Recently I've been welcomed by the Women's Institute, Family History Groups and other local charities and organisations. I love meeting new people and offer talks which are tweaked according to the audience. I talk about my author journey and the self publishing process, including the mistakes. The talks are centred around one novel usually Secrets of the Shingle (the first I published and my bestseller), The Artist's Gift (my WW2 novel) or What the Monk Didn't See (My medieval novel). They follow the process of writing - from the inspiration through to cover design and printing.
In the last few years I have welcomed the opportunity to work with the Fifth Continent to provide creative writing workshops for them. Also inspired for my love of local history, I am now creating unique mini workshops which are held at the Old School in New Romney. Just off the Marsh, I have thoroughly enjoyed presenting workshops at the stunning Bilsington Priory. What an amazing opportunity!
Thank you so much to Woodchurch WI for writing this wonderful review of my talk in Marsh 2020: Emma Batten, a lively young writer of local historical fiction from Dymchurch was the Speaker at our March meeting with her talk entitled “The Journey of a Self-Published Author”. Emma explained that self-publishing is not a task for the faint hearted or one to be undertaken lightly. It means that the author takes on the entire responsibility for every aspect involved in the production of the book, from having the initial idea/concept for a plot to writing, proof-reading, re-writing, editing, more re-writing, layout and typesetting, cover design, formatting, uploading, marketing and promotion through to the possible purchase of an ISBN (to provide a bar code for selling purposes and to allow libraries to stock it). It soon became clear to Emma that whilst when self-publishing, the author might have complete control of this entire process, nevertheless there are numerous pitfalls for the unsuspecting, inexperienced would-be publisher to encounter along the way. For example, with the first book that Emma attempted to publish – “Secrets of the Shingle”, the first of the Dungeness saga trilogy, Emma made a simple mistake with the formatting and this meant that she ended up paying for far more pages than she actually needed to. Still one learns from such errors and adapts accordingly, so that now with six books under her belt (soon to be seven), Emma has become much more savvy and street-wise. In November, 2017 she set up a Facebook page, which allows her to widely publicise her whereabouts on any particular day, as she gives lots of talks about her writing to organisations such the U3A and, of course, local Women’s’ Institutes. In the four or five years since writing her first book, she has learnt that sequels sell – hence the aforementioned trilogy with each book being set in a different time on the marsh and following, in the first of the series a young girl, Alice from Ashford, who in 1894 goes to teach at a school on Dungeness. The second book in the series, “Stranger on the Point”, is set in 1924, when we meet Lily, Alice’s daughter, who re-traces her mother’s footsteps to Dungeness. The final book is set in Lydd in World War II. In this novel Emma wrote about the bombing of Lydd Church on 15th October, 1940 and she explained that often in her work she will take the opportunity to interweave fact and fiction for added interest. Emma’s self-publishing journey has persuaded her to stick with the area of Dungeness and Romney Marsh as it is an area which she knows well and which her readers seem to find very appealing. She has also decided to move away from using photographs for the cover of her books. Instead she has recently used two local artists and certainly the design used for “The Artist’s Gift” is extremely eye-catching and effective. Thank you, Emma, your obvious enthusiasm for your chosen profession and the region in which you live made for an extremely interesting and informative talk, which certainly lifted our spirits on a typical blustery March evening!