Tuesday, December 10, 2013

From self-publication to finding a publisher - with Anna Bell

Anna lives in the French Pyrennees with her husband, new baby boy and lively labrador.

It’s hard as an author to know what book to write. We’re always looking to write something that we believe in, that we think is the best we can write, but we often have to be mindful about writing a commercially viable novel too. Before I got my publishing deal with ‘Don’t Tell the Groom’ I self-published two novels and it’s been interesting doing as Alan Sugar says ‘smell what sells.’

My first novel I published, Millie and the American Wedding, sold itself. I did very little marketing, and it ended up in getting high up the Kindle charts (just shy of the top 100) and I sold over 25,000 copies in its first year. I thought naively that was how ebooks worked, but after publishing my second novel, Universally Challenged, I realised when it didn’t sell as well that that wasn’t always the case.

I had subbed my now agent that novel, and when we spoke about it a year later she told me she’d not been interested in it as it was a mixture of genres and it contained elements of fantasy that made it a hard sell. I also was talking to a reader about my two self-published books and she reminded me that everyone loves a good wedding. When you think about it, it’s true, people do love weddings. From the two titles, you know instantly what you are going to get with the Millie book.

Which meant that when I was trying to work out what the next book I self-published would be - I chose Don’t Tell the Groom. Not only was it about weddings, but it had an interesting hook to it containing a darker side of internet gambling addiction and it is based on the idea of planning the wedding ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ style. It has, what I think is clear elevator pitch: It’s a story about a bride-to-be that gambles away her wedding fund playing internet bingo who then has to plan the wedding on a shoestring wedding without telling the groom. In short, it’s easy to translate what the book is about and makes it more marketable.

I absolutely loved writing Don’t Tell the Groom and I’m sure I’d have written it if it wasn’t marketable and commercially viable - but that helped to secure me an agent and a publishing deal for a series of books based around the same characters. Whilst it perhaps shouldn’t be an author’s main consideration when starting a new book, it can’t hurt to have it in the back of their mind.

‘Don’t Tell the Groom’ is the first in the ‘Don’t Tell’ series of novels published by Quercus, and is out now.

twitter: @annabell_writes

Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today, Anna. We wish you continuing success with your books.
Best wishes, Henri

Interviews on the RNA Blog are carried out by Elaine, Henri and Livvie. They are for RNA members only. If you are interested in an interview, please contact: elaineeverest@aol.com


anne stenhouse said...

Hi Anna, that's a really interesting post, thank you. I agree with a lot of what you say about titles. Lin Anderson, crime writer, recently talked to my writing group and she made another excellent point, you mention it in relation to Universally Challenged, and that was don't change the tone. It's helped me see why my 3rd novel has been stalling. Anne Stenhouse

Chris Stovell said...

Thanks for sharing those observations about selling and what makes one title more attractive than another. Expect a rush of 'wedding' titles! Best wishes, Cx

Jane said...

Yes, Anna, titles can sell books - they are SO important! Well done for doing so well with your first self-published book too. That must have been a wonderful ride.

But weddings do sell books. And anything associated with them. I like the word 'Bride' so much, ahem, I'm writing a series of books with them in the title. Now I wonder why I would do that ... Ha!

Good luck! Victoria x

Anne L Harvey said...

Fantastic post, Anna, really helpful, especially as I'm thinking of self-publishing next year. My novel doesn't fit easily into any particular genre so I'm hoping it will fit the SP market better.

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Rhoda Baxter said...

Very interesting post, Anna. I always find titles a real struggle. I always write the book first and then agonise about a title later. Perhaps starting with a title is a better idea.

All the best with the new book. I LOVE the cover!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

What an interesting post - thanks for sharing such valuable information through your own publication journey, Anna.