Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Creating Your Own Publicity

It's not enough to just give birth to a story these days. After those initial heady days of first conception, nurturing and monitoring the progress of your little creation comes the first time you hold it in your hands...and it's wonderful, don't get me wrong. But then you start to worry, how will it do out there in the big world. Will it be a success, will people like it? What can I do to help? How can I help it to make friends?

Increasingly, publicity is becoming the responsibility of the author. The internet provides fantastic opportunities...which while exciting can also seem quite daunting. It's simply not enough these days to have a web page. We must blog, facebook, tweet... and I must say I find it tricky to decide what to put on line. How much do I want my year 10 students to know about my life, should they stumble upon my blog? What is the etiquette when someone you've never met requests to be your friend on facebook? Will your friends be annoyed if you keep putting up what can sound like blatant plugs?

While not a luddite, I do like to know that things work before I jump right in. I remember thinking that a friend was quite mad a few years ago when she started up a myspace site. I took it as evidence that she was undergoing a mid life crisis. While she had chosen an alter ego, she was still easily identifiable. I have an alter ego myself. Actually it's just someone else with my name. She lives in Limerick and I know a lot about her. Mainly because when doing a bit of 'self googling' her bebo posts would pop up while she was young. I knew what she did on a Saturday night and wondered if she knew this middle aged woman on the other side of the world was stalking her. She's now at university and trying to get in to modelling. Sometimes I hope that people searching for me will find her because her photo is much nicer than mine!

With this in mind I tried to keep facebook for friends or people whom I had personally met. I figured if my daughter threw up all over the bench in the school library, my friends might get a laugh but the whole world didn't need to know. However, this doesn't allow me to use the full power of facebook as a networking tool. So I now have a facebook fan page. It's only got about 8 fans. I'm hoping for more! The beauty of this is that when I look, these aren't people I've met and they are still interested in what I have to say...maybe!

Twitter! I thought I could avoid that altogether but apparently I shouldn't. I have a twitter page. A tax adviser in the US is following me after I tweeted about my frustrations completing my UK tax return. I know many writerly friends use it for chatting on subjects writerly but I haven't quite worked that out yet. I'll have it figured out by the time the next new big thing comes along.

And now to blogging. A friend put this quote on facebook...never has so much been said by so many about so little. Or words to that effect. However, there are some fantastic blogs out there. I just have to work out what mine is about.

I'm setting myself little technology goals this year. Inaddition to blogging, I'm going to undertake my first blog tour, where I visit other people's blogs to promote my new book Puggle. So far only one person has offered to host me. Fingers crossed more wil fill up.

Then the NEXT BIG THING. Well for me anyway. Book trailers. Lots of great book trailers on youtube. Arrrgh...can't the world just stay still and let me catch up!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Puggle: Baby echidna photos.

Just a short note today.
I've just posted new pictures of the real Puggle, the baby echidna in my book.


Thanks to Helen Joakim for sending these to me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Puggle the baby echidna is launched.

On Saturday, I launched my picture book, Puggle, at the Toorak/Sth Yarra library...and my family has almost forgiven me! I was a bundle of nerves on the day, which was silly, considering I'd done two talks at country libraries the previous weekends, basically doing a practice run. Still it's different when you are far away from home!

I owe a really big thankyou to the following people:

  • Claire and Linda from Jeffreys Books in Malvern for coordinating the event.

  • Stonnington Libraries for providing the venue and supporting the event with refreshments.

  • Patricia Arkoudi from Stonnington Libraries for helping with organisation.

  • Lily Merry from Stonnington Libraries for her fantastic efforts on the day, with setting up and clearing up, you have my eternal gratitude!

  • Andrew Plant for his delicious echidna cake and for his patience in drawing animals for my daughter and her friends.

  • Helen Joakim for providing the gorgeous photos of Puggle growing up.

  • Adriana Simmonds from Wildlife Victorie for her heartfelt speech and launching the book with such enthusiasm.

And most importantly my editor and publisher Jane Covernton of Working Title Press. Working Title Press is a small, independent, Australian publisher. It has been wonderul to work with Jane as her dedication to every aspect of the book is legendary. She's made me work hard as a writer and I've learnt a lot. Despite the fact that she is a small(ish) pulisher, Jane had no hesitation in providing wine for the launch and for that I am doubly grateful. It inspires me to work harder to make the book a success for us all.

And of course everyone who came! It was great to see so many friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in years as I'd been overseas.

I was quoted by Virginia Lowe in her newsletter recently, talking about book launches. I'm not sure if it came out right or not. Her question was, did I expect everyone to buy a book who comes to my launch. My answer was no...books are expensive, especially hardback picture books. For me a launch is a chance to celebrate those successes which are often a long time coming, to share with friends and also publicity. Of course, I'd like to sell books too! If people don't buy books, there are other things they can do to support me, such as fill your glass, give you a kiss, tell everyone at school/work what a great book it was and recommend it to others. They can blog about it, or tweet about it, request it from their local library.

Bridget Jones also has a lot to answer for. Like many people, before I started writing I thought that publishers put on a lovely party for you...perhaps they did once. Perhaps they do for famous people. The reality is that most writers organise their own launch. If you are lucky, a bookshop might support you, throw in a couple of bottles of wine, some sandwiches or a venue. My first launch, for My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day was sponsored by the East Malvern RSL, who provided wonderful food, wine and a venue. Many books were sold on that day but the resultant 'buzz' was what was important too.

So....how did my day begin?

Firstly, I was a little seedy from the night before. Not a great start but it was Twilight Sports at my youngest daughters school. I made lots of hamburgers and put loads of sausages in buns, just managed to see my daughter lose her race in the great family tradition but then I SHOULD HAVE GONE STRAIGHT HOME.

Next, my husband woke me with his incessant restlessness at 3am because he has a dodgy knee.

Then daughter number two had a fancy dress party and I'd forgotten to get a present so we had to brave the hordes at Chadstone.

I had to run to Harvey Norman to get a remote for the laptop.

I went to the wine shop to get more wine as I panicked.

My husband cleaned the house and told me I should have a glass of wine to calm down. ...I didn't .

My daughter told me to calm down and that allwould be fine.

I rang the library to check numbers and convinced myself that no one was coming.

I dropped daughter off at a friends, who would then take her to fancy dress party.

Once people started arriving, I was fine. I realised that these were supporters, not hecklers and it wasn't like I was going to be voted off the island if no one liked my speech.

Andrew and his family had made a beautiful echidna cake, complete with chocolate bullet spines. It was such a shame to cut it and slightly surreal to see children eating it's head.

Adriana Simmonds from Wildlife Victoria gave an inspirational speech about why it is important to care for all our wildlife, not just those on the endangered list. As a carer herself we could all tell how much she loved Australian wildlife.

And I apologised to my family for being a bad mum that morning. I guess they're the ones I should really thank most of all. They put up with me day in , day out.

Several glasses of wine, and many signed books later, I managed to herd the last people out of the library just as the security guard was shutting up.

So for pictures of PUGGLE, they'll soon be posted on my website.