It’s a rainy summer Sunday in London. Another one. I am due to perform at a festival called Zim Arts day, in South East London. Last weekend I performed at the Pop Up Festival of Literature, which was a great success.
I had a chance to watch James Mayhew in action, which was really good. I first met him when I worked at Orchard Books back in the 80’s. I worked on some of his books – his rich, saturated Chagall-like colour stood outing a sea of subtlety.
But I digress. At that time, promotion was a choice. It was not expected of writers and illustrators. It was controlled by the publishers and agents, all comfortable in the knowledge that it wasn’t necessary, really. They knew the prices they were selling the books were not likely to change as the had made agreements with book stores to keep them at a certain level. The Net book agreement is a topic for another post.
Jump to this decade and things are very different. Children’s publishing is a shadow of its former self. Authors and illustrators who don’t promote themselves are forgotten. It is part of the job. The biggest challenge is to wrestle your list of fans and followers away from your publishers and into your own control, if you are published. If you are not, the challenge is to build that community for yourself.
The event today is one of those opportunities. I have books published in 10 languages, from Estonian to Korean, around 60 books sunder my belt and my own countrymen don’t know me or any of this. It will be interesting.