Today on the blog I am so very happy to welcome Astrid Arditi. Astrid has just had her first novel A Cunning Plan published in the UK by Crooked Cat Publishing. Read on to discover more about her steps to publication.
Hi Astrid, thanks so much for joining me on the blog today. I know you a little through the Twitterverse but shall we start off with an introduction for readers who are not yet familiar with you or your work?
That would be great.
So your debut novel A Cunning Plan was released in the UK by Crooked Cat Publishing on 23rd May. Tell me a little about it.
A Cunning Plan is a romantic mystery with a strong element of comedy. It’s a light summer read, perfect for the holidays.
Sloane lives in London with her two daughters. She’s shy, insecure, but incredibly stubborn. Determined to put her family back together, she fights to get her ex husband back, even after the divorce is settled. When she meets sexy IRS agent, Ethan Cunning, her life takes an unforeseen detour – for the better, or the worse…
A number of my readers will be particularly interested in your route to publication. Is this your first completed novel? How long did it take you to write it and get it to submission standard? What was the submission process like for you?
A Cunning Plan is my second completed manuscript, but the first one that I felt strongly enough about to take on the cutthroat publishing scene. It took me three months to write it, following the 90 Day Novel’s method, than about the same time to edit. I used my mom and my cousin as beta readers. I also sent it out to be professionally edited, figuring I needed to make the best first impression possible. I then queried agents as well as small independent publishers. After a few full manuscript requests and many rejections, my publisher, Crooked Cat Publishing, contacted me with a proposal. And here I am, more than a year later.
To be honest I never took the rejections at heart. It’s just part of the game, one where submissions exceed demands. Plus, reading is subjective - you can’t expect everyone to love your book.
What are the main things that you have learned from the process of beginning a new novel and working all the way through to that first contract and subsequent publication? If you had the time again, is there anything that you would do differently?
If I could do one thing differently, I would have kept writing while waiting to be published. I was so focused on querying, then on promoting my book, I put my writing on hold. But at the end of the day, I’m an author, writing is what I love and I’m so happy to reconnect with my characters now. Getting published isn’t the ultimate goal. Producing more great books to form a long lasting readership is.
I bet it felt amazing when you were offered a contract. Fair to say it was a dream come true? Take us through that moment.
It was such a dream come true that I think it still hasn’t registered yet. As in, too good to be true. Publication is an on-going process. Even after the book is out, you can hardly expect it to be an overnight success. I’m planning to have a belated launch party later this year - a chance to thank my readers and to acknowledge this achievement to myself. Maybe get drunk!
And now for a question close to my heart (our baby boys were born about a week apart), how are you finding time to promote your first book and work on your second whilst caring for a young family?
I’m lucky enough to have help during the day. My housekeeper/nanny comes for a few hours every day, giving me the time I need to work. With my daughter I had no help, but countless sleepless nights to imagine the world of my story. As soon as she started nursery, a few mornings a weeks at first, I dropped her to school and dashed to the closest café to write. Funny how efficient you become once your time is counted. I never was as focused and productive as I was then. I really made the most of that precious me time.
Finally, how is A Cunning Plan doing? I saw that it had sold above the threshold for paperback copies to be produced. You must be thrilled. Can you give readers any tips about marketing? What do you think have been helpful strategies and what, if anything, hasn’t worked so well for you?
Honestly, it’s going very slowly. Most sales came from family and friends. Connecting with your readership is a very long process, one that can be tedious or enjoyable depending on how you approach it. I had a great time on Twitter at first, before my book was published. Chatting with other aspiring authors was both enlightening and inspirational and I feel I made true friends on the Twitter sphere (obviously you’re number 1!). Later though, when I started promoting my novel, I realized my Twitter followers weren’t potential readers so I’m trying other routes.
I did a few promotions on BookGorilla and Bargain Booksy. I fared better with the latter but maybe it’s just me. These are pretty costly and I didn’t make back my initial investment but I’m trying not to think in terms of sales and revenue right now, just new readers.
I have a Facebook author page, mostly visited by friends at this point. I did try to advertise on Facebook but my heart wasn’t into it. I need to think my next ad through before trying it again.
I’ve just signed up on three blog tours, all starting between August and September. These cost about the same as the promotions but are more personal and hopefully will have more impact on readers. I'm hoping to garner a maximum of reviews from professional book bloggers as they do make a difference, in terms of recognition as well as on Amazon’s algorithm.
I also did a Goodreads Giveaway. This has been fantastic. 1300 people signed up for it and 600 added me to their to-read list. Makes me hopeful for the future of A Cunning Plan…
Thanks so much, Astrid, for an honest and interesting interview. I find it inspiring and I am sure others will too. Wishing you all the best x
A CUNNING PLAN
Determined to put her family back together, Sloane Harper stalks her ex husband and his annoyingly stunning mistress, Kate. But she’s not the only one. Handsome IRS agent Ethan Cunning is surveying them too, but not for the same reasons. He is attempting to nail Kate’s playboy boss.
Ethan and Sloane decide to help each other, which sends Sloane’s wobbly life spinning out of control. She’ll have to face danger, humiliation, and scariest of all, the dating scene, to lure her daughters’ father home.
Losing control was the best thing to happen to Sloane… until it turned lethal.
Astrid Arditi was born from a French father and Swedish mother. She lived in Paris and Rome before moving to London with her husband and daughter back in 2013.
After dabbling in journalism, interning at Glamour magazine, and teaching kindergarten, Astrid returned to her first love: writing.
She now splits her time between raising her kids (a brand new baby boy just joined the family) and making up stories.
A Cunning Plan is Astrid's first published work.
Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cunning-Plan-Astrid-Arditi-ebook/dp/B01D7H7O42/
Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Cunning-Plan-Astrid-Arditi-ebook/dp/B01D7H7O42/
The table below sets out a few tips I have put together following the self-publication of my book Into Dust and Other Strange Tales via CreateSpace and KDP. The book was published a year ago and it seems like a good time to reflect on the journey so far.
I'd love to hear from any other self-publishers out there - feel free to post comments on your own experiences, particularly if you have used a provider other than Amazon. Or perhaps you are thinking about taking the plunge yourself but have reservations?
Beneath the table you will find two short YouTube videos which are well worth a peek. The first one, produced by Amazon, is an inspiring trip to the self-publishing stand at the London Book fair. To give a balanced view, I have also included 'Seven reasons why you shouldn't self-publish' by literary agent Piers Blofeld. Again, all views welcome. I am curious to know what you think.
I'll be attending the course being run by Susan Elliot Wright and Russell Thomas in Sheffield on Saturday to answer questions about my experience self-publishing with Amazon. Hope to see you there! http://www.susanelliotwright.co.uk/p/workshops.html
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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