Pauline Rowson’s marine mystery crime novels may feature the ‘flawed and rugged’ DI Horton but there’s nothing flawed about her company, Rowmark, which she set-up as a Marketing Agency before branching into publishing. By drawing on her marketing skills and publishing her own brand of fiction and business books, Pauline has learned a great deal about the industry. We wanted to know more…
Before becoming a writer, you did some work in marketing, has this helped you when it comes to getting your book out to the right people?
All authors need to market themselves. I use my marketing skills in my ‘business’ as a professional writer. It has helped me to keep my name in front of people, to network and build contacts and to spread the word about my books.
Your Marine Mystery crime novels are quite different from the business books you have also written – what made you decide to start writing that kind of genre?
I started writing fiction seriously twenty years ago. I began with historical novels but it wasn’t until I wrote my first crime fiction novel that I knew I was on the right track. In between writing fiction though I was running my own Marketing and Training company and I thought some of the training material I developed would make very good practical business books. So I wrote some books on marketing, which were extremely well received by readers. I set up a publishing division in my company. I learnt a great deal about the publishing world through doing this, and earlier this year I sold all my business titles to Crimson Publishing who are relaunching them in 2009. However writing fiction, and crime and thriller fiction, is my first love.
It boosted sales of that book and hence sales of my other books, which I am delighted with. It also raised my profile in the publishing and book selling world and introduced my work to new readers.
You are a very active blogger, and have a website and use other social networking sites. How important do you think it is for a writer to have an online presence?
Hugely important. It is such a brilliant marketing tool and so cost effective. All it costs is your time. It is such a great way to keep in touch with my readers and to meet new readers. It’s also good for networking with other writers and sharing ideas and experiences. And it helps to spread the word about my books and raise my profile, not to mention stimulate sales. It is a must for all writers.
To begin with, you decided to start your own publishing company to publish your books. Many would consider that to be quite a brave decision. What made you decide to do things that way, and has it paid off?
I knew exactly how I wanted my business books to look and what they should contain, and because of my marketing background I wanted strong branding. Publishing them myself was by far the best option because it gave me complete control and it taught me a huge amount about how the whole publishing industry works. Therefore when my first crime novel was ready for publication I decided to launch it under a new imprint of my own company in order to develop the branding of Marine Mysteries, and to test the market place. It has paid off considerably. Because I could prove that my books were popular with readers, and I was generating sales, a publisher then approached me with a two book contract and I have sold translation rights, e book rights and audio rights. I am also now published in the USA and my novels are on sale worldwide.
What advice do you have for writers who are very determined, have received some good feedback on their books but aren’t having any luck with publishers?
Keep going, keep getting better and NEVER EVER give up. Take advice from a professional editorial service and if you feel your work is ready and you can’t get a publisher, consider “self publishing.”/self-publishing
For many authors who do not want to go to the expense of having many copies printed then I think CompletelyNovel is a good idea. Editing and typesetting is important and also ensuring the cover design is appropriate and good. The book size also has to be correct for the style of book. The most difficult part of self publishing is marketing. If the book is just for local consumption, or for friends and relatives, this isn’t such a big issue but if the author wants wider sales then having a really good product (the look and feel of the book as well as the content) and learning how to market it, plus setting aside money to do so, is very important. I think sites like CompletelyNovel are going to be extremely valuable to authors in terms of promoting their books, and networking amongst reading groups and others.
You have had experience of being on both sides of the fence in terms of the publishing industry. From your experience, how do you think publishers could change to make things better for the consumer?
That’s rather a complex question to answer and encompasses the whole book selling industry and not simply publishers. Publishing is a changing market with eBooks, print on demand and the emergence and growth of Internet book sellers and social networking sites. I believe all this is going to change the shape of bookselling and publishing to come.
From your blog it is pretty clear that you are a very busy person! Can you give us some insight into what are you doing at the moment?
I have just finished writing a murder mystery play, called Murder at the Pelican Club. I am revising three business books for publication in May 2009. I am seeing my new Marine Mystery crime novel, Dead Man’s Wharf, through to publication with my editor for April 2009. I’m waiting for the Polish edition of In Cold Daylight to be published on 28 November 2008 and I’m revising the next DI Horton Marine Mystery for publication in 2010, plus I’m progressing some overseas deals, which are bubbling along in the pipeline. So quite a lot to keep me busy!