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Book launch magic and more…

It’s been a little bit hectic the past week – post-book launch and a visit from my sister and nephews, who flew in from Switzerland for the occasion. So … I’ve been playing catch-up with work over the past few days, as this is generally a busy time of the year.

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With my family at the MM book launch.

The launch, however, went very well indeed – I was delighted to see a packed roomful of people, despite the very sunny Saturday and the fact that I received a fair few messages from friends cancelling that morning! Among the crowd was my English teacher from the Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt, who taught me for five years (Eng and English Literature), along with my former Spanish teacher and of course, lots of family, friends and other guests.

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With my English teacher, Barbara Crawford.

It was great to see a few younger faces as well, and to hear afterwards that they enjoyed the readings and Q&A. As Jane Talbot, who was leading the discussion, said on the day – you can only enjoy your first book launch once, so enjoy it I did!

It’s been such a lot of work getting to this point – writing the book, editing it (so many times I’ve lost count!), initially submitting it to publishers, getting feedback on the manuscript, designing a cover, learning about the whole self-publishing industry and putting that learning into action, marketing and promoting the book on and offline…

The list goes on but basically, Magical Masquerade has been years in the making and is definitely a dream achieved for me, so a massive thank you to everyone who supported me last week at the launch.

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With Jane Talbot on stage.

 

If you hop over to my author page on Facebook, you can see a wee Facebook live video I recorded in the green room before going on stage, though I warn you, it’s a little jerky as I decided to do my first ever FB live right before my launch without any prior practice!

I arrived at the Crescent Arts Centre super early on launch day, as I wanted to make sure I had everything set up and that the books were carted in before anyone arrived. (Thanks to Jane for helping to lug those heavy boxes in!)

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With Kelly Creighton.

 

The room we were in also had lots of little round tables for people to sit at, so I’d brought along paper bowls which I filled with edible enchanted pebbles, magic mushrooms and Pebble People (aka Fruit Pastilles, pink and white mushroom chews and Jelly Babies, lol). Once those were set out and the books arranged beside my bookmarks and author business cards, we were good to go. My friend and fellow author, Kelly Creighton, manned the book table before and after the event, so a big thank you to her for that.

I have to say, I really enjoyed chatting about MM, my inspirations and my writing processes etc. during the on-stage part of the launch, even though it was slightly weirder doing this in front of family who don’t normally see me in author mode (or in a professional/work capacity). I love talking about writing and I always find it interesting to hear other authors chat about their work, so I’m glad this bit went down well.

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The MM cake!

 

The Q&As were also broken up with three short readings from MM during the session and then I answered some audience questions at the end, before spending about another hour chatting to everyone, signing books and posing for a lot of photographs! I’ve shared some of those here, but for the full whack, head on over to my author FB page.

I should mention as well that ahead of the launch, my brother James surprised me with a beautiful (and delicious) Magical Masquerade cake (most of which was devoured at a family gathering on Friday night!), while my aunt (and photographer on the day) Moira gave me a lovely chocolate Magical Masquerade book creation. The cake is long gone, but I’ve yet to eat the chocolate… it’s almost too nice to tuck into, but it is chocolate, so it may well still disappear!

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With my aunt Moira and the MM choc cover!

 

On the morning of the launch, BBC Radio Ulster aired my interview with Anne-Marie McAleese, which you can listen to again on BBC iPlayer here: http://bbc.in/2sEOeRn I’m on near the start – approx. five minutes or so in I think – and there’s also a little 40-second video clip from the day we recorded it, which you can find just below the radio broadcast clip.

Backtracking a little bit more… (I probably should have written this blog post more chronologically!!), I really enjoyed my 12NOW (New Original Writers) event at the Belfast Book Festival on the Thursday evening before launch day. Big thanks to Lagan Online and the BBF for letting the 12 of us read our work (six readers split over two nights) and for everyone who turned up to hear us, as we had a great crowd for that. I really enjoyed the various readings, which included poetry, prose and travel writing, as each person had a very distinct way of reading and all were very captivating. (NB Check out the gallery of pics from both evenings of readings over at Lagan Online here: http://laganonline.co/gallery-12now-writers-at-belfast-book-festival/ ).

 

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Six of our 12NOW crew on the evening I was part of at the BBF.

 

I think that’s covered most of what went on over the past week… I also had an interesting meeting with someone about another writing project, but it’s in very early stages so I’ll keep that under wraps for now (spoilers). Feedback has also been coming in from more young readers about MM, which is just brilliant. It’s all very positive and I love hearing reader responses.

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Sarah Bennett at the launch…

 

One young girl who came to the launch – Sarah Bennett – started reading it right away and had the whole thing finished by the time she got home to Enniskillen at 11.30pm that night!

This is what her mum, Trish, messaged me last Saturday night: ‘I was told by my critic that your book was absolutely brilliant with a well written plot.

‘This was us arriving home to Enniskillen tonight. She’s finished it. Sarah’s passed it on to me and ordered “read this”.’

I have more lovely reader comments to share with you but I’ll save those for another time!

Sarah Bennett reading

…and finishing MM!

 

With the excitement of the launch now over, I’m going to be looking at maybe visiting some schools and libraries in the year ahead, and seeing what other opportunities there are for readings etc. I’ve potentially got a couple of events upcoming on the north coast over the summer, so hopefully those will go ahead.

Meanwhile, I’ve got another interview ahead of me this week so I’ll share details of that soon too … and in amongst all of that there’s writing to be done!

More updates soon. 🙂

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Countdown to launch…

It’s just TWO days until Magical Masquerade launches at the Belfast Book Festival – Saturday, June 17 if you’re interested.

Tickets are free and you can book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573911/events )

Also, I can now also share the news that BBC Radio Ulster will broadcast the interview I did with Anne-Marie McAleese on their Your Place and Mine programme on the same day. So, if you’re near a radio on Saturday morning, the show kicks off at 8am and at some point I’ll be on it! A wee taster for the launch event later in the day. 🙂

Book festival round-up

Page to stage picI’ve already enjoyed attending some BBF events – I also had fun interviewing authors Jane Talbot and Hilary McCollum last week about how their work went from page to stage. They shared some great insights into the creative process, along with info on what they learned along the way and what it was like working with theatre companies.

Jane’s short stories were adapted from book form for the stage by Big Telly Theatre Company in NI, while Hilary has written specifically for the stage, creating verbatim and more traditional stage productions. FullSizeRender (2)

It was great, as well, to catch the launch of Ciaran McMenamin’s debut novel, Skintown. He was interviewed by Belfast author, Paul McVeigh (author of The Good Son) on the day, but if you’d like to read an interview with him, then I also spoke with the actor-turned-writer myself ahead of the event for Culture NI. You can read that here: http://bit.ly/2rQQXHu

 

Tonight, meanwhile (so there’s still time to get tickets if you’re free!) I’ll be reading some of my work at another BBF event: Lagan Online presents 12NOW – New Original Writers.

12NOW BBF

Six of the 12NOW crew will be reading their work so there’ll be a mixture of poetry and prose and genres… all for just £4! You can book here if you want to come along: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573897/events

Launch day…

Aside from that, I’ll be spending tomorrow prepping for the MM launch on Saturday, IMG_1277making sure I have all my books packed and ready to go, along with my MM bookmarks, author biz cards, nibbles and whatnot. I also have to double-check what bits of the book I’ll be reading during the Q&A/chat with Jane Talbot – all in between the day job of course. 🙂

Looking forward to Saturday and seeing all who can come along! I’ll update you about how it went as soon as I can! 🙂

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Bookish business…

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind week for various reasons, most of them relating to Magical Masquerade as I focused on the PR side of things more intently over the past few days. I was sort of holding off on that a bit, after the Facebook launch, as I was waiting until I could share details of my in-person book launch. And now, I can.

I’m delighted to announce (for those of you who missed the news on social media!) that Magical Masquerade will officially launch at the Belfast Book Festival 2017! Event launch pic

All the details are over on the BBF website and also on my dedicated MM page on this blog, but essentially, it will take place on Saturday, June 17 from 12pm-1pm and is a free event (though you need to book your tickets beforehand). Ballymoney-based author of The Faerie Thorn and other stories (currently touring with Big Telly Theatre as a stage production), Jane Talbot, will be chatting with me at the launch and leading a Q&A, while I’ll also be doing some readings from MM and selling and signing books. So, do come along if you’re able – it would be lovely to see you there!

Being part of the BBF is really exciting, as I never thought for a second when I decided to publish Magical Masquerade that I’d get the chance to launch the book as part of it. It only goes to show what can happen in a year and also, what a bit of hard work can result in. (Also – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.)Chronicle article pic

Which leads me on to the ‘bookish business’ of this post’s title, which refers to both my book updates but also, to the business of books. I’ve said before that as someone who runs their own writing business, when it comes to marketing my book, I don’t find the idea as daunting as some writers might. The first step of course, is acknowledging that you do have to market it – and as a self-published author that’s totally up to me – but I relish the challenge and am enjoying it so far.

It is, however, a lot of work. Alongside running my business and working within it, I’m also doing as much PR for MM as I can, now that the book launch news has been announced. Indeed, it’s these first few months after the release of a book where a publisher would keenly focus on key marketing opportunities, though of course, it’s my belief that you should always maintain a public presence in some form anyway, to keep your profile visible.

Anyway, this week past (and the week before in preparation for the BBF announcement), I contacted local press and set up various opportunities to help promote the book. As a result, this week there was a lovely one-page article in the Coleraine Chronicle (see above), along with a piece published on Culture NI which I wrote myself about my favourite children’s books (and linking to my book launch).

Culture NI feat picI also posted books off to a few reviewers (who are under no obligation to review or indeed to give a positive review let me add – they simply expressed an interest in reading MM with a possibility to review after I contacted them about it.) I don’t know these reviewers personally (although I follow them online and knew they were people I wanted to approach), so if they do decide to post a review of MM I know it will be a truthful and impartial one.

I also have two radio interviews organised, which should be happening over the next couple of weeks (I’ll give more details about these closer to the time), and I’ve written an opinion piece for a bookish magazine which is due out in the summer. I also sent out press releases to other local media too, so we’ll see if anything comes of those, and of course, I shared a lot of stuff on social media throughout the week, after attending the launch event of the BBF in Belfast.

All of this is what a traditional publisher would tend to help with if you’re signed up with one, so if you’re an indie author, the amount of press coverage you get really is up to you. As a freelance journalist I do have some industry contacts, but I’ve been building my online profile since I set up my business and, no matter your background, it’s all still very hard work and there’s no guarantee of coverage. It takes a lot of time to write press releases and guest blogs; to write enquiry emails (personalised to each person), and get books posted off (I’ve spent a lot of time in my local post office the past few weeks!). You have to do your research when deciding who to approach in all respects and to figure out what opportunities you want to go for. After all, if you don’t ask, you very often don’t get.

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Swiss nephews!

I’ve been really thankful for all the positive PR responses so far and I have to say that I do enjoy this side of things, though I know not everyone does. Again, it’s probably to do with the fact that it crosses over a lot with my day job. However, I do still have a day job, so time must be used wisely or you could just do book work and end up with a few unpaid bills by neglecting other things!!

 

To be honest, whether you’re with a traditional publisher or are self-published, I think you have to be willing to do a certain amount of publicity work anyway, to give your book the best possible send-off. How much you do, of course, is down to personal preference. It isn’t, however, a self-obsession thing. It’s just part of the job of being a writer and you shouldn’t feel weird about it. How many businesses do you think would take years to create a new product and then just put it on the shelf and expect people to buy it without telling them about it? The answer is not one, in case you’re wondering. They’ll do everything they can to promote that product to the public, spending sometimes thousands on PR campaigns and advertising it like crazy.

You don’t have to go to such lengths for your book but, if you want people to know about your work and to maybe consider reading it, then you have to create some sort of awareness around it. You can’t actually make people care about your book – all you can do is promote it the best way you can and then relax knowing you’ve done your best.

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Moira in Mid Ulster!

 

Anyway, I think that’s enough book business for now! In other news, it’s been great to see MM in the hands of some new readers this week, not least my nephews, who live in Switzerland (though mum and dad might have to read it to them as they’re a bit below the target age group!).

I also received my bookmarks, which I ordered last week for the BBF book launch in June, and I’m really pleased with how these have turned out. If you come along to the launch, you’ll get one with your book…

In the meantime, I’ve got some more promo stuff to work on this week and I’m hoping to do some sort of work on the next book as well… It’ll probably be the summer before I start this with intent, but I’m keen to get writing again.

One thing at a time however…

Events upcoming:Waterstones event

Waterstones Coleraine: Coming up this week I’m also looking forward to taking part in a Women Aloud NI event at Waterstones Coleraine, where a group of us women writers will be reading from our work between 2pm-4pm.

Drop in at any time if you’re in town – there’ll be everything from poetry readings, to fantasy fiction, memoir, short stories and more. Free of course. 🙂

Belfast Book Festival: Page to stage pic

– June 7: Myriad Routes: From Page to Stage – I’ll be leading the discussion with Jane Talbot and Hilary McCollum about take a book from the page to the stage. Book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573819/events

June 15: Lagan Online Presents 12NOW: New Original Writers – Very excited to be 12NOW BBFtaking part in this event with five of my fellow 12NOW-ers. Lagan Online chose 12 NI writers for the 2016/17 period and is championing our work throughout the year. We’ll be reading some of that work at this, which is one of two 12NOW events. Book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573897/events Event launch pic

June 17: Magical Masquerade Book Launch – Discussion, Q&A, book reading, book-selling and book-signing! Book here for this FREE event: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573911/events

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I’m also writing a guest post for Joanne Frazer over at her blog, In Case of Bookishness, so I’ll post a link to that when it’s up as well! Thanks very much to Joanne for agreeing to host me!

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MM unleashed!

This time last week, I was just a couple of hours away from my online Facebook launch of Magical Masquerade, which, despite being quite a last-minute thing, went really well. I had to wait until I knew the book would be live on Amazon for people to actually buy before I went ahead with it, hence the short notice, but it all worked out well in the end, as I got to release the book into the world on April 30 – bang on target with my chosen publication date after all…

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Book competition winner Abi Martin.

Facebook book launches are a relatively new phenomenon (they are to me anyway), and I know that most of those who took part in mine last week hadn’t experienced one before. So, it was great to see so many friends and family joining in! I also did a giveaway and my two prize-winners looked very happy to receive their books this week!

Orders have been coming in for both the e-book and paperback since then, which is great, if not a bit surreal, and photos have been popping up on Facebook of friends who have received their copies in the post. All of this is very exciting – I’m just hoping the feedback once everyone reads the book is just as positive!

You could get a bit obsessed with tracking sales, but aside from the first few days, I’ve been quite good at not checking that too much. I will be keeping tabs on it all but the main thing right now is just letting people know that Magical Masquerade exists and getting the word out there.

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Comp winner Harry Cullen.

 

With that in mind, I’ve been busy with a bit of promo this week, as well as doing a few bookish deliveries. I also had an ‘interesting’ experience with a UK-based company mid-week when I finally got around to ordering my bookmarks for the launch (I’ll be blogging about that next week by the way). I’m very pleased with the final results but there was a lot more to-ing and fro-ing than I’d anticipated!

All of these little things take time – and always more time than you think – but are well worth doing in my opinion. Again, it’s just another example of something a self-published author has to take responsibility for themselves, where a traditional publisher would normally have this sort of thing covered.

 

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Louise Brogan showing off her copy of Magical Masquerade!

I like the process of deciding how to market my book however, though you do have to be careful with how much doing all of this sort of stuff eats into the working day…

 

Anyway, it’s been great to see the support from everyone so far for Magical Masquerade (which, in case you missed it, is available to buy NOW from Amazon! 🙂 Just click this link to order: http://amzn.to/2qFyayv ).

In the meantime, I thank everyone who has purchased a copy so far, and I look forward to hearing your feedback about it!

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Readings and launches…

With Magical Masquerade having flown the nest once again and returned to the editor for copy-editing, this week has been peppered with all sorts of other book-related things, including making plans for its official launch.

While I can’t release details of this just yet, I’m very happy to say that I’ve had a meeting to discuss it and the particulars are being ironed out as we speak! I find it quite surreal to actually be talking about my book launch at all, but am thrilled to be getting the opportunity to (a) have one and (b) to have support in hosting it. Stay tuned and … consider yourselves all invited. 🙂women-aloud-2017

In other news, International Women’s Day looms on the horizon and March 8 looks set to be another great day for women writers in Northern Ireland, as Women Aloud NI is organising a whole host of events again this year. These will include readings up north on the 8th, as well as something else very special in Dublin – both of which I’m looking forward to taking part in. Full details will be released about these in February, so look out for those!

What else?

Well, I’ve confirmed my first school visit to chat about Magical Masquerade – in February – so that will be my first public reading of it (!), followed by the Women Aloud events, by which time I hope to have my proofs ready, so I can read from a physical book (as opposed to a manuscript). AND … I have also received two very wonderful reviews from a couple of authors that I greatly admire, which I’m going to be putting on my book cover. I’m over the moon that they agreed to read Magical Masquerade and then gave me such lovely comments about it. I’m itching to share these with you, but … all in good time. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m going through my to-do list of other bits and bobs that need to be done with regards marketing etc., as time slips by rather quickly while great plans are being laid and all that. I.e. I need to be on the ball.

So, that’s what’s been happening in my writing world this week. I also enjoyed a catch-up with two fellow writing friends (I hope I didn’t go on TOO much about MM!), so it was great to hear what they’ve been up to as well.

More as I have it …

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