July is finished; my writing break is over. I had great fun during my month off, as you can probably tell from the last piece I posted, but by the beginning of August my batteries were recharged, I was raring to go (and, as you can see, my cliché meter was running on full — must work on that!) So here we go with the new style blog for a new writing year.
For lots of writers in the UK, and a handful of overseas visitors, August means one thing: Swanwick, the Writers’ Summer School. Starting on Saturday evening and running through to the following Friday morning, it’s the chance for around 300 writers to meet, talk, learn, teach, celebrate successes, commiserate with disappointments, mourn missing friends, act, dance and laugh together. Oh yes, and to write as well. This year, Swanwick celebrates its 65th anniversary. There won’t be anyone there who’s been to all the previous sixty four events, but there will be writers who’ve been going for thirty years or more.
And there will also be the newbies, the ‘White Badgers’, attending for the first time, some of whom may be feeling very nervous and wondering how they’ll get on. Well, they have no need to worry. I have never attended such a welcoming, caring, inclusive gathering as Swanwick. From the opening session where we will be welcomed by the current Chair, Diana Wimbs, to the traditional waving off of the coach on the last morning, every person they meet will be interested in what they are writing, will ask what their plans are, and will be willing to share their experiences and offer support.
We’re going to have a great time, guys. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again — and once again, I will be attempting to blog about each day as we go along, for those of you who aren’t going to be able to make it this year.
But for me, the beginning of August has another meaning: it’s the launch of the Chudleigh Phoenix Annual Short Story competition. Once again, I’m joined on the judging panel by journalist/author Sharon Cook and writer/writing tutor Katherine Bolton-Parris who runs The Write Retreat in Brittany. We really look forward to reading all the entries after the closing date (31st January 2014). You can read the previous winners here and find out how to enter this year’s competition here.
One of the best courses I attended at last year’s Swanwick was on e-Publishing by the irrepressible Peter Jones who self-published and marketed his straight-talking, jargon-free book How to do Everything and be Happy so successfully that it has recently been republished by Harper Collins. Peter generously shared with us his seventeen point toolbox for successful marketing. One thing he said made a great impression on me: be careful not to fall into the trap of marketing to people who only want to market to you — you want to reach readers, not other authors. Now before all my writing buddies stop reading in disgust, let me say that I would add one word to Peter’s advice: you want to reach readers, not just other authors.I’ve learnt in the past few years that writers are very generous with their time and their support. There are some wonderful networking groups out there, whether on social media platforms or gathered around tables in pubs, Town Halls or people’s houses. And authors are avid readers too. But there is no denying the truth behind Peter’s advice: there are a huge number of readers out there who are not writers.
For the past year, I’ve been blogging about the business side of being a writer. That’s a topic of interest to writers (and even then, to some more than others) but with little to attract non-writing readers (apart from the occasional accountant or tax expert maybe). That series of articles is now finished and I’m replacing it with this new-style posting which will be a mixture of general, writing-related news such as the piece about Swanwick; marketing information such as the launch of the short story competition; and a short piece of new fiction. The latter is aimed at readers and potential readers of my work. I hope you enjoy my words — and that they will keep you coming back for more.
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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