If there was a handbook for debut authors when Brave was published in April 2014, I
I’m lucky to have 3 independent bookshops plus Waterstones within ½ hour drive. One organised several school author visits during the 1st 6 months after publication, for which I prepared a PowerPoint presentation plus papier-mache spear points and sabre-tooth fangs (Brave is set in the Stone Age 13,000 years ago).
Late November 2014 I read about the new director of the Essex Book Festival in the local paper. I contacted her and she was extremely helpful. I was too late for the 2015 Festival (it’s in March, most events are booked 6 months before), but she advised me which events to go to. She also advised me to join Twitter, which I did. I introduced myself to the local arts reporter at one of the events, who was happy to write an article about me. I was learning.
I organised three school author visits in 2015, using an improved version of the PowerPoint, and I contacted the Essex Book Festival director in plenty of time to be offered two 45 minute taster Imagination workshops (1 for adults, 1 for children) on Sunday 20th March 2016.
I was determined that the participants would have fun and leave the workshops with at least one idea they wanted to nurture, so developed various writing exercises including some drawing; my ‘Tap into your Imagination’; and a bag of random objects to ignite imaginations – shades of Mary Poppins. I thought they might remember me either as Tap Woman or Bag Woman.
After much concentration five of the eight children enthusiastically read out at least one of their efforts. Afterwards the parents thanked me, saying how proud they were of their children’s work.
I’ve learnt in future workshops to set a time limit for each exercise - instead of leaving it open and waiting for all pens to stop. I’ve also learnt that workshops work better for me than PowerPoint. Enthusing others to write is a joy.
I’ve learnt to befriend local Festival Directors and contact them at least 6 months before their event. I’m now booked for the June Felixstowe Festival.
I’ve learnt to join whichever social media suits you, and I’ve learnt that a lot of writers on Twitter are friendly and supportive.
I learnt a lot about the editing process after winning the competition which led to Brave’s publication, an opportunity I’m grateful for. It was a one book deal, so I’m still working part-time, but that leaves me time to...
...carry on writing.
And keep learning.