Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-sixth, is of Malcolm Welshman.
Malcolm began writing when he first joined a small animal veterinary hospital in West Sussex as a young vet, and started to attend evening classes in creative writing. The exploits at the hospital were the source of ‘Interesting Stories from a Vet’s Casebook’, a series of anecdotal tales that ran in ‘My Weekly’ for fifteen years.
He went on to write a couple of booklets on kittens and puppies while continuing to dabble in features, providing copy for a variety of magazines such as People’s Friend, Yours, Parrot Magazine and Cat World.
On retiring from practice, he decided to write a novel, the outline of which had lain dormant in his files for ten years. Conceived in December 2005, ‘Pets in Prospect’ was born six weeks later in January 2006. The second publisher he approached, Robert Hale, accepted the book and it was published in hardback, paperback, large print, audio, Czech and Japanese. The subsequent publicity saw him give over 24 radio interviews and more than 40 talks, including four Literary Festivals.
The book was reissued as ‘Pets in a Pickle’ in May 2011 by John Blake Publishers; and the ebook version reached number two on Kindle’s bestseller list in September where it remained for two weeks.
The sequel, ‘Pets on Parade’, is to be published 2nd April of this year and the third is currently being written.
He continues to write features with recent contributions to Somerset Live, Sussex Life and three for the Daily Mail.
And now from the author himself:
When I found myself hopping across the precinct of our local shopping centre dressed in a white rabbit costume complete with fluffy pink ears, I did wonder whether I’d taken my quest for publicity for my latest novel, ‘Pets in a Pickle’, too far. But it did get my picture in the local newspaper in conjunction with National Red Cross Week – the rabbit gear had been a way to get local press coverage while holding a raffle for copies of my book to raise some ‘bucks’ for the Charity.
When the novel was first published by Robert Hale, back in 2006, entitled ‘Pets in Prospect’, I sat back and waited for the phone to ring. Nothing. I scanned through the preview list and noticed a copy of ‘Pets in Prospect’ had been sent to Celia Haddon, then a columnist on the Saturday Telegraph. She wrote about pets. There was an e-mail address for her. I e-mailed her, apologising for contacting her in this way but wondered whether there’d be any chance of her taking a quick glance at my book and if so, providing me with a quote. Bless her, she came back in two days to say she was loving the book and here was a quote I could use.
That quote I passed on to the publicist on the Monday. She re-released the press statement to include the quote – it mentioned James Herriot – and it secured me three local radio interviews within the week. The ball started to roll.
When John Blake wanted to republish my novel under a new title, ‘Pets in a Pickle’, I had a lead in of six months before the publishing date of May 2nd 2011.
Having learnt my lesson from the first launch, I realised such quotes as the one from Celia Haddon, are a wonderful way to hook interest from the media and potential buyers. So I decided to make a concentrated effort to secure some for ‘Pets in a Pickle’ and make sure they were put in the new edition. I eventually ended up with some generous quotes including ones from Sir Terry Wogan and Richard Madeley and a truly delightful foreword from James Herriot’s son.
In addition, this time round, there has been Kindle. There was an article by Stephen Leather in Writing Magazine on how he sold 7,000 ebooks in one day by slashing the price to 99p. I was on the phone to my publisher immediately. They slashed the price of mine to 99p and the Kindle rating went from 22,000 to number 2 within a month.
We’re going to do the same when ‘Pets on Parade’ comes out in April.
It’s been five years since the first book. I loved writing the sequel and feel it’s much more character-based but still with some funny scenes. I just hope those who liked the first book will enjoy this one as much.
I loved this, thank you Malcolm (especially as I’m a Red Cross volunteer). Stephen is actually going to be my 250th interviewee on 16th January. I’d heard the same thing, although more about debut authors pricing themselves cheaply so readers will take a ‘risk’ (which is why mine are priced $1.49 ). It makes sense to me as the cost of making it is the same whether one person buys it or a thousand. Thank you again Malcolm, do come back in April and talk about ‘Pets on Parade’.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with Margaret Falcon – the two hundred and thirty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords.