latest news as at 27 January 2017
The final proofs of SHOULD I WEAR FLORAL? and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving (also illustrated by Denise Horn) are sitting on my desk and my computer screen shows the latest document. All it takes now is to read through and check that all amendments were made as requested.
THE JOURNEY TO PUBLISHING GRANDMA'S POETRY BOOK.
Uploaded the book at the beginning of May. 2014 I had wanted to do it earlier but the process and final polishing took much longer than I thought it would. Printer problems delayed the scanning of my illustrator's drawings and we kept finding poems still lacking a picture.
This weekend I discovered a poetry website where writers can upload a poem on the last Saturday of each month and get comment on it. I registered and was told to put the poem on my wordpress site and then upload the link which I did. The poem is about mobile phones. The outcome of this was that I have many comments, likes and new people following my writer's blog. I can see this as a great opportunity to drive people to my blog and therefore promote myself and Grandma's Poetry Book. I won't be pushing the book. Just getting the comments and the follows is enough for now as word of mouth counts more than anything and it is getting people talking. There are blogs on my writer site about the self publishing process and mentioning Grandma's Poetry Book. I am so excited about this development and enjoying the process.
1st October. I have spent the last three weeks trying to become more adept at using Twitter, downloading help sheets, following links. This has been a SLC (steep learning curve). Interacting is the answer apparently so I have sought out Mums sites and sites for the over 50s or retired. Two years ago I attended a workshop by Sally Tickner and I contacted her for some help. She took a look at my twitter account and told me to reduce the number I follow to reduce the tweets and make those I get more meaningful. Meaningful content and links were also recommended. So I have been going through disconnecting with all the newspapers, tv and radio stations I was following and Sally also said it was fine to block people I thought were time waster or rather dubious. The result of all this work has been that I have tweeted several key groups about my book and they have 'favourited' my tweet! I am also getting better at responding to follows with a thank you and a website or facebook link.
Today, 1st October, is OlderPeople'sDay which was fortuitous so I tweeted them and they retweeted to their followers and then one of their followers retweeted it AGAIN!
Three weeks ago I was feeling overwhelmed about the prospect of marketing and promoting my book but I am enjoying this interaction method and thinking up short phrases to tweet with the hashtag. I have been in touch with a family with twins living in Bath and numerous others. I tried the 'ask a question' tip and asked what was good about being a Grandma.
Yesterday I signed off the final proofs. Another read through the whole fifty-seven poems which I almost know off by heart by now. Decided that it is really rather good after a spell of wondering how my work would be received.
Today I signed off the Cover, with the blurb on the back and the spine. I printed off a copy and put it where I can see it to remind me that I am almost there. It looks really good, thanks to Amy Statham.
Now I need to choose some marketing materials to supplement some cards I have made with Microsoft Publisher and get these under way.
Yesterday there was a loud knock at the door and a delivery man gave me a large box to my puzzlement. It was 50 jiffy bags I'd forgotten I'd bought on ebay. Here's hoping for orders by post anyway. Now I am off to order some pretty bags which I can use at book signings. This will allow me to put a business card, leaflet and a voucher to use in the shop inside.
9 October 2014. Two kinds of pretty paper bags ordered for giving out books at signings locally.
Today I visited my local bookshop and introduced myself. The owner does know me as, when times are hard, I take some of my massive book collection to sell. When I gave the title she immediately said she had the information (thanks to Rosie at Matador) and that she had thought at the time that it looked 'really good'. I promised to take in a book and show her when I have them so she can see how good it looks! I am so glad the books are going to be ready for Christmas.
I am also now officially a Goodreads author. I put my book on the Goodreads site with the ISBN and other information. Three days later they got back to me to say I had been accepted as a Goodreads author and to write a profile. I am now writing so many profiles what with social media and other sites, including this one, that I have put all the information into a WORD document so I can access it easily and choose what to upload. After all, the word limits vary from site to site.
Last weekend I wrote a marketing email with links and information about the book and sent it to everyone on my address list. An old school friend got in touch and we exchanged news after a gap of a few years. She had tried to buy the book on this site but used an out of date card so she was going to try again yesterday. That, I think, will be my first sale!
I also heard from other people. Some gave just a short 'congrats and hope it does well' but one was from another person I had lost touch with although she lives in the same town. We have also caught up with lots of news and are meeting up at the beginning of November. So my book is adding much meaning to my life before it is even sold!
My tweeting to target audiences is working with several organisations or people 'favouriting' my tweet about the book. I am a newbie where twitter is concerned having hardly used my account except to tweet my blog posts over the last two or three years. A bad experience of being hacked sent me off twitter for a while but now I don't fear such intrusion as I change my p/word frequently and know what to do in the case of being hacked.
I have prepared some small leaflets for giving out to friends and people locally and also have done some cards but my cartridges are so dear that I am using Matador's marketing services for postcards and leaflets.
I was advised by Rosie to use LinkedIn and through that social media platform I found someone who admired my poetry reading three weeks ago. She has a beautiful singing voice and so I am looking forward to the next venue in November.
The self promo part of the publishing process was something I was not looking forward to but having read lots of blog posts and other articles about how to get followers and tweet meaningful content I am enjoying interacting with people I meet on there. Also the thought of a book signing does not send me into a dither now. However, watch this space.
I have become very active on twitter during October and there is much re-tweeting going on and favouriting. I try to interact directly with mums and the over fifties groups I have been seeking out and have gained a lot of interest and certain fans who are re-tweeting for me.
Friday 24th October. I hear the books are at Troubador but I haven't seen mine yet as I went on holiday and could not take delivery.
Sunday 26th I hear that my illustrator's friend has now received her book in America via Amazon. Wow.
The email read
One of my friends in America has received the book today!!!!! How come? I can hardly believe it! She LOVES it and so do her grandchildren! :) xxx
28th October. My books were delivered in the afternoon. I was soooo pleased with them. The quality is fantastic and it looks great. The cover is just as I hoped. It is actually a little thicker than I anticipated so I am really pleased.
Via Facebook I offered free copies to local charities for their raffles in the period running up to Christmas. This has been well received locally and I still get enquiries. So far about 7 copies have been or about to be won!
I take my books everywhere and have cards in my pocket so I can hand out information if asked.
I took some books to the Swanage Musical Theatre Group rehearsal for Pyjama Game and sold two the first night but tactfully asked the third person to go to the local bookshop.
I had taken 10 copies to my local bookshop and I learned about a week later that they had run out so they now have a further 10.
On Wednesday 29th I posted 7 complimentary copies to my 7 grandchildren. The youngest but one, Eva, who is 4, loves the page with her name on ie the dedication page, as she can see her cousins' names too. She spends a lot of time looking at this page apparently!
Also on 29th I met with a friend in a local café and she bought a copy. I also met fellow local author John Powell who gave me good advice on marketing my book. We exchanged copies, each counting it as a sale!
I then used another café that afternoon as another friend bought two, one for herself and one for her sister-in-law. My illustrator, Denise Horn, came with a large order from friends who want the book with her illustrations in.
On Thursday 30th October I went to Bournemouth and took the book into the library. They have since said they get too many enquiries from self published authors but I can donate to a SP bookshelf in the library and they will put a comment slip in the back. They then feed back the comments to the author.
I also took some books to an independent bookshop in one area in Bournemouth but the owner is in the process of selling so she cannot take any at the moment. She has kept the A1 to pass to the new owner.
My partner and I lunched in a vintage café in Westbourne, Chocol8, and the owner is happy for us to do a signing in there one evening 6-8pm. This will have to wait until the Sandbanks toll ferry is back in service as it is too far to travel round otherwise.
I then went to Portsmouth, taking the book to the Library there and visiting Waterstones. It was exciting when they called up the information on the computer and said 'you are on the system'. A great feeling. Portsmouth library have agreed to buy copies as the children featured in the poems live in Portsmouth. They are also putting a copy in their local studies section as there are references to Hayling Island and local links to the author and family. Since my visit they have offered me the chance to have a table in the lunch hour in Southsea Library which has a lot of usage over that time period.
I have taken the book elsewhere. A garden centre with large restaurant will do a book launch for me and I have the telephone number to ring. I also have the number of the buying office at John Lewis. The National Trust noted the references to places of interest in Dorset and the fact that Denise and I are both local so a book has been sent by the manager at the Corfe Castle shop to their Head Office and I wait to hear the results.
I am getting a good deal of orders through the post from people I know and people who have been informed by others.
At 15th November, I had a total of four 5* reviews on Amazon.
I am now in the process of sending out review copies to magazines and organisations whose members/readers may be interested in reading about Grandma.
Last night I was in our local Candleworld Shop, which has fantastic illuminations and decorations. The owner holds Christmas events every Saturday and Wednesday evening to include mulled wine or Cava and nibbles. I had a table, chatted with lots of the customers and sold six copies.
I had not been looking forward to the promotion, signing and selling of the books but I am really enjoying this phase. I have experience in marketing from my years in Further Education and this has helped me target letters and flyers appropriately.
Throughout the whole process, all the Matador staff have been so helpful and kind. Being a newbie I have had to ask some questions and they have never made me feel inadequate. They have given me so much advice and I am exceedingly grateful to them for making publishing my first book such a pleasure. Thanks in particular to Amy who patiently laid out the copy, Rosie for her hard work with marketing and dealing with my frequent pleas for help and explanation. I may have said this before but I am very very pleased I took the proofreading option as my punctuation of the poems was not exact and some suggestions by others were not correct. I would always use this facility again as I am thrilled with the perfection of the book. I am getting so many compliments about it and it is so lovely to think that my work is 'out there' being read and enjoyed by people.
I have given some free copies for local charity raffles and one extra one to be placed in the specially adapted chalet known as Heroes Haven a holiday chalet for injured ex servicemen. When I met the organiser at another local event she encouraged me to promote my book at the local Christmas street market on 6th Dec but all pitches were taken. She immediately told me I could go on the end of their table as they were so grateful for the free copies. That day I sold 11 books and made contact with people who were only visiting Swanage.
In fact in the last week up to 10th December I have sold 25 copies privately at events.
10 December Last night I gave a short talk/promo of my book at Hampshire Writers' Society. They meet once a month at the University of Winchester. I had a lot of interest in my book and sold 6 more copies.
I have now resumed my membership of HWS and can put information about Grandma on their blog site. So on today's to-do list I have to read others' blogs so I can see what they put there.
I also need to contact schools in the area to arrange to talk to the children about poetry and my techniques. I hope to inspire them to enjoy poetry and make it one of their passions for life!
January. I have had a second print run of 500 copies and now the ebook is uploaded I have some good reviews on netgalley.
I have been active on Facebook, my writer page, LinkedIn and Twitter. I now have nearly 1170 followers whereas in October I only had 200. I tweet individual promos to those I think will have an interest and include information about my book when I thank people for following or follow someone and try to get them to follow back. I have made some sales this way but how many I cannot be sure of.
Some of my local networking is paying off and I have bookings for talks to local organisations such as the WI and Over60s club. Cafes have been very welcoming for signings and sometimes even if someone does not buy a book there is a later pay off from simply chatting to people about the book, writing poetry and, of course, my grandchildren.
I have had forms to fill in from the National Trust and hopefully they will be stocking the book. I have persevered with W H Smith and now have an address I can send the book to and have been told that if it is of local interest I can approach our local store.
I take 2-3 books everywhere with me and can always produce one if asked. I also always have cards in my coat pocket and can hand these out when I meet people.
I have contacts with Harpenden, especially their History society and they have bought a book which they will display at meetings. I provided flyers specific to my links 'Harpenden born and bred author'.
I came across information from my Old Girls Association for St Albans Girls' Grammar School and remembered they have a newletter so I have sent information about the book, the background and a cover pic as well as a pic of myself and a sample poem that they can put in the next newsletter.
One pay off from the publication is when people I used to know get in touch with me either to ask for a book or to say how much they have enjoyed it.
I was pleased the other week to hear from a buyer that she was reading the poems to her mother who has Alzheimers. She is enjoying them and laughs at the poems. Her daughter says they then talk about her memories of when her children and grandchildren were young - a form of reminiscence therapy. This was very gratifying.
I still have some outlets to telephone. Before Christmas I left books in several stores wherever I happened to be visiting but I have not heard anything. My to do list gets longer each day and I am constantly amazed at how much work there is after publication. However, I am finding time to work on my memoir of growing up in Harpenden in the 1950s which I hope to send to Matador later this year.
My local bookshop, The Swanage Bookshop, has been very supportive with my book and at the end of March I estimated they had sold about 27 copies. Gullivers Bookshop in Wimborne is also stocking Grandma's Poetry Book. I have since contacted The Bridport Bookshop and they requested a review copy. They then contacted me to say they were going to stock the book via their wholesaler. This means my book is in three Dorset bookshops.
A friend suggested I take a book into one of my National Trust shops. In Dorset we have several nearby. The manager sent me application forms to be a supplier which I duly completed and sent back. In mid March I was sent a confirmation and a vendor ID together with BACS forms. This is exciting.
Today 1st April 2015, no April Fool but the sight of my book sitting in the poetry section of my local library alongside a book by Carol Ann Duffy. This has to be the best day so far.
Over the summer I was busy attending local fetes and others further afield. I am drawn to those supporting a good cause and am happy if I sell 6-8 books as I find this results in more sales later via email or the website. I have my handmade flyers and this brings more contacts all the time.
In July I attended the Bridport Artisan Market for the first time and tweeted The View from Bridport on twitter. The reporter came to see me, took a photograph and wrote a piece on 8 July which was delightful. I have since been to two more of their markets which are well attended.
I also sent a copy of my book to the Bridport Bookshop and they are now stocking it. I sent to the Christian bookshop in Bridport and they have invited me to two of their coffee mornings and also stock the book. There are a few sales at the coffee morning and usually a few in between. In August they requested more copies so I posted a further three.
The events are not always about sales. At one fete I did not sell one copy but an editor of a Dorset magazine took my card and a copy and said he would review it in the autumn. The review was fantastic and came out the week before Christmas.
In the last week ie before Christmas I have sold several copies to people who bought last year and now want to give the book as a present this Christmas. I also received a phone message from someone who took my card in June and who wants to buy a copy now.
At last week's Artisan market in Bridport I was disappointed to sell only one copy despite a large attendance on a Saturday. However, it was pouring with rain and visitors were struggling to hold umbrellas and were not in a position to pick up a copy and read one. However, several people did pick up and read and talked to me about the book. Yesterday an email via the website asked for a signed copy. He explained he could not buy on Saturday as his wife was with him and he wanted it for her as a Christmas present. This cheered me up.
My local animal rescue centre has copies and they keep £1 for each one sold. So far there has been interest and two sales. The display copy is available for all visitors to see.
Some months ago a hotel in our road offered to have copies on their reception desk and about 6 weeks ago the owner contacted me and said she had money for me. She had sold 5 and asked for more.
Disappointingly a hotel which expressed interest in author talks in the evening found their guests were disappearing after dinner so this was shelved for the time being. Another disappointment was that the National Trust have not pursued their interest in dealing with me direct and stocking the book in Dorset NT shops. However, I am told they take a long time to organise such things so there is still hope.
In June I attended the Winchester Writers' Festival as usual but this year I arranged to share a table with another author (£30 for a day)and I also arranged for P G Wells to have some copies on their stall. I sold a few copies this way but raised the profile. The week after the festival I had an email from the mother of one of the other attendees who had seen the book and knew her mother would like a copy.
I am pleased that my domain name on my website is www.dicastle.co.uk which means that, if someone googles me, my link is the first that comes up so I am easily found.
Now with Christmas approaching I am getting active on twitter and Facebook and looking for Christmas events to attend. One I am returning to is where I sold 13 copies last year, the most ever at a personal signing event.
My local bookshop has now sold about 36 books and I ensure they always have about 5 copies on the shelves, usually two in the poetry section and 3 in the general 'new books' section.
The second print run has not been swallowed up as quickly as the first but I suppose that is only to be expected. The book will not date and will be 'out there' for many years to come.
Meanwhile I have been invited back to a local gift shop to do a couple of signings during their Christmas evening events and wherever I go I receive advice about suitable venues which are worth attending.
As I approach the anniversary of the publication I can look back on a very enjoyable year when I have met many lovely people. As well as fab reviews, the comments I receive are rewarding. At the latest Artisan Market another stallholder who bought a copy to give as a present told me that he had changed his mind. He could not bear to part with his copy as it was so beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated. That was heartwarming.
Roll on Year 2.
As 2015 drew to a close SAGA ran a competition for my book and I have grown about 300 or more followers and much comment. Amazon has had to re-order another 15 copies by the look of it. I had no idea that comping was so widespread. What a learning curve for me.
My other news in December 2015 was that our local council rented out the beach huts for a Christmas market known as Pop Up Shops. I made a Facebook page for them and those of us with our crafts became firm friends and will be holding indoor events during the spring and summer. The Tourist Information Centre wants to repeat the beach hut Pop Up Shops next Christmas and New year. I sold 48 books at the beach hut so it was well worthwhile. When it was quiet I was writing or editing works in progress.
Denise is now drawing madly for our second book which is Should I Wear Floral and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving. It looks at the funnier and more irritating side of life in a humorous way. I think sometimes I like this book more than Grandma's Poetry Book.
We are also planning a third book as a sequel to Grandma's Poetry Book. This will be The Alternative Grandma's Poetry Book and it will have poems about grandchildren in Australia who are only
seen once a year, step grandparenting which is difficult, the daughter in law who is not welcoming and issues around adoption. I was told that my book is a jolly, happy book about the 'normal' grandparenting route so it would be good to cover other issues.
As for marketing Grandma's Poetry Book, I use Facebook via my writer page and I use Twitter to ask for reviews from book bloggers especially SAHM (stay at home mums) I tweet the link to the reviews repeatedly and more so before Christmas and Mother's Day. I attend lots of fetes, markets, craft fairs and writers' events and now, as well as promoting the book, I promote my talks. I give talks on Writing and the journey to Grandma's Poetry Book. I also do talks on Dyslexia and Deaf Awareness. I am even giving a talk on Mental Health in January to a group in west Dorset. I take my books to my talks so, as well as charging for the talk, I also get the chance of a few sales and I promote my local bookshop if I am in my own area. I am giving talks this month, October 2016 to Swanage Over Sixties Club, and to the retirement housing complex at St Aldelms' Court in Swanage. I have talks booked up to 2017 with women's groups.
As for outlets I have found emporiums are wonderful for selling my book as people go to emporiums to get unusual gifts and my book makes a good gift. I usually manage to negotiate to leave 10 on a Sale or Return basis and the commission rates vary from 10 per cent or 20 percent to £1 a book. I am gradually moving further afield with placing the book in these outlets.
A friend who gives me reflexology was an accountant in her life before Swanage and she has helped me with my tax. She has also produced an Outlet Xcel spreadsheet so I can enter how many books I take to replenish the stock and the money received or the invoice sent.
In late November and December we will once again be holding the Pop Up Shops in the Beach huts on the Swanage Sea front. Last year I sold 50 books in a month, opening around 10 or 10.30 depending on the weather and closing when it became too dark and cold around 4pm. The weather last year was not good so not many visitors came to Swanage. We hope for better weather this year and a very successful market season. I have ended up as the co-ordinator of the group who want to hire the beach huts and in January this year I started running local craft fairs in the local Catholic Church hall. It provides me with a sales outlet and other crafters who were on the sea front in December 2015 attend. We are getting well known and getting our publicity together so hopefully these fairs in 2017 will begin to be even more successful.
Last week I uploaded my next book, Should I Wear Floral? and Other Poems on Life, Love and Leaving. it is a humorous book but some poems are sad and emotive. There is a poem on the death of Princess Diana, the death of the Queen Mother and the death of Spike Milligan. Some poems are a social commentary - such as Excuse Me If I Smash Your Phone - a rail against the over use of phones in public and The Look Down Generation - a rail against a generation of people who spend more time looking down at their phones than actually communicating with each other and living their lives. I am quite excited about this book as its scope reaches further than Grandma's Poetry Book. I already have buyers of my first book who arrive at my table at markets and other events asking if I have my new book ready. Hopefully it will be ready by the New Year 2017.
My next project is my memoir of growing up in the 1950s in a Hertfordshire village. While I have only had a proof read for my poetry books, this book will need a copy edit and I have a contact who offers Author Services who will do this for me for £1.60 per thousand words so I am saving up for that now.
This weekend 15th and 16th October 2016 I am off to South House Retreat for a writers' retreat and Fiction Writing Weekend. I wrote a Nano novel in 2011 and want to develop it so I am looking forward to 48 hours of concentrated study and seminars as well as a valuable 1-1 critique and advice service. I was unable to attend Winchester Writers Festival this year for financial and other reasons so this is my treat to make up for that gap in my writing life. I have attended Winchester every year since 2009 and found it valuable.
On another note I have started a serious writing group in Swanage. We call ourselves the Purbeck Pen Pushers (PPP) This is for serious critiquing but the monthly meetings include a speaker. In October we have Lyn Fegan who has written a book on running a hotel/B and B.
You can follow me on Facebook. Di Castle - Writer and on Twitter @dinahcas
As a child, Di enjoyed A A Milne's poetry and later grew to love the humour and bouncy verse of Spike Milligan and Pam Ayres.
The inspiration for Grandma's Poetry Book was the birth of her first grandchild. Some poems originated in chance remarks, others in conversations with friends and other grandparents.
Di was born and bred in Hertfordshire. She always had a love of words and started writing as soon as she could hold a pen.
After her youngest daughter went to school she began a career teaching in Further Education, while collecting a hoard of unfinished manuscripts. Later, her writing took precedence and, since becoming a regular attendee at the Winchester Writers' Conference, she has enjoyed success in their competitions gaining two first prizes and highly commended awards for articles on a range of subjects.
Di enjoyed a nomadic existence in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and South Bucks before finally settling in Swanage in 2001. She lives close to her partner, Bryan, in a Victorian building overlooking Swanage Bay with views towards Bournemouth and Old Harry Rocks. She has three daughters and seven grandchildren.
Grandma's Poetry Book is her first poetry collection.
Di was introduced to Denise Horn, illustrator of Grandma's Poetry Book, by a friend and initially connected with her via Facebook. Denise offered to read the collection to judge whether her type of illustrations would match the 'Grandma' poems. She replied immediately to say she would take on the task.
As well as poetry, Di is working on a memoir of growing up in Harpenden in the 1950s and also a novel about a hearing girl growing up with a deaf sibling. She completed a Nanonovel in 2011 which is a humorous take on a career woman's early retirement which does not go exactly as planned.
Di continues to write poetry and she is compiling a further collection 'On Love, Life and Leaving'.