If any Essex girls (or boys!) are reading this, and you happen to be in or around Chelmsford on Saturday (26th), please do pop in to Waterstones in the High Street between 12 and 1pm to give me some moral support for my first book signing there!
I'll try to explain why this is such a big deal for me.
As soon as my first Sheila Norton book was published in 2003, I did as much as possible to promote my work, especially in my local Essex area. I held my own launch/book signing parties, gave interviews to local papers and magazines, gave talks at libraries, writing groups, book groups etc, and (scarily) had interviews on local radio stations. I even starred in Boots 'Health & Beauty' magazine in a feature about women who had achieved something special 'later in life' (I tried not to feel insulted (!), as it was great publicity, and involved a photo-shoot at a country house in Surrey, being made up and dressed up and given a free lunch. I was terrified by all of it apart from the free lunch!).
All of this had to stop when, after my fifth book, I became reinvented as Olivia Ryan. My publishers wanted the Olivia books to be established in their own right before anyone knew Olivia's identity, so I could only reveal my pseudonym to my family and a handful of close friends. I couldn't tell any of the local shops, papers, etc about my new books or make any public appearances. It was quite difficult and frustrating although I had to trust my publishers that this was for the best in the long run. The exception was my local independent bookshop: I entrusted them with my secret because they had been so fantastically supportive to me - so when they closed down, earlier this year, it was devastating.
With the release of 'Tales from a Honeymoon Hotel', I've been given the go-ahead to reveal my identity - so I've once again been able to appear in the local press, give talks, and have contacted all my local bookshops asking for their support.
Most authors who aren't in the best-selling bracket will know what I mean when I say that it can be quite demoralising looking out for your books in the big book chains, and even more demoralising asking if they're intending to stock them! I'm sure most local branches would love to support their local authors, but are often restricted to what they are told to order by their head offices. So it was with great excitement that I heard back from my local Chelmsford Waterstones, a few months back, that they would indeed like to give me a Saturday lunchtime slot for a book signing.
Yay! At last!!
Now, all I need is Rent-A-Crowd so that I can get one of those mile-long queues in the High Street, like we see when the likes of Jordan are up there signing their books. If they sell out of books, so much the better - they'll have to take orders!
I know, I know - dream on, girl! I've done a book-signing in the past (in a little shop in Leigh on Sea that doesn't exist any more), where the only two copies of the book I sold were to the owner of the shop and the other author sharing my slot!! So I know I'm far more likely to be humiliated by the turn-out than overwhelmed by it! But dreams are good, dreams keep us going - and my dream, this time, is that the event is so successful, Waterstones head office will order mega-loads for all their other branches and I'll get a new publisher offering me a huge contract for the next book.
Or maybe I'll just write a short story about someone who has very exciting and unrealistic dreams!