An Author-ly Good Couple of Days

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Happy weekend! I’ve had an incredible end to the week, thanks to three amazing things that have happened.

1. My Very First Author Talk!

I’ve received wonderful support from my local libraries. A year ago, before I knew I had a publishing contract, I met a woman called Sharon at a works careers fair. She works for North Yorkshire Libraries. We got chatting between conversations with job-seekers and I told her I was a writer. I also explained that I was a Brown Owl and that I’d be interested in bringing my Brownie Pack to our local library (her base) at some point to complete our Booklover Badge. Earlier this year, I was able to get in touch to organise the Brownie night … and to tell her that I had a publishing deal. Sharon was thrilled to bits about this. My husband also has a contact at the library through his photography and, between both contacts, we organised for me to talk at Scarborough Library and also a smaller library on the outskirts of the town. The latter one isn’t until September, but Scarborough Library was on Thursday night. Eek!

10945679_10153485965344073_4084184173099668412_nI was a little nervous about it. A lot of writer friends are very nervous about the idea of speaking to an audience but I’ve been a Trainer for years so this doesn’t phase me at all, although it’s a little different presenting about me instead of work-based subjects. What made me nervous was the thought of nobody turning up. Or, even worse, a couple of people turning up, realising I’m a romantic comedy writer, turning round and walking out in disgust! I was stunned and delighted when I had an audience of twelve, plus Sharon, and the presentation was incredibly well received. I really enjoyed delivering it and got some great questions afterwards. Four attendees even bought a copy of my book and a couple said they’d download it onto their Kindles.

Thank you so much to Scarborough Library for hosting the event. Sharon also confirmed a great piece of news. I submitted Steven to be considered for the library stock and she was able to confirm that they’ll definitely be stocking it at all the libraries in North Yorkshire. Wow! Not only that but, as a local author, I’ll appear twice: in the main section and in the local author section. Very excited about this. I love the idea that my writing can be enjoyed by more and more people by being available in so many different places.

2. Riding High in the Charts

11401501_432174206971006_984189043329891591_nSearching for Steven was selected for a BookBub promotion on Thursday. BookBub are a US company who promote quality books when they’re at significantly reduced prices. Publishers have to apply to appear on this and they’re very selective about who they pick so I was thrilled when my publisher’s application for Steven was accepted. People join mailing lists, picking their preferred genres of books, and BookBub email them with the books they’ve accepted for promo each day. This can boost sales but nothing quite prepared me for how significantly it boosted mine. There are over 400,000 books registered on the UK Amazon charts and, today, I reached number 399! I also peaked at number 25 in the romantic comedy chart which is an incredibly competitive one.

With being a US promotion, Steven has also shot up the Amazon.com chart to number 143,990. I have no idea how many books are registered on there but, if there are over 400,000 on .co.uk, we’re probably talking millions on .com!

To participate in the promotion, Steven was reduced to a 99p download and is going to be available at that price for a short time longer so, if you haven’t already bagged yourself a bargain, now’s your chance!

3. Local Support

Spurred on by the success of Steven today, I decided to visit Waterstones to see if they’ll stock my book. I spoke to a lovely manager and she was exceedingly complimentary about Steven, telling me it was the most professional cover she’d ever seen on one of the local author books they’d stocked and that it would likely sell very well as romcoms are very popular, especially one that’s set in a fictional version of Scarborough like mine is.  I would imagine that it will take a while before they go through their process and obtain the stock, but I’m so thrilled that they’re going to stock it.

Thank you so much to everyone who came along to my talk, to everyone who has downloaded Steven whilst on promotion, and to Waterstones for being so lovely today. And thank you to my lovely hubby for a couple more amazing promo photos 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone xxx

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I’ve started to feel like a real author!

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A frequent discussion amongst writers is at what point you call yourself a writer or an author and it would seem there are mixed views on this. Some would say you can only call yourself a writer when you start earning money from it, some would say you’re a writer if you write non-fiction and an author if you write fiction, some would say you’re only an author when you become published, and others would say you can call yourself a writer whenever the hell you like. If you write, you’re a writer regardless of having a publishing deal or making any money from it. I’m inclined to agree with the latter; you’re a writer if you write. However, I also think of ‘author’ as being the title you almost graduate to when you become published, whether this is by the traditional route or the indie route. This is just my opinion, though, and I’m sure others feel differently.

P1050667I found it quite uncomfortable to refer to myself as a ‘writer’ for a long time. Like so many writing friends, I’d almost whisper it in apologetic terms and dismiss it as a bit of a hobby that wouldn’t go anywhere. Yet I never saw it as a hobby. It was – and is – my passion. When I started writing much more regularly (about five or six years ago), I began to properly think of myself as a writer. Yet I would always still answer the ‘What do you do?’ question with: ‘I’m a recruitment manager’ or ‘I work in Learning & Development’ depending on what the day job at the time was. I would never, EVER, say ‘I’m a writer, and I also work in HR’! Strange.

When I got my publishing deal with So Vain Books last September, I felt like I was a real writer (‘Look, Gepetto, I’m a REAL boy!’) and I had an exciting moment basking in the proud congratulations of friends and family on Facebook. But I was away in a hotel with the day job when it happened, fighting with a crap wifi connection, and it all seemed very unreal. And also very far away!

PhotoFunia-6aa56c2The months have whizzed by, though, and we’re less than a month away from the launch of my debut novel ‘Searching for Steven’. Two weeks ago today, I had my first real author moment. So Vain Books did my cover reveal. I knew it was coming. I’d seen ideas for the design last year and had been party to changes and tweaks since, but this was the first time my friends and family would see it. I woke up to a lovely email from my Publishing Director, Steph, to remind me that it was cover reveal day … and to ask me if I’d like to have the book placed up for pre-order too. Eek! I felt so excited at that moment that I could have burst.

I then had to go to work so it was down to earth with a bump. Intermittently, I checked Facebook, but there was no sign of the reveal. I wondered if there’d been a technical hitch on Amazon to launch the Kindle pre-order (the book will be available for pre-order later). Then, at the very end of the working day, I thought to look on Twitter and it turns out it had been revealed there eight hours earlier! Can’t believe I never thought to look. I couldn’t wait to get to my Mac and do my own reveal with links to the pre-order. My hands were actually shaking as I started to receive congratulations messages, promises to buy it, promises to buy the paperback … and then those little notifications from Amazon announcing ‘I bought Searching for Steven by Jessica Redland’. Oh my goodness! People were actually buying my book! (And you can pre-order if here if you like!) It was such an incredible feeling. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all evening.

Jessica Redland - Searching for Steven - Front Cover LOW RESMy younger brother shared the link on his Facebook page and two of his friends ‘liked’ my writer page and another five pre-ordered the book. How amazing is that? These people don’t know me, but they made the purchase!

I’ve checked out my chart position on Amazon and it was really exciting to see it reach 5,244 on the overall paid Kindle chart on day 3 of the release. That may not sound much but there are hundreds of thousands of books in that chart so I’m beside myself with excitement on that. I can’t see my sales in terms of actual numbers, but my publisher can and they advised me on Monday morning (after just a weekend on sale) that I’d already sold 17. There certainly weren’t 17 friends and family members who’d downloaded it by that point (as I know many want signed paperbacks) so some of those people must have been strangers. That’s quite an overwhelming thought. I’m determined not to get hung up on sales figures and chart positions. I know it takes a heck of a lot for a debut writer to get high sales and chart positions. They’re important and, of course I’d love to get the top 100, but I just want to enjoy the experience. This is my dream and it’s come true! If I become obsessed with clicking on Amazon constantly, I’ll suck the joy out of this amazing thing that’s happening to me.

If you’ve bought already, can I say a massive big fat THANK YOU to you for your support. I really hope you enjoy the read xxxx