IT'S PARTY TIME AT VINTAGE VONNIE. A FABULOUS NEW BOOK HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM HARPER IMPULSE AND I'VE GOT THE ADORABLE AUTHOR, SAMANTHA BIRCH, HERE WITH US TODAY!
Samantha, is this your first book?
Yes, and I still get giddy saying that. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it.
So, it turns out I'm an author...I love that phrase too. I had a sneaking suspicion I might be, but I didn’t dare believe it until Charlotte at Harper Impulse rang and told me. Y’ see, I’ve been a journalist for the past six years, flitting about between Brides and You & Your Wedding, GLAMOUR and Harper’s Bazaar, starting off in offices and ending up freelance (which means under a laptop on top of a cushion in my front room).
That’s where I wrote The High-Street Bride’s Guide, my first published book – sorry, I still get excited saying that! – about how to plan your perfect wedding on a budget. And I tell you what, I’d never have done it on my own. I’d had the idea knocking around in my head for a while, but it wasn’t until a colleague emailed me a picture of a dress she’d seen online – “I love it, but there’s no link to who made it!” – and I immediately pinged back the designer’s name (I can spot an Alfred Angelo Made in Colour at twenty paces) that she said the magic words: “Oh Sam, you should write a book!”
So, um, I did. I did it in a month flat, my talented husband designed all the cover art and illustrations, and days later, it was up on Amazon. This was where my delusions of authordom fell down. After an initial blitz, interest in the book started to wane, even though (!) I had a dedicated Twitter and Facebook feed, and a short article up on the Brides and Handbag.com websites. How could this be?! I figured the whole thing had gone wrong somewhere along the line and filed it away under ‘embarrassing failures’. But I still secretly harboured the hope that one day I’d log into my Amazon account and – woohoo! – have somehow become an overnight success.
What actually happened was another case of someone giving me a push in the right direction. A good friend had heard of a competition going on at HarperCollins for new authors in any genre, and basically flattered me into it – “But Sam, you have to enter, your book is excellent!” – despite me protesting that the sub-par sales figures must be because of the book, and couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with my flawless marketing strategy. By the end of the day I’d sent over the ePub and resolved not to think about it anymore – chances were they’d read the first few pages and give the prize to the next Sophie Kinsella.
Months later, and I got a call from said friend: “You’ve won!” she told me. “You’ve won a printed copy of your book!” And I was thrilled. A printed copy to go on my shelf, with my name on it and everything. How great! But then I put the phone down to her and some memory lit up in the recesses of my mind, waved its little glowing hand and started pushing on the back of my brain. Wasn’t there something else in the prize details? Wasn’t there something about being – whisper it – published?
I’d rung my husband, my mum, my dad, my sisters and my best friend within the hour. “Probably,” I told them, as if that would make it any better if I turned out to be wrong, “it seems like I’m getting published!” And everyone got all overexcited, and I got all overexcited, and then I went and changed the bedsheets like nothing special was happening, because possibly nothing special was happening, and I couldn’t get carried away. Except for the intermittent squeals and the jumping up and down, anyway.
Happily, you might have noticed that I got away with it – Charlotte rang the next day and told me that, yes, I was being published (and I covered the squeak valiantly!). Then I met the team and I extended the book and they edited it and redesigned the cover and now it’s on Amazon and iTunes and I’ve got all these lovely author friends and there’s a picture of me on my phone in front of a Harper Impulse banner, at the HarperCollins office, not being asked to leave by security because my sticker says ‘author’. And it turns out that’s what I am!
Back-Cover Blurb Brides-to-be, this one’s for you!
You can say your vows in a catwalk gown so beautiful it reduces your mum to tears (and not because she paid for it).
You can style a reception so stunning your guests won’t believe you didn’t hire an A-list planner.
And you can sprinkle the day with personal touches that make everyone feel like you gave them special attention before they even got there. Without spending a house deposit on it. Honest.
Samantha Birch has written for GLAMOUR, Brides, You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride. She knows a thing or two about planning a wedding on a budget, how much you can expect to pay for everything and where to go to get it for less. And she’s put it all down here.
Excerpt from The High-Street Bride’s Guide
Chapter 10: The Cake
If you bake it, they will come… But they’ll probably still turn up if you get it from Marks’s. Because there’s more than one way to ice a cake – whether your granny mixed the batter with her own fair hand or you whipped it out of a box the day before.
Before You StartYes, I’m sneaking it in here now. If you want the professional touch, shop around at your local bakers before writing them off. Prices will vary, and even if you can’t afford your classic three-tier, white behemoth, they might be able to offer you too-gorgeous-to-eat options like cupcakes or the other pretties I get into later in the chapter. If you can afford the real deal – or you have to find a way to – here are a few cost-cutting suggestions that work, whichever way you slice it.
DesignThis is the big kahuna. Because you’ve probably seen at least one rerun of Choccywoccydoodah (well, it is essential wedding research) and now have your heart set on a three-foot sugar-craft mound of love hearts draped in jewels.
Or not. But seriously, if you’ve got anything too complicated on your mind, it’s going to take extra bakerpower that you’ll end up paying for. Instead, try to downsize your original idea without losing the core of it – if you were dreaming of five tiers enrobed in icing that’s designed to look like the lace of your dress, make it three tiers of straight white icing, but wrap a real piece of lace around each.
Oh, and think about the type of icing too – even consider a sprinkling of icing-sugar instead, since naked cakes are so chic – because, as always, the more precise you have to be, the more numbers you’re going to see.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-High-Street-Brides-Guide-ebook/dp/B00GWG5EAC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395080753&sr=8-1&keywords=the+high-street+bride%27s+guide <http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-High-Street-Brides-Guide-ebook/dp/B00GWG5EAC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395080753&sr=8-1&keywords=the+high-street+bride%27s+guide>
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/high-street-brides-guide-harperimpulse/id765919790?mt=11&uo=4 <https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/high-street-brides-guide-harperimpulse/id765919790?mt=11&uo=4> <https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/high-street-brides-guide-harperimpulse/id765919790?mt=11&uo=4 <https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/high-street-brides-guide-harperimpulse/id765919790?mt=11&uo=4> >
Contact info.Twitter (me): @SamBirchWriter
Twitter (the book): @HighStreetBride
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-High-Street-Brides-Guide/503367949687522 <https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-High-Street-Brides-Guide/503367949687522>