The Seven-year Pitch: The Story of my Children’s Bestseller…

Seven years to the day after publication, my time travel adventure The Secret Lake is hovering in the Amazon UK children’s bestseller lists for eBook and/or print for the fifth month in a row, variously ranking between 200 and 500 in the whole UK print store. They say the best things comes to those who wait – what better time to give some context to this ‘seven-year-pitch’ 🙂

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images of two front covers of the secret lake by karen inglis

The Secret Lake – old and new

It’s almost 20 years since I wrote the first draft of my time travel adventure The Secret Lake in which Stella (age 11) and Tom (age 8), while trying to find their elderly neighbour’s missing dog, discover a time tunnel and secret lake that take them to their home and the children living there 100 years earlier. And it’s seven years to the day since I self-published it. (Amazon shows the print publication date as 4th August but that is wrong – that’s the date I registered the ISBN, but I clearly did something wrong!)

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Notting Hill communal gardens


The story was inspired when some friends moved to an apartment backing onto communal gardens not far from Notting Hill in London. When I walked out and saw the children playing there I couldn’t help wondering what might happen if they could meet the children who had lived and played there in Edwardian times.

The lake in the story was inspired by a pond in a magical woodland in Richmond Park, close to where we live. We used to take our boys there to play when they were younger and it reminded me of the sense of freedom I had had as a child growing up in the Hertfordshire countryside. Even before we’d left Notting Hill that day of our first visit, this magical woodland setting had become connected with the story that was already forming in my mind…

Three children's book illustrations from Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog: Ferdinand Fox trotting along the street; Hatty Hedgehog putting her baby son Ed to sleep and mum and son hedgehog nose to nose

Still Pond in the magical Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park

There were many drafts in the early days (I didn’t plot, and things got very muddled!), and it was many months before I felt ready to show the story around.

My first step was to submit it for comment to an independent manuscript appraisal service, The Writers’ Advice Centre for Children’s Books, which I recommend to this day. Thereafter – and several rewrites later – I  sent it off by post to a half a dozen publishers only to be told that the story was “too traditional”, “not what children are looking for these days” or “not for our lists”. After the six- to eight-week wait to hear back, I was despondent – and many reading here will know that awful feeling of rejection!

I had better luck with my next story Eeek! The Runaway Alien (a humorous chapter book about a young alien who comes to Earth for the Word Cup), with Bloomsbury asking for more material, and an agent asking for a further version. However, when this eventually came to nothing I decided the odds of getting published were stacked against me in a very large, slow-motion lottery — so I packed everything away and went back to my day job as a business writing consultant where I knew I would at least earn from my writing.

After that The Secret Lake, Eeek! and various other stories lay in a wooden box under my office window for over 10 years. I used to glance at that box from time to time and think what a shame it was that no one would ever know the magical story of The Secret Lake. I also recall fleetingly wondering if one day my great-great grandchildren might discover it and bring it back to life.

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The Secret Lake sat in this wooden box for 10 years…

Discovering self-publishing and gaining control

In fact, it wasn’t the future grandchildren who would breathe new life into The Secret Lake. I took a yearlong sabbatical from my consulting work in late 2010 and pulled my stories out again. Around that time self-publishing via Amazon’s CreateSpace was being talked about online and, once I delved deeper, I knew it was for me: it would put me in control and allow me to get my story in front of children instead of sitting unloved in someone’s slush pile.

Early days…

It was a lonely business back then – no Facebook Groups or self-publishing organisations to join to swap expertise (and frustrations!). And book formatting tools were few and far between — and extremely clunky compared with what’s on offer today. I had lots of setbacks but The Secret Lake was finally born in print and for Kindle in September 2011.

Old and new marketing: the long road to discovery

Once The Secret Lake was out, I set up a website, contacted and visited local bookshops and sent press releases to local magazines, newspapers and community newsletters, taking care to point to where it was stocked locally. My first event was a reading in our local library. I was terrified that no one would turn up – or that I’d have hordes – and I burst into tears from nerves the day before. In fact, there were seven children, seven adults and the library staff. It was perfect. The librarian even served tea and cakes!

Thereafter I began connecting with local schools, which entailed a lot of research and persistence. Gradually (very gradually) it began to pay off and my local author brand started to grow.

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One of many school visits with children listening eagerly to The Secret Lake

Then and now – children still know best…

My instinct that children still hanker after a good adventure story had proven itself long before its recent rise through the Amazon ranks. By the end of 2017 I had sold over 7,000 copies through a combination of school visits, local independent bookshop sales and signings in six branches of Waterstones (a major UK book chain) around southwest London – plus a steady trickle of online store sales in print and for Kindle in both the UK and USA. During this time the then Head of Independent Commissioning for children’s CBBC also read and enjoyed it, and recommended I pitch it to the BBC and/or to independent production companies. It didn’t get chosen by the CBBC in the end, and life and other writing got in the way after that. However, pursuing the second option is now high on my task list and I’ve even had an enquiry from Hollywood recently. (I am sure this will be case of ‘watch this space for a VERY long time’, so I’m not get excited just yet…).

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Waterstones in Notting Hill was the first bookshop to stock The Secret Lake. Several more branches in southwest London took it and I had many successful signings 🙂

What changed in 2018?

The Secret Lake has always been my bestseller at school visits but raising its profile beyond face-to-face events and my local bookshops has, until this year, been by far the hardest part of being an independent children’s author. And if people farther afield don’t know your book then they don’t know to look for it – be that online or in high street bookshops. This in turns means that children won’t know about it in sufficient numbers around the UK to spread the word and so fuel further demand.

I have Amazon UK to thank for the breakthrough. When they opened up sponsored product advertising to independent authors alongside traditionally published titles in early 2018 I was finally able to make The Secret Lake visible online where parents are looking for similar children’s books. The effect was almost immediate and the book began to climb slowly and steadily through the ranks. (This was before I updated the cover in May, though the new design has undoubtedly worked extra magic since and I couldn’t be happier with it.)

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By the time I started promoting it, The Secret Lake had 45 reviews, gradually built up over the years. These undoubtedly helped encourage sales once the book became visible, and the review numbers are now slowly growing. I’m so grateful to those parents and grandparents who have taken the time give their feedback, or help their child give their feedback. As any author will tell you, it means so much after all the hard work – and particularly in the case of children’s authors where our readers don’t have access to the online reviews platforms. So, thank you if you have left a review recently or in the past!

Not just Amazon…

I’m especially delighted to report that word-of-mouth customer requests have also led to independent and high street bookshops outside of my locality placing orders for The Secret Lake through wholesalers, with over 60 recent UK sales and similar in the US this way when I last checked. This is great news for bookshops and readers alike. For once, Amazon seems to be helping high-street bookshops make more sales.

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Local bookshops that have supported The Secret Lake. It’s now travelling farther afield…

Reflecting on my adventure

As The Secret Lake continues to land on hundreds of doormats in the UK, US and Europe (notably Germany) each week, I can’t help thinking back to those early rejections. I truly felt there was a gap in the market for more classic adventure stories – the sort I’d enjoyed as a child, but with a modern twist. I’m so glad that children, parents, librarians and teachers have confirmed my suspicions and given this story the chance to breathe.

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A typical book order pile ahead of a school visit… (old cover)

In short, without Amazon and self-publishing, this story would still be in its box — how  sad would that be? (Oh, except, of course, for those curious future great-great-grandchildren! 🙂  Hmm, and therein might lie another magical time travel story…)

If you have a story you truly believe in, the chances are it won’t let you give up and you will get there eventually. And it will be a lot of hard – but enjoyable –  work!

Have a book-loving 8-11 year-old at home?

You’ll find copies of The Secret Lake on Amazon in your country here. It’s also available in print in all online stores worldwide. Alternatively use the link top right of this page to find your closest independent bookshop to place an order.

If your child has read and enjoyed it, it would mean a lot to me if you could help them leave a review online. Thank you!

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Posted in Blog Update, Self-publishing, The Secret Lake | 6 Comments

How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book: now available in print or as an eBook

Hello fellow children’s authors and blog followers! I am thrilled to announce that my non-fiction book How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book is now available both in print and as an eBook. 🙂

Coming in at 296 pages, this is a comprehensive guide that’s aimed at both beginners and more experienced self-publishers. It covers everything from planning and producing your picture book, chapter book or middle grade novel, through to first marketing, school visits, getting into bookshops, online marketing and more. It also includes recommendations for the best tools (free or paid-for) and freelance resources and experts to help you with your self-publishing journey.

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Suitable for beginners or experienced self-publishers. I use graphics to help illustrate key points.

The eBook is available on all the main stores – see links below. The print book is available on Amazon as I write (a day earlier than expected) and should be in wider online stores later this week via the Ingram Spark feed. I will put up a brief post when those wider store links go live.

A quick note about the table of contents 

There is a top level Table of Contents with 30 chapters spread over two parts:

  • Part 1: Self-publishing
  • Part 2: Marketing

You will also have access to a hidden, password-protected resources folder with a more detailed Table of Contents showing sub-sections within those 30 chapters. This will be especially useful to print off to help you keep track of where you are if you have the Kindle/eBook version of this very long book. The resources folder also brings together useful links and example downloads that are included or referenced in the book – and I will be adding to it over time.

Below is the back cover, which I hope gives you a flavour of what to expect.

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Including last-minute updates…

As many of you will recall, I had hoped to get the book out by late June. However, a few things changed in the lead-up to the expected launch that I didn’t want to go to press without including. These are/were:

  • changes to the rules on posting Amazon reviews
  • a new UK site that will soon accept self-published children’s books for review
  • a new marketing feature from BookFunnel that I think will work well for children’s authors
  • a new personalisation feature from Ingram Spark (I shall be expanding on this further in the resources folder this week)
  • confirmation of the move from CreateSpace to KDP Print; I had already future-proofed for this, however I took the opportunity to add in some final tweaks when that news firmed up recently
  • upcoming updates to an Amazon Ads keyword search tool KDP Rocket* which will give better results for children’s authors

In addition, my time travel adventure The Secret Lake has continued on the Amazon UK bestseller lists since May and I wanted to make adjustments to include insights from this. two children looking out to a lake with a boy rowing towards them(It hit 75 in the whole of the UK Amazon print store at one point in early July, which was possibly the nicest shock of the year and has been hovering between 200 and 400 in the whole store since.) 🙂 If you have an 8-11 year-old who loves adventure, mystery, time travel and/or historical fiction do check it out!

With the above changes it became clear that reformatting for print would lead to delays (adjusting the eBook was much simpler!). Still, I’m relieved and delighted that it’s finally out and hope it will help you on your self-publishing journey.

It goes without saying that I would hugely appreciate an honest review on Amazon (and Goodreads if you’re there) if you find it useful. 🙂

Keeping up to date with changes in the resources folder

Be sure to sign up to my newsletter if you want to receive updates when I make changes or add new content in the resources folder.

That’s it for now. I hope you had a wonderful summer (or winter depending where you are). And please do share news of the book release with any children’s authors you know!

Happy writing and publishing!


PS If you’ve already bought the eBook, it would mean a lot to me if you could leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Thank you!

*Disclosure: this is an affiliate link which means I will earn a referral fee if you go on to buy KDP Rocket. However, there is no extra cost to you.

Posted in Children's Books, Editing, Marketing, Self-publishing, Writing & Editing | Leave a comment

How to self-publish and market a children’s book and other news…

This is a long overdue update on what I’ve been up to – and to let you know that, after many requests and a lot of planning (in between everything else), I’m finally bringing out How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book in the next few weeks.

I’m aiming for a launch date of  30 June 2018 but will confirm this closer to the time. If any last minute changes in the market occur in the next couple of weeks that I think are important enough to warrant a short delay, I will endeavour to include them.

Update – the release was rescheduled to 31 July owing to changes in the market I wanted to include. The book is now out on Kindle with the print book to follow. Find out more here.

KI_HOW_TO_CVR4As you have probably guessed, this is a book of two halves. It will be packed with practical advice on :

  • the best print and eBook self-publishing options for children’s authors in this fast-changing market and the best tools to use along the way – going into far greater detail and significantly updated from what you’ll find on my website,  albeit the principles here all still hold true
  • the strategies you can use both offline and online to get your children’s books into more young readers’ hands – by far the most challenging aspect of your journey as I’m sure you will know

While many of the book’s first-half strategies will be useful for all self-publishers, it has lots of extras thrown in that are of specific interest to children’s writers.  The second ‘marketing’ half is, of course, highly targeted to children’s authors. With my books sales now close to 15,000 I have lots to share on this – including what works and what doesn’t – and what is emerging…

The book will also include a link that I will use to keep you up to date with key changes in this fast-moving industry, and for useful downloads.

If you’d like me to notify you when How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book is out please sign up to my mailing list if you’re not on it already. (I don’t email often.) If you’d prefer not to sign up, don’t worry – I will put out a short blog post announcement here once the release date is finalised.

Now on to other news…

Hitting best seller lists, new picture book and more…

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I’m thrilled to report that The Secret Lake has hit best seller status in key children’s categories several times on Amazon UK in the last few weeks, with the print book ranking at 335 in the whole of the UK store on one day and the Kindle version reaching the mid 3,000 spot. This month it has sold over 500 print copies on Amazon UK.

Images of The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis with best seller labels on

The Secret Lake making its mark on Amazon UK

(Amazon’s bots have chosen to include the print book in a rather odd category ‘Children’s Exploration and Travel’ – it’s not one I chose, but I’m not complaining! I must say that I find the Kindle Store has far more relevant categories for my needs than the print store.)

Amazon stats update hourly so this streak is likely to be short-lived (it’s at around 500 as I write), however the print book has been ranking in the the top 2,000-4,000 since Continue reading

Posted in Children's Books, Editing, Marketing, Self-publishing, Writing & Editing | 2 Comments

Autumn update: focus on children’s book marketing

I hope you’ve been enjoying the beautiful autumn weather (well, here in the UK, at least) – it certainly has helped take the edge off these sudden darker evenings. On that note here’s a snap I took a couple of days ago on my way out of the gym  🙂


Autumn sunshine, London – not far from Richmond Park

Back to business, and it’s time for a long overdue update. I hope you’ll find what follows of interest in your self-publishing journey.

SCBWI – UK Conference Sat-Sun 19-20th November – I’ll be there

First, just to say that I’m speaking on a panel about the nuts and bold of self-publishing children’s books at the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators’ Conference in Winchester in a couple of weeks’ time. My session is at 10.30 on the Sunday morning and there’s a fantastic variety of talks and workshops around children’s writing and publishing over the two days (many of which I shall attend.) If you happen to be booked in, please do come and say hi! And if you like the look of the programme you can still book as far as I can see – use the link above.

Trying Out A Fun Online Book Widget/Biblet – What do you think?

Nielsen UK asked if I’d like to try out their Book2Look widget (caled a ‘Biblet’), which combines flip-page book extracts with the ability to embed audio and video clips. Knowing how kids love interactivity – and wondering if this could help with online book marketing – I jumped at the chance. I must say it doesn’t disappoint! If you click on either image below the biblet will open up on your screen or mobile device.

                                       eeek-biblet-widget-image                         henry-haynes-widget-image

Click each widget to open up.

Do try them out and share with friends and family using the share buttons inside. For those of you with children I’m particularly interested to know what you and they think. This is really an early heads-up. Look out for a more detailed post soon about how I’ve used these, along with another quick survey asking your thoughts. Biblets can of course be used for YA and adult books too so do take a look if writing in those genres.

Why print matters if self-publishing children’s books

After attending the Bookseller Children’s Conference, I recently wrote a piece for the Alliance of Independence Authors’ Advice Centre on the latest UK stats for sales of children’s books. The stats confirm extremely strong sales of children’s print books in 2016, with this format continuing to be the preferred for both reading and buying – by a mile! In short, if you’re thinking about self-publishing children’s books for this age range you need to focus on print. The stats for children’s magazines also make very interesting reading – and offer food for marketing thought.

Head over to ALLi to read the full post, and my thoughts on the implications for indie authors. There are two more posts to follow in the coming weeks – one on online marketing of children’s books and another with a Mumsnet survey overview. I’ll send a reminder about these when they go up.


School visits

As we’ve seen above, print is the way forward if you want to sell children’s books for under 12s in any numbers. This in turn means that you need be ready to get out and meet young readers at schools and other events. Contacting schools can be exhausting as everyone is so busy, but the rewards when you get to meet the children and hear how much they’ve enjoyed your books are wonderful – I love visiting schools!

On that note, if you’re in the UK and think your child’s school would like a visit please refer them to my school visits page over on my author website. London is easiest but I do travel farther afield where budgets allow. World Book Day Week is already almost full but I have good availability at other times.

Top tip: Canva is a great place to make flyers to promote your visits and other events – and it’s free. Below I’ve included a flyer I made yesterday for a visit next week.



Made using Canva

My New Children’s Books YouTube Channel

I’m excited to announce that I’ve recently set up a new YouTube channel Karen Inglis Children’s Author (This is separate from my channel on self-publishing children’s books, though it remains to be see whether that will cause confusion!). It’s early days but please do take a look and point your children in my direction if they use YouTube Kids – the videos don’t contain advertising or links to ‘buy’ pages so should be searchable on YouTube Kids under my name as well as being on the main YouTube channel. Oh, and please do give any videos you watch a thumbs-up if you enjoy – every little helps, as we know  :-). I will blog separately about the practicalities of setting up a YouTube channel in due course.


Karen Inglis Children’s Author – search on YouTube or YouTube Kids

Quick 5-Question YouTube Survey if you have children under 13

Finally, the link below goes to five-question survey about your children’s use of YouTube and one other social media site. screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-11-05-10It should take less than a minute to complete so I hope you’ll take the time. All data is anonymous and I’ll be blogging about the outcome and insights for making children’s books marketing videos in due course, so this is for all of our benefit. Many thanks!


Less than 60 seconds of your time 🙂

That’s it for now – enjoy the Autumn colours while they last and I’ll be posting again soon with more info on Book2Look.














Posted in Children's Books, Marketing | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cornelia Funke on creativity vs ticking boxes

With just four days to go before the second Barnes Children’s Literature Festival I have had the pleasure of interviewing award-winning children’s and YA writer and illustrator Cornelia Funke. Cornelia is travelling to the UK for the event where she will be talking about her books from 3-4 pm this Saturday 14th May.

For anyone not familiar with Cornelia’s work I start with a little background context for what turned out to be a truly fascinating interview about writing and creativity  – which in Cornelia’s case appears to know no bounds!

Headshot of Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke

About Cornelia

Cornelia is from Germany and has lived in LA since 2005. She enjoys a worldwide fan base for her bestselling fantasy and adventure titles that include, but are by no means limited to: The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, the Inkheart trilogy (Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath – adapted for film in 2008) and, most recently, her MirrorWorld series. She also writes and illustrates picture books and collaborates extensively with creative teams on a range of multi-media projects connected with her story worlds. MirrorWorld’s breathtaking Reckless App is a stunning early example.

Cornelia set up her own publishing company Breathing Books in 2015 after an editorial disagreement with her US and UK publishers over the upcoming third book in her MirrorWorlds series (Reckless and Fearless being the first two with Heartless the intended third). She took back the UK and US rights to all three and Breathing Books published the third book under its European name The Golden Yarn in December 2015 as a limited edition hardback and on audio. Funke has recently signed with Pushkin Press (UK and Commonwealth rights) who will republish the full MirrorWorld trilogy in paperback later this year under their European subtitles The Petrified Flesh, The Living Shadows and The Golden Yarn.

Breathing Books, in the meantime, certainly isn’t taking any breathers and has more of its own creative publishing projects underway.


You hit the headlines late last year when you announced that you would publish the third book in your MirrorWorld series The Golden Yarn yourself rather than make changes to it for the UK and American markets. Retaining creative control is something that indie authors feel passionate about. For the benefit of readers not familiar with your story, can you briefly explain the background to what happened and why it was so important for you to stand your ground?

With MirrorWorld there was from the beginning one problem for some of my publishers: the series appealed to an older age group than my other books. So there were attempts, especially in the US, to make the series somehow younger or at least market it for a younger audience – which of course can be a vast problem for a story.

I tried to correct this several times, but when the edit suggestions for Book 3 arrived I felt that the intention was once again to try to tailor the book for a certain market – sadly something considered quite normal by now. In my case it was especially worrying as the book had been edited and published already in Germany, with great success and a passionate reader reaction. This is another problem I’ve encountered quite often over the years: UK and US publishers are so used to working with English texts that they find it very hard to accept that a book has already been edited in another language. German editors take far longer and do very elaborate and detailed edits so I am usually very happy with the result – and for sure no author wants to go through two editing processes? 🙂

I find it also very bewildering that in the English language world of writing, agents do some of the editing. For me an editor and an agent are two every different professions with very different skill sets.

I still love to collaborate with publishers. I cherish many of them very very much. But I won’t allow a book to be changed just to tick certain boxes.

Front cover of The Golden Yarn


Your new imprint is Breathing Books. This is an enchanting and evocative imprint name. Was it your idea – and what was the inspiration behind it? 

Originally Breathing Books was intended to be a brand under which we could do projects like the MirrorWorld Reckless App.

I always believed that books only begin to breathe when they are read – and even better read aloud – and that music, art and other forms of creative work can further help them to come alive.

As I am an illustrator myself I want to find ways to tell stories with both words and illustrations, through collaboration with other artists. In short: I am a writer who loves to explore every book as an adventure…something that doesn’t really work well in our very commercialised publishing world. Luckily I have found wonderful collaborators here in LA who have made it possible to go on this adventure.

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Can you tell us a little bit more about your partner in Breathing Books, Mathew Cullen? How did you come to work with him?

I met Mathew Cullen through a film director friend, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

Mathew has won two Grammies for his music videos so we come from quite different worlds, which I think is part of the creative magic 🙂

When I came to visit Matt at his studio Mirada (which he owns with three other brilliant minds) I felt as if I were walking into my own head. All the art I saw – the way worlds were explored with a combination of sculpture, sketch and digital techniques – felt as if they could offer an interesting way to interpret my stories visually without my needing to sell rights to a movie company, something I have done far too often and mostly with quite sobering results. Matt was the creative director for the Reckless App – still the most inspiring creative project I have worked on so far – and we decided to continue the collaboration. [Note from Karen – visit Mirada’s website above for a taste of this amazing project.]

We had been discussing creating Breathing Books for quite a while when the situation with The Golden Yarn occurred. This forced us to create the company faster than anticipated – and, as I had promised my readers that the third book of the Reckless series would be published in English in 2015,  I suddenly had to be a traditional publisher on paper too.

We first considered just publishing electronically but both Matt and I are too much in love with paper and print and books you can hold and touch. So we faced the challenge to get a book into the US bookstores within half a year.


How involved were you in the day-to-day production side of things for the hardback copy of The Golden Yarn? Did you act as ‘project manager’ or did you hand over that aspect to someone else? 

Most of the production was overseen by Andy Merkin, whom we call the ‘Tamer of Magical Beasts’ at Breathing Books 🙂 It was Andy’s idea to do the text layout based on 19th century texts. Matt was of course also very involved, especially in the cover design, as was JIng Zeng, our brilliant Chinese American illustrator who works on most of our designs.

How did it feel to have full creative control of your project for the first time? 

So so so so good! The illustrator in me was especially thrilled.

Was it a challenge to balance the time this new project took with your other writing goals or commitments?

No – actually I feel this adventure has made me even more creative. Suddenly I know that I can make every book idea a reality without discussing how commercial it is, or for what age group. Both Matt and I also agreed from the beginning, that Breathing Books will enrich our creative lives instead of making them more stressful. We both work on so many projects that this is a very important rule to keep our sanity.

What about marketing? Did you find that more challenging for this title without the support of a publisher?

We will only start marketing seriously once the whole [hardback] series is out with the new design, so in autumn this year. We have just hired someone to communicate with booksellers, librarians, festivals etc.

I never was a touring author. I prefer to write and illustrate. That’s my profession. And as I am published in so many countries all my publishers know that I can only make myself available for a few days. This year I have book launches in France, Spain, the UK, Sweden, the US and in Germany (and I am sure in a few more countries that I’ve forgotten!). All of these countries are of equal importance to me, whether they sell 500 or 50,000 books and I try my best to support them all.


I read a wonderful quote where you described large publishers as “…like ocean liners that can only go to certain places,” and that through Breathing Books you want to “be a sailboat so I can fit into other places.” You’ve already produced The Golden Yarn as a limited edition hardback and as an audio book. What else can we expect to see in the future from the imprint? 

Breathing Books home page

Breathing Books website

I have just finished my first picture book – the first I have written in English and the first I have illustrated myself. It will be called The Book That No One Ever Read and it will be a lovesong to many writers and books I love. One could call it my Inkheart for kindergarten kids 🙂 Matt is working on the design and layout currently and we hope to publish in summer 2017.

We are also working on a Book of Treasure as we call it, containing short stories, maps, illustrations and whatever else we come up with from MirrorWorld. We want it to be a lush storybook, similar to the old fairy tale books that so many of us treasured as children.

We will also publish hardcover versions of the first two Reckless books this year, with Matt’s new design and a revised text for Book 1. I know so much more about this world by now, that I loved going back to the beginning and adding everything I have learned along the way – about characters and places.

We are also working on a graphic novel adventure from my Dragonrider world, both on paper and in digital. The story is ready and JIng has made beautiful visual recreations of all of my characters.

O yes- one more thing:) we are currently creating passports for Mirrorworld. They look quite stunning!

[Ed: I’m not sure if this is a Breathing Books project but will check when Cornelia’s back online!]

Image of book text and illustrations laid out on a long table

Cornelia at work on layouts – I’ve been there and done that!


As with all great stories, this one has a twist and you have now signed a new deal for UK and Commonwealth Rights for the MirrorWorld series with Pushkin Press. How did that come about? Was it an easy decision having just embarked on your own project?

I never intended to self publish in Europe. It would have been impossible to do it in the UK at the same time [as in the US]. Which luckily gave Pushkin Press the chance to approach us.

My experiences with most European publishers are very good, as they are mostly not as ‘corporate’ as US publishers. Even in the US I have had very good experiences – for example with Random House (quite an ‘ocean liner’) and Pegasus Press (a smaller and very beautiful boat). So I still very much appreciate working with inspired publishers.

I admire the work of Pushkin Press, the sublime list of authors and titles, the international approach, the design…. When Pushkin Press approached us I was therefore thrilled as it wouldn’t have been easy to print and distribute in the UK and Commonwealth as well.

I feel my books will have the freedom to be what they are without having to fit into tailored categories.

As Matt likes to say: Breathing Books should be a laboratory, where books are perceived and created. How they get into the world is the next step. We will continue to publish ourselves but we also welcome deals with publishers, if they allow us to work in the way we set out to do.


Finally, as if you don’t have enough to do already,  you have set up your own German audio book company Atmende Buecher to publish your future novels. Where you are in the production process just now?

As everyone knows since Inkheart I am in love with the spoken word. So I was always tempted to do my own audio productions. I recorded several books in the US myself and luckily people like the recordings despite my German accent.

In Germany I have worked for the last few years with Eduardo Garcia and German Wahnsinn on all my stage events and they wrote truly enchanting music for Reckless. I have regularly attended their sound studios and one day Eduardo and I made the decision to start a company that publishes classical readings, adding sound design and music.

We started off by playing with a few short stories that I wrote about Inkworld and loved the result. The first publication will be A Griffin’s Feather, my sequel to Dragonrider and I can’t wait to hear what Eduardo will do with it.I have been working for almost twenty years with a German actor, Rainer Strecker, as my audio silver tongue and partner in crime on stage, so he’ll for sure be one of the readers.

My huge thanks to Cornelia for taking the time out to answer my questions so thoroughly and eloquently in between her projects and travels. If you’re within reach of London don’t miss her at the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival this Saturday 14 May at 3pm – it will be £5 extremely well spent. I’ve booked my ticket and am certainly looking forward to hearing her speak 🙂 

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Posted in Children's Books, Self-publishing | 6 Comments