One of my earliest posts for Chandler’s Ford Today was an interview I conducted with local author, and fellow dog walker, Richard Hardie, who had not long released The Trouble With Swords, his second book in his Temporal Detective series and follow up to the marvellous Leap of Faith.
Since then Richard’s writing career has taken off and this post is a round-up of events since that last interview.
Richard has conducted signings in our wonderful library and on board an Isle of Wight ferry. Possibly not the most unusual venue ever for a book signing but definitely not a common one!
This two-part post also has a look at the behind the scenes preparation work an author must do and I ask Richard some of the questions I asked Gill James and Felicity Fair Thompson earlier this year. It is only right Richard should be put on the spot as well!
How did you your recent signing events come about?
Most of my book signings are in independent book shops and for the most part I contact the shop owner and arrange a signing date. The benefits to the shop include having an author prepared to sit behind a desk and hope people will talk to him, hopefully additional people will come into the shop and probably buy more books, and of course the shop takes a percentage from the revenue of any books signed and sold. However my last two signings were different.
Recently, Southampton put on SO: To Speak, a celebration of writing, supported by the Arts Council and sponsored by Blackwell’s the book shop chain. As part of the event I was invited to go on board the red Funnel Osprey ferry to the Isle of Wight to talk to kids and their parents (my books are for Young Adults) and to sign books.
I went on the 11.00am ferry and arrived back in Southampton at around 2.00pm. The ferry was packed and giving a reading from my books was out of the question, but I had a great time chatting to other passengers (I was introduced to them by the captain), explaining to them what it means to be an author, as well as signing copies of my books.
I had a wonderful time, probably because I’ve always wanted to talk and sign on a cruise ship and this is the nearest I’ll get to it. My thanks to Red Funnel and to the organisers of SO: To Speak.
On 28th October , during the last school half term, I gave two talks at Chandler’s Ford library followed in each case by a book signing. The first was to 10 to 12 year olds and was about writing a book and how you do it. The second was from 12 to 14 year olds and was about being an author – the thrills and spills.
The kids were wonderful and both sessions were interactive. I’d spoken to Chandler’s Ford library before, but it was an introduction by Janet Williams, of Chandler’s Ford Today fame, to Radka Ford, the new chief librarian, that facilitated the day. My thanks to Janet for that.
By the end of November I will have signed books at Bartons, the largest book shop in Leatherhead, and next February I’m starting work with Dorset schools doing a series of talks on time travel. That should be great fun!
What’s Authors Reach?
Marketing is a problem for most authors and very few have publishers who will invest much time and money in them. As a result they spend much valuable time persuading shops to stock their books, arranging signing days, media events and doing many of the tasks people believe a publisher does. Four other authors and myself have formed a co-operative marketing operation called Authors Reach.
The Authors Reach Facebook page is already live, as is the website. Authors Reach Ltd is a registered company and has a distribution agreement starting in February. We’ll be holding launch parties at book shops in the South of England in January.
We will jointly market all our books, expanding the awareness of our work to shops and readers alike. Each of us has a specific skill and the combination we hope will make a major impact. I’m already negotiating distribution for our books throughout the UK. Wish us success!
How much behind the scenes preparation did you need to do?
Talks to kids are impossible to do on the fly. Children are very discerning and always know when someone is lying, bluffing, or just waffling. Preparation therefore is most important. I find that jotting down 3 or 4 bullet points is an excellent start and ideas are generated from them.
The main point is the talks need to make sense. Preparation for a signing session is a collaborative effort between the shop and the author involving posters, advance media coverage, sufficient books and a suitable table and chair. Correctly prepared, a book signing session is tremendous fun and for any author with an ego (that’s most of us!) it’s a great boost.
When will the next book in the Temporal Detective series be out?
The 3rd book in the Temporal Detective Agency is progressing well and 75% complete. After lots of rereads, editing and more rewrites the book should be out early next year.
Naturally there is a big push for authors in the run up to Christmas, so are you planning other events soon? If so when and where?
My book signing at Barton’s book shop in Leatherhead was on Saturday 28th November. It’s the largest book shop for miles around, so that was particular exciting for me. I’ll also be on Facebook and Twitter promoting my books in the lead up to Christmas and doing the occasional interview!
What would you like to be your long term aim? I stress the what would you like as things often don’t turn out as expected!
I would love to write another five or six books in the Temporal Detective Agency series before moving on to something else. However my overriding wish is to have my books on the shelves of every independent book shop and small chain in the UK, or at least on their next day availability list.
What is the hardest thing you find about being a writer? Coming up with the ideas? Trying to write and do the necessary publicity?
All of those things and many more! I was lucky to have Terry Pratchett as a friend and he said much the same. He had three screens in front of him when he was writing. One had the actual book he was writing on it, another had a book he’d finished, but was editing, and the third had ideas for his next book and subsequent ones. Terry had no shortage of ideas, mainly he had such well developed characters living in effectively a 3D world that they almost wrote their own plots.
My characters don’t quite do that yet, but they do have personality enough so that their actions are fairly easy to work out, given a particular situation, and I have enough ideas for the next three books at least. Marketing and publicity takes an incredibly amount of time. Most publishers do little or nothing to help their authors once they’re in print and the initial launch is over, so it’s a constant battle to be seen on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the better review and marketing sites.
I love doing book signings and giving talks, in spite of the fact they are both very time consuming. That brings us back to your first question, Allison!
Allison: Indeed it does, Richard, and this strikes me as a good place to leave Part 1 of your Further Adventures as a Fantasy Author. Part 2 will share Richard’s tips for fellow writers.
- Was Camelot Really in Chandler’s Ford?
- An Interview with Author Richard Hardie by Allison Symes
- Fantasy Books by Richard Hardie: Now in Chandler’s Ford Library
- Published: Trouble with Swords by Richard Hardie
- Sir Terry Pratchett 1948-2015: An Appreciation from Chandler’s Ford
- The Shambelurklers Return: Support National Autistic Society
- Richard Hardie Books available from Chandler’s Ford WH Smith
- Top 10 Reasons to Love Books
- In The Gang Show: Lyn Darbyshire
- A Lucky Dip – Halloween Giveaways!
- Richard Hardie: “So You Want to be an Author?”
Note: Don’t miss Allison’s next post on Friday 11th December 2015.
Visit Allison Symes’ website: Fairytales with Bite
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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