Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Talking books at a language school in Italy: guest post by Tonia Parronchi

In recent posts, we've talked about book signings and workshops and Julie McGowan has given us some valuable insights into how these can help authors promote and sell their work.

This week, Tonia Parronchi talks to us about another avenue writers can explore: language school audiences. Clearly, this is a more restricted area as we have to keep the native language of the audience in mind, but second language students who like to read are without doubt a potential market, albeit a small one.

Last week, Tonia was invited to talk to an audience of students and teachers at a language school near her home in Italy. 

Tonia with one of the students in the audience

"I really enjoyed my recent moment of "stardom ". A local language school here in Italy has been organizing a series of cultural events for high level students and asked me to come along and talk about my work as a writer. 

When I arrived there, the room had been set up beautifully with china tea cups on the union-jack patterned tables and plates of English biscuits. Each table also had a paper teapot holding questions for the students to ask me, in case their minds went blank. Added to that, there were place cards with a picture of my book "A Whisper on the Mediterranean " with a raffle ticket hidden inside. The prize at the end of the evening would be a copy of the book.

The students were great. They were of all ages and walks of life - a school girl, businessmen and women, a policeman and a couple of retired people.  In all there were about 20 people and I suddenly got nervous.  What if I bored them all?

The teachers introduced me and I talked about both my published books and did readings from them both, followed by questions. I relaxed as the questions flowed and the prompts weren't needed. 

A lovely girl asked where she could buy both my books because she'd enjoyed the snippets I read so much. The evening ended with the raffle and I happily dedicated a book for the winner.

At the end of the evening, I realised that if I had the possibility of doing this kind of evening with an English audience I would sell books. I also realized that the language I use is quite complicated for even good students or non mother-tongue speakers, so this is something to keep in mind for the future. 

I would do it again with pleasure, and the school must have been pleased too because they asked me back!"

Thank you so much for this write-up, Tonia. It's great to know you had an appreciative audience and that the school would like you to come again! 

What is also encouraging to hear is that although Tonia did not actually sell any books on the day itself, she has made an impression on at least one potential reader, who was inspired by her personality and presence to ask where she could buy the books. 

Personal contact is surely a key element in building a wide readership, so talks, workshops and book events are a great way to get to know readers. In our next post, we'll be flying to the Netherlands to find out about an English writing festival held in the Hague twice a year.


Unknown said...

Wonderful experience for you and the kids! What a marvelous idea. Congrats on the success and snagging a repeat for the future.

Vallypee said...

It's always lovely to connect with readers, isn't it? Let's hope the next time round you will have more buyers :)