July marks a very important anniversary for me. It’s a year since I received that exciting email from Rainstorm Press offering me my first book deal. Six months later my fledgling, nursed and nurtured, was cast out into the world.
A relative stranger to social media, I had no Twitter, Face book, website or blog back then. I admit I approached them with trepidation; few of my close friends had Face book accounts and hardly any Twitter. I remember thinking: Who should I follow? What shall I talk about?
As I became accustomed to social media, I soon realised it’s not all about marketing and selling books. When you start to engage with other readers and writers the world drops into your lap and you discover a new band of friends who add valuable advice, support and lots of fun to your daily life. I have met so many fascinating people, a wonderful throng of new online friends, and read some amazing new work. I dearly hope to meet up with some of them in person one day.
My first blogging experience was my weekly ‘Diary of a Newbie Novelist’ column on www.newbiewriters.com . Having been a member since 2007, Newbies holds a very special place in my heart and I’ll always be grateful to them for lending me their blog space which I still occasionally partake. My own website and blog was launched in January this year, designed by the wonderfully talented Richard at ‘Blandy Does’ who spent an age discussing design, layout, colours and wording with me and I think his patience, understanding and sheer talent is what makes it still feel so very personal and special today.
The support from friends and family throughout my journey has been overwhelming. I’ll never forget the book launch party my friends Phil and Jean arranged for me complete with posters, stickers, cake – I did my first reading there. And my first book signing when friends and family rallied around offering help, advice and support, many of them coming along (even though they’d already read the book) so that I didn’t sit on my own, ‘Billy No Mates’ style. I’ll always be grateful.
I suppose it’s not surprising with a British murder mystery (even signing with an American publishing house) that 70% of my books sales have been here in the UK. This has been boosted dramatically by the wonderful support from local press, libraries and bookstores who have actively promoted me as a local author. I’ve met so many friendly people and enjoyed some fabulous new experiences. I still remember John Griff’s words before we started the live radio interview at the BBC, “How are you feeling right now?” He was so warm and engaging that any nerves were crushed by excitement and his consummate professionalism carried me through, making the event so much fun. He was very sweet too, allowing me to take silly photos afterwards for the album.
As I move forward in my writing journey I’d to thank everyone for their help and support in making this a very special launch year for me. These memories are what dreams are made of and will stay with me forever.