Waterstone’s, passing 30,000 and getting ready for the chicken dance!

White Mountain full book jacketFirstly, I just had to showcase my gorgeous new cover…well I had to, look at it…it’s GORGEOUS!

Despite the exuberance, I’m in reflective mood tonight. I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be celebrating. Not only has my little blog passed 30,000 visitors, for which I am profoundly shocked and humbled (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) but my novel is due to be published in less than two weeks time…my excitement is palpable. SAM_5228

So, it’s November already, still can’t quite grasp how the year is flying past. Already the TV is full of Christmas advertisements, hoping to whip up the masses into our usual hysterical feeding frenzy. Need a new sofa, how about some solid oak furniture or ten frozen homogenised meals for £4? Lol, I admit, despite the cynical side of capitalism, I still LOVE Christmas and all the daft glitzy trappings that come with it. It still conjures the magical memories of my early childhood before the dark days came – that sense of magic and optimism, where anything is possible, has never left me despite the struggles of my life.

As November slides towards the grand event of the year, I find myself having a brief window to breathe before another kind of crazy madness takes me. I talk of course, of doing the chicken dance again.

“The chicken dance?” I hear you ask. “What’s that?”

Well, as all my writer friends know, the chicken dance is what we writers do when a new book, OUR new book, is coming out. Not only does the writer resemble a babbling headless chicken, overcome by a heightened state of euphoria, but suddenly they have the inability to stay focused or remain in one spot for more than a few seconds. The chicken dance involves many things, behaving in a dignified way isn’t one of them, but jumping up and down like a frog on speed may be obligatory!

The chicken dance doesn’t just involve a manic sense of excitement that you struggle to temper when you’re surrounded by more sensible people or at work, but which seeps out in your solitary car journey home. Something like…”Yes, yes, YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!” SAM_5203

You get the idea.

The chicken dance also involves rushing around everywhere, even when you have plenty of time, the NEED to rush, to be permanently active, on the go. ‘Stand still and you’ll die’ kind of feeling. Very much like playing an out of body RPG game, except that it’s your life.

Only fellow writers will understand this, friends, family, no matter how supportive, may want you to start taking medication or ‘seek help’!

In amongst this general hysteria, you are frantically contacting everyone you ever knew, even in passing, even the most transitory meeting, they all NEED to know your exciting news, how could they not be interested?

Did I mention the heightened state of delusion you find yourself in?

Yes, your book, your baby creation is the best thing since Tolstoy and Tolkien, so EVERYONE must know. Lol, delusion plays a large part in most writer’s lives. The tricky part is being honest with yourself about it!

For me, the chicken dance started last Friday when I opened a very special package – two boxes of my gorgeous new book! My reaction was suitably restrained and subdued… SAM_5206

Lol, so my chicken dance has begun again. My epic fantasy novel, White Mountain, the first book of my Darkling Chronicles, is being published by Kristell Ink Publishing and Grimbold Books, on 1st December 2014! Yes, Christmas is coming early for me this year!

BUT, there is a big difference this time round. Having done the chicken dance before, I have at least learnt some lessons now. So, embarking on this journey again, here are my top five tips for trying to survive the chicken dance with your head relatively intact!

1. When getting writer/book resources from Vistaprint, Staples or wherever else you go, remember, YOU DON’T NEED TO BUY EVERYTHING! Getting the staple remover with your book emblazoned on the side or the embroidered napkin, large car magnet, selection of baseball caps, T-shirts (for the size you are now and the size you will slim down to), the 100% cotton linen bags, the pens, the pen holders, the keyrings, the mouse pads, the card holders, the personalised card holder for your wallet or bag, the leaflets, pamphlets, any lets, on and on and on….

Trust me, you could blink and spend a fortune. Your bank balance will thank me!

YOU DON’T NEED IT! You will find three things of real use, and that’s about it. A large banner with your book on it, some business cards with your book & website details on, and either ONE T-shirt to wear for signings (ONE not FIVE!) or possibly a mug. Well, you gotta drink don’t you? Buy some cheap acrylic book stands too to display your epic tomes.

2. Go through your book and find at least three great passages that you can read aloud. Choose excerpts which are exciting and give a good flavour of your book to prospective readers. You’ll need the passages to be of varying length, maybe a short one of only a few minutes, one that can keep you talking for ten minutes and one for longer, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Trust me, you need to do this. My very first book signing went brilliantly, yes, we sold out in just under an hour, fab, eh? Yes, but I made one major gaff. A customer asked me for a reading. I hadn’t thought of that! I stumbled, I stuttered, I flicked through the book in a sweat and nervously wobbled my way through one very brief section. I was not good and didn’t do justice to the passage I was reading. Lesson learnt. Passage preparation! – ye gods that sounds medical!!

As I always say, better to have something and not need it, than need something and not have it!

3. Remember and repeat…YOU ARE NOT A STAR! Just because you have managed to acquire several Waterstone’s signing dates, something rarer than gold dust these days, you are not the star attraction so don’t act like a diva. Be polite ALWAYS, courteous, humble. Listen to the staff, what they want from you, where they want you. Listen, smile, be affable and charming. Remember, even if you only sell one book, you want them to remember you and be happy to let you come back.

4. Remember, Waterstone’s have severely restricted who they let into their shops to do signings precisely because of some dreadful bad apples in the indie barrel who ruined it for the rest of us by harassing customers and virtually frogmarching them to the tills! I happen to vaguely know one of the offenders who is blissfully unaware of what a firestorm she caused and how she contributed to Waterstone’s shutting down the rest of us! I’d take her to task, but to be honest, she has had the roughest of times recently so I’m not one to shovel shit. But remember, DO NOT APPROACH CUSTOMERS. Let them come to you, stay seated at your table and smile. That’s what Waterstone’s want, not some lurking author pouncing out at unsuspecting browsers!

5. Remember, as much as I love Waterstone’s they are not the only bookshops in town, if you support you local independent bookshop, they will support you! Get to know and love the independents, they may be the only shops willing to get behind you and your book, so ignore them at your peril!


For a few those of you embarking on such a perilous journey, being an author and watching your creation take flight, here are a few insights from when I did my chicken dance two years ago…ahem…I mean my Waterstone’s signing and promotional tour. 😀


Hope it helps or at least prepares you a little for the rollercoaster ride! 😀 xxx

White Mountain coverWhite Mountain full book jacket

😀 xxxx


21 thoughts on “Waterstone’s, passing 30,000 and getting ready for the chicken dance!

  1. Kay Kauffman says:

    It’s such a beautiful cover, Sophie, and I’m so excited that it’s being released again! I can’t wait to get my hot little hands on it! 🙂

  2. Congratulations, Sophie. Your cover is simply stunning. You’ve given some great advice for book signings and events, especially the bit about swag. It’s so tempting to go crazy with keychains and pens and everything under the sun, and it really isn’t necessary. I also liked what you said about author behavior at a signing. I know an author who says he’s followed readers through the store and tried to strike up a conversation, book in hand. Though he’s a very nice man, I don’t agree with this type of sale tactic, and I don’t think it makes a good impression.

    Again, congratulations!!! I hope you sell a million copies.

    • Oh thank you sweetie!!! Lol, I’ve love to sell a million copies too but I’ll settle on it selling more copies than the awful version my ex-publisher’s hashed together! 😀 Thanks sweetie, I know EXACTLY what you mean about author behaviour too. I don’t agree with following customers or striking up false conversations book in hand, it’s just tacky behaviour and you’re spot on, it gives a really bad and unprofessional impression. If people are interested in your book, they will come to you. Stay seated and stay calm! It’s different at fairs I’m sure, where authors are encouraged to mingle, but I certainly don’t want to be hassled when I’m browsing in a bookshop! 😀 xxx

  3. hierath says:

    Congratulations, it’s a gorgeous book! Looking forward to reading it! xxx

  4. hierath says:

    Reblogged this on Joanne Hall and commented:
    Kristell Ink Author Sophie E Tallis has her NEW BOOK, “White Mountain” released on December 1st – go Sophie! She had a torrid experience with a previous publisher, so wishing her love and joy this time around 🙂

  5. Congratulations, Sophie. The irresistable romantic cover should attract the right audience. What more has changed since the first edition?

    • Thank you sweetie! I’m so so thrilled with it. I hated the ‘white artichoke’ I had before which bore no resemblance to the content or type of book it was. Apart from the lovely new cover with it’s original artwork, there are lots of changes, firstly it’s written in the original UK English it was supposed to be in, not a mish mash of American and English so you don’t know which language it’s in. There are lots of subtle changes and improvements in the actual story. The editing is a 1000% times better, the formatting and layout are great instead of having narrow margins and cramped text and it’s in a font you can actually read without needing a microscope! Every chapter starts on a fresh page as it should, instead of being squeezed at the bottom of the previous chapter. I love the calligraphy used at the beginning of each chapter too and the illustrations are used properly, and they’ve included my favourite illustration which was left out of the awful original edition! Lol!!! Basically, it’s the book it was always supposed to be before it got butchered! 😀 xxx Do I ask how things are going for you?

      • This sounds wonderful. No surprise you’re jubilant.

        My long finished ‘Course of Mirrors’ is still awaiting publication. Been pushed along by the publisher, due to her unexpected family challenges. I signed the contract in spring 2013 and am now given hope it will be in spring 2015.
        I’m nothing but patient. Meanwhile I finished the sequel and have started on the third novel.

      • Well done YOU!!!! Well, as soon as it’s published I shall be the first getting my copy! Seriously though honey, I understand the frustrations and waiting game, but it will be worth it in the end! Congratulations on getting the sequel finished too and starting work on Book 3, that’s amazing honey! 😀 xxx

  6. M T McGuire says:

    Great cover. No wonder you are excited. May the chicken lay you golden eggs….Phnark!



  7. sjhigbee says:

    Reblogged this on Brainfluff and commented:
    Sophie is a wonderful author I met at Bristolcon – and I thought you might like to hear about her upcoming new book release – as well as see the wonderful new cover…

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