Yesterday I gave a talk about my books. In a major book store (Waterstones). As part of a book festival (Ness Book Fest). And people came to listen! It was awesome (from my point of view anyway – I can’t speak for the audience).
I was nervous as had been given an hour slot and had never spoken about anything for that long in my life. In the end my talk took 27 minutes, which included a reading from each of my books, a bit about why I wrote them, and why I decided to self-publish, particularly how using my unpublished memoir to build up a blog and potential readers for my debut thriller set in Tunisia had given me the confidence to become an Indie Author. After the talk I answered questions, mostly about self-publishing, for the other half hour.
I had practised my talk in the mirror so many times I was able to send my reflection to sleep, but it stood me in good stead because although I had my notes clutched in my hands, I felt able to remember most of the talk and look at the audience while I spoke. My mum sat in the front row and I kept my eye on her as she’d promised a cut throat gesture if I started gabbling at 200 miles per hour – but thankfully I managed to speak slowly and remembered to inhale oxygen from time to time. My good friend Sarah and long-time editor of my writing sat beside her and gave me encouraging smiles, for which I am very grateful (check out Sarah’s blog about smashing cancer in the face here).
On the whole it was a lovely experience and I was extremely chuffed to have been given the opportunity by Ness Book Fest. Having spent most of the last year in a confused blur of self-publishing learning-on-the-job, it felt slightly wrong that I was being asked for advice on the matter. But when I sat down to consider it, I realised how much I’d learnt in the past 12 months (my first book was published 11 months ago), and it was nice to share the little knowledge I’d gained, including some of the mistakes I’ve made, with other Indie Authors.
After my talk I took part in a panel discussion with three other self-publishers (Russel Turner of Bassman Books, Ceitidh Huton of Dealan-De, and Pauline MacKay of Ablekids Press). It was fascinating to hear other types of self-publishing experience and I think two clear pieces of advice came out of the discussion: the importance of having a polished, professional and error-free book, and the need to market it.
The latter is something I suspect a lot of debut Indie Authors don’t properly consider – I certainly didn’t. We are so focused on writing our books, and getting them ready for publication, it’s often not until the end of that process when your book is uploaded or printed that you suddenly realise that what a book also needs is readers. Where on earth do you get them from? That’s the million dollar question. They’re out there somewhere…
Some photos (several of which I nicked from twitter! Can’t remember who took them but thank you to those who did):
A few people spoke to me after the talk to find out the names of the sources of help I had used, so here they are with links:
General writing assistance for people resident in the Highlands: https://www.emergents.co.uk/writing/
Online marketplace to find book professionals such as an editor and a designer: https://reedsy.com/
… if you are one of the elusive readers that authors are pursuing and you would like to try one of my books, here are the links:
DAUGHTER, DISAPPEARED: http://amzn.to/2eCnZRf