Tag Archives: belfast book festival

Book launch magic and more…

It’s been a little bit hectic the past week – post-book launch and a visit from my sister and nephews, who flew in from Switzerland for the occasion. So … I’ve been playing catch-up with work over the past few days, as this is generally a busy time of the year.

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With my family at the MM book launch.

The launch, however, went very well indeed – I was delighted to see a packed roomful of people, despite the very sunny Saturday and the fact that I received a fair few messages from friends cancelling that morning! Among the crowd was my English teacher from the Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt, who taught me for five years (Eng and English Literature), along with my former Spanish teacher and of course, lots of family, friends and other guests.

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With my English teacher, Barbara Crawford.

It was great to see a few younger faces as well, and to hear afterwards that they enjoyed the readings and Q&A. As Jane Talbot, who was leading the discussion, said on the day – you can only enjoy your first book launch once, so enjoy it I did!

It’s been such a lot of work getting to this point – writing the book, editing it (so many times I’ve lost count!), initially submitting it to publishers, getting feedback on the manuscript, designing a cover, learning about the whole self-publishing industry and putting that learning into action, marketing and promoting the book on and offline…

The list goes on but basically, Magical Masquerade has been years in the making and is definitely a dream achieved for me, so a massive thank you to everyone who supported me last week at the launch.

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With Jane Talbot on stage.

 

If you hop over to my author page on Facebook, you can see a wee Facebook live video I recorded in the green room before going on stage, though I warn you, it’s a little jerky as I decided to do my first ever FB live right before my launch without any prior practice!

I arrived at the Crescent Arts Centre super early on launch day, as I wanted to make sure I had everything set up and that the books were carted in before anyone arrived. (Thanks to Jane for helping to lug those heavy boxes in!)

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With Kelly Creighton.

 

The room we were in also had lots of little round tables for people to sit at, so I’d brought along paper bowls which I filled with edible enchanted pebbles, magic mushrooms and Pebble People (aka Fruit Pastilles, pink and white mushroom chews and Jelly Babies, lol). Once those were set out and the books arranged beside my bookmarks and author business cards, we were good to go. My friend and fellow author, Kelly Creighton, manned the book table before and after the event, so a big thank you to her for that.

I have to say, I really enjoyed chatting about MM, my inspirations and my writing processes etc. during the on-stage part of the launch, even though it was slightly weirder doing this in front of family who don’t normally see me in author mode (or in a professional/work capacity). I love talking about writing and I always find it interesting to hear other authors chat about their work, so I’m glad this bit went down well.

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The MM cake!

 

The Q&As were also broken up with three short readings from MM during the session and then I answered some audience questions at the end, before spending about another hour chatting to everyone, signing books and posing for a lot of photographs! I’ve shared some of those here, but for the full whack, head on over to my author FB page.

I should mention as well that ahead of the launch, my brother James surprised me with a beautiful (and delicious) Magical Masquerade cake (most of which was devoured at a family gathering on Friday night!), while my aunt (and photographer on the day) Moira gave me a lovely chocolate Magical Masquerade book creation. The cake is long gone, but I’ve yet to eat the chocolate… it’s almost too nice to tuck into, but it is chocolate, so it may well still disappear!

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With my aunt Moira and the MM choc cover!

 

On the morning of the launch, BBC Radio Ulster aired my interview with Anne-Marie McAleese, which you can listen to again on BBC iPlayer here: http://bbc.in/2sEOeRn I’m on near the start – approx. five minutes or so in I think – and there’s also a little 40-second video clip from the day we recorded it, which you can find just below the radio broadcast clip.

Backtracking a little bit more… (I probably should have written this blog post more chronologically!!), I really enjoyed my 12NOW (New Original Writers) event at the Belfast Book Festival on the Thursday evening before launch day. Big thanks to Lagan Online and the BBF for letting the 12 of us read our work (six readers split over two nights) and for everyone who turned up to hear us, as we had a great crowd for that. I really enjoyed the various readings, which included poetry, prose and travel writing, as each person had a very distinct way of reading and all were very captivating. (NB Check out the gallery of pics from both evenings of readings over at Lagan Online here: http://laganonline.co/gallery-12now-writers-at-belfast-book-festival/ ).

 

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Six of our 12NOW crew on the evening I was part of at the BBF.

 

I think that’s covered most of what went on over the past week… I also had an interesting meeting with someone about another writing project, but it’s in very early stages so I’ll keep that under wraps for now (spoilers). Feedback has also been coming in from more young readers about MM, which is just brilliant. It’s all very positive and I love hearing reader responses.

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Sarah Bennett at the launch…

 

One young girl who came to the launch – Sarah Bennett – started reading it right away and had the whole thing finished by the time she got home to Enniskillen at 11.30pm that night!

This is what her mum, Trish, messaged me last Saturday night: ‘I was told by my critic that your book was absolutely brilliant with a well written plot.

‘This was us arriving home to Enniskillen tonight. She’s finished it. Sarah’s passed it on to me and ordered “read this”.’

I have more lovely reader comments to share with you but I’ll save those for another time!

Sarah Bennett reading

…and finishing MM!

 

With the excitement of the launch now over, I’m going to be looking at maybe visiting some schools and libraries in the year ahead, and seeing what other opportunities there are for readings etc. I’ve potentially got a couple of events upcoming on the north coast over the summer, so hopefully those will go ahead.

Meanwhile, I’ve got another interview ahead of me this week so I’ll share details of that soon too … and in amongst all of that there’s writing to be done!

More updates soon. 🙂

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Bookish business…

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind week for various reasons, most of them relating to Magical Masquerade as I focused on the PR side of things more intently over the past few days. I was sort of holding off on that a bit, after the Facebook launch, as I was waiting until I could share details of my in-person book launch. And now, I can.

I’m delighted to announce (for those of you who missed the news on social media!) that Magical Masquerade will officially launch at the Belfast Book Festival 2017! Event launch pic

All the details are over on the BBF website and also on my dedicated MM page on this blog, but essentially, it will take place on Saturday, June 17 from 12pm-1pm and is a free event (though you need to book your tickets beforehand). Ballymoney-based author of The Faerie Thorn and other stories (currently touring with Big Telly Theatre as a stage production), Jane Talbot, will be chatting with me at the launch and leading a Q&A, while I’ll also be doing some readings from MM and selling and signing books. So, do come along if you’re able – it would be lovely to see you there!

Being part of the BBF is really exciting, as I never thought for a second when I decided to publish Magical Masquerade that I’d get the chance to launch the book as part of it. It only goes to show what can happen in a year and also, what a bit of hard work can result in. (Also – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.)Chronicle article pic

Which leads me on to the ‘bookish business’ of this post’s title, which refers to both my book updates but also, to the business of books. I’ve said before that as someone who runs their own writing business, when it comes to marketing my book, I don’t find the idea as daunting as some writers might. The first step of course, is acknowledging that you do have to market it – and as a self-published author that’s totally up to me – but I relish the challenge and am enjoying it so far.

It is, however, a lot of work. Alongside running my business and working within it, I’m also doing as much PR for MM as I can, now that the book launch news has been announced. Indeed, it’s these first few months after the release of a book where a publisher would keenly focus on key marketing opportunities, though of course, it’s my belief that you should always maintain a public presence in some form anyway, to keep your profile visible.

Anyway, this week past (and the week before in preparation for the BBF announcement), I contacted local press and set up various opportunities to help promote the book. As a result, this week there was a lovely one-page article in the Coleraine Chronicle (see above), along with a piece published on Culture NI which I wrote myself about my favourite children’s books (and linking to my book launch).

Culture NI feat picI also posted books off to a few reviewers (who are under no obligation to review or indeed to give a positive review let me add – they simply expressed an interest in reading MM with a possibility to review after I contacted them about it.) I don’t know these reviewers personally (although I follow them online and knew they were people I wanted to approach), so if they do decide to post a review of MM I know it will be a truthful and impartial one.

I also have two radio interviews organised, which should be happening over the next couple of weeks (I’ll give more details about these closer to the time), and I’ve written an opinion piece for a bookish magazine which is due out in the summer. I also sent out press releases to other local media too, so we’ll see if anything comes of those, and of course, I shared a lot of stuff on social media throughout the week, after attending the launch event of the BBF in Belfast.

All of this is what a traditional publisher would tend to help with if you’re signed up with one, so if you’re an indie author, the amount of press coverage you get really is up to you. As a freelance journalist I do have some industry contacts, but I’ve been building my online profile since I set up my business and, no matter your background, it’s all still very hard work and there’s no guarantee of coverage. It takes a lot of time to write press releases and guest blogs; to write enquiry emails (personalised to each person), and get books posted off (I’ve spent a lot of time in my local post office the past few weeks!). You have to do your research when deciding who to approach in all respects and to figure out what opportunities you want to go for. After all, if you don’t ask, you very often don’t get.

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Swiss nephews!

I’ve been really thankful for all the positive PR responses so far and I have to say that I do enjoy this side of things, though I know not everyone does. Again, it’s probably to do with the fact that it crosses over a lot with my day job. However, I do still have a day job, so time must be used wisely or you could just do book work and end up with a few unpaid bills by neglecting other things!!

 

To be honest, whether you’re with a traditional publisher or are self-published, I think you have to be willing to do a certain amount of publicity work anyway, to give your book the best possible send-off. How much you do, of course, is down to personal preference. It isn’t, however, a self-obsession thing. It’s just part of the job of being a writer and you shouldn’t feel weird about it. How many businesses do you think would take years to create a new product and then just put it on the shelf and expect people to buy it without telling them about it? The answer is not one, in case you’re wondering. They’ll do everything they can to promote that product to the public, spending sometimes thousands on PR campaigns and advertising it like crazy.

You don’t have to go to such lengths for your book but, if you want people to know about your work and to maybe consider reading it, then you have to create some sort of awareness around it. You can’t actually make people care about your book – all you can do is promote it the best way you can and then relax knowing you’ve done your best.

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Moira in Mid Ulster!

 

Anyway, I think that’s enough book business for now! In other news, it’s been great to see MM in the hands of some new readers this week, not least my nephews, who live in Switzerland (though mum and dad might have to read it to them as they’re a bit below the target age group!).

I also received my bookmarks, which I ordered last week for the BBF book launch in June, and I’m really pleased with how these have turned out. If you come along to the launch, you’ll get one with your book…

In the meantime, I’ve got some more promo stuff to work on this week and I’m hoping to do some sort of work on the next book as well… It’ll probably be the summer before I start this with intent, but I’m keen to get writing again.

One thing at a time however…

Events upcoming:Waterstones event

Waterstones Coleraine: Coming up this week I’m also looking forward to taking part in a Women Aloud NI event at Waterstones Coleraine, where a group of us women writers will be reading from our work between 2pm-4pm.

Drop in at any time if you’re in town – there’ll be everything from poetry readings, to fantasy fiction, memoir, short stories and more. Free of course. 🙂

Belfast Book Festival: Page to stage pic

– June 7: Myriad Routes: From Page to Stage – I’ll be leading the discussion with Jane Talbot and Hilary McCollum about take a book from the page to the stage. Book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573819/events

June 15: Lagan Online Presents 12NOW: New Original Writers – Very excited to be 12NOW BBFtaking part in this event with five of my fellow 12NOW-ers. Lagan Online chose 12 NI writers for the 2016/17 period and is championing our work throughout the year. We’ll be reading some of that work at this, which is one of two 12NOW events. Book here: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573897/events Event launch pic

June 17: Magical Masquerade Book Launch – Discussion, Q&A, book reading, book-selling and book-signing! Book here for this FREE event: https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573911/events

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I’m also writing a guest post for Joanne Frazer over at her blog, In Case of Bookishness, so I’ll post a link to that when it’s up as well! Thanks very much to Joanne for agreeing to host me!

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