Wednesday, 24 July 2019
Being a debut author is hard work. There are so many brilliant new novels out there, and small publishers like Unbound have limited resources for marketing (though they do an amazing amount with what they have). So we writers have to do a lot to make our books stand out from the crowd. In the year after Echo Hall was published, I wrote to bookshops, I organised talks, I ran an online treasure hunt, I persuaded someone to nominate it for the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize, and got a few votes, I made videos for summer and Christmas reads with other Unbounders, and last Nottingham joined the Unbound take over of Waterstones. Along the way I was lucky enough to get an audiobook deal (read by the fabulous Charlie Sanderson) and have received a decent amount of reviews on Goodreads and Amazon which was all very heartening. But nonetheless, the graft entailed in keeping talking about the book, on top of a full time job, parenting and my other writing, was in the end exhausting.
So last Christmas, I decided it was time to put Echo Hall aside so I could focus on my second novel The Wave. It was a hard decision, but I had to do my edits and begin the sequel, The Wake. I could see that not pushing Echo Hall meant sales were reducing, but there are only so many hours in the day, and I've just had to let the book go it's on way.
I have occasionally felt a bit sad about it, but I recognise that this is real life for most authors and I'm just happy that the people who have read the book have mainly enjoyed it. I see my writing career as something that will build slowly, and my hope is that as people read my second and (hopefully third) novel, they might discover Echo Hall at some point in the future.
And then, I received the most astonishing message on Facebook from Michael Burge, an award winning Australian author and journalist who runs the Makers Shed Glenn Innes New South Wales. The Makers Shed is one of those wonderful artist collectives that make the world a better place where Michael and co-creator silversmith Richard Moon, make things, host workshops and champion independent artists. Michael was wondering if I would like to submit Echo Hall to the High Country book club, which automatically made it a finalist for the 2019 High Country Indie Book Award. It was and is an amazingly lovely thing to happen and I'm delighted that Echo Hall is the August Book Club choice. Equally lovely is the news that fellow Unbounder Sam Haysom's The Moor is also a finalist and will be featured in September or October.
It just goes to show that although we authors often feel we have to hustle our wares, sometimes our books go on unexpected journeys, even to the other side of the world. I'd like to thank Michael for picking up Echo Hall, and even if the book doesn't win, it's an absolute honour to be a finalist, and I'm looking forward to hearing from readers in Australia and answering their questions.
Echo Hall can still be purchased in the UK from any decent bookshop and you can pre-order my new novel The Wave now. Both books are also available in ebook for 99p, so if you prefer that please do download and don't forget to leave an review.