Boost Your Self-Publishing Skills By Attending Events for Writers

Launch party for Sell Your Books!

Enjoying my own event for writers – the launch of “Sell Your Books!”, with the SilverWood Books team and some author friends

With the New Year just a week old, many self-published authors (or aspiring ones) are busy planning the best way to write better books and sell more copies. While there is plenty of information to be had online and in book form, make sure you add attending “real life” events for authors as part of your plan for 2014.

Attending book launches, writers’ workshops and seminars, literary talks and festivals adds something extra that solitary learning cannot achieve: it puts you in touch with real people. No matter how much time you spend online, you’ll never get the same buzz or inspiration as meeting and chatting to writers and trainers face-to-face.

Book Launches and Author Events

I’ve often written on this blog about book launches and post-launch talks, and how inspiring those can be. It’s always worth attending other authors’ launches if you can, (find out why in this post). So make a point this year of tracking down any that are near you, and go along. Don’t be shy – put yourself in the author’s shoes and you’ll realise they’ll be glad to see you!

Most book launches have the virtue of being free to attend, although you may feel morally obliged to buy a copy of the book that’s being launched. The disadvantage is that they tend to be a bit one-way, with you hearing the author speak, rather than entering into a discussion. A more interactive type of event is needed if you want to engage directly with authors and publishing experts.Therefore do keep an eye out for paid seminars and courses near you which will offer you a much more interactive learning opportunity.

Seminars & Workshops

A good starting point is to ask at your local library and bookshops, and to check the website of any author services companies in your area. The best companies will be doing their best to offer ongoing learning opportunities to their author clients and to potential new authors who seek information about the best way to write and sell their books. The hosts will be very glad to see you if you attend, so don’t hold back if you’d like to go for fear of being “sold” to. There will be no obligation to buy. Not only do such events offer you the opportunity to get inside information from indie publishing experts; they’ll also enable you to hook up with new writer friends, to your mutual benefit.

Recommended Events, Coming Soon

  • Bristol – with SilverWood Books

SilverWood Books on sale in Foyles, Bristol

Some of SilverWood’s authors’ books on display in Foyles, Bristol

Living within easy reach of Bristol, I’m looking forward to attending a series of three events to be held at Foyles’ Bookshop, Cabot Circus, by author services company SilverWood Books, based in the city centre but serving authors all over the world.

On Wednesday 15th January, Silverwood’s Publishing Director Helen Hart and the successful self-published novelist Sandy Osborne, policewoman and author of the bestselling Girl Cop, will be holding a small, personal event called Publish That Book! It’s perfect for aspiring writers to discuss the craft of writing and self-publishing a novel, with specific reference to their own work-in-progress.

On Saturday 25th January, SilverWood will hold an Writing and Publishing Open Day, offering a free talks by experts on all aspects of self-publishing, from writing to production to book promotion. You’ll have the chance to chat informally to the speakers and many successful indie authors who have published their books via SilverWood’s services. I’ll be one of the speakers, on the topic of “how to increase your discoverability online”, so if you come along to that one, do come and find me to say hello!

SilverWood’s third event will be on Thursday 13th March on the subject of Writing and Publishing Your Memoir or Autobiography, with successful ghost-writer Tom Henry. I’m particularly interested in that one, as I’m currently working on a travel memoir myself.

Places at all three events are free of charge, but advance booking is essential to secure a place, as space is limited. Click on the title of each event for more details.

(Incidentally, Helen Hart, director of SilverWood Books, commissioned my book promotion handbook, Sell Your Books!, and I’m currently writing a companion volume for them, The Author’s Guide to Blogging, I’ve made some really good friends among their authors, and I can highly recommend their services to any author seeking assistance with their self-publishing tasks.)

  • Norfolk – with Rethink Press

cover of How To Write Fiction Without The Fuss by Lucy McCarraher

Workshop leader Lucy McCarraher’s book

On the other side of the country, in East Anglia, author services company Rethink Press is staging a fiction writing day-course, led by my friend Lucy McCarraher, whose super book How To Write Fiction Without The Fuss I recently reviewed on my author website. An experienced novelist whose debut novel was shortlisted from 47,000 submissions to the Richard and Judy Book Club Award, Lucy McCarraher certainly knows her stuff! This course will take place on Tuesday 14th January and the original price per person was £89 – but tell her that you heard about the course from Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf blog and she’ll give you a specially reduced rate of £60 – and you’ll also get a free copy of her book! Read more about the course here.

Writers’ Retreats

Surely every writer’s dream course is a writer’s retreat – a writing-themed holiday which devotes a week or more to your development as a writer. Think of it as an investment in your career, as much as a holiday – although if you pick the right venue, it will also double up as an excellent alternative to your usual summer holiday. They are usually held at geographically remote, peaceful spots, to allow you to focus on your learning.

As with any specialist event, places on the best writers’ retreats will be limited, so book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

  • Greece
Photo copyright

Photo copyright

If our current awful wintry weather is making you hanker after a warmer climate, now’s the time to check out what has to be the most inviting Writers’ Retreat that I’ve ever come across – a week on the idyllic Greek island of Ithaca, . The Homeric Writers’ Retreat is so named because Ithaca was home to the mythical Odysseus and Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey. The retreat is run by my friend the novelist, poet, and musician Jessica Bell, also well known for her writing guides. (I reviewed Adverbs and Clichés In A Nutshell – great title! – here.) Just the thought of joining the retreat would surely motivate your writing through the dark days of winter…

Would you like to recommend a good writing event that you know of? If so, please feel free to add details in the comments section below. Whichever writers’ events you attend this year, have fun, and happy New Writing Year!


12 thoughts on “Boost Your Self-Publishing Skills By Attending Events for Writers

  1. Ooh thanks Debbie. Really useful info and I may even make it to one in Bristol. It would be great to meet you in person!

    • Helena, that would be fab if you could make it – I’d love to meet you there! You’ll love the SilverWood team, they’re so friendly and supportive, and I know quite a few of their authors – a really nice crowd.

      • Gosh, didn’t know you were considering moving to Bristol – it’s a really vibrant, creative city, with so much going for it – and beautiful countryside in every direction around it. Good luck with selling your house!

      • Thanks Debbie – it’s been on the market a few years now which is hard. Yes, i love Bristol so fingers crossed this is the year …

  2. Thank you for this great article, Debbie, and for mentioning the SilverWood events. I’ve tweeted the link to here and will set up a few more tweets too. Foyles have said that the Writing & Self-Publishing Open Day is now FULLY BOOKED and due to demand we’re now planning an “Open Day 2” for September. It’s wonderful to get such enthusiasm from writers for events. Good luck to Lucy McCarraher and Jessica Bell, too. Those events sound superb and I’ll help pass on the word where possible.

    • Thanks, Helen, I’m looking forward to attending all three SilverWood events – it’s always interesting to meet your amazing range of authors in person! I wish I lived closer to Norfolk so that I could attend Lucy’s event – and I’m thrilled to say I’ll be heading to Ithaca for Jessica’s in August! Thank you so much for your support, and for all that you do for indie authors.

  3. Debbie, these all sound fascinating. Especially interested in the memoir session as two of my classes start theirs this term. Thanks for this – and all your help with so many aspects of the writing world.

  4. Wow, the retreat in Greece sounds amazing.
    Last year, I went to the San Francisco Writers Conference and loved it; very inspiring with a great mix of topics. I do realise it’s an outlandishly long trip for your UK blog readers though 🙂

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