Hello from a grey, breezy London. It’s coming up to the first of two May Bank Holiday weekends here in the UK — always a time that makes the nation smile, whatever the weather!
Barnes Children’s Literature Festival – May 11th/12th – an indie friendly festival
One reason I love May is it’s the month in which we have The Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, conveniently held down the road from where I live. It’s now in its fifth year and I’m grateful that what has become the largest children’s literature festival in London immediately opened up to indies following my request for a slot in its first year (2015).
As well as the many big names this year (Lauren Child, Judith Kerr, David Almond, to name but a few…), there’s also a fabulous free programme that over the years has welcomed many more self-published authors. So if you have kids and live within reach of London, do use the link above to look at the programmes and come along. I’m already looking forward to hearing Judith Kerr’s interview and attending Emma Carroll’s event!
Self-publishing children’s book event on Saturday 4pm
If you’re starting out in self-publishing, or just curious to learn how it all works, I’m running a Children’s Self-publishing and Marketing session at the festival on Saturday May 11th from 4-5.30pm. This is the second year for the event and there was a packed house last year. I’ll have my book How to Self-Publish and Market a Children’s Book on sale on the day and there’ll be plenty of time for questions. The first half of my talk looks at children’s self-publishing options and the second half covers the crucial question of marketing. Click here to find out more or book.
The Secret Lake – the journey continues
May has another special place in my heart, because it’s the time that Isabella Plantation, a magical woodland in London’s Richmond Park, comes into bloom. As most of you know, the woodlands and Still Pond (seen below during a walk last Sunday) were a strong part of the inspiration for my time travel adventure The Secret Lake which hit the Amazon UK bestseller lists last year and this, and is also now climbing the charts in the US and Canada.
Unbelievably, over 20,000 print copies have sold in the last year and the story now has over 100 reviews on Amazon UK with a further 35 on Amazon.com. Certainly, selling in volume really helps with reviews which had been a steady but very slow burn until 12 months ago.
The game changer for raising awareness of The Secret Lake beyond my school visits was Amazon advertising which has become a vital part of my book marketing strategy and needs to be part of yours too. I talk about this in my non-fiction book alongside all the other things you need to be doing to get your book into children’s hands. And I’ll of course be discussing it at my event at the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival.
Russian rights deal for The Secret Lake
Yesterday I signed the paperwork for a Russian rights deal for The Secret Lake which will be coming out in hardback and paperback, as well as in eBook and audio format over there. The paperwork is being UPS’d back to Moscow today. I feel I should probably hold off naming the publisher or giving more detail until the advance is received (I hate to tempt fate!). Suffice it to say that it’s one of Russia’s largest children’s publishers so I think I’m in safe hands. Of course you’ll be the first to see a photo of me holding the translated copy when it finally arrives! They have 18 months in which to publish.
This is my second rights deal — I signed with Botart publishing in Albania in January and will of course post an update as and when the title comes out there.
A new picture book for Christmas
I swore I’d avoid doing more picture books as it’s *so* difficult to get things right. However, a story I’ve had in my head for years just wouldn’t go away and I finally sat down and created the first draft a couple of months ago. Not having to deal with rhyme was a welcome change, but shaping the story to fit a 32-page picture book wasn’t at all easy. I ended up with 1,400 words, which is way too long!
Following discussions and review by two trusted editors/writing colleagues, and after storyboarding and then working up rough sketches with my illustrator, we are now down to 750 words. My illustrator works in ink on paper, so the next stage is a whole new learning curve for me. (Damir, who does my other books, works entirely digitally.) Luckily we’re working with the wonderful Rachel Lawston for layout, so she is hand-holding us through this stage.
I’m sure more words will get culled once we get to the final layout stage, but it’s all going in the right direction. It’s a too early to share concept drawings I’m afraid, so above is a tree from Pixabay!
Eeek! — cover update
I just love the autonomy and flexibility we have as indie authors. It had been bothering me for sometime that Eeek! was missing a football on the front cover. I finally got around to asking my illustrator to make the tweak a couple of weeks ago. (Goodness knows why I didn’t ask for one to start with!) I’ve also updated the title font to make it stronger. To mark the occasion of the new cover, my illustrator has created this rather fun gif — I hope you enjoy!
That’s it for now — have a great weekend (or long weekend) when it comes. 🙂 And please do come and say hello if you spot me at the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, whether or not you’re attending my event .
PS If you’ve bought a copy of How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book it would mean a lot to me if you could take a moment to leave a short review on Amazon or the store where you bought it. With many thanks!