C.R. Berry Talks about Publicity, and the release of 'Million Eyes II'
With the release of C.R. Berry’s latest novel, Million Eyes II I asked the author how he gets his book to stand out so well
from all the others out there. Exactly what is it he does do to promote his work. Thankfully, he was kind enough to supply the following:
Greetings, Christopher. Do you mind if I ask what experience of promotion you had prior to getting your books published by Elsewhen Press?
Back in 2011, I self-published a children’s fantasy novel called The Pendulum Swings and started releasing a series of five illustrated Christmas-themed books for younger children called The East Pudding Chronicles. As I was self-publishing, I knew I had to handle all the promotion and publicity on my own. I built a couple of websites, made some short films out of my poetry, made a couple of zero-budget trailers for The Pendulum Swings, which were rubbish but fun to do, and had a much more professional-looking trailer made for the first East Pudding book, The Christmas Monster. I got some editorials in the local paper, did talks and workshops in schools, did book signings at Christmas fairs, and hosted a book launch at my law firm’s office—yes, my boss actually let that happen!
What techniques do you find gets your work noticed?
Probably blog tours like this! Appearing on other people’s blogs is great, because each blog has its own dedicated set of readers. It’s wonderful to see comments from readers at the bottom of articles about my books saying, “Ooo, that sounds like something I’d like to read!”, because it means that, if the reader goes and buys Million Eyes, I’ve gained a new fan that I otherwise wouldn’t have reached.
Which platform do you find most rewarding?
My blog. For years I have used it to write articles about mysteries, conspiracy theories and urban legends such as Roswell, “Paul is dead”, the Loch Ness Monster, the moon landings, Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle—you name it. The subjects interest me and they’ve inspired my fiction writing. Many of the mysteries and conspiracies I’ve written about have made their way into Million Eyes and the Million Eyes short stories. At one stage, when I was getting blogs out weekly, my website was getting over 1,000 views a day and regular comments, which was fantastic.
Is there a promotion formula that you adhere to and, if so, would you mind sharing it?
Have you heard the song Try Everything by Shakira from Disney’s Zootropolis? That song’s lyrics are my formula—“nobody learns without getting it wrong” and “try everything even though I could fail”. I’ve given certain things a go and they haven’t worked. But do I regret doing them? No.
Elsewhen Press have always been very honest and realistic about what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve learned a lot from them. So, if I had to give a fellow author advice, it would be: listen to your publishers, be open to trying things, and go in with low expectations. The book market is an incredibly crowded place, so don’t go in expecting an article, a trailer, a post on social media, even an appearance on a radio show, to set the world alight. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try all those things, because you never know what might catch on, or who you might reach.
So, basically, try—fail—try something else.
What are the main things you have done to promote Million Eyes and its sequel Million Eyes II: The Unraveller?
For the first book, I had a couple of really awesome trailers made—a teaser and a main trailer. I did a blog tour, which was fantastic as it involved lots of reviews and all of them were super-positive. One reviewer said she was uncomfortable that I had included Princess Diana’s death in book one, but that was great too because, well, controversy sells! I wrote guest articles for various blogs, including one for Nothing in the Rulebook about how to write time travel. Elsewhen Press and I set up a fake, in-joke-laden website for the tech company Million Eyes, who are the main antagonists in the trilogy. They also released a free ebook of Million Eyes short stories called Million Eyes: Extra Time. And I hosted a book launch at Waterstones with Elsewhen Press. This was very well attended and I sold way more books than I was expecting to. I was also very lucky because it took place a week or so before the first lockdown!
For book two, I’ve done—as you can see—another blog tour. I’m taking part in a multi-book launch at Novacon 2021 with several of Elsewhen Press’s other authors, and I’m also hosting a book launch at a café/cocktail bar near where I live, called Chandlers. I’m going to be writing an article for a website for authors, christopherfielden.com, about my publishing journey so far.
And as book two has Jesus as a character, I’m going to write and pitch some articles to websites and newspapers about why I’ve chosen to offer an alternative interpretation of where the stories about him, his miracles and his resurrection came from. Clue: time travel’s involved!
BTIME IS THE ULTIMATE SAVIOUR
Following an impossible discovery in East London, archaeologist Dr Samantha Lester joins forces with software developer Adam Bryant to investigate the events that led to the disappearance of his best friend, Jennifer, and to bring down the people responsible – Million Eyes.
Before long, Lester and Adam are drawn into a tangled conspiratorial web involving dinosaurs, the Gunpowder Plot, Jesus, the Bermuda Triangle, and a mysterious history-hopping individual called the Unraveller, who is determined to wipe Million Eyes off the temporal map.
But as the secrets of Million Eyes’ past are revealed, picking a side in this fight might not be so easy.
Excerpt 3 – Million Eyes II: The Unraveller
A few minutes later, the van signalled to go right at the traffic lights up ahead, which turned from green to amber as the
van came within a hundred yards.
Suddenly, the van’s low hum became a coarse roar. It shot forwards, tyres squealing. Keiko jerked back in her seat, her phone tossed from her hand and landing somewhere behind the seats.
“What the fuck?” Keiko stared ahead as the van swerved round several cars and hurtled through what was now a red light, narrowly missing a car on the intersection.
“Nav, what’s happening?” she asked the van’s computer.
Nav didn’t reply. The speedometer inched past forty-five, in a thirty zone, overtaking a bunch of cars.
How is this happening? Driverless cars can’t speed!
“Nav, slow to thirty.”
Nav was silent. The van’s speed was steady at forty-five.
“Nav, slow to thirty—now!”
Still no reply. Keiko’s chest tightened. She felt uncomfortably hot despite the climate control.
The van turned right down a road it wasn’t meant to take. This wasn’t the way to LIPA headquarters.
Something’s really wrong.
“Nav, give me manual control.”
Keiko expected pedals to rise out of her foot well and a panel to open in the dash, from which the steering wheel would emerge.
Keiko leaned forwards to press the emergency override button.
Still nothing happened. What? If the computer wasn’t responding, then the emergency override was all she had left. She pressed it again—harder.
Keiko swallowed. Though her skin was hot, her blood ran cold.
What the hell do I do now?
The van turned right at a roundabout and the speed limit changed to fifty. The van’s speed rose to sixty.
Keiko tasted something tangy. She realised she’d been chewing her lip, blood now dribbling onto her tongue.
The van had been hacked. It was the only explanation. Someone wanted these bones.
Keiko craned her neck behind her, looking down into the space behind the seats for her phone. Daylight now fully extinguished, the back of the van and all the artefacts were quilted in a dense darkness intermittently penetrated by dim flashes of streetlamps. The floor behind the seats was where the darkness was at its thickest.
She couldn’t see her phone.
“Nav, interior lights on.”
She was so used to everything happening automatically she’d forgotten that the computer had stopped responding to her. She reached to flick the switch on the ceiling light—nothing. She flicked it twice.
Fuck’s sake! Nothing works!
Breath quickening, Keiko twisted against her seatbelt and reached behind the seats, hand fumbling about in the dark.
Oh, where are you…
She palmed the phone and tapped the screen with her finger.
It was off. But the battery was at ninety-five percent when she last looked!
She pushed the ‘on’ button on the rim, waited.
Stared at a black screen.
“Fuck. Shit!” A jolt of panic hit her. They’d hacked her phone too? How? She threw the phone into the passenger footwell in frustration.
The van was forced to stop behind a line of traffic on a two-lane road, traffic lights ahead and a stream of cars coming the other way. Keiko had no choice. She’d have to get out. Let whoever was controlling the van have it, and the bones.
She pressed the button on her seatbelt buckle.
The expected click didn’t come. The button did nothing—it wouldn’t unclip. She pulled at the strap—hard—but the tongue wouldn’t come out.
Shit shit shit.
She pulled the handle on the driver’s door. She’d just have to wriggle out of the seatbelt.
“Fuck!” The door was locked—but the switch was in the ‘unlock’ position. The door should be opening.
No, no, no, no…
Knowing it probably wouldn’t work, Keiko tried her electric window. Proven right, her whole body sank.
She stared ahead. The lights would turn green at any moment. She’d lose her chance to escape.
She had to get out of this van. Now.
A frisson of desperation threw her elbow at the window. The glass was tough and held out defiantly. All Keiko did was smack her funny bone, pain shuddering up and down her arm.
Pooling all her might into her arm, she slammed her elbow into the window again.
With a smash, the glass shattered, tiny pieces raining into Keiko’s lap.
Freedom. She strained to squirm free of the seatbelt—it kept locking.
Finally managing to get her torso free, she thrust her head and shoulders through the broken window and started to climb out.
Then the lights up ahead turned green.
Chris Berry Bio
C.R. Berry started out in police stations and courtrooms—ahem, as a lawyer, not a defendant—before taking up writing full-time. He’s currently head of content for a software developer and writes fiction about conspiracies and time travel. (Note: he’s not a tin foil hat wearer, doesn’t believe 9/11 was an inside job, and thinks that anyone who believes the Earth is flat or the Royal Family are alien lizards needs to have their heads examined.)
Berry was published in Best of British Science Fiction 2020 from Newcon Press with a Million Eyes short story. He’s also been published in magazines and anthologies such as Storgy and Dark Tales, and in 2018 was shortlisted in the Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition.
In 2021, he bought his first house with his girlfriend, Katherine, in Clanfield, Hampshire, discovering whole new levels of stress renovating it (not helped by a rogue builder running off with most of their budget). The couple are now in the fun stage, going full-on nerd and theming all the rooms—their bedroom is a spaceship, their kitchen a 50s diner.
Now that the dust is settling, Berry is refocusing on the final book in the Million Eyes trilogy and getting back to writing his first collaborative novel with Katherine: a space-set adventure with aliens, terrorists, a mysterious wall that surrounds the universe and—of course—conspiracies.
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My novel Million Eyes is OUT NOW from Elsewhen Press
A fast-paced sci-fi conspiracy thriller about power, corruption and destiny
My short story collection Million Eyes: Extra Time is available for FREE download
12 time-twisting tales set in the world of the Million Eyes trilogy