This time last year I was excited for the launch of Dear Tosh at 19.30 UK time. We, Carla Jenkins and I, had rehearsed how we wanted the launch to go and it was worth putting in the effort. Apart from a couple of minor problems (technical) it all went very smoothly. You can catch it here if you didn’t attend or just fancy another look.
To celebrate the one year anniversary of the book I gave away a signed copy to a lovely person who I met only this week in the beautiful village of Cailhau in France where The Man and I are staying for a few days. We go back to Provence on Monday and then back to England on the 10th June.
The book was well received and I’m happy to say that there are copies of Dear Tosh all over the world. The reviews have been amazing and I’m thrilled to think that the book has brought a little something into the lives of so many. If you haven’t yet got a copy you can order it from any independent book shop or from Waterstones HERE or Amazon HERE (audio version and ebook available from Amazon as well as the paperback).
This week I tweeted about book titles asking, ‘How much does a title draw you to a book?’ I didn’t get much response but that doesn’t surprise me, Twitter can be a lonely platform even if you have nearly 1000 followers. People are more likely to reply to ridiculous questions such as, ‘ Do you like cucumber or lemon with your gin and tonic?’ I prefer cucumber for what it’s worth. Anyway, back to book titles, or any titles come to that.
I am writing my Italian memoir and although it doesn’t need a title at this very moment, (it has an uninspiring working title, My Italian Memoir) I’m going to pitch it to an agent at the end of September at an event run by Byte the Book You can read about this event if you click on the link but I think it might be sold out now. I’m a member of Byte The Book and they do run some great events — I am famous for digressing so back to titles again — I think I need to have some sort of intriguing title to catch the agent’s attention so I’ve been wrestling with some ideas, which may or may not end up being used. Thinking up a title is also a great procrastinator and can lead you down all sorts of avenues when googling to see if it’s been used before or what connotations it might uncover.
Here are some bad titles I thought of:
My Time in Italy
Eight Years in Italy
Le Marche Life
I think all of these sound as though I was serving a prison sentence!
I considered — for a moment only — calling it The Italian Job as titles do not have any copyright but I imagined the stick I would get from family friends let alone the film fanatics so I binned that idea
It was easy to choose the title for my first memoir Dear Tosh , I called it that from the very beginning, it is a series of letters after all. I did try an exercise once when on a memoir writing course, I dug the page out just now, so that I could take a photograph and post it for you to see. There are some good titles here but I’m glad I stuck with Dear Tosh.
We did another exercise when we ‘transposed’ other well-known, book/film titles into ones that worked with our memoir. For example, Brideshead Revisited became Porto Revisited and The Pursuit of Happiness became The Pursuit of Painting Neither of which were very good. But a great exercise none the less.
In my opinion the cover image and design, are just as important as the title and the two things should complement each other. I need to get Will Hartley working on a photograph ASAP. It’s a good idea to have some kind of mock-up of the cover stuck up on your wall where you write, it can keep you motivated. When you look at it, the project becomes real and you have a goal.
I’ll leave you with this thought. . . Do you have a favourite book title and cover? I think I have several but I’ve just picked three from my bookshelf:
Of course my absolute favourite cover to date is this one!
Sorry. . . just had to put that on. Also a reminder that my first author talk is next Thursday 2nd September at St Anne’s Arts and Community Centre in BARNSTAPLE EX31 1SX. Hoping to see lots of you arrive around 18.30. It’s free and hopefully worth turning out for! BARNSTAPLE EVENT
Being a self-published author is difficult. As someone wrote this week, ‘Remember writing the book really is the easy part – publishing is simple – but marketing is expensive, time-consuming, and complex.’ How right they are! Still, gotta keep plodding on.
Today I had a wonderful video chat with fellow memoirist Helen Bouchami — I can highly recommend her book Am I Still A Mother ? She and I discussed the highs and lows of being indie authors. We know that there is still a bit of a stigma attached to self-publishing. This may stem from the existence of ‘vanity publishers’ who offer contracts to authors expecting them to stump up a great deal of money themselves and then the company produce a rather shoddy copy of their book. There’s an interesting article from Writers and Artists you can check out here.
We think that we have produced excellent books, both in content and quality. The covers are as good as any traditionally published book — if not better— and although the road to publication was difficult with many bumps, twists and turns, we got there. We are not young and we’re in a hurry to get our ‘stuff’ out there. Finding an agent, who then finds and editor, before pitching to publishers, takes a long time, often years and even when you do land a contract, there’s no guarantee of success. Most authors still have to do a great deal of promotion themselves even when they have taken the traditional route.
Helen and I made a few plans to promote our books which I’m not going to share here yet. . .
However I am going to begin writing a monthly newsletter full of good things and letting everyone know what’s happening in the world of Dear Tosh as well as including lots of interesting news about books I’ve read, films I’ve watched etc. If you would like to sign up to receive my newsletter please click here
An odd title for this post but apt. A new roof has replaced the broken leaky one on our cottage, and at last the builders have finished. The final job was for them to clean the attic. I was impressed because they brought their own vacuum. Over the years, many of mine have been ruined by builders – can you relate to that? After they left, I popped up to check out their work. I was pleasantly surprised to see that apart from a little dust, it was okay.
Looking around, my eyes strayed to a box of old photographs and some albums. It was probably a mistake to delve into them but I couldn’t resist. I found an album from 1985, our trip to Canada, which I write about in my memoir Dear Tosh. Such wonderful memories. If you’ve read the book you’ll like these photographs I think.
Two of my favourite photographs…(I do have many favourites though)
‘Ginger’ the pony and Jo (nanny) – we took the boys out for a picnic…happy days…
I’m going to have another root around in the attic for more photos now… Just the thing to do on a Sunday.
By the way…I’ve changed the name of the blog so that it just says Ninette90. I completed the ninety notes but I’m going to continue with the blog.
The final stages leading up to the printing and publication of my book Dear Tosh seem to be taking forever.
My little mock-up of the book cover. I like to place myself in good company!
We went to France in October before lockdown and returned in the middle of March, before France locked down again. I don’t regret spending those five months in the Languedoc, we had warmish weather and not a lot of rain, although it was a tad windy for a great deal of the time. The Tramontane wind gusts through the region bringing with it a chill to the air.
Returning to England was a bit of a pain with all the documents, Covid tests, etc., that had to be completed, but it was worth it all in the end.
Back in our cottage in Dorset. Jpeg was exhausted after her long journey from France — as were we.
Although our time in France was spent mostly in confinement (lockdown) I am pleased that we went. I would not have been able to finish the book had we not gone. Dear Tosh is written as twenty-seven letters to him; one for each year that he lived. Being in France enabled me to write in the moment but remembering his life and looking back from the point of view of the tenth anniversary of his death, using the dates of 2020 and 2021 as starting points for each letter. I think it works really well.
I sent the word document through to the typesetters and they have now returned it twice with amendments. I didn’t realise that I would have to watch out for errors that occurred when transferring my written word through their typesetting software programme. Apparently, it sometimes picks up underlying formatting from word that is not visible when you just look at the document. There were only a couple of errors, but I’m trying hard not to let anything slip by. I’m hopeful that by the end of next week I will have given it the thumbs up and it will be sitting on the desk of the printers by the middle of April. At which point I’ll be able to do a ‘cover reveal’ and begin to put the wheels in motion for everyone to buy it through local bookshops, online or directly from me.
Printing My Book
I’m trying hard to record an audio version of the book, and have set myself up at home with all the equipment I need. It’s not as easy as I thought. Getting my head around how to save each chapter as a file, making sure my voice is the same for each recording session, recording volume, editing, mastering… and so it goes on. I think I’m getting there now — although I have started over about three times. I once got as far as chapter 15 but then realised it just wasn’t quite right. It’s a massive learning curve!
Me in my ‘home studio’ what you can’t see is the window is covered with a bedspread and a duvet and behind me there is usually a clothes airer with a double duvet hung over it. Anything to get some kind of soundproofing…not easy when a tractor thunders by or The Man decides to have a loud telephone conversation with someone downstairs! Check out the slippers…they say you should be comfortable…
I’ve finished the book and now begins the road to publication. I have purposely not chosen to pitch to an agent and go down the traditional route. I realise this will upset a lot of people, but I simply don’t have the time. My book Dear Tosh is a memoir that I have been writing on and off over the last ten years. Last year for one of my MA modules I wrote 5,000 words about losing my son and they were well received by my tutor and by my colleagues. It focused my mind, and with the tenth anniversary of his death coming up in 2021, I pulled everything together and the result was a memoir of twenty-seven letters written to Tosh over the period from November 2020 to February 1st 2021; covering the anniversary, being in France with The Man, living with the lockdown, all these factors contributed to the making of the book. I feel it needs to be published and available before the moment is gone.
It’s a big responsibility, publishing your own book. I do not want to send something out that can be criticised for its lack of professional appearance in any way whatsoever. I was told that one mistake people make is to try and design the cover themselves, so I’ve handed that over to a specialist company. I’ve worked with a mentor to get the structure of the book right and I’ve made sure the text has been proofread by a professional three times. Rather than exporting from my computer onto a PDF to send to the printer, I’m using the typesetters. All this is costing, and I am fully aware of the privileged position I am in to be able to do this but…I am seventy years old now, and I’ve waited a long time for this. I hope the book circulates to thousands of people — but I’ll settle for a few hundred — actually, I suppose I’ll settle for a few friends buying a copy 😂. So far, those who have read the manuscript, have given glowing reviews and endorsements. Fingers crossed for a minor success. 🤞
This is just the beginning. If it’s meant to be, I might be picked up by an agent for future books that I write, and I won’t have to be waking up at 5.30 in the morning, worrying about the next step of the process, but I’m sure there will still be plenty of panicking to do.
I’ll keep you up to date with the progress but at the moment I’m aiming for a publication date in April. That’s if I can stop fiddling with the text, worrying about photographs for the cover and put the thing to bed. This week HAS to be the final week of editing and tweaking. By Wednesday, I want it off my desktop and in the hands of those who know what they’re doing at this stage of the game.
I opened up the programme to write this latest blog post, and I realised that it would be post number 90. As the whole point of this site was to have 90 posts, it appears I may have just come to the end. But, who cares? I think I’ll carry on for now.
The news is that I am forging ahead on the self-publishing route for my memoir with great gusto! It’s a learning curve that’s for sure. Proofreader, ISBNs, typesetters, printers, distribution — it’s all go. Writing the book was nothing compared to the work I’m having to put in now. I’m sure it will be worth it though.
I’m also setting up a new website where there will be a link to order the book. You will be able to read reviews — or send them in when you’ve read it! This blog will be published on that website too. There’ll be a cover reveal at the beginning of March and hopefully the book will be available in print and as an ebook from the middle to end of April. As soon as I have an actual date I’ll let you know.
Yes! There will be a launch, online or face to face, depending on the restrictions. I’ll be drinking the fizz either way. I’ll read a few excepts from Dear Tosh (I have settled on that title) and maybe do a Q&A session.
It’s all very exciting. No time to stop now. Better dash…need to just do the millionth read through of the manuscript. Feels like being back at school…
I cannot believe it’s nearly the end of January. I know many people are saying that it’s been a long one, but for me it has flown. Those who know me will understand that January is not a good month for me and this year has been a little more difficult because it’s the 10th anniversary of the loss of my lovely son, Tosh. I have Tweeted and Instagrammed and Facebooked photos etc., I’m just going to post one photo here, to remind you all what a handsome bloke he was.
This blog is all about the writing. I have been handwriting and typing my little fingers off all month — well for a couple of years actually — there have been Zoom workshops about memoir writing, poetry writing, how to pitch your book to an agent and how to write a proposal.
I’ve been concentrating on memoir because that is what I’m writing. For the tenth anniversary, I’m completing a memoir about losing Tosh. the book’s working title, (which I think I’ll keep) is Dear Tosh. I’ve written a series of letters to him, telling him how things were from my side, when he had that fatal accident in Portugal. I’ve also brought him up to date with family events, and a few world events, over the last ten years. Obviously a lot has happened: births, deaths, marriages, the usual stuff.
It’s been quite a learning curve when it comes to editing, with so many chapter re-writes and redrafting, but I think I’m nearly there. It’s been an interesting journey and even though an emotional ride I have to admit that I am also enjoying it. It is like spending time with him for part of each day. I don’t know what I’ll do when it’s finished…perhaps I’ll just carry on.
Writing has become a habit. A good habit. Which is exactly what you have to get into if you want to complete a book of any kind. I now write morning pages each day and a journal in the evening, when I remember. During the day I scribble away creating poetry or editing and redrafting the work in progress. I used to hate the editing side of writing, preferring to just create, but for the memoir, I’m loving the process of reading, checking, changing, cutting, adding, moving sections around, and generally tidying it all up.
I’ll update you with the progress of the memoir and if I get any publishing deals that I can’t refuse, you will all be the first to know. I hope Tosh would approve of the book.