As mentioned in my previous post, Close Your Eyes received a super positive review from the Historical Fiction Company in the fall. I had entered the book in their "book of the year" contest, and in December they made some announcements.
Initially the book made their long list, for best book of 2022, and later it made their short list as well.
Close Your Eyes did NOT win best book of the year, nor was it the runner-up, but it did win one of their sub-categories - best Historical Fantasy book of 2022.
That image is from the Historical Fiction Company's Instagram feed. I like the castle background that they found! So nice! And actually, that river to the left is wonderful as well, especially if you're read the book and remember the escape scene with Tycho and Agnieszka ending up in the river :)
I don't remember if I myself nominated the book for that Historical Fantasy category, or if they assigned books to categories as they read them. I suppose that label is accurate, since Gora as I describe the Kingdom did NOT exist in history, though the broader scope of the book is indeed true - the Papacy, and the Bishop's thoughts about the Papacy, which foreshadow Martin Luther; Joan of Arc; the Hussites amongst whom Tycho lived for a while, and some other details scattered here and there.
The word "fantasy" just doesn't seem to suit the book though. And even Historical Fiction is slightly misleading, because it's not the actual HISTORY within the book which is important, it's Sam's heart, and Tycho's doubts, and Agnieszka's steadfastness, which are important. But... none of that fits into a label very well either - so I guess Historical Fantasy is about as accurate as it gets!
Close Your Eyes was published in December 2021, and I feel like I've done nothing for a year except flail about from one place to another trying to market the book. I used (or tried to use), Readers' Favorite, Hidden Gems, StoryOrigin, Goodreads Giveaways, and Netgalley, and maybe even some other places I've now forgotten, to promote the book, and to find reviewers of the book.
Netgalley was both the most useful, but also, the most frustrating. It costs an author (or publisher) a LOT to get your book onto Netgalley, and to promote the book there so that Netgalley users will even notice the book and request to read it, and I didn't really get as many reviews from that site as I thought I would. Having said that, some wonderful people discovered my book through Netgalley, and went on to write very touching reviews of the book, and I'm very appreciative of that.
I think a "slowing down" though is going to happen now, with Close Your Eyes. I will still be trying to find readers and reviewers for the book, but not with the zest I did over the last year.
A slowing down on the "marketing" side of self-publishing, to get back to the "writing" side of this business. I have another confused and tired young boy to get back to, Jeremy from Within This Darkness, and I feel a need now, to bring his story to the people who enjoyed Sam and Tycho and Close Your Eyes.
Oh, and shovelling snow. That was an adventure recently as well :) I put this video on TikTok during the blizzard that happened here in Ontario over Christmas. I use the same username (@chrisfindsthelight) on Instagram, and that video is there as well.
For anyone who isn't able to visually see videos very well - I had my 12 year old daughter film me for a minute, shovelling snow frantically as the blizzard roared around us, and I set it later to the "Gonna Fly Now" theme from the first Rocky movie :)
Best wishes everyone.
So let's be honest, when you put a book or a creative work out into the world, you're opening yourself up to criticism, and that's just how it goes. Obviously you hope the feedback is good, but maybe it won't be, maybe some number of readers / viewers will hate your work, and will let you know how they feel.
So, when I click on a new book review, there is always some trepidation and nervousness. I guess I steel myself in advance to begin reading a negative review.
When, after a few words (maybe you see the 4 out of 5 or possibly 5 out of 5 rating at the top), you realize it will be a positive review, you breathe a sigh of relief right away, and then you continue to read the review and see what the person said about your book.
And sometimes... you are blown away.
This review from the Historical Fiction Company blew me away.
Thank you so so so much folks, that was insanely flattering. Thank you.
Five stars, and your Highly Recommended award as well.
Sincerely, thank you so much.
I had sent Close Your Eyes to them as an entry into their historical fiction contest. They don't announce winners until December, so I won't know how I did in their contest for a while, but wow, what a wonderful review :)
Otherwise, it's autumn in Ontario. I haven't been able to get out cycling in the early mornings, and capturing amazing sunrises, recently, but here are a couple photos from walks with one of my daughters on the local trails.
Happy Friday world :)
Eden Mills Writers Festival - well, we tried.
I wouldn't say that was a huge success however.
I had hoped my daughter and I would go down, and we'd sell 20 to 40 books. I really had no idea what to expect - it was my first time setting up a booth to sell my books at a book fest, so I had a LOT of copies printed, thinking it'd be worse to run out prematurely, as opposed to return home with an excess of copies.
BUT - we sold... (drumroll)... 5 books.
The painted rocks that I'd done and took with us didn't really seem to help very much. What we really needed was better (i.e. professionally designed and printed) signage. The other booths had real signage - and were also more genre based (horror / fantasy / sci fi etc). I suppose that if you're a fantasy fan, and you walk by a guy's booth who is a fantasy writer, you might stop to browse even if you've never heard of the guy. I don't think that's as true for a booth (our booth) that isn't flaunting a certain genre at you.
"Hi! Come and browse our hard to describe literature books! Festival is a coming of age novel, but Close Your Eyes? God knows what Close Your Eyes is!" :)
Oh well. I learned a few lessons, and my daughter and I are undaunted, and agreed we would try again at another book fest and try to do better next time.
Plus, it was nice to work side by side with my daughter all day. I truly enjoyed that :)
I am continuing to try and put my book (Close Your Eyes) into the hands of book reviewers, and with few exceptions, when people read the book, they enjoy it.
Some recent reviews:
Crossing the Pond / 4 out of 5 stars. And Stefan was intrigued enough by the book that he requested that we do an interview as well - thank you so much Stefan!
OpenMyPages / 4 out of 5 stars. "Equally hopefully and heartbreaking".
The book continues to be on Netgalley incidentally, if any of you want to access it via that site.
As has been mentioned here and there on this site, during the pandemic - despite little to no artistic ability - I got into painting rocks. I've mailed them to friends all over the world at this point, and have left too many to count on local trails.
And now - as I head to the Eden Mills Writers Festival on Sunday, to try and sell copies of my two books and meet some people and make some connections - I've painted around 30 rocks to take with me and use as free giveaways when people buy my books!
I've never done a book fest before - and am excited in general but also super-excited to be going with my 12 year old daughter. Don't tell her I said this, she'll roll her eyes, but I'm going to so much enjoy just spending the day with her doing something pretty darn unique that few kids will ever do with their parents.
Anyway - can't wait to pack up on Sunday and get down there and see how this goes!
Best wishes! :)
I took this photo this morning (Sept 3, 2022).... I think it's going to end up on a postcard soon. :)
I will have some news about a trip to the Eden Mills Writers Festival soon :)
I'm Chris Tomasini.