Category Archives: Talks

Reviewing my rewarding but rollercoaster year of events ~ Advice to Authors

First of all I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, both the familiar and new faces. I really appreciate it and I’ve gained so much pleasure from meeting and talking to so many people.

I’ve been out ‘on the road’ frequently since March this year and as a relatively unknown author I have to admit that my emotions have gone sky high with the successes but plummeted with the occasional less than successful events and it made me think.

Is it worth the energy, time and of course money spent in organising events?

Are there any hidden benefits?

Here are my thoughts:

1. Attendance at author talks ~I have had audiences from 5 up to 80 but usually somewhere in between. The high turn-out does tend to be with organisations which have regular meetings and you are on their ‘guest speaker’ list. The buzz from a large audience is electric and if you enjoy reaching out to people in this way, my advice would be to advertise it on your website, (which I haven’t yet) and try to get on lists, probably at the local library (if you’re lucky enough to still have one!) There’s a joy in being asked rather than touting for business too. It means that your name has been referred by another group or reader. Great news!

At one venue the organiser quoted another author,

‘I won’t agree to come unless there’s an audience of at least 100.’

What do you think of such a reaction?

Hidden benefits ~

  • Publicity, posters which reach a far wider audience
  • word of mouth
  • positive contacts with the organisers increasing your credibility and reach as an author
  • building your ‘platform’

 Downside ~ planning a talk takes time, travelling costs (ask if you are entitled to travel costs on top of your fee before the event)

2. Book-signings at Bookshops ~ Always a pleasure to me. (apart from one occasion when the timing and inclement weather led to a disappointing turn out) You are more likely have a favourable response if you are local, the content is set in the locality of the bookstore, you have been on the local radio or in the newspaper.

 If you have a book launch in a book shop then the store will benefit from visits from family, neighbours, colleagues and friends but if not, what is the good of only selling maybe ten to twenty books?

You are meeting new readers, engaging with them in conversation which does not always lead to a sale but is rewarding nevertheless.

 Hidden benefits:

  • As above publicity, posters but you are also making links with the people who matter.
  • If you sell well then the manager is likely to think favourably about selling your novels in future….which is harder than ever for an independent. Waterstones, for example, used to sell books from local authors and often had a section for them. Policies have changed and the decision of approval for stocking books happens through a central buyer.
  • Thus you are generating goodwill through your efforts and that must be good!
  • Reaching out to a totally fresh audience.


Downside ~ travel costs and time taken, especially when travelling distances and you must balance this with the need for Amazon reviews and this is a balancing act I’m not very good at.

  3.      Marketing Outside the Box (click on link for previous post)

Fetes, shows, stalls ~ all of these options are lots of fun and you may find, like myself, that you are reaching out more specifically to your target audience that way. For example I hope to have a stall at The Wrest Park, World War One event next year. It ticks lots of boxes for me:

  • It’s local
  • My novel ‘Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home’ tells a quite different story of WW1
  • My murder mystery, out soon, mentions Wrest Park and is set in the locality, partly at the end of WW1 and for the most part in the future

Hidden Benefits: Other benefits could be

  • At a village fete you might reach more of your neighbours than before and maybe give a donation to a local charity or church too
  • At an arts and craft fair your book may just be that Christmas gift that someone was looking for, signed to an individual by the author no less!
  • You can hand out publicity or mention future projects too


I’m sure you can add many more ideas and benefits. You certainly need to handle your expectations carefully, but maybe, with a lot of time, good will and effort, one day you will have that queue waiting outside the store before you begin. Well, you can dream! There’s no harm in that, is there?

Let me know what you think and any ideas you have.

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Filed under Book Shops, Events, Marketing your novel, Talks, The Great War, WW1

Interview with guest author Diana Jackson

To mark the week up to a series of live events, the first of which being at Waterstones in Hitchin on Thursday 3rd October where I’ll be giving a talk, take part in a discussion and be available to sign copies of Ancasta (details in my last blog post) here is a post where I was interviewed online by TME Walsh earlier in the year. Thanks Tania. I enjoyed being your guest.


Today I have the pleasure in posting an interview conducted recently with author Diana Jackson.

Here she talks about her book ‘Ancasta: Guide me Swiftly Home’, the sequel to ‘Riduna’, the research involved and what inspired her to write in specific time periods.

1) Please tell us about your book, Ancasta: Guide me Swiftly Home.

Ancasta takes the family from Riduna my first novel, on to the next generation. The novel begins in Woolston, Southampton in 1910 and takes us through the Great War, but it’s an unusual story. We witness first-hand the early flight of flying boats which changed the lives and economy of the local people, especially the women whose perspective of life is altered forever. Ancasta means ‘The Swift One,’ and is allegedly the Anglo Roman Goddess of the River Itchen. There is a sense of prayer through the ages as my characters, like the Roman’s before them, looked out…

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‘Bookiful’ Weekend Event at Hythe Hampshire

On Saturday 4th August 11.00 to 12.30

I will be signing copies on ‘Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home‘ at:

The Herald Offices, High Street, Hythe 

(Not to be confused with Hythe in Kent, this is just over Southampton Water)

It would be great if you could come and say hello, especially if you are in the area and want a break in the fresh air away from the TV screen. (There’s always the red button or video!) After you have, I can recommend a stroll along the front and to the end of the pier or even to the marina. These are wonderful places to view any cruise ships in dock over the water and floating traffic going to and fro along Southampton Water.

I am really looking forward to the trip over on the boat between Southampton and Hythe this Saturday morning too. I haven’t done this trip since I was a with my Grandma as a child, but I have vivid memories, once, of floating quite close to the QE2. Once we arrived I remember the pleasure of catching the little train along the pier and then the anticipation of an ice cream. On the way back we usually walked along beside the train, trying to beat in to its destination, the end of the pier, and I’m sure the gaps of sea between the slats of wood conjure vivid imaginings with many a child even today.

Happy Memories of another Fantastic Queen the QE2!

The view of Southampton Docks, the mouth of the River Itchen and then Southampton Water stretching along passing Hamble and on towards the Solent, certainly makes you think of all the travellers and their destinations in far distant places, but to me it also leaves me with a sense of timelessness, as I imagine all of the people who have begun or ended their journeys on this stretch of water over the centuries with records back to before the Roman Times.

Having just got back from Italy I am so aware of the gods and goddesses to whom the Romans prayed and although Ancasta, the Goddess of the River Itchen is little heard of today, I’m sure her name was called to many a time along those shores for the safe return of loved ones and friends.

My novel is not set in Roman times by the way. It is the second novel in the ‘Riduna Series’ based around the Southampton area between 1910 and 1920, although travellers reach The Channel Islands, Turkey and as far as India.

In fact Weston Shore, of our picnic only the night before on 3rd August is just over the water and at 12.30 we are moving on to the Spinnaker Bar at the Calshot Activity Centre, another place steeped in History.

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