Authorpreneurship and Fish-Nets: Swanwick Day 4

It’s been another brilliant day at Swanwick, but I can’t help thinking that when I said at lunchtime I’d enough material to write today’s blog — I should have actually written the thing right then. Instead of which, I’m sitting in my room (missing the karaoke) having spent the evening learning about Mills and Boon heroes (more of which anon) and laughing at the Write Camera Action plays. This might be a short one.

Today has been mostly about e-publishing. We were all inspired by Rebecca Woodhead, whose talk this morning was nothing like we’d expected it to be. She barely touched on the ‘techie’ stuff at all. She did introduce us to some new terminology: reticular activating and limbic systems, but we’ll pass over that quickly. She also related the story of her horrific car crash at the age of 10 and her determination to not let it hold her back.
Rebecca reminded us that the job of a writer is not to put ink on a page, but to tell stories and to inspire people. She talked about the importance of the story of the book, rather than the story in the book. She told us to reverse the classical ‘What do we do? How do we do it? Why do we do it?’ Start with the ‘Why’ and the rest will follow.  She also encouraged us to look at the options of traditional publishing and self-publishing and make a business decision on which is best for each of us (or each of our books). Finally, she made me realise that I am an authorpreneur (and that I’d done it without knowing what it meant — or even hearing the word before).
Rebecca then joined Jan Davison, Jonathan Telfer and Alan Samson on the e-publishing panel. There were some great questions and discussion, but there were two highlights for me: the moment when Stella Whitelaw told us that one of her titles was Amazon’s book of the month (although she had no idea how or why); and the moment when the inimitable Bev Thompson tackled Alan Samson about a broken promise from Orion and elicited his agreement to look again at the manuscript. Way to go, ladies!
Tuesday afternoon is always a quiet one at Swanwick, with many of the delegates out on the excursion. Those of us who stayed behind wrote, read, chatted or slept — in any combination of the four. And that brings me back to the Mills and Boon heroes — or sexy sheiks as guest speaker Sharon Kendrick called them. She took us through the typical M&B plot (to the bemusement of some of the guys in the room) and explained why a sheik, a property developer or in fact anyone who is super-rich, has his own plane and doesn’t have to work many hours per day, makes a good hero, but a teacher, a farmer or an athlete doesn’t.
In Write, Camera, Action, we were treated to eight specially-written short plays, hilariously presented by members of the Swanwick community. Each play was very different and all were ably acted; it would be difficult to highlight any of the actors (although we had to do just that during the voting). Suffice it to say that Marian’s fish-nets made a welcome return to the stage in her leather-clad, motor-biking Granny and ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’ will never be the same again!

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By Elizabeth Ducie

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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