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The Hard Sell or Not?

As a writer, an author with books to sell there are more things to consider than writing, editing, proof reading, agreeing a cover design, and proof reading once more. There is the thorny question of publicity and marketing and these days unless you are a looked after by a substantial publisher you have to do this all by yourself. It requires a different energy and another set of skills and often these are unknown, and certainly underdeveloped. It is hard trying to tell the world that your books are great reads and that everyone should have a copy, buy a copy NOW!

In this lockdown year of the Covid19 pandemic, it is even harder, for the book fairs and other cultural events have not happened. I was due to give a talk in Brantôme in June, all about the English in Aquitaine, the story of the tangled crown that is so central to Isabella of Angoulême’s story. I wasn’t going to pitch the books directly but had hoped that the audience would be interested enough in the background and the history to buy copies.

Smaller, less formal selling at brocantes hasn’t been possible either, and of course bookshops have been closed.

Therefore I was delighted to reive a long email in French from a reader in Angoulême who had bought the books to read during confinement. She said, and I translate,  I am writing because I very much appreciate all that you found out and the huge amount of research you have made to recreate her history, using both English and French sources, this is really a plus compared with what I have read in French sources.

Out of the Blue

On Twitter, some virtual friends there bought the books, through my website and from other on line choices and thoroughly enjoyed them. It certainly helps for readers to be in this part of France as they know the places in the books and can imagine Isabella in them. But one appreciative reader is the other side of the world and wrote this, which is a terrific quote that I treasure.

I am amazed by the consistency of Isabelle’s character. It is very real and – sometimes tragically – true to her developmental years. How you’ve written her into life is the mark of a deep understanding of a woman’s psychological development. That it’s consistent across these two books is the hand of a terrific writer.

I’m so glad I found your work!

Another kept me up to date as to where she was reading the trilogy, at her home near Bergerac, on visits to Bordeaux and Périgeuex. She wrote when she had finished them:

Erica sucked me into Isabella’s life. Consumed heart, mind & soul. I will not spoil anything for those who have not read them (GO IMMEDIATELY and purchase) but I started crying from Chpt XIX (of Part 3) and continued until after the end.

Another posted a five star review on goodreads:

I am reviewing Parts 1- 3. It is fascinating to learn a little of how the histories of France and England are intertwined and this meticulously researched account had me hooked. The author paints the time and place so well and Isabella is a strong and passionate heroine who will stay with me, I loved this trilogy.

Bookshops rock


And then when bookshops opened again, an order from the bookshop in Angoulême, so people were definitely reading during those months of not going out.

And now as we face staycations or very short day trips, reading will be part of the idleness of summer.  Two quotes from the books about the summertime. No more blowing the trumpet, let the books speak for themselves.

Trilogy in Bookshop

Louis rode with royal banners streaming, the blue and gold fleur-de-lis mirroring the corn in the fields and the summer skies. St John’s fires had been heaped up high and lit the evening before. Country women picked the herbs for healing in abundance, for those picked now would have greater strength. It was a church festival true, but also a festival of the hedgerow and the field.

Today there would be a mass for the feast of St John the Baptist, a great golden feast, one of the oldest. More than 600 years since the first celebration, all entwined with the summer solstice.

Finally a hint of deeper warmth. An early summer morning, swallows swooping in and out of the barns and swifts screaming over the cliffy outcrops. Hugh paused in the Great Hall to speak to the children who tumbled in from the garden, their mouths stained red with strawberries.

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