Friday, 15 May 2015

New Romantics Press on Marketing Books!

'Author Showcase' at Waterstones, High St Kensington, Nov 2014
L-R anticlockwise: Lizzie Lamb (front left), Janet Brigden, Sue Moorcroft, Adrienne Vaughan,
Lynda Dunwell, Talli Roland, Mary de Lazlo, Carole Matthews, June Kearns and Eileen Ramsay


My guests today are New Romantics Press, who are four authors: Lizzie Lamb, Adrienne Vaughan, Mags Cullingford and June Kearns. As members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (“RNA”), they ‘decided to take destiny into their own hands, form New Romantics Press and publish their novels in 2012. They were further inspired by the success of E L James’ 50 Shades of Grey which took the publishing world by storm’. Find out more on their website, which includes a blog, and information about their books. In this blog post ‘A Fresh Page’, they talk about what they achieved in 2014, and their plans for this year, which include going to the RNA Conference in July (see you there ladies!).

I’ve known Lizzie Lamb since I first joined Twitter in October 2011, and have met her several times at RNA events. Lizzie has a fantastic sense of humour, and it’s always a joy to bump into her at these events. Below is a photo taken by me, of Lizzie and Adrienne at the RNA Winter Party in 2012. 

L-R: Lizzie and Adrienne
New Romantics Press have a noticeable presence on social media, as individuals and together; both on Twitter and Facebook. And they organise events locally like this Literary Lunch at The Belmont Hotel in Leicester. Doesn’t their flyer make it look enticing?


I’ve invited these lovely ladies to answer questions on marketing books, as they have so much advice to give. Thanks to all of you for agreeing to be guests on my neetsmarketing blog! Here are my questions:

Whose idea was it to market books as a group, and how did you go about organising yourselves?

Adrienne: I can’t actually remember whose idea it was. The fabulous Regency novelist, Amanda Grange set us on our way, and we were all at the same stage regarding having a novel ready for publication. It did occur to me, with my PR hat on, that it would be much more of a story if not one, but four writers decided to publish their debuts together, so that’s what we did.

We were surprised at how much media interest there was, articles and interviews in local newspapers and magazines, with BBC Radio Leicester inviting Lizzie and I into the studio for a chat! It was great fun to be on the receiving end of such enthusiasm, even Sir Terry Wogan gave me a shout out and Lorraine Kelly of ITV wrote us a lovely letter of encouragement.

The Author Event ‘Roadshow’ was my idea, but this was based on June’s original idea for us to self-publish and ‘exhibit’ ourselves in London. We started low-key in Leicester in December 2012 and played to ‘packed houses’ in two local pubs, two smart hotels and a church hall. By December 2014, we had made it to London, hosting our very own ‘Author Showcase’ at Waterstones, Kensington High Street, no less. Go us!

We tend to fall quite naturally into our roles, and work well as a team. Lizzie is definitely ‘Head Girl’ keeping our diary dates in check and making sure ‘agendas’ are up to speed. June is an excellent No 2, always the voice of reason, calm and considered, her PR skills are excellent! Mags is Director of Transport, managing train budgets and connections et al with aplomb and I try to keep abreast of the industry and any marketing initiatives that might benefit it us as a whole.


'Author Showcase' at Waterstones, High St Kensington:
Adrienne chats to Kate Bradley from HarperCollins
Your website and flyers look so professional. Adrienne runs a PR practice in Leicestershire and is editor for the RNA magazine, Romance Matters (the latest edition was fabulous, by the way Adrienne!). Does Adrienne come up with lots of your marketing ideas?

Adrienne: Thanks Anita, but again it really is a collaborative – we’re all creative peeps from professional backgrounds and have definite ideas of how our book covers, flyers and posters should look.

June and her film-maker daughter Mary are responsible for the video, Mags’ son created the artwork for her cover, and Lizzie and hubby ‘Bongoman’ work hand in glove on Lizzie’s corporate image too.

It is important to point out that when we go about a project we do engage professional help, for example we work with an entire team of editors, proof readers, graphic designers, website creators, photographers etc., and we each pick individuals that suit our style, way of working and budget. Oh, and we do have a ‘Budget’ or War Chest as Lizzie likes to call it, and yes, she holds the key, it’s her Scottish blood, and besides, I’d blow it all on champagne …so PR sweetie!

Adrienne meeting one of her heroes, Bryan Ferry
You all live locally to each other, in Leicestershire. Were you friends first? Do you meet often to make plans, and do you workshop each other’s writing? Is it important that you know each other’s books inside out, so you can promote them for each other?

Mags: The bedrock of our friendship is a shared passion for writing fiction and the ambition to have our work published and read.  Lizzie, June and I first met at Leicester Writers’ Club. Then, a little later Adrienne joined us at the Leicester Chapter of the Romantic Novelists Association formed by Lizzie and June in 2009. At the end of a Chapter meeting - on 4 May 2012 - the four of us were bemoaning our frustrations to author, Amanda Grange. Thanks to her, our Guru, the New Romantics 4-New Romantics Press were born.

We held our inaugural meeting on 27 June 2012 at The Yews, a local gastro pub, where else, and it has been non-stop regular meetings, making plans for launches, promotions, publicity, for reviewing progress, for re-focussing ever since.

As writers we are all quite different – Rom-Com, Historical-Period, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Relationships - and we each have our own strategies for testing our work. Lizzie and June critique each other’s work as they go along. Adrienne submits her finished draft to her mentor, author June Tate; Me to the critical ears of a dozen other writers at a weekly Workshop. We each admire and enjoy reading each other’s novels, and as friends and collaborators are, of course, committed to promoting them.  

How has being members of the RNA helped with your writing careers? Do you find it essential that you attend the RNA conferences and events, and meet other members through social media?

Mags: As members of the RNA's New Writers’ Scheme, we all agree the Scheme has been an enormous help providing constructive criticism of manuscripts we have submitted, and encouragement to continue writing. Also, as you suggest, over the years we have been members, RNA conferences and events have provided invaluable insights and essential information about the publishing industry as a whole. They are also fun where we meet lots of other lovely writers. So, yes it is important to meet other members through social media, and make their acquaintance in person at RNA events.


You’ve put on some great events, such as the Literary Lunch mentioned above. How do you sell most of the tickets, via social media or by promoting them locally, or a combination of both?

Lizzie: Local events are a great way of getting news about your books to a wide range of readers.  Reach those readers by email, word of mouth and posters in shop windows. Use a mixture of social media contacts – Facebook, Twitter, emails, and face-to-face contact. Our Literary Lunch came about through Adrienne’s business contacts and her lovely bank manager who is very supportive of local initiatives. We’re already being asked when we’re holding the next one. Maybe a pre-Christmas lunch, next time  . . . just to ring the changes.

Our best event was, without a doubt, the author event we held in Waterstones, High Street, Kensington in November 2014. A different crowd that evening – a mixture of RNA members, publishers, editors, agents and business colleagues of June’s son Patrick (a lawyer). 

How do you manage your Twitter account and New Romantics Press Facebook Page as a group, do you take turns? Do you use your individual Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote your novels too? How often do you blog and update your Facebook Page?

June: Regarding Twitter, we all have individual accounts, as well as access and responsibility for @NewRomanticsPress.

The problem is that Twitter’s such a time-consuming beast! Although we all accept its importance – the fact that it introduces us to an incredibly wide audience and (there’s no doubt) sells books - it can feel overwhelming. Especially as we’ve discovered that promo-ing and retweeting isn’t enough. You need to talk to people, make friends, support others. Eek! If you’re out all day, it’s just too much.

That’s definitely the advantage of a team. We can support each other in ways, and at times, that suit us best. The same applies to Facebook accounts and pages. Lizzie set the example here. She had an account long before having books to sell, and had already built up a strong following of friends and supporters.

One of us posts a blog on the New Romantics Press page every month (topic of our own choosing) and we reblog others that we’ve posted elsewhere. We are all now asked to contribute to other people’s blogs. This has increased our visibility.

Do you think you sell more books by working together as a team?

June: Oh, we certainly sell more books by working together. Again, this is where the team comes into its own. We share ideas, industry info, promotional hints and tips – and most importantly, promote and support each other.

Best of all, there’s always someone to say: ‘Why not try this?’ and ‘I can help you with that.’ Invaluable!

Which three tips would you give to someone about to self-publish?

Lizzie: Write the best book you can and then . . . canvass some honest opinions about it (not your best friends!). If you can afford it, have it critiqued by someone reputable. I used the Hilary Johnson agency for Tall, Dark and Kilted (the agency is known to the RNA.) Or, join the RNA/NWS and send your novel in to be read by a published author. But remember, no one knows your book better than you.  Next, pay for a good proof-reader. Readers might forgive a weak plot line here and there, but they won’t let you get away with sloppy grammar, typos and continuity issues. Finally pay someone to format your novel for Create Space and Kindle – I’m pretty techie, but I willingly hand that bit over to someone else.

Thanks to you all for being such fantastic guests! I’m sure that anyone intending to publish a novel as an indie author or via the traditional route will find your answers informative, and inspiring.

I wish you all much success with your writing careers. Hope to see you at the RNA Summer Party, (next Thursday!) and at the RNA Conference in July.

Find out more about New Romantics Press publications here.



Take a look at Adrienne’s beautifully presented author page, and here's her ‘Escape with Me’ video:


My next guest on the neetsmarketing blog will be Sue Moorcroft on 5 June with a post on 'Balancing Writing with Social Media'

37 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for featuring us here today Anita, on your fabulous blog! A lovely post and perfect opportunity for us to remind ourselves how it all works!

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    1. It's a pleasure June. Thanks so much to you all for such great answers to my questions!

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  2. Morning Anita, what a fabulous job you've made of our scribbled notes. I was looking back over my photos the other night and I realised just how far we have come in a short space of time. Good luck with your own writing, too. See you at the Summer Party.

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    1. Thanks for such great answers Lizzie, and love your photos, flyers etc. See you next week!x

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  3. Echoing June's thanks here, Anita - reading your super blog makes me realise how much more there is to being a writer than just writing! Thank goodness for my colleagues and friends the other New Romantics, we have lots of laughs too!

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    1. Thank you for visiting Adrienne, and for such interesting and informative answers-plus love the photo with Bryan, and your video. You all seem to be having fun whenever I see you!

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  4. What a lovely interview. Really enjoyed it. Knowing you all personally it was great to catch up with how things are going and remember how it all started for the New Romantics Press. Wishing you all continuing success.

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    1. Thanks so much for that, Liz.

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    2. Without the support of friends like you and Anita, Liz, we would still be floundering around in the dark.

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  5. Brilliant and inspiring as always, ladies! The New Romantics are real whiz-kids at this marketing and promotion business, and as a newbie to all this, I am even more in awe at your ability to get noticed in such a huge crowd. Congratulations to you all. x

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    1. Thanks for reading Sharon, they really are inspiring!

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    2. Sharon I think we've all been on the same steep learning curve . You are on the write romantics are doing really well too. I loved your A-Z blog last month! Thank you for all the support you've shown to us.

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  6. That was great fun to read. I love the New Romantics.Their books are exciting reads.
    I loved the interview and Adrienne's video.

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    1. Thank you Cathy for reading!

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    2. Hi Cathy, so member many members of Leicester chapter of the RNA have forged their way forward recently. There are so many different ways to become published and to find readers these days that is very exciting. I think writers just have to find what works for them.

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  7. What a brilliant post! I'm so thrilled and proud to have witnessed you ladies grow, and to have read your fab novels and to be able to call you all my friends. This post really brings home the importance of teamwork and how wonderful it is to have a good support network during each step of the whole process. It's obvious how close you all are and how much you root for each other. You are a collective inspiration and fully deserve all your success! Huge achievement. Congratulations all round! :) Xxx

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    1. Thank you, Jan! I can't emphasize enough how important the support of the other three - Ade, June and Lizzie - is. Mags x

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    2. Thanks for reading, and for such a lovely comment Jan!

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  8. Many thanks for having us on your blog, Anita. The questions you asked were spot on, our answers revealing the essence of our wee collaborative endeavour. Mags Cullingford

    P.S. still no photo of camera-shy me. Just as well!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting Mags! Perhaps I'll catch you at the RNA Summer Party next week for a pic ;-)

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  9. Thanks for all those lovely comments! We've had a lot of great help from some lovely people on the way, (like Anita today!)

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  10. What a brilliant blog to read. The New Romantics were the trailblazers for many new novelists and the venture took both courage and initiative.You're all such lovely people, too. I'm enormously pleased that you've been so successful. Wishing you loads of luck for the future.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret - you've been with us all the way!

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    2. As an established and multi published writer, Margaret, you have moved with the times and kept up with the latest developments in publishing. Things are changing so quickly; since we decided to self publish in summer 2013, Amazon and some of the other self publishing platforms have changed out of all recognition. You have always been our inspiration and touchstone.

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    3. Thank you Margaret for reading, and for your lovely comment!

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    4. Just caught up with your kind comment, Margaret. You were the mainspring to my joining the RNA New Writers' Scheme remember! Have to post anonymously because Word Press tell me I don't own my identity! Que? Mags C x

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  11. Smashing article, really informative and great to read about the great New Romantics. Really enjoyed it, Anita xxx

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    1. Julie thank you so much for popping by and leaving a comment . We really do appreciate your support and we hope we reciprocate in kind. Thank you

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    2. Thank you Julie! So glad that you enjoyed it :-)

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  12. What a great post - thanks for sharing all your fantastic success, ladies! It's a wonderful idea to market and promote each other like this and I'm sure your author gatherings must be great fun.

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    1. Morning Rosemary, thanks for adding to the blog post. We try to have fun when we meet (once the serious business is over and done with!). Writing can be a very lonely pursuit, as I'm sure you know, so meeting together and having a few laughs is always on the cards.

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    2. Thanks for reading Rosemary!

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  13. Fabulous post, ladies. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  14. Thank you, Sheryl!
    Glad you enjoyed it.

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