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

x

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZONG 1781 a poem for Black History Month

I first read Zong 1781 at my Songs of My Soul poetry book launch on October 25. I’m beginning to love history! Not just black history – all history. The entanglement of people as they migrate across the planet – their wars, their stories, their monuments, statements of wealth, places of worship. I’m endlessly fascinated in the what, why and where of the places I visit. It’s endlessly stimulating for my poetic mind.

I have just finished reading David Olusoga’s Black & British which can only be described as astounding. It races through history, TARDIS-like from the early tudors and stuarts, extends a visit to the Victorians and Edwardians, landing in the current day. He blows a hole in the Windrush myth, i.e. that the black presence in Britain began when the ship of the same name docked at Tilbury. He provides colourful and detailed evidence about the role that black people played on the world stage through times of slavery, colonialism the commonwealth and both world wars through considerable difficulties and many triumphs.

My personal quest for knowledge is like a deep-rooted tree seeking both sunlight and water. I have started to read multiple books simultaneously – the more I read, the more I write!

What do you think of the poem? Do you love history too, especially if like me, you used to dislike it at school!

Suzy Rowland