First a short message from Bonnie the very Cornish cockapoo…
‘Ahem folks, I know I’m supposed to be the doggy star of the blog but this time rent Maggie is grabbing back the slot. So here is a quick piccy of me to be going on with and trust me, I’ll be back!’
So over to me, to tell you all about the Dublin Writers Conference, a bizarre coincidence, and meeting my namesake cousin for the first time.
Starting with the conference. It was my first experience of this type of writer event and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As a journalist and television producer, I’ve covered lots of professional gatherings – everything from probation workers, doctors, police, child care workers – but attending as a participant, (rather than detached observer), is a completely different experience.
There were great opportunities to pair up with writers in our own book categories – mine being crime mystery and family saga – and my chosen writer ‘buddy’ was Norah Deay. We hit it off straight away and were both left stunned by a truly amazing coincidence but I’ll keep you waiting for a short while on that one.
My aim was to learn more about book marketing, what works and doesn’t work, straight from the mouths of other writers. I wanted hear about what they had tried, tested, developed and discarded. In other words the ‘who, what, why, when and where?’ of book visibility tactics in a fiendishly crowded market.
On that score the Dublin conference didn’t disappoint.
All the speakers I heard were informative, sharing their highs as well as the inevitable lows. Best selling Irish author, Patricia Gibney, described her own journey from taking up writing after the death of her husband, to the trials and tribulations of finding a publisher. Then several years down the line, the holy grail of top spots in the UK/US Amazon crime fiction listings.
The message? Be persistent, be patient, be prepared to rewrite and fine tune. Far from feeling discouraged, I actually came away feeling energised and upbeat.
It was reassuring to know that there are some things I’m doing right – blog, Twitter, Facebook etc – but it all needs to be done much smarter and in a more disciplined way.
In other words, as a writer you have to put in the regular hours on social media, hold book events, give talks wherever you can. While there is no magic bullet, the old saying that ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’ seems to apply to those authors who have punched through on book sales.
Like any business, you have to speculate to accumulate, spend on marketing and get additional help where it is needed. Along the way, I met some great fellow writers – to name but a few: journalist Nick Rippington, Allie Marie, Ray Ronan and of course the indefatigable Norah Deay.
And speaking of Norah, here’s that heart stopping coincidence I spoke about. We were paired together because our books were in a similiar story category, yet when we got talking we realised that the central theme of my ‘Dilemma Novella’ trilogy – adoption and reunion – actually mirrors Norah’s own life. She too has experienced a family adoption and is hoping for a reunion. What are the odds of that happening in a pairing of two writers? We are certainly going to stay in touch as we see how her real life quest turns out and on that score we both agreed that we were meant to meet up.
Would I recommend the Dublin Writers Conference? Absolutely. Meantime, I’ll be setting a realistic budget while trying to get that elusive bang for my ‘books’ – all the time keeping a beady journalistic eye on the results and of course, blogging about the journey.
After all the writer talk, there was still a little time left to do a bit of city exploration and to look up some relatives.
On that note, I met my namesake cousin ‘Mags’ Fogarty, (married name Moore), and we talked for Ireland. Isn’t it funny how you can meet a relative for the first time and the connection is already there – hardwired in the family DNA? So here is a pic of my namesake and by the way, another theme explored in my novel ‘My Bermuda Namesakes’.
Isn’t life darn well eerie sometimes?