My debut novel was chosen by CompletelyNovel and Literally PR as one of the ten novels to be launched at the London-based event. It was a huge privilege to be grouped alongside such talented writers and marked my first experience of promoting The Sheriff to a literary audience.
The whole evening was fun, eye-opening and gave me a taste of the professional writing world. It was also the first time I felt like a real writer and has motivated me to keep moving forward with my second book.
There were so many highlights from the evening but, in no particular order, here are my top ten moments:
1. Meeting Kobo - it was brilliant talking to Diego Marano from Kobo Writing Life. I have been a Kobo user for two years, a fantastic e-reading device often overshadowed by Kindle. Diego spoke to me about all of Kobo's innovations in recent years and it made me very proud to be a Kobo kid.
2. Coffee with Tracy - I arrived a bit too early but luckily so did Tracy Elner, author of Blue Eye, and Julia Johnston, author of If Everyone Knew Every Plant and Tree. We spent a good hour chatting away over coffee about writing, self-publishing and getting our names known in the Twittersphere. It appears all self-published authors face the same challenges.
3. Sabrina's Performance - I enjoyed all nine speeches from my fellow novelists but Sabrina Mahfouz was a particular highlight. It was less a speech and more of a performance, as Sabrina got into character as a waitress in a strip club, the narrator of her novel The Clean Collection. She was hilarious, poetic and brought the rhythm of her writing to life.
4. Catherine's Speech - I also enjoyed the speech by Catherine Bruton which was lively, rapid and full of enthusiasm. The descriptions of her novels were funny and memorable and something I would like to adopt in future. She described her novel Pop! as "Billy Elliot meets The X-Factor via Shameless!"
5. Discovering the Free Word Centre - the Free Word Centre was the perfect venue for this event. The Centre is the London hub for Free Word, a charity which develops local, national and international collaborations that explore the transformative power of words. A very worthy cause and a funky building. I hope to return soon.
6. Meeting Sarah and Helen - it was great to finally meet Sarah Juckes from CompletelyNovel and Helen Lewis from Literally PR after weeks of receiving their helpful emails. It turns out they are every bit as passionate about books and authors as their line of work would suggest. I hope we stay in touch.
7. Selling and Signing Books - I have sold copies of The Sheriff on Amazon, mostly to friends and family, but I felt particularly proud to actually sell a physical copy of the novel to a stranger! I couldn't believe they were giving me money for something that had come from my imagination! Writing really is the best job ever.
8. Getting my Freebies - CompletelyNovel and Literally PR had a few surprises for us, including business cards, stickers of our front covers, funny name badges to use as conversation starters and a scrolling big screen showcasing all ten authors and their books. Seeing The Sheriff projected on a large wall was a surreal and fantastic feeling. The front cover didn't even exist two months ago!
9. Taking the Stage - I was very nervous about taking the stage despite doing a lot of public speaking in my day-job but I ended up having a great time in front of the microphone. I finally had a captive audience who wanted to hear about The Sheriff. It was a unique opportunity and I would have stayed on stage all night if Sarah hadn't cut me off with their ingenious (but scary) party poppers! You can click here to read my speech about The Sheriff.
10. Swap Shop - all ten writers swapped books with each other towards the end of the evening, which involved lots of rapid signing and scribbling personal messages! It feels good to know The Sheriff is now sat on nine talented writers' coffee tables. Even better, I have nine first-class books on my coffee table! I have started reading Catherine's I Predict A Riot and a review will be coming soon.
Thank you to Sarah and Helen for organising the One Big Book Launch. Thank you to the other nine writers - Tracy, Julia, Catherine, Sabrina, Angie, David, Atulya, Judy and J. Paul - for their camaraderie and support on the evening. Thank you to David Kwaw Mensah for his fabulous photos. And thank you to Laura, Sam, Kate, Liz and Sean for helping me staff my stall and clapping loudly after my speech.
Collaborative book launches are the future. Not only did I launch The Sheriff but I felt like I was launching my writing career too. Time to crack on with that second book!