Photos from my Library Talk – Better late than never!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I delivered a talk at Scarborough Library. I’ve been watching out for the photos appearing on Facebook but it turns out I was following the wrong page. Oops! So here’s a couple of pictures that were taken.

I was really thrilled to have signed and sold four copies that evening. I was allowed to take the flowers home, which was lovely, and the library staff had made the sign for me which I really appreciated.

The second photo includes Sharon Houghton who runs the most local library to me – Eastfield – where I’ll also be speaking in September. Sharon’s been really helpful.

As well as supporting me at Scarborough Library for my talk, she hosted an evening at Eastfield Library a month or so ago for my Brownie Pack testing them on their booklover badge. The girls had a great evening and all joined the library and took out several books. It’s fabulous running a pack of avid readers who have discovered the joy that reading can bring.

Jessica xx

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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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When does a non-reader become a reader?

11062915_10153485965629073_1477999036179981810_nA week or so ago, I received a comment on my Facebook from my cousin that really made me smile: “Well I can’t near that book of yours I got. In 5 years, I’ve never known Michelle read a book. All I can hear is constant giggling…..” This was followed up a few days later with a message from Michelle herself stating: “Just wanted to let you know I’ve finished reading your book (in less than a week – it’s a record for me) and I thought it was amazing. Can’t wait for the next one.”

Both these messages were amazing to receive. Let’s face it, any compliments about my writing are fantastic. But it struck me that what made them even more special was that a non-reader had read my book, had read it quickly, and had loved it!

And Michelle wasn’t the first only one. I run a Brownie Pack and am supported by five other Owls aged seventeen to forty-something. The team knew I’d written a book, I promoted it in our newsletter, and we’ve completed our Writer and Booklover badges as a pack this term in celebration of my publishing deal. I was really conscious that I didn’t want to do the “buy my book” thing and have any of them feel pushed into buying a copy just because they knew the author. However, after I’d talked to the Brownies about my writing journey (prior to running a writing workshop), two of the Owls were anxious to buy a copy as they loved the sound of the story and were keen to know what happened. The following week, the Brownies met at our local library to complete our booklover badge and I brought a copy of Searching for Steven with me for each of them. They were so excited about owning a book by somebody they knew and we all had a good giggle as they placed their copies around the library, as though my book was in stock.

11163942_10153485965149073_2015482777000081150_nAbout a week ago, Maria sent me a text: “Just this minute finished reading Searching for Steven! So surprised that it only took me 11 days to read as I never have been a keen reader but this book is amazing and, as I’ve said, I’ve found it difficult to put down!! You have an amazing talent and I’m so happy for you pursuing your dreams …”

A few days later, Sophie posted a picture of Steven on Facebook and tagged me in on the post: “I’m not one for reading. When I do I usually get bored, manage to chapter 4/5 and give up. So when one of my fellow Brownie leaders published her first book last month I thought I’d buy one! I haven’t put it down since and it’s been the quickest I have ever read a book. Jessica Redland you absolute star! You’ve got me hooked, so it must have been good! Massively impressed and can’t wait for your next one.”

So that’s three self-professed non-readers who’ve loved the book. Yes, one is a family member and two are fellow Brownie leaders, but they could have just said, “It was good” and I’d have smiled politely and assumed either they hadn’t read it, or they’d read it and not liked it. Instead, it’s turned them into speedy readers who are now desperate for the next book in the series. I’m beyond proud to have written something that appeals to non-readers.

This got me thinking about people who don’t regularly read. Why is this? Did they never get into reading as a child? Did they like reading in childhood but found that they struggled to find time as the pressures of work/home ownership/life got in the way? Perhaps it’s more a case of not finding the right genre or author for them.

10945679_10153485965344073_4084184173099668412_nAs a child, I read a lot, although not as voraciously as some authors I know. My author of choice was nearly always Enid Blyton, although there were other books I also liked. As I got older, I read most of Catherine Cookson’s novels and loved them, but this reading choice came because my mum was a huge fan and because the books were set in the North of England from where my family hailed. Then I discovered romantic comedies in the form of Jill Mansell and Marian Keyes and, at that point, I found my genre. I found books I loved. I found books I couldn’t put down. If you haven’t discovered the genre that’s really you, how can you fall in love with reading? I’m hoping that Michelle, Maria and Sophie have discovered a genre through Searching for Steven that they love and that they may be inspired to read other novels in this genre. Of course, I’m delighted that they’ve loved my work and want to continue to read it, but I’d like to share the love a bit as I know how amazing it is to read a book you can’t put down, to be passionate about characters, and to feel a sense of loss when the story is over. I saw Sophie at Brownies again last night and she told me that she doesn’t know what to do with herself now that she’s finished my book. Awww. What a great feeling to have and what a great thing to be told 🙂

Jessica xx

Amazon… A virtual marketplace, or Big Brother?

Great post from Imy Santiago about the worrying Amazon practices around rejecting reviews because allegedly all authors know all other authors and therefore can’t write an unbiased review. Seriously! You couldn’t make this stuff up!

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A couple of weeks ago I read the third installment of a series I really loved. I will refrain from sharing the name of the novel and its author.

Like any reader, as soon as I finished reading, I wrote my review. When I tried posting it on Amazon (I did buy the eBook, just like any normal and decent human being would), I received a rather concerning email.

I will not share the screenshot of the email as it does contain the title of the book and name of the author. In its place I have copied the body of the email below.

Dear Amazon Customer,

Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

Here I was, thinking I had included an…

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