Well, what a weekend it’s been so far! I almost didn’t make it to Bookshrop on Saturday – I hurt my back on Friday evening and at first the logistics of just getting me into the shop seemed impossible! But a walking stick, multiple painkillers and a lot of assistance later, I arrived at 10.45 – in chronic pain but very excited and up-beat. Dinah who owns Bookshrop had done me proud and set up the table to look absolutely beautiful.
I had a stool to perch on, but forced myself to stand up for a couple of photos! Can you tell how much pain I’m in? Hope not!
Before long I had my first customer! A lovely lady bought a copy of The Family Trap and then brought it over for me to sign. I was ridiculously nervous, worried I’d make a mistake, or be too shaky, or spell her name wrong!
The lovely – and very supportive – Kate Long came in to buy a copy of my book. Imagine that – the author of The Bad Mother’s Handbook asking me to sign a copy of my book for her! It was a lovely moment, and very kind of her.
My back held out for just over an hour, but then it was time to call it a day and stagger off with my walking stick. Well, no – of course I didn’t let anyone take a photo of that!
I had a wonderful time, and thanks to everyone who came along to support me. Kate Long is signing her new book – Bad Mothers United – on 9th March at Bookshrop, Whitchurch, so I’ll be first in the queue to get my copy. And for anyone who didn’t make it in for the signing, Dinah still has come signed copies at Bookshrop, or you can download a Kindle copy here.
At the weekend I was walking past our local book shop in Whitchurch when what did I see but my own face staring back at me from a poster in the window! It was the weirdest feeling. (But possibly not quite as weird as the sight of me taking a photo of a photograph of myself in a shop window!)
Bookshrop is the venue for the launch of The Family Trap on Saturday 16th February, and I’m in good company because fellow local author Kate Long is also doing a signing there in March, and Costa First Novel shortlisted author J.W. Ironmonger was there on Saturday.
I popped in to have a chat with him – lovely chap – and bought of copy of his book. It was great to see how the shop will be set up for the day – table right up front, back-drop for posters etc – and it went some way to allay my nerves. Dinah who owns Bookshrop is an old hand at these events so I’m sure she’ll show me the ropes.
Here’s my game-plan for the event so far. Please let me know what you think and if there’s anything I’m missing. All advice gratefully received 🙂
Send invitations to everyone I know, put event on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact local press and ask if they’d like to send a photographer or if I can send in my own photos.
Ask our local school if I can put up a poster or provide flyers.
Contact local radio and tell them about it too.
Tie in with Valentine’s Day and run a competition on my blog to win a signed copy of the book.
Plan a couple of guest posts on select book blogs to promote the launch.
Add the first chapter to the end of Can’t Live Without along with a link (once The Family Trap is live.)
Send details into Writing Magazine for their Members’ News section.
Order books (duh!) to be ready for the day.
Print out postcards to leave in local shops etc.
On the day, take some chocolates (Valentine-themed) for the table, a pen, books, postcards and bookmarks, a newsletter sign-up sheet, a folder of reviews for CLW, and a great big smile!
Phew, tired just thinking about it! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my office is now finished and looks fabulous. I’ll be taking you for a guided tour around it on the January vlog post very soon. (The office is very, very small so it won’t take long!)
So, time for me to report back on how I got on at the Festival of Romance at the weekend. This was the first ‘author event’ I’d ever attended, so I had no idea what to expect. I’m one of those people who try to imagine how a place will look, and what will happen there, before they go. It helps me feel less anxious. For the Romance Fair – the main event for me – I’d imagined a big room with loads of stalls, romance-related stuff for sale like cards and cupcakes and jewellery perhaps, with authors positioned around the room, selling and signing books and talking to readers about their work.
I’d imagined that this room would lead somewhere, perhaps to a refreshment area – somewhere the festival goers would be keen to get to and obliged to walk through. I’d figured lots of footfall and a busy old day.
I took 10 copies of Can’t Live Without, along with some bookmarks, a folder of reviews, a newsletter sign-up sheet, pens and my new postcards of The Family Trap. My husband tried to convince me to take more books, in case I sold out (bless him), but I resisted. Boy, am I glad I did!
I sold 3 copies, and one of them was to a friend, and another – amazingly – to author Miranda Dickinson. Her asking to buy a copy of my book was the absolute highlight of the day for me, but by then I was far too tired to think of photographing it. The other highlights were meeting a lovely reader (thanks for coming along Emma) and meeting Kim of Kim The Bookworm fame. And meeting some fantastically friendly fellow authors, including Emma Calin, Berni Stevens, Hazel Osmond, Gilli Allan, Miranda Dickinson and Nicky Wells. There were a few fellow indies there, and I managed to pick the brains of self-publishing veteran Jon Beattiey, author of more than 8 novels published via Matador. More on this, and other thoughts about self-publishing inspired by my festival experience, tomorrow.
What went well was the networking – or, as I like to call it, meeting fellow authors (networking is such an icky term). Although exhausted after being up since 5.30 am, it was a real pleasure to chat other writers, to share experiences and thoughts about the industry, and to learn some new tips and tricks. I also picked up some great ideas for future events (not that I imagine I’ll do many – the next will be the launch of The Family Trap in February next year). Chocolates, price tags, and banners are some of the ideas I picked up. I also wish I’d made a big sign telling people Can’t Live Without was set up the road in Milton Keynes. Missed a trick there.
What didn’t go so well? It’s nobody’s fault, but the venue wasn’t perhaps best situated for passing footfall. Up lots of stairs in the Corn Exchange, there was no real reason for a member of the general public to come up, unless they had the sole purpose of seeing a particular author, perhaps. There were no refreshments, and no non-author stalls at all. The room was quite small, and the tables fairly crowded. I honestly think most of the visitors to the Romance Fair were other authors, and readers were very, very scarce. Also – and this is entirely my fault – I was very shy. I didn’t push myself forward much, didn’t rush up to every new face and press a book into their hands. By the end of the day I was tired, and I confess, quite homesick.
I didn’t make it to the conference the next day, but want to say thanks to the lovely Emma Calin for filling me in on what I missed. One of the highlights of the festival was the amazing Mills and Boon production of actors travelling around the venues, acting out scenes from a Mills and Boon novel. They were brilliant!
All in all, not a waste of time but perhaps not the best use of the better part of £100, including overnight stay, petrol and tickets. I will go again next year, but I’ll take my family with me and make a weekend of it. In the spirit of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ it was a good experience for me.
Coming tomorrow: 5 Shades of Self-Publishing – my thoughts on the current state of self-publishing in the UK, inspired by the Festival of Romance. Controversial? Me?
Just a quick reminder that I’ll be at the Festival of Romance in historic Bedford all day today, so please come along and see me if you live in the area. Check out the fab itinerary here – I’ll be in the Corn Exchange at the Romance Fair, and then on Sunday I’m popping along to the Pitch Your Novel session (not pitching, just nosey), then attending the Conference. Really excited and looking forward to meeting readers and fellow authors. And nervous too! Hopefully I’ll have some lovely photos to post here next week, along with the blurb for The Family Trap.