Interview by Helen Corner, founder of Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.
We ran an internal competition recently that invited our authors and the public to vote for their favourite self-published book, based on a sentence blurb and the jacket. There were a flurry of votes as the deadline drew near, and three out of the 50 authors who entered were almost neck and neck. In the end, the winner was Jan Ruth for Wild Water. It was great to see how these savvy authors spread the word via twitter, emails, blogs and local word-of-mouth to garner support. It goes to show that apart from being a good read, marketing your own book is an essential part of being published. Have a look at Jan’s journey to self-publication:
Congratulations! What inspired you to write Wild Water? Is this your first book?
I wanted to write a book about infidelity where the man is the wronged party and the main voice of the story, and I wanted to write about the Welsh landscape; make it function almost as a character in its own right. Wild Water is my second novel. My very first book (25 years ago) went to a London agent trying to set up her own project, publishing love stories with a difference but it never got off the ground because of finances.
How did you find the writing process?
Until I get the main guts of the story down I am consumed by the process really, to the exclusion of everything else. Husband could quite likely come home and find dinner in a burnt out pan in the garden!
Did you submit to agents and publishers? What led you to self-publish?
Yes I did the usual route with agents, and with Wild Water I was lucky enough to get Jane Judd on my side, who then referred me to Cornerstones. After some tweaking with the original script we were ready to go but unfortunately Jane failed to place it with a publisher because ‘it fell between two genres and didn’t quite fit anyone’s list’. So it sat in a drawer for twelve years. My son alerted me to the steady growth of Kindle, helped me with the technical details and set up a website.
How has the experience been so far?
The best part of self-publishing is being in control of the whole process and getting feedback from the paying public. And although I have a sales background, the marketing of something internet based is somewhat different to a physical book, and I am still learning. But then, I didn’t set out to write something commercial, just something readable.
As we’ve seen from our competition, every vote counts. How did you market this?
The advantage I had with Wild Water is the tremendous support I have locally. I talked to a lot of people about the book and the competition. Generally I find people will respect something sincere and will get behind you, especially if it champions where you live. Autumn 2011
The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; secrets, lies and family ties. Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set. An unlikely hero, or someone to break all the rules? Wild water is the story of forty-something estate agent, Jack, who is stressed out not only by work, bills and the approach of Christmas but by the feeling that he and his wife, Patsy are growing apart. His misgivings prove founded when he discovers Patsy is having an affair, and is pregnant. At the same time as his marriage begins to collapse around him, he becomes reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Anna, whom he left for Patsy twenty-five years before. His feelings towards Anna reawaken, but will life and family conflicts conspire to keep them apart again?
Bookmuse Magazine: ‘You’ll enjoy this if you like: Nosing into other people’s lives, gossip and descriptions of the Welsh countryside. Avoid if you don’t like: Secrets, family difficulties, or you are going through a divorce. Ideal accompaniments: Wine and plenty of it, a big bubble bath, a cigarette if you are so inclined.’
Romance reviews Magazine: “Jan Ruth ruthlessly puts her hero through the grinder and God only knows how he retains his sanity. I’m literally breathless from reading this novel in one go in order to know Jack’s fate. Wild Water is a damn good read.“
Jaffareadstoo (top 500 Amazon reviewer): ‘The skilful manipulation of the story line and the author’s unique way of bringing her characters to life makes this one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time.’
Pan McMillan Books: “It has a good combination of humour and poignancy.The characters are well portrayed and Jan delves shrewdly into their make-up, gradually allowing their traits to become evident and appreciated.”
WINNER of the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy ‘Most Popular book’ Competition 2011. NOMINATED for the 2013 eFestival of Words Awards. FINALIST in the Wishing Shelf Awards 2015