Things I didn’t know before this Monday:
- You can buy crumpets with Marmite and a nice cup of tea for £3.20 in Nottingham and this is reason enough to move there as far I’m concerned
- I find signing my book a strange and moderately mortifying experience - I’m guessing that gets easier
- I can talk for two and a half hours on a single subject and actually really bloody enjoy it (if the subject is books and publishing)
On Monday I went to speak to the BA Creative Writing students at Nottingham University. It was my first writing gig and it was two and a half hours long. Two and a half hour is a LONG TIME so I spent much of last week and the weekend making sure that they would be decent ones - that I wouldn’t just end up staring slack-jawed at the sea of faces. No one wants to fall on their arse during their first author talk.
I talked to the students for the first half about the whole long and complicated journey of publishing your first book. I tried to include the crazy, interesting, secret bits you only normally find out when you’re in the thick of it and your head’s spinning. I think it was the equivalent of telling an outsider the Free Masons handshake. Much of it was about being professional, a bit scrappy, nice to interact with.
The second half was about how you personally represent your books and yourself as a writer. Can you explain what you’re writing about succinctly and why you’re writing about that and how that relates to your own experience? We looked at what’s normally interesting to those hoping you will help promote your book, elevator pitching and then the best resources I’ve found for keeping up to date with the business side of things and for starting to build a writing community around you.
It was a small group (England vs France - thanks for stealing my punters) but they were all so engaged, articulate, interested and interesting. All the students were writing very different sorts of books but I think they were all able to take something from the talk. I’d also been dying to meet the Course Leader Nicola Monaghan because she wrote The Killing Jar - one of the best ‘council estate’ books I’ve ever read - and she was as lovely and funny as I’d expected.
I am so happy that Nottingham University was my first author talk because I left buzzing, looking forward to the next one and meeting more writers and readers. That’s really the best bit after all, not me blowing hot air for two-plus hours.
Since my last post I’ve decided I’m really just going to have to dive into this; enjoy the good bits, interesting chats, lovely people and new places. The more I appreciate all of those things the smaller the Bits-That-Make-Me-Feel-Nervous seem.
Appropriately the basement bar across from my flat has just changed it’s sign. Amen to that folks.