“I’m a writer, that’s what I do. I write. I DON’T give talks, I DON’T go on the radio, I DON’T do interviews!”
Think again. If you’re a self-published author, you can’t give up on your book the minute it’s on Amazon. Promotion is entirely down to you, the author. If you’re too shy to promote yourself, think instead of promoting your book, getting your words out there, introducing readers to your characters, your plot, your literary baby.
This was a message that came across over and over again when the Frome Writers’ Collective was launched earlier this year. ‘Sell your book one copy at a time’, the speakers told a crowded room, ‘don’t be shy’, ‘if you don’t believe in your work, why should anyone else?’
So when I was asked if I’d like to lead a workshop on crime writing at Frome Word, FWC’s inaugural writing festival the first weekend in September, I hesitated – but not for long!
September 6th loomed. Nervous? Of course I was, but I’d taken time to prepare my talk, and printed a list of links and useful publications for workshoppers to take away with them. I’d thought about what I would want to know if I got the chance to listen to someone who writes crime.
And then, on the very morning of the talk, I hit on a way of making the workshop even more interactive. Our delegates formed a perfect ‘closed community’ – one of the key ingredients of the best crime stories. Between us, it took only a few minutes to map out “Murder By Chocolate”. Who among us had poisoned the tray of sweets I’d handed round at the start of the session? Mary may have keeled over within minutes of unwrapping a coffee cream, but was she really the intended victim? And how much had Jan really seen when she spotted someone re-arranging the goodies before the delegates arrived? And if Mary wasn’t the intended victim, then who WAS the real target?
Before long, we’d put together a pretty plausible plot, complete with obligatory red herrings, a long-standing rivalry between two novelists, and a secret family feud. (All fictitious, of course, but you get the idea!)
Next day, David Lassman invited me to join him on WriteOn, his FromeFM radio show devoted to writing – with some great music thrown in. We talked about crime writing in general – David is co-author, with Terence James, of The Regency Detective, and I revealed the inspiration behind my Jeff Lincoln murder mystery, The Price of Silence. My second Jeff Lincoln book, The Shame of Innocence, should be finished by the New Year.
One weekend, two firsts! It would have been so easy to say ‘Workshop? Radio? Oh no, I couldn’t do anything like that!’ but I took a chance – and enjoyed every minute! So, if you’ve published a book, don’t sit back and wait for people to notice it. Promote it through your local library, reading groups, writing groups. Look out for opportunities to join a panel discussion – local literary festivals are often casting around for writers who are prepared to participate. Take a chance or two, and have fun doing it!