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.
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!
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.
What a great start to the week. I gave two talks on ” My Life and Works” and sold five books at each. The audience at these social gatherings are always so kind and friendly that they are a joy to do, even if I do have a half hour walk to a train station pulling my trolley. My fault for refusing to take the car!
It is always interesting to discover which part of the talk interests them most and it is usually the fact that I used to tutor dyslexics. It is amazing how many people tell me of someone in their family with the same problem and the stories about help or lack of it depending on where they live.
Tonight I am taking some poems to a folk club as they sometimes allow me to recite.Hopefully by Saturday my printer will be operating and I can start advertising our next Charity Gig. Pity I’ll miss Crawley Book Fair but I do like my annual weekend in a hotel and this time it’s Cardiff.
Have you ever got to that stage when you are starting a new project but you aren’t sure if it is good enough to continue?
I have a couple of unfinished novels packed away somewhere but this is a different feeling. I think it needs to stew in my imagination for a while until I have enough to start writing. When your work is character driven, as mine is, you need to be really certain about your characters before you put them into a situation. Then they usually behave consistently and the story makes sense. I need to flesh out the personalities and backgrounds of the people in my next book before I concentrate on the plot.
Meanwhile we have a Craft Fair on Sunday where I am taking a few of my most popular novels, “Never Run Away” and “Never Pretend,” as well as the latest two, just in case there are some local readers who would be willing to purchase them. I think there will be a number of second hand books for sale so I don’t hold out much hope.
The more I read the less confidence I have in my own work. For one thing, most books I enjoy are twice as long as the ones I write. What is it, I wonder, that makes it possible to keep a plot going that long? If it is, as I suspect, a deeper understanding of what the characters are thinking and feeling, then I have to introduce that. If it is a broadening of the plot to include more related events, I need to try that. It gives me something to aim at and I’ll let you know if any of it works!
I had two ideas this morning, one: to make some flyers to advertise my latest novel as I haven’t had any new bookmarks printed. I can take them to talks and they will be ready for the UK Southern Book Show in October. Two – I would like ” Lane’s End” my first novel to be available in large print as it was written for my late mother who only read large print books. I have seen ways to do it on print on demand but I am hesitant to go down that route. Also, I wanted a new cover but, so far, haven’t found one that is better than the original. At least it’s keeping me busy.