I had good fun being interviewed by Lee Middleton on the Cover to Cover podcast this week. We talk Star Wars, the Bestseller Experiment, Back to Reality and my thwarted dream to become a firefighter. It’s a fab show for readers and writers alike. Click to listen… https://m.mixcloud.com/Studio5OnAir/cover-to-cover-episode-12/
Yesterday, we finally launched our book Back to Reality (I may have mentioned it once or twice on social media), and it was an incredible day. Here’s what I wrote in my diary last night…
Monday 16th October
Publication day! I’m completely knackered, so here’s a quick summary…
My first solo Youtube Live starts well, but soon descends into confusion as it becomes apparent that there was some kind of problem with the link and a bunch of people were on the wrong Youtube page.
I’m stuck in a glass cubicle at work and I’m sweating, but the sales and reviews are coming in. The reviews are completely heartwarming.
We try and hook up with Mike Morris, but he’s in Dubai and we can’t connect so we have to drop his slot. Not great – nothing techie is working!
Second session with Desvaux is better and by now we’re number one in popular music on Amazon.com, nudging aside Phil Collins and Carly Simon!
I’m humming by now, so stroll up to the Next near St Paul’s and buy some fresh t-shirts. It’s a warm, close day and the sky is amber and the sun is a blood orange – side effects of hurricane Ophelia, currently battering Ireland and Northern Ireland.
I freshen-up and change shirts in the toilet at work. We were hoping to speak to Joanna Harris, but the publicist whisks her away. Boo!
The evening Youtube session is the best one. We’re getting the hang of it now, and the enthusiasm from the listeners is wonderful and sustains us.
On the train home, and we’re #1 in three categories on Amazon.com, including Fantasy Humor… above Good Omens and The Colour of Magic…
That’s a pinch-me moment!
Desvaux tweets Gaiman, who retweets us and my notifications go crazy. Desvaux says we’ll faint. Gaiman wants to see the faints, so we film them… More RT fun.
We end the day by finally getting an orange ‘Bestseller’ flag on Amazon.com.
Now for sleep.
What the what?? One day till publication?? In today’s episode Mr. D reads out our blurb (which had to be re-recorded at the last minute, as the blurb has gone through about 150 drafts this week) and I read an excerpt from the book in my best sexy-actor-voiceover-voice… It’s not that sexy. I have a weak ‘r’ which can wob the nawwative of its dwamatic tension.
Listening back, this episode is far too chilled for our penultimate episode… I think we were just knackered at this point. Click here to listen for yourself!
On today’s daily podcast – one of many in the run-up to publication of our book BACK TO REALITY (coming on Monday 16th October!) – we talk about to harness the power of social media to promote your book. Which is a fun thing to do… if our internet is working. Mine has been choked all day, which made today’s Google hangout rehearsal a fun trial…
In this episode the mania from the previous episodes has dampened and we’re starting to sound exhausted… by the way, do listen to the very end of each of these. Our editor Dave puts fun little stings at the end… CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW
In the third of our daily mini-episodes in the run-up to publication of Back to Reality (out on October 16th!) we look at Beta readers and reviews and how to cope with feedback.
You can definitely hear the mania beginning to set in with this episode. We recorded all of these on one night last week, and it was around the third episode that our banter became babble… but there’s some great stuff here. Our beta group on Facebook has been incredible: they have forensic attention to detail and they’re wonderfully supportive, which we really need as we careen towards our publication date (DID I MENTION THAT IT’S OUT ON OCTOBER 16TH???).
In today’s mini-episode of the Bestseller Experiment podcast we discuss the dark art of getting other authors to give you quotes for their book. One way is to start a podcast and call in every favour you have to try and get authors on the show and then beg with them to read your book after a year or so… of course, that approach might not suit everybody, so we explore some other methods. But it pays to be bold! CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW…
At the time of writing, we’re up to episode 36 of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and, as we get close to finishing the first draft of our book, I thought it would be interesting to go back and listen to those early episodes, and give you, dear reader, a little peek behind the curtain.
We still didn’t have any big names lined-up, and this was another one we recorded at the end of August, long before our launch. But, I’d heard precious few editors interviewed in writers’ podcasts and we thought we could offer some value with two of the best, and little did we know what a cracking episode it would be. Have a listen here.
Sam and Juliet came properly prepared with copious notes and, as we recorded it at the tail end of a colleague’s farewell drinks in the office, they were both very relaxed thanks to the power of beer.
My favourite bit comes 23m 30s in, where I flippantly announce the end of the podcast. We had to make it clear to listeners that we weren’t cynically trying to custom-build a bestseller. I’d been tipped off that a book called The Bestseller Code was coming soon, and already it was getting a bad buzz in the industry. We wanted to avoid comparisons with any kind of bestseller-by-numbers approach. It’s a criticism that we still get, and understandably, considering what we decided to call the show, but I didn’t want this to be a nuts and bolts, insert tab A into slot B operation. If my name is going on the cover of a book, it’s going to be as good as I can make it.
A few thoughts listening back…
- The sound at Hachette still had too much reverb.
- We still had no clue what we were going to write
- I say ‘prevaricating’ when I mean ‘procrastinating’… It’s lucky I don’t intend to make a career out of this words malarkey, eh?
- I do a very weird pause at the 39:37 mark. I simply ran out of things to say.
- I still haven’t spoken to Juliet about her time working in recording studios, and I see her every day…
- We still haven’t got Ian Rankin on the podcast (but we’re working on it).
- There are no twins or unreliable narrators in our novel, but there is some sex. It’s excruciating.
- We have the first mention of Into The Woods by John Yorke!
- I keep banging on about ‘voice’… Something I still bring up with annoying regularity.
- Our biggest takeaway: we were NOT going to write GONE GIRL.
- Juliet mentions using everyday language to help make a book more accessible to readers. Not quite the same as Mr. D’s Grade 3 obsession, but duly noted.
- That fear of it all falling apart was still very real…
- Question of the week was another fake one!
Our most important lesson from this episode was Juliet’s declaration that if you don’t love what you’re writing, then why would anyone else? And writing what you read was another important note for us. As Mr. D reads a lot of narrative non-fiction, and I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, I thought it would be impossible to find something that we were both fans of, but it turns out I needn’t have worried. We certainly weren’t up for giving Sam her sweeping romance novel, but her idea of happiness as a theme definitely resonated with us, and influenced what we finally decided to write. I’m also really interested in making an emotional connection through writing. I can do excitement and comedy, but I’ve yet to make anybody cry, and that’s my high bar for writing now. I get weepy when I watch movies and read books, so can I dig deep and do that with my own writing?
Still haven’t read Gone Girl.
There’s a transcript of the interview in our free ebook. Get your copy here.
At the time of writing, we’re up to episode 35 of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and, as we get close to finishing the first draft of our book, I thought it would be interesting to go back and listen to those early episodes, and give you, dear reader, a little peek behind the curtain.
We kicked off with Vics Tranter, who’s terrific on consumer insight stuff and has sadly since left Orion. Her advice was invaluable, especially pointing out that many of the pioneer readers of fiction are women in their thirties and forties, and how important they could be in spreading that elusive word of mouth. It became clear that Mr. D and I would need to write something that would appeal primarily to women. We did briefly dally with the idea that we might write a Gone Girl-style thriller, but over the next few episodes it became less and less appealing as we realised that neither of us really had a passion for those kinds of books, although we do talk about writing outside out our comfort zones. Have a listen…
A few thoughts listening back…
- We say that we’ll keep referring back to this interview throughout the series and we have!
- We ask our guests top tips for wannabe writers and then ask what they’re reading… That didn’t last, did it?
- We still haven’t got Daniel Cole on the show.
- I think Mr. D and I have a pretty good rapport from the start, and we slip into our natural cynic/optimist roles effortlessly.
- Regular listeners will recognise some of Mr. D’s common themes making their first appearance, not least about keeping the language simple, and we still go back and forth about this… We’ll need an editor to make the final arbitration, I think.
- What’s our hook? Not saying yet, but it came out of conversations we had in the following weeks.
- This episode also witnessed the birth of the Writers’ Vault of Gold, which at the time of writing is currently nearing 100k words. I’m not just saying this, I really do go back and dip into this constantly. It’s an amazing roster of authors, editors and other professionals and it’s full of great writing advice and it’s currently free. FREE! One day it won’t be. Get your copy here.
- Scrivener – I really, really did need converting from Pages to Scrivener. I struggled with it to start with, though that probably had more to do with my stubborn refusal to change that the software itself. Interesting that we were eulogising about it so soon as, at this point, I don’t think we had secured their sponsorship.
- Ah, the Question of the week – or the Question Mark as no one is now calling it. Time to fess up: this first one was completely made up. There is no Andrew in Surrey… well there might be, but he didn’t send us a question. Andrew is my middle name.
- Sound quality. There’s quite a bit of reverb from my end, which is a sound editor’s worst nightmare, and for the first few episodes I had my headphone volume quite loud, so it would leak to the microphone. This would drive poor Mr D. mad as he worked on the edit.
- Secret guest… Yes, we really hadn’t booked them yet… and the GollanczFest that would feature many of our first big names was still just a distant speck on the horizon.
We recorded this on 23rd August 2016, waaaay before our actual launch in October. Mr. D and I had been talking about this idea for some time, and the plan was to get a few episodes in the bag before we launched as we had heard that launching with multiple episodes might send us up the iTunes podcast chart. And, it was also to see if it would actually work as a format. Here’s my diary extract for that day…
First interview for the Bestseller Experiment podcast tonight with Vics Tranter at Orion. A couple of technical glitches aside, it went well and there’s a definitely a lot of potential in the project. Could be a ton of work, but might also be very rewarding.
A ton of work… if only I knew. But it has been rewarding, too. Not fiscally, oh no, but hearing from writers on their own progress, and hearing how they’ve been inspired by the show has brought sunshine and happiness to my dark, cynical heart and long may it continue.
Oh, and I still haven’t read Gone Girl.
I’ll be covering episode two soon, so please subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out!
A simple proposition: write, edit, publish and market a self-published eBook and get it up the Kindle charts… in a year. Fifty-two weeks. Yeah, a doddle…
Oh, and while you’re trying to achieve this, and on top of all the other crap you have going on in your life, you’ll also be helping run a weekly podcast where you interview folk from the industry and maybe a few authors? Maybe even a few bestselling, mega-million-household-name-type authors?
And yet, here we are… Luckily, my cohort in this exercise in insanity is the super-driven entrepreneur and life coach Mark Desvaux who could convince the most devout nun to abandon her vows and take up pole dancing (don’t worry, he only uses his powers for good, not evil).
Mark is also that wannabe writer who’s started writing a novel a few times, but has never finished one. He still has that joyous naivety that all it takes is a bit of application and before you know it you’ve written Harry Potter And The Cash Cow Of Azkaban.
I, on the other hand, am a cynical sod who’s worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty years and have seen more disasters than Donald Trump’s press office. There’s no way you can cynically take a dash of Dan Brown, add a smidgen of James Patterson, sprinkle it with EL James’s chutzpah and wait for the royalty cheques to come rolling in.
However, that’s not entirely our plan. While our book may end up the literary equivalent of the Hindenberg, we are totally convinced that there are writers out there who can beat us to it. Writers who might have a half-finished book in their bottom drawer, writers who just need a little guidance from the experts (that’s not us, let me make that absolutely clear!), and could get their work published and read by the masses.
So, if you think that’s you, or a buddy of yours, or you just like listening to fantastic interviews with the likes of Joanne Harris, Joe Abercrombie, Maria Semple, Michelle Paver, Scott Lynch, John Connolly, Michael Connelly and many more (yeah, we got some of those million-sellers recorded already, baby!), then join us. It might end in utter disaster, but it will be fun.
We launch today with three episodes, so you can really get your teeth into it, and they’re all fab. You can find the podcast on iTunes: http://bestsellerexperiment.com/itunes
Please subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes, and, if you like us, please, please, please leave a review and a rating on iTunes. I had no idea how important this stuff is to keeping your podcast alive. Apple use these as their major metric when it comes to making the podcast visible and easy to find! Without them, we wither and die… and I want this to fail because I was right, not because of some sodding metric!
If you’re not on iTunes, you can listen and download from our website: http://bestsellerexperiment.com/podcasts/
We’re also on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, oh, and if you sign up to our newsletter you get a free eBook, The Writers’ Vault of Gold…
This really is aces. Updated every week it’s the highlights of our interviews, and by the time we’re done there will be about 80,000 words of advice from some of the best authors on the planet… For free! You’d be crazy not to.
Still not convinced? Then check out our trailer for a quick peek…
Like I said, this is going to be fun.
Oh, and to the chap who left a comment on our Facebook page bemoaning the whole exercise and declaring that Graham Greene would never have stooped to this… it’s called the Bestseller Experiment, not the Timeless Literary Classic Experiment.
That’s next year…