Publicising the book turns into a lesson on friendship and smelly socks

Oh my Lordy.  After last week’s  book cost crisis, my sales need a boost. Thing is, I don’t know quite how to get it going. Me thinks I need a little help. 

‘What do publishing houses do? asks hubby one night. ‘You know,’ he says, ‘when they have a new author they need to promote. What do they do?’  I look up from my bar of Green and Blacks which he has kindly bought me and which I feel obliged to eat. ‘Theyggoommmaggggooo,’ I say. ‘Huh? I can’t hear you as your mouth seems to be seeping chocolate,’ he says. I swallow it whole. ‘They have their own marketing and press teams who get on the case of course,’ I say. My hubby sits back, grinning, clearly pleased with himself. I narrow my eyes. ‘What?’ Then the penny drops. I am my own marketing department. Duh! I know I should thank him for pointing  out this valuable information, but instead choose: ‘Make sure you wash up your dinner plate when your done, honey, won’t you?’ and scuttle to my laptop, my mind already on promotional plans for my current book.

What I didn’t quite home in on then and what I have realised with startling clarity since, is that without people like my husband – and he is a great, wonderful lad, if not with a worrying penchant for Cop documentaries – making my book even a moderate success will be nigh impossible. So, getting on the case, once  my book marketing plan is mapped out, including social media, promotional ideas and pricing strategy (really), I go on to PR. ‘I’ll write a press release,’ I say to myself. Being from a copywriter background, you’d think this would be pretty easy – turns out it’s not. ‘You alright?’ asks my hubby when he finds me dribbling on my laptop at midnight. ‘Huh? Who? Wassup?’ He squints at my screen. ‘You know, if you’re writing a press release, why don’t you just speak to Chris.’ I sit bolt upright. ‘Chris!’ My hubby peels a post it note from my cheek. ‘Chris!’ I repeat. My hubbie backs away. I hope he still knows why he married me.

Anyhoo, the next day I contact Chris and it is a gift from heaven. Because Chris is a Press man at a University. He is a dear friend, known him for years and when I ask his advice, not only does he say he will read my press release, he gives me so many pointers on who to speak to and what to do. As his emails fly in that day, full of advice I am filled with utter gratitude for his help. ‘Beer,’ I think as I make a note of his information. ‘I must buy him a beer.’

By the end of the week, I also receive help in the form of my husband’s old teacher, Stuart Langworthy, who inspired my book in the first place and who my hubby thought would be ideal to include in any press information. Turns out, Stuart’s more than happy to be included in my press release, and more than that, is pleased to have the opportunity to take some of the media limelight from my hubby, who is often on the telly for business news. Bless him.

Sat on the sofa the next evening, checking my emails, I sip a glass of red as my hubby slumps down beside me. Peering at my screen, he reads Stuart’s email. ‘Told you Stuart would help.’ I nod.  It is hard to say out loud that he was right. I put my glass down and turn to him. ‘Honey,’ I say, ‘what’s it like being friends with your teacher after all these years?’ He shifts on the sofa so he can rest his feet on my lap. ‘It’s just like having a good friend,’ he says, ‘but one who’s always there for you, I guess.’ I smile at him. That’s it. Having friends who are there for each other, that’s what it’s all about. It’s like the Beatles said, about getting by with a little help from your friends. My hubby wiggles his toes and one of his socks comes loose. ‘God, honey, you’re feet stink. Move them, quick!’ He pulls a sad puppy face. I sigh. He’s my best friend. I will always be there for him. But I draw the line at smelly socks.

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Whilst attempting to sort out my book price, I end up with ‘kick me, Valentine’ on my back

This week, I log on and see that the price of my book has gone up. It is now at £1.02, as posted on the Amazon UK site. Thing is, not only do I want to keep the price under a quid, I had just tweeted that it was only 99p. The tweet was my attempt at a mini sales push. My message was it’s Valentine’s Day, stuck for a gift? Then why not download my book, it’s only 99p…etc.  And now it’s £1.02. Damn. I am not now sure what to do. 

I decide to check in and reset the price. But as it can take up to 12 hours to amend, I can only sit back and wait. In the middle of this cost crisis, my youngest comes up, gives me a quick Valentine’s hug and pegs it out the door. Meanwhile, the eldest walks past, unaware that she has a post-it note on her back, courtesy of little sister, that reads, ‘I love Daniel Radcliffe.  ‘Sweetheart,’ I say, one eye on Amazon. ‘Yes?’ she says. I glance at the sticker on her back. That’s quite funny, I think. ‘Oh, nothing,’ I say. Off she skips (literally). I am a bad mum. 

It also seems I am a bad PR person, because this week my main task has been to write up a press release about my book in a vain attempt to drum up some major publicity. Thing is, I haven’t a clue where to start. All I have is a winking cursor and two kids hyped on on half term and Love Hearts running around shouting,’It’s a cheese life!’ Don’t ask. As luck would have it, an old friend of ours has kindly offered some good advice on who to contact press wise. All I need to do now is draw up a list of what to do and when, then stick to it. I hear the eldest raise her voice at her sibling. ‘I do not love him!’ she shouts. Then, a door slams. I sigh and return to my screen, squinting at my book price. Something falls from my back. I look down to see a post-it note with the words ‘I love’ scratched out and replaced with, ‘Kick me, Valentine’. I pick up the note and stick it on the screen. It might come in handy later if I don’t sort this book price out.

Feeling the need to sell myself, I ended up apologising for any bad reads

Oh my goodness. It is 8pm on a Tuesday evening and I never realised publicising my new book would end up taking over my life. And it has. I am now obsessed with getting the word out. As I sit here, I can feel the skin around my eyes shrivelling from too much staring at the screen. I need a shower, I am hungry, but I cannot stop plugging this book.

Most of today, in between work and trying to write book #2, I have spent on-line trying to drum up support and sales. Oh my days. Twitter has been the main source of my focus. Today, my bright idea was to draw up a list of as many celebrities in the writing, journalism and book world that I could think of in order to tweet each of them. The tweet consisted of: a) I’m a new writer; b) would you read my new book; and c) if you like it, can you tell people. There was a link too, directing them to my Amazon page. I think I may have clogged up everyone’s feed at around 12 noon.

It feels quite strange bombarding everyone in this way. I may be Irish, but I have a strong steel spine of British reserve to which selling myself does not fit up against. One of the mum’s outside the school gates the other day said she had downloaded my book and was looking forward to reading it. So I started saying, ‘Oh crikey, I hope you like it, and if you don’t, I’m sorry.’  At which point my close friend told me off. ‘What are you doing,’ she said, tutting. ‘You have to sell it! If some says, I have downloaded your book, say, great, you’re going to love it. See?’ I nodded. I had a lot to learn.

‘Hey,’ said another mum on my way to the car. ‘Guess what? Downloaded that book today!’ I smiled. ‘Great!’  I said. Then: ‘I hope you like it…Sorry if…I mean, if it’s not your cup of tea!’  Hmm. I’ve not quite got the hang of this.