Sunday, August 17, 2014


The Southend Writers and Artists Network was created on 16 September 2011 as a way to communicate with other authors and allow each other an opportunity to promote our work as well as inform members about events, competitions, festivals and blogs of fellow writers and artists. The name needed to be easy to remember and so the name Southend went in to make SWAN, but it is not purely a membership for Southend-based creative types, and our membership covers the East of England and beyond with several overseas writers who have a connection to the region.

The network has no rules as such, rather an understanding among members it primary role is to promote the work of writers, poets, illustrators, artists, photographers, etc. SWAN is especially keen to invite freelancers, budding authors, amateurs and basically anyone who has a passion for books. It is surprising then that the membership has gone beyond its original purpose attracting professionals from theatre, education, architecture, cartoonists, book sellers, journalists, therapists, gallery directors, social media experts, radio presenters, translators, singers, students and charity workers.

It has expanded at a steady rate but in recent months has doubled in number to 215 thanks to a poster campaign that was shared on members’ personal pages also. In the past three years our members have put out over 500 updates, many of which are seen by over 150 people, mostly organic reach. We have found images are best to drawing attention and artists have the advantage there but many authors have eye-catching book covers also! It is hard to keep up to date with every competition and event, so it is a great way to find out what is going on. Authors are encouraged to request an mp3 clip of their radio interview which can be posted on the network page, likewise video footage of interviews is also welcome. Twitter (@estuarybooks) has also played a role in attracting new members. SWAN also got behind a local campaign to save Leigh library reposting blogs and update from campaigners. Newspaper and magazine reviews of books and work also feature on the network page. A new trend is for authors to create video advertisements, with one author turning his blurb into a re-enactment of a scene from the book with semi-professional actors! New members are joining every day and it is hoped our first networking event in September (details on the network page as only members can attend) will hopefully spur us on further.
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