I have been busy with my new book As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee trying to ensure that it is published before Laurie Lee’s Centenary Birthday on June 26 2014.
It will be a close run thing but I am receiving great support from Silverwood Books who are helping me publish, Elly Donovan is helping with advance PR, The Alliance of Independent Authors, ALLI, are providing great support for a first time Indie-author and Debby Young PR is advising on all matters to do with self publishing.
The book is with my editor for a final edit and I am busy sourcing quotes etc
A significant date in my writing calendar year has now become the London Book Fair in April. For the last few weeks I have been asked several times “Are you going to London Book Fair? As it happened I was and I did last week. It is held in Earls Court where in my first life as a Tourism Marketing professional, I would also go once a year to an amazing event called World Travel Market. Over the years I would work on a stand there and promote England, London, the Heart of England, Cheshire, North Wales in competition with the Bahamas, USA, Spain, China and the rest.
It felt a bit like that last week. When I had attended the London Book Fair for the first time in 2012 I had been seeking out mainstream publishers and literary agents to promote my book to them. I got close to securing a deal but the combination of a tight lead in time and not having a track record as a writer, proved too much.
This time I showed up as a writer on the verge of self publishing my book and consciously avoiding the large and not so large publishing houses, apart from a quick chocolate stop at the Choc Lit stand, and discovered a parallel vibrant fringe event happening in a hall at the back of the show. It was much more fun and stimulating and I attended some great talks put on by ALLI, visited the Author HQ area that hadn’t existed the first time I attended. I was also selected to read at a fringe evening event sponsored by Amazon at a heaving and lively Earls Court pub, The Kings Head. Compered by Joanna Penn, it was a great experience and a video will appear soon.
Reflecting afterwards on the Fair, one comment really stuck in my mind. It was Joanna Penn at a seminar that asked her audience of indie-writers whether we felt our books were unique. Many hands were raised including mine. She suggested gently that we might well be wrong to think this and hopefully were wrong. if our books were really unique, she went on to say, we would have no core reader market-a group of people with common interests seeking out books that inspire and reach out to them as individuals. It was a marketing-led comment and one that made sense to me.
It made me think though that as a writer of memoir and biography, I am driven by the desire to give personal stories, or biographical subject stories, a universal relevance. Until recently I thought my forthcoming book was about myself and my relationship with a writer and a country, it was only when I was asked to write a blog recently that I realised that I am writing about the need to have heroes in our lives and the dangers involved therein and the lifelong need to seek the approval of parents, particularly fathers, for our actions-even if they are long dead. This was what I wrote for the Wolfson College, Oxford Life Writing Centre Blog.
So the Fair is over, what’s next for me?
Coming very shortly is a new joint initiative with Silverwood Books. We are launching a crowd funding platform on Pubslush to help market the book by inviting people to pledge to buy a copy in advance in return for some added value benefits like signed copies, invites to the launch etc. Monies raised will also assist in a range of good causes: raising money for the conservation of Laurie Lee Wood (a percentage of book sales receipts will be donated to the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, a not-for-profit body who manage the wood); Pubslush supports literacy projects; the logistics of a sponsored walk by me in September will also be supported. The walk is from Laurie Lee’s Slad Valley home to London, along the Thames Path with proceeds going to a mental health charity.Laurie Lee did such a walk(though not so direct) in 1934 before going to Spain
I have been invited to speak at a British Library conference on Spain in May, Spain Through British Eyes 1898 -1936
June will also see articles by me on the book in Cotswold Life, The Lady and The Good Property Guide Travel Supplement and July will see me at the Penzance Literary Festival talking alongside Kate Lord Brown on writers and artists and the Spanish Civil War.
It is going to be a hectic period with my goal to publish in time for the anniversary.
Wish me luck and any support along the way will be gratefully received.