Beth Cox is one of a growing list of Cinnamon authors who has taken advantage of the Leaf by Leaf hybrid publishing imprint to launch her book into the world. We select books once or twice a year and the competition has been rigorous so far — poetry, full length fiction, short stories, creative fiction and nonfiction, memoir and prose that blurs these boundaries have all featured and it’s an exciting venture with high quality writing and lots of attention to design.
Cinnamon provides a marketing guide and full access to our professional distribution channels which gets books on all the online platforms with an enhanced data service for the bibliographic information and also into catalogues for independent bookshops as well as availability across international markets. Increasingly, authors at all levels are the foremost and best promoters of their work but the Leaf by Leaf authors take on more of this and have been doing so to great effect.
This is Beth’s experience of launching her book, which is a story of family secrets and resilience; a compelling account of how we deal with loss of so many kinds, even the loss of self.
When I heard from Cinnamon Press that my memoir, Britannia Street, had been accepted for publication through their Leaf-by-Leaf scheme I was thrilled. The contract stated that I would undertake to publicise Britannia Street myself. I was assured that Cinnamon would make the book available through book wholesalers as well as on Amazon. This means that the book can be purchased through retail booksellers online or by ordering through the retail shops. This gives authors a leg-up and a starting place. But the rest was up to me.
I wasn’t too daunted by this because I had previously self-published and self-publicised my first book. The first thing I did was to find someone to set up a website for me. Through asking literary-minded friends locally I found someone who understood my lack of skill with technology and who wouldn’t charge the earth. She was very helpful and quickly set up a simple but beautiful website and Facebook page for me. I already had an Instagram account through which I followed the author, Clover Stroud. Clover and I had already met in person, and she offered to set up an Instagram Live to discuss my book. This is something Clover does regularly, talking mainly about loss and grief. Clover is a skilled and sensitive interviewer, and this started the process of launching my book. I found several new followers as a result, and received messages telling me they had bought the book
The next move was to plan a book launch. I had been involved with a local Arts’ Festival a few years previously and I had friends and contacts through that who I could call on for advice. My friend Debs agreed to do a Q & A, something she has done previously at the Arts Festivals. We thought carefully about the venue and decided on a nearby sports club which could seat about 50 people, and which had a bar. As an ex-lecturer I’m not anxious about speaking to groups so that’s a great bonus. But even so I do have a few moments of nervousness before I sit or stand in front of a group. Once I get going, I soon relax and start to enjoy it. Debs and I chose the passages from Britannia Street that I would read. I emailed all my literary contacts, and we had a great response. The venue was full and everyone who attended seemed in a supportive mood and intent on enjoying themselves. I think there was a certain post-covid buzz of freedom about it (although we’re not post covid at all really) but my sharing of some personal events in the readings, both sad and funny, seemed to encourage others to share some of their own family history with me. My husband David and another friend (both feature in the book) were great booksellers and we sold over 30 signed copies.
I have sent Britannia Street to a handful of magazine and newspaper book reviewers as well as to people at the University where I took my MA Creative writing. My family and friends are helping to promote the book through book groups and other groups they belong to such as the Women’s Institute and U3A. It’s important to weigh up how many books you are willing to give away. The costs soon mount up when you give away a £10.99p book, especially if you post it.
I would love to do a reading and Q & A event at a literature festival. I’m keeping a close eye on those so I’m aware when the call for artists goes out. Or when it seems like the right time to send them a copy.
Local bookshops may be willing to stock your book and run events. One seemed reluctant but another seemed more helpful and will consider an event in the new year.
Overall, this has been an enjoyable, fun experience. From the moment when the boxes of author copies arrived, I was excited about seeing my words in print, with the front cover just as I hoped it would be. People have mostly been interested and supportive, and I have received many messages of appreciation and congratulation. People have been moved by my words and that is all I wished for.