Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Writer's World - Spending Time With Readers - Annie West

Author Anna Campbell, reader Carole and author Annie West
People often ask me what is the best thing about being a writer. Is it the ability to work in your PJs? The royalty payments? The ability to spend your days researching desirable heroes?

Right from the start one of my favourite things has been hearing from readers. In the early days it was mainly via email or even letter (yes, I have some lovely reader letters and cards I've received since my first book came out). Like everyone else I find there's something exciting about the fact a person, perhaps on the other side of the world, took time out to write me a note and send it through the post or via email. As an aside I have to say that romance readers have great taste in stationery!

Cathryn Hein and Keziah Hill at a Brisbane booksigning
As I began to go to workshops and conferences or festivals I began to chat more often with readers. Previously when I talked books with readers they were existing friends, not people I'd connected with specifically because of my writing. There's nothing quite as fantastic as spending time with other readers who are excited about a good story, or best of all, your story!

Reader and reviewer, Nas Dean
Last month I spent a weekend at the Australian Romance Readers' Convention, held in not-so-sunny Brisbane. If I tell you I didn't even leave the hotel till the third night, after the Convention was over, it will give an indication of how packed the weekend was. Packed with good things and nice people!

These photos are a small selection of the ones I took on the weekend. We had readings from new books, panel discussions, a cocktail party, a formal awards dinner (including a bling off!). We had a huge book signing and shared meals where everywhere you turned there were people passionately discussing books. Wonderful! The place was full of readers and writers (who after all are readers). I met a reader from my own home town - whose job it is to stock the bookshelves in a local store. I met readers I'd only met via the web and others who'd become friends.

Kristen Higgins, Nalini Singh and Rachel Vincent
Like other writers, I sit at home in my silk dress, delicate feather boa, high heels and diamonds, writing in solitary splendour. Well, perhaps not quite dressed like that, but definitely alone. So any chance to get out and mix with other readers is a real boost. It's not that I'm likely to change my book mid story or take a whole new direction on the basis of what one reader says to me. On the other hand, feedback about what another reader enjoyed, or didn't, either in my books or in someone else's, never fails to get me thinking about how I put my stories together and what key elements I want to bring to the fore. Hearing someone else's take on the joys of romance, or a recommendation on a new to me author is terrific. It expands my horizons and gives me a new perspective, leaving me energised.

Readers' Conventions don't happen very often so in between I look forward to the occasional reader lunches  which are fun and informal. As well, I occasionally attend writers' festivals  and library talks. The best part is inevitably getting to chat with other readers. After all, it's the love of reading that drew me into writing and keeps me at it.

Do you ever go to conventions or conferences, or smaller gatherings of people with similar interests? If not a conference maybe it's a coffee morning or a charity or sporting group. What do you look forward to most - going out with a group or staying home?

Annie's latest book is CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT,  from Harlequin Presents. It includes an extra full length title for free! Romantic Times gave the book a lovely 4 star review. You can read about this intense, sexy romance at her website or use this link to read/buy it. 
Read the book!


  1. Annie, what a fun post. And what a lot of fun memories it brought back. I had the most marvellous time at ARRA. Already counting down to the next one in 2015 in Canberra. And I love those photos! Congratulations on the release of CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT - it's one of your best! No wonder you're getting mail about it! xxx

    1. Hi Anna, it is great looking at the photos, isn't it? It was such a happy get together that I smile just thinking about it. Yep, I've got Canberra 2015 in my 'must do' list too. Should be terrific!

      Thanks for the good wishes for CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT. The feedback has been tremendous.

  2. Hi Annie!

    Congratulations on the release of fabulous CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT!

    And I also enjoyed meeting you and all my fav authors. It was an awesome chance to meet all like minded-romance-people!

    1. Hi Nas,

      Snap! I was so glad to meet you in person at last in Brisbane. It was wonderful you could fly over for the event. There's nothing quite like spending time with other readers, is there?

  3. Hi Annie, love the post, sounds like you all had a wonderful time. I was also reading the RWA blog/website today and their post too outlined the fantastic times had by all. Beautiful pic of Nas too. In answer to your question no, altho a few friends and I did try to do a book club but to be honest, it was just drinking wine and having a laugh hahah

  4. Tash, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It really was one of the nicest conferences I've been to. Nas looked terrific at the dinner. I'm not sure the picture does her justice.

    Interesting about your book club. I suppose it can be hard to keep conversation on the book sometimes!