It Ain’t What You Do – It’s The Way That You Do It

Key Take-Homes from the KidLitVic 2017 Workshop: ‘It’s All About Your Brand’, presented by Lisa Berryman, HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Branding+Workshop+FLier+(1)Well, it’s two weeks since I attended the Branding Workshop at KidLitVic 2017 in Melbourne, and I’ve purposely waited until now to share my key ‘take-homes’ – as I wanted to action them and show just how powerful the information presented was. Apart from the overriding message that a writer is a small business and that you should at all times conduct yourself and present yourself as one, and NEVER EVER do anything to damage your business or brand, there were two salient points that I needed to take action on ASAP. So here goes…

 

1. What is your Brand Message?

You need to be able to crystallise and drill down into one SHORT tagline: your interests in writing + what it is you write + what’s special about you. Some excellent examples were given by workshop participants, my favourite being, “Exploring Big Worlds Through Little Eyes.”

I was not communicating a clear, concise brand message about my picture book writing to publishers in my submission letters, and I needed to action this ASAP. So I literally went home after the conference and started the challenging task of filtering down all the elements of my picture book writing into one catchy tagline. It took a LONG time – involving self-reflection and really standing back from my work and analysing it. As well as spending time thinking about just what kind of writer I ‘think I am’ and making sure that it matched what I’m actually producing.

Once I’d got my short list, I employed the services of my 13 year-old son – he of the Snapchat-Nike-millennial generation – to give his opinions. He was a hard task master! With most of my early attempts yielding responses like, “Too long; Too boring; Just No; That’s Lame; Boring; Too long (AGAIN!); Don’t get it; Kind of OK; Yehhh…but Nah…” until I got to the finally approved “Yes” and here it is:

Feel Good Rhyming Adventures - Emma Bowd

And then, Lisa suggested that you can add just a few more words in your cover letters, by way of weaving in comparisons, to give the publisher a really good feel for where your writing and your books are positioned – especially useful for sales, marketing and booksellers. Here’s my long form:

‘Feel-good rhyming adventures, with the wisdom of Bob Graham and the energy of Julia Donaldson and Dr Seuss.’

Phew…now to the final task…

2. Does Your Email Signature Sell Your Business and Brand?

This is the one area of the Branding Workshop that I gave myself a big fat FAIL on! For the benefit of not writing a long and boring blog, I’ve tried to summarise the salient points from Lisa’s presentation in a one-page graphic, which shows EXACTLY how my email signature looked on the day of the workshop; and then, how it looked after I gave it Lisa’s WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHERE and HOW transformation.  It’s quite embarrassing to look at the comparisons – What was I thinking? That publishers were mind readers?! The ’30 second test’ is something that I made up – Lisa didn’t specifically spell it out, but it was definitely the vibe that I picked up on. Oh, and yes, Lisa really did single out the lovely Tania McCartney as having a truly wonderful and professional email signature and brand message – it had lots of links, pictures and a clear outline of all that she is involved in.

Well, that’s it folks. I hope you find it useful. The workshop was certainly the best $40 I’ve spent in a very long time!

KidLitVic2017 It's All About Your Brand Workshop Infogram - Emma Bowd Author

Author Expo

0478 Author Expo - A3 poster V2 (2)1Congratulations to Lynda and the team at Bayside Library Service for holding their inaugural Author Expo at Beaumaris Library on the weekend. I had no idea there were so many writers, illustrators and book lovers in my local community!

A great atmosphere prevailed, where books and ideas were traded with enthusiasm. I look forward to this event growing each year!

An interesting programme, lead by speakers of both published and self-published books included: writing and marketing children’s literature; developing a non-fiction book; challenges in writing and publishing fiction; publish or self-publish?; promotion and the art of marketing; and Baysider writers in residence.

I particularly enjoyed the panel discussion: Promotion is not a dirty word! The art of marketing your book, with authors Lorraine Campbell, Jane Sullivan, Olga Lorenzo and Jenny Ackland.  Here are my take-homes from it:

  • Be authentic and true to yourself
  • Start social media early – well before your book is published – and keep at it!
  • Say ‘yes’ to everything!
  • Engage with people and find ‘your community’
  • You are the expert on your book
  • It can be useful to have a ‘hook’ or ‘story’ for your book
  • Have your 30 second pitch (what’s sometimes called the ‘elevator pitch’) well-rehearsed at all times!
  • Be positive, polite and helpful to others in your industry

Meet the Publishers Day – KidLitVic 2016

I spent a hugely enjoyable and inspiring day today at the very first Melbourne ‘Meet the Publishers’ event for Children and YA writers and illustrators.  It was organised by authors Alison Reynolds and Dee White, along with the assistance of illustrator Nicky Johnston and author Jaquelyn Muller, and held at the magnificent State Library of Victoria.

The opening address was given by David Ryding, the Director of Melbourne’s UNESCO City of Literature Office, and set the tone for a day of collaboration and inspiration on all things creative in the world of children and YA publishing.

Both established and emerging authors and illustrators were able to attend Panel Discussions from the creme de la creme of Australian publishing, as well as present Portfolio Displays, Manuscript Assessments and 3 Minute Pitches.

The Publishers and Agents represented were: Allen & Unwin; Black Dog Books; Hachette Australia; Hardie Grant Egmont; HarperCollins Children's Books Australia; Jacinta di Mase Management; Random House Children's Books, Penguin Random House; Scholastic Australia; Scribe/Scribble; Text Publishing; The Five Mile Press

Some key themes from the panelists which really resonated with me were:

  • authenticity and consistency of voice are the cornerstones of good writing
  • be true to your DNA  – don’t try to write or draw in a particular genre, just because it’s the current fad/bestseller
  • a good story is everything – irrespective of what tense it’s written in
  • collaboration between authors and illustrators is crucial
  • a book is a result of teamwork – between authors, illustrators and publishers
  • publishing is a commercial enterprise – that is the reality
  • all publishers are different – do your homework before submitting
  • N E V E R  G I V E  U P

 

What Makes a Great Kids Story?

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Melbourne book signing, by the best selling children’s author, Jacqueline Harvey.  Of course, it was a beautifully girlie affair (though I did note a couple of dads!) with cupcakes and cordial, and much chat about Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose.

What I wasn’t expecting, was to promptly change from my ‘mum hat’ into my ‘author hat’ when Jacqueline asked the audience of passionate, articulate 7-9 year olds, “What makes a great kids story?”

Cue a flurry of enthusiastically raised hands, and a swift lesson in storytelling, that no writers’ conference could ever have provided!  So, here goes, from the mouths of babes:

What Makes a Great Kids Story?

  • Straight to the POINT (NO long intros…YAWN)
  • NO adults
  • Characters that I WANT TO BE
  • A BRAVE main character
  • ADVENTURE
  • Story set in INTERESTING PLACES
  • Mystery – a PROBLEM to be SOLVED
  • FUN!

Welcome

Hello and welcome to my website – the hub of my creative world! From here you can find all you need to know about my work as an author and children’s literacy Ambassador for the leading education support charity Ardoch. For more about my work as a designer and maker of planet-friendly bags which also support Ardoch, please head over to DEED bags.

I love to connect with people on Instagram too. It’s my favourite social media platform where I share the many things which interest and inspire me, and invariably end up in my writing. I really like discovering amazing projects in all corners of the globe. My wanderlust for looking beyond my home base of Melbourne is probably due to the fact that since six weeks of age I’ve lived in a gazillion different places in Australia and Asia, as well as spending eleven wonderful years working in London – a true nomad!

My internationally published books to date include both non-fiction (RPS, UK and US) and commercial fiction titles for adults (Bloomsbury, UK). These books are my absolute treasures, and stemmed from my simple, life-long passion for those pretty things we wear on our feet each day; and by being literally knocked off my feet by the extraordinary experience of first-time motherhood. You’ve probably guessed by now, that my writing career has no strategic plan, other to write about what I love!

I very much enjoy writing for both adults and children. Recently, I’ve been focusing a lot of my writing energy on children’s book projects – having spent the past ten years championing children’s literacy as a classroom story-writing facilitator, hospital literacy volunteer and Ambassador for the leading education support charity, Ardoch. I have several picture book and upper-middle grade fiction works in progress, so please do watch this space for news of publications.

For more about my journey to publication and general background information, please visit my ‘About Me Q&A’ page. And while I don’t profess to being a prolific blogger, I’ll share articles on this website as well as keep you up-to-date with my various author activities over on my Facebook Page too.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or general bookish chat, via the comments box, or: author@emmabowd.com

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