I met Harriet Angell before we moved to Devon, and instantly warmed to her.
As well as easing the pain in my knees that had been bothering me for weeks, she was kind, chatting and had a very calm way about her.
Fast forward a few years and Harri is working on her second book after securing an amazing deal with Bloomsbury.
Today she tells her story, one I think you are going to like.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve always been writing something. When younger it was plays and poetry. Later, more poetry, short stories and articles. With a little publishing success along the way. I wrote a ton of children’s stories for my son when he was little – maybe everyone does this though! For a while I was part of the programme development team at Weight Watchers UK contributing copy for training, diet plans and lifestyle. I also took the Open University Creative Writing Diploma which I completed with distinction. This inspired me to have a go at longer fiction and be braver with my writing – a lot of which is still a work in progress and sitting in a file on my laptop! More recently, thanks to the help I received from the excellent course, Pitch to Publication, I now have 2 non-fiction books with Bloomsbury.
How do you publish your work?
Trolling through ‘Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’ and approaching publishers with a hopefully snappy pitch, usually via email. And hoping they like it, which happily Bloomsbury did.
How did you promote your books and writing and how easy do you find that?
Bloomsbury obviously do some of the promotion for the 2 Pilates books – they send out a press release. But I have emailed editors of appropriate magazines, bloggers and websites offering them a free copy of my book to review and this has worked about 60% of the time. Although obviously it costs me. It has generated some good reviews and sales which I don’t think would have happened otherwise and there are more reviews in the pipeline. I also promote on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s not easy at all promoting oneself – it isn’t comfortable and I often find myself apologising for it. But it’s the only way – as writers we just have to make it happen however we can.
If you could see your work anywhere in the media, where would it be and why?
I would love to write regularly for a magazine or two – an accessible monthly column on ageing successfully accompanied by exercises and lifestyle tips that promote wellbeing. Obviously using as resources my experience as a Pilates instructor, my own advancing years, plus the 2 books I’ve written. The second book ‘Pilates for Living’ which is out next April is aimed at older people – right now there is a lot of interest and hype surrounding growing older successfully, keeping well and active, avoiding frailty etc. I’m hoping that I can start to build my own profile on the back of this book and encourage those who think life ends at 50, 60 or 70 to get off their butts, move and make positive changes to their lives and not be frightened to do so.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Well obviously the inspiration for the 2 non-fiction Pilates books has derived from my working life as a Pilates instructor, personal trainer, my clients and my love of running. It was suggested several years ago to me that I should have a go at a book for runners but I just didn’t have the confidence. ‘Pitch to Publication’ really encouraged me. As for fiction, well, inspiration is all around – the two novels that I’ve got squirreled away in a file both contain characters who run, and feature women who, against the odds, change their lives around for the better.
What are the biggest challenges for authors today?
Getting published! Getting heard. Self-belief. But also finding head space and time to concentrate on writing without distractions. Real life, work, family come first and it’s hard therefore to keep at it when the ‘day job’ takes preference. I find I have very little ‘writing’ time these days.
Do you have more books planned?
In my head yes. In reality, who knows. Bloomsbury are sitting on another couple of ideas I’ve pitched. And I have another non-fiction book doing the rounds to find a publisher. One of the novels I’ve half-written sitting in a file on my desktop will see the light of day son. Because it has to!
What are the top three tips for others wanting to write a book?
One, just do it and never stop – it’s not all about getting published, just write. Two, find a short course (or join a writing group) to inspire and guide – there are loads out there and they certainly helped me. Three, read and read and read and watch well written films.
What is your favourite book?
Oh goodness, there are so many, but off the top of my head– fiction: ‘Half A Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and equally ‘White Woman on the Green Bicycle’ by Monique Roffey…..Poetry – anything by Wendy Cope but particularly ‘Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis’. Non-fiction has to be Alan Bennett’s ‘Untold Stories’.
‘Pilates for Runners’ is available in all good bookshops and at Amazon.uk and Amazon.com – currently priced at £15.18 (RRP £16.99)
‘Pilates for Living’ is published by Bloombury in April 2018 and is available to pre-order from Amazon at £16.99