Book review: Tips for Writing, Publishing and Marketing your Novel by Matthew Harffy and Steven McKay

Tips for Writing, Publishing & Marketing Your Novel by Matthew Harffy and Steven McKay

Ten years ago, I was at the London Book Fair for the launch of the first of my novels about 7th-century Northumbria, Edwin: High King of Britain. I was particularly pleased with the book because it was a fascinating period of British history and no one else had written about it. I had the market all to myself.

Only, I didn’t. At pretty well exactly the same time, Matthew Harffy published The Serpent Sword, the first in his Bernicia Chronicles, telling the story of kings Edwin, Oswald and Oswiu through the eyes and actions of a sometime member of their warbands, Beobrand.

I was, I must admit, pretty gutted. But then I realised that Matthew was going the independent route with The Serpent Sword while I had a proper publisher. I settled back to count my royalties while I let Matthew eat the dust of my sales. With that backing, surely my books would win the battle for Northumbria.

Only, they didn’t. Matthew’s Bernicia novels have sold by the bookshelf, shifting over half a million (!) copies in total. Mine have sold respectable amounts but nothing like as many as his.

So when Matthew put out this book (with Steven McKay, who’s also sold many more books than me) I bought it because, frankly, I wanted to know how he did it.

And that’s exactly what they tell you. With no froth, no spin, no filler: it’s a book to read in an afternoon but with the distilled experience of a combined twenty years in the trenches of writing, publishing, marketing and selling books. As such, it’s invaluable, and I will be putting their ideas into practice. Maybe, just maybe, I might begin to then start catching up!


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