Many apologies for any formatting problems in this post. There is an ongoing problem between my ISP and WordPress, which means more often than not I can’t access it on my PC. Instead I’ve had to go via Evernote and my phone.
Last week I attend my first ever book launch. From Twitter, I gathered these occasions are well worth attending. Not only do you get to meet lots of excited people, including the author, but also there’s often cake. I was not disappointed. Not only were there TWO (count ’em) lovely authors, there was also plenty of iced comestible.
An abundance of cakey comestible.
My main reason for undertaking this epic journey into the heart of London was to meet Kim Curran, the author of Shift, one of my favourite books. I must have been keen, because due to lack of childcare, I had to take my youngest son, Noah, with me.
So why was this? I’ve read lots of great books but rarely do I feel the need to meet the author. Kim about to start her reading.The answer is social media, and in particular Twitter.
Authors who use Twitter get varying degrees of stick for doing so, but it if used well it is clearly a valuable tool to promoting your book. I’ve followed Kim on Twitter since before I read Shift, and that small amount of interaction was enough to make me want to go to the effort of meeting her in person.
One of the things that has struck me most whilst following Kim, is how much authors use it to talk to one another. Traditionally writing is seen as solitary pursuit. Yet sometimes my twitter feed is like being in a literary salon in fin de siècle Paris. Only with less absinthe and more lattes.
I asked Kim about the social side of writing. This is what she had to say:
It’s often said that writing is a solitary pursuit: the image of the lone writer, with only his Gauloise and genius for company is a popular one. But the truth is that while writing the first draft of a book maybe something you do alone, actually publishing it is a collective act.
There are so many people involved in the process that I often wonder why it’s just my name on the cover. (It’s why my acknowledgment page can get so unruly.)
I’m beyond lucky in that I’ve managed to assemble a fantastic team of people around me. I have amazing beta readers, agents (book agent, foreign rights agent, film and tv agent), an editor, publisher and publicity manager.
Then there are the reviewers, bloggers and Twitter / Facebook followers who help spread the word about my books. I’m also blessed to have become friends with a group of staggeringly talented authors. A gang of us hang out together, go to each other’s launches, buy each other’s books. We even sometimes write together, when sitting in a room alone becomes too much.
Without this bunch of incredible people to listen to my fears, give me great advice and generally shove me back on the writing horse when I’ve been bucked off, I’m not sure I would have kept my sanity over the past couple of years. I certainly would have lost my sense of humour.
And finally there are my wonderful, wonderful readers, without whom the whole process would be utterly redundant. There’s a line in one of my favourite films, Before Sunrise, where one of the characters says ‘…if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me, but just this little space in between.’That’s how I feel about writing. The stories I create don’t exist with me or with the reader, but in that special space between..
And so it was at the book launch. The queue for signed books wasn’t just teenage girls and forty year old fathers, there was a stream of authors, many of whom I sort of recognised from their twitter photos. It was most discomforting. Like seeing someone you think you know, but can’t quite place them. Not just once, but with a dozen or so faces. Then it dawned on me, that if I did recognise them it was from Twitter, and I didn’t know them at all.
I must confess I found it daunting. I was in one of the heartlands of science fiction fantasy with a large number of the genre’s rising stars. My own shyness aside, one thing was abundantly clear. How pleased they all were for Kim and Bryony, their fellow pensmiths. Writing was not the solitary pursuit that it is reputed to be. For these writers it was a close community of friends.
Judging by the tweets that went on late into the night, the launch was celebrated with gusto. By this time I was tucked up in bed, Noah safely asleep, wishing that I had felt braver about saying hello. Never mind, there will be others; this may have been my first book launch, but the quality of the cake alone, ensures it won’t be the last!
Crowd including other authors and overaged blogger (holding cute baby)
Kim with Control, and cake!