Friday, May 8, 2020

Publishing In Lockdown Land

This year was going to be a big year for me. I had six books being published. I think I blogged about it at the time when the plans came out from Black Thorn (the new crime imprint from Canongate /Severn House) to buy the Anderson and Costello series from the previous publisher and rejacket them.

There was a low point when the editor who was championing that left. I think every author knows that sinking feeling. For a while there was nobody, then somebody appeared and was furloughed almost immediately. As it turns out the new editor is fantastic but as yet, I haven't set eyes on her.  She did email me yesterday to say that they were going to give Mosaic the same treatment as they gave The Suffering of Strangers and The Sideman, so I was really chuffed about that.

So six books? Firstly, there was the Severn House publication of Mosaic in paperback. Then The Red Red Snow, the new hardback. And then republication of the first three in the series, (Absolution,  Singing To The Dead, Dark Water ) and  then The Sideman by Black Thorn yesterday.
So this week- well last night - I should have had my big publishers’ dinner in London, then tonight one in Glasgow. We had a big zero.  I haven’t even had a copy of the book in my hands yet, as they are stuck in a warehouse somewhere.

Last summer, the Suffering of Strangers launch and the launch of Black Thorn as a publisher   was masterminded in a PR sense by a company called Midas PR. I got on very well with the woman who was in charge of the operation. I think they call it a campaign!


Her name is Sophie Ransom, and she had a word with me in Harrogate, over a baked potato and Diet Coke, offering her services and the services of Midas to help with the PR of The Sideman. It was going to cost a lot of money, but after having a long think, what was there to lose? The cost of the campaign would be offset by the income the extra sales would generate, and while I am a successful writer, I am a successful writer to those who have heard about me!


Would this give my writing a little nudge?

And, it has to be said that while Sophie and I are very different people, I found it very reassuring to work with somebody who was the same age as me, and had a sense of life ‘beyond the book’ while being entirely professional, and including that in her campaign planning. There was a personal touch about it all.  

I recall the big campaign put out by my other publisher, all the PR girls were about 12. I recall very well, the time I got a phone call advising me what the photographer wanted me to wear during a photoshoot. I got the call as I was walking into the building in London, having packed my case the night before and flown down that morning. That kind of lack of aforethought drove me - and my editor at that publisher - nuts.  There was a make-up girl, a lighting guy, the photographer, a buffet; it must have cost them a fortune. But I had all the wrong clothes.   That kind of thing wouldn’t happen with Sophie.


And still having the day job, steering the staff and the 17 associates through the lockdown etc., has not been easy, but Sophie, obviously witnessing the same thing in publishing, took it on board and together we negotiated all kinds of things.
 So Sophie has got me
A national newspaper book of the week, a kobo book of the month.
Three full pages national spreads.
Two UK wide radio interviews, one Scottish and one Europe.
Features in 8 Scottish newspapers, including a travel piece!
Four features in national magazines (one general woman mag the other three are writers or crime magazines).
Plus 8, well 10, podcasts and Facebook live interviews
Plus a blog tour of 16 blog sites.

What it worth the expense? For the work, we both put in, I think so.

Will it pay off? No idea but the publishers are very happy so far and they like the orders that are slowly beginning to drip through with lockdown.

I’m sure Sophie did a lot of chitter chat. If  a publication had their crime feature already written, she'd offer them a travel piece by me, or a motorhoming piece my me, or a piece on how to live in a haunted house.

But it was much harder work that I thought.  I am not really happy doing serious reportage type of writing, (you have probably noticed). Would I have been able to manage it all if I had been at work- probably not but if I was at work, there would be no lockdown and there would have been more parties and on the spot interviewers, much less frantic typing on the glens around the west highland way and revisiting the spinal fracture that started me writing.

Publication day was yesterday; today a blogger called the book a work of genius.  I have two radio interviews to do still, two pod casts and a Facebook live interview to do and then I can get back to my WIP, which has not moved forward one tiny iota during all this….

It was an interesting experiment, I shall let you know how it pans out.
Caro Ramsay


  1. Sounds fantastic, Caro. I'm sure it WILL pay off. Best of luck with all these books!

  2. Congratulations Caro. Sounds like, even *with* current circumstances, things are off to a really good start!

  3. Congratulations - Six candles on that publishing cake! Sounds like a superb choice!

  4. Sophie was clearly the right choice. You are the perfect example of a situation plaguing publishing... no, you're not the plague. You are a brilliant writer putting out top-drawer product, charming, witty (are you blushing yet) and loved by all who know you, but the marketing people/PR people in your past had absolutely not a clue as to how to market you. Now you're in the right hands and as a result your books are getting into a broader public's hands. Just keep on plugging away...and hugging Sophie. YAY CARO.