Saying Thanks: For The Generosity of Writers

I’m sitting in my newly-refurbished writing retreat, aka the garden room, across the lawn from the house. It is the first time I’ve worked in here for five months, following the flood in November that changed so much, and this is only the second blog posting I’ve written in that time. I’ve done quite a lot of writing, published an ebook and finished a novel, but it’s all been done in the tiny space on the attic landing that I carved out for myself in the days after the mopping up finished and the waiting(for drying) began.

This blog is supposed to be weekly, and often features articles on writing as a small business. I don’t feel qualified to comment on the art and craft of creative writing, as I’m fairly new to the whole scene and am definitely still learning. However, having run my own small business for the past twenty-odd years, I do feel I have something to give to writers who are more interested in getting their words onto paper (and hopefully into print) than in maintaining records  or keeping the tax authorities happy.

I will return to my musings on business systems in a couple of weeks’ time. In the meantime, I hope you will indulge me in two personal postings, both about generosity. Next week I will focus on the help and support we got from friends and neighbours during our ‘spot of bother’ with the weather. This week, I want to talk about the wonderful community I have found since I started writing.

Earlier this month, I brought out an ebook Parcels in the Rain and Other Writing and we had a party, online, to celebrate the launch. It was the third time I’d done this. The first, in March 2012, was a quiet little affair. I ran it via our Facebook page, with links to my website. Trying to keep things going in two places at once was a difficult juggling act, but since very few people came, it wasn’t too much of a problem. The second launch, in November 2012, was more successful. We had an all-day Facebook event; I managed to get my internet-phobic co-author online for a while and we kept the whole thing going for twelve hours. But it still wasn’t the raging success I’d hoped for. People stood around, unsure why they were there (well, in a virtual sense anyway).

This month’s party was a totally different affair; and the difference was made by the help and support from other writers. I posted news of the event on Facebook; my writing friends shared and commented. More than seventy people came to the party at some point during the day; many of them were writers taking a break from their latest WIP. I ran a silly game, which I pinched, with her permission, from Sally Quilford’s launch party: post three little-known facts about yourself, only two of which are true; my writing friends threw themselves into the task with gusto (well, I guess crafting lies is what we do best). Writers with more experience in this sort of event contacted me during the day and suggested ways of improving publicity via Twitter. When I had to leave for a while, the party carried on, with other writers posting more (virtual) food and fizz when stocks ran low. These are all little things in themselves, but indications of friendship and support. My thanks go to all my writing friends who helped to make the day such a success.

I wanted to run a prize draw during the party. So I approached some of my published colleagues and asked if they would donate a copy of their book as a prize. Every single one said yes and some donated more than one book. I had assumed they would all send ebooks, since the cost of providing a ‘freebie’ is minimal. Some did, but others preferred to provide paperback copies (yes, we do still produce physical books as well). They even paid the postage themselves. I was blown away by the speed with which I gathered an impressive list of prizes for my draw. So, this is a public thank you to all the authors who donated books to the draw:

R C BridgestockWhite Lilies
Tina K Burton: Eclectic Dreams
Maggie CobbettHad We But World Enough; Anyone for Murder?
Sophie DuffyThe Generation Game; This Holey Life
Margaret James: The Golden Chain
Peter JonesHow To Do Everything and Be Happy
Madalyn Morgan: Foxden Acres
Kate SermonDark Sleepers
Terry TylerDream On; You Wish; The Other Side; Nobody’s Fault
Jane Wenham-Jones: 100 Ways To Fight The Flab; Perfect Alibis
Sarah PJ White: The Last Angel

The world of an author is a strange, wonderful, interesting one — and it is undergoing huge change at present. Many of the writers on this list are self-published. Several of the books are available as ebook versions only. Even the authors with publishing contracts have to do much of the marketing themselves. There are thousands of new books published every week. It’s definitely a buyers’ market these days.

So, this is my plea to all readers, on behalf of my writer friends: when you finish a book that you have enjoyed, don’t just put it down and move on to the next one. Tell your friends and family about it. If you bought it from a bookshop, tell them how good it is or offer to write a review for them. If you borrowed it from the library, ditto. Write a review for Amazon, for Goodreads, for other review sites. I put my reviews on the specific book page on Amazon (and remember to hit the ‘like’ button at the same time), but also on my book blog. And don’t forget to talk to the author too. We all suffer moments of self-doubt; it really helps to hear from readers who have enjoyed our writing. If you can’t find contact details in the book, you will often finding us lurking on Facebook or Twitter (all in the cause of research, naturally). Drop by and say hi; writers are a really friendly crowd and generous too.

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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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