A writer’s lot can be a happy one, in spite of the frustrations they might experience when they realise that they have to take on a large part of the task of marketing their novel once it’s published. This probably applies to most novelists these days, even if they have a major publishing house behind them. When my first novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, was published by Transita, a small independent imprint (now sadly no longer working in the field of fiction) I was more than happy to do my share of getting my novel into the hands of readers.
Apart from the act of writing itself, one of the main joys for me of being a writer is the feedback from readers, whether in the form of a public review on Amazon, or other people’s online journals or blogs, or a personal note in the post, or an email from an individual.
Since I am co-founder of NOVEL PRESS, and almost all my spare time is focussed on marketing its first product, (my own Paper Lanterns) at the moment have very little time for creative writing.
Paper Lanterns hasn’t been out in the world for more than a few weeks so far, and there are lots of copies already out there, but this marketing business is a hard slog. Novel Press doesn’t have quite the same access to the book distribution services as more established publishers and there are moments when I begin to feel disheartened in spite of the progress I’ve already made.
It’s the feedback which lifts my spirits, reminding me why it is that I write. Not for money, that’s for sure! People sometimes ask me whether I write for myself or for an audience, and I guess the answer is ‘ I write for both’. Before I start, I do have an of idea of my potential readership, but while I’m engaged in the act of writing, all my thoughts are focussed on the process of creating the characters and their stories.
Readers only become a reality for me when I receive their comments, and in a kind of way, this helps to complete the creative circle – the positive feedback is both a wonderful reward for my efforts and a strong motivation to continue, first with marketing, and then, (soon, I hope) with more writing.
Apart from the lovely reviews from Crysse Morrison and Linda Gillard (both quoted on the front and back cover of Paper Lanterns, and on the introductory pages,) and those from Bookcrossers, LyzzyBee and Heaven-Ali, the first written comment I received was in an email from a work colleague. The high from that sustained me for hours!
“I have now finished Paper Lanterns. I am no literary critic, as evidenced here, but, for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed it. I loved the way it felt like you were going on the journey with Ann, both physical and emotional, and having to re-evaluate opinions of the various characters, especially Vivienne. I also liked the contrast between forsaking a true love for the family and, seemingly, abandoning family to be with a true love. There were lots of interesting characters and I felt their stories and the past/present & England/Hong Kong elements intertwined really well. By re-exploring venues with Ann and George, but also by meeting new characters such as Stuart, it all rolled along well and I found myself looking forward to my bedtime reading session to find out where it was all going.”
A fascinating aspect of reviews is the way that different people focus on different aspects of the book. One of my favourite reader’s blogs is Rhapsody in Books, and I was delighted with the insightful review that Jill wrote a few days ago. I wholeheartedly recommend you to browse though her reviews, because if you’ve already read the book you’re quite likely to gain new insights from her comments, and be inspired to read other books.
The next post will feature one of my favourite blogs for writers.
PS - If you were wondering about the significance of the snowdrops, I’ve been meaning to post a nice spring picture, and this is a photo I took when I was down at my mother’s house two or three weeks ago. I emailed this to my mother, sister and brother, who are in Hong Kong at the moment, so that they could see them.