Parts One and Two of my author talk at the Byron Writers Festival on Sunday 7th August 2016, speaking with Roz Hopkins from local publishing company Captain Honey, talking about my publishing journey and my new book, Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present.
Unfortunately there was an issue with the filming of the second video and there is no footage of the talk until 1.40, however the audio is there throughout. Enjoy!
Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present is NOW AVAILABLE in paperback and Kindle Ebook from Amazon. Click HERE to purchase your copy
Already sleep deprived from a month of preparation, I had not a wink of sleep the night before my festival appearance. When I got out of bed at 6.30am, it was pure adrenaline that kick started me into the day. I left my friend Sonia’s house at Lennox Head, and drove the short distance north to Byron Bay. I stomached half a toasted sandwich and a skinny chai latte before heading up the road to the festival site, an open area of land behind the Elements of Byron resort. I arrived at nine o’clock, half an hour before my allotted time.
There had been a significant amount of rain in Byron Bay over the weekend, so the ground in the car park was uneven and muddy. The trolley I had bought to carry my boxes of books proved essential for transporting my stock safely to the Self Published Marquee. Once inside the festival site, I located the Marquee and began to set up my book display on my allocated trestle table. I propped my newest release, Paid To Dance, up on shoeboxes, and laid out my handouts and mailing list sign-up sheet.
The author set up next to me had written a book about climate change, and at the table on the opposite side of the tent, a lady with a book of poetry and a man with a book about spirituality. Quite an eclectic mix of titles indeed!
I had been allocated a two hour period between 9.30-11.30am to sell and promote my books to the public. A handful of festival goers stopped by my table, and I was able to talk to them about my books and myself as an author, and my experience publishing my books through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. I was sure to keep my cash float close at all times.
The coordinators present at the Marquee had decided to conduct some spontaneous author talks during our two hour session, and this was perhaps the highlight of the experience. It was also a wonderful surprise to have my Aunty Karen surprise me at my table, having driven all the way from Redcliffe in Queensland to support me at my first festival appearance!
After my session at the Self Published Marquee concluded at 11.30, I packed up my table and took my stock back to my car. I met up with my Aunty Karen at Main Beach in Byron for a lunch of fish and chips, before heading back to Lennox Head, where I spent the night at the home of Sonia’s friend in a cool beach shack style house. This was also my first experience using AirBnB!
Out of the thirty-eight book copies I had with me, I sold three, two copies of Paid To Dance and one of The New Neighbors. Of the hundred odd handouts I had printed, I had handed out only a handful. I was also slightly devastated to discover that I had not sold a single copy from there over the entire three days of the festival. But, all the more for my readers at home!
Taking part in the Byron Writers Festival was an valuable learning experience for me as an author. Although my sales were disappointing, being able to talk to the public about my books was fantastic, even better being able to get up on stage for a proper author talk! I have promotional material in the form of photos and videos, and I can now add this appearance to my resume.
Being selected to appear at the Self Published Marquee at the Byron Writers Festival 2016 was a milestone in my career as an author so far. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to take part in Australia’s largest regional writers festival. There is no other opportunity like the Self Published Marquee at any other writers festival in Australia or internationally that I am yet aware of, so I would also like to take this opportunity to applaud the Byron Writers Festival for creating this wonderful platform for independent authors.
Next on the agenda is my application to the Newcastle Writers Festival, to be held in Newcastle, New South Wales, in April 2017. I am hoping to present a workshop on how to publish books using Amazon’s free publishing tools.
The above photo is the product of an exercise I undertook during a book marketing and promotion seminar in May of this year. The seminar was being delivered by the marketing director of a prominent Australian publishing house. Each participant had been given a number of sticky post-it notes to write down their goals for their writing. I wrote down ‘To be invited to the Brisbane Writers Festival’. When I wrote this, the idea of participating in a writers festival seemed huge, out of my reach for the moment, something that would happen in the future. It wasn’t this particular festival that I would be invited to attend, but I would never have expected that only two months after attending this seminar and making this note, I would indeed be invited to the Byron Writers Festival, a major annual literary event and the largest regional writers festival in Australia.
Tragedy to triumph is a good way to describe the way that my first appearance at a writers festival came about. It was the 29th June 2016, and I was preparing to enter a flash fiction writing competition. I had entered this particular competition the previous two years, and my stories had been selected on both occasions, so I was hoping for third time lucky. I was absolutely shattered when upon sitting down at my computer to enter my story via the competition’s website, to discover that I had mixed up the deadline, and the competition had closed a few days earlier.
For the rest of that afternoon I was feeling pretty darn sorry for myself. I had planned to enter two stories into the competition, which I had started working on months earlier. The very next morning, I received an email notifying me that my application to appear at the Byron Writers Festival had been successful. From being completely down in the dumps hours earlier, to jumping up and down screaming with excitement, my luck had done a complete 180 degree turnaround.
Immediately I was faced with completing the next step of the application process. It was now the 1st of July, and I had until the 20th to deliver twenty copies of my newest book Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present to the festival bookseller to be stocked in the onsite bookstore during the event. There was just one problem: the book hadn’t even been published yet!
I had made three separate applications to present each of my three books at the festival, and the one that had been successful was not yet available. I had originally planned to release the book on the 20th of August, but upon learning of the success of my application, I decided to bring the publishing date forward to the 5th, almost two weeks earlier than planned.
The very evening of the day I was notified of my success, I was on the computer finalising the cover design for Paid To Dance. My interior and cover files were edited and ready, but they had not yet been submitted to CreateSpace for publishing. Once my filed were submitted, I had to wait twenty-four hours for CreateSpace to accept my documents.
Once the files were accepted, it was time to order a proof copy of the book. Proofs are available as a hard copy or digital file through CreateSpace. I ordered a hard copy however that night I was up pacing the house in the throes of panic, terrified I would not receive the proof in the mail in time. The proof would take approximately a week to arrive, and then I would have to account for any changes I would make in the process of checking it over, and for the files to be resubmitted to CreateSpace all over again. I had time to wait for the mailed proof, but to then make changes and order copies of the book for sale brought the timeframe nail-bitingly close to the deadline of the 20th of July. So I decided to go ahead and order the sale copies. I had revised the book well already, and I just had to trust that the final product would be good enough to sell. Being a perfectionist who goes over final details a thousand million times before finalisation, this rushed process was completely out of my comfort zone.
The previous year the festival had introduced the Self Published Marquee, a new initiative which allowed independent authors to promote their work. I had been allocated a two hour session two have my books on display, during which time I could sell and promote myself and my writing.With my sale copies on their way, I set about creating promotional material for my display table at the festival. I created a number of different paper handouts, including short descriptions, excerpts and information about me, the author. I also organised a cash flow chart and mailing list.
As Paid To Dance was the only book of the three I have written to have been accepted by my application, it was the only one to be available in the festival bookstore, however I was free to promote it and my other two books during my two hour session at the festival. Realising that I could also sell copies of Paid To Dance from my table, as soon as the first shipment of books arrived, I put in another order.
I had never poured so much money into my writing practice as I did in the month of July 2016. It was undoubtedly a stressful time, and my nerves were shot by the looming deadline. I vowed never again to apply for an opportunity with a book that wasn’t even published yet!
My fiance and I had considered staying in Byron Bay the night before the event, but with one look at accomodation prices we agreed that it would be best for me to go down the morning of my festival appearance.
The books arrived with a week to spare. Funnily enough, the proof copy I had ordered earlier arrived a day later than the shipment of twenty. Two days before the deadline I made the four hour round trip to Byron Bay to deliver them to the festival bookseller. I could count on one hand the number of hours of sleep I’d had the night before that journey, and the nights since learning of my success. After dropping off the book I visited Sonia, a friend of mine who lives in Lennox Head, just south of Byron Bay. I had since learned that I would have to wait until the next morning to collect any unsold books from the festival bookseller, so I would have to stay the night in Byron following my appearance on the Sunday. Sonia offered to let me stay at her place the nights before and after the festival, and I graciously accepted her offer.
With the arrival of the second and final shipment of my books, I felt I could relax somewhat. Now all that was left was to print my handouts and forms, find and buy display stands, and arrange a cash float. Sonia’s spare room was no longer available on the Sunday following the festival, but instead she recommended me to a friend of hers, who also lived in Lennox Head, who rented a room in her house through AirBnB.
The month of July had been a blur in the midst of all the planning. With everything organised, I was ready as I could possibly be for my first appearance at a writer’s festival.
In my next post I will share about my experience at the Byron Writers Festival during my two hour promotional session.
Click HERE to purchase a copy of Paid To Dance, and to view Kate’s other books