I think we all have our favourite writers. Authors that we turn to, sure of what to expect whether in story or style, and who fill us with a sense of excitement and anticipation when they bring out a new book.

But it's also nice to find someone new, to discover something fresh and to feel a sense of other avenues opening up!

Of course trying someone new brings an element of risk, particularly if that writer is releasing their first book. Then we're dependent on the appeal of the title, an enticing blurb and attractive cover design, and recommendations, of course, whether by trusted names or an enthusiastic friend or bookseller.

We've discovered some real gems recently. 'Lessons in Chemistry' was one of my particular farvourites. And during lockdown we discovered Suffolk writer Kate Sawyer with her incredible debut novel 'The Stranding'.

A survey by the publishing trade journal The Bookseller this week (with reports and comments in the national press) revealed just how tough it can be for authors to release their first book.

Kate's first book was released during lockdown. She quickly realised that without a launch party or even bookshops, she needed to take action of her own to make sure her novel was noticed. She contacted booksellers and influencers personally offering them advance copies. She was very present on social media, and she generated stories about herself for media attention.

Having read the book and seen her commitment to it, we were pleased to support her with a Zoom event in 2021 and thrilled for her when she was shortlisted for the Costa first novel prize. 

Now it's just a few days before the publication of Kate's second novel and she's achieved rave reviews from some big names which, if you haven't yet read 'The Stranding' may surely make you curious about this emerging talent?

Bestselling novelist, radio presenter (and Strictly 'superfan'), the wonderful Marian Keyes, says of Kate's book "Intriguing, gripping, moving - this deserves to be HUGE". And when I quoted her on social media this weekend, she responded with a further endorsement in her inimitable way: "Oh beCRIPES I LOVED This Family by Kate Sawyer".

It's a privilege and a pleasure to be able to support writers at the beginning of their careers, and so interesting to hear their stories at these meet-the-author events (which are also great value for money!) so I hope you'll come along to find out more on Thursday 11 May. All the details are below, get your ticket now!

Thank you for reading.