Byte and Me by Derek Farrell

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It has just been fantastic to have Derek Farrell in the Byte the Book network and we were really pleased when another one of our members, Chris McVeigh of Fahrenheit Press decided to publish his book, Death Of A Diva. Here’s what Derek told us about his publishing journey and getting the most out of Byte the Book.

A year ago, I had a completed manuscript for a book, Death of a Diva, dreams of being published, and a dread that I was about to spend the rest of my life sending out the manuscript and having it rejected.

Today, I’m a published author. Death of a Diva has been an Amazon Bestseller*; it is published by Fahrenheit Press, a new publisher who place focus on marketing new crime books to ensure maximum visibility, maximum sales and maximum returns for both the publisher and the author.

And the difference between then and now was Byte The Book.

A friend of mine, who had several published novels under her belt, invited me to the Byte Marketing Bootcamp for Authors, and it changed my life. That day, and at successive Byte meetings, I met other members at all levels of the book business: Book designers, fellow writers, editors, agents, marketing experts, digital strategists and a host of people specialising in aspects of the self- or e-pub world. I gained the first inkling that I could achieve my dreams.

Justine Solomons’ advice to me that first day was: “Network, talk to people, help each other out, have fun, oh, and set your sites high…”

I would heartily recommend Byte membership to anyone passionate about publishing, regardless of whether they are beginners or experienced. Having recently been the former, though, here are my top tips for getting the most out of your membership:

Enjoy the process: Have you ever dated? Remember how every time you went out hunting for THE ONE, you’d end up alone, eating kebabs in a night bus shelter**? Now, remember how, when you went out with friends for a quick drink, you would end up laughing all night with someone who might be the One?*** This is a networking group. It’ll give you the opportunity to meet lots of people – some will be very you, others will be not for you, but this doesn’t matter as everyone knows someone. Publishing is a small world, so be courteous and consider everyone.

Stick around: The Byte The Book panel sessions, regardless of topic, are always enlightening, fun and – if the right panel gets debating – can be close to a publishing death match. But they’re not the raison d’etre of Byte The Book. That happens after the panels, when you mix and mingle with the other attendees. Don’t run flailing into the night when the panel discussion is over, as that is when the real fun begins…

Play nice: You have a goal, a dream, an objective. You must have, otherwise you wouldn’t be joining a networking group. But hammering people over the head with your goal, your dream, your current project gets old really fast. Ask people about their work and co-operate; ask yourself not just “how can this person help me achieve my goals,” but “do I have any skills, abilities, or knowledge that this person could use?” At the least, you make an acquaintance, but you could make a good friend and contact for life.

Talk to people: Folks, I am entirely familiar with the agony of a room full of strangers. It’s my biggest nightmare, but your goal ain’t gonna happen if you don’t speak to people. So, if you’re an extrovert, play nice: bring those introverts into the fold. We may be quiet, but we may also have just the skillset you need.

And if you’re an introvert? Take a deep breath, have a drink, and dive in! Byte is full of nice people, so you will eventually end up having a whale of a time, at which point – because nothing succeeds like success – everyone will want to hang with you anyway. Confidence (or pseudo-confidence!) is key.

Don’t be afraid of appearing gauche: Another big nightmare is of looking stupid, odd, or just ridiculous. This is a somewhat problematic issue for someone who spends their time with made-up people, creating dramas out of nothing.

But you know what’s worse than appearing gauche? Being the schmuck who – as my mum used to say – “tries to be the big ‘I-Am’”. Point of this one: If you’re unsure about something then ask! People love to talk about their specialist subject or what they’re up to. Your desire to learn will get them talking. Talking will get other people engaged in the debate, and… Do you see how this works?

Stay in touch: Exchange business cards, Twitter handles, website addresses, and follow up within a couple of days to say “Hey, it was great to meet you.” And if you’re one of those introverted, scared of a room full of strangers people (like me)? Touch base with those people you got on with before the next Byte, and arrange to meet them so you’ll have some people to hang with at the event (but do not spend the night with them; they are contacts, not security blankets).

And finally:

Be Realistic: Byte is just one option in your toolkit; it will introduce you to people who may help you achieve your goal – whether it’s publication, building your support business, or finding new clients – but it’s unlikely to be everything all the time. Which is fine, because like life, my daily commute, and most people on Reality TV, this is all about the journey, which brings me back, I think, to where we started.

Welcome to Byte. Now Go: network, talk to people, help each other out, have fun. Oh, and set your sights high…

Derek’s book, Death of a Diva, published by Fahrenheit Press is available to buy here.

You can join Byte the Book here, or sign up as a non-member for our next event here.

*In the Gay & Lesbian Mystery category, so I don’t think Paula Hawkins is losing too much sleep, but it’s a dream come true for me.

**No? Just me, so…

*** I met my husband this way. Twenty-Five years later, he’s living with an author. I think this pleases him no end, but suspect he misses having home-cooked dinners. But these things don’t write themselves, you know.
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