After the social media panel. I had a catch up with some colleagues over a late lunch (i.e. a hastily grabbed sandwich in a gloomy corner of the warehouse) and then headed to my last panel of the day ‘has anyone spoken to the author?’ This was a panel made up entirely of authors reflecting on the industry from their experience.
The main focus of the panel seemed to be about publishers always getting their own way and authors not being consulted. John Mitchinson described the author’s advance as “hush money” to go away and keep quiet and let the publisher take control of everything.
I was delighted to find Nick Harkaway was one of the authors – a man who is clearly as witty and engaging in real life as he is in his books. Also there was Ilana Fox who came from a social media background and she had some interesting ideas about how the author could use online networking as a promotional and networking tool. Twitter training it seemed was a hot topic and was a suggested need for all authors.
Not being overly self-promotional also came up on this panel and Robert Llewellyn summed up how to do it well, and I paraphrase here, ‘fluffy thing, fluffy thing, news, book!, fluffy thing’ and so on. He said that he often lost followers through “the shame of self-promotion”.
Books becoming more interactive with the advent of ereaders and so on was also discussed. Nick Harkaway had recently seen a demo of ebooks that had sound effects and mood music and said that strangely it worked for him. There have been other instances where a book has been sold along with the author’s soundtrack – music they listened to whilst writing. Ilana Fox said that the website her characters create in her book will actually be live online for readers to see, with links to it in the prose.
The panel looked at the possibility of authors becoming even more promotional than they currently have to be, perhaps gaining and giving out credits for positive feedback on their books. Perhaps that will reduce the shame of self-promotion and make it a legitimately necessary part of an author’s job.
The panel also discussed their own working practices – switching off the internet whilst writing was a popular one, although Nick Harkaway said he does not do that because if the internet becomes more popular than what he is working on then he knows his work is not good enough.
I think the best advice from the panel though was reading work aloud to help with sentence structuring and so on. In the main if the reader stumbles over sections of the prose then it probably needs to be re-worded, although there are exceptions where writing for an inner monologue has proven successful.
Salena Godden finished off the panel with a performed poem about quelling high expectations, which was pretty breathtaking to see delivered live in such an engaging manner. The day on the whole gave me much to think about and helped to once again ignite my desire to become a professional writer. Worth the trip to London just for the inspiration.