Whether creating a tsunami or having butterfly moments we change the world
It was 3 years ago that I first put Polly up onto Amazon and well, my cover was pathetic and I knew absolutely nothing about the book world. 4 months later I started a group called Indie Authors Networking and my world started to change. I don’t claim to know lots, but I have learnt an awful lot since those days, thanks to the help of some amazing people. Most importantly, I have built my tribe, a group of people who have helped me no matter what time of the day I have popped up in their inbox with stupid questions. They have helped me hone my writing skills and almost look like I know what I am about (ha, ha, ha).
Sian B Claven, Kim Hunter, Ashleigh Giannocero, Tamsyn Bester, Tammy Bradbury, Ange St Claire, Lee ay BK Publishing and of course Deborah Du Plooy – Debs if you had turned me away that first day, I think I would have given up, but you didn’t, you encouraged me, as all the people above have, and I am where I am today because of you all – THANK YOU.
Well, beta readers read your work whilst you are still writing it and gives you feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author.
A beta reader is not a professional, but a keen reader who will be honest about your work, ideally someone who would form part of a writers target market. If the plot isn’t working, then it just isn’t working. The manuscript is usually in its raw state before going to edit or for proofreading, so it is more about content continuity and character formation than editorial mistakes.
An ARC reader is someone who reads an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) and gives an honest review. They usually receive an edited copy a few weeks before it is due to be published in return for an HONEST review – this is not your Mum or Auntie Sally, who lives down the road, but a reliable group of your target market readers.
They will typically review on Amazon or Goodreads and their opinions do matter. So, in the past couple of weeks, I have had a peaked interest from people willing to join my team, and I can tell you I am chuffed to meatballs about it. Getting reviews as a Children’s Author can be an uphill struggle, as your target market is the kids and they are too young to hold accounts to post to Amazon or Goodreads without adult supervision, and well, for middle-grade books that can be hard as parents often don’t have the time to support these authors. They are keen when the kids are young to share their child’s latest books, but as their parental reading involvement tails off they are less likely to post a review or rating, and only when the child is old enough to post as a young adult do the reviews seem to start to come again.
Reviews, especially for Indie writers are so important, as even brilliant books won’t sell if the marketing tools are not spot on and no-one knows about your book. Reviews are an important part of that marketing process and help the authors enormously. So if you have read a middle-grade book, or your child or school learner has, please be generous and help them by posting an HONEST review.
I was 23 at the time, and our cubs just didn’t stay in scouts. I became the Assistant Scout Leader (ASL) and within 6 months was the SL as he stepped into the GSL post. So, there I was, in over my head, but determined to succeed. And I think that was a turning point in my life. I had always been fairly average at pretty well everything I turned my hand to up until then, suddenly, I was thrust into a position of responsibility and well, off I went.
I had amazing support from ‘Uncle Tom’, “Come to a meeting,” he said, “and meet the other leaders.” I did just that and as I walked through the swing doors the hall fell silent and I heard, “It’s a Bl**dy woman.” That was ‘Uncle Ted’ as we called him. He became one of my greatest supporters, friends and colleagues in scouting in the Greenford District.
I visited ‘Uncle Tom’s’ Scout hut and he proudly showed me a trail of 6-inch shields which went along one wall, across the bottom and halfway back along the other wall. “They’ll be to the end in a year.” Announced ‘Uncle Tom’ proudly. I politely asked him what they were and he said they represented every trophy his troop won (there were 13 a year). “No, you won’t.” I replied. I can still remember the look on his face, “Because my troop is going to beat you.” Now Uncle Tom had arguably the best troop in the District. He laughed at me. By the way, this is not a sensible thing to do in front of me.
We won the next event 2 weeks later – The Underground Widegame, came 6th in the swimming gala out of 20 (with barely any kids who could swim, but I can tell you the rest of the troop shouted so loudly, they never stopped trying, and even if they came last we still got a point, whereas other troops wouldn’t put anyone in.
Then we started winning. By my second year, we won every competition except the Swimming Gala (our troop was the furthest from a public pool – eventually I persuaded a dad to drive our old minibus there every Thursday and I plus a friend taught our kids how to swim.) We only ever managed 3rd place as our best, but it was enough. We continued to do this for the next 8 years my lads and I.
We won: The Night Hike, Tent Pitching (holding the up and down records for 10 years until equalled and eventually beaten by mere seconds), Underground Widegame, Gate-building, Pioneering, Chess, Shooting, Fire-lighting (my kids were pyromaniacs on the quiet), and of course the jewels in the crown the Campcraft and Scoutcraft Competitions as well as the Tony Whyte Trophy and Country Trophy.
Easy. I told my boys what the all-male leaders had said that first night. “You only have a female leader. And they laughed at me and said you would never beat them.” They had something to prove, and prove it they did.
I remember walking into a Night Hike Competition where we had entered 3 teams and hearing another leader saying, “The 7th’s here, so guess we’re all playing for 2nd.” We came 1st, 2nd and 4th. The boys would get to our scout hut an hour before a competition and spit and polish their boots as we as the 10-year-olds boots, iron their uniforms and comb hairs, check hands and behind ears.
I am proud to say some of these lads are fine young gentlemen that I am forever proud of: Lee Walker, Marc Thorpe, Paul Walker, Stuart Songhurst, Mark and Alex Lindsay. You were all made of true grit. There were others but I only remember first names and some faces now as that was all 30+ years ago.
I didn’t do it on my own, I built an army: Uncle Ted, Mike Parker, Jimmy Dinglebell, Robyn, Josie and Barry Cole, Stuart Parsons, and others whose names escape me but who I hope will forgive me, but were essential in their support over the years.
It was one of the best interviews I have done, as they had really done their homework and were really interested in my books. Thabang even bought a complete set for his children after the show. I sure hope they are enjoying them.