Posted in Writing

The Eventful Lives of Authors

Debbie Young and Sandy Osborne with a copy of "Sell Your Books!"
Me with Sandy Osborne at the launch of “Sell Your Books!”

(A new post about author events, including two of my own coming up in Cambridge and London)

As an author who daily spends hours in front of a computer, I’m a great advocate for getting out and about to meet “real” people, even though I have many online friends too.

I also enjoy supporting other authors’ events, as no matter how many I attend, each one is different and inspiring in its own way.

Last night’s talk by novelist Sandy Osborne was no exception, when she came to my village to talk to the local WI (Women’s Institute) about how she wrote and self-published, via SilverWood Books, her debut novel Girl Cop.

If You Want Something Done, Ask A Busy Person

Sandy Osborne outside Waterstones in Bath
Sandy Osborne with her pre-launch window display in Waterstones’ Bath branch

I’ve known Sandy for a couple of years, having been introduced by SilverWood Books, who also commissioned my book promotion handbook Sell Your Books! I helped Sandy set up her website ready for the launch of Girl Cop, and it’s been a pleasure to follow her emerging career as an author.

And very busy it is too. While holding down a full-time job in the police force, she’s written a super romantic comedy novel and has two more in the pipeline. She also somehow squeezes in to her timetable a series of author talks at leading bookshops, special interest groups and literature festivals. (Her recent event at the Bath Literature Festival was a sell-out.) Anyone who claims they have no time to write needs to hear one of Sandy’s talks to convince them that if they have the will, they can find the time.

Now It’s My Turn on Stage

But so much for relaxing and enjoying other authors’ talks. Looming up next week are two author events of my own:

  • Cover of "Opening Up To Indie Authors"
    To be launched at the London Book Fair on the Kobo stand next week (Tuesday, 2pm)

    running a “Masterclass” (crikey!) with Rebecca Swift of The Literary Consultancy at the Cambridge Literature Festival on Sunday, talking about the changing nature of publishing in the 21st century (more details and ticket booking here)

  • attending the London Book Fair, at which I’ll be helping launch Opening Up To Indie Authors, a new book that I’ve co-authored for the Alliance of Independent Authors as part of their Open Up To Indies campaign (you can preview the book here on the Kobo site)

I will happily talk about writing and self-publishing till the cows come home, and having spent decades working in public relations, and being the youngest child in my family, I’m comfortable in front of an audience. For me, the most worrying parts of the process are getting to the venue on time (assuming I can find it), and what to wear.

Dressing the Part

The good news is that I’ve already cracked  the last of these points. On Saturday I snapped up in John Lewis a new dress that seemed singularly appropriate: a loose, 20s style viscose dress with a cheerful print of retro telephones. It could have come straight out of Virginia Woolf’s wardrobe.

This pattern boded well: after all, my events are all about making connections and communicating with others. When I looked at the label, to check whether the dress was dark blue or black, as it was hard to tell in the windowless store, I discovered that the colour was “ink”. What better omen could there be for an author?

Or so I thought, until I tweeted this detail that evening, with typical Twitter-induced confidence that the world was breathlessly awaiting news of my new frock:

“The label on the dress I just bought to wear for my book launch at London Book Fair says its colour is “ink” #appropriate #LBF14″

A speedy response pinged back across the ether from my wry Welsh author friend Andrew Peters (@andynpeters):

@DebbieYoungBN Blue, black, blue-black, red, green or invisible?”

And there was I thinking that as an old PR pro, I wouldn’t miss a trick. But an invisible dress – how brilliant is that? I may have foregone this opportunity to make the headlines, but if any authors out there would like to pick up Andy’s suggestion, I’m sure he’d be the first to approve.

Sample of fabric of my new dress, showing telephone print