Emma Martin - Novelist of 'Racy'

Author Interview

Interview with Harry Bingham founder of writers’ workshop (www.writersworkshop.co.uk) on 28th January 2009.


*Hi Emma, tell me how you first came to write Racy! ... and you'd better tell us what the book's about.*

I began writing Racy when I gave up my career in sales to look after my children, my eldest son was one and my twins had just been born. I was looking for a book to read and after searching the bookshelves in supermarkets and bookstores found there was nothing that really caught my eye. I wanted escapism and glamour, a novel that combined all this with a gripping story and strong characters. It became apparent very quickly that the ingredients I was looking for in a novel no longer seemed to be popular, after talking to a few other women, they told me they wanted the same. I decided to take the bull by horns and write my own!!

Racy! most definitely encourages its reader to relax and escape, whether it be on the sofa at home or by the side of the pool on holiday. The story has so many messages within it, but basically, among the glamour of County life and British horseracing, the story is about change and how far some individuals will go in order to improve their social status or to ensure it remains in tact. Racy offers twists and turns, heartbreak and happiness, romance and sex - something for everyone I feel!

*Did you always know you wanted to tell stories? Did you find the writing process easy or hard?*

No, I didn’t know I always wanted to write, though my father was a fantastic storyteller and as a child I always wished I could think of stories as fabulous as his! In terms of whether I found the writing process easy or hard I would have to say, a combination of the two. Aside from writing through the night whilst my children slept which in itself was a challenge, first of all, having never written anything before other than a university thesis, there were times when the rewrites felt physically and mentally draining. However, throughout these rewrites, there is no feeling in the world like that of a story, a strong story, coming together and beginning to feel alive in your mind and your hands as you type. Utter euphoria begins to reign and the gut instinct that you had all along that all would be fine begins to prove itself. It is this latter feeling of complete achievement of a particular scene or problem that completely eradicates the feeling of days gone by of "God, this is hard!"

*And you chose to self-publish. How come?*

Well, having read so many articles throughout the four and half years of writing Racy, describing how hard it was to get published I looked at the issue from the publishers perspective. It is a massive risk to take on a new unproven author, not least because potentially, once the author has been offered a publishing contract they could just sit on their laurels and expect the publishing house to do all of their promotional work for them. I decided once again to take the bull by the horns and publish myself, that way I reasoned, if I could prove to the publishers that the book would sell AND that I personally am not afraid of hard work and commitment they may just listen to my results, therefore saving my novel form going anywhere near the wastepaper bin!! In addition, it has been a great way for me to learn more about the publishing industry. I have also been able to work around my children the whole time, a really important factor when children are still young.

*You worked with Matador on book-design and printing, etc. Did you find that OK? How would you rate their service?*

Matador offer many services to their clients. In the main I just used their printing service, I designed the cover and everything myself with the help of a local designer who is fabulous. They are a fabulous company to deal with, everything is done so professionally from typesetting the pages to communication between Matador staff and myself to finally, the delivery of the books, I couldn’t believe how professional the books were when they arrived.

*But you chose to handle the marketing on your own. A brave decision definitely, but what led you to do that?*

Yes, I did. Matador, by all accounts have a fantastic Marketing option but I chose to go it alone initially. For many years my background has been in sales and marketing. I wanted to prove that even with 6 years out of it, knowing very little about the literary industry and looking after the children that I could still prove my worth out there.

*OK. Now you can boast. How many books have you sold? How many hardbacks and paperbacks? What's your record number of books sold at a book signing?*

I have sold over 1000 paperbacks and over 400 hardbacks in total from an initial 2500 print run back in December (7 weeks ago). At one signing alone I sold over 90 books. I think the glamorous actress Claire King who came along to support the event had a lot to do with that though.

*That's very, very impressive. Plenty of commercially published books never hit those figures and plenty of self-pub books only sell a few dozen copies. So what's your secret? What kind of PR did you arrange?*

I was lucky in that the Yorkshire post printed an article on me early on in the launch of the novel, a few magazines and other local papers have followed suit. This has helped enormously. I do think though my greatest achievement has been that people have genuinely enjoyed the book and have therefore recommended it to others, it is amazing how quickly word of mouth spreads.

*And you mostly avoided bookshops. How come?*

Yes, I avoided bookshops in the short term. I knew that being a new author, with a tiny marketing budget, trying to compete with space in a large bookshop with so many other hundreds of titles was not going to be the way forward in getting books off the shelves. I therefore focused on my target audience; these were primarily women with an age range of sixteen and up. I decided that up market hairdressing salons, beauticians, department stores and the likes, where women of all ages and backgrounds feel comfortable frequenting should be the place to promote. My instincts proved correct - it really worked!

*The packaging was important too. can you tell us more about that?*

I spent funds I didn’t have on getting designer rope handled bags printed with Racy! emblazoned across the middle of the bag. I also bought sparkly tissue paper to wrap the books up in before putting inside the bag. Obviously this shaved money off the profits, however, again overall this worked, it was the difference between someone buying one book for themselves to thinking they would buy more for Christmas presents, a book, signed, wrapped and a glamorous reusable bag - all for under £10 - what a bargain!!!

*Last but not least ... can you tell us where we can buy the book online. Thanks - and best of luck for the future*

Paperback £8.99
Hardback £17.99


or my website www.emmamartin.com

Thanks for the interview Harry!

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