Just to recap: Ways with Words is a ten-day ‘Festival of Words and Ideas’; the setting, a beautiful estate in Devon, Dartington Hall. And on Monday 7th July we featured in a session, the first public outing of our book Retiring with Attitude: approaching and relishing your retirement, published by the GuardianBooks on 24th July. (See previous post.)
We shared a session called Growing Older with Angela Neustatter who has recently published The Year I Turn … a quirky a-z of ageing. The chair was Lorna Bradbury, Deputy Literary Editor at The Telegraph.
It was stimulating to be part of a programme with so many eminent people, and where the audience are so lively. Angela Neustatter is an accomplished journalist, and able to speak with fluency, and at great speed, whether introducing her book or in response to questions.
About 200 people attended, and we sold 30 copies that evening and signed others for the bookshop.
What we noticed:
There was a reaction to four women sharing the platform. ‘Where are the men?’ someone asked, and so for a while men were picked out to ask questions and make comments. I shared the view of the woman who said it was refreshing to see four of us on the platform when a token woman is the norm. But the comment rather missed the point that we were introducing our books, not representing ageing and retiring.
The audience was lively, challenging even. Some of them wanted to take us to task for not writing a different book. This might have been avoided if the book at been made available in advance.
We learned a thing or two as well about literary events and presenting our book.
- In future we might start with the purpose of the book.
- You can’t please everyone. And there will always be someone who has their point to make.
- The audience liked the interactivity – for example, what I call a Cosmo quiz. This revealed that the majority of the audience identified themselves as veteran retirees.
- We could have planned to use more stories from the book because they provide good detail about retiring issues (that’s why we included them in the book!)
- We could have read an extract. Angela did this and it was good to hear it.
- People are interested in the Retiring Women’s Group, eight women who came together 9 years ago and has been meeting ever since.
Some of the audience have been kind enough to contact us, one saying people like all of us ‘are worth gold bars’! It was a very stimulating evening, and we admire people who can do it so well. We have more promotional events, so will have opportunities to explore different approaches and different audiences.
You can pre-order our book from Hive here, or from other on-line book sellers. Or buy it in bookshops after Thursday 24th July.
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