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Reaching Readers With Library Talks

Reaching Readers with Library Talks

Head and shoulders shot of JulieDay

British indie author Julie Day

British indie author Julie Day, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, describes how her talk about self-publishing at her neighbourhood library raised awareness and understanding of the indie sector and also gained her on-the-spot book sales, sign-ups for her mailing list and an invitation to return for more. Her post provides a useful template for this kind of event.

On Saturday 26 April 2014 I gave my first talk to adults in Sydenham Community Library in south east London. It was called ‘The 5 Steps to Publishing an Ebook’.

The talk was due to start at 10.30am. I got there early, so had a chat with the man who had saved the library from closure. He and a colleague set up a table and chairs for me on one side of the library.

Due to the weather looking bad, I feared that no one would come, but the boss told me that people had shown interest. First one woman came, then a couple. By the time I began at 10.30am, there were five people with me at the table.

I introduced myself, what I did and told them that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. The man sitting to my left told me that I was doing very well so far, and that I had explained it logically like people with Asperger’s do.

The 5 Steps to Publishing an Ebook

  1.  First I told my audience how I self-edit. When I finished that, another lady came and joined us.
  2. Next I said that I get a professional edit, and said why it’s recommended to do so if you self-publish. I was asked questions such as ‘How many words, such as and, need to be repeated to delete some?’ I answered, if there are 4-5 ands in one paragraph then that is too many. I told them that by then I get my professional edit back and how I work on my edits.
  3. Then I mentioned getting a cover design, why I get a professional to do one for me and how covers are usually made.
  4. I tried to explain formatting and that both Amazon and Smashwords have guidelines that are free to download that need to be followed if you wish to publish an ebook on their sites. Also, I explained that I usually do the simple formatting such as line spacing and paragraph setting as I type the document to save time when I have to format it properly.
  5. Then it was the last step – publishing the ebook.

I was asked lots of questions throughout my talk and after it. The group were a diverse bunch of writers – one man wrote academia, a woman wrote poetry, another woman had written her autobiography and another man wanted to write a cookery book – so the questions and answers session in the second half of my talk was very involved. I noticed that during the talk, others were writing down what I had said. This made a change from me being the one doing the writing after listening to someone talk.

After the Talk

Cover of One Good Turn by Julie Day

One of Julie Day’s ebooks

At the end, I mentioned that I had a book to sell if anyone wanted to buy one. All but one of the six people bought one; the husband of the couple bought one between him and his wife. And I was asked to sign them all.

I gave out handouts with links to editing, cover designers and formatters, and a slip to complete if they wanted to get a newsletter from me. They all filled one in and returned it.

I asked at the end if I was clear enough for everyone, and they said yes, it had been useful. The librarian said the same thing to me, that they had said it was very useful. She also asked if I wanted to do a follow-up session.

I got talking to the couple again after the talk about publishing and ebooks. Because the group asked questions, and showed interest in what I had to say, I felt it was a success.

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How talking about  at your local library can win you new readers & followers  by Julie Day via 

Julie Day

Julie Day writes letters to various magazines, and articles about life with Asperger's Syndrome and garden birds. She writes ebooks for adults and children, and a series for 7-9 year-olds about special needs meeting magical realism. Her website is www.julieaday.co.uk.

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This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. Thanks for telling us about your experience of talking to local writers, Julie. What I liked about it was your honesty and humility. I too am doing something similar in June, so it was heartening to hear that 1) people do turn up – not in their droves but singly and with genuine interest; 2) the same people actually buy your book 3) they all seem keen to ‘follow’ you. My discussion group consists of 3 panel members who will speak briefly and answer questions on self-publishing. Alli of course will feature strongly.

  2. Julie, This is a fantastically inspiring article that makes this type of thing feel much less daunting. I’ll be self-publishing my debut novel this summer, and as a result of this article will feel much more confident in approaching libraries to hold talks on self publishing/my books/etc. It’s lovely to hear that you had such a positive experience. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Meg. So pleased that something I have done and written about can inspire someone else to go out and do the same. Good luck with the book and any talks you give.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with libraries. In fact, libraries are one of my staunchest supporters – in my city of Little Rock, AR, and around the U.S. The audiences are usually not as large, but you can be certain they are there just to hear and learn from you.
    I’m on the brink of setting up quarterly workshops on memoir writing and self-publishing. I will surely share resources for e-publishing as well. Any suggestions you have on handouts/resources to share with the group would be so appreciated.

    Thanking you, again
    Janis F. Kearney

    1. Hi, Janis

      Thanks for the comment. One idea I did was to have a document with links to various websites that I have used in self-publishing. I had links to editing services and to stock image websites. Perhaps you could incorporate those somehow in your handouts. Good luck with the workshops. I don’t know if they will be held in libraries, but if not, I hope you are charging.

  4. Bravo, Julie. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and hope someone turns up!

    I haven’t got the confidence to approach our library but am hoping it will come around.

    I gave a talk to a writing group when I lived in Cyprus. It was a success, and I had an email from a lady who said she self-published because of my talk. The icing on the cake for me, as it means I helped another author along the way.

    1. Thanks, Glynis.

      I would approach a library. Even if they don’t pay you, it is a way to get yourself known to readers. I had an email from one of the audience, and he said he found it v useful and I answered his questions.

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