book promotion, publishing

What took you so long?

So, Curtis, Perfume Island is finally ready for release.

Ha! L’Arlésienne arrives at last.

I’m sorry?

A young woman from Arles in Alphonse Daudet’s play of the same name. She’s talked about all the time but never actually appears on stage. The term now applies to something we’re led to expect but which never arrives.

I see. Well, I hope it’s worth the wait. What took you so long?

You may recall it was about to come out last year, but-

You think I recall that? With all the other books I have to read?

Well, if you stop interrupting, I’ll remind you. My publisher at the time was… let’s just say I decided it would be better to do it myself. At which point I embraced self-publishing fully, stigma and all – well, there isn’t one, is there? Once you decide to go down that road, you can’t let doubts like that get in the way.

And what did it involve in concrete terms?

I realized my marketing strategy was non-existent. I kept reading that the best way to reach out to readers, and above all to keep them, was through a mailing list, so I set about building one. I’ve done a giveaway and two cross promotions, and now have a list of about 420.

Who are all going to read Perfume Island?

If only! No, but eight of them – people I don’t know at all – have already agreed join my launch team. Which basically means they get free stuff in exchange for writing a review and spreading the word when the book comes out. Of course, 420 is a tiny number – self-publishing guru Mark Dawson has 60000. But it’s a start. The next 12 months will be a test of how well this works. Right now, I’m just pleased that I did part ways with my publisher – having control over the whole process makes a huge difference. Even if I make mistakes, they’re my mistakes and I can decide how to fix them. And I’m finding that marketing can be enjoyable too, once you start to look at it as a creative, learning experience.

Any final message you’d like to give?

Just my heartfelt thanks to the Writers’ Co-op. It seems a long time ago when GD put forward the idea on Book Country. We’re hardly big, but the level of support is tremendous. And though we write in different genres, we share the same commitment to the process. Every word of encouragement has been precious. You guys rock!

15th November – release of Perfume Island. The Arlésienne appears!




27 thoughts on “What took you so long?

  1. Wow, congratulations! Finally! I believe I was one of those whom you’d emailed a copy for review, I got to the halfway mark when my laptop decided to reset itself over the Mediterranean sea and I lost all data! I have to say, it was a wildly enticing read, and I look forward to reading the rest.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. GD Deckard says:

    Yay! November 15 is a Wednesday, so, we need to reserve Thursday the 16th as your blog day on the Writers Co-op to make us part of your launch.

    I’ll happily help. Albeit social-media-stupid, I do have over 1800 “friends” on Facebook and they will hear about Perfume Island! Of course, I’ll put a verified purchase review on Amazon. Also Curtis, do let me know of any other way I might help with the launch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, GD! The marketing is still very much a work in progress – my Facebook reach is pretty pathetic, for example. But I’m gradually overcoming my antipathy to Facebook, and will welcome any interest your impressively large community there may express. As I’ve already said, compared to the release of the first book, this one feels so much better. It remains to be seen how much of an effect it’ll have, but you’ve been instrumental in helping me get this far. Thank you. And yes, I’ll work on a special post for Thursday 16th!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats, Curtis! Keep us posted.

    PS. I never got the chance to critique any part of that book. I hope we don’t become the kind of writers group where (1) no one ever posts any of their WIPs because they’re terrified the text will be seen as less than spun gold and fell weavings, hence any criticism is equated to loss of face in front of peers and/or (2) Co-op writers refrain from commenting on posted WIPs because reviewing is damn hard, hours-consuming work and they just don’t have the time. (To be clear: salute to everyone active on the site re: this latter point. I wonder, however, about certain individuals past, present and . . . yes, future. I’ve seen WIPs go up and come down with nary a comment while others linger forever. . . .)

    And BTW: a special public commendation here to Atthys Gage for the bullseye astuteness, diamantine clarity and unerring instinct for red-lining problematic words and phrases in work-shopped texts I’ve submitted to his editorial board of one. Understand that he’s invested god knows how many hours of his own time to make my words better for zero $$ in return. Well. There’s no other way to put this: The man is as large-hearted and giving as he is fucking brilliant and wryly funny. I could cite example after example where he’s put his finger on words and phrases that are weak, awkward, jarring, or otherwise destructive to sustaining the smoothly functioning fictive dream. When Mr. Gage muses aloud, “I wonder if this is really the strongest word choice here”, or “something about this bothers me”, or “much too much, perhaps?” you better believe I sit up straighter in my chair and peer closely at the monitor. Invariably, in reworking these problematic passages I realize that he’s right. In most instances excision is the remedy: I’ve gotten too cute, verbose or tangential. At other, rarer times additional text is required to fully explain, explore and/or exploit a carefully constructed literary moment.

    I hope all of you will be afforded a chance to experience his criticism. Trust me, you’ve nothing to fear and everything to gain from his sagacity, tact and directness: your WIPs will thank you.

    The world should know who you are, Atthys. Perhaps in time it will. . . .

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Carl. The history of the book goes back quite a while, but it was up on Book Country for a bit before they faded away. Then I got some beta readers through my blog so by the time the Co-op started, that part was pretty much finished. But I’m more than happy to post any future writing for critique, not that I do much in the short story field. Book chapters, though, sure. I’m more guilty regarding your point number two… In which respect, I fully second every word you say about Atthys. He judged my short story competition last year and I understood then how exceptional he is, both as a person and as a writer. We’re lucky to have him.

      Liked by 1 person

        • mimispeike says:

          Carl, I think it’s a matter or time and energy. I feel under the gun all the time, I’m going in so many directions.

          I’m seventy-one. Aren’t these supposed to be my leisure years?

          Liked by 2 people

          • I can relate to that, Mimi. Younger by just a few years (that will be gone in no time), but sometimes I wonder why I’m not just nodding off every day over a book in the garden. At the same time, I’m doing what I always wanted to do, and getting a buzz from doing it so… But like you say, so many different directions to go in, it’s an effort (a) to find out which is the best one and (b) to stay focused on it. None of which means Carl is wrong to wonder what’s going on…

            Liked by 1 person

  4. atthysgage says:

    You both give me too much credit (but I’m not complaining). Carls mss are usually pretty damned close to impecable right from the get go. It’s a pleasure reading them.

    As far as works in progress, I don’t think to check for any new stuff very often. And since I’m slowly (and I mean slowly) churning my way through what will probalby be a 400 page novel, I don’t have anything that I want anyone to see. Well, occasionally I’ll read a passage to my wife, but only a bit I know is good. Sometimes I need a praise pick-me-up. (She, for the reoord, is a brilliant and gifted woman who wouldn’t hestitate to tell me if something stunk. Since I don’t want that to happen, I tread carefully.)

    As far as Perfume Island goes, I don’t remember a lot about the actual mechanisms of the plot (I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened in The Big Sleep either, even though I’ve read it a few times over the years) but I do have a distinct memory of a number of scenes and remember being charmed by La Rousseau. It shouldn’t take much skimming to put my thoughts in order.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    Curtis, I’ll start with Green Bottle. I bought it, I swear to God, but haven’t read it yet. It’s in my Kindle, that I can never get to open up for me. I can’t get to my library without going back to the original download and starting over. I have Kindle icons all over my desktop. I’ve stopped buying ebooks. It’s too aggravating. I have to figure this out.

    I have developed a real phobia about Kindle. Could you send me a pdf? I promise to read it. I hate Kindle!

    What am I up to the last few days? I’m preparing my first piece to go up on Medium. I finally got myself registered with their financial arm, to receive royalties. (Optimistic, and why not? Until I slam back down to earth.) That was a struggle. I needed to contact help/chat every step of the way. I’m just bad with this stuff. Kindle, Stripe, it’s all painful. I am an online klutz.

    I have maybe twenty ebooks in my Kindle, and I don’t think I’ve read even one of them. Every time I think about it I say, oh, maybe I’ll try over the weekend.

    This is maddening. I’ve been trying for fifteen minutes to open Kindle. I’ve even started from the download. My icon jumps up and down and nothing happens. I had wanted to take a screen shot of my library to show you I have your book in it.

    When I buy a new book and I get that message, ‘delivered to your Kindle’, the library is accessible. After that, not. What the hell am I doing wrong?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. victoracquista says:

    Congrats on the upcoming release. Will this be for an ebook, print version, or both? Are you doing some of the pre-release marketing hype such as cover reveal? Is there a cover image and blurb you can send out to me? I am happy to send it out through my social media network (lamentably meager though it be).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Victor. Both ebook and print released the same day. Very few print copies sell but they’re useful if one does a giveaway or to send to friends. I guess I’m hyping it to my mailing list – the rest of my social media presence is fairly negligible. But I’m of the persuasion that every bit counts, so I’ll definitely send you the cover and blurb – many thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Curtis,

    Very cool having a novel ready for release. I don’t have a email list nor am I on Facebook. But I would be happy to give you access to my blog airwaves for any kind of promotion you might want to do. Guest post or I can write something up to help you out. Anything you want, please let me know. Who knows, maybe we can get you up over 430 prospective readers.


    Liked by 2 people

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