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The real me.

Just a quickie. If you check out my photos (in the section on the right, marked ‘Albums’) you will see I have added a photo of how I usually am. I am rarely glamorous (if ever), mostly in pyjamas, usually found on the sofa (with or without laptop) but almost always accompanied by my dogs and a cup of coffee or can of Lucozade. I am hugely flattered by those of you who have said I am an inspiration, but I’m really just a very, very ordinary person. I’ve done some things lately, that I never imagined I would do in a million years. Yes, I wrote a book, but the idea of going on holiday or doing other simple things that people take for granted, fills me with fear – that’s hardly inspirational. The people I admire are those who have hurdles in their lives, whether big or small, that fill them with fear…but still tackle them anyway. I have some way to go before I could admire myself…

And please, if you look at the pic, don’t laugh at my pyjamas – they were a gift from my grandma. Back to the topic of book promotion next time, I promise! Smile
Posted by Holly A Harvey at 12:32 | Permanent


Writer's cramp!

I don’t mind telling you this: I’m tired. In fact, I’m exhausted. Has it been worth it?

Has what been worth it, I hear you ask (well, I don’t really hear you, but you know what I mean). Well, first there was the launch. Mid-morning on Thursday (LD – launch day) 30 books arrived at Sarah’s shop. Sarah had already taken several pre-orders for people who couldn’t make the signing, so she was very relieved when the delivery turned up. I was uncharacteristically calm. This was probably because it still didn’t seem real, to me. I rested all day, got my hair straightened (so that I could hide behind it) and then…began to panic! Those darn 30th birthday memories again!

They say you can’t chose your family, but I think if I could, I would have still kept mine. They, along with several friends, were out (on a very cold evening) to support me. I was very grateful, but it was always nice when a stranger came in to have a book signed. I felt a bit silly most of the time, especially when people wanted to have their photo taken with me! The strangest request of the event was being asked to include a mention of the footballer, Gary Speed (obviously a private joke for the people concerned), and the sweetest thing was when someone told me that Karma was the first book they’d ever bought. We were only left with 8 books at the end of the evening, and Sarah has sold several more since.

If I was disappointed in one thing, it was the lack of interest from local press. Press releases were distributed, but no response. I was a little surprised at the EC, as it was their newspaper that ran the competition that I won! Everything we achieved was down to Sarah and myself. Go team us!

Yesterday was a day of rest (almost). I had a telephone interview with a charming gentleman from M.E. Essentials quarterly – that was just like a lovely chat! Apparently, I’m going to be a cover girl (can I still say cover girl at my age?) That’s a bit scary as I am very self-conscious about how I look. So you know it’s a big thing for me to allow you to see the photographs from various things I’ve done this week – see the links at the right of the page. Also, I spoke to the nice Manager of Waterstones in Hexham, who asked me to sign the books they now have in stock.

So, that’s where I was today. Gordon and I made a day of it, so I didn’t get too tired and stressed, and we had a lovely lunch at a cafe called the Cornmill in Hexham. Then, off to Waterstones. The staff were really friendly and didn’t object to Gordon doing a David Bailey and taking photos from all angles. Can I just mention how proud he is of his arty shot, taken at Sarah’s shop? I signed 7 books, and they have shelved them in both ‘local interest/authors’ and in their ‘staff recommendations’ section. I was ridiculously excited and asked Gordon to go back in a take some photos of the books on the shelves (I sat in the coffee shop across the street and had a coffee and yet another rest).

I have pushed my self as far as I could over the past few days, just to make the most of the few opportunities that I’ve had. In all honesty, I’m struggling, both with the promotion side of things and physically, and the warning signs are here that I need to rest, rest, rest. So, I’ll leave it there for now, so I can rest, drink Lucozade Sport and sleep, sleep, sleep.

And has it been worth it? Only time will tell…if I could just get some reviews in, I would feel a lot happier! Even if they’re rubbish, because at least then I know people have read the book! 😀

NOTE: If you have tried to contact me on the website and have had no response, this is because my web designer is on a well-earned break. I hope to get these messages when she returns.


Memory Lane: my 30th birthday party!

You’re probably wondering what my 30th has to do with book promotion…well nothing really, except the book signing tomorrow is triggering some memories.

I had been quite poorly in the months prior to my 30th, and had lost touch with lots of friends. Although I was on a very tight budget, I decided to have a party, just so I could see everyone again. I saved up some money and manged to organise a party. I even designed my own ‘caricature’ invitations (if I can find a jpeg file, I’ll let you see it, though it’s hardly flattering). I was really ill on the day of the party, and stayed in bed until just before I had to leave. When I got there, hardly any of the people I had invited turned up. My close family and friends were there, but lots of others weren’t. I enjoyed the party (despite having to leave early, as I just couldn’t carry on, and then locking myself out of the house) but swore I would never have another event where I was ‘centre of attention’. So now, I’m starting to worry that nobody will come…except my close family and a few friends (Ian and Tom, for the pink Lambrusco).

We’ve already had a bit of a flap. We couldn’t get hold of the books anywhere. The wholesaler that Sarah usually uses has sold out. Now, in some respects, this is obviously a good thing, but a book-signing is pretty difficult without a book to sign! After some frantic phone calls (and some ridiculous ‘Plan B’ scenarios), extra books are being printed as we speak. I’d like to say we can now breathe easy, but I don’t know what to expect tomorrow – I don’t know what people expect from me…except pink Lambrusco, in the case of Ian! Neither Sarah nor myself will rest until the books arrive in the shop (and even then, we’ll probably still not relax).

I’m off now, as I hope to spend the rest of the day:

  • Lying on sofa
  • Having long bubble bath, reading Mike Gayle’s “His ‘n’ Hers”
  • Lying on sofa, part two
  • Lying in bed (not being able to sleep – a great way to avoid the nightmares!)

You probably won’t hear from me tomorrow, but I’ll try and update the Blog sometime at the weekend (and will hopefully include some photos, taken from creative angles so you think there was hundreds of people there). I’m also doing a telephone interview on Friday afternoon with a nice gentleman from M.E. Essentials magazine – will let you know how it goes.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, please! And Ali, hope you’re enjoying the book…although it’s probably a bad sign if you’re reading this blog rather than the book! 😀


Book officially released: so where is it?

Decided to type in a drab colour to reflect how I’m feeling on this, the ‘official’ release date of Karma. Was all hyped up yesterday, as I’d been given some great promotion/marketing tips…then my mam said she’d been into Waterstones and was told they weren’t stocking it. My husband was told that it wasn’t in WHSmith either…

So, tell me, why all the hard work and effort (not just the stuff that went into writing the book, but subsequently)? I can push the book as much as I am able, but if people can’t walk into a shop and buy it, how will I ever sell any? I know it is selling at online retailers, but it was my dream to be able to walk in to various bookshops and see my work sharing a shelf with all the authors that I admire.

I guess I’m just feeling a bit upset, as my grandma was taken to hospital yesterday…I thought I’d try and take my mind off it by forcing myself to try and arrange some book signings. It’s not really working yet, and the lack of interest from shops’ book buyers is getting me down further.

EDIT: change of colour to denote change of mood. Spoke to lovely, lovely lady at Waterstones in Hexham and she’s going to stock the book! Yay! She also advised me to try and get a mention in the Hexham Courant, so I’ve had to get in touch with publisher to ask if they’ve sent them a press release. Woohoo!


Just a quickie!

Hello – I’ve been getting a lot of advice this weekend, on how to get my book noticed. All of it fantastic – it has given me a lot to think about, and has got me excited about the book again! So, this afternoon, I emailed Hexham Book Festival to ask if I could take part in some way. It’s very short notice, as it is only next month, but I thought it would be useful if I could even just stand (OK, probably sit…or lean against a wall) there, handing out flyers for my book. It’s amazing how much promotion/research you can do whilst lying on the sofa, watching Ugly Betty, laptop on knee…

Also, my web designer has got my website up and running – it’s pretty, user-friendly and I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw it! It made everything even more ‘real’. She also gave me a much appreciated ‘good luck’ gift, which was very kind of her. While I’m expressing gratitude, another thanks to: Sarah (who’s been leaflet-dropping again ahead of this week’s book-signing…eeeeek!); Mark (who’s become an unofficial Literary Agent) and is advertising my book amongst his legion of fans; everyone at WriteWords for patiently answering my questions and offering me good, sensible advice; and last but not least, the gang at BookForce who sent me a ‘congratulations on the publication of Karma’ card. They probably send a card to each of their authors, but it still meant a lot to me!

So, this week: book officially published tomorrow (although seems to be on sale now); must contact Waterstones and Borders (almost giving up on WHSmith); and I have emailed publishers to ask what they’re doing by way of PR, so I don’t step on any toes, before deciding what to do next! Bye for now!

IMPORTANT NOTE: a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported me in any way, shape or form. If the book is a success, it will be down to you lot! x


The nightmares have started…

Hi – spent ages typing a new page yesterday, and then there was an error! Then, I had a nightmare last night where I thought I’d sold hundreds of books and I’d only sold thirty…

I finally got hold of some books, and duly sent them off again. I really hope that the recipients enjoy the story, but I’d like to say the following: I’m not an auditionee on the X-Factor. I won’t have a strop if you tell me the book’s rubbish, and I would far prefer you to be honest with me. I’d rather people didn’t pretend I was talented if I’m talentless!

Sarah got her posters and leaflets. I took a few off her and my mam (yes, my mam) ended up leaving some in the library, my auntie’s shop and some local shops, as I was too embarrassed to do so – it’s really pathetic at my age, I know! I, on my meagre budget, managed to get a good deal at M&S on some pretty pink sparkling Lambrusco and some Bucks Fizz (classy and 20% off 😀 ) for the ‘official launch’. We couldn’t have nibbles in case Sarah’s stock was damaged, so I ordered some nice pink, lilac and turquoise sweeties. Mmm, chocolate (with a stock-friendly crispy shell). They should come today, but I can’t promise they’ll last until Thursday…

Apart from the fact that I’m useless at self-promotion, I’ve had another issue. You’ll laugh at me when I tell you this: my grandma announced that she’d like to read the book. Whilst it isn’t full of bad language or extremely dirty, it certainly isn’t religious-grandma reading material. It may well be disown-your-granddaughter material, though! After much pleading and begging from me, she has agreed not to read it – this has taken a weight off my mind. I appreciate that she’s just proud, but she really might have been offended by some of the content, so I felt bad.

With regard to Press interest…what Press interest? Even the local newspapers that featured the competition in the first place haven’t been in touch. I’ve heard nothing from the BIG two: Waterstones and WHSmith. As you know, with WHSmith, no news is not good news, but the same applies to Waterstones. I have promised Natalie (who has kindly agreed to contact the radio station, on my behalf, for a copy of my interview) that I’ll get in touch with Borders. By the time I psyche myself up…the book might be out of print! I haven’t heard any feedback from any of the contacts that my publisher has sent the book to, either – does that mean that they don’t like it or they simply haven’t read it??? I must admit that my pessimism has taken hold again, and I fear the worst.

On the positive side, my book is already available at Amazon, and Sarah has sold a couple of copies ahead of the signing. One person has said that she couldn’t stop laughing, which I took as a compliment. I’ve also had an email from someone who is launching a new website, and wants to use my story (the story of me, rather than my story, Karma) on her site. I was very flattered, and I’ll post the site details as soon as it’s up and running.

On an entirely unrelated matter, I was happy to find that James Martin is doing a book signing at Waterstones. Then I found out it was down south…waaaaaayyyyy down south. Too far for me, unfortunately. I bet that he doesn’t have to beg for publicity or to get book shops to allow him to do promotional events for his books!

On that note I’ll leave you. While I feeling slightly proactive, I might give Borders a call… And try and find out what’s happening with my website!

PS Feel free to comment upon any of these posts – these come direct to my email address, and if you have any questions, I’ll try and answer them. All you need to do is click on Comments and complete the box. If there’s a numer beside the word ‘comments’, it means that someone else has left a remark.

EDIT: Just plucked up the courage to ring Borders…the person who deals with in-store events in on holiday, and I have to try again on Monday! Foiled again!


Ramblings

Good afternoon! Typing from bed again, but this time I am fully dressed having just been to the hairdressers – lovely new ‘do and nowhere to go! Trying some energy conservation…

I got some really good feedback from the Julia Hankin interview, and it has opened up some very interesting opportunities for me. I don’t want to say too much in case they don’t come about, except to say that I am very flattered and that they include several interviews! Plus it was great to get ME/CFS into the public eye – I’m sure I’m not the most eloquent person to represent people with this condition, but I will try my best to describe it and to bring some awareness to the public, if I can.

If you’re wondering what’s been happening regarding the book promotion since I last posted, here goes:

  • WHSmith – no news (so, as I said before, not good news)
  • Waterstones – spoke to a very friendly woman last Thursday and sent some info, so the ball is in their court
  • Borders – still haven’t summoned the energy (OK…the courage, to go in and ask about it). I think it’s because I don’t feel like a ‘real’ author, and still feel like a bit of a fraud…

I am still without a website (despite finding a few trial pages on the ‘net at the weekend), and still have no copies of my own book! It’s really quite frustrating for me.

The ‘book launch’ is going ahead, as planned, at Sarah’s bookshop (www.henrysbooks.co.uk) on World Book Day. She’s still waiting for ‘official’ posters/leaflets, so printed some of her own. I spent yesterday evening pounding the streets (well, two streets…my own and an adjacent one), posting leaflets. Actually, I managed three houses before my husband had to take over from me – we were cold and exhausted when we were done, but the dogs enjoyed their walk! I am starting to worry that nobody will come to the signing…I’m concerned that the eyebrow wax and blow dry I’ve booked will be all for nothing!!! NOTE: on re-reading the previous sentence, I should say that my eyebrows are not so bushy that they need blow-dried…I meant my hair! Smile

Before I go, something has been bothering me, and I wanted to make sure I remembered to post this. As you know, Mark Jones (who really doesn’t know me from Adam, having only met me for about 6 seconds), has been really supportive – but I’m not really in a position to do anything for him, except this (and I hope he doesn’t mind me doing so): on his website (www.markjoneswebsite.co.uk) he mentions that he is running the London Marathon, and is trying to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust. If you are interested in sponsoring Mark or simply making a donation to this charity via Mark’s Just Giving page, you can do so here: www.justgiving.com/markbjones

That’s all from me for now – if you’re bored, and are looking for something to do, why not check out all the websites above? Oh, and www.bdmlr.org.uk – I wanted to find a way to mention them on the radio, but it was all I could do to remember my own pen name!


Phew – it's over!

Well, I had my 15-20 minutes of fame!

I had trouble getting to sleep last night, as possible question scenarios kept coming into my head. I woke up at about 5.30am with butterflies the size of chickens in my stomach, and could barely eat anything.

My mam drove me to the BBC Radio Newcastle studios, and we got there an hour early, so sat in the car park for half an hour, as I didn’t want to go in too early. When I was waiting to be called, I could hear the show going out. It was surreal when the presenter announced that coming up was an ‘inspirational author’ – I was thinking “Who’s that? Have they forgotten about me?” D’oh, that was about me!

I was shaking so much, that my chair felt like one of those vibrating massage chairs! Julia Hankin was fantastic though – she really put me at ease (no mean feat, believe me!) She is every bit as friendly and down-to-earth as she comes across on the radio. I even got a Tipple Tool (Julia’s regular listeners will know about this).

I don’t know how people can put themselves through that on a regular basis – I only hope I didn’t say anything stupid. I can’t bear to listen to myself, even though it’s on the internet. Sorry that I didn’t manage to mention Johnston’s Press in Chesterfield for my sister. Got Mark’s name in, and several mentions for Sarah’s shop!

So, not sure what I do next. Perhaps I’ll get my tea and think about it on a full stomach…


A face for radio!

I don’t believe it! Little old me is doing a LIVE radio interview on BBC Radio Newcastle tomorrow, with JULIA HANKIN – I love that show!

I am SO nervous (yet again, I’ve agreed to something then am going to panic about it until it happens). I bet I say something stupid. Must make a mental note not to mention reading in the bath – that’s all I remember saying in my last radio interview!

The problem is that I’m liable to mix my words up – clear thinking is NOT common in M.E./C.F.S. sufferers. I hope that I don’t freeze up or develop my nervous cough… Now I’m putting worries in to my head! Julia always comes across as a nice person, so I hope she’s gentle with me. I may have a face for radio, but I certainly don’t have a voice for radio!

Off to do some more panicking now!!! Oh, and I’ve also had a response from Waterstones, but I’ll tell you more about that soon – can’t think straight at the moment!

Hear me make a complete fool of myself here at 3.10pm, 15th February 2007:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/local_radio/index.shtml


Cautiously excited…

Hello – technically, I’m not much further forward with regard to promoting my book, but optimistically, my Publisher tells me the following publications have requested a review copy:

  • In Balance magazine
  • What Doctors Don’t Tell You
  • Essentials
  • Woman and Home
  • She
  • That’s Life
  • Woman
  • The Guardian
  • The Observer
  • The Daily Mail
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • The Guardian Weekend Magazine
  • The Times Magazine
  • The Sunday Sun
  • Newcastle Evening Chronicle
  • Newcastle Journal

I realise the fact that they requested a review copy doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll a) review it or b) like it, but it’s still pretty exciting to a newbie like me! A nice lady at the website, Trashionista (www.trashionista.com), has also offered to review the book. Naturally, I hope they all enjoy it, but I also have to prepare myself in case there are any negative reviews (large bar of chocolate and some tissues on stand-by…) No word on my website yet, but it’s coming soon!

And, believe it or not, following my last post, I idly typed in “thinking cap” in to eBay – there WAS one!!! Fair enough, it was just a baseball cap with the words “thinking cap” embroidered on the front, but still..