As the minutes ticked down to midnight…

As the minutes ticked down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, I was suddenly in floods of tears. They were dripping into my glass of bubbly…

Was I sorry to see the end of 2017? Was I watching a weepy movie? Had I over-indulged my share of the bottle of champagne?

No, none of those! I was crying because of what I’d just read on Twitter…

It was a tweet from reviewer Michelle Ryles (The Book Magnet):-

My Top 20 books of 2017 blog post is now live! 📚📚📚📚📚📚

http://www.thebookmagnet.co.uk/2017/12/my-top-20-of-2017.html?m=0

#TopReads2017 #TopBooks2017

@DavidVidecette @tinaseskis @DickDavisDavis @debbiemjohnson @LilacMills @writingcalliope @keefstuart @janeharperautho and others tagged in photo 😊

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There was my Twitter handle, and look, a picture of my book, Fortune’s Wheel! My goodness, was I thrilled!

Michelle read 182 books in 2017, and in her Top 20 she had included mine, as well as nine other first novels, which is truly brilliant for those new authors.

Michelle reviewed Fortune’s Wheel back in March and here is some of what she said…

I don’t know a great deal about medieval history, but I certainly learned a thing or two whilst reading Fortune’s Wheel, without feeling as if I had been given a history lesson. I had never heard of cottars and villeins and was fascinated by the hierarchy of peasants during these dark times. It was almost like the beginning of the unions as they nominated somebody to stand up to the lord of the manor to argue for more pay. Unfortunately, putting your head about the parapet could see it being chopped off and there are one or two dastardly deeds in Fortune’s Wheel that succeed in keeping us guessing. Let’s just say that some people in Meonbridge are not exactly filled with community spirit.

Historical fiction can sometimes be dry and hard-going but the complete opposite is true of Fortune’s Wheel. … 

I found Fortune’s Wheel completely intriguing, fascinating and surprisingly emotional – I had become so emotionally invested in the characters that I was devastated for Thomas and Joan Miller, who struggled to cope after the loss of their five sons, and I admit to being close to tears at the end of the book when we learn of Agnes’ fate.  I swiftly dried the tears from my eyes as, being book 1 in a series, I know that I can look forward to catching up with these colourful characters again in the future. 

Fortune’s Wheel isn’t just for historical fiction lovers, I’m absolutely positive that many readers will enjoy this medieval saga. Riveting history homework that got top marks from me – more please, Carolyn!

(http://www.thebookmagnet.co.uk/2017/03/blog-tour-fortunes-wheel-meonbridge.html)

The next day, I heard from reviewer Cathy Johnson (What Cathy Read Next) that she had included Fortune’s Wheel in her five favourite reads for December, and she had also included A Woman’s Lot in her list of ten books she’s looking forward to reading in 2018 (https://whatcathyreadnext.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/top-ten-tuesday-ten-books-im-looking-forward-to-in-2018/. No pressure then, Cathy!

Here is a little of what Cathy said in her December review:

I really felt I became part of the village of Meonbridge and totally immersed in the lives of the villagers. There are a lot of characters to get to know initially so I appreciated the helpful list at the beginning of the book. However, it would be an unusual and rather uninteresting village if it didn’t have a varied population and, since the story has three main protagonists, I never felt overwhelmed…

I loved all the detail of village life which gave the story such an authentic feel. Clearly, the author has done an incredible amount of research, introducing me to new terms – merchet, legerwite, heriot – and the many different roles necessary to village life – bailiff, steward, reeve and (my favourite) ale-taster. A glossary would be a fantastic addition to the book and I’d also love to have a map of the village.  There are many fascinating articles on Carolyn’s blog, including this one about life after The Black Death.

…I really enjoyed Fortune’s Wheel and thought it was an accomplished, fascinating historical fiction novel – and an impressive debut. I was thrilled to learn the author is working on a second book in the series, A Woman’s Lot, and that this is due for publication in 2018. I’ll certainly look forward to reading more about the lives of the people of Meonbridge.

(https://whatcathyreadnext.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/book-review-fortunes-wheel-by-carolyn-hughes/)

Catherine Meyrick, too, has listed Fortune’s Wheel as one of her books-to-read in 2018 (https://catherinemeyrick.com/2018/01/05/2017-a-year-of-reading/).

And, only yesterday, Pauline Barclay (Chill with a Book) let me know that Fortune’s Wheel, which obtained  a Chill Award in February 2017, is among the Top Ten Most Popular Posts of 2017 on the Chill site. (http://www.chillwithabook.com/2018/01/top-ten-most-popular-posts-in-2017.html).

Fortune's Wheel

I couldn’t be more delighted by these wonderful votes of confidence!

As you might have gathered, this blog is really a little shout-out for book reviewers, who give authors, both established and newbies, traditionally- and self-published, enormous support. As too, of course, do all readers who take the trouble – thank you! – to leave a great review of it on Amazon and Goodreads. (Critical reviews too are helpful, particularly when they alert the author to something that several readers find annoying!) Feedback helps hugely in giving credibility to an author’s work. But an advantage of book reviewers who also blog about their reading is that they promote their reviews through social media, and therefore also give the books they’ve read a promotional boost.

Fortune’s Wheel has received some terrific reviews from readers and reviewers. To be honest, it’s down to me that I don’t have more… Because reviewer/bloggers don’t approach authors (well, not unknown authors like me), asking to read their books. You, the author, have to approach them. And you can’t just approach them willy-nilly. You have to read their profiles and choose those who are likely to like your book – because, for example, they particularly enjoy reading historical fiction. Then you send them a polite request and, if they’re busy and popular reviewers, they might well not have the time or opportunity to read your book. Even if they say “yes”, you might have to wait a while for your book to rise to the top of their TBR (to-be-read) pile (they generally have mountainous TBRs). You have to be patient.

And patience, as well as doggedness, seems to be the name of the game with all aspects of promoting one’s book.

Twitter pageFor most of 2017, I’ve been focussing on writing the second Meonbridge Chronicle, A Woman’s Lot, and I haven’t give all that much attention to promoting Fortune’s Wheel. I joined (or persuaded myself to join!) the world of social media before Fortune’s Wheel was published. I knew I had to. Even traditionally-published authors have to do at least some of their own promotion, but self-publishers certainly have to. So I signed up to Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, and I built myself a website, on which I posted – and still do – regular blogs, mostly about writing historical fiction. I’m not a daily poster on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes I let many days pass without engaging.

But I have made many new “friends” through social media, particularly through Facebook groups. The quote marks, by the way, are not intended to be pejorative, it’s just that these are friends (most of whom) I’ve never actually met, although that doesn’t make them any the less supportive and encouraging. And opportunities can and do arise for sharing writing ideas, and for talking about your writing, which is all useful as promotion, as well as being a lot of fun!

But there is much more that I can do to make my books more widely known and, now that A Woman’s Lot is more or less ready to go off to the publisher, alongside writing book three, I’m also going to put some greater effort into “marketing” – ugh, dread word! I think most writers do just want to write, the very idea of “marketing” and promotion largely abhorrent. But it has to be done.

So, my current number one (well, perhaps number two) New Year’s resolution is simply that, do more marketing. That includes approaching a lot more book reviewer/bloggers, as well as building interest in my books through other means of promotion. If you’re interested, do keep an eye on my efforts, and perhaps you will see the “Meonbridge Chronicles” soar into the stratosphere…

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