The Surreal Life

Two days ago I was schmoozing, networking, and meeting celebrities. I was drinking champagne, eating delicious food in a 4-star hotel, and enjoying the company of some amazing people. I was discussing my latest novel, book signings and tours, and organising a book launch. I was going to the theatre followed by a concert at a local church.

Today I’m cleaning up cat wee in the shoe cupboard, ironing school uniform, and wondering how I’m going to cook a gluten-free spaghetti bolognaise and get my daughter to swimming classes in the space of an hour. I’m vacuuming bedrooms, walking the dog, and clearing out hair from the plug in the shower. I’m standing in the playground discussing the bowel habits of children whilst trying to stay warm and dry on a foggy morning, and stop my son from throwing his hat into a tree.

This is the surreal life of an author who also happens to be a housewife and full-time Mum.

My brain is literally all over the place. One minute I’m trying to figure out how to fill in that rather large plot hole I’ve just discovered, the next I’m throwing old food into a compost bin. I’m filling out forms and speaking to companies about which systems would be best to use in the bookshop (should it EVER open), and then I’m talking to the school about volunteering to help children with reading and writing. I’m emailing publishers, booksellers, and agents. I’m emailing the PTA. I’m booking hotels for an upcoming romance festival, and figuring out the logistics of being in two places at once to do a reading and a signing. I’m ringing up the vets to book the cat in for their vaccinations.

I’m editing manuscripts, proof reading projects from friends… I’m helping my daughter with her homework. I’m organising blog tours (and trying to encourage people to email me back with their filled out interviews – eh-hem…), I’m wondering if a twentieth takeaway this month would really be such a bad thing… I’m giving advice to other writers, I’m getting advice from other parents. I’m creating a believable main character who is sexy but not overly beautiful, powerful, but with weaknesses. I’m dressed in jeans (wet from walking the dog) and a man’s hoodie.

I’m ordering flyers, business cards, posters, and trying to find somewhere cheap that does bookmarks. I’m proof reading catalogues and promotional material for my husband. I’m creating promotional material for myself! I’m marketing and advertising. I’m washing clothes and trying to understand why there are so many pairs of boxer shorts just floating around the living room.

I’m cooking everything from scratch since my daughter is currently being tested for coeliacs disease. I’m going backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards to the doctors with her. I’m reading 5-star reviews on my book. I’m discussing figures and finances and getting quotes from a PR consultant. I’m gardening and wondering if we’ll ever get round to fixing that piece of decking that’s rotten through, and when would be the best time to buy a greenhouse and set out the raised beds? I’m talking with my husband about looking at properties that would best suit the bookshop and photography studio.

I’m tapping away at the computer in an attempt to create the next Sunday Times / New York Times bestseller. I’m traipsing around Tescos wondering if 1000 teabags is enough.

And then someone asks me if I’m going to get a real job now my son is at school…

Why Indie Authors Still Suck

Don’t hate me for re-blogging. Get past the self-righteousness and he makes valid points about the importance of editing and knowing your market. He’s right – you do have to work twice as hard if you want to self-publish. I hate it when people say “But it’s so easy” – NO IT ISN’T!!

Low Sales and a PMA

I got a sales report from my publisher yesterday. The first thing mentioned in the email was that all sales were down during July. But hey! That’s okay! Everyone has a slow month! And then I looked at the figures… I sold a whole book. Not even a book. An e-book. And that’s where the PMA comes into play – that’s Positive Mental Attitude for those of you who are not fluent in acronyms.

One book is better than none.

KeepCalm

Thank you to that sole person who picked up their Kindle and downloaded Seven Dirty Words.

Sadly one book does not pay the rent. All of this got me thinking about how I can market my book better. What am I missing out on? There must be a shadowy corner somewhere that I’m not seeing. So, I scoured the internet, read the books, checked the information given to me by my publisher, trying to find out what I’m doing wrong. The answer? Nothing.

I have a Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn account, website, author pages, authorgraph account and blog (obviously – you’re reading it). I’ve done giveaways, I’ve contacted bookshops (that’s all I can do – I can’t force them to take my book and let me do a signing there!) and I’m going to the Festival of Romance in November. I’ve asked for reviews (again – I can’t force someone to leave one), and have had some positive feedback. I’ve featured on guest blogs, done the interviews, and joined in social media promotions. The book is available on all formats – Android, Kobo, Nook, Kindle, print…

Bar paying for reviews and marketing, there is nothing more I can do. Is that my next route? Paying someone to promote the book? Paying for someone to leave me several 5-star reviews? No. That is always something I swore I would never do. I want honest reviews, not a bunch of fake ones that cost me X amount. And, I can’t afford to pay anyone to do anything anyway.

Is this what they call a ‘Catch-22 situation’? I can’t do A because I need B, which I can’t do because I need C, which I can’t do because I need A…

PMA, PMA, PMA…

It’s only one month!! I’ve always sold well during the other months… Or so I think. Plus, RHP has set a target of selling 100 books a day, if even only 1 of those is mine, that’s 30 books sold during the month! I can hope and dream.

I suppose I should concentrate on the fact that Four Letter Words will be coming out in less than 6 months, and I’m currently editing April’s Baby (seriously need a new title), while Touch of Silk sits for a bit while I think about how I get out of the corner I’ve written myself into, on top of the new fantasy series The Second Moon – which will be a minimum 6 books written under my pseudonym ‘Lark Dumas’… Not forgetting that it’s the summer holidays so I have the two sprogs at home, and we’re trying to clear out the garden and house and make improvements so that we can become more or less self-sufficient…

Busy, busy, busy!

So I guess in the grand scheme of things, selling one book in July is not so bad. Like I said, one is better than none!!

Diary of a workaholic part 2

If you follow my blog (and if you don’t – why not?) you’ll know that eight days ago I took part in the Mum’s race as part of Sports Day and fell with magnificence, resulting in a busted foot. Official diagnosis (after two trips to A&E) is torn soft tissue. But, if you follow my blog you’ll also know that I am a self-confessed workaholic. So how do the two combine? Not well, let me tell you!

Sat on my backside is not easy. Especially when all the TV offers is Jeremy Kyle (I swear I met some previous guests in A&E), Murder She Wrote, Father Dowling, Diagnosis Murder and antiques after antiques show. Thankfully, I am surrounded by gadgets. I have my laptop, iPhone, tablet and Kindle sat by my arm. So you’d think relaxation would be easy. Yeah… You’d think…

Firstly Kane & Ellie’s story, “Touch of Silk” has come to a standstill. 45,000 words and I’m stuck. So, I started writing a new novel, entitled “Past Lives”, about a woman named Amy who is can’t seem to shake the feeling of being haunted. 500 words and it’s stopped. I know where both books are going, I just can’t seem to get there. Perhaps it’s the painkillers – blocking my mental capacity.

So I’m concentrating on my bookshop. It now has a name: R W Books, named after my children Rebecca and William. The business plan is coming along nicely, and I’ve spent the past week contacting distributors, publishers, estate agents, and suppliers. I’ve even got a very rough estimate of a cash flow forecast! But it is very rough and needs ironing out.

I started on a website yesterday, and plan on buying the domain name tomorrow (payday!!), and have begun planning how I want the bookshop to look as well as drafting out my expansion opportunities. Writing this plan, analysing my SWOT and drafting up finances has made me appreciate all those years in business and maths lessons. Suddenly 2 years of Maths A-Levels, wistfully watching Mr Cotton, and hoping it would rain after he’d left the roof of his car down doesn’t seem like such a waste!

Somehow I also managed to find the time to weed my garden – a task which inspired the opening scene of “Past Lives”. I hate gardening, but I love the idea of being self-sufficient and am very proud of my little veg and herb pots. Unfortunately the slugs and snails like them almost as much as I do and have devoured two pumpkin seedlings, a sunflower, and all my coriander.

Being a housewife and mother hasn’t been forgotten either. I’m not as active as I normally am because of my foot, but I have still managed to gut my son’s room. And found 2 boxes of pineapple juice under his bed. Or rather, they used to be boxes of pineapple juice. I thought it highly coincidental that as soon as these items had been removed the odd smell that’s been bugging me for weeks has dispersed.

Poor dog needs a good walk… I can’t wait to be able to trek through the fields, iPhone in hand talking into it and looking odd as I come up with inspiration for my novels. On the other hand, she’s had lots of fuss in the house and has been racing circuits around the garden, upsetting the cats and rabbit.

The doctors think I have another 5 weeks of not being able to do anything, but if they can be as productive as the past seven days have been, then perhaps this RICE thing isn’t such a total loss.

How difficult is it to find a bookcase?!

With forced rest thrust upon me by my competitive nature, and with ‘Touch of Silk’ being stuck at 45,600 words, I decided now would be the best time to make a start on the business plan for my bookshop. Oh how I laugh at myself sometimes…

It’s been ten years since I went to college and completed my course – which while it had a business element to it was equine related. (Horse Management – Equine Business Management) This is never more evident than when I open up an Excel spreadsheet and attempt to put numbers into it.

I wasn’t doing too badly. I’ve found the shop that I want, at a modest rent, I know the average business rate for the area, and I have a list of stock items that I want to buy. But then my husband pointed out – what am I storing these books on? Oh yes… Bookshelves… They might be necessary. So the pricing up of my start-up costs began. And ended.

Of course I could go to a local DIY store, but surely it would make more sense to get all of my retail supplies and fixtures from one place? You’d think… But no. I cannot find a single B2B supplier that provides good, solid bookcases. Cheap, crappy, MDF ones that I could buy cheaper from B&Q – yes. Proper wooden ones? No. And as much as I would like to have them, I cannot afford £500 for a bookcase from the Old Creamery.

And so opening a bookshop comes to a standstill. Again.

One day I will get there. Just not today.