I arrived at the Town Hall in good time, with Ian (hubby) in tow to carry books etc. Everything was already set up – all I had to do was pile the books and painting onto the table and smile sweetly at people as they started to trickle in about half an hour later. Gillian Wales, the Town Hall manager, was there all the time to ensure smooth running.
It’s funny, but I thought that most of the people I ‘know’ live either on the other side of the world (internet folk) or in faraway places like Kent and Sussex, but it turns out that I must know a few locals, because I reckon of the thirty odd people who turned up, there was only one I didn’t recognise. I’ve no idea who she was, but she took exception to my comment that people who write should also read. She said afterwards that she takes care not to read anything, in case it influences her writing. I didn’t really have an answer to that, other than to try not to let my jaw drop too far.
Peter Walters, novelist and leader of the Wear Valley Writers gave me a brief and very complimentary introduction, during which I have to admit to a touch of nerves – but then it was my turn to speak and the nerves mercifully evaporated. Those of you who’ve met me will know that in social situations I tend to be reticent (if not downright bloody shy) although on forums I can be quite forthright. I’ve now discovered that the ‘public speaking’ me is the same person as the forum me. I loved having a captive and polite audience who were there to listen to Me! Me! Me! *ahem*.
So, what did I talk about? I started off with brief biographical stuff about my background in music and sudden switch to writing. I talked about how the writing started, and the grotty poetry I wrote at first. I explained my views on what makes bad poetry really bad, giving a few examples and referencing the famed writethis.com ‘banned words’ list. I talked about the people who made me realise what you have to do in order to avoid the pitfalls, and how I learnt to do it ‘properly’, mostly through the influence of people like the late great ‘bru’ from msn group The Blank Slate. I talked about how my novel “The Sand in the Painting” came to be written and published. I described the different types of publishers – and how to avoid being ripped off by scams like poetry.com. I lauded the legitimate small presses to the skies.
I then moved onto the poems – I’d picked out about eight of them from the book to be read out by fellow author Mary from the writing group, so I had a rest while she read them, though I gave brief introductions to each. We ended the readings with ‘little piggies’ which always gets a laugh. I asked if there were any questions, and there were quite a few, many of them interesting, and all of them (thank heavens) answerable.
Then it was onto the (free) wine and the book signing. Ian acted as treasurer, and I signed and watched the piles of books go down. A good feeling. Afterwards, I chatted to the people who’d come – friends, relations, my art teacher, other artists, ex-colleagues from the music business, writers – and, to my delight, three people from internet writing forums who I’d never met in the flesh before (Joss and Mattspop from Slingink, and Ack from creativewriters/spiritnet/etc.).
Finally we packed up the remaining books, and lurched over to Wetherspoons for a pint of Black Sheep with the artists, where I managed to sell another book to a complete stranger.
I’m posting this report on a few sites, so some of these thank yous won’t mean much to everyone, but here we go:
Thank you Jeff from creativewriters for the invaluable advice on press releases. As a result of using your formula, I managed seven pieces in various newspapers in the run-up to the launch.
Thank you everyone who’s ever critiqued a piece of work of mine – there are hundreds of you and it would be invidious to pick out any one name, other than bru and Nigel and bfgg and danimik and – so many more – but without online critique, I wouldn’t have discovered the unbeatable buzz one can get from writing (quite apart from the rather pleasant aspect of earning money).
Most of all, thank you Kay Green of Earlyworks Press / Circaidy Gregory Press for boundless enthusiasm, support, critique, editing, proofreading, friendship and all round brilliance.