Guest post from Lana Christon: My week as a PA

F13F53BE-41EE-466C-8264-DB9108D6DF75My Week as Author PA
Throughout my first year at Sixth Form, teachers have drilled into us that as Year 12 students, we should know what we want to do in the future; and most of my peers know somewhat exactly what they want to do. I, however, was not so fortunate. Only in January did I decide what I wanted to do at university (American Studies if you were curious) I began to research any work experience I could within my local area. I had always enjoyed reading, however my interest was pushed aside when school got in the way, and it was actually when talking to my English teacher that she asked ‘Have you considered publishing?’ – The thought had never before crossed my mind.

Following this I simply googled ‘Publishers in Lincoln’ and Wild Pressed Books was the first option that appeared. Their books were interesting, it wasn’t too far from home, and the mention of their two lovely dogs instantly appealed to me. Several emails back and forth between Tracey and I explained what I would be doing, and there wasn’t an option that I didn’t want to explore further.image2

As I finished school I was quickly back to waking up at 7am to catch the train, and I was beyond nervous. I had been somewhat scarred by work placements in the past, and I had no idea what – or who – to expect. However as I knocked on the door, greeted by Pixie and Luna’s barks, and Tracey herself, my worries were soon diminished.
I was quick to begin researching various publishers, literary agents, and how other authors promote and market their books, the last task that I found the most motivating. The rest of my week in fact, revolved around this. I discovered that my interests lay around marketing and publicity. image1

On my third day I even wrote a blog post about ways authors can market their books, both existing and upcoming. Being an English Language and Literature student, writing non-fiction came as second nature to me, and the fact that I wrote a blog post that has been published on a website will definitely prove beneficial. In addition to this, I wrote a post about Holly Bidgood, one of Tracey’s published authors. By the end of the week I will have written three blog posts (something that will hopefully appeal to any future employer).

The week also consisted of social media upkeep, tweeting and retweeting after I’d introduced myself as PA, as well as reading original and edited manuscripts Tracey had worked on. I didn’t realise how much a book can change from its first draft, to the final product, yet still have so much of the original voice and content from the author.

publishing perks

My week as PA has been thoroughly informative. I surprised myself when I enjoyed the logistical side of the publishing business far more interesting than the reading and editing side, but I am relieved that I now have a clue on what I want to do in the future. Whether it be within the publishing business, or elsewhere, my interests definitely lie within marketing and research (and maybe even a bit more blog writing too!).

I can only say thank you to Tracey for allowing me to work with her for the week, giving me the opportunity to experience every aspect of a publishing company, and giving me some assurance about a world of work I would be more than happy to work in.IMG_2993



Holly Bidgood – portrait of a young author by Lana Christon (@Authorpa44)

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Holly Bidgood is the author of The Eagle and the Oystercatcher. Holly enjoyed writing from a young age, but it wasn’t until she was 18, and after a fleeting visit to the Faroe Islands that Icelandic culture and history began to influence her work. Now living in a community in Scotland with her husband and two young children, her values of community and creativity are clear within her writing. (Learn more about Camphill Community towards the end of this post.)

Though she grew up in Derbyshire, Holly has always had a love for and been drawn to the sea, and this only furthered her interest in Iceland. So much so that she went on to study – and graduate with a First Class Honours Degree – Icelandic at University College London and at the University of Iceland where she learnt the Icelandic language. She developed her interest in Nordic cinema, literature, and culture, which is very clear in her first novel.

From her time in countries such as Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands (where her first novel is set), Holly says that landscape, wilderness, and closeness to the elements influence her writing. The Eagle and the Oystercatcher features all these themes but also the themes of friendship, loss, and social change during the 1940s. The Eagle and the Oystercatcher was released at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the 23rd August, 2016. A five star review on her GoodReads page calls the book ‘Beautifully written, with a captivating story.’

Holly values community and creativity, as she herself lives in a Camphill Community, in a shared house with her husband, two very young children and five adults with special needs. With 23 centres across the UK, the community includes schools and colleges, where individual abilities and qualities are recognised and nurtured as the foundation for a fulfilling life. They also specialise in helping those with learning disabilities, however they state that they see no difference between the carer and the cared-for.

The Camphill founding values have a spiritual core of essential humanity, and each of the residents has a unique destiny to fulfil. This ethos has been at the heart of the Camphill Movement from the moment it was set up in 1940, expressing these values through building communities that ‘preserve and promote the dignity and potential of each member, with Camphill being a life choice, not a placement. It feels a perfect fit for Holly and her family.

holly signing

Holly’s debut novel ‘The Eagle and the Oystercatcher’ is available on Amazon and in various bookstores now.

From The Eagle and the Oystercatcher

In April 1940, two British Destroyers sail into the harbour at Tórshavn. From that point onwards the lives of the Faroe Islanders are irrevocably altered. Eighteen-year-old Kjartan blames the war for taking away the last remaining member of his family. At the same time he struggles with intense feelings for his best friend Orri. While they puzzle over the true identity of the herbalist who lives on the spiky slopes of the islet Tindhólmur, miraculous recoveries of the sick begin taking place all over the islands.
There is one person above all others that Kjartan and Orri wish to be made well again, but when this finally seems to be happening, the war deals them its cruellest blow yet.
Peopled by a cast of characters worthy of Dickens, The Eagle and The Oystercatcher resonates with the evocative bleakness of the Faroe Islands, coloured by rain and snow. With her skilful writing, the author adeptly conveys the everyday details of the islanders’ lives.

‘The destroyers were bigger than any manmade thing I had ever seen, and I was gripped by a shivering sense of dread to think that man could assemble something so large and commandeering; that man should feel the need to. They dwarfed our little fishing boats into primitive insignificance – their masts now matchsticks, their sails tissue paper – and they did not just fill the vision, these cold-blooded destroyers, they grasped the soul.
Destroyer: that was the day I learnt that English word, and I remembered it instantly. Magnus’s English was limited – the little he knew he had picked up from trading with Scotland – but even he knew that word. He spoke it with a fragile caution, as though the sounds themselves might be dangerous, and the typical Faroese spin on the letter ‘R’ rolled off his tongue, through his beard and into the cool, dense air. Orri and I watched it curiously, that snippet of new knowledge, opening up a world that even then seemed dark and confusing. We could see no reason to trust it.’


Buy The Eagle and the Oystercatcher here

Here’s a tantalising snippet from Holly’s second, as yet unpublished novel set in Greenland:

‘We cut small pieces of the whale’s nourishing skin and chewed contentedly, savouring the goodness of this mattak: I could taste it now, feel its toughness between my teeth. Never before had I tasted it so fresh.
The world around us had fallen into a tranquil stillness, serenity in the wake of a life taken, a struggle ended. The only sound was that of our voices and laughter, carried upwards and lost in the vastness of the broken pack ice and the blue, empty sky. My cheeks stung pink from the cold.
I had feared that the son of a white man would find no solace with those whose arctic blood ran pure. But at that moment I knew who my people were. If only it could have lasted; if only I could have stayed forever in that most wonderful, archaic of places where each life draws sustenance from another and the world moves in harmony.
If only I had not had to return home to find my own mother – loveless, lovelorn stranger – sprawled, like the narwhal, on the cold floor. Intoxicated to the eyeballs she stared at nothing, for her eyes were clouded over and her body lay lifeless. This creature did not speak to me of graceful, ancient beauty.’

Holly describes her writing progress at the moment as “spectacularly slow” due to her work in the community and her two toddlers, but she’s determined to finish her second novel and send it out into the world to join the first. We shall just have to wait with bated breath!

Follow Holly Bidgood on Twitter:Holly Bidgood

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Lana Christon is my Work Experience PA for the week. She’s very prolific! Here’s her first Guest Post: How to Market Your Book


Almost all Public Relations companies promise that they will get you noticed in ‘five easy steps’, so easy that anyone could do them – without the charge. Though PR agencies will entice authors with their ‘extensive database’ of bookstores, literary agents, and publishers; marketing your book yourself can provide many benefits, for yourself and others. Below are six points on how to make the most of the things that are accessible by all authors, debut or experienced.

Planning is everything

Ideally, the best time to start researching marketing techniques and strategies is before the book is even completed. There are three things every writer should know before their book is finished:
1. The target market.
2. What the target market wants.
3. How to reach them.
The best way to research marketing techniques is to look at what other authors are doing, read their blogs, their social media pages, attend their events. It can all count as research for your own book, as well as finding what marketing methods work best for you. As the author, you know your book and its contents better than anyone, and it’s important to keep those elements alive during the marketing process.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
Fellow bloggers and authors are your best friends when it comes to publicity. Honest reviews on credible blogs can be the best way to publicise your books – both existing and upcoming. It gets people talking about both your book and you as an author, word of mouth also presenting itself. “Have you seen the new book by ______?” It will all come from distributing your novel as far as possible, to all kinds of bloggers, writers, or even artists. Suggesting a mutualistic ‘review for a review’ idea would encourage more response in those willing to write about you. That way, both parties get the publicity they want – and need – from each other’s existing following.
In addition, blogging is the new hype (53% of marketers say blog content is their top marketing priority). If you have a blog, invite others to post on about whatever may be relevant, such as ‘A Day in the Life’ or ‘Top 2017 Reads’. Again, both parties get the display their writing in a public, carefree space.

Social Media – Not Just for Teens
By far, the most popular way to market. Everyone is on social media – not just the youth of today. Create any and every social media account, the most popular being Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The chatty, informal element allows you direct contact with your target audience, and let them get to know you as author. As a teenager myself, I am far more drawn to a laidback profile with the authors own inputs about any topic that’s current – but that’s just me. However do be careful to not be too relaxed. Your book is still your business, and it is vital you show your audience – whoever they may be – that you are serious and committed to writing. So by all means, tweet about what you had for dinner that day, but don’t forget about the novels you’re supposed to be promoting!
It’s also important to know when to post. There is no point posting about your upcoming PR release when no one will be around to read it.
Facebook: Saturdays at 12pm
Twitter: Every day at 12pm, and 6pm.
And finally, the hashtag. The best way to get your tweet anywhere. Popular ones for writers include #IARTG (Indie Author Retweet Group) #IndieBooksPromo and #IndieWriterSupp.
(Find genre specific hashtags at the link in the references section at the end of the post.)

Keeping It Local
Independent writers, and independent businesses – bookstores especially – should stick together. A signing or talk in their shop can not only boost the sales of your book, but also their business. And it is more likely that independent bookstores will host your event than a huge brand (there’ll be plenty of time for hotshot chains in the future.) Don’t forget local media, whether it be an interview or mention on the radio, or an advertisement or review in the newspaper, they’ll get you noticed.

Though self-marketing your novel may take slightly longer than going through a PR agency, once those relationships with your local businesses and bloggers/authors are established, they’re established for good. And they will be eagerly awaiting for your novel to be published, as you’ve taken the time to choose them in a very important and personal journey. Local links are hard to break, and much more rewarding when it comes to selling and promoting your self-published novel.

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