It is one of those oddities where writers, so often renowned for leading a solitary life chained to their desks scribbling away for all their worth, also know they have to “put themselves out there” and spread the word about their writing. Well they do if they want any sales!
Some writers take to the spreading the word idea readily and get right into the spirit of things by taking along props. I know a crime writer who takes a noose to her events – and you should see what is on her tablecloth. Let’s just say it wouldn’t pass the old Daz advert for being “whiter than white”! Other writers would rather have their teeth pulled out (though will not say so on the off chance someone offers to take them up on this!) and much prefer to be behind their desks.
I have sympathy with both camps! I love being at my desk writing but I also enjoy meeting people and talking about books. What can be difficult is getting the balance right so you do not neglect either side of the writing life.
Local writers Catherine Griffin, Sally Howard, Maggie Farran, Karen Stephen, Brenda Sedgwick and I have recently been spreading the word about writing in general and our books specifically at the recent Hiltingbury Extravaganza. A good time was had by all and it was lovely meeting so many people.
We will be spreading the word again at the Book Fair we will be holding at the Age Concern Centre in Brownhill Road on Saturday 28th October 2017 between 10 am and 12 noon. There will be book signings, games and quizzes, children’s books, short story collections, flash fiction (no prizes for guessing whose!), romantic comedies and local interest books. There will be special offers available on many of the books too, including mine.
This sounds like it could make a good options menu for your Christmas present shopping lists for the book lovers in your life! There should be something in this selection that could suit people you buy for. We writers would say it definitely is a good list so do come along and see us!
Even I accept October is about the right point to consider thinking about Christmas present shopping though I admit I have no wish to hear the lovely Noddy Holder cry out “It’s Christmas” from Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody until about December 5th.
As with the Extravaganza, we would also be very happy to point people to creative writing classes and the Hampshire Writers’ Society and to talk about publishing, both independently and with the small presses (such as my publisher, Chapeltown Books).
There are resources out there to encourage and support writers. The problem is you have to know about them and this is where local writers can play a positive role (and websites like Chandler’s Ford Today of course). We generally know what creative writing is going on in the area and some of us have links to Book Clubs, or can share information about the Winchester Writers’ Festival, Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, the Association of Christian Writers amongst other topics that could be of interest to local writers.
And don’t forget the library for news of events. (They often post these on Facebook too. The image below is from the recent children’s poetry competition Chandler’s Ford Authors organised in conjunction with the library service. The winners were presented with their prizes at our lovely library.).
So what is the point of writers getting together for a Book Fair?
1. Obviously by banding together, we can offer a wider selection of books in more genres than if one or two of us were holding individual events. This is really important given Chandler’s Ford, sadly, no longer has an independent book shop. While venues like the railway station, Andersons, the Post Office etc are brilliant in stocking books by local authors, an event like the Book Fair raises the profile of all the local authors taking part and awareness of what books are out there written by local people.
2. We share the costs of table hire etc, making the event viable for us.
3. We continue to spread the word that there is a good, thriving local writers’ community in Chandler’s Ford. (Please bear us in mind for speaking engagements/readings etc as well. Writers can talk about the joys and stresses of writing, why we do it at all, what we have learned as well as about writing tips and techniques that could be useful to others. We can also talk about our own genres too and share advice on writing competitions including what to look for in a good one and what to avoid. There are scam ones out there, sadly.).
4. We build up our profiles as individual authors but do so on a greater scale as a group. Collective benefit.
5. One event can lead to other events, any one of which might catch the public imagination. Every writer I can think of accepts you have to be in this for the long haul. It isn’t a question of going to one or two events, sell a few books and that’s it. You build up your profile over time so people associate you with your book/type of writing and, hopefully as you bring more books out, sales of each will increase as you become better known. It is a slow process. There are no shortcuts.
The one thing that unites all writers, regardless of genre, fiction or non-fiction, is our love of the written word and wish to see that love passed on to others. We can’t stress the importance of reading widely and well, for pleasure as well as for learning, enough. There are health benefits. A good book can obviously help you relax but it can also stretch you, make you think and so on. I consider books a good mental workout!
One lovely thing about the Book Fair of course is, given it’s an indoors event, there will be no worries about the weather!
We hope we can meet many of you there for what should be a convivial morning for all lovers of the written word, whether we write them, read them or do both!
— Chandlers Ford Lives (@chfordlives) October 1, 2017
— Chandlers Ford Lives (@chfordlives) October 5, 2017
Introducing the next author you can meet at the upcoming Chandler's Ford book fair: Andy Steele pic.twitter.com/KP3BwEK7ob
— Chandlers Ford Lives (@chfordlives) October 3, 2017
Introducing the next author who you can meet at the Chandler's Ford book fair: David Bruce pic.twitter.com/9m4bfyqLtb
— Chandlers Ford Lives (@chfordlives) October 10, 2017
Like historical fiction? Meet Eve Phillips. She and her books will be at the book fair. pic.twitter.com/T1J2bh2hvF
— Chandlers Ford Lives (@chfordlives) October 8, 2017
— Chandlers Ford Lives (@chfordlives) October 11, 2017
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.