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Angelena Boden

Angelena Boden

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Who are you? It's a very good question

A while ago I approached an independent bookshop and asked if it would be possible to organise an author event. In the middle of giving some background about the book and my authorial journey the woman on the end of the phone said… But are you somebody?  I could only conclude that she meant… somebody well known.

            I blustered a bit … I mean what do you say to that?  My family know me well, fellow writers, friends, clients, some bloggers and readers but if you’re asking me if I am a celeb then sorry to disappoint. Her reasoning seemed to be that they get so many requests from writers, and heaven help us, including self- published ones that they’ve had to draw up a criteria. Being a nobody isn’t on there.

            Shock was the dominant emotion when I hung up. I stared at the phone for a few seconds, hardly believing my ears. Oh how I wished I’d recorded the conversation but you don’t think such a measure is necessary do you? Not unless you’re working in a call centre where the level of abuse from customers is climbing. I didn’t even have the presence of mind to ask for her name or speak to the manager. Maybe she was the manager without being managerial.

            Where’s this preamble leading you ask?  There are times in life when we feel compelled to go deep inside and ask ourselves those searching questions. Who am I? What is my place in the world? How can I best serve?  

            When we ask ourselves this question, it’s an indication of an identity struggle- not necessarily a crisis – but the sense of me/I/myself has become fuzzy round the edges. It’s like looking at your reflection in a frosted mirror.

Questioning who we are is an ongoing process which requires a constant re-framing, a willingness to embrace the ever changing landscape that is our backdrop. The perception of who I was three years ago has shifted to a more comfortable sense of self today because I allowed the change to happen naturally with no pre-conceived ideas of who I should be. There lies the rub. The book-shop gatekeeper implied that in order to be offered an event slot, I should be someone who is worth it.  

            It seems to me that being somebody equates with YouTube stardom. If you can promote a super-duper way of applying mascara or reveal to the world that you a light-worker channelling the Pleiadians and have a million plus followers then star spangled doors of opportunity will automatically fling open and welcome you because you are A Somebody.  Forgive my cynicism here.

            But wait. There are benefits to being a nobody. It’s not our successes which mops up that fuzziness around the ego but our failures. We learn humility, the art of giving without expecting anything in return and we no longer have to jump up and down on our personal trampoline to be seen. We can simply be. The best thing is we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously. There’s no pretence, no need to perform or or lose our sense of authenticity just to tick someone else’s boxes.

            One thing I can share, being an oldie, is that the first half of life seems to be about becoming somebody important/famous/rich/successful and the second half is about divesting ourselves of that illusion. Without this pressure, we can become who we really are.

            So had my normally mercurial mind been activated during that conversation, I would have said this. ‘ I am someone who is generous with my time, a giver, an energiser, a motivator. Someone who is real, who engages, who co-operates and is a decent person. If I didn’t say so earlier, I happen to have written two original, well- reviewed books set in your city where I lived for twenty five years. That makes me the somebody you are really looking for, don’t you think? ’

I didn’t say any of those things. Instead, I did the very British thing of apologising.  ‘Sorry to have troubled you.’



My recent blog tour - a few rambling thoughts.

I’ve recently been the star of a blog tour for my new book, The Future Can’t Wait which ran for over two weeks. It’s a popular form of online publicity which helps to create a real buzz around your newly released book and is the virtual equivalent to a physical location, bookshop or library, where traditionally the author  would turn up to talk about their book and sign some copies. For many authors, published by small independents or self-published, this is a model that isn’t working unless there are sufficient numbers to make it worth their while.

            This exciting form of promotion means authors can reach a much wider audience, either by offering up a guest post or asking the blogger to post their reviews of the book which will hopefully be supportive. I found the reviews of my book to be an author’s dream.

            My blog which ran from Nov 2nd to 17th 2017 was managed by an organiser, (you can find her here) https://annebonnybookreviews.com/ throughout the whole period and whilst authors can approach bloggers independently, I found this to be very helpful as it took pressure of me and let me do what I do best… write.

            Each blogger on the tour took a slightly different approach and picked out issues in the book that resonated with them personally. This meant that every review was not a rehash of someone else’s. It was clear that a lot of time and dedication was devoted to each blog even if the genre I was writing in wasn’t a particular interest of theirs.

            When I was informed about who would be participating in my blog, I took some time to look at their websites and without exception, have to say all are beautifully laid out and professionally presented. I am amazed at how much reading these bloggers are able to do, particularly as publishers are constantly sending them books and authors are bombarding them for help. It’s good to see that they’ve drawn up some clear guidelines on the practicalities. Agents and publishers have specialisms and rules of engagement so why not bloggers. They are a valuable part of the publishing business.

            I didn’t realise how much work was involved for the author. Quality guest posts of between 500 – 1000 words need time to plan as these will create an impression about the author. If you throw something together because the blogger is reminding you time is running out, then what’s it going to say about your book (which may be fantastic).

            Authors need to remember that they are not the only ones the blogger is working with over a given period of time.  Your blog organiser and the team are doing you a huge favour so co-operation is necessary to make the tour as successful as it can be. If you want it to be the start of a professional working relationship, then good communication, rapid responses and getting involved with the frenzy of retweeting and uploading or sharing their posts to your social media is a part of the process. It is tiring but also exciting. I woke with trepidation every day during my tour to see how the book had been received by total strangers but real readers, many of whom consume hundreds of books in a year. They know what appeals and they’re good at picking out what makes a novel “tick.”

            What really impressed me was the way the organiser took several quotes from the reviews throughout the day and flagged them up on social media, Twitter in particular. They’re carefully selected to be inspiring and encourage followers to check out the book with a view to purchasing. It’s a soft sell approach with an emphasis on connecting authors to readers as people not as another product.  

A few tips for authors on a tour

  • Help out with the promotion banners – post them to your social media and shout about it.
  • Keep track of your own tour and be sure to thank the blogger that day.
  • Engage with the buzz throughout the tour but be subtle.
  • Keep your publisher informed. He/she has many other authors to look after and can’t always be following every mention of your book.
  • Agree guest posts well in advance and send them off early.
  • Be flexible if there have to be changes.
  • Whatever you do, don’t engage in an argument because you don’t like what the blogger/reviewer has said about an aspect of the book. Everyone has their own opinion. Accept it.
  • Enjoy it… it’s great fun and I have made some new contacts some of whom have become friends whom I hope to meet next year.
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