Saturday, 22 June 2019

Social Media (2): Ali Bacon explains how some miracles take a little longer


Back in March, I posted about how social media can bring very quick rewards. Today I'll explain how I got together with Linen Press - which happened at a rather different pace. 


High Quality Fiction
Years ago, when I was just starting out in both writing and blogging, I followed a blog called The Elephant in the Writing Room ( no longer alive but you can follow the same author here) for its no-nonsense approach and the writer's honesty in dealing with the ups and downs of her own career. In one particular post she had a bit of a rant about the publishing industry/book-buying public, explaining the dire situation for small presses and one in particular called Linen Press, purveyors of  beautifully written and produced literary fiction. So, partly from curiosity, I ordered The Missing by Juliet Bates. Around the same time Linen Press cropped up on Twitter. I followed. I  read their bits about ethos etc and sent them A Kettle of Fish. I got no joy there but if they ignored me as an author they noticed my reviewing efforts and some time afterwards a copy of Maureen Freely's Sailing through Byzantium arrived in the post.

Much later again, I received the wonderful Sometimes a River Song by Avril Joy. I raved about this book on my blog and elsewhere. It went on to win the People's Book Prize 'Achievement' Award and is still IMO that year's  most underrated novel.

From Twittersphere to real world

Avril Joy with Lynn Michell of Linen Press
By this time I had had a fair bit of (mostly) Twitter contact with Linen Press and MD Lynn Michell (also a novelist and memoir writer) who has family in Bristol, suggested we meet for a writerly chat. Although I was gratified she had clocked my writing efforts, I had no book to offer her at that time. Maybe that was a good thing. With no axes to grind on either side we had an excellent chinwag and shared various writing and publishing woes.  She did take away a few fragments of what later became Blink and got back to me to say she admired the writing but couldn't quite see what was going on - a perfectly fair comment when I had less than 20000 words and no clear idea of what the overall shape of the book would be.

 Full circle

It wasn't until several months later that I had the flash of inspiration which allowed me to  bring In the Blink of an Eye  together and finish it off. As soon as I had, and without any extensive editing or polishing, I sent it to Lynn. With no historical fiction on her list I didn't think it was her kind of book, so it wasn't a formal submission, just a request for her opinion. She read an extract and said she liked it. Before she read more, she wanted to know if I was asking her to publish it. I decided I was. Because I admired Linen Press's values, because I liked the look and feel of their books enough to  trust mine would turn out the same, because we already had a connection.
To cut to the chase, she accepted it. Gratifyingly when the cover was 'revealed' and shared, it was 'liked' by the the original blogger who unwittingly started the whole thing off!


Published by Linen Press 2018


Keep social media sociable


This roundabout story is nothing like the instant gratification we've come to expect from social media and maybe it wouldn't happen today. Back then I kept in close contact with the handful of bloggers I followed regularly.  Now I catch blog posts via Facebook or Twitter links, only clicking through if they look particularly intriguing. But I still think the story has something to teach us.

  • social media works but it may take a while
  • cementing online connections with real world talking helps (The corollary also holds. It's good to bolster F2F meetings with online contact where it applies.)
  • focus on the interaction, not the outcome you are looking for (I may have set out with a subconscious goal of bagging a publisher but it only happened when I was, in a sense, not looking for one.)
In short, social media is - or was - for being sociable. Trying to bend it to your will rarely works - or not at my level of expertise!

Post previously published on alibacon.com, March 2nd 2018

In the Blink of an Eye, Ali Bacon's historical novel, is available in paperback and e-book from Linen Press, online stores, and all good bookshops. 


A Kettle of Fish is a contemporary coming of age novel set in Scotland available in paperback and ebook from Amazon UK. 

3 comments:

Cecilia Peartree said...

This is a feel-good story in itself! And a really good example of how social media can be useful as well as fun. I think Twitter is particularly suited to making these more or less random or accidental connections.

Umberto Tosi said...

Thanks for this inspiring story rich with useful info for 21st century writers! I salute your patience and persistence in making social media work for you - good advice to writers indeed!

AliB said...

Thanks both - I do embrace social media but there is only so far it will take you. I don't find it has much effect on book sales unless you do it in a more organised way or pay for advertising.