Sign on bookshop during the Hay Festival
With book festival (literary festival) season in full swing it might be a good time to talk about the benefits of having a slot as a speaker at one of those festivals. It’s a great opportunity to publicise your book, especially if it’s been released in the past 12 months. You get to talk about your book, answer questions about it and make it sound as interesting and readable as humanly possible. You might want to read a little extract from it, making sure you stop at a bit of a cliff hanger point so that people who haven’t read it yet will want to know what happens next.
If you’re writing fiction you can talk about the characters, what they might be up to next (if you’re doing a series) and maybe even get some inspiration from audience questions for further books. You could talk about the setting and what inspired you to write the book in the first place.
If you’re writing non-fiction you could talk about the research you have done that hasn’t made it into the book or how you came to certain conclusions. You could find out from your audience whether there is interest in more about this topic.
All in all it’s a great way to inform readers and potential readers about your work, what you’re up to next and to whet their appetite for your current and also your next book.
This year I attended the Hay Festival for the first time. I only made it to the second weekend, so I can’t really comment on anything that happened before Friday, 31st. May. So here are my highlights:
I attended a marvelous talk by David Crystal, a linguist who talked about his book Spell It Out, The Singular Story of English Spelling. He covered questions such as why is there an ‘h’ in ghost and similar English spelling phenomena. Absolutely fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. Who would have thought I can get excited about spelling?
There was also Alexander McCall Smith, the author of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, talking to Paul Blezard. Again, an absolute joy to watch and listen. Mr McCall Smith talks so warmly about his characters and their lives, as a father would about his children. He has a lovely sense of humour and was simply charming. As a result, I went out the next day to buy two of his books, as I hadn’t read any of his work previously.
Another interesting event was Abigail Brundin’s “Only a Pen Can Ease My Pain” – the tragic history of 17th century Italy where 75 % of all higher class women were sent to convents because of changes in dowry laws. Amazing what people throughout history have thought would be good ideas.
Then there was Nick Ross’ talk about Crime. His premise is that a lot of what we’re told about it, and think we know, is wrong. Very interesting concepts and results of research. His book is another on my list to get.
And finally there was Miranda Hart. Her conversation with Claudia Winkelman had been sold out on the day the tickets first came out, but persistence prevailed. I went many times to the ticket counter, asking for returns and finally, an hour before the show was going to start the lady behind the counter took pity on me and I was able to buy 2 returned tickets. Word cannot describe my joy. And we were definitely in for a treat. Ms Hart is such a joy to watch and listen to, whether she does stand up or an interview in this case. She seems very modest and real and she is definitely on the top of my list of people to invite to a dinner party. (You know the one where people ask: “If you could invite anyone dead or alive to a dinner party, who would it be?”.
All in all, a great event and I’ll definitely be back another year.