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Dolly Considine’s Hotel

Eamon Somers
320 Pages
Unbound Digital (July 8, 2021)

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Dolly Considine runs a late-night drinking establishment catering to the needs of thirsty politicians and theatricals in Dublin’s legendary drinking area, the Catacombs.

Julian Ryder (aka Paddy Butler) is an eighteen-year-old aspiring writer in need of shelter from his bullying older brother.

As the new live-in lounge assistant at Dolly Considine’s Hotel, Julian soon embroils himself in the shebeen’s gossip – and the guests’ bedsheets – and turns Dolly’s entourage into fodder for his literary ambitions. Reality quickly becomes difficult to separate from fantasy…

Set against the run-up to the Pro-life Constitutional Amendment of September 1983 and moving fluidly between the 1950s of Dolly’s youth and Julian’s Summer of Unrequited Love, the hotel becomes a stage for farce and tragedy. Between Julian’s fictions, Dolly’s Secrets, and narrow party politics – and featuring a papier-mâché figure of Mother Ireland giving birth and clashing sword-wielding dancers – this rich cocktail threatens to blow them, and even Ireland itself, wide apart.

Author Guest Post

How do writers get publicity for their books in an age of miniscule marketing budgets?

There is a joke told in Ireland (where I come from) about a tourist stopping their car to ask a pedestrian how to get to a named historical town. And the reply given is: “well now, if I was going there, I wouldn’t start from here.” Which perhaps wasn’t the most helpful answer for the tourist, but it might be useful advice for writers of all kinds, especially those of us working with small or independent publishers and self-publishers.

Let’s talk about debut novelists. To my mind there are two main categories of debut novelists, people who are famous already and want to be additionally famous by writing a book, and those who hope to be even a little famous because of having written a book. Most of us, myself included, fall into the second category. But we’ve all heard of well-known politicians, TV presenters, actors, footballers and other athletes, celebrity chefs, and rock stars, who are not satisfied with their existing fame and want to branch out and be successful all over again. And fair play to them. They are as much entitled to write a book and get it published and be a best seller as are the budding unknown writer looking to publish their first novel.

The problem is really with the publishers, they believe, largely correctly, that if a well-known celebrity puts pen to paper, or if some ghost writer does the work and the celebrity puts their name to it, then they are pretty well guaranteed a best seller or at least a book that financially washes its face. And even all that is be fair enough, but very often when publishers find out that So and So celebrity has written a book, they get into an auction with each other and begin bidding more and more for the right to publish. And then, having spent so much money buying the rights, they have to make sure they get their money back, so they spend shed loads more on marketing. Full page ads, posters, all the big influencers contacted so they will endorse the project.

Many big publishers will say they publish big name sellers because it puts them into a position to support the less profitable books and their unknown authors. And I am sure there are examples of this kind of cross subsidy, but I suspect it is less common than it was even twenty years ago.

Of course, if you are publishing your own book, then you are responsible for your own marketing. And this is where a lot of self-published authors and those traditionally published by small and independent publishers meet. They share a common experience: if we don’t spend time and money on marketing, then our books are unlikely to sell many copies. And even after putting resources into a campaign, there are no guarantees. The vast majority of the estimated 2.5M books being published annually in recent years, sell fewer than 1,000 copies over the lifetime of their availability. And some pundits reckon most self-published books don’t sell many more than 25 copies each. Like the rest of life, goal setting is important, and in this case it might be better to aim low but work as if you want to make the Times bestselling list. Rumour has it that a series is a good idea, yes it might be the 3rd or 4th book before it takes off, but once that happens, the earlier books will benefit.

The most common advice offered by publishing gurus seems to be to build yourself a fan base before you publish your book. Which is where we come back to the joke at the top of this piece.  Most of us don’t think about marketing until we have something to market, perhaps the lesson is: don’t write a book until you know you have your market. This sounds extreme, and many of us write because we want to write, not because we want to sell loads of books. Selling loads of books might be the icing on the cake, critical success might be what we want, or to be approached by a publisher inviting us to write a second book, or maybe just the satisfaction of having done something that very few people manage to do, although they might wish for it.

Of course a few lucky (non-celebrity) souls will write a book without following any of the suggestions doled out on the myriad of advice services for authors, and yet succeed beyond expectations. Although very often barely matching their own expectations, as they scratch their head in surprise when they hear authors complaining about the difficulties they’re experiencing. And good luck to them also. But if you follow them on social media, you may well learn something of value. In fact Facebook groups (Book Connectors, Empowered Authors, Alliance of Independent Authors) can give great support. Other authors are not just your competition, they are also a source of support and understanding.

In summary, the bottom line seems to be to find out who your audience is likely to be, then to build up a relationship with them by letting them know you are a writer, by giving them some free samples of your work, by sending regular (even if infrequent) newsletters, and by asking for their feedback. It will be good if you enjoy this process rather than see it as a chore. Afterall, you are looking to build relationships with readers who share your interest in particular genres or types of writing. It should be satisfying to get to know them and for them to learn a little about you. No need to sell your soul or share your dark secrets. But it’s no harm to be friendly.

Although I never doubted it, I have learnt that book bloggers are the unsung heroes of the writing world. They read our books, post reviews which draws more interest and sales for us, all in exchange for a free copy of our book. So it is good to comment on their posts, respond to their reviews, especially if you agree with them. And when the time comes, they will be happy to select your book from the massive stack waiting to be read.

I would love to say I followed all this advice, that it worked for me. In reality Dolly Considine’s Hotel was already with the publishers when I started to build my author profile, and which I am still working on it, playing catch up. However, although it took me some time to pay attention to the advice that was around, and regret not spending half an hour a day engaging with my future reading public when I was writing my novel, I can see that the late effort I am putting in, is paying off. The pressure now though is to protect my actual writing time, but that’s another story.


Author Bio:

Eamon Somers grew up above the small corner shop run by his parents in Dublin’s inner city. After brief careers as a shop assistant, trainee motorcycle mechanic, courier, office worker, lounge boy, community facilitator, double glazing installer he moved to London. He worked for two years in Haringey Council’s Lesbian and Gay Unit, drawing on his several years’ experience of community development work with the National Gay Federation in Dublin. Redundancy from Haringey caused him to stumble into the social housing development career he enjoyed for the following thirty-two years.

From his early writing classes in the People’s College in 1970s Dublin, his studies at Birkbeck College London, summer schools at the Irish Writers’ Centre, to more recent zooming sessions with poet Diana Goetsch (via Paragraph NY), Eamon’s lifelong commitment to learning the art of creative writing, is obvious His short stories have been published in various magazines including Tees Valley Writer, Automatic Pilot, Chroma, The Journal of Truth and Consequences (which nominated his Fear of Landing for a Pushcart Prize), also in Quare Fellas, a collection of LGBT+ fiction published in Ireland. He is currently working on revisions to his novel A Very Foolish Dream, – Highly Commended in the 2019 Novel Fair sponsored by the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin. Dolly Considine’s Hotel is Eamon’s debut novel.

Eamon is the happy father of three children. He and his Civil Partner Tomás are proud to be called Papa and Papi by their two lovely grandchildren. They increasingly divide their time between London, Dublin, and other parts of Ireland.

Author Links:

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Dolly Considine’s Hotel

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