Chateau Bellefond, Lagraulière, FranceYou could do a lot worse than go to a writer’s retreat in a chateau in rural France – a lot worse! I’ve never been to one of these before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

Having been to a literary festival at the beginning of September, I received an invitation to speak about self-publishing at this massive house at the end of the month. I thought ‘could be useful/interesting/beneficial to my business’ and booked flights. MBH (My Better Half) decided she wanted to go too, this time, so even better.

Preparing for it focused my mind on a few things, not least of which, how do I tell people about the nitty-gritty of self-publishing: all the nuts and bolts, the dos and don’ts that I’ve had to work my way through for the last four years. And how much should I tell them? After all, my business is based on helping people publish their books – not doing it themselves!

I took a leaf out of my successful friend Joanna Penn’s book and decided that part of my role is also giving people more information so they can make decisions, with the understanding they can still come to me when they get stuck. And it seems I’ve taken the right tack.

One of the attendees actually turned to me and said: “You know, I don’t think I want to do it myself. I know I can, but I’d rather concentrate on other things.” I’m paraphrasing slightly here (I’m not wired for sound 24/7), but that’s the gist.

I think there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s plenty of people who are perfectly happy to do it themselves and good for them – knowing what’s involved, I salute anyone who does it on a regular basis!

What I’m hoping to do is use my more than 20 year’s experience in graphic design as well as my skills at websites, print on demand and ebook formatting to help authors who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get their books into the public eye.

Back to the retreat: we both had a great time, met lots of great people and learned a lot of things we didn’t know, some of which concerned our desire to move to France (it’ll happen), as well as making connections to writers and journalists who love writing and are keen to support each other – something I’ve sadly missed since my writing group disappeared a while back.

So, a heartfelt ‘thanks’ to everyone involved in the weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing them all again!

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