Sunday 26 July 2009

Something from the Vogon Postal Service and Proofs of My First Little Book

Well I got some Vogon post the other day!

Postal stamp saying Vogal postal service, punishment for tampering is disintegration.
The message was: DON'T PANIC!
'Don't Panic cover
I tried not to but it was hard given that the envelope contained an advance copy of EoinColfer's sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - titled And Another Thing. Well ... actually only half of it. No point marketing the product to oblivion I suppose.
It was a tabloid size newsprint edition. I don't think it will be easy to read but it's a cool collector's item!

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the book marketing world, Jacqueline Wilson's Tracey Beaker is about to launch as a computer game!

Meanwhile, the proofs of my forthcoming book for Oxford University Press Treetops series arrive and it's very very pretty! It's illustrated beautifully by three very fine artists Galia Bernstein, Margaret Chamberlain and Thomas Docherty. Boy, what a difference illustrations make to prose!

Me happy!

Friday 24 July 2009

Wanna sell your book? Just go on Oprah!

If you feel for this guy, spare a thought for all the other authors out there.

If you can't see the video click here
(It's long by YouTube standards but this is your chance
to show you have an attention span longer than 4 minutes!)

Sunday 12 July 2009

Twitter vs Facebook - what's a children's writer to do?

Social Networking is dangerous territory for writers. Perhaps more so for novelists. All the writers I know seem to suffer addictive tendencies - coffee, tea, alcohol, pasta, Facebook ... the compulsion that drives us to write pushes us in other directions as well.

The writing is going slowly. So what do you do? Instead of forcing yourself to work a chapter out, you check your Facebook profile for comments. An hour later, you've watched eight YouTube videos and exchanged pleasantries with an ex-classmate who used to bully you in high school.

We have to do it, we tell ourselves. Times have changed. The author can no longer rest on his or her craft - to sell our work in this big bad techno world, we have to be actors, podcasters, bloggers, marketers, facebookers and now ... twitterers.
Techno-savvy agent Peter Cox, interviewed on the Tall Tales and Short Stories blog, talks about publishers expecting authors to have a "platform" -
Publishers talk about a platform. They say what has the author got as a platform? In other words can you attract publicity can you bring buyers with you? In the non-fiction area it might be diabetics or left-handed people or pilots ... is there a public out there who already recognises you who will buy your book?
That's why every Tom, Dick and JK in the book world has started up a blog (well, not JK - she doesn't have to blog). I know authors who don't blog who have been advised by their publishers to start one.
What fascinates me is that some of the very people who are urging authors to blog do not read blogs, much less blog themselves. They don't understand the care that goes into blogging, the time it takes to write a post, the time and emotional investment in building an audience.
At the recent London Book Fair, there was so much talk of Twitter amongst publishing people that I signed up to find out what it was all about. Here are my findings:
  • It's like blogging. Except it's in 43 characters. I like that I can update my blog by embedding my Twitter feed at the top of the page. As a result, I blog less. But I've lost readers because not all my readers are on Twitter.
  • It's like blogging. Except your followers are somewhat more anonymous because your micro-blog is in such a big alphabet soup, any comments are quickly drowned in other Tweets.
  • People carry on conversations - but it feels a lot like eavesdropping ... and there's already enough noise in my home without eavesdropping on the conversations of strangers.
  • It's like blogging because it's addicting.
  • It's not like blogging because it's quick and you don't have to say much.
  • As in blogging and facebook, the early adopters and more sophisticated Tweeters are based in the US. If you live in the UK, you lose out because of the time differential.
In the Tall Tales interview, Peter Cox also said:
There is a 97% BS factor involved and if all you do is listen to the latest things ... you've got to twitter, you've got to have a blog ... it can drive you mad ... You have to look at these things strategically and work out how is your time best spent.
My decision: I'm going to stay on Twitter and Tweet occasionally - to see where it's going to go. BUT I think it's more important to make the social networking that already works for you work better. That means giving my blog some TLC and creating websites that are forward- thinking and audience building - as in, audiences that I actually am engaged in ... not an anonymous mass.
And of course most important of all: I'm going to concentrate on writing my book and writing it well.
After all, what's the point of having a platform if you've got nothing to show for it?

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