Posted by: Elen C | July 9, 2010

On the Road

I would love to write a piece as beautiful and thoughtful as Frances’ and David’s, but unfortunately, my brain is mince and I think that the last beautiful thought I had whipped out of the car window on the M5 on Tuesday and hasn’t been seen since. If anyone in Tewkesbury stumbles across it, please send it back.

So, instead, you can expect a post about the business side of writing, because that’s where my head is at.

All this week, I have been engaged in publicity. This happens to authors around the publication date. In fact, it’s there in my publishing contract – for two weeks I shall make myself available for events; I shall get dressed in proper clothes;  I shall wash my hair and remember to clean my teeth (actually, the last two aren’t in the contract, Bloomsbury just expect I’ll remember how to behave in public.)

We all know that authors have to be much more involved in promoting their work than they were even five years ago. But, what does that actually mean to the author on the ground?

For me, it means that I have to ask my lovely employers to give me time off work – though my first book was very well received, there is still no sign of giving up my day job.

Then, it means visiting schools. Lots of schools. If you get stage fright (which I do 50% of the time) this can be quite a challenge. You are part stand-up comedian, part visiting-lecturer; you have to keep both the children and teachers happy. And someone from your publishing house is watching you do it. This week I’ve been lucky enough to have Emma, who is a joy to be with (even if she does lead me astray in beer gardens when I should have been elsewhere). Many of the children are wonderous – full of enthusiasm, ready to answer, keen to share ideas. Others are more, well…less so. You have to find infectious energy from somewhere and hope even the most obdurate Year 7 is won over.

Between school visits, I have to keep my website and facebook up to date, posting news, reviews and answering comments. Lots of writers don’t enjoy this (I often hear people say “my son/daughter updates my newspage, so it hasn’t been done for 6 months”). I’m not that kind of writer. I like learning about IT – I will write this post in the little box you get on wordpress, but I’ll read the html version too, just for kicks.

And then, there’s also the trips to any and all reasonably local bookshops to sign their stock. For the next few months, in fact, whenever I’m in a new town, I’ll be carrying my special signing pen.

If you’re very lucky, your publicist will have arranged interviews. Most can be done by email, but today I had a photographer from the local paper visit. I spent the WHOLE MORNING cleaning…he took all the shots in the garden.

So, it has been a busy week and it isn’t over yet. I’ve been in bed by ten every night, but still wake feeling like my mattress is made of breezeblocks and my eyes are made of sand. And I’ve had my anxiety dream where I’m working as a waitress and I can’t find the teacakes.

It would almost be a relief to get back to work, if it wasn’t for the fact that all this work means my newest book-baby is finally here. There’s that beautiful thought I was looking for.

Photo copyright Eye Imagery



  1. Good grief, Elen! You actually get a launch and publicity! Wow! I’m so impressed! My books come out not with a bang but with a “so what” usually. I pay my own way over from France to visit schools for workshops and in doing so sell my books.
    But you’re right: nothing compares with the thrill of a new book-baby ~ except a grandchild.

  2. Congratulations and good luck with it all, Elen – you sound exhausted! Nice to have a publicist, though, to help things along.

  3. keep going, you know it’s worth it. I read one of my stories to a year 6 class this week. It was such a privilege to hear their comments.

  4. Book-baby. Love it!
    Isn’t it great when you persevere and a beautiful thought comes?
    A child asked me recently which I liked best of my three published books and I was stumped. I have three daughters and I explained that my books are now like three sons and I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite.

  5. I imagine most of us who write children’s books do not have a publicist. So we publicise and market ourselves. I find that just as exciting as writing the books. I sometimes wish I was a lot younger and less decrepit and could dash about all over the UK. Then I realise how lucky I am because were I still working I would not be able to write, nor would I want to write.

  6. I found your thought, it had drifted north into Herefordshire. I put it in a paper cup and left it on a window ledge of the HSBC bank, Ross-on-Wye.

  7. Happy Release Week!

    I’m in the final throes of preparing the epub version (a rather intense two-week blog and interview tour). No face-to-face classroom stuff for me, thanks. 🙂

    I hope you enjoy your second week, too, and that your sales are brillliant.

    Good luck!

  8. Congratulations! And good luck getting through the publicity hurdles!

    This post couldn’t have been more timely for me to read. I had an interview with a local reporter by phone today and have spent the day frantically cleaning for the photographer’s visit tomorrow…if we end up in the garden like you did, I’m not sure if I’ll cry from frustration or just be relieved (because to be honest, even with the cleaning…well…maybe the garden would be better after all!).

    I can’t wait to read about Ali!

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