This time at ‘Meet The Authors’, I would like to welcome back author Jane Cable, who kindly gifted me a copy of her latest book The Faerie Tree, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, and who has, after the resounding success of her first visit, also agreed to write a second guest post, with the intriguing title “Better Together”
HI! I’M JANE CABLE
I can’t say that the publication of my debut novel The Cheesemaker’s House (Matador, 2013) changed my life – very few authors can – but it certainly changed my perception of myself as a novelist.
No longer was I writing for my own pleasure – as I had done for years – I was now expecting complete strangers to part with their hard earned cash to read my words. The pressure to perform was increased further – although in a delightful way – by the hugely positive reception the book had from readers, reviewers and book bloggers. Now there were other expectations to meet as well as my own.
The biggest change since The Cheesemaker’s House is that I am no longer running my accountancy business alone as my husband quit his finance role in a plc to join me. It’s certainly taken a great deal of the pressure off me but the downside is that I no longer have the time I had when he was travelling, working stupidly long hours and commuting, to fiddle around on social media and to write.
Another big change is that I have joined Chindi Authors, a group of independently published writers in Chichester, close to where I live. There is so much more we can achieve together than we can on our own – we even held a stall at the city’s Christmas market which one writer could never have done successfully.
Now that The Faerie Tree has been released I am juggling a great deal of marketing with writing the first draft of my next book. 66,000 words in and counting, it’s the tale of a mother and son who are haunted by a World War II tragedy which happened sixty years before.
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BY JANE CABLE, AUTHOR OF THE FAERIE TREE AND THE CHEESEMAKER’S HOUSE
In my first guest post for Fiction Books, I wrote about why I decided to publish independently. At the time my first novel, The Cheesemaker’s House, had been out only a few weeks and I was excited about what I could achieve.
Inspired by a framed will found in her dream Yorkshire house, which had been built at the request of the village cheesemaker in 1726, Jane Cable discovered the historical aspect of her novel. Set near Northallerton in North Yorkshire, The Cheesemaker’s House is a page-turner that will have readers hooked instantly.
The novel follows the life of Alice Hart, who escapes to the North Yorkshire countryside to recover after her husband runs off with his secretary. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including handsome builder Richard Wainwright and kind café owner Owen Maltby. As Alice employs Richard to start renovating the barn next to her house, all is not what it seems. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from? And if Owen is the village ‘charmer’, what exactly does that mean?
Cut to nine months later. Yes, I had attained a reasonable degree of success, but the marketing of the book in particular was taking up far more time than I had ever envisaged and it had even got to the point where it was stopping me doing what I love most – actually writing. I’d never found writing the lonely business some people say it is because you have your characters for company. Marketing – that was another thing entirely.
So I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I came across a romantic thriller writer on Twitter called Helen Christmas. Helen was part of a group of local independently published authors; local to her – and local to me. Unlike most writers’ groups Chindi (Chichester Independent Authors) didn’t exist for creative navel-gazing, it was there to provide mutual help and support for the act of getting the finished book out there – and marketing it.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that Chindi was in its very early days. The monthly meetings were brilliantly chaired by children’s author Christopher Joyce; there was a very professional-looking website run by Helen; and even a Youtube channel managed by Dan Jones, a hypnotherapist and writer. The group was very informal – everybody chipped in when money, ideas, support or just plain hard work was needed.
Founder member Christopher Joyce explains:
“I think one of the strengths of the group is sharing the lessons learned as we fought our way to get published. The fact that some chose assisted publishers, others have chosen to use Lulu or Createspace adds real value. It’s also a safe and supporting environment to ask dumb questions. Where do I find a good proof reader, what’s a blog tour? Someone within the group will almost certainly know the answer.”
But Chindi isn’t all about sharing information – it’s about generating sales too. Towards the end of last year we held two highly successful events where we actually sold books in some number; first an evening of ‘wine and words’ at a local bar and then, more ambitiously, a stall at Chichester Christmas Market. The £400 price ticket for the stand, the fact we needed insurance, the logistics of staffing it for five days meant that one author could never have done this alone – but together it worked really well. I can honestly say that everyone in the group contributed and everyone sold books.
Biographer Jill King agrees:
“Being a member of Chindi has allowed me to promote my book in ways I wouldn’t have had the resources to do on my own. It’s quite daunting to work out how best to market your work, especially your first book. Chindi members are fantastic at sharing what they’ve learnt and promoting each other’s writing. We all face the same challenges and it helps to know you don’t have to work everything out for yourself.”
By the end of 2014 the group was growing and we were starting to attract members who weren’t ready to publish their book quite yet. It was time that we became more than just a group of friends and adopted a more formal structure so a community interest company was set up. This allows us to run a bank account, take memberships fees (we have two grades – one for published writers and another for those working towards it) and plan for bigger projects.
The group’s co-founder, historical thriller writer Jeremy Good, is excited about 2015:
“With Chindi, I really feel we have achieved some amazing things over the past year, and I look forward to how we develop and grow as group in the future.”
Already on the cards are a series of expert-led workshops, a book to guide other writers through the process of independent publication and beyond, and participation in the prestigious Chichester Festival.
Although we are essentially local we are more than happy to help other groups of writers start to work in a similar way. Getting together is a really practical way to share the burden of marketing (both locally and in terms of social media), to get advice from people who’ve done it before (whatever it is), to actually sell more books and to meet like-minded people.
Julian Kirkman-Page, Jeremy’s co-author of the forthcoming Chindi book sums it up:
“Having pressed publish, and then wondering why ‘everyone else’ in the world seems to be selling thousands of books, can be a lonely and depressing chapter. Being able to share the reality, and explore the future with a like-minded group of fun individuals, is like turning the page onto a whole new world of opportunity.”
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Cut again to 2015 and check out my latest book The Faerie Tree
In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?
With strong themes of paganism, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cable’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore.