Working with a publicist for the first time – both exciting and daunting!

Apologies for my absence of late.  Hope everyone’s well and gearing up for either a hot or a cold festive season 🙂

Aussie Father Christmas

One of several reasons for neglecting my blog is that I’ve invested time and money into a real, honest-to-goodness publicity campaign.  After e-shopping around a few US-based book promotion sites, I went back to my first choice, Authoright (http://www.Authoright.com), because they were the only company that offered a single, co-ordinated campaign across both the UK and the US.

Social media for indie authors is great for meeting other authors, some of whom may become readers, but attracting Facebook likes and Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily equate to generating sales!  I’ve been involved on the periphery of a few advertising and marketing campaigns at work, so decided to commit a lump of scarce resource and back my messed-up, introverted self for a change 🙂

Well, what a ride so far!  Two weeks in to an 8-week campaign, working with two highly professional, friendly and encouraging book publicists has completely taken the focus off my writing.  Since I had already fallen behind schedule for “A Life Singular – Part Four” and have shifted my self-imposed deadline to March next year, I am managing (almost) to handle the stress of halted progress!

In my first week, Kate Appleton in London managed to secure me a spot in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, which has an online readership of 175 million per month!  On the other side of the Atlantic, Diana Rissetto has successfully placed me with a couple of well-patronised book blogging sites and is targeting several more specific to my serial’s themes.

Which leads me to the “daunting” part…

What’s that old saying?  “If it bleeds, it leads,” I seem to remember.  When I wrote my biography for Authoright’s initial questionnaire, I had a fair idea that journalists might want to delve into the more painful aspects of my background.  This is why I’m writing, after all.

However, despite Kate’s careful hints that mainstream media might come across as heartless by focussing more on my own story than on the books I’m trying to promote, I have been somewhat distressed by the intrusive nature of their questions, looking to name and shame particular individuals, etc.  While doing this would secretly give me an intense amount of guilty pleasure, I have always thought public humiliation for acts which have gone for years without punishment was only stooping to their level.

For someone whose goals are to bring a positive message through my writing – i.e. to inspire fellow sufferers of mental illness to rise above their symptoms and find success, and more importantly to encourage non-sufferers to understand, tolerate, support and even love us in our quest to live “normal” lives – I hardly wanted to spread my own negative experiences in such gory, gruesome detail.

It has been difficult to dredge up past experiences which I’ve buried so well that I barely recall their detail, inducing panic attacks while on the telephone to journalists and keeping me awake for hours as to the potential consequences.  Even though I managed to convince them that I’m not interested in revealing actual names, it is still frightening to wonder who has the power to make connections…

Oh, well…  I agreed to run the campaign, therefore I need to accept whatever it conjures up.  Hopefully it’s a big boost in sales and nothing more!  That would be awesome.

New interview on the writing of the “A Life Singular” serial from Self-Publisher’s Showcase

Hello everyone,

I have been fortunate to be interviewed by Self-Publisher’s Showcase about my writing.  They asked some particularly relevant and challenging questions – a very interesting exercise!

Please check it out at:  http://selfpublishersshowcase.com/interview-lorraine-pestell-a-life-singular-author/

Thanks,

Lorraine

Censorship of sexual content by self-publishing company

Hi everyone,

Happy Thanksgiving to all US-based readers, and happy weekend to everyone else!

Today I’m calling out for ideas, similar experiences or advice when dealing with the self-publishing company I am using to create soft-cover books for my “A Life Singular” serial.  I have submitted the manuscript and cover design for Part Two of six, paid their fee, proof-read the galleys and was hoping to have books available for the holiday season, only to find out that they will not publish due to “under-age sex” content, which they define as anything more explicit than kissing with characters under 18 years of age.  I can’t believe I’m the first person to write a sex scene involving a 16-year-old woman?

After checking the age of consent in various countries around the world, I have confirmed that my characters are not in fact having under-aged sex.  However, it appears that although one can participate in such activities at 16, one is not able to write about it.  The publishing company’s representative has suggested I change the character’s age to 18 or omit her age altogether.  This is not a viable solution, since the central theme of this part in the serial is the dilemma faced by all teenagers as they gradually mature through the various aspects of their life:  legal majority, smoking, parental control, school, voting and drinking alcohol (which of course is 3 years older in the US than in most other “western” countries).  The sex scenes are only part of the general struggle for independence which all teenagers go through, and are fairly representative of reality, I would dare to suggest.  Therefore, if I were to already make my leading female character over 18, the whole message of Part Two of Six is negated.

In an era where our popular fiction is “dominated by” BDSM <sorry, couldn’t resist :-)>, I am thoroughly disheartened by this censorship of a normal, non-abusive, non-exploitative story about a couple who are dating and later end up getting married, having children of their own and becoming celebrity role models.  I have already fallen foul of the cultural divide when describing the series as “inspirational”, because I hope it will inspire people suffering from mental illness to rise above it and make a success of their lives, since apparently in the US and Canada “inspirational” tends to imply a Christian or religious message.

The refusal to publish is yet more infuriating when the same company published content including under-aged drug-taking in Part One without a murmur!  They are happy for us to write about under-aged drinking, smoking pot and driving at speeds in excess of the limit, for example, which are all illegal, but not about characters over the age of consent exhibiting behaviour that nature intended…  “A Life Singular – Part Three” contains more drug-taking references, so am I doomed to have a one-part serial?

I also refer to the excellent exposé of today’s teenagers in “just_a_girl” by another Australian author, Kirsten Krauth, which has been traditionally published and tells of a 14-year-old girl who corresponds with men online and then arranges to meet them face-to-face in hotel rooms.  If Kirsten was allowed to publish this accurate reflection of today’s society, it appears that over-protective self-righteousness is not universally applied across the publishing industry!

This stuff happens, people!  We read about it every day in the newspapers…  My story contains no sex toys, whips, pain, restraint of people against their will, etc.  Simply two young people in love who are fighting for their independence.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has been through the same exercise with a  self-publishing company and can offer me some advice.

Thanks in advance!

Fantastic books for indie authors

Hi everyone,

I have just finished reading two excellent books by Barb Drozdowich on Book Bloggers and how indie authors can maximise the power of social media.  I cannot thank Barb enough for the insights, practical suggestions and humour in these books, which have reignited my enthusiasm for the countless hours it takes to promote books as a self-published author.

Barb understands that very few indie authors have the luxury of focussing on writing and promotion full-time, and also alludes to the fact that many authors aren’t the type of person who naturally promotes him- or herself!

I thoroughly recommend both these books:  The Author’s Guide To Working With Book Bloggers (Building Blocks to Author Success Series) and

The self-publishing journey so far…

How grateful I am for my background in IT project management, having reached another milestone of self-publishing via Xlibris, from which I will soon add “real” books to my e-inventory!

I’d love to hear from other authors, to see if you have any tips and tricks! So far I have encountered some predictable and other surprising challenges on the journey to getting my book out there. Owing to my tiny budget, I went for the low-cost option and embarked on a series of encounters with my offshore publishing elves.

The IT industry has long been outsourcing work to people in far-flung lands, whose grasp of English is far, far better than my ability to speak their language. Therefore I’m fortunate to have learned how to work with such organisations, who measure the competence of their employees only on throughput. Poor things, with their fake, westernised names, they are so desperate to get that all-important “Approval Form” that they barely consider quality at all. One almost burst into tears when I requested he fix errors in the text for my back cover!

Creating a press release was excruciating, with cultural differences so evident that it almost required a complete rewrite. They are not at liberty to disclose which “100 media outlets” will receive my press release, meaning that I’m not sure what I actually get for my “basic package”…!

Now my book is up on their website, for real customers to buy, and the ^&%*$! website doesn’t even work properly. The search facility can’t find my book by title, only by my last name, and the social media share links sent mysterious HTML code onto my friends’ Facebook pages. To cap it all off, I decided to buy my own e-Book to make sure I am truly for sale, and the website took my credit card without any bother. However, the file it sent me for download won’t open in my e-Reader 😦

Not a good way to spend a Saturday morning, when I really should be spending my time writing Book Two now (or cleaning my house)!  No quick and easy retirement plan for me!!