BLOGGING, NEWSLETTERS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Hello everyone and greetings from chilly SW London.
It's been 3 months since I published my latest book 'Gas Street', my first ghost story, back in October 2023. I usually take a break from writing in the run-up to Christmas and then start again in the New Year as I attempt to lose the weight I've put on stuffing my face over the Yuletide! It's 30th January and I still haven't started my next novel 'La Bella Visconti', although I have an excuse as there's quite lot of research.
It's set at the Yorkist courts of Edward IV and Richard III, and depicts the Wars of the Roses as a backdrop to the life of Katheryn Visconti. It follows her from her upbringing in the nunnery of St Helen's, Bishopsgate to her time at the court of Richard III where she serves his queen, Anne Neville. As I meticulously research all of the my books, I have a lot to swat up on and I'm currently reading Chris Skidmore's biography of Richard III.
I've reached a slight hiatus in my writing as I take stock of where I am and what I should do next. I had a boring Sunday with not much to do back at the beginning of last November, so I stupidly decided to try submitting my latest book 'Gas Street' to lit agents. I know, life sucks enough as it is, so why inflict such sadistic cruelty on myself? My first and only attempt was back in 2017 when I published my first book 'Amy, The Story of a Coram Foundling'. I submitted it to about 25 of the blighters and I did get back replies from nearly all, some generic rejections but also some really nice and encouraging emails. All rejections though. This time round I submitted to another 25-odd, and so far I've received 4 generic rejections and heard nothing from the rest. I know, they get thousands of submissions a year and only accept a few, and everyone and his dog wrote a book during lockdown, but this has all made me realise that dipping my toe into the murky water that is social media is the way forward.
I had nothing to do with social media up until 2017 when I opened all the accounts available back then to promote 'Amy'. It was terrifying, and a thoroughly unpleasant experience for an old fossil like me who sees any social media platform as another planet inhabited by very young people who all look like they've had 25 cosmetic surgery procedures. Since then I've only used it sporadically to promote my books when I publish them.
So, completely pissed off by the silent snub of lit agents, I fell down the rabbit hole of Facebook and picked up some good tips and advise of how to sell as many books as I can, and also how to 'promote myself'.
No.1: Gain a large social media following, preferably on TikTok or Instagram, words that strike fear in the heart of any old git like myself.
No.2: Get a mailing list.
No.3: Send out regular blogs, promos and newsletters to my, so far, non-existent mailing list.
Well, where do I start? Ok so, I Googled 'author's newsletters' and found a lovely looking lady who is about the same age as me (maybe slightly younger) and it's basically about what's going on in her life (not much), her health problems, what she's reading, and what's she's watching on telly. To be honest with you, I've got shit loads going on in my life, but I'm a very private person and I don't like people knowing what I do, or my health issues. My kids have told me to keep them out of any social media business, and I'm respecting that as they don't use it. I can't say what I do at work as it's incomprehensible to anyone who isn't a telecoms/broadband engineer, and a lot of what I do is security sensitive and I can't relate any of the systems or procedures I use. I don't watch telly anymore apart from Monday evening quiz night on the Beeb, but I do read a lot, so I suppose I could do that bit.
So, we're down to books I'm reading, my writing journey, and I've also decided to do various historical events featured in my books. Having said that, I don't know how regular it's going to be as life/work/kids do tend to get in the way.
I've also consulted with the yoof, i.e. my teenage kids, and they tell me I must make TikTok videos, lots of very short ones, apparently, and also engage on Reddit, which I'm having quite fun doing, apart from the fact that everyone seems to be 30 years younger than me. Example: guy who's been caught with weed for the second time asking whether he should abscond to Ireland! I skipped that one as my elderly wisdom doesn't stretch that far.
Many thanks and happy reading!