Getting up early on the weekend is always a battle; yesterday was not so arduous. I was off the the Salisbury Writers’ Festival. I tottered to the car, bleary eyed, thankful I was getting a lift. Once there I sniffed out the tea station for some caffeine, searched for fellow members of my writers’ group and ran into a few friends from the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism).
Last night I passed on the opening ceremony, booked out in anticipation of this year’s guest speaker, Julia Gillard.
Today’s keynote address was by William McInnes, actor and author. He regaled us with stories of his childhood, discussed rejection (actors get as many rejections as writers) and read us one of his favourite poems, Walking the Dog by Howard Nemerov. His advise on writers’ block: Ask why do you write? Who is my audience? Does it mean something to you? Then write.
The first panel was Writing as Therapy. My own writing journey has been cathartic, sparked by upheavals in my life. I looked forward to hearing what insights the panelists, Jane Turner Goldsmith (writer, pyschologist and teacher), David Chapple (writer specialising in Writing and Health) and William McInnes, would have to impart. William spoke of grief and how writing has helped him. David has used writing to help prisoners, anorexics and people with anxiety – allowing them control of a story and translating those skills to help with their issues.
Jane shared latest research: Writing is more cathartic when structured. Studies have shown when writing about trauma, those who structured a story with beginning, middle and end were more likely to work through the trauma, externalise their emotions, and find resolution. The role of ‘disorganised’ bites of social media in not resolving issues was also discussed.
Following morning tea, was a panel on marketing and grabbing opportunities to promote your book once it is published. Mandy Macky (bookshop owner of Dymocks Adelaide), Carla Caruso(author), Jared Thomas (author) and Kristin Weidenback (author) spoke of recent changes in publishing; writers are now expected to do most of their own marketing and offered some advice. Advice given included:
- build relationships with local book stores,
- contact the local papers with information on book launches and events,
- contact libraries,
- look for speaking opportunities related to your book, themes or topics covered in your writing. Know your topic.
- write articles for blogs covering related to themes or topics covered in your writing. Add your bio and where to buy your books
- Don’t discount visiting country areas for launches, book signings
- take your books to events to sell
- social media
- interviews – find a quirky angle
- networking with other authors, publishers, book sellers
- know your budget
- think ahead and plan a marketing strategy before your book is published.
- try not to have your book debut when there are a large number of others being launched (especially if by well known authors) – or you will get lost in the crowd.
- Exposure is the key!
This year’s Spontaneous Creation was hosted by Matt Gilbertson (celebrity gossip columnist) , Ben Chandler (YA author and academic) and Andrew Joyner (children’s illustrator). This is always a fun enterprise with unexpected results. The panel invited ideas from attendees, allowing the story to evolve as it may. Our story, The Jez Singer, was set in 1930s Hollywood, following the adventures of a script-writing dragon, his friend Rosso the Ardvark – a famous silent movie heart throb trying to break into the talkies – and a child star diva who redeems herself. Quite a few of my suggestions were used and I was (thankfully, it was only jokingly) asked to join the conveners. (eep! Hide, hide!) This regular session is very instructive to the way stories are created. We started with characters, looked at ways they could conflict and the story evolved from there.
(artwork: (c) Andrew Joyner.
The Panel of Publishers is another regular feature, giving insights to the publishing world. Dyan Blacklock (publishing consultant), Michael Bollen (Wakefield Press), Sophie Hamley (Hachette Australia) and Leonie Tule (Tyle & Bateson Publishing) discussed recent trends in publishing, a day in the life of a publisher, response times, structual edits and agents. They confirmed it was acceptable to do multiple submissions of a manuscript – as long as you inform the publisher of this (though this does not effect the speed at which manuscripts are processed). It was interesting (and great!) to see the current positive outlook toward self-publishing.
This year one of my cohorts was brave enough to offer a first page (of a manuscript) to the panel (and got some great feedback). It is always interesting to hear what the publishers/editors have to recommend for each bit of prose. It also provides useful tips for those of us who did not put in a first page. Perhaps I will get the nerve next year?
Sadly I did not finish my short story for this year’s competition. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the Awards Evening – nothing to lose!
This year I met other independent publishers, spoke to book sellers and discussed my book, Doctor Jack, with a group of attendees and gave out my card (well, they did say to network.)
But that’s not all.
Upcoming workshops associated with the Salisbury Writers’ Festival include a Poetry Slam (Friday 28th August), Northern Writers Connect Salisbury Muster (Saturday 29th August) and a Songwriting Workshop (Sunday 30th August). Congratulations to my friend Kylie Brice who has been invited to take part in the Songwriting workshop.