Friday, May 6, 2016

Elaine Everest: The Woolworths Girls

I am delighted to see the boot on the other foot today as we welcome our own Elaine Everest following publication of her saga, The Woolworths Girls

Thank you for interviewing me, Natalie. It does feel strange to be on the other side of the blog!

Congratulations on yesterday’s launch, Elaine. We are all aware that the time from acceptance to publication is a long and busy one. Can you tell us something about was expected of you from your publisher during this period?
Thank you, it was an exciting day! Its seems an age since I received the call from my agent, Caroline Sheldon, to say that Pan Macmillan had made a very nice offer for a two book contract. I was at a funeral that afternoon and had to keep dashing from the room to take calls and not grin too much! At that stage about a third of The Woolworths Girls had been written so my main job was to get writing and keep writing as I had a deadline. I did get to have lunch with my editor at that time, Natasha Harding, where we chatted about book two and the sales team and Natasha told me to go ahead with The Butlins Girls (due to be published in 2017).
The editing process at Pan Macmillan goes through many stages and I got to meet so many professional people. I was in very good hands. When attending the first Pan Mac party I got to meet the people who had worked on my book. A strange experience as they knew so much about my characters whereas before that it was just me and my husband and of course you, Natalie!

How au fait were you with these procedures, or did some of it come as a shock?
Having had a few other books published I was aware that working with a major publisher is slightly different to smaller concerns. They are much more thorough with editing and the marketing is amazing. Even so, when emails pop into my inbox I can’t say I’m not a little worried about what they will contain. My new senior editor, Victoria Hughs-Williams, is equally as lovely and kind as Natasha and both have been so helpful answering my questions. A major publisher is there to build an author’s brand and even when attending social media days for authors all staff have been there for us and most patient! It’s an experience I hope all my writing friends enjoy in their careers.

You are fortunate to be working with the hugely respected Pan Macmillan. How involved has your agent, Caroline Sheldon, been in the process?
Well, she secured a very good contract for me and kept me up to date with the complete process. Now I’m secure with my publisher Caroline doesn’t need to be so much involved but saying that we chat often and the whole of the agency are interested in my work and what is happening. I know that if I were to have any form of problem Caroline will be there to hold my hand and stop me worrying. Apart from that we chat about my dog, Henry, and his show career. Hmm perhaps Henry should pitch for his own book contract?

How do you feel about the publishing industry, both professionally and personally?
Gosh! As you know we’ve seen a lot of the industry whilst running this blog. For me I am saddened that so many good writers are not being offered advances when given contracts. Whether digital first or straight to paperback a publisher should show confidence in their authors and writers should be brave enough to ask for an advance. Why should writers have
all the pressure?
Something else I’ve experienced with several of my books in my early years as an author, and will nag my students to ask about before signing a contract, is the marketing side of the book trade. It astonishes me how many publishers, especially digital first, expect a new author to undertake all their own publicity and marketing without giving a helping hand. At The Write Place we have helped new authors who have been left floundering by publishers who don’t even arrange a blog tour or send out a press release.
I’ll get off my soap box now!

Naturally The Woolworths Girls will be available on Amazon. In what formats and will we be able to buy a copy elsewhere?
The Woolworths Girls is available as an ebook and also paperback on Amazon sites and will be in major bookshops. I’m hearing almost daily of supermarkets becoming interested and the book is to also be in libraries in large print format.

Getting your book into supermarkets gives you hugely increased exposure. Did you know it was ‘on the cards’?
Pan Macmillan are very good at keeping me informed of sales developments and we heard very early on that Sainsbury’s are keen to have it on their shelves.

Obviously you have not been idle during the time you’ve been waiting for The Woolworths Girls to hit the shelves. What have you been working on in the meantime?
I’ve finished writing my book for 2017 which is called The Butlins Girls and is set in 1946 when the popular holiday camp opens after World War Two. Edits are now in and I’ve heard that the cover design is being discussed. Again I’m fortunate to be included in ideas for the cover, which is very exciting.

Finally, you’ve set your book in an iconic setting. Please tell our readers something about it and the story you’ve woven around that great British institution.
The Woolworths store where I set my story actually existed. In fact I shopped there often and remember the old store before it vanished in a terrible fire and was replaced by a modern building. My sagas are set in North West Kent where I was born and grew up and know the history. Set on the banks of the River Thames the town of Erith suffered greatly during the war and my family often spoke of that time and there is still a strong local community. Where better than to have Sarah, Maisie and Freda meet at the end of 1938 as they started work at Woolworths and where better for Sarah to fall in love as WW2 loomed on the horizon?

Twitter: @elaineeverest

Thank you, Elaine. It’s been a huge pleasure for me to be ‘on the inside’ during your journey. I’m sure your readers will enjoy your book as much as I have. Wishing you every good luck.

Thank you, Natalie, for your interesting questions and being so much help while I was writing The Woolworths Girls x

The RNA Blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman

This time, from different sides of the table. 


snoopsspots2 said...

Oh, well done, Elaine, for flying the flag for new authors. It's a jungle out there sometimes. It's good to know that new authors have somewhere to turn for advice. Absolute best of luck with The Woolworths Girls! Did I mention I LOVE that cover! :)

Anita Chapman said...

Congratulations, Elaine! Love the cover and look forward to reading.

Unknown said...

Absolutely fabulous interview, Elaine, truly a lovely read! May your success grow and grow - and your publishers sound great. Love the cover, too. x

Viv said...

I really enjoyed this interview, Elaine, and listening to you on BBC Radio this week too. It looks like the book is popping up in all sorts of shops now, so I'm sure it will do really well. I am on chapter 4 already - great bedtime reading!
Best wishes, Viv

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Lovely interview, especially hearing about how much a good publisher and agent can add to the whole experience. I'm sure this book (and the next) will be a huge success, Elaine!

Unknown said...

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments. It has been a long journey to get to this point in my writing life! xx