Sponge Cake & Self Doubt – The day before publication…

Today I’m distracted, unable to settle. I’ve opened and closed my wip, started and abandoned a short story. The puppy has trailed me as I’ve paced our overgrown garden, the cat rolling his eyes as I’ve stalked the places he thinks of as his own. I’m edgy, excited, easily distracted. It’s a little like waiting for Christmas, except it isn’t. It’s better.

Tomorrow is the paperback publication day of my debut, The Sister and even with a pile of paperbacks sitting on my desk and less than twelve hours to go I still can’t quite believe it’s happening.

This morning I’ve collected the bookmarks for my Waterstones launch tomorrow night, resisted the urge to dive into my cake and bought enough wine to fill the boot of my car. Each time I’ve been out I’ve darted into Asda and stood staring blankly at the books for so long an assistant came to check if I was ok and I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that tomorrow, nestled amongst the other titles, my story will sit. It doesn’t seem real.

It’s been a long road to publication, and after signing with the digital phenomenon that is Bookouture I never dreamed that a year on I’d also have a contract with Sphere (Little, Brown). After all those no’s finally two yes’s.

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I feel so emotional today. So thankful that even when it seemed utterly impossible anyone would take me on I never gave up writing and submitting. Tomorrow in-between two radio interviews, I’m planning to visit WH Smiths, Waterstones and the supermarkets to reassure myself it’s really there. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel when I see Grace and Charlie’s story on a shelf although there’s still a part of me, a larger part than I’d like, that is half-expecting a last minute ‘sorry we’ve read the book again and changed our minds’ email. I’m not sure when this self-doubt will go, if it ever will, but in the meantime I’m watching the clock and waiting. Endlessly waiting. And for now, still resisting the cake.

 

 

 

 

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Hachette acquires Bookouture!

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Huge congratulations to my publisher, Bookouture, who have announced they are now part of Hachette. Exciting times ahead for all!

Here’s the official press release: – 

Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette UK, today announces the acquisition by Hachette UK of Bookouture, Britain’s leading independent ebook publisher.

“I am delighted to announce today that Hachette UK has acquired Bookouture, the UK’s leading ebook specialist publisher.

“In just four years since it was founded, Bookouture has established itself as an outstandingly successful and innovative ebook publisher. Its formidable reputation and enormous success in publishing many bestselling ebook authors, including Angela Marsons, Louise Jensen and Robert Bryndza, whose novel The Girl in the Ice has sold over one million copies, demonstrates that Bookouture probably knows more about selling ebooks than any other publisher in the world. We salute Oliver Rhodes and his colleagues and welcome them warmly to Hachette.

“The acquisition of Bookouture is a landmark event for Hachette UK, demonstrating the scope of our ambition to expand and develop our core publishing business by acquiring the best companies in their field where the fit is right and their ambition matches our own. Bookouture has achieved remarkable things in its short history and, while it will continue as a standalone business, I know that we will mutually enhance and grow our businesses through, where it is appropriate, sharing our expertise and pooling our talents.”

Bookouture will have a special relationship with Little, Brown, which will publish some of Bookouture’s authors in print editions. Oliver Rhodes, CEO of Bookouture, will continue in this role and will also become Digital Publisher of Hachette UK. He will join the board of Hachette UK reporting to David Shelley, CEO of Little, Brown and Orion. In his new dual role Oliver will both continue to run Bookouture and, by steering and advising, also help increase ebook sales across the Hachette UK group.

Bookouture employs 16 people, all of whom will remain with the company, which will continue to be based in its offices in King’s Cross.

David Shelley said:

“I have long admired the work Oliver has done at Bookouture – he and his colleagues have discovered some amazing authors and have enjoyed extraordinary success with them; they publish with real flair and creativity. I could not be more excited to work with Oliver and his team in taking Bookouture and its authors to the next level, and to have Oliver’s input into Hachette’s digital publishing more generally. I think he will bring something very special to our business.”

Oliver Rhodes said

“Seeing Bookouture flourish in the past four years has been an incredible and rare privilege – we have an extremely talented and dedicated team and a fantastic group of authors who we are very proud of. What is so exciting about taking this next step and becoming part of Hachette UK is that it will help us to build on the significant momentum we already have and achieve even greater things for our authors.

“Tim and David’s vision for Bookouture within Hachette UK is absolutely everything I would want it to be – supportive, forward-thinking, and ambitious – and that was a key factor in making this decision. To sit alongside the other fantastic publishing houses in the group and work with some of the best people in the business will be a real thrill. I know we’ll learn a great deal from each other and I can’t wait to get started.”

I never thought I’d see my book in print in English and now…

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I am so excited to share the Hungarian covers for my first two novels, ‘The Sister’ and the forthcoming ‘The Gift’.

Ten months ago, being published seemed such an unachievable dream and yet not one I was quite ready to let go of, picking myself up after each rejection and trying again. Having my debut published earlier this year was phenomenal, but even then it never occurred to me that my story might one day be translated into different languages.

The rights to my first two novels have now been sold to several territories and I can’t wait to see the different covers. Hungary have chosen to use the same artwork as the UK versions.

I am so glad I never gave up. As C.S. Lewis said ‘You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.’

Behind the scenes with Bookouture Publicity Manager – Kim Nash

 

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Kim Nash is Publicity and Social Media Manager for fast-growing publishers, Bookouture. An impressive title, but what does it actually mean? As I writer I’m eager for a glimpse behind the scenes and super busy Kim was happy to answer my questions.

 

Kim, when Bookouture takes on a new author at what stage of the process do you get involved?

An interesting question and lots of answers! Some authors that we have taken on have come to Bookouture because I have introduced them. I’ve read their work and loved it and passed it on to the editorial team for them to make a decision. Some we’ve taken on and some we haven’t.

That must be fabulous to play an active part in making someone’s dream come true.

It is and sometimes the editorial team get a book that they ask us all to read for our feedback. This is really exciting!

So an author signs a book deal. What happens next?

When we decide to take an author on, I introduce myself and we ask them to fill in a questionnaire so that we can learn more about them and look at potential PR opportunities. I try as well to have a skype call with the authors quite early on, so that they understand the process of how I work and when some of the things that I do happen.

Running up to pre-release, how do you get the book out there?

I share the cover reveals on social media which I love doing. It’s so exciting listening to everyone’s reactions and seeing how much they want to read the book, just from seeing the cover. And when the book goes onto NetGalley, I announce that on social media too.

And readers can request a copy of the digital book via Net Galley?

On NetGalley we are really looking for committed bloggers and reviewers to feature our books on their blogs. Reviews are so important to an author.

Do you read all the books that come through Bookouture? 

I’ve always tried to read every single one of our books before they go out to reviewers but with the amount we have out all at the same time right now, sometimes the reviewers get them at the same time as me. I would find it very difficult to promote a book that I hadn’t read and always find it easier if it’s a book that fits into the genres that I like reading. As I’m a blogger too, I hope I understand the pressures that bloggers are under and publishers have to understand that blogging is a hobby not a job!

How do you structure your time, particularly as social media posts are sometimes done in the evenings?

I’m a social media addict so I’ve always got my computer, my iPad or my iPhone close to me at all times. I have had many times when I’ve been out at the park with my son, or playing football in the cul-de-sac where we live, while doing a cover reveal. As long as I have wi-fi nothing stops me.   A lot of our work happens in the evening though, that’s the nature of our business and when readers/bloggers are at home and working on their blogs.

Do you instinctively know when a book’s going to do well.

It’s another great question. I know what I like to read and I know what a lot of bloggers like to read. As a HQ team, we watch chart positions constantly and send messages to each other from 6am to 11pm and are chatting all the time about books on the move. We normally get a sense through pre-orders and how many people are talking about our books and what they are saying about them, to see how they’re going to perform. And sometimes you just read a book that you KNOW is going to be a massive hit!

Exciting times! Thank you so much Kim.

Bookouture are currently open for submissions. 

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How it really felt to hold my debut novel

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Before I was lucky enough to land a book deal for my debut psychological thriller, I’d imagined the period spent after signing with a publisher would be a magical, sparkling time. Excitement and champagne bubbling. Each morning marking off the days until publication on a calendar. Afternoons spent frolicking in a field. Threading daisies into chains and biting into wild strawberries. The sun beating down from a blue cloudless sky. The smell of freshly cut grass lingering in the air.

That is not what happened. At. All.

After editing, it has been straight into writing book two, with barely a breath, and book one, The Sister, has faded slowly into the background where it’s become not quite real to me, despite its looming publication date. A vague memory of something I once did.

Until yesterday.

When my doorbell chimed I bounded to answer it with all the enthusiasm of our spaniel as she chases a ball. I was, after all, waiting for a delivery from Naked Wines.

‘Where do you want them?’ The UPS guy asked, three large cardboard boxes at his feet. I had a momentary panic. I was expecting six bottles. How much had I ordered? But it was hot. I was thirsty, and so I asked him to bring them inside.

On the breakfast bar, I sliced open the first box, but as I reached inside my fingers didn’t connect with cool glass bottles. Instead the box was packed full of paperback books. My books. And it was so unexpected I felt physically winded.

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As I stood silently in my kitchen a myriad of emotions washed over me. My first thought was the one person I wanted to show my book too, more than anyone else in the world was no longer here. I felt sorrow tempered with joy. Exhilaration mingled with despair. And then a creeping sense of pride. I’d done it. Despite the physical pain I endure when I write. Despite the loss I’ve experienced during this process. The story of Grace is now in print, and when, half an hour later, the wine did arrive, I felt I really had something to celebrate.

 

The Sister is due to be published on 7th July. The ebook is still available to pre-order for the very special price of 99p, the paperback is £8.99 and, from July, it will also be available as an audio book. Find on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

 

 

 

 

 

The moment you see your first lot of edits…

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It was with great excitement I received my first lot of edits back from my publisher. My fingertips drummed impatiently on my desk as I waited for the document to load, and when it did – Oh. My. God.

Nothing could have prepared me for seeing the slash of red lines that crisscrossed over my beautifully crafted prose. The comment bubbles that spewed over page after page of a manuscript I’d thought was in pretty good shape.

My laptop lid slammed as I forced it closed and with my heart thumping I did what any self-respecting author would do. I crept downstairs to the kitchen and opened the hobnobs, chomping down three before I felt able to go and face the horror that was once my novel.

Back at my desk I opened my laptop, millimetre by millimetre. The screen illuminated. The document flashed open. The red lines were still there.

It was time to put my big girl pants on and read through the comments and, dusting biscuit crumbs from my shirt, I did just that.

I’d never used the track changes feature of Microsoft Word before but once I’d got past the anxiety of learning something new I trawled through the file accepting the basic changes, formatting, font, that sort of thing and it didn’t look quite so scary any more. Not quite so red.

On the second read it struck me there’s not much to do at all and I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but I’m keeping the biscuits next to me. Just in case.

How I REALLY felt when I got a book deal

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I’d envisaged the moment so many times. Receiving THE call. Someone believes in me and wants to represent this novel, along with the million other books I’m bound to write.

I thought I’d float around the garden in a giant bubble of happiness while birds tweeted their congratulations in my ear and rabbits frolicked at my feet.

Instead what happened was after a fraught few days exchanging emails with Bookouture, a proposal dropped into my inbox offering me a three-book deal. No fanfare. No dancing unicorns or rainbows stretching across the sky, as the sun smiled down on me. And what I felt, instead of the euphoria I’d expected, was sheer dread.

They want two more books? Are they crazy? I’m not a writer. I’m a mum who bashes out a few words on a laptop between the school run, work and cooking dinner. What if I never, ever have another idea again? This. Can’t. Be. Happening.

I seesawed between intense gratitude and a churning panic. Lydia, my editor, called to discuss the deal and she was patient and kind, but my mind was fuzzy and I couldn’t makes sense of the words she was saying. Couldn’t think of anything sensible to ask. Numb with shock I found myself agreeing and a contract was quickly emailed over. Pages of terms I’d never heard before and didn’t really understand. I waited for the excitement to kick in. And I waited. And waited.

Fear gripped me and for the rest of that week my word count stood at zero. My ideas dried up and the second book I’d started screeched to a halt. By Friday I was crippled with self-doubt and still hadn’t told my family or friends, or signed the contract. Stricken at the thought of letting Lydia and Bookouture down I poured all my concerns out in an email, trying to explain that although I was incredibly grateful, it was what I’d always wanted, but the process of writing another book, in a specific genre, with a looming deadline, was terrifying. Believing I’d blown my chance I went to bed for the rest of the day with the covers pulled over my head.

On Saturday I left the house for the first time in days. It was freezing, but as I sat by a local lake, my fingers blue with cold, idea upon idea juggernauted towards me. What if I put this twist in my new book? What if the main character did this? I scrambled in my bag for my ever-present note-book and scrawled page upon page of bullet points. Sunday was spent typing up my notes. My novel was back on track.

Lydia rang me Monday morning and alleviated every single fear I’d had, and even some I wasn’t even aware of.

And that’s when I felt it. That frisson of excitement.

That I can.

I will.

I am.

 

It took a while to fully sink in but I can now genuinely say I’m utterly thrilled with the opportunity and so, so thankful to be signed to such an innovative and dynamic publisher. I can’t stop smiling.

So if you look out of your window and happen to see a woman cartwheeling down the street while simultaneously screaming with happiness and necking champagne, well, that would be me.