The one thing I’ve learned from attending an excellent networking event for writers today, organised by Writing West Midlands at Lichfield library, is that people want to talk to you, especially if you’ve got a copy of your book to hand.
The people attending were at different stages of their writing journey and had pencils poised over notebooks to jot down valuable words of experience from the two speakers, both published authors and prize winners. It was not only a great way for them to talk about their books but more importantly about what drove them to write, their subject material, the challenges and triumphs of their long, hard slog through the writing and editing and of course how they got published. They were informative and engaging especially during a useful Q&A.
Such events, especially if they allow some networking time, are the way forward for writers to get known. They are time consuming, may cost money to get to them but I’ve discovered people love meeting authors and there’s nothing more valuable than face to face contact with people over a cup of tea to talk about your own journey,
It’s a soft marketing approach where neither party feels under pressure but it works. I took a few copies of The Cruelty of Lambs and sold and signed all of them without any tough sales talk.
I’d like to share with you a few tips I picked up from today’s speakers.
- As a writer you need to be creative and also a business person. I met an incredible children’s author who was published by Macmillan fifteen years ago. He felt he could do better self -publishing and now controls every aspect of his writing business. He sells thousands of books into schools all over the world but that’s because he understands marketing, promotion and sales.
- All publishers, big and small, expect significant input from the author: social media, blogs, videos, podcasts, talks, events, signings in libraries, independent bookshops or anywhere that will have you. This means putting a significant amount of time aside each week for a combination of activities and not being self-effacing.
- Be patient as discoverability takes time and success can come when you least expect it.
- The feeling you put into your work must be genuine even though your characters and story are fiction. Readers can tell if you’ve written a book simply to make money.
- Although we all want to be read by the wider world and that means being published, we shouldn’t write solely for that purpose. Write because you really feel you have to as I’ve said in previous blogs.
- A final point was don’t read reviews! Not sure about that one.
An interesting point for any writers who feel they should have an agent and be auctioned to the highest bidder in the big world of traditional publisher to be considered a ‘proper author ’ was to think again. While independent publishers or small presses might not have the marketing and promotion budgets at the moment, they care more about you as a person, as a writer, and when they do have the money, if you’ve been loyal and put in the work required, then the rewards will come. Sound advice.
I was asked for a business card but no longer have one as I rely on my website and Twitter etc. The children’s author handed me a lovely bookmark which he gives out to help people remember their conversation. I’ve already been onto my designer!
Authors speaking at today’s event were: Kerry Hadley-Pryce The Black Country and Geraldine Clarkson, award winning poet currently preparing her first full length collection. You can read more about them here.
Many thanks to Writing West Midlands for the opportunity to attend this event. I look forward to more.