends and the excellent book cover, I was then able to adapt the story so that it was relevant to the places in which I thought the book might sell well.

As it is based in Wales, for instance, I did one press release for all the Media outlets there about my time working in Cardiff and why I had left for the smoke to take up my dream job as Welsh Sports Editor on Europe’s largest paper. For Bristol outlets, my home town, I made great play of the fact I am from there and have written a regular blog about Bristol Rovers for the Bristol Post website.

Anyway, pleased to say my old paper and first journalistic love, Wales On Sunday, printed the tale at the weekend and it also made the WalesOnline website. You can view it here.

Meanwhile there are plenty of other avenues still to explore.

Here’s a plan:

1. Make a list of all the relevant media outlets you think might be interested. Try to find out to whom you should direct correspondence. It may be the news desk in some cases, features desk in others. Maybe they even have their own books department! A preliminary phone call might help.

2. Plan out your story, bringing all the information to the fore that will be particularly poignant to that newspaper, TV or radio station.

3. Do the hard work by virtually writing the piece yourself, and forwarding the pictures. Media groups are notoriously short-staffed these days with cutbacks and the like. We are writers. We should know how to tell a good tale, bringing all the juicy stuff to the top – like writing the first few paragraphs of a novel.

4. Make sure all your contact details are attached for anyone who wants to follow up.

5. Use any ‘ins’ you can: If you know any journalists they may be prepared to help you with publicity.

6. Sit back and hope someone takes notice. If they don’t why not try a follow up call.

There is a lot more that can be done but this blog post is already a bit long. Meanwhile, I’ve set up a pre-order for the Kindle version of the book with Amazon, hence why it’s all been a race against time these last few weeks.

Next time we speak I could be a published author!

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