Instead of wasting time on twitter I am spending the rest of the day writing a new talk. Most local groups have now heard me speak on my life and works so I am creating a new talk on Sussex in Fiction. This gives me the opportunity to show the two different ways Sussex can be used in novels, either absolutely accurately, as in the books of Peter James, or as an inspiration as used by Simon Brett. The more I look into the writing of Sussex authors the more crime stories I find. Of course, there are also historical romances, like those of Pam Weaver. I have been buying books and taking some out of the library so that I can quote from each author. The most interesting part will be if the listeners can identify places that are not named in the books. It’s easy enough in my books when I don’t name the town but do say it has a pier, a hospital, a Leisure Centre and is near the Downs!
It is suggested on twitter that self publishers turn themselves into a brand. This, I suppose, means encouraging readers to discover more about the author and share in their ups and downs, find out about what made them want to write and what their writing life is like. Presumably it is supposed that the more the reader knows about the author the more inclined they will be to read their books.
I’m sure it works for some writers, especially if you are writing about a place or a lifestyle that the readers identify with, but what if your story is pure fantasy, or a crime novel set outside your own experience?
The idea of giving the readers a taste of your work is good, but I’m not sure they would want to know about the everyday family details that make up the lives of a lot of writers.
Would discussions on politics, recipes, illnesses, education and all the other things we think about help to make people want to read what we have written? Not, I suggest, if it is escapist fiction. I’m open to argument but I honestly believe the only way to find readers is to build up a following who know what to expect and look forward to your next offering. It will take years for most self publishers and, meanwhile, Julie C Round will continue to write and give talks on her writing to anyone who is ready to listen.
After my debut performance at Woodies folk club I am now back to planning for our Charity Gig on November 23rd at Lancing Leisure Centre.
The Sea Scribes and the Friends of St Barnabas are combining to host a “Tunes and Tales” event with stories, music and the odd verse. We shall have a raffle for the charity and a prize for the lucky ticket and a number of folk musicians have offered to play and sing between the readings.
All I have to do is work out a programme. The writing group members will be timing their contributions next week and then I need to slot them between the other performers. Last time it ended too soon so I have a few limericks ready to fill in the spaces. We also have books for sale. St Barnabas is our local hospice and almost all of us know someone who has been involved with the charity or used their facilities. Not only will I be offering our novels but we also have anthologies for sale which will make ideal gifts.
Yesterday I went to the Self Publishing Exchange run by new Generation Publishing in London. Two of us travelled up from Worthing, recognising that the journey would be longer than usual because there were no trains on the Brighton Line. What we hadn’t reckoned with was, on reaching Victoria, we found there were no underground trains on the circle and district lines which meant, instead of going direct to our destination, Charing Cross, we had to take in two more stops on two other lines which meant walking up and down stairs and slopes and arriving at the college exhausted and late.
Once the event restarted, after welcome coffee, we were treated to some interesting panels with a variety of speakers on editing and marketing but, by lunchtime it became obvious that we were only scratching the surface. There was so much more we could have learned given more time. In fact, the scope was so broad it could take a whole weekend. This was followed by group ‘pitches’ to experts in the field and we were happy to find out more about New Generation and hear advice about approaching agents but, of course, did not know what the other groups were discussing.
On the way home we were offered seats on the underground but as we were only going one stop we declined the offer which made me think about how we were perceived. It all started when I asked about libraries in the panel session and realised most people thought they were redundant. Then a speaker almost suggested printed books were also unnecessary and I began to feel old. When I arrived home I looked in the mirror and tried to imagine what I looked like to other, younger people and came to the conclusion I must look like an old woman whose ideas and attitudes belong in the past. It was nice to be offered a seat but I think maybe it means I shall from now on be dismissed as unworthy of attention – the ‘invisibility’ of the old has arrived!
Thinking about the book show I was wondering what other writers might like to discuss and realised that one of the fun things about being a self publisher is deciding on the cover for the book. Traditional publishers like to have a separate style for each of their writers so that readers can recognise the books by each author and I realised I had been doing that, too.
The Lane books had scenes on the front with a rather old fashioned font. The Never books looked more modern and spikey and the one odd book, the romance, had a cartoon rather than a photo. I wanted it to look chick-lit without being pink!
The UK Southern Book Show is on in Worthing next Sunday, 28th October and I have been up in the loft to get some more books down and making a price list. I still have to find a tablecloth and sort out the little book holders I have to stand copies in.
I gave Natasha the title “Write What You Know” earlier in the year and she published that as my talk although I had forgotten all about it. It probably wouldn’t have been what I would choose now but it will make a good debating point as I expect any other writers there may be ready to argue the opposite. In fact, I have made my talk short so that others may make the point that we couldn’t write fiction unless we elaborated on what we know.
I’m struggling to decide what to wear, although this is easier than the conference in London next month. In the old days we used to dress up to go to London but I don’t think that happens any more. I need to find an outfit that makes a statement and that could mean buying something new. I wanted to go in pink but the weather looks like turning cold and that might not be suitable. Sorry there’s no poetry at the moment. I’ll try to think of something when all this marketing activity is over.
I was reading this month’s magazine when I came upon a little piece about me and my books. It was such a long time since I sent it in I had forgotten all about it.
I should have added a web address but otherwise it was fine, although I always think other writers cannot possibly read books by all the authors who submit to Writing Magazine. Just occasionally a review or a story might make a reader search out more by that writer and one can hope that a publisher might be curious enough to find out whether one would be a good bet for promotion.
Having been told once that my work was’not commercial’ I gave up sending to agents. It is enough to constantly be asked for another book by the folk who do buy a copy. It will be interesting to find out if anyone shows an interest at the UK Southern Book Show on 28th October at Field Place, Worthing. It should be a great showcase.