After a recent reading at a local library, I was asked what I was working on next. As the book I was reading from had not been officially launched, I had to take a deep breath and count to ten before pointing out that I still had this one to promote. I remember being asked the same question, quite frequently, after my first book was published four years ago. Of course it's wonderful that people are interested in what you're doing but, I think, only other writers really understand just what goes into researching, writing and promoting a book, whether it's fiction or, like my new book, non fiction.
There are various points during the creation of a book when it's tempting to sit back and sigh in a satisfied way; after the first draft when you've managed to get all the research in place and perhaps again when the finished manuscript has gone off to the publisher or layout designer. In both cases you have to pinch yourself (perhaps punch would be better) because after the first draft there are endless edits to do, and if it's non fiction, illustrations to find, copyright to track down and permissions to sort out. Even when the book's finished there's no opportunity to sit back and admire it because then the promotion starts. This is the situation whether you're being published or, as is increasingly the case, self publishing. My first two books were published by a local company and I was absolutely thrilled when they said “yes” to my submission. But I soon discovered that the marketing department was virtually non-existent so as a journalist I found myself doing most of the work. My understanding, from writer friends, is that this is now increasingly the case even with large publishing houses, their budgets tightened and staff stretched.
Of course, this is the point where some writers panic. It's hard putting yourself ‘out there’ even if you know where ‘out there’ is. Readings, events and signings are an essential part of promotion if you want a book to sell on any scale, and for many people that's a difficult thing to do. Writing is a wonderful thing and many want to write simply for the pleasure of it, but if you want someone else to buy what you've written, you have to be prepared to sell it too. And you’ll still need to put up with questions like “what are you working on next?”, when you've only just finished a book that may have taken years to produce!
Writer and journalist Jayne Baldwin lives in Galloway, south-west Scotland. Her new book, 'Mary Timney, The Road to the Gallows' published by Clayhole Publishing, examines the tragic story behind The Glenkens Murder and the last public hanging of a woman in Scotland. She's also penned 'West Over the Waves, The Final Flight of Elsie Mackay' and 'The Belties of Curleywee Farm' both published by GC Books Ltd.
Jayne is the Chair of Booktown Writers based in Wigtown, Scotland. She is also a director of the new children's publishing company Curly Tale Books Ltd.
Find Jayne on Twitter and on Facebook. She's also got a great blog which you should definitely take a look at! I particularly enjoyed Jayne's post on 'Writing (and reading) as therapy'.
Thanks so much for blogging for me this week, Jayne - that's certainly a question I have been asked very often! Take a look at the Work in Progress (WIP) tab on the top of my website pages to see what I am working on just now...
See you next week!
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What's Next image courtesy of Green Book Blog