What to do if your writing’s great, but your marketing sucks!

Writing a book is a lonely business. The stereotypes are true, I mean, I’ve been sitting in my office since 8am, unshaven – I use that word figuratively – and I probably won’t see another person until my son comes home from school. I watch people walking up and down the street with dogs, buggies and earphones, which doesn’t really count as social interaction.

On one level, it’s blissful, I write, dream and research to my heart’s content. I play what my husband, calls ‘whale music’ to help me focus. So far, so idyllic. But attending The Author School was a rude awakening – I need to get myself and my work out into the daylight  – IRL and online.

 

 

Who are you writing for? They’ll never read your words if you don’t market them.

To be a successful writer, which I define as someone who writes what they love and sells decent amounts of it, requires consistent and concerted marketing and PR input.  I used to work in corporate comms and PR before I became a writer. Being tangled in my love affair with words, I had unceremoniously kicked my steady former love to the curb. Shame on me! All of the tools are at my disposal but I’ve left them to rust.  But, like an autumn breeze, change is in the air.  It’s time to polish my press release writing, tinker with my Twitter and sex-up my blog. (Not like that!)

Songs of My Soul on shelves at the Black Cultural Archives

Attending the Author School reminded me to look up from behind the screen, pause my book writing and start flexing my marketing muscles.  I had fallen into the trap of building an irrational resistance to self-PR and book promotion, for fear of being too ‘in-yer-face.’ The truth is, being in-yer-face/BOLD/CapitalLetters, is what gets people’s attention. It has always been this way.

So join me in giving your book a boost. Whether you’re still writing it or it’s already published, turn some of your writing attention to writing about your book, in detail. Plot development, characters, themes, why you’re writing it etc., that is as important as the end product and will help you to sell copies when you’re finished writing it.  It’s time to work our socials, and stop hiding out at home or in Costa. My PR self is telling my writer self to GET OUT THERE! My pledge:

do more social media – keep it real – do more Facebook live – blog regularly – blog/gram/tweet on the go (so it doesn’t feel it’s a job) – write about writing and poetry, my core themes & ENJOY it. 

If it gets too much, I will call in an expert.  I’d love to hear how you get on,  and if you don’t already, please connect/follow/like me…

@radiantlady

@schoolhappyin

https://www.instagram.com/suzysongsofmysoul/?hl=en

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Windrush 48; Spirit of Windrush

I was fortunate enough to attend the service at Westminster Abbey on 22 June to mark Windrush Day. Me and about 2,000 other folk. The steel band playing in the church by Shern Hall Methodist Youth Steel band, set the scene. The harmonic twang of pan never fails to lift the spirit, and the mix of hymns and spirituals they played was a joy to listen to and even dance to as Baroness Floella Benjamin, did on her way in, with a willing member of the public! She received a hearty round of applause from the crowd, as she sashayed to her seat.

The atmosphere in the abbey was interesting: a mix of celebratory, joyful, respectful and thankful. Westminster Abbey  – seat of the British religious establishment, where graves of diplomats, politicians and British royalty are buried and royals have married –  was to host a service with a difference. I sat with Karen Roach, a pastor at St. James Church Hampton Hill, as we watched key names in British politics enter the Abbey: Prime Minister Teresa May, Home Secretary Sajid David, Baroness Floella Benjamin, Diana Abbot, Paul Boeteng.

Rev Joel Edwards gave a stirring address

The hour long service started with a solo of Jerusalem, sung by a girl with locks, followed by an enactment of Caribbeans coming to this country, some who may have perviously served in the war, detailing their thoughts and feelings as they came to Britain to help re-build the ‘Mothercountry.’

The Abbey begins to fill up

The service was led by the Very Rev Dr. john Hall, Dean of Westminster, and the Rev Joel Edwards gave an address, which intimated that the setting down of the ship had not been an entirely welcome arrival. “The children of Windrush have experienced over-representation in Britain’s prisons and mental health institutions, underachievement in education and in the job market.” He described Windrush as a spaceship and invited us to think about what where we would be in 2088, what shape would we be in then? “Settlement has meant racism, sometimes too much policing and not enough protection, and Stephen Lawrence,” he said.

Baroness Floella Benjamin, A cultural entertainment icon

I was so grateful to be there, and know that, in memory of my ‘Windrush’ ancestors (actually, my grandfather came over in 1955 on a ship called the Reina Del Pacifico), I still have much work to do.

© Suzy Rowland Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS EMPIRE WINDRUSH [Windrush Day poem]

Windrush 1948: Coming Home

 “London, is the place for me
London, this lovely city
You can go to France or America, 
India, Asia or Australia
But you must come back, to London city.”

(Calypso: Sung by Lord Kitchener)

A leap into the unknown,

hundreds of men, women, families

loyal subjects of the Queen of England

wait patiently for their boarding cards

passports to a new land, a new life –

sunny determination in their veins

spirit of slave rebellion dancing in their hearts

centuries of cutting cane without shade

pulls their backs tall,

enslavement courses their DNA

fires the desire for a better life:

 

Britain won the war

her Queen, stole Caribbean hearts.

 

 

Leaving the hot sun of home

waving goodbye to warm seas

bearing bruises of the Atlantic slave trade

borrowed names: Williams, Beckfords, Campbells,

from Trinidad, Jamaica, Bardados,

waiting on the gangplank of British warships

on request of the British government

many with a one way ticket to England

a one way ticket to cities with strange names,

 

Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, a one-way ticket…

‘….tickets please’ ‘Tickets please!’

shouts the bus conductor

in a broad Bajan accent, with a broader smile,

he was ‘home’ a new land, a new life.

My grandfather, Wilfred N. Walker, came to England from Jamaica on the Reina Del Pacifico in 1955. My grandfather’s brother Lester, is the handsome man in the  black and white photograph, alongside his wife, Julia, who was known in the family as ‘Cookie’. The rest of his family, his wife Maud (my grandmother) and the children Colin, Aston, Valrie and my mother Dorcas, came to England on the Reina Del Mar, docking in Liverpool in 1956.

Whenever I read this poem, it always stimulates a reaction; I have seen people cry, and many of a certain age, like to join in with the song which I try to sing acappella, but sometimes emotion gets the better of me. At my last reading, at Hampton Hill Theatre, Noel Coward Suite, one woman approached me afterwards and said that she was there to see the ship arriving. A young 87, with bright green nail varnish and dyed red hair, she said that the signs outside of houses, saying ‘No Irish, no dogs, no blacks’, were not racist, but a symptom of the desperate housing situation in bombed post-war Britain.

I read this poem to remember my grandfather, who died in 2012, after receiving a telegram from the Queen for his 100th birthday. I read this poem to assert that I’m British, born and bred in Birmingham, and this is my home country, although I am often asked where am I from. I read this poem out of pride for the many positive contributions and efforts, my ancestors, and people like them have put energy into crafting, building, railway-ing, nursing, musician-ing, and generally seasoning this country to make it one of the most amazing, dynamic and forgiving places to live – in spite of the difficulties many of us still face. I see all of this as cause for celebration.

This poem is available to purchase as a commemorate A5 card, please click here to continue

© Suzy Rowland Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poet Suzy Rowland, returns to her ‘Brum’ roots [PRESS RELEASE]

Songs of my Soul is the debut poetry collection by British writer and poet Suzy Rowland Rigg. She will be sharing gems from her debut collection at Khembe’s Return to your Roots Festival on 5th & 6th May, in Birmingham.

 

“It means such a lot to be sharing my poetry at Return to your Roots, I was born in Handsworth and grew up in Birmingham, leaving at 18 to go to Reading University before settling in London.  I am literally returning to my roots. My links with the city are still strong, so its fitting to share my poetry at such an empowering event. People will be able to purchase signed copies of the book too, which is exciting. Downloads are cool but I believe books, especially poetry, are more personal!”

Songs of my Soul was published in 2017, since then Suzy has built a following in SW London, as a member of Poetry Performance and Arts Richmond’s Poetry Hub. In April, copies of Songs of My Soul went on sale at London’s  Black Cultural Archives. Suzy describes her work as ‘the poetry of everything’ as she closely observes elements of the human condition with devastating wit, passion and humour. It’s an intoxicating mix, that breathtakingly showcases Suzy’s ancestral Jamaican and classical British heritage.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Listen to Suzy read: Maya from Songs of My Soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmj8YM3-BYg
  2. Listen to Suzy read ‘Zong’, written for Black History Month 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ2JPCxfnVkIf you would like to interview Suzy or feature any of her poems in your publication or blog please get in touch via the contact form, or the following social platforms.
  3. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/suzysongsofmysoul/?hl=en
  4. Twitter: https://twitter.com/radiantlady