The Saturday before last (and yes I realise how long it has taken me to get this post out!) I went to the Writing and Self-Publishing Open Day organised by SilverWood Books at Foyles Bookstore in Bristol. It was quite a journey for me coming from Cambridgeshire and never having been to Bristol before was accompanied by the usual anxieties of where to park and how to find my way through an unfamiliar city centre. However, I was delighted I made the effort as I had the chance to meet all the lovely people at SilverWood Books who have been looking after me, and my books, for a couple of years now and who until now I had only conversed with by email.
The day was packed with interesting and engaging speakers, plus on the agenda was an enticing ‘Special Announcement’ to be made, at the end, by Helen Hart, Publishing Director of SilverWood Books and Diego Marano of Kobo Writing Life.
The first part was on Writing and Publishing Books and the first to take to the microphone was Debbie Young from The Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli) who spoke on what is meant by self-publishing, perhaps better now to be called author-publishing, and how to go about getting the help you need from the right sources. There was a huge amount of information provided by Debbie and she has put out a post which gives the full speech here which I would encourage all of you who are looking to publish to read.
Agnes Davis (Writey Tighty) was next up speaking about editing, proofreading and polishing your novel, and, in fact, anything you are writing. She gave a great insight into what each of the different stages are for and what an author should do to get the most out of the editorial experience.
Diego Marano (Kobo Writing Life UK Manager) then spoke on the world of digital publishing, the growth in the e-reading market and where developments in technology will take reading, writing and publishing in the coming years.
After a short break for refreshments we heard about writing from history and recording our memories from engaging professional ghostwriter, Tom Henry. Before today I knew nothing about ghost writing at all but found this area of writing fascinating and was delighted to have the chance to find out more about it.
The second part of the Open Day was about Marketing your Work, Promoting and Selling Books and was kicked off by the very entertaining Robb Norton, Foyles Events Supervisor. He spoke from the bookseller’s perspective and on what you needed to know about getting your book into bookstores.
Now, it may not appear like it but I am actually quite shy, the typical introverted writer I guess, and I could no more think of approaching a book store to stock my book than I could be capable of crossing the finishing line and finding myself on the winner of the Grand National. However after hearing Robb speak I felt considerably more confident about that possibility – I just hadn’t ever considered that a shop like Foyles would be so welcoming to authors putting their books forward for consideration. So…watch this space!
This was followed a highly informative, and inspiring, section on Crowdfunding with Ed Hancox and Sandy Osborne. Now, self-publishing can be an expensive business and raising funds through Crowdfunding is an excellent way to do it though it does involve a lot of work and I feel a certain leap of faith in the first place that anyone is going to support you. Both Ed and Sandy had run their fundraising campaigns through Kickstarter which reassuringly for those donating will only release funds if the full 100% has been pledged.
Ed had already run a successful Crowdfunding campaign to get the very popular Iceland Defrosted published reaching a staggering 179% of the funding he aimed for. Do check out his website here – his 100 Crazy Puffin Facts is one of my favourite things!
Sandy was coming towards the end of her current campaign for, Girl Cop2: Girl Cop in Trouble, but I felt that after today’s talk the shortfall would be forthcoming (as an update I can confirm that Sandy has reached her target and when I last saw was aiming for a stretch goal which is excellent news.) Sandy’s first novel, Girl Cop, is already available and if you fancy checking it out just click on the title.
Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing , then spoke, very effectively, on ‘positioning’ your book for the media, and presenting a story that journalists will know what to do with. Cameron Publicity & Marketing is a company that deals with book publicity campaigns, author relations, press releases, social media support, author websites and book cover design. Publicity is an area that I believe all authors struggle with, particular those going along the self-publishing route and having a company such as this to call on for help is an excellent resource.
Diego Marano took to the stage again to discuss whether promoting an ebook was any different to promoting a print book and if so how can the self-published writer raise their profile in a crowded marketplace.
It then came time for the ‘Special Announcement’, or as I’d prefer to say THE SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!
And here it is:-
To celebrate the 2014 Writing & Self-Publishing Open Day, SilverWood Books and Kobo Writing Life (KWL) are delighted to announce an exciting new writing competition.
The Open Day Writing Competition is geared towards original, unpublished or self-published, fictional, English language manuscripts. The First Prize will be a SilverWood-produced ebook published with KWL. The Runner Up will receive the new Kobo Aura H2O.
Entrants are to submit a single page synopsis (no longer than 500 words) of the plot of the book they would like to publish along with first chapter (no longer than 5,000 words).
The deadline is 31 December 2014.
Full details and rules can be found here.
How exciting is that? Bit annoyed actually that I’ve just published my book but it started me wondering if I could pull the next one together quickly enough to enter – we shall see.
Regrettably I didn’t stay for the author dinner afterwards – it was a mistake and I should have stayed over. The journey home was a long one full of closed, or closing motorways. It was initially made longer because so deep in thought was I trying to come up with ideas to tantalisingly tempt my readers into parting with their hard-earned to support me on a Crowdfunding exercise I completely missed my exit from the M4 on to the M5 and found myself heading for Chepstow…ah well …a great day…