Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Talk

Last Tuesday I did a talk at a local library in Scarborough Beach in Western Australia, which is about half an hour’s drive from my home. There was a small crowd of library patrons there, about twenty of them. I related to them straight away and appreciated the sensible questions that were put to me during the talk. When you do a talk you can usually sense the mood of an audience. This one was friendly and relaxed. In the end I forgot my formal notes and we started chatting about different aspects of writing. So I didn’t get to say what I’d intended to say, but instead, said what they wanted to hear.

As an orator I wouldn’t win any prizes, but I do try and relate to my audience and be as natural as possible. From the few talks I’ve done I’ve noticed that my library audience generally consists of mature women. These are the people who read and enjoy my books, I imagine. They’re interested in knowing my background and how I got to be a writer (that’s something which often surprises me). I know many of those people can relate to my background - which often resembles their own.

Libraries play an important part in the life of authors. They buy the books (usually hardcover) which gives the authors a royalty from the sale, and they certainly help to publicise an author’s name. Readers themselves generate borrowings by word of mouth. If they like your book they will tell others.

Here in Australia we have a public lending right scheme. To compensate Australian authors for any loss of revenue from borrowings, if authors have a certain number of books in the system they will also receive a small fee when it’s borrowed. This is calculated on a yearly basis so it builds up and is paid in a lump some towards the end of he tax year.

More good news for me.

The historical saga I’ve just started (Hearts of Gold) has gone to contract on the synopsis - that is, a couple of pages outlining the plot. The deadline for this is October of this year, so I’ll have to pull out all stops to get it finished. Having a contract and deadline is an incentive to keep going, and it stops me from becoming lazy. I have a pretty good work ethic as a rule, I think. I write every day, and set myself a daily word count to complete before I stop writing for the day. That way I soon see some progress. It takes me about five months to write my novels.

People ask, how do you write so quickly? The answer is, I don’t write quickly. I’m a turtle rather than a hare I keep plodding along and don’t worry too much about what the hares are up too.

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