Tuesday, 13 September 2016

What's the point of author retreats? My reflections on a 4 day retreat to Paris.

The idea of visual icons
is powerful. What is yours?
I've just got back from 4 nights in Paris on an author retreat with NCWR run by Janet Wallace (Founder of UTOPiA Con in Nashville. TN. USA) Now this wasn't a creative writing retreat, or a get your book written kind of retreat, this was business. The business of how as an author, I can make myself more visible, more confident and rock the branding of both me as author of multiple genres, and of my book series.

The days of 'Don't judge a book by its cover' are well and truly gone. Visuals have always been key to selling things. Visuals communicate not just a million words, but hopes, dreams and aspirations. Visuals stimulate the idea of need and need is the primary step in selling anything. (Even if that need is abstract, like I need to be cooler, perceived differently, individual etc)

Taking time out to reflect, create
and inspire without distractions of
our daily, normal domestic life is
imperative for growth
During the retreat we had a wide variety of activities, from seminars on Visual Branding run by the incredibly talented Regina Wamba, to Making Yourself Visible from Janet Wallace, to Styling run by Cat Espinosa (Formerly of design house Calvin Klein).  A large part of the weekend was about reflecting on how we can communicate who we as authors are, what our books convey and which readers we want to connect with.

As well as taking part in seminars, we spent a lot of time gallivanting around Paris on photoshoots - ensuring that we could come home with a bank of photos designed to kick start our professional branding revamp or creation. The photoshops were run by Regina Wamba, the artist behind many book covers on the USA TODAY bestsellers list. Her beautiful, kind and fun nature made it a really fun exercise - and we were terrified.

Although I had one very dear friend and several acquaintances I knew before from attending UTOPiA, the retreat was an incredibly social time, and deep friendships were forged in those four days. There's something about travelling together that creates a special and deep bond. Experiencing new things makes us see ourselves in a new light. It was also incredibly powerful having no other responsibility for 4 days other than me, myself and I. I've never had such a period of prolonged self indulgence since becoming a mother 8 years ago. It made me realise that somehow, I have to carve out more opportunities to just be me, as an I, with me and my thoughts, my dreams, my aspirations and my hopes.
Loving the job that we do and
looking after ourselves. Happy
people who can create their own
moments of happiness are more
likely to succeed. 

One of the biggest lessons learned from the retreat was that in oder to be successful, you have to invest in yourself - and sometimes that does mean you have to put your money where your dreams are in order for them to manifest. That doesn't mean that you have to be rich to become a bestselling author in the indie, small press world, but it does mean that you have to prioritise where you spend your money - and in order to do that, you need to have a plan; a clear direction of where you are and where you want to be. It means making choices about what matters to you.

Living the dream and
making it happen.
Doing a micro-signing
in Paris
The retreat also offered us a chance to do a signing in Paris and to collect lots of images and experiences to use on our social media platforms. If you want to interest people, you have to do interesting things. It's as simple (and complex) as that LOL.

I returned yesterday and my head is literally buzzing from the amount of information and tasks I need to implement; it's going to take several weeks to actuate, and several months to actual enact. I could try and stuff this post full of everything I learned, experienced and did, but it would be like the mother of all tidal waves. So I'm going to break down things as I blog about my actuation of them. I look forward to you following me on this growth journey, and I hope you feel inspired to undertake your own investments of both time and money.

If you want things to happen, you have to make them happen; it's not luck. The universe isn't a lottery, but a garden, and it needs nurture, care and time. I am so excited to begin this next season of my growth - and it's thanks to the incredible people I've had the opportunity to share this time with.

Make sure you sign up to the blog to follow this magic happen! Ask me anything you like about the experience, retreats and investing in yourself in the comment box. I'll try and answer all of them

Kate x


  1. Sounds like it was incredible!!! I've attended a long-running retreat with author friends at Cape Cod for years now. This one is mainly writing - like for hours every day (and dinner/games/chat at night). The older I get, the more valuable this thing is. Paris, wow! I'd love to attend one of these at some point. :)

  2. It was really good, although not much writing done LOL - it was great to really refocus on goals and think carefully about why I write - I mean it's kind of what I do, and it's a passion, and I get grouchy when I don't, but having the time out to really direct my energy and focus was so positive. A very inspiring place to be, too.