Last weekend I was at a Christian Book Festival, Book Blest in the Gloucestershire market town of Stroud. One of several authors there to talk about and, let’s be honest, to sell the fruit of their literary labours.
It was good to put voices to faces from those I had come across on social media and in the Association of Christian Writers and to share some of the experience of not just writing and publishing but also marketing, and just how hard it is to get the words out there. Many of those present self-published their books while others have gone down the traditional route, supported by editors and publishers. (I’m a mixture of the two – 4 trad, 1 self.)
It would be wrong to say the writing is the ‘easy bit’ but promotion and selling is very hard work too. Many authors set out with hope and expectation that others will flock to buy their books – the reality of course is often very different. The key is not to take it personally. Numbers of copies sold may be small but when someone tells me they have found something helpful, that is the greatest reward.
Many of the authors present at the Festival had the opportunity to speak or be interviewed about their books, including myself. We were read poetry, told a children’s story and sung to. Ranging from academic theology to biblical fiction to dystopian fantasy, we heard what inspired them to write. Several took the opportunity to tell their own life stories too (sometimes the source of their inspiration). There were stories of an affair, miscarriages, rape. Of miraculous healing and near-death experience. Of faith rewarded and faith confused.
Sadly, but not surprisingly on a wet November day, attendance was low; sales were low too for most it seemed. I felt sad for the organisers who’d put in so much effort and planning but it was well run and I’m sure those who did come found it helpful.
As the last hour began, someone came over to me. They apologized for having missed my particular ‘author spotlight’ and told me their story. Widowed a year ago, they were still dealing with the death admin and the practical consequences – let alone the emotional. They faced leading a service the next day (All Souls and it’s reading of the names of the departed). That would be difficult – let alone the insensitivity of those in the church who had refused to do it instead. I said I would pray for them – and I did.
As they spoke, they were flicking through the pages of Finding Stability in Times of Change and came to the bit where I compare storm force winds with life events. The loss of a spouse being like a hurricane. After a tiring couple of days (and, to be honest, low sales), I knew then why I was there at that moment. An honour and a privilege. That was the greatest reward.
On the subject of books, my new novella, Living the Difference, the follow on story to Looking to Move On and the second in the Eastwood Story series is published on 30 November. It can be pre-ordered now and there is a Book Launch in Totnes, Devon on Saturday 2 December at which you would be very welcome.
Details of books are available at richardfrostauthor.com.