As many of you know (because I’m always banging on about it), I want this blog to really focus on writing, book promotion and experimenting with ways authors can generate publicity and build their author platform. So it is with a stupid amount of excitement that I’m trying something new – a blog interview. And my first guinea pig off the ranks is none other than Donna Hosie, author of the fabulous YA fantasy "Searching for Arthur", which I reviewed here last week.
Hi Donna, and thanks for agreeing to be my experiment! Your book has only recently hit the e-shelves, so you’re just beginning your promotional journey. Can you share your master plans?
-- I decided on a very strategic way of doing things. The first was to engage a professional designer for the cover - which is gorgeous! - and then market the book in stages. Stage one was obviously friends and family, stage two was family and friends of family and friends, and stage three is where I am now which is giving some free copies away to bloggers/reviewers for them to review and hopefully recommend.
I wanted to avoid the route some debut authors go down which is to bombard social media in that first week. You just end up spamming and annoying everybody. I have always maintained that word of mouth and recommendations are a writer’s best hope for success and I am prepared to be in this for the long haul.
Wise words there, and you’re spot on about the cover – it’s stunning. How did it come about?
-- I engaged my own designer and found it to be a wonderful collaborative process - something traditionally published authors don't really get to experience. With the cover for Searching for Arthur, the designer and I went back and forth several times until the cover was a perfect match for my vision of the story.
Did you read up on book design or use the designer’s knowledge? What book design tips can you share?
-- I did read up on book design but I chose a designer who had worked with authors I knew. The important thing about the cover is to choose images carefully because most of the time it will be a thumbnail image people see. Keep it clean and clear, nothing fussy in your fonts and images.
And have you had any surprising responses for Searching for Arthur since you began to promote it?
-- I continue to be amazed when I read a tweet or review from a total stranger who has read and loved the book. When the readers are from the general public, then that is a wonderful feeling. Most of the comments centre around the originality of the tale I've told which is exactly what I think the selling point is.
Congratulations on receiving such positive feedback! One thing I personally loved throughout the book is that there were spectacular action scenes juxtaposed with moments of wonderful (and hilarious) comic relief as well as with some to-die-for romance scenes - which story arc did you enjoy writing the most?
-- There are so many story arcs in this tale, and I loved writing every one of them, but I have two joint favourites: the romance between Natasha and Bedivere (I think he is very much overlooked in Arthurian legend), and then the trio of Natasha, Arthur and Slurpy. The sibling relationship between Natasha and Arthur is very much the heart of the trilogy, but then throw in a thoroughly nasty girlfriend and it makes for fun writing. I love writing Slurpy’s character because she is so nasty but I have to be careful not to make her one dimensional, so her redeeming feature is the fact that she truly loves Arthur. The decision to link her with Morgana came halfway through writing the novel but it fitted in effortlessly so it was clearly meant to be.
And finally, what’s one piece of advice everyone considering self-publishing should know?
-- Writers self-publishing need to be informed and they need to take their time. BE PROFESSIONAL ALWAYS. I despair when I see someone announce they finished a novel one day and have it for sale the next. This is your career and if you want longevity - which I do - then you need to do it properly. That means a professional cover, a good edit, and a strategy for promotion. Doing it yourself is very empowering but it is a huge responsibility.
I’m sure it is, and I wish you the best of luck. To all of you in this little blog community we’re building together, I encourage you to go out and support Donna, even if it’s just by RTing this interview or my review (tweets here & here). To one lucky tweeter we’ll award a free Kindle copy of Searching for Arthur, so come back this time next week to see if you've won)! And as this is my first interview, feel free to comment with any questions I should have covered and I’ll chase up the answers.