MAGPIE TREE PRESS
Since then I have booked events for Alice Springs, Brisbane, Hobart, and have recently returned from Yeppoon where I did a talk at their library with the palm trees and Groucho Marx mural out the front. I arrived the day before, and had booked into a beautiful hotel overlooking the beach. The only problem was that being a Sunday I had to drag my two suitcases from the bus stop – one with 50 books for sale at the event – up the steepest hill I’d ever seen! I stopped halfway up and sat down, holding on to the cases for dear life in case they slipped from my grasp and I had to chase them back down the hill. Later, I went for a walk on the beach, but not before I got swooped by a magpie outside the surf club while reading the sign about swooping magpies, then had fish and chips while watching the spectacularly beautiful sunset over Great Keppel Island. It was a kind of pinch-me moment that all this was actually a work trip. It wasn’t all sparkling coastlines and sunshine, though, the travel, getting from one place to the next, on time, was really tiring, especially with heavy cases. But when you’re in that room talking to readers, engaging with people who love books at much as you, it is just about the best thing ever. Also, there’s always cake. Or bickies. So actually it is the best thing ever.
I’m still learning a lot with each talk I do, because readers challenge you with questions about plot, and characters, and what they like in a book, and because of that I then go back to whatever I’m working on and think about what storyline best serves the characters and, as an extension, the readers. It’s a work in progress, this writing business, and I think it always will be (which is not a bad thing). So much of what we do as authors is about making connections. Firstly between the characters, and then between the characters and the reader. What I hadn’t counted on, sitting in a room day after day, trying to get the story on the page, was the connections I would make with the very people who would read those words. That makes all the hard stuff not so hard. That makes all the days when I can’t put a sentence together, or think of what happens next, a little more bearable. In the meantime, it’s back to the first draft of book No.4 with an extra spring in my step.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING if I had completely fallen off the face of the earth, I thought I’d better write a blog post to fill you in on what I have been up to lately.
Since Under Ten Thousand Stars came out in June, I've been on a bit of an extended – and slightly belated – book tour. The general idea of publicity is to let media and bookstores know in advance when your book is coming out so they can review/promote it. That sounds perfectly reasonable except for a couple of things. The first issue for me was, a) I didn’t start promoting the book until after it came out, b) as a newly minted publishing house, none of the major media outlets knew who I was so they weren’t exactly busting down my door for an interview and, c) the reality is that without a big marketing department you are likely to get lost in a sea of new releases anyway. So what to do?
Well, I had some ideas, but since I’d missed the boat on those crucial first few weeks of a book’s release I figured I could take my time in developing a marketing strategy, which sounds like I had one to develop when, really, I was following my career motto of I wonder if this will work? It was around then that I read a wonderful blog post by the fantastically talented Tess Woods about doing library talks - you can read it here - and it got me thinking... I had already started sending out donation copies to libraries Australia-wide so why not send a follow-up email offering to do an author talk? Why not indeed?
It all started with an invitation to speak at my local library back in August. It was a terrific start for what, at the time, was my only booked speaking engagement. I was pretty nervous because it had been a really long time since I’d done one, and looking from slideshow to speech meant I kept losing my spot. In the end, however, I’d gotten into the swing of it and, best of all, got to answer a bunch of questions that went something like this:
So you don’t have the whole story plotted out from the very beginning?
How do you what happens next? How do you decide who dies?
Are your characters based on your family? Do they mind being in your books?
MADE IN PIXEL TOGETHER