Today, I'm delighted to welcome Jane Bwye.
I know Jane as a fellow Crooked Cat author, but didn’t get much time to speak to her at our Crooked Cat author Edinburgh gathering in June 2013 about what fills her days. We can now get to know her better...
Hello, Jane. Novel writing tends to be fitted in around other daily life. Can you tell us if you have any other work that demands a lot of your time on a daily, or weekly, basis?
Over the past year, Nancy, I have tried to fit in novel writing with doing too many other things, and ended up rushing from one to another without do anything properly. The days seem to get shorter every year – not only in winter. So, for 2014 I’ve resolved to say no more often and cut down where possible. Writing will be my principal occupation. My charity work takes two days a week, and I judge dressage at weekends. The rest is play, and I’ve even cut down on that.
I understand and appreciate your plan, Jane. My own intentions are to somehow fit in more time for writing in 2014 - though the needs of my family will also remain a very important part of my days. Some authors rise really early to fit in some writing time, others write in the evenings after their main work day is over. I, personally, have to fit in my writing time around two main occupations which are fixed and regular childminding days, and gardening ad hoc when the weather is good. I don’t feel I have any particular ‘productive’ time of day, but what about you? Do you have a time slot that you feel is your most fruitful writing one?
I think I’m a bit like you, Nancy. I have done some fruitful writing early in the morning, but find it difficult to wake up on a regular basis, and then feel so tired by early evening. After 5pm the muse just does not work. I can spend a whole day writing (punctuated by a walk in the fresh air), and edit piecemeal whenever there’s a spare couple of hours. But my life is not geared for a regular daily schedule.
Since the official launch of your debut novel, Breath of Africa (a book I really enjoyed), I imagine you’ve learned a thing or two about what an author needs to do next. Can you tell us what you have found has been of the greatest personal satisfaction to you, amongst all the different strategies you’ve recently learned to market your novel?
Only once have I had the pleasure of talking about myself as an author and reading excerpts from my novel. I wish I had more opportunities, for the questions and interest gave me a real buzz. But next time (yes, there will be one next time, in January 2015 – would you believe it!) I’ll make sure to bring enough books with me.
I'm going to try for more author talks/ readings, too, in 2014. What else have you felt you needed to try with regard to publicity and marketing of Breath of Africa?
That’s a very big question!
Most of my sales have been the e-book version. I have become fairly comfortable networking in Facebook groups.
I made an effort to “work” at Twitter on a regular basis for a while, but after an experiment tweeting every hour for a couple of days, to absolutely no effect, I lost interest. Although when I took the time to cultivate like-minded tweeters with apt remarks and attempted witticisms I did attract a few hits on my website. But it is a great time waster, and I’d rather spend the time writing.
Press releases (I’ve achieved two!) have generated little flutters of interest, and may even lead in unexpected directions (Our local MP is on at me about forming a gathering of ex-East Africans!)
Advertising in a local magazine was absolutely not cost-effective.
And taking part in a pop-up shop was little better, although it was exciting to rub shoulders with famous authors.
I enjoyed my two book-signings, but despite notices and advertising (free and paid for) the turnout was disappointing.
I’ve made myself some “bookmarks” with blurb about Breath of Africa, and always have some in my handbag. I’m becoming quite adept at handing them out to casual acquaintances who ask what I do: saves me droning on as their eyes mist over. I leave 4-5 every week at a Fair Trade market stall which sells gift items from the tropics. I even gave them a paper copy once, and it was snapped up immediately. They said the cover went well with the theme of the stall.
I belong to several clubs and societies, and am on the Committee of a couple. I am convinced the little blurb I’ve put at the bottom of my emails have generated a few sales, certainly when sending out Christmas messages.
Oh, yes – I donated a book to a couple of raffles, which generated a few sales to the unlucky ones.
Finally, in desperation at the tardiness of my local library, I have donated four copies to them. But their computer system has been changed, and there’s no manual, so everything is delayed until they can figure out how to work it! Oh, well – I suppose it will come right eventually.
I think we have to think very positively about the little successes we might make with regard to our marketing strategies, Jane. As you indicate with your Library situation- not all will happen immediately! Which marketing tasks are you managing to do on a regular basis?
I’ve had a regular Tuesday blog for over a year now, which has turned into a platform for guest bloggers. This month, in keeping with my resolution to act as a “real” writer, I have added a Friday travel blog, covering my Round-the-World Walkabout in 2001-02, which generated a record number of hits on my website with the first episode.
Excellent idea using a travel blog! (It's so good I might even pinch it and do a travel blog myself, since I try to include places I've been to in my novels.)
I know of a few self-published authors who have changed the categories that their work has been labelled under across Amazon, because they feel they’ll make more sales that way. What genre niche do you think your novel fits into? And do you feel it’s listed in the best ‘category’?
I wish there were an African Historical Fiction category in amazon.co.uk – like there is on amazon.com. On the few occasions when I’ve sold 1 or 2 e-books on .com, I find I’m up there rubbing shoulders with the likes of Wilbur Smith in the top 50’s and 60’s!
You’ve managed to get a good clutch of reviews on Amazon UK for Breath of Africa, something that not many of us, as authors, are able to do – Do you have any advice to give on how that has transpired?
Networking with other authors and book lovers, Nancy! And buying their books and writing reviews. I guess I’m lucky – I feel bereft if I haven’t got a book to hand, and it’s no hard labour to jot down a few notes as I read. I really loved your book The Beltane Choice!
But several people who have been to Africa have also felt the urge to write about their nostalgia when reading my book, so I guess it’s the subject matter too.
2014 has just dawned. What have you on the plans for continued marketing of Breath of Africa? Will you aim for more internet publicity; or will you aim for presence that is more physical at local bookstores, for signing or author talks?
Once Breath of Africa is on the Lightning Source distribution list, Nancy, I’ll aim for a more physical presence, and attend more ex-African get-togethers. The majority of my potential readers struggle with the internet, and even I prefer to hold a real book in my hands.
Your answers have been fantastic, Jane- candid and very helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
What a lovely conversation we’ve had, Nancy. I have enjoyed being your guest, and look forward to meeting you again some time.
Maybe later this year, Jane? It will be a pleasure to have more time with you.
You'll find Jane at these places:
Blog: http://jbwye.com/Website: http://janebwye.com/
Breath of Africa: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/B00BOAK0FA/ref=sib_dp_kd#reader-link
Best wishes with all of your book sales, Jane, and thank you so much for visiting my Welcome Wednesday slot.