‘My next book’ – all three of them

Question: which of these statements is true?

Answer: they all are.

How can that be? Because what constitutes ‘my next book’ depends upon the context of the conversation.

  • Just for the Holidays – ‘is my next book to be published’. (18 May 2017 in ebook, paperback and audio, if you’re interested. And you can order it here.) This is also the next book to be promoted, which will involve me in writing blog posts, social media, radio interviews etc.
  • Give Me Till Christmas – ‘I’ve just sent my next book to my editor’. (9 October 2017 in ebook, 2 November paperback, audio tba. I was a little shocked to be told last week that you can order this, too.) This will be the next book to be edited. Structural edits first (ironing out all the plot lines that aren’t quite working etc.); next come line edits (minutiae and punctuation etc.); finally the proofreading.
  • The Summer of Finding Out – ‘I’m just about to begin researching and planning my next book.’ (Scheduled for Summer 2018) This will be the next book to be written, in between the promo of Just for the Holidays and the editing of Give Me Till Christmas.

In case you’re wondering, I am no special case. Many novelists work in this way. Personally, I love it. I choose to see it not as a pressure but as an affirmation that I’m a commercially published author. I don’t groan when I’m asked to do promo because whoever has asked me is helping me to sell my books. I don’t go into a huff when I receive my editorial notes, line edits or proofreading because we’re all working to produce the best book I can. (That sentence is grammatically incorrect on purpose – a team works to produce my book. How cool is that?)

Lest you think I’m polishing my halo, there are things I don’t react well to – spurious interruptions, people wasting my time unnecessarily, unreasonable people etc. etc. Here’s a recent example:

Phone rings. I answer. It’s the bank, asking to speak to another member of my household, one who is out of the house during the working day. This is the fifth time in two days that they’ve called with the same request. The first four times, I pointed out politely that the person is not here because he doesn’t work here but I do. Please, could the bank stop these calls? They’re interrupting me. On the fifth occasion, I’m half way through a difficult scene and my temper snaps along with the thread of what I’m trying to write. I find myself rising vertically from my chair. ‘Look! I keep telling you that he doesn’t work here! I DO! Look in your records for his daytime number and RING HIM THERE! It’s DAYTIME! I’ve told you and told you and told you this and you persist in interrupting me! I’m self-employed and I’m TRYING TO DO MY JOB! Why don’t you GO AWAY AND DO YOURS? And if you’re stupid enough to ring here again with the same request I’m going to take all my money out of your bank and put it somewhere else. Plus, I’m going to speak to your supervisor and tell him or her that you’re stupid! Right?’

And, you know what, she didn’t ring back and I was able to get on with my next book.

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Adventures in Audible

I love audiobooks. With all that’s going on in our busy lives, sometimes it’s hard to take the time out to sit down to read. So, mucking out horse corrals, cleaning the kitchen, driving the car, I’m usually found, with earphones attached, listening to novels.

Often Amabloody jackzon’s Audible reviewers or an exceptional narrator send me on an unexpected journey, far beyond the obvious bestsellers such as Girl On A Train, Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl. I’ve found myself gallivanting about the high seas with the YA bestselling series, Bloody Jack, about a young orphan lass who joins the British Royal Navy disguised as a cabin boy. I’ve schemed and battled my way through Game of Thrones, sweated through the tumultuous backstreets of Bombay with Shantaram, corralled wild brumbies and fallen in love in the Australian Outback with our own Janet Gwild oneover’s The Wild One. I find the narration – often award-worthy performances – lends colour to characters or adds to the emotion in a way that is different from reading the print edition. Honestly, that can be great or awful. Nothing is worse than a bad narrator. And conversely, it can be almost unbearable to listen to some tense moments of horror, longing to fast forward but afraid of missing a crucial point.

‘Ellie Campbell’ has had her own adventures with Audible’s ACX service. ACX is a program designed to pair authors with narrators/producers on either a pay or profit-sharing basis (with, for some lucky books, an ACX stipend awarded to further entice the narrator). So far we’ve launched two audiobooks, How To Survive Your Sisters, our first novel, and Looking For La La.

It was fascinating listening to the different audition samples of our chosen segments. Some were too cultured to our mongrel ears, more suitable for A Room With A View or an elocution lesson. Others didn’t get the humour. But Elizabeth Klett, an experienced Audible narrator, and Stevie Zimmerman, an amazing character actor, hit the exact tone we envisaged for both novels. We eagerly awaited each chapter and marveled. We were much too inexperienced and intimidated to give notes but luckily our narrators didn’t need them. We laughed as they brought comic scenes to life and sometimes cringed at our own bitchiness. Those sister squabbles, for example. Yes, we are two of four sisters; yes, we do – occasionally – indulge in digs, spats and snarky comments at each other’s expense, but, like hearing your own voice played back on a recording, we positively winced when hearing our fictional sisters’ exchanges vocalised by another and questioned if our standards of normal family interactions were somehow morally warped. I’m sure actors feel the same watching their own performance.

Anyway, those audiobooks were so much fun we’re all gung-ho to produce the rest. What’s less obvious, from an author point of view, is the marketing. Audible do offer some credits to authors and producers to entice would-be reviewers but beyond the usual outlets of Twitter and Facebook, we’ve discovered few bloggers or websites who focus on audio as opposed to the written word. It’s still in many ways a developing market and one we’re thrilled to be part of. A real adventure, in fact.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in hearing two of our favorite novels come to life, we recommend joining Audible. For a small subscription you get a monthly book credit which can save a fortune if you have a habit like mine, given that audiobooks can be expensive.

CompetitLooking For La La audioion:How To Survive Your Sisters audio

We’re offering a free audio book to four readers who sign up for our newsletter at https://chicklitsisters.com then tweet using the hashtag #TakeFiveAuthors.

We’ll choose the winners on 18th July. Good luck!