Friday, 19 September 2014

SCBWI Masterclass on School Visits

Last Saturday I went to Charing Cross for the workshop on School Visits by Jane Clarke. This is going to be a summary of what I learnt because I can't give away all of Jane's secrets. So here we go.

First it was the business side of visits.
Jane gave us handouts of sheets that showed what correspondence to schools were like, and what invoices should be like.
Get your promotional tools together. Have a pack to give to libraries and groups.
Jane makes her own bookmarks.
She ran free school workshops until she was felt confident and competent enough to do them for money.
She mentioned to belong to a few websites that specialise in school visits, such as Contact an Author.
You do need insurance for visits, esp if you are visiting little ones, in case you accidentally hit a child. But you don't need CRB for one-off visits. If you are a regular visitor, then the school will get it for you.
Do what is comfortable for you. Be yourself.
Take blue-tak.
Enthuse the children to write and draw. Get them to have ideas.
Be nice.
Have a back-up workshop in case they have already done a similar subject to yours.

We had lunch. I had burger and chips (no bun).

Then it was more about the visits and sharing our ideas.
Put props on floor.
I shared my idea of what I do for my mermaid workshop for 9-12 year olds (Year 5&6). Jane later told me that she liked my idea.
We asked questions. I asked about indie authors. Jane said to just ask, esp if local. I also asked about special needs. Jane said that she has come across special needs children. They are guided by their teaching assistants. To ask the teacher to represent pupil if they want to talk.

So, what did I learn? Basically, I feel that I need to work more with children in libraries before I think about wanting to visit schools. I got a couple of ideas for mermaid workshops I could try out at different libraries. Oh, and to get a promo pack in place for libraries and other groups.

If you wish to find out more about marketing yourself as an author, why not sign up for my newsletter here

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Writing for educational and non-fiction publishers

On Tuesday night I went to Piccadilly Circus to the SCBWI Professional Series talk about writing for educational and non-fiction publishers. It is an area I hadn't really thought about approaching but things do change as you will read from this blog. I met Anita and David in Costa Coffee for a bite to eat before the talk. Thankfully they found the right place, despite me giving the wrong coffee name to them on FB. Oops. I did get right where it was - opposite the church. Anyway, here is what I learnt.

The panel was made up of Anita Loughrey who writes educational fiction and non-fiction and Louie Stowell who works and writes for Usborne.

For authors who are starting out in this area, do sent an email/letter to publishers you are interested in writing for, saying you are available for their type of work. Do research the publishers first, though, so you can get a feel for what they write and a feel for their tone of writing. Anita said that now is the best time to get into educational publishing because there is a new curriculum and teachers are still getting used to it. You can download it by Googling it. If you are still not sure how to proceed, Anita suggested asking a teacher for help in writing the book.

Louie writes for Fiction Express. She has written interactive stories for Years 3-4 and Years 5-6. Years 3-4 are 1000 words a chapter, and 5-6 2000 a chapter. It is very quick and you have to interact on a blog with the children, and when they choose the ending of one chapter you only have a couple of days to write the next one. She also writes for Box of Frogs and mentioned Me Books, like Choose Your Adventure books. She said that when you write for these publishers, you have to have your idea thought out as much as possible, know the title, format of it and the name of the illustrator you wish to work with.

For picture books, you have to be v specific. You have to have illustrator notes on each spread. You should find out the background of the publisher and what interests them.

For non-fiction - it is best if you know lots on the subject you want to write about. Anita has written for Discovery Books and got a flat fee. She also mentioned a forum with lots of info called Nibweb. it is best to look at educational publishers who are free to being pitched. Anita mentioned Walker Books, QED and Hopscotch.  Look at publishers lists and find a gap, then pitch. Keep an eye on what will happen in a few years to come eg events and celebrations.

You can write to charities with your CV and ask if they want writers for books for their purpose. Get your name out there. Find charities who have the money, though. Write less than you need to. Look at who and what you know.

There was questions at the end and one question by someone else got me thinking about this area of writing. She asked about publishers who were interested in writing about special needs and mentioned Asperger's Syndrome. Louie mentioned a name and said that if we came to her at the end, she'd give us her card and if we emailed her she'd send us details. This is what I did, because I got excited and decided I wanted to write about AS and other things I know about. So, yesterday morning I emailed Louie. She got back to me and wrote that she will get in touch with her contact, and ask her to contact me. So I am an excited bunny. I feel that this is one way to get published traditionally, and especially if it's about something I know about and can feel make a difference to children. We shall wait and see....

Sunday, 24 August 2014

How my mermaid workshop went at Bexley

On Friday I went to Bexley Community Library to give a children's workshop based on my first mermaid ebook 'The Quest'. It didn't start off that well because whilst waiting for the train from Lewisham to Bexley I got nervous and had a stomach ache. Once I went I was OK. I got there early so I could help set up for the children to come. Whilst helping out, an older man came in and said he was looking for Julie Day. I said, 'That's me.'. He told me that he'd been looking for someone to talk to about publishing ebooks as he had written both a thriller and children's stories, and had read a magazine about epublishing and had got interested in doing that. Apparently he had already been in contact with a publisher who wanted to publish all his children's stories in one book but they would get so much royalties, the store would get more, and he would get the rest, which wasn't much. He said no to that. Thought that he could get much better money out of it if he did it himself. So, we got chatting about how to go about epublishing and writing in general. He was also a magician and showed me his disappearing 50p trick. I talked to him again a while later before the workshop started about Createspace being free. I had also mentioned to him about the ebook talk I was going to do at Sydenham in September, and gave him my card and wrote down the details of that for him, which he said he would attend. Yay. As my coach, Rebecca Woodhead, would say BOOM.

2.30pm arrived, which was when the session was due to start. One girl had come and was waiting for two others. Whilst she waited, her mum bought a copy of the book from me. At 2.45pm they were all that had come, all the others were either away or in the park. I introduced myself, told them what I had planned for the hour and started. First I read an excerpt of The Quest, which leads on to when Delta the mermaid sees a merman on the last day of the quest. I then got the children to write their own ending and read it out to us afterwards. Then they got to draw their own covers. The library provided all the arts and crafts materials for me. After that, they showed their drawings to me. I liked the one with the squid because it showed that Delta did indeed live under water. Then they asked me a couple of questions, and I sold another book, but no badges.

All in all I believe it was a success. I wouldn't mind going back there again as they were really nice people.

I got home later than I imagined because I had just missed one train, let another go because I forgot the next train stopping at Lewisham had been cancelled, and waited for the next train I could get. I got home eventually, quite happy with the way the event went.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Don't put all your (marketing) eggs in one basket

I recently put this post on my marketing blog ( to warn others in marketing what is happening on YouTube. But because I know that some authors also use YouTube to promote their books with videos, I thought I'd post it here, too. So here it is.

After all that's been happening the last few weeks on YouTube #youtubefail I want to now say, don't put all your marketing eggs in one basket eg Google. What has been happening is that some saddo has found a loophole in YouTube's policy on flagging videos and been abusing it, resulting in lots of videos done by entrepreneurs (inc me) being flagged for some reason or even closed down. Poor Ray Higdon had his channel suspended with millions of viewers and hundreds of marketing down the drain. Because they didn't try to do anything to help, he decided to leave them. This is why Rebecca Woodhead wrote her column for What's Working Now called 'Why Google hates us'. You can read the first instalment here So, if one channel goes up the creek for you, ie YouTube, you should have a plan b or an alternative route to put your marketing material. I am in the process of uploading my videos to LinkedIn, so you can see them there as well.
Facebook is currently up and running well, so you can upload videos there for the short term, but you have to embed them, and I don't know how to do that. Or like me you can put them all on LinkedIn, which is a business network. Ideal for marketing materials. There are other video channels you can use such as Vimeo.

Meantime, I am going to concentrate on building my email lists and my marketing blog, as they are the two things I know I am good at and can do. And they aren't part of Google.

PS. If you want to get tips on how to write magazine fillers and get paid for them, I will be putting the ebook up on my marketing blog by next week. Why not become one of my leads to get access to more marketing ideas, by emailing me at or looking at

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Why I'm still happy being an indie author

Last Saturday 2 August, I went to an RNA (Romantic Novelists' Association) meeting and we had an open chat about all things writing and publishing. One lady asked a lot of the questions and the answers she got made me think, 'Yes, I'm happy to be an indie author and stay that way.' What were her questions? I can't remember exactly but can remember most of the replies she got.

The lady asked about Mills and Boon, saying she had queried them at the conference in July with her ms. She wanted to know more about them. The answer she got was: they require their authors to write two books a year to start with, then four a year. That's four books of say 60,000 words a year. I goggled at this. At one time I thought about writing for them, but realised I couldn't write to their formula. Now I know I can't write for them. There is no way I could write that amount of books in a year, not with all my health problems and appointments.

The lady also asked which publisher it is best to go with and what do they expect of you. Well, the answer was most of them would expect their authors to write in one genre so you could brand yourself. This was another thing that made me think, Yes, I still want to be an indie author. I want to be able to write what I like, and in different genres, like I am doing now.

The other thing that made me think about still being an indie author happened after the talk. I got to talking to a friend who has had one book published by a small publisher. She signed a contract to get her book in print and in digital, which it is. I had heard things happening about this publisher and asked her what was going on. She told me that the last she'd heard of them, they had changed to digital publishing only and moved to another country. I didn't think this was good news, but didn't tell her so. This got me thinking, that being an indie author, you only have to worry about yourself and not about what a publisher is doing. Third reason why I am glad to be an indie author and want to keep being one.

The fourth reason is similar to number two. On an email group a while ago, one author said that she had broken her contract with her publisher (a small well-known one) because they wanted her to write just for her, but she wanted to write another genre. Again, I want to write in different genres like I am doing now. I write MG (9-12 year-olds), teen/YA and adult, and want to continue doing this because I have so many ideas.

There is one reason I would like to get a contract, maybe for just one book, and that is so that I can become a full member of the RNA. I might see if I could get signed for one book, then carry on being an indie author, it depends on the publisher, though. We shall see.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Why you should craft your emails to your lists

This blog post I originally put on my marketing blog at I thought it was such a good post, especially when David Gaughran has recently posted about getting killer email lists. So here it is.

Up until now I have been writing my emails to my lists as I go along, but the last few I have sent I have written beforehand and crafted until I am happy with them. Why have I done this? Well, it is from advice that I was given by Rebecca Woodhead. In one of her coaching sessions with me, she told me that her first emails she did to her lists were crafted and she got more clients for that list than any others. So, that is what I am doing. I think if it looks like you have taken more care about what you are saying, informing and advising your leads, then they are more likely to read them and take notice of you. My emails to my new list, ‘hopewithjulie’ are all crafted before I typed them up, so hopefully when I get people on that list they will take more notice of what I have to say.

If you want to know what I have to say about being a newbie in a business or even how to become an Amazon bestseller, then why not become one of my leads. You can do this by joining Elite Marketing Pro at or my 'hopewithjulie' list by emailing me at

Sunday, 20 July 2014

My mermaid workshop

Yesterday I gave a children's workshop at my local library, based around my first mermaid ebook, 'The Quest'. The workshop was planned as a short reading from me, then getting the children to write their own ending and create their own cover.

It didn't work out quite as I planned. I only had two children come and join me, and both of them were younger than the ideal workshop age of 9-12. One little girl was 6, and the boy was 5. The boy was my friend, Heather's son. The little girl's mum drew a mermaid for her and then the girl coloured her in with pens that the library provided for me. Heather's boy drew squiggles and blobs with sticky glittery tubes. I managed to have a quick chat with Heather in between chatting with the girl.

I didn't sell any of the POD version of 'The Quest' or any of the badges I had with me. Heather did buy a copy of Creature Features Highlights 2 book, which we had arranged for the day.

Maybe another day will be better, I don't know. I didn't think it was that successful, although Heather did tell me on the phone later on that she thought I did a good job.

If you know of a library within London, or maybe even a school, that would be interested in having a mermaid workshop that involves reading, writing and arts and crafts, I'd like to know.