Trials and smiles of an author (7) with particular reference to “The Servant’s Voice”

I am currently enmeshed in proof-reading, which is a very pleasant task. But also dangerous, in more ways than one.

For example, I described a character as wearing green. Later in the story he was wearing brown, and although it was a different day, he was leading such a busy life that Proofreader decided he only had one suit. So “brown” was changed to “green.” I almost moved straight on, missing that what I’d originally written was “brown, the same colour as his face”… These green-skinned aliens get everywhere (watch “Captain Marvel” if you don’t believe me), but they haven’t yet reached Ricossa.

Anyway, when I’ve finished, I need to send the corrected documents across the world for my publisher to put into an electronic and paperback book. Once I’ve got this back in my eager hands, an official launch date for “The Servant’s Voice” can be set. For various reasons, including the fact that I’m going to Uganda next month, this date will not be before late October at the earliest.

However, the marketing needs to start now, as those of you on Facebook already know.

Before I go any further, two disclaimers.

First, it is my fundamental rule, as I’m sure I’ve said before, that I am not asking anyone to buy, read or recommend a book they don’t want to buy, read or recommend. (I just want to gently suggest to as many people as possible that they might want to buy, read etc.)

Secondly, it is greatly flattering to me that there are some readers of this blog who are not also readers of my books, which after all are not to everyone’s taste. If this is you, you are free to ignore the rest of this post, and tune in next week.

However, many others of you have already been very kind in helping to publicise the Tales from Ragaris, and I’d be grateful if you’d do so again. You can do this any way you want, but if you’re looking for ideas:

  1. I am going to be seeking, on Facebook, and elsewhere, a few people to read and review the book pre-publication. This would mean being willing to commit to reading a Word document 400+ pages long over the next four weeks or so, and then posting a review as soon as possible after the details go live on Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere similar you like. (If you were part of the focus group I’m not asking you to do this, and read it twice!) Obviously you should feel free to be honest and critical, and I hope you don’t have to have read the other two first.
  2. If you have read “We Do Not Kill Children” and/or “The Tenth Province of Jaryar”, and haven’t reviewed them already (thank you Judith, Stephen and others), you could consider doing so – you don’t need to have bought a book through Amazon to review on its page, although you do need to register. You can review them without waiting for the third one to come out. They say people notice when a book’s got 100 reviews, or is it 1000?
  3. I was pleased to hear the other day that my books had been casually mentioned in a local church vestry without my having to be there at all. Generally, feel free and more than free, to chat about the new book, Ragaris and #swordswithoutmisogyny wherever is appropriate – online, on postcards to your mother, or in casual conversation.
  4. In due course there will be posters and flyers. Do you have a window you would be willing to lend?
  5. If you are on Facebook, please like or follow the Swords Without Misogyny page. It doesn’t get a lot of attention, I think because FB changed the rules a while ago to favour personal pages over commercial, which is fair enough. I could of course pay FB to “boost” me, but since I personally always try to ignore all “Sponsored” posts, this seemed a hypocritical option, as well as expensive and techy.
  6. Still on Facebook, basically of course I would like my posts about the book, both on SWM and on my own page to be not merely liked and commented on, but also shared if possible, especially if you think you know a lot of people that I don’t. (I’m very grateful to those who share already.)
  7. I’m dipping a toe in the terrifying ocean that is Twitter, so if you feel really keen you could follow me or promote me there.
  8. I’ve got a marketing policy of looking out for anyone famous or semi-famous who might be sympathetic to my work, whose contact details are in the public domain, and emailing them politely. This includes, for example, book reviewers who say things like “Why are all feminist novels these days so dystopian?” So if you spot an appropriate piece in print (especially in other journals than the Guardian) or online, you could either let me know, or if you like, comment or respond yourself.
  9. If you’ve got a copy of either of my books that you don’t feel you’re going to read again, you could give them away. And I don’t just mean “give to your longsuffering cousin”. I wouldn’t be offended by seeing copies of my books in the window of Oxfam: it all contributes to their normalisation as books one might read or buy.

All the above are things that could be done before “The Servant’s Voice” actually comes out. When it does:

  1. Please buy a copy, although I do appreciate that independent paperbacks are expensive. You will probably not be able to persuade your book group to read it, unless they work exclusively with Kindle.
  2. It would be awfully nice if you could tell people that you have bought or read it, again on Facebook or other social media. (Despite feeling that I had banged on about it forever, when “The Tenth Province” came out, it seemed as if it had fallen into a commentless void, and I wondered if anyone was reading it at all. I later found, happily, that they had; still, months later a supportive friend asked me when book 2 was coming out.) The ultimate joy for an author on social media is when a keen reader takes a selfie of themselves with book, as my kind daughter did.
  3. And again this will be the time for reviewing – and of course it doesn’t have to be on official review sites. Just telling people in any forum or language that you have read or are reading this book.
  4. It should also be out well in time for Christmas…

Please do remember that you don’t have to do any of this! But those of the world’s population who have read the Tales from Ragaris are my best route to other readers.

Love from the PPI Blogger

PS I’d also be very happy if anyone wanted to advertise this blog. If you like a post, it should be fairly easy to post and share.

PPS Other ideas welcome!

  • Malachi Malagowther

    6th September 2019 at 8:35 pm Reply

    I can’t wait for the third book to come out. It has been in gestation for a while. Although as a focus group member I already know how many corpses there are strewn about and I have a rough idea of the ending – unless it has changed?

  • Stephen Sheridan

    9th September 2019 at 2:00 am Reply

    I’m not on Facebook, but very happy to distribute flyers etc. I can probably just make some up from your Amazon reviews etc and circulate them around the village I live in, notices and on the message board at the rail station (I commute to London). Just let me know if you want to review anything I put out there. Can’t wait for the new book – I am very intrigued by the premise.
    All the best for Uganda – my dad did aerial survey over it with the RAF, so they could hand over more accurate maps just after independence. He told me its beauty and agricultural fertility appeared to be both a blessing and a curse. The biggest curse though is that European colonialism left random borders bound to trigger inter-ethnic conflicts. A bit of an insoluble problem, except perhaps to Africans themselves.

    • Penelope Wallace

      10th September 2019 at 12:31 pm Reply

      Very generous offers, Stephen!

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