January 2018 is a month that has been highlighted on the Kent family calendar for over a year. The month when – as we agreed in December 2016, back when I signed my four-book publishing contract with Elliott and Thompson – ‘Killer Intent’ would finally hit the shelves.
I’m sure that some time in the near future I will write another blog that covers the winding road to publication of my first book. But for now it’s enough to say just this: it’s been a long time coming.
And now it’s here!!
The well-oiled marketing and publicity machine behind the launch really began in July 2017, with my first trip to the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. This amazing event was where I was first introduced to the crime writing community: to other authors; to crime writing journalists; to bloggers; and to readers. And it was there that we handed out early proof copies of ‘Killer Intent’ to those who – six months later – would release their reviews online, or in some cases even agree to their comments appearing on the book itself. I may not have realised it at the time, but it was an important few days.
What it was not, however, was any indication of the whirlwind that would start when ‘Killer Intent’ finally hit the shelves!!
The official release date was the 25th January 2018. This was when ‘Killer Intent’ would be in the shops, and when the online preorders from the likes of Amazon, Waterstones and WH Smiths would be delivered.
Ahead of that release date, however, was the launch event. And what a launch it was!!
With all of the luck of the Irish coming to bear, Elliott & Thompson and I somehow managed to secure a launch event for ‘Killer Intent’ in none other than Harrods, the world’s most famous shop. That fact alone was incredible; Harrods has hosted very few books launches in its long history, and this was the second time they had ever done so for a debut author. And so we were pinching ourselves as we turned up on the 22nd January to find a crowd of 150 guests, all there to support the release of ‘Killer Intent’ amongst endless trays of champagne and canapés.
Of which I – with pen constantly in hand – got none!!!
It was an incredible night with an eclectic mix of guests that included former World Champion boxers; Senior Crown Court Judges; several of the UK’s highest flying Queens Counsel; esteemed former members of the SAS, MI6 and the FBI; a host of leading barristers and solicitors; other authors; and several political figures with long-term experience of both the White House and the Kremlin. It was all I could do to take the numbers of those I need to speak to when researching future books….
The night flew by. After a short opportunity for me to mingle with guests – provided they were within three or four feet of my table! – I was introduced by the lovely Annalise Fard of Harrods, before making a short speech of my own and then reading the first chapter of ‘Killer Intent’; the first time I had ever done the latter in public.
And then the signing began…
200 hardback books. 50 Special Editions. All purchased on the night. All brought up by patiently queuing guests. All signed and personalised. My first ever real signing. And what a place it was to start!!
Following the incredible success of the Harrods launch, our drive to make the book-buying public aware of ‘Killer Intent’ began in earnest. And to date, it has not stopped!!
First, our stock signing at Goldsboro Books in London. Goldsboro – and particularly one of its owners, Daniel – has been an incredible supporter and champion of ‘Killer Intent’, and on behalf of both myself and Elliott & Thompson I cannot thank them enough. Their initial order was large for a debut author, and the chance to sign each and every numbered copy in their iconic Cecil Court store was just priceless.
Next came my first radio interview, with Phil Williams on BBC Radio 5 Live. I did not know what to expect and the days leading in were nerve wracking. In retrospect I have no idea why that was; thanks to Phil, the interview – whilst longer than I expect at 30 minutes – was effortless. An amazing introduction to the industry of ‘book plugging’!!
Another interview came quickly, this time with Marie-Louise Muir on BBC Radio Ulster’s Art Show. Back in another empty booth in London taking to a host who was elsewhere in the country, this interview was a little shorter, a little more focused on the content of ‘Killer Intent’ – I struggled not to give away too much of the plot – but no less welcoming. Another pleasure!
BBC Radio 5 Live came calling once again a few days later, but this time not about ‘Killer Intent’. My previous interview had also concentrated upon my day job as a criminal barrister and as a result the producer of the Sunday Evening Show was keen to hear my thoughts – from a defence perspective – on the recent spate of sexual offence trials collapsing as a result of late disclosure of key material. I was equally keen to give them and so spoke to stand-in presenter Nihal Arthanayake on the Stephen Nolan Show – starting at 11.38pm – on the 28th January 2018. The catch-up link is http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pkw1f
Next was the big one: BBC Breakfast News, at 9am on BBC One. The highest audience numbers of any Breakfast TV Show in the UK, and somehow I was going to be on there speaking about ‘Killer Intent’. No. Pressure. At. All.
And – as was always the case – there WAS no pressure. Just a ten minute chat on air with presenters Dan Walker and Louise Minchin, who expertly guided me through the subjects they wanted to discuss (boxing; barrister-ing; books) and put me completely at ease. It was an amazing experience, and one which affected book sales to an extent none of us could have anticipated: my appearance on the show created a 37,000% increase in Amazon orders, so that by 2pm that day ‘Killer Intent’ was recording as the Number 1 AND Number 2 bestselling thriller on Amazon (Kindle and Hardback respectively), and the 28th bestselling book overall.
The runaway marketing train did not stop there, of course. With my day job taking me all over the country, I got into the habit of going along to local bookstores and – with permission, I hasten to add! – signing stock of ‘Killer Intent’. I think it is officially now more difficult to find an unsigned copy of ‘Killer Intent’ than it is a signed copy….
Which all brings us to today, and my appearance on BBC Radio Four’s Saturday Live. Yet another breakfast show with a huge audience. And yet another new experience. Broadcast live over 90 minutes, Saturday Live is presented by the Reverend Richard Coles and journalist/ broadcaster Aasmah Mir and features 4 guests – on this occasion me, actress Jenny Agutter, writer Adam Golightly and broadcaster Mahreen Baig – who are each interviewed and who then essentially chat about the subjects covered in the show. It was another brilliant experience, with friendly people and no stress. A wonderful way to promote a book!
The catch-up link is http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09ppzwr
And that, to the date of writing, is that! There IS more to come. I am, for example, giving my first detailed public introduction to ‘Killer Intent’ at Waterstones on the Kings Road on Wednesday 7th February. So the train continues on the track. But for now, it has been an incredible two weeks. Everything I was expecting and much, much more. And I can only thank the many, many people – and particularly my publicist Angela McMahon and my wife Victoria – who have been behind me on every step of what has, for me, been a very new journey!!
Long may it continue, because if it does then that means I’m still writing!!