On Saturday (22nd April), I attended my first writing conference – the annual Self-Publishing Conference in Leicester, hosted by Troubador Publishing, publishers of The Barra Boy through their hybrid imprint The Book Guild.
I had been invited to give a presentation on ‘Selling From the Author’s Perspective’, giving the aspiring writers attending an insight into what happens after your book has been printed, the highs and lows and pitfalls and successes of selling your book to readers, trade and bookshops.
Leicester is a bit of a journey from Glasgow, so I travelled down on the Friday and spent an evening wandering round Leicester, having not visited for a good 10 years. The old town lanes are a lovely place to stroll round, and new, modern buildings now sit alongside. A chance to do a bit of book shopping as well.
The conference was hosted at College Court, not far from the city centre, which also provided my accommodation for the weekend. Having registered, I was swept into a busy sea of writers, creatives and industry experts. The real highlight of the event, for me, was finally getting to meet in person many of the people at Troubador who have helped The Barra Boy along the way for the last 18 months, from pre-publication, through the launch and onwards. A chance to thank them all. And on top of that, I got to meet many of the fellow authors I have met and followed online in the last year too, many of whom have also supported and championed my book. ‘Networking’ is not a word I like to use, but here was certainly a chance to be in the same room as a lot of valuable contacts and make a human connection.
After reception and greeting, we were off on a full day of talks and presentations. Inspiring and energising looks at everything from metadata and formats and marketing. A lot to process and take in, but all presented in engaging and a professional way from experts who really knew what they were talking about. Even a late call off from the headline author didn’t de-rail proceedings, as the excellent Sophie H. Morgan stepped in – an employee at Troubador, who has just signed with HarperCollins with her own novel.
And then, after a lunch break and more mingling with other writers, it was my turn! Fortunately, I wasn’t on my own. Fellow author JD Pullan was on hand to share our hour. A healthy 30-40 attendees had chosen to come along and hear our talk, and I managed to appear not too terrified. But as always with these events, they are there because they want to listen to what you’ve got to say and are genuinely interested. They laughed at the right points, and by the end, we had plenty of questions, interest and even compliments. And a couple of people even bought The Barra Boy along the way.
That over with, I could fully enjoy the rest of the day, including a drinks reception at the end with plenty of entertaining conversation, lots of new contacts to keep in touch with, and some gratifying compliments about my talk.
All in all, a wonderful event, and one I would fully recommend to any writers thinking about the next step into the publishing world, whether that is through self-publishing, hybrid-publishing or even traditional publishing route.
And as a side note – on the drive back up to Glasgow, I took the opportunity of stopping at Sherwood Forest and taking in some of the myth of Robin Hood, which has always been a favourite of mine. And it gave me an idea, perhaps, about a story I could write…
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