“If you like that, you’ll probably like this other book I read.” That seemed to be one of the most enjoyable things about my first book stall which I gave you feedback on last month. I thought I might talk about talking to people at the fair, as several people were convinced they’d be… not very good at it. 🙂

It’s IWSG day!

Insecure Writers Support Group badge

This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and cohosting this month are:

I’ll get to the Question of the month later 🙂

If you like that… Book stall part 3

Several people commented in my last post about the problem of being yourself behind a book stall. Fear of interacting with other people is very real, especially for Insecure Writers!

I make myself smile and seem friendly (apparently I am one of those women who look scary). I ask “what do you like reading?”

I’ll ask everyone that. It’s just something more than ‘hello’ and ‘would you like to see my books’ to which the probable answer is, no.

Reactions vary, but you do usually get a reaction. One lady doesn’t read books. Another person only reads newspapers. Someone else doesn’t read. Try not to be judgmental here! Of course, I’m at a mixed craft and gift fair, I hope you wouldn’t get those answers at a book fair!

romsey book stall with Jemima

But… several like thrillers. Some liked scifi: one of those after we got talking took both of my scifi books home with her. Another I asked what he’d read recently, and he said ‘something with a very long title’, and I replied “Not the Long Way to a Small Angry Planet?” So that set us off talking about Becky Chambers and the rest of the series, and the Martian, and several other books. He bought two of my short story collections… Someone else said ‘Historical fiction, well, Tudor era.’ We talked about the Red Queen and the White Queen. I read the Red Queen and Bring Up the Bodies with my bookclub. Another liked odd crime stories. How odd? I ended up recommending Lindsey Davis’s Falco series to him.

My point is, you like reading books (I assume) as much as you like writing them. The chances are that people who like similar books to you might like your books. And because you read things they like, they are more likely to try yours.

And talking about other people’s books is a whole lot easier than talking about your own!

Question of the Month

What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

For me, writing the blurb is always hardest. I probably don’t write them very well, either. There are things, words to be used, in blurbs that specifically draw readers in, and I don’t use them. But there are plenty of blog posts about to help me write better ones.

Here’s one from the very useful blogger Anne R Allen:

Google ‘writing blurbs’ and you’ll probably come up with loads. But its always worth checking who the person is who’s blogging. Don’t take advice seriously if they’ve been blogging less time than you have–unless, like Ruth Harris, they have a demonstrable background.

But… writing titles isn’t easy. I confess I find it hard to start writing a story without the title first. The only one of mine that probably didn’t have at least an inkling of a title was Curved Space to Corsair. That was one of the few I’ve written where I really knew what was happening in the plot: it was a sequel, and the plot was pretty well set up by the first. A working title will do: The Talent Seekers started as The Way West, until I discovered just before I published that there were loads of books of that name already. I’ve written about books with the same name before. I hate that.

Talking of book blurbs, I need to check Zanzibar’s Rings’ against the advice given in the BAM article. Next month I’ll be doing the cover reveal. If you’ve said you’d help and you haven’t had an email about it, please tell me below. And if you’d like to join in the cover reveal, please tell me in the comments!

"If you like that, you'll like this" | #IWSG November 21… On talking to people at book fairs, writing blurbs, and more #marketing #amwriting Click To Tweet

And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month — GOOD LUCK!

“If you like that, you’ll like this” | #IWSG November 21
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19 thoughts on ““If you like that, you’ll like this” | #IWSG November 21

  • 3 November, 2021 at 11:29 am

    I like your question to start conversations at in-person events. I wish I could come up with my title before I start writing like you.

    • 3 November, 2021 at 5:09 pm

      I’ve hit a brick wall on titles recently. It’s giving my short story submissions real trouble. No title=no plot, it seems! Thanks for visiting, Natalie.

    • 3 November, 2021 at 5:10 pm

      Thanks, Ronel. I’m sure I pinched the idea from someone else!

      • 4 November, 2021 at 9:44 am


  • 3 November, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    I agree with you about the blurb being a hard write! I always need help. As for the book fairs, it’s a great way to polish your three minute intro for buyers and editors. Love the picture, hate the mask!

    • 3 November, 2021 at 5:13 pm

      I think I only get the blurb right after several people have read the book and told me what it’s about!
      That was my first mask. It has the advantage of being easy to talk through. I have bought a few festive ones for the next few months!

  • 3 November, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    I haven’t done a signing since the pandemic. It has to be tough to appear friendly when you’re wearing a mask. Kudos to you, Jemima. Great post.

    • 3 November, 2021 at 5:14 pm

      You’re right. I keep smiling, but nobody knows. Many of the regulars have got face shields (the see-through ones), which makes sense.

  • 3 November, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    That’s a clever way to engage people – and get them interested in your books!

  • 3 November, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    Those are some good conversation starters. I’ll have to try to use some of them.

    • 3 November, 2021 at 5:15 pm

      I must have stolen them from someone else, so feel free!

  • 3 November, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    I think that’s a brilliant way to engage with people. I am making a note, for when I am able to do in-person events again.

  • 4 November, 2021 at 12:09 am

    What a great way to engage people in conversation! As the classic introvert, I could use those ideas in everyday settings! 😆

    Anne and Ruth rock! I’ve followed them for years and their advice is always priceless!

  • 4 November, 2021 at 2:27 am

    I never had troubles with titles for my stories. But blurbs are always hard.

  • 4 November, 2021 at 2:32 am

    I’m not a writer, myself, but as a reader, you hooked me from your opening question. I like to READ. Period. ANYTHING!

  • 4 November, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Jemima – yes it’s that early engagement and feeling comfortable with the scenario – it has to improve over time … and I’m sure it will – especially once we can get these dreadful masks off! Take care and all the best – Hilary

  • 4 November, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    Great post, Jemima! I love Anne R Allen’s blog posts. Thanks for sharing this one with your followers. Excellent advice to ask what people like to read. Brilliant! Have a beautiful day!

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