|Launching QUANTUM SHEEP in a nightclub|
I've had all sorts of experiences as a gigging writer. Rowdy pubs, with obscene requests shouted out (but they told me to stop doing that...). Silent libraries, with the traditional one man and his dog in the audience, except the dog stayed home to watch Emmerdale. Arriving for what I thought was a small group round a table, being taken through a door and finding myself on stage in front of 300 people.
|Royal Festival Hall beach ball poetry|
Performing in art galleries, museums, bars, schools, book shops, hardware shops, cafes, scientific institutes and conferences, care homes and out in the street. New York City, New York North Tyneside (so good they named it once), London, Egypt, Cornwall, Limerick, Edinburgh... And I love it. I admit, I like that I get affirmation and strokes - people tell me how much my work means to them, they cry at my dementia installation SLICING THE BRAIN, they laugh at my filthy post-divorce dating poems, they recall seeing my plays, they want to know when the next crime novel is coming out because they want more of Erica Bruce and Will Bennett. I like meeting people.
|'Just one more thing...'|
Anyway I don't care, I still love doing it. I take my performances/talks/readings seriously, I prepare, I put in a lot of energy and commitment, I entertain, I always ask the host organisation to supply refreshments to the kind people who get off their bums and come out to hear/see a writer making themselves available (not too available, intense bloke, back off please!) and vulnerable. It's nice being on TV or radio too. But for live gigs, call me Ms Fussy, I do like a visible audience, even though I try to give the same whether there are three or three hundred.
|'Folks hereabouts don't have no call to go out at night'|
I send them lively customised posters, and fliers to print out and hand to people, or put in places where lots of people go, some of which may be next door to the venue or even in the same building, but they tell me their printer doesn't work, and it still doesn't work the next week but then it's a 'new one'. If I point out my event's not on their online 'events page', it turns out the 'IT people' ignored their requests to put it there.
|It's all about the biccies.|
I join Facebook groups local to each event, groups for knitters, historians, Heavy Metal, gay classic car fans, anything, and share my event there. But I feel guilty about going all spammy on my friends as each event gives way to another somewhere else. I tweet the event, or retweet it if the hosts do - I get retweeted all over the world to gazillions of people, which isn't much help if you're performing in a tiny village on the Roman Wall.
I agonise over the Ticket Question. You see, if you make an event free, it doesn't necessarily mean people will flock in droves, delighted at a buckshee evening's entertainment in a recession-hit world with perhaps a glass of wine or cup of tea or even a biscuit with chocolate on. It means that if they intend coming but get home from work on the night, and it's raining and cold and foggy and their team is playing on BT Sport, they think, sod it, let's stay in. If you charge for tickets, even if it's £2, they feel that extra push to turn up to get their money's worth. But some venues, before you can stop them, put things like 'must book in advance' because they like to know how many chairs to put out, which means people who find out late on or don't like to be tied down but fancy turning up on spec, don't. Don't get me wrong, sometimes a small gig is great fun, you get to talk more with the people.
|'Well I hoped more than two people would turn up...'|
Because here's another interesting peep at human behaviour. People get involved in the gig and want the book, signed, but if it's not RIGHT THERE RIGHT THEN, they drift away. Some may buy it later from Amazon, but they often don't. I've had bad experiences with events where they want to control the sale of books. A fantastic festival abroad had me headlining with what is now the President of the country, on the last night, which was a Sunday. People wanted to buy the books, which were locked safely behind glass in the book sale area, because, well, Sunday. Another festival had book tables personned by book shop staff who put my boxes under the table and denied their existence. By the time I got there and retrieved them, the queue had almost melted away. This kind of thing happens all the time. In the meantime, a question for you - how to promote Kindle books with live events! Apart from telling the audience the books exist also as Kindle books, and giving out slips of paper with the link on them, I'm stumped. My LYDIA BENNET'S BLOG is only on Kindle.
I'm driving south tonight for another gig. Two next week, one the week after, two the week after that, a lot more coming up. And I still love it, so if you want a writer to talk/perform/read, let me know!
Vist my website for details of my gigs, my crime fiction, my poetry and my science themed art installations. I may be performing near you! valerielaws.com