Charity's Child was my first novel, published in 2008 by the small new independent publisher Circaidy Gregory Press (still going strong and branching out all over the place). Kay Green, who runs the press, gave me my first experience of working with a savvy and eagle-eyed editor, and without any doubt she helped me turn Charity into a better book.
It came out; we did some publicity - oh, the story may sound familiar. My family and friends were excited and supportive and we had a celebratory barbecue in our back garden (it poured with rain but my wonderful partner found us a last-minute canopy and carried on cooking - thank you, Paul). It was a memorable day. I had signings, too, including one in the much missed Borders, five minutes' walk from home. That one was great - I told tons of people and many of them turned up. One couple who are old friends bought six copies - thank you, Keith and Sue.
I had another signing, this time in Borders in Birmingham. It was August Bank Holiday and it was boiling hot. For some reason, I didn't tell many people (I suppose because they'd all come to the last one and I couldn't expect them to make a 20 mile trek to Birmingham to do the same again). And it was so hot...
I was on my own, anyway, in an enormous and almost empty store. One kind-looking woman approached me. Ah good, I thought. But it turned out she wanted to speak to me about the Lord (rather apt, given the subject matter of my book, but she didn't know that). I politely turned down her evangelistic overtures; she politely ignored my book.
Hours later (or so it seemed), another woman came up to me, all smiles. Turned out she wanted to tell me about her book. OK. I listened. Surely she'd buy mine, to return the favour? But no. She picked up six others from the shelves, paid for them and left the shop.
I sold a total of -1 books. Yes, that's right - minus one. I bought a copy myself just so I could tell the shop manager I'd sold one. Was still embarrassed, though. Went home, told people my sales were 'low'. Single figures, I admitted. Well, minus one is a single figure, isn't it?
Through contacts with relatives and friends (thank you, Chris and Judith), some book groups expressed interest. I was invited along to meetings where they discussed my book and asked me questions. It was a bit scary, but a great experience, and gave my morale a huge boost. Here were readers who were not (just) family and friends, who had engaged with my book and enjoyed it. I had an audience. Small, but an audience nonetheless. I had some good reviews from various places (this was the pre-blogging era, pretty much). We tried hard to publicise Charity more widely. I did a talk in my local library. Five lovely people came!
I knew so little about publicity, back then. I know a bit more now - though it's still tough, of course. I've worked with bigger publishers with my later books and it's still tough, though there are so many more channels open, four years on.
Anyway... along has come the era of Electric Books, and I'm doing more than dreaming about them. Encouraged by the many enthusiastic authors I've met on this blog, elsewhere online and in real life - I've decided to republish Charity in electronic form. I have the rights back and I'm free to do what I like with it. I've done a bit of re-editing and pruning - including the lopping off of Part III, which jumps forward twenty years. Part III is now going to be the beginning of the sequel...
I'm having a professional cover designed. It's looking good - wish I could show it to you now, but watch this space. I would employ a professional copy-editor and proofreader, except that I'm one myself. Having said that, no one should rely on proofreading their own work. I'm having someone else take a final look.
I'm excited by eCharity. I'm confident I can make a reasonable stab at producing an eBook and releasing it on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and the other outlets. I have great people to advise me, who've done it before.
I'm under no illusions. I know I will have to work hard for my sales. I'm all blinged up with social media now... Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the rest jingle on me as I walk. I blog, I tweet, I follow, I comment (though I refuse to poke).
I'm aiming for a career that mixes trade publishing with indie publishing (as self-publishing is beginning to be called). I have an exciting new contract with Phoenix Yard Books, the publisher of Coping with Chloe, to publish a series for 7-9-year-olds. I have a YA novel that's being seriously considered by another publisher (fingers crossed!) and I'd like to find a publisher for my SF novel for adults, just completed. I have other books, too, that I'd like to publish myself. One is a novella; another is experimental in form.
Who knows what the future holds? But I'm excited about Charity, the girl who, back in 1984, discovers herself pregant while insisting she is a virgin. Charity claims that the father of her baby is God. Her friends and fellow believers don't believe her, unsurprisingly. Everyone has their own theories. The truth, when it emerges, is dark and shocking. It's aimed at 14+.
Please wish me luck. I'll let you know how I get on.
@Ros_Warren on Twitter
Author of Coping with Chloe (age 11+)
Blogging at Rosalie Reviews
Editing and Proofreading Services