Friday 28 October 2011

The morning after

Well, it’s official. SINGLE IN THE CITY launched yesterday in the US and chick lit fans can buy it for their Kindle or Nook. Rumour has it that they can even buy a Kindle book for their iPad (clever Apple!).

If I’m honest the day after the book launch is a bit of a let-down. After months of planning and working towards launch day, it’s now eerily quiet. That’s not to say there isn’t still a lot to do. I’m staring at a list of 6 guest blogs that I’m due to write in the next few days. And that’s likely to carry on for a few more weeks. 

Is this what the day after your wedding feels like? Oh sure, you’re glad you did it. You’re proud and happy and looking forward to the future. But things return back to normal and as much as you stressed about all the details leading up to the big day, you miss the buzz of anticipation. And you dread having to write all those thank-you notes.

Friday 14 October 2011

Covers that make chick lit critics see pink

The biggest decision I had to make was not whether to self-publish. It was what kind of cover to use on the US book.

Everything pointed to a photographic cover as the sensible option.

American chick lit generally has photographic covers. Compare Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin’s The Nanny Diaries or Melissa Hill’s Something from Tiffany’s on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. 

So American women must prefer more realistic covers.

There’s also been much debate (by which I mean judgment) about illustrated pastel covers. Clearly chick lit covers have a lot of critics.

Then I thought, you know what? I don’t care what the critics say. They don’t speak for the readers of the genre, and I don’t write for those critics. I’m proud to write chick lit that stays true to the genre’s light-hearted, humorous roots. A cover that reflects that won’t appeal to everyone, but I’d much rather have a woman sneer as she passes it by than see her buy it because she doesn’t think it’s chick lit. A wise reader once pointed out  that if you market cheese as chocolate, all you do is miss the cheese-lovers and disappoint the chocoholics. I’m proud to write chick lit. More than that, I’m proud to write chick lit that stays true to the genre’s light-hearted, humorous roots, and I want my covers to reflect the book’s contents. I’m happy to forgo some sales to make sure that I reach the women I’m writing for.

Stay tuned to see if this was the right decision!

Friday 7 October 2011

Taking a leap of faith

So I've done it. I've decided to self-publish. My debut novel, SINGLE IN THE CITY, is available as an eBook through Amazon and Barnes and Noble in the US. So far so good.

But wait. Why I’m doing this, when Single in the City was published by Penguin in the UK and many other countries? Well grab a cup of coffee and I’ll explain.

First you might like to know why I haven’t chosen to self-publish.

I haven’t chosen to self-publish because I have a beef with publishers. My experience with Penguin UK was nothing but positive. My editor Lydia quickly became a friend (still is), listened to my suggestions and made sure the publication went smoothly. The sales team were stellar, selling into distributors both large and small. My PR Helen was superb, getting us widespread publicity (and winning a Publisher Publicity Circle award in the process). 

Nor am I self-publishing because I lack industry representation. My agent Caroline is, in my view, the best agent on the planet. She’s a pint-sized dynamo, tireless in her pursuit of book deals for me.

I’m publishing Single in the City in the US myself because sometimes publishers have less faith in the books, and the readers, than we, the writers, do. I believe in this book. And I have faith in American chick lit lovers.

You see, when Caroline and I sold book rights to Penguin (UK), we held back the US rights. We did this because I wanted a US-based publisher for Single in the City’s American launch. After all the main character, Hannah, is American. There’s a strong theme about seeing London through rather baffled American eyes. Caroline and I thought that surely it was a great fit for the US market.

The handful of US publishers we approached had a different point of view. They were all very nice about it but said that the book isn’t right for the American chick lit market. Readers won’t understand the humour of a book set outside the US, they concluded.

I disagree. Single in the City is about taking a chance and establishing a new life. It’s a fish-out-of-water story. And it’s about finding your feet in life and love. These are universal themes. I think those US publishers sold chick lit fans short.

And that’s why I’m self-publishing. I believe it’s the right decision for this book in this market.

So I hope you’ll stay in touch, on Twitter, Facebook or by email, and follow the launch as I, like Hannah, take a leap of faith.