It’s been a busy few months. My debut novel Voiceless (publisher: Atthis Arts, USA) launched back in July. The sequel and second half of the duology, Expression, released in October. The paperbacks only arrived the day before the launch — cutting it tight! But we made it. Had a great turn out and some fabulous weather, and sold a fair few books, too.
Among other projects and besides the day job, I’ve started writing a new series. Using Camp NaNo and November NaNoWriMo for extra momentum, I’ve written the drafts of two 100k+ books and a novella since July, and I’m on track to finish the third book by mid-December. I have twelve books minimum planned in the series, so we’ll see where that ends up. I’ve never written this much this fast, it’s amazing. And a bit scary. Mostly amazing.
These last two weeks in November and into December, I feel like I’ve been flat out with author events. I was invited at short notice to help award prizes for the Ursula Moray Williams Creative Writing Competition (November 20th) at the local (Timaru) library. I’m about as far from a public speaker as anyone can get, but shaking hands? That, I can do. Plus, mutual publicity is always good.
During the evening, I quietly plugged my Friends Of The Library event we’d scheduled back in October for December 3rd. That was billed less as a speech and more as a sort of collective interview. Again, not a public speaker — there’s a reason I write books! But these sorts of things seem to come with the Author hat. ‘Hermit author’ sounds good as an occupation, but it doesn’t pay the bills. And I find the more I do these events, the less nerve-wracking they are.
Meanwhile, a teacher from my old primary school has been reading Voiceless to her class of 11- and 12-year-olds; we scheduled a classroom visit for the 24th to answer questions about the publishing process and talk about Voiceless (I also signed some school bags. And arms). On the 23rd, I got an email from a reporter who had been at the awards ceremony, wanting to interview me about my writing. Sure, why not? Another plug for the library talk, and a mention of the school visit (you can read the article here). It all feeds into the cycle of getting your name out there and getting books into readers’ hands.
And then finally on December 3rd, the big talk. The one I’d been dreading, the one I’d originally said a polite no, thanks to because I’m not a public speaker. It went well. Sixteen people turned up; a good turnout for a blazingly hot Sunday afternoon on a weekend with a dozen other events on. Everyone could hear me, even with my quiet voice. We had a range of age groups from the senior club members to a few teens. They asked about how I write a book (process, method, and software) and how I landed a contract. I walked them through my experiences so far with the publishing process. That was a bit of an eye opener, I think — especially hearing how much goes on behind the scenes to get a book from first draft to on-the-shelf.
At the end of the talk, I met a teenager who had just finished NaNoWriMo herself. We’re planning to talk to the library staff about getting a group together for Camp NaNo next year — and of course we’ll try to get the newspapers involved in that, too. The publicity machine needs feeding. It’s easier to do it in community.