Cupcakes and book trailers

cupcakeOne might read the title of this post and wonder how cupcakes and book trailers could be connected. After a successful launch for young adult novel Fake Profile, it seems that the star of the show was not the book—though we sold about 50 copies on the night— nor the trailer for the book, though people enjoyed that too. No, the most commented on aspect of the book launch party, was the cupcake phenomenon.

Why? Because it was through the cupcakes that people got to view the trailer. The cupcakes were iced with a special rice paper icing sheet that had a QR code printed onto it using black food colouring. People then were able to scan the QR code with  an app downloaded free from the app store and watch the trailer on their Smartphones or tablet computers.

I’d considered organising a data projector to show the trailer, but I didn’t have one and it seemed like quite a bit of fuss to play a 50-second clip. The cupcake scanning was a fabulous novelty for the mostly adult audience. And though the technology barely raised an eyebrow among the teenage participants, even they were happy to watch the trailer before scoffing the cupcake.

The fact that people wanted to watch the trailer was very good news. These days a book trailer is fairly standard when organising publicity for a novel. It’s a necessary means of promoting the work through social media outlets. And short is good, especially in the young adult market where attention spans have adapted to the immediacy of online info via YouTube and other forms of social media.

Check it out! Scan the photo with your iPhone or iPad (or Smartphone or Android tablet). You’ll need a QR scanner, which you can download free from the App store. Hold the scanner steady over the cupcake and when it loads, watch the trailer!

If you’d like to watch the trailer on your computer screen without scanning the QR code, you can see it here. Let me know what you think.

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The time is now!

writerIt’s here, finally! The books are in boxes by the door, passages for the reading are marked out ready, the MC has been briefed, the food is being prepared as I write this post and the book cover has been blown up to poster size. Everything is ready to go. Except me. I’m not so sure I want to do it anymore. After years of working toward this goal, I am terrified.

There is a reason I am very happy being a writer. I love the solitude. I really enjoy sitting at my computer for days at a time with only the characters in my head for company. I thrive on alone time—and on writing. And the technological revolution has made it very easy to function perfectly well via social media without the need to interact face-to-face. Mostly.

So why is a book launch necessary?

I’m told it’s an opportunity to speak directly to the market for the novel. But that more importantly, it’s an opportunity to mark the beginning of a writer’s journey to building a readership. After all, what is the point of spending years writing a book that no one reads? It’s an interesting conundrum for many writers. I’ve written before about the point at which a book becomes a book.

But when a writer just wants to write, a book launch feels like a bit of an indulgence. Why can’t we just let social media do the job it does best, and get the word out there?  Many writers have reclusive tendencies, which is why they’re able to spend long periods in solitude. They’d rather not have to do the public speaking or self-promotion that goes along with conducting a book launch.

Whilst much of writers’ lives may happen inside or online, stepping outside the comfort zone to face real people leaves a writer incredibly vulnerable. Conducting writers’ groups for teenagers is nothing compared to facing a group of potential readers at a book launch.

Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t feel right to be spruiking my own work. Even though I know that this is part of being a writer, and it is a vital part, still I’d rather not have to. But I believe in my work. And the reality is that if I don’t spread the word about it, if it doesn’t get out into the public domain, then I’m not going to be able to continue being a writer.

And the time is right now. Here I am. I am a writer and this is my work. I hope you enjoy it.

Writing is my lifeblood

IMG_3581After four years, three versions, two editions, one name change, multiple rewrites and much stress, my novel Fake Profile is about to launch. I am relieved and excited and just a wee bit scared. Terrified actually! Writing this novel has taken me on a roller coaster of a journey unlike anything I have experienced in my professional life.

I’ve felt the highs and lows with equal intensity. From the exhilaration of winning an Australian Society of Authors Mentorship Award for the raw manuscript in 2010, to the crushing disappointment of having a publishing contract offer withdrawn because I unwittingly uploaded an e-version and elected to retain the Digital Management Rights for the manuscript.

I’ve felt the warmth and enthusiasm of a supportive writing community and the harsh cold reality of a publishing industry fighting for its life in a changing world. A few times I stuffed the manuscript deep inside a folder hidden on my computer, vowing to throw in the towel , only to drag it back out and rewrite the whole thing again.

And through the whole process, I learnt much about myself—the most important of which is: I am a writer. I can’t ignore the fact. It doesn’t matter how disillusioned I become, or how harsh the critics are, I can’t not write. It’s as necessary to me as breathing. It’s difficult to explain how much a part of my being is dependent upon my writing. If I don’t write for any length of time, I feel the life force begin to drain. I become weaker and sadder and this influences every other aspect of my life. My teaching suffers, my friendships suffer, my connection to myself suffers, the way I view the world is affected.

I love being a writer. I thrive on the solitude it requires. I love the writing community. They get it. When I talk about the voices in my head, they know exactly what it means. My writing colleagues can follow my chaotic thought processes from manuscript to manuscript and character to character without blinking an eye.

I had barely finished Fake Profile before starting the next novel, Say Nothing. And the first draft of Say Nothing was complete before I began the long, slow and laborious road to publication for Fake Profile (and that itself, is a post for another day). Now I’m almost finished the first draft of my third, and while that is happening the first of a trilogy is incubating.

It’s been a very long time coming. I’ve been writing since I was very young, but it’s only been the last ten years or so (I have earlier manuscripts sitting in drawers that have never seen the light of day), that I began to take my writing seriously enough to recognise it is my lifeblood. I have no choice. I have to write. It is as simple as that.