Ages ago – it might have been last year, I’m almost too ashamed to check – I said I would be doing monthly updates. Needless to say, this did not happen. Life took over and the time I had needed to be spent on finishing my novel. But it’s now one whole year since I finished my first draft, so I thought it was about time for a check-in.
June has been a busy month. Particular highlights have been:
Getting Fire Lines back from my editor
This was both terrifying and amazing. Now more than half-way through the edits, I can whole-heartedly say that hiring a professional is worth every penny.
Lots of authors in the self-publishing space say that if you can’t afford editing you can get away with having a friend or family member do it for you. I’m afraid I disagree. My sister, who has an MA in Children’s Literature, my husband, who is an English teacher, and my Mum, who is an avid reader, all scrutinised the second draft of my novel and picked various things up. But none of them are trained editors. My draft was pretty clean but the corrections and suggestions made by Karen, my editor, have helped to polish it so that it is the best it can be.
Seeing the finished cover art and map
I’m a very visual person so I had been day dreaming about my book cover pretty much since I started writing it. Finally seeing it finished and mocked up in 3D is just an incredible feeling. I can’t WAIT until I’ve finished editing and can order ARCs and see it in the flesh.
It was also very surreal to see my barely intelligible sketches turned into a properly designed map. I am feeling more and more like a ‘real’ author every day!
Planning for YALC
Fire Lines will be making its first outing at the YALC in July. I’m sending samplers of the first six chapters so a huge chunk of June was spent getting these ready for printing. I can’t tell you how excited I am that my words will be in the hands of actual readers in just a few weeks.
Updating my website
Part of planning for YALC meant tidying up my author website and making sure the
Fire Lines page was as engaging as possible. I’m hoping that people who read the six-chapter sample will go to the website and sign up to receive chapter seven so I needed to make sure the landing page was all-singing-all-dancing.
This took quite a lot of time and fiddling. I’m not a web-designer and I can’t write code, so I use Wix for my websites. It’s fantastically easy to design things but a little harder to integrate custom features like a MailChimp sign-up form. I’m proud to say, though, that I managed it and I think the page is looking pretty spiffy.
I also purchased the domains FireLines.co.uk and Fire-Lines.com and set up a redirect to my author site because I was worried that people wouldn’t remember how to spell my surname in order to get to CaraThurlbourn.com/FireLines.
To try and encourage sign-ups to my mailing list I’m giving away the first seven chapters free, downloadable via a BookFunnel link. But I’m also offering the chance to win a bundle of goodies. I wanted these to be things people would actually want so as well as the usual signed copy of the book, I’ve been busy buying bits and pieces so that I can hand make a necklace in the style of the one my main character wears. I’ve also been designing some bespoke postcards, which has been super fun, and I’ll be posting pics when they’re all ready.
Authors for Grenfell
Calling this a highlight seems completely the wrong phrasing but it was extremely heart-warming to see the author community come together to raise money for the Red Cross. I was fortunate enough to place the winning bid on afternoon tea with three fantastic YA authors and my husband won an author visit for his secondary school. Both amazing experiences and fantastic to know that we contributed in a small way to the total raised.
Breaking free of shyness
For some reason, ever since the beginning of my writing journey, I’ve dreaded the question, ‘So what’s your book about?’ It makes me cringe. I hate having to try and describe it and feel like whatever I say simply doesn’t do it justice. So, when my blurb was finally finished – largely with help from my editor Karen – I took the huge and scary step of sharing my website with my Facebook friends. Until now, I haven’t really said much about my novel on Facebook and I’m really proud that I plucked up the courage to stand up and say, ‘look, here it is!’ Of course, the response from my friends was lovely and encouraging and I shouldn’t have expected anything less. I think the fear mainly stems from the fact that writing is so hugely personal; it feels very exposing to let people read the things that have come from your imagination. But I’m getting better at it.
Coming up next month:
YALC, Goodreads Giveaways, ARCs, one-day writing retreat, and a bit more blogging! So, stay tuned.