You know how it is:- you’re browsing in Amazon and on a whim purchase that book for no other reason than it’s there, it’s not too expensive and other people seem to like it. I’ve been there many times before I can tell you – that’s how my Kindle is filled to the brim with books that I’ve never gotten past the first page. Not so with Kathryn Hughes ‘The Letter.’ In fact I’m embarrassed to admit that I was late for the school run because I just had to finish that chapter!
The letter is an enormous success story for newbi self published author, Kathryn – the kind of success that all unpublished writers can only dream of (Number 1 downloaded book for 3 weeks). That makes it all the more exciting to for her to agree to guest blog for me today.
So can you tell us a little about your book
The letter tells the story of two women, Tina in 1973 and Chrissie
in 1939. They are linked by the discovery of an old un-posted letter, which Tina finds in the pocket of a suit which has been donated to the charity shop where she works. When Tina opens the letter, she is so moved by the contents that she embarks on a journey to find out what happened to Billy Stirling, the writer, and Chrissie, his sweetheart who never read the words that would have undoubtedly changed her life.
How did you get into writing?
I have always enjoyed writing short stories but I would not say I was prolific. I do not have a back catalogue of thousands of short stories like some writers do. I first had the idea for The Letter back in 2007 but I was working full-time and had two children to look after so it wasn’t until I cut down on my hours at work a few years later that I could finally knuckle down and finish the book.
I’m sure many of our readers can equate to the difficulties of writing with children, I certainly can. So I believe you self-published first with help from Matador. How did you find this? What were the benefits?
By the time I had completed the Letter in 2013, the publishing world had changed and it was now possible for anybody who had written a book to publish it themselves digitally. Of course it has always been possible to self-publish a paperback, but it is expensive and I did not want mine to be a vanity project. I chose to do this through Matador as I did not feel I had the necessary computer skills to convert my file to the one required by Kindle Direct Publishing. I believe it is not as complicated as it sounds though and many authors do choose to go directly to Amazon. However, with a publisher, they help with the cover design, publicity and upload the book to all the e-reader outlets, not just Amazon.
About Matador – for those of you that don’t know Matador offers a wide range of services aimed at publishing, marketing and distributing books and ebooks to a high standard – be that via Print On Demand (POD) or through traditional bookshop distribution.Jen
Tell us how you have found publishing with the likes of Amazon?
I have not just published with Amazon. My book is available through all e-reader suppliers. Amazon though do have the largest market share so I’ll just talk about them for a moment. Anybody who has written a book and has a modicum of computer knowledge can upload their work to Amazon. However, making it visible for customers to buy is the tricky part. There are over 400,000 books in the Kindle Paid Store, plus hundreds of thousands more in the Free Chart so it is easy for a book to get lost in the ether. In the first few months after publication I sold a few hundred copies but nothing to get too excited about. Then in April 2013, I made the book free for 5 days and during that time, 9,600 people downloaded it. As those people began to read it and leave positive reviews, so the sales grew. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth! I kept the price at £0.99 and by 14th November, 2014 it had risen to No. 1 in the whole of the Kindle Paid Chart, where it stayed in that position for over three weeks.
And I hear there’s good news at the end of all your hard work. When will The Letter be appearing in hard copy?
Yes, indeed, there is very good news. As my book was so visible in the Kindle Chart, I was very fortunate in that it was read by Sherise Hobbs, an associate editor at Headline. She loved the book and I have now signed a two-book deal for The Letter in paperback in May 2015 and another book in 2016. I am also fortunate enough to have signed with agent Anne Williams at the Kate Hordern Literary Agency who has been invaluable in guiding me through the whole traditional publishing
Well we wish you all the very best with your new book and look forward to seeing more of The Letter on our shelves in May. It only remains for me to thank you so much for agreeing to tell us about your experience – an inspiration to us all.