Attending the Rockingham Writers Conference this weekend, I thought what a gregarious and chatty crowd we were. So different from the stereotypical introverted, social outcasts we are supposed to be.
Individually these were people who admitted to self-doubt, imposter syndrome, insecurity, fear of failure and fear of success.
That day though, all that was put aside, and we had a ball, laughed and talked mingled, shared expertise and gossip. I left the conference buoyed with confidence and thrilled with my writer tribe.
Then I began to wonder what a group of writers was called. I couldn’t recall an official term, so I did an internet search. I got ‘a worship of writers. ’ To me, that seemed more fitting for priests, so I began to think of collective nouns for writers.
Here are some I liked
A chapter of writers.
A procrastination of writers
A draft of writers
An insecurity of writers
An imagination of writers
A scribble of writers
A cacophony of writers
A gossip of writers
A journal of writers.
Do you have a favourite term for a group of writers?
Many of the writers I know are a mass of contradictions, it left me wondering if this was an important part of a writer’s personality.
The majority admit to being Shy or even Not Very Social and then they go out a give a presentation or an author talk or if you meet them at a writers’ convention and can’t get them to shut up! The lonely Introvert turns into a Show Pony. I myself know I am guilty of this.
A majority of writers suffer from Self-doubt and Insecurity. Along with other creative types, many will admit to suffering from Imposter Syndrome. At times this manifests as a bout of Crippling Insecurity with the fear of not being good enough accomplished enough. talented enough.
In spite of that, most managed to overcome it and submit their work to a critique partner, or even a contest or publisher. If the work is accepted, after the initial rush of pride or satisfaction, it’s likely that self-doubt will surface once again. Yet some compulsion drives us on, to write more, to try again to try and fail, to try and succeed, to improve.
So what my fellow writers also have is courage, the courage to express themselves. To let their work speak for them, to expose their ideas to the judgement of others. My fellow writers, I salute you for your bravery!
Who doesn’t remember the fun of blowing the seeds away from the seed head of a dandelion clock? Sometimes they would all fly free; one huge puff of air and they’d be gone. At other times they clung tenaciously, requiring more effort to dislodge them.
Several writing events are on my horizon, author talks and workshops and a writer’s conference. I am inspired by the dandelion clock in my belief that writers are stronger together. There is strength in numbers. Much like the seed head holds its shape, because they are together.
When a writer gives a talk -they are sharing their knowledge, saying what worked for them, their processes. Learning about other writers, their joys and difficulties can inspire us as writers. To try something different, to do more, to do less.
A writers’ conference is a great example individual writers, coming together to exchange ideas, learn new skills and laugh and share information. They will drift apart at the end of the conference much like the winged dandelion pods. But all will have benefited from being part of the collective. Maybe they made a new contact, leant a new skill or found a solution to a sticky writing problem.
In our writer’s ‘clusters’ we are in a space which allows us the freedom to express ourselves. We are among friends, ones who know how difficult it can be to find the right words.
For the past three weeks I have been without an internet connection, which failed and I had to get it fixed.At the same time my desktop computer crashed in an unexpected additonal blow.
While I waited I reflected on how helpless and isolated I felt. I was missing that oh so vital sense of connection. No emails, no Facebook, no easy fact checking.
So Hello again! It’s good to be back, the time away has given me more reading time and also a time to think about writing the sequel to my book
This reflective time helped me connect with the Viking characters in my book Fire & Ice. They lived quite isolated lives.Typically Vikings had a ‘raiding season’ which went from April to October, after which the seas were deemed too dangerous.So a man could be away from home and out of reach for all that time.
Imagine having no contact with loved ones for six or seven months at a time. It reinforced to me the fact that Viking women were tough and expected to cope on their own.I also found out that if male Viking did not return home at least once every three years, his wife had the choice to divorce him for desertion,
In the past two years, I’ve grown and changed as a writer. Now its time for this blog to reflect that too. All the old posts will still be there, but in future, I will be concentrating on what I write, and what inspired me to write it. From time to time I will post about what I am reading. There will be a research section for those of you, who like me like their facts to be accurate. Along the way, I will be happy to answer your questions.
So from now, the focus will be more on the writing process, ice dancing, Bergen in Norway. Vikings and Viking beliefs.
In the two years, that I have been blogging I have changed focus and I think it’s time that my blog content and graphics also reflects this change.
When I started the blog, in 2017 I was hoping to get a fiction book published. I am now a published author, I wrote Fire & Ice, which has been described as a Scandi -Time Slip romance. It was published in February 2019 by Daisy Lane Publishers and got some great reviews. Now, I am busy writing a follow-up book.
So, my focus has shifted, I still love my cats and reading, but I am concentrating more on writing and on research. I want readers to feel confident that I am using authentic detail in my story. So, whether I am talking about ice dancing, or Vikings, or Norway I want to know that the details are right. There is a new section coming on my blog -for research details. I know not everyone will want that level of detail. and that’s okay too, simply enjoy the story.
Follow me on this journey as I find out more about Aussie Blaise and Norwegian Kristoffer, the ice dancing couple from Fire& Ice, whose story conveys that Love is Beyond Time.
I met fellow writer Sioban Timmer on Monday and of course, we chatted and laughed and swapped stories in our conversation she gave me this gem of a phrase
‘ While you are writing it, it’s your book, wonderful, original, valuable, then you publish it and to the rest of the world it’s just a bag of frozen peas.’
I can hear the gasps, almost see the shudders – ‘what my beautiful book?’
Yes, the harsh reality – you have to sell your book anyway that you can.
If you don’t market yourself these days, you are nowhere.
Why should this statement surprise us?
Did Charles Dickens market himself? He sure as hell did. He wrote his stories as instalments and left each chapter with a cliff hanger so that readers would buy the next instalment.
Did Samuel Johnston market himself? He had to, his work was sold by subscription. Who would buy his work if they did not know him?
Did Shakespeare market his work? Some of the time he wrote for patrons, and he needed to attract them, so he must have done. As a playwright, he had to keep the audience enthralled-so that they would return. The theatre would have had handbills and poster advertising each new play.
Nowadays some writers take a high-minded attitude to marketing as if it were inherently wrong. The big publishers don’t play it that way though, they spend up big and take every opportunity to promote their writers. They get them onto Morning TV, Australian Story andin women’s magazines and send out tons Of ARC’s( Advance Reader Copies).
In a word these days and maybe always hype is money. How can you buy something if you don’t know it exists?
We can be precious and claim that our work is misunderstood, is only for a select few, or too complex. And maybe that it is true for some of us. But wouldn’t you love to have a bestseller and enjoy the hype?
By the way, if you have read Fire & Ice could you please post an honest review on Amazon( if you bought it there) or Good reads or even send my publisher Daisy Lane or me a copy of your review. It doesn’t have to be long,I liked it’ is fine.
Those Little Details–Extras Limited Only by Your Budget and Imagination.
Have you attended any book launches? If at all possible, before you hold your own book launch you should attend at least one to get a sense of timing and how they are run.
Create a timetable for the event. You want people to enjoy the event, but you need to keep control of it. Say your launch is an hour in duration, this is probably plenty of time.
Your timetable may go like this
2pm Guests arrive, tea and coffee is served- to background music * more about music later. Alternatively, an evening launch might start like this 7pm Guests arrive. wine is served background music. Allow 10-15 minutes for guests to arrive.
2.15 Welcome ( I minute) Given by your MC-choose someone who is used to speaking in public bookseller, librarian, Mayor, MP.
2.16 Launch speech (a bit about you and the book) 2-4 minutes. Ideally given by a dignitary, bookshop owner or librarian.
2.20pm Read an extract of your book – about 500 words or so. Follow with a Q&A have someone sit with you and ask a few questions, ( Best to know what they will ask) Invite the audience to ask questions and keep it to about 10 minutes.
2.30 pm End of formalities.
Move over to the signing table, for book sales and signings. Refreshments are served, and music is playing.
3 pm. the event winds up.
Signing table – set up before the event with a tablecloth, leaflets, posters and a stack of your books to sign. Bring a nice pen and have spares. I also had flowers and balloons- I wanted a festive look. I might have scattered love hearts if I’d had time to get them. If you have an author banner- display that.
Top TIp: Have an assistant to deal with sales– you can’t take sales and sign books. Announce in advance if only cash will be accepted. Make sure your e- payment system works
Ask everyone who they want the book signed for and ask how they spell the name. Jane can also be Jayne. Hopefully, you will have plenty of books to sign.
Bonus. Have you any other publications? I have been published in two anthologies Passages a short story anthology and Writing the Dream, where twenty -five writers talk about their path to publication both published by Serenity Press.
I created book bundles with Fire & Ice and one of the other titles’ and tagged as Specials. Tied with rose pink or lilac ribbon and labelled as a launch special they were at a reduced price compared to buying the books individually, they sold out quickly. Each book I signed was accompanied by a card for my blog and either a charm of a pair of ice skates, a Viking helmet or snowflake charm. Give a little extra!
Music- choose something appropriate to your books topic and keep it a gentle hum so people can talk- I had Nordic music and took my time to select something that represented what my book was about, soft ethereal, and romantic music.
Extras –Bookmarks with your book details can be printed cheaply – you can give those to everyone, it might remind them to buy your book. Put buy links on them.
Door prize- I had two Viking dolls– one of which I gave away as a door prize.
A signup sheet if you have a newsletter.
Help Get someone who has a good eye to take photographs- the event will pass in a blur and you will be so glad you have them later
Catering if you are lucky, a friend or family member will handle that. if you have to do it yourself keep it simple-there is enough to be stressed about
The End of the Event-
Thank people for coming and ask them to please post a review of your book.
Be gracious, say goodbye, leave them with a good impression.
You may have to close chairs and leave the space clean and tidy-even wash-up. it certainly brings you back down to earth, on the glamorous life of an author.
But you have done it – you have successfully launched your book.
Start promoting your book launch early ( a month or so ahead is not too soon) and encourage people to save the date.
Posters and leaflets are cheap if you print them off yourself on your computer. Search online for examples and make sure the date/time and place are clear. Relatively inexpensive if you get them professionally printed too.
What should they contain?
A picture of you – the author, plus your book cover and some details about the book. your author picture is best if it reflects the type of book you are writing. So dark shadows and blurred focus suit mystery and thrillers but softer focus and colours suit romance. Non-fiction show ‘expertise’ in your topic. So serious and professional or warm and friendly depending on the topic.
Include the venue, the date and time of your launch, add an RSVP option such as an email address. If you want to keep your own email private you can create an email address for the event You need the RSVP to try to calculate how many people will attend your launch. Both for room size and for catering purpose
Publicise on Facebook, Twitter and any other networks that you have, groups, clubs and societies.
An enticing blurb can’t hurt either-here is the blurb for Fire & Ice
Olympic ice dancer Blaise Daniels partner has just called it quits leaving her with no chance of competing at the Winter Olympics. Determined not to give up on her dream, she travels to Norway to meet legendary skater Kristoffer Erikson. After a bumpy start, they connect both on and off the ice. Their partnership seems assured, but why do they both start having dreams of a mysterious Viking past? Can an ancient love be rekindled, or will an old tragedy complicate their present? https://www.daisylanepublishing.com/romance-1
Also available through Amazon, Book Depository, Scribd and online retailers.
If you ask your local library may allow you to display a poster and leaflets there, and some local business may display a poster too. My hairdresser was happy to and he came to the launch and bought a book.
If you have any media contacts now is the time to call them, local media can be surprisingly helpful. Remember that journalists are people too, and have column spaces to fill. Cold call if necessary (I did) and ask if they would be interested in your book Have a prepared script in case you freeze or babble. My call resulted in a photo and a write-up in the local paper.
Look for opportunities to tell people about your book. Many writers have blogs, ideally, you should be following a few, ask if you can be interviewed and try to schedule the posts as near to your book launch as possible. Offer to return the favour and host them on your blog.
You do have a blog, don’t you?
Who to invite?
Even the best book will not appeal to everyone, so you need to think about your target audience. Who will your book appeal to? A football memoir would perhaps best be launched in a sporting club or sports bar. A beauty/fashion guide would need a very different venue.
I did think about launching my book Fire& Ice, which features ice skating at an ice rink. It would have been fabulous PR, maybe gaining me news coverage but my target audience would have had to travel a distance and so would I. Not to mention the potential cost of hiring an ice rink on my tiny budget.
Who should you invite?
Family and friends, it goes without saying – we all need a cheer squad.
DignitariesInvite the mayor, your local councillors, your state and federal Members of Parliament. They are receptive to invitations in their communities, as it helps both their profile and theirs.
I invited our local mayor, our state MP and two local councillors, all of whom attended my launch. Go ahead, they can only say no.
If you had advance readers, who got a pre-launch copy of your book. Invite them along to the launch
Did you belong to a book group? Invite them!
A yoga class then invite them!
A gym, or sports club ask them anyway.
Any group that you belonged to will have people who may be interested in your book. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You are giving them an opportunity to be an early reader of a new book.
In part four I will cover the final details to make your launch a success.