Two years ago I pressed the pause button on my writing career. It was a time out phase while I decided what I should do next. I’d been a journalist, a children’s writer, a novelist and a ghost writer – and, truthfully, I was all written out. This malaise was not due to overwork. My passion for writing had always existed alongside a disciplined routine. I could be creative under pressure, under duress, under any circumstances that apply – as long as the book I wrote had an opportunity to reach new readers. I’d already turned down a two book offer from a publisher because I believed the publicity campaign planned for their eventual publication wouldn’t work. I needed a more dynamic approach than the limited exposure I was getting and while I was trying to figure out how that could be achieved I was approached by Claire Bord, publishing director with Bookouture, a digital publishing company.
I knew Claire by reputation and respected her integrity as an editor but I knew nothing about Bookouture. The company had been established in 2012 by Oliver Rhodes, who’d worked for twelve years in traditional publishing. As Marketing Controller for Harlequin UK he’d been actively involved in pushing forward their digital publishing, marketing and social media strategies, winning The Bookseller’s Digital Strategy of the year award in 2012.
I’d dipped a tentative toe into digital publishing and had released one of my rights reverted novels as an eBooks. It had been a fast learning curve and I’d been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I earned back my initial investment. But promoting and publicising the book was an area that caused me some difficulties. With a limited knowledge of social media, I found it consumed the time I needed to write my books and I’d no idea if my blogs, tweets and Facebook posts were reaching that vast online readership –or if my efforts were sinking into a black hole. My published books were selling steadily online and I believed that that momentum could be improved with Bookouture. But I hesitated, weighed up the pro and cons of moving from conventional publishing to digital. Was I taking a retrograde step by making my books available online online? Would I miss the heady launch of a new book, the book signings, the readings, the interviews, the anxious wait for the reviews to appear. The opportunity of featuring on The Irish Times bestseller list? The thrill of seeing someone on a train reading my book? I asked myself those questions and then asked myself – would a significant increase in my readership through a well-constructed online promotional campaign ― which I’d been promised by Bookouture― be a fair exchange? Oliver’s ability to build up the reputation of his authors through a focused online promotional campaign was tempting. So, too, was Claire’s enthusiasm and her belief in my work. Those were the factors that helped shape my decision. I signed a two-book agreement to write a new novel and my rights reverted novel Fragile Lies – which I’d published previously as an eBook – was part of that deal. I was willing to place it in the capable hands of those who understood the demands of digital publicity while I concentrated on my writing.
As the date for releases drew nearer I was astonished by the number of bloggers specialising in books and the professionalism of their sites. I did numerous interviews with them – not so very different from the traditional methods of publicity – except that I was drinking my coffee in front of a computer rather than the plush confines of a hotel lobby. My book went out for review to Netgalley and other influential review services, and these reviews went live as the same time as my book was released. Bookouture had drawn up a very detailed and defined marketing plan and the results showed almost immediately. Fragile Lies began to climb the ranking in the top hundred Kindle charts. It was extremely gratifying to see a book that had been at the end of its existence in the traditional publishing world, suddenly come back to life and reach out to a whole new readership.
In the meantime, I finished my new novel. The editorial process it underwent was as rigorous as anything I’d experienced when my books were conventionally published. The Betrayal was released in August 2015. Since then, it has featured in the top Kindle and Kobo charts and continues to sell strongly. I was so impressed by the professionalism of Bookouture that I signed another two book agreement, same arrangement as before – a new novel and the publication of my other rights reverted novel When the Bough Breaks. I’ve written an extended version of that original story and the book has been retitled Sleep Sister. It will be issued as an ebook and, also, as an online paperback and an audio book, read by the actress, Marcella O’Riordan.
Throughout my writing career I’ve changed direction many times. Sometimes I’ve drifted seamlessly into this change but the decision to move to Bookouture was well considered. Admittedly, I miss the thrill of walking into a bookshop or a library and seeing my book on the shelves. Also, the Kindle or Kobo charts, though exciting to watch in action, change hourly – so there’s little opportunity to bask in the heady excitement of featuring on an Irish Times best seller list. But what I’ve accomplished within my first year with Bookouture far excels anything I achieved when I worked with various traditional publishing houses. This is due to the efforts of Bookouture rather than digital publishing per se. I’m not presenting it as a solution to an author’s problems. I chose Bookouture because I believed their promotional strategies would help increase my readership and that has certainly come to pass. Their author list is impressive. Author Angela Marsons has sold over a million copies of her crime novel Silent Scream and Robert Bryndza recently ranked at number one in the US Amazon charts for his novel The Girl in the Ice. I’m working closely with a professional team, who are developing my name and reputation. Most importantly, my two back list novels have been given a whole new lease of life, which they would never have achieved with a traditional publisher.
Claire Bord, Bookouture’s Publishing Director:
I fell in love with June’s writing when I read Stolen Child and have wanted to publish June for years. When I first joined Bookouture in Spring 2014, I approached June’s agent as I was determined to give it another shot! I knew June’s (writing as Laura Elliot) novels had the potential to reach a much bigger audience, particularly in eBook. For readers, there is less of a distinction between ‘backlist’ and ‘frontlist’ titles. They are open to discovering new stories with high customer ratings, regardless of when they were first published. With a focused marketing campaign, clear positioning and June’s incredible talent in writing thought-provoking and unputdownable novels, we’ve been able to grow her readership signficantly both in the UK and overseas, particularly in the US.
Bookouture’s focus is on quality and attention to detail. We want every one of our authors to be a bestseller, so we treat them like one. It’s an approach that has paid great dividends. In 2015, we sold 2.47 million copies and 1 million of these sales were outside of the UK. Bookouture’s commercial success is not limited to a few bestsellers though, with an incredible 61% of new titles hitting the Amazon top 100. Neither is it limited to one retailer – with multiple top 10 hits on both Kobo and the iBookstore.
Bookouture’s sales growth in 2015 was exceptional – but the sales level sustainable – built on high quality commercial fiction, a fusion of traditional publisher expertise, smart digital marketing and good old-fashioned attention to detail.
Incredible sales growth has supported rapid expansion of the team and continued innovation designed to improve every aspect of our publishing. Innovation is a key part of Bookouture – we are constantly improving processes and making the most of technology to increase the efficiency of our day-to-day tasks. This gives us more time to focus on the elements of publishing which really make a difference.
(c) June Considine
About Sleep Sister
Two childhoods destroyed. One story they will never tell. Until now.
Beth ran away from her family when she was a teenager. She left behind a terrible evil that took her innocence. She also left behind her sister, Sara.
When Beth returns home, she is shocked to discover her terrible secret is not just hers alone…she shares it with Sara. Under the shadow of a remote headland, the sisters make an oath they promise never to break.
Eva’s birth is a mystery that remains unsolved. Years later with her marriage in ruins, and her future uncertain, she realizes that to move forward with her life, she must first understand her past.
But while Eva is drawing closer to the truth about her roots, Beth and Sara’s lives are falling apart, crushed under the weight of the secret they carry. They must confront the past and face the darkness once more. But this time, their story will be heard.
From the bestselling author of The Betrayal, Stolen Child and Fragile Lies, comes a breathtakingly tense and emotional story of the fierce bond between sisters, and a family destroyed by a disturbing secret.