OGB released!

It’s out! Took a bit longer than expected due to some cover issues. But here’s the link, if you feel tempted. And this is one occasion when giving in to temptation can only be good 🙂 For the moment it’s just the e-version, the paperback will be up in a few days. There are many people I’ve thanked in the acknowledgements, so here I’ll just say thank you to Aaron Meizius, who not only accepted it for publication but has been cooperative and supportive throughout the process.

I haven’t done a quarter of what one should in terms of promotion, so now I’ll have to get stuck into that. OGB is released, but the real work is only just beginning. Competitions, giveaways and things like that. In fact why don’t I start straightaway? Yes! For the next two weeks a free pdf version is available to anyone promising to write an Amazon review afterwards. As far as I can tell, honest Amazon reviews are the single most effective means of getting noticed. So if you want to share your opinion, click here to receive the free version, or write directly to curtis.bausse(at)outlook.com

cover01 cover04

Speaking of covers, I ran a poll a while ago asking readers choose their favourite. Most opted for the black cover – the red one was third. But when I asked a couple of marketing experts, they said, ‘Oh, no. If it’s on an internet page, you’ve got to go for the red. Stands out better.’ So there you go. I thought I was being all democratic, but power today is with the marketers. As Stendhal no doubt realised, since he covered both angles very cleverly.

OGB update: Announcement

I’m not generally superstitious, but I decided for some reason it would be unlucky for me to make this announcement before receiving the corrected manuscript of One Green Bottle from my proofreader / copy editor. Perhaps because I was afraid she might tell me it needed rewriting, or even worse, that it didn’t need rewriting because it wasn’t worth reading anyway. But the envelope arrived the other day and she’s not only zapped all the typos and ironed out some inconsistencies but written, ‘I really enjoyed it – quite a page-turner!’  So with no superstitions to prevent me, I can now announce that I signed a publishing agreement a few weeks ago, and OGB will be released shortly by the small, recently established indie publisher, Meizius.

You might imagine me at this point doing cartwheels of joy round the garden. But that’s not the case. Mainly because I can’t do cartwheels any more and even if I could, I wouldn’t, because the garden’s strewn with pyracantha thorns. But also because my joy is of the measured, restrained variety. I’ve been down this road before. A few years ago, a small, recently established indie publisher brought out a book of mine and it disappeared without trace. So delighted as I am, I’m making no assumptions, nor building up expectations. On the other hand, I have two good reasons to hope that this time it might be different. Firstly, the previous novel was long, complicated and by all accounts difficult to read, whereas OGB is much easier. And secondly, I’m now at least aware that the hardest part is still to come – the marketing and promotion.

One immediate consequence of landing the deal is that I set up another wordpress site at curtisbaussebooks.com. I didn’t announce it and I thought it would remain invisible for a while, but a few wily explorers have found it, and although it’s still embryonic, even started to follow (for which, many thanks!). The reason I set it up was to focus more on the book, its sequel, and writing in general, as opposed to the rambling sort of stuff that goes on here. So the other blog is for the millions of fans occasional visitor people who actually want to know about the books, and this one is for anyone who wants to read the general hotchpotch it appears to have turned into. That doesn’t mean you won’t get stuff about writing here (that’s why I started it, after all), but whereas on the other one I’ll try to be serious all the time, on this one I feel able to faff around as the fancy takes me.

curtis bausse OGB          Curtis Bausse

Now over the past few months, I’ve read a huge amount about building a platform, setting up a brand and what have you, and I’m fairly sure my approach is contrary to all established wisdom in the matter. But what all that reading gives me mostly is a headache (this post by Atthys Gage gives a fuller analysis of the problem), so I’m adopting the one piece of advice I read very early on, which is to do whatever you feel comfortable with. I’m sure one day I’ll feel comfortable with the other blog too, but for the moment it feels like when I go over there, I’m putting on a suit and tie. Which is fine (every so often), but it’s always nice to slip into something more casual. So before I start thinking a bit more about my suit-and-tie blog, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s visited, liked or commented on this one, and made it a place where I feel so comfortably at home. Since following the excellent blogging 101 and 102 courses at the beginning of this year, I’ve been in touch with a whole variety of interesting, supportive, creative people who have all helped to make this blog what it is. My sincere thanks to you all – and now, if you’ll excuse me, I must see to the other blog. Now where did I put that tie…?

Toddler Talk

Blogging focus: The cook

It’s winter here in Mayotte. There’s a cool breeze in the evenings and when we went snorkelling yesterday, the water had a little chill to it. Back in the Metropole, where we’re heading now for the summer, it’s much hotter, up in the mid-thirties. Poor Mrs. B. – she’s been yearning to escape the heat all year. Having grown up in the frozen hills of Wales, I’m all for a bit of warmth myself – 32° is about right. But I digress: the point is, there’ll be people visiting, things to do in house and garden, life in both its chores and joys to resume. Furthermore, having taken a three month break from Perfume Island (sequel to One Green Bottle), now’s a good time to get back to it and work on draft number three with fresh eyes. So although I’ll be posting over the next three months, it won’t be as often: no more Sunday Poem, for example, and no more Thursday Interview (hopefully both will be back in September). Now is a good time to take stock as well – this blog is six months old. Still a toddler in many ways, but old enough to give rise to a few thoughts. Clara at expatpartnersurvial did a good post recently about that six-month milestone, and Itchy Quill, at a similar stage, gives a thorough account of 12 good reasons for blogging. Both bring up some excellent points which I won’t repeat here. So just a few remarks:

  1. If it hadn’t been for blogging 101 and 102, I’d never have made it this far. There were two aspects to those courses: the advice from the Word Press team, and the support from other bloggers. Both were vital in giving the blog an impetus I’ve so far managed to maintain. Along the way, I’ve come across a whole host of other blogs with totally different content, many of which I now read with eagerness. Many thanks to everyone who’s helped to make the blogging experience so enriching!
  2. The blog has settled into something I wouldn’t have been able to predict at the start. Probably because I didn’t have a clear idea of where I wanted to take it. Which goes to show it’s perfectly OK not to have a clear idea – stick at it, and an identity will eventually emerge.
  3. All the same, I started this blog with a purpose. Now, I’ve just been nominated by Matt at thebookblogger2014 for the Encouraging Thunder award. For various reasons I don’t normally do awards but I’m happy to accept this one, firstly because it’s Matt (thank you, Matt!) and secondly because there’s nothing I have to do except enjoy the award (I’m enjoying it), thank the person who gave it you (done) and state your purpose in blogging. Well, the purpose was to build a ‘platform’ in order to promote OGB. I just didn’t know how to set about it, other than knowing what not to do, i.e. bang on about it non-stop. So if you do have an aim of that sort, blogging can only be an indirect means towards it. Blogging, in fact, becomes an aim in itself and product promotion is embedded within it, part of a whole.
  4. Nonetheless, a blog can (some might say should) have a focus. Thus there are blogs specifically devoted to food, photography, inspirational quotes, health, blogging itself (e.g. how to attract followers) and marketing. The focus attracts people with similar interests, and if they find your content useful (you offer advice, for example) your indirect product promotion may be more effective (only may, because it doesn’t necessarily follow that if you offer tips on book promotion, say, people will rush to Amazon to buy your own book). Well, this blog is pretty unfocused – precisely a result of not wanting to overdo the product promotion part, it flits from one topic to another as the fancy takes me. The blog, then, isn’t the platform, it can only be one part of it. So I’ll also use the months ahead to figure out more clearly how the platform as a whole can work coherently.

So there you go – the accumulated wisdom of six months blogging. Maybe in future, when the blog’s fully grown, I’ll bore you stiff rambling on about my wealth of experience in building an author platform. Now, there’s something to look forward to, eh?

Thursday Interview: Dead Rat

– Now, you’re far from your average dead rat which not a lot happens to apart from getting eaten by crows. You were selected to get sent through the post. What was it all about?

– Well, you’d have to ask the person who sent me to get the whole story. All I know is I hadn’t been dead for long, I was still in reasonably good nick, minding my own business as it were, when he scoops me up and –

– So it was a man?

– I’m assuming. I didn’t get a good look. I dare say a woman could do it but it seems like a man’s thing to me. Anyway, he puts me in a box, pretty wrapping paper and all, and next thing I know I’m in the Post Office sorting room. Not a clue where I’m bound nor why. A present for someone? Well, even I would admit there are pleasanter things to receive. Turns out I’m destined for this literary agent, Vivienne Schuster, not a gift at all, but an act of vengeance from a writer she rejected.

– Wow! What was her reaction?

– Well, you can imagine. Shrieks of horror, gasps of amazement that anyone could do such a thing. Eventually everyone laughed and the story became part of literary agency lore.

– And how did you feel about it all?

– It made a change from the usual, I must say. Normally we’re just left to become food for maggots. Even if I did get tossed into a dustbin straight after, at least I got my fifteen minutes of fame. My fellow dead rats were quite envious. And then a few of us got together and set up our own agency, Rent-a-Rat, with the slogan, Bearing a grudge? Give us a nudge! Unfortunately it didn’t catch on.

– No, I don’t suppose many people would actually go through with it, however angry they felt.

– Yes, that’s what our marketing consultant concluded. It’s a shame. It would have been a great way to raise our profile. We suffer from a very poor image. I know a dead anything has a bit of an image problem, but we have a far harder time of it than a budgerigar, say.

– Well, given where you hang out when you’re alive, it’s not all that surprising, is it?

– Personally, I was a field rat. Healthy outdoor life, feeding mostly on grain. Only went inside this house to get warm and then I got poisoned. It’s the ones that live in the sewers that give us all a bad name. I’m not blaming them, mind – we don’t all get our choice of habitat. I’ve heard that some of you lot live off rubbish tips, just like us. But sewers, yeah, it’s a huge handicap to overcome when you’re trying to establish a brand.

– And let’s not forget the plague. That didn’t help your reputation either. I mean the Black Death wiped out a third of the population of Europe!

– And it was started when Mongol forces catapulted a load of dead bodies into the port of Caffi. One of the first recorded instances of biological warfare. So if you want to blame someone, blame the Mongols, not us. Besides, I’d like to point out that we don’t transmit bubonic plague. It comes from the fleas we carry. But being more visible than them, we became convenient scapegoats. We sued for defamation afterwards, but nothing came of it of course.

– Well, it seems you’ve always been singled out for anything ignoble or revolting. And it’s still going on today, if that writer’s anything to go by. Would you agree, though, that if one’s looking for a literary agent, it’s a very bad idea to send them a dead rat?

– I don’t suppose they’d fare any better with a dead budgerigar, frankly. But we’re perfectly lucid, you know, we don’t expect cremation or prayers or what have you. I mean, personally I’m an atheist, so what the hell? But a little respect, I think that’s only reasonable, don’t you?

– Indeed. Thank you, Dead Rat, for your insights.

– My pleasure. Most dead rats aren’t very talkative, you know, so it’s nice to get the opportunity.

The Gazette

issue 1

A couple of weeks ago, I discreetly added a widget to my sidebar inviting readers to sign up for The Bausse Gazette. Here I announce the forthcoming appearance of the first issue and explain the reasoning behind it. Each issue of the Gazette will contain two or three stories. A few have been previously published in online or print magazines, but most are being written specially for the Gazette. I work best to deadlines – the first Tuesday of each month, when the Gazette goes out, the stories will have to be ready. Without that deadline, they probably wouldn’t get written.

It’s experimental – not the writing itself but the idea. While I’ve been concentrating lately on crime fiction, I’m also attracted to literary texts, with themes that may be dark or humorous, whimsical or weighty. My team of marketing advisors (i.e. me and myself) had quite a debate about this. Some said too broad a variety is bad for ‘brand identification’. Others said no problem, it’s a ‘product diversification strategy’, just like Unilever, really. The bottom line? I enjoy developing ideas of all sorts so why not? (Not that I’ll be straying into E.L.James territory, if you’re wondering).

What’s in it for you? Well, a couple of free stories if you want. As always, when it comes to writing, the reader’s in control – you stop reading or unsubscribe any time you want. And if you like them, you’ll have had a few minutes of whatever pleasure reading gives you.

Watch this space for upcoming details of the contents of issue one. (For the moment, this is just The Bausse Gazette, but there’s no reason the name can’t change one day and other contributors be welcomed). And now all that remains is for me to really commit myself by pressing ‘publish’. Here goes…