Take Risks. Get a Haircut. How to Do Brilliant Events for Kids

Steve Simpson
Steve Simpson

I was at a day for professional children's writers recently (Mindshift, run by the Irish Writers' Centre with Children's Books Ireland) and the speakers had a lot of useful things to say about events for children.

I thought I'd share some of the best tips with you. And see my previous blog for tips on marketing and promoting your book.

Jane O'Hanlon from the Writers in Schools scheme said 'Writing is not considered an art form, which is why it is underpaid'. She explained that the rate for a 2 1/2 hour school session is e200 (plus travel expenses). 'If you undercut the rate, you undercut it for everyone,' she said.

She explained that classrooms are complex places and that writers need to be aware of this. From this year on, writers will need to be Garda vetted if they would like to visit a school. Poetry Ireland (who run the scheme) can Garda vet any writer in Ireland, even if they are not in the scheme - useful to know.

Designer and children's book illustrator, Steve Simpson also gave some fantastic advice.

Irish language picture books are better paid as they get grants and funding, he explained.

If you want to do events - being able to work with younger children (age 5 to 7 and younger) is a huge advantage. Develop different workshops for different age groups. Get them drawing - children love to draw.

Be yourself. Go to talks and workshops and see how others do it.

Get the kids involved - make it fun.

Have lots of interaction from the start. Always be prepared.

Try to get some photos of the event and use them on social media and on your blog/website. Build your platform.

Take risks.

Get a haircut.

Be passionate.

Be genuine and real.

Be prepared for the unexpected.

All great advice! Thanks, Steve and Jane. More on how to promote your workshops/events to theatres and arts centres next week.

Yours in writing,


The Truth About Book Pr and Events

That's the funny thing about doing events and publicity for books - publication and all it entails: launches, radio interviews; writing columns; getting pics to go with the columns taken at odd times like 5pm (kids' tea time in our house and always a zoo!), Sat morning just before you have to get the kids out to soccer; book events and book tours - it makes you realise how much you actually enjoy a normal writing day. Some writers love the whole buzz of publication - but most don't. Most - me included - would like maybe 2 or 3 days of it - just to mark the fact that a new book is actually out - and would then like to be allowed slink gracefully back behind our desks to write again.

But such is the life of a writer these days - you must do whatever you can to make your book sell so that a publisher will actually pay you to write another one. And if that includes telling journalists (who I must say are mostly lovely) what you had for breakfast, so be it.

But the most important thing is the writing - get that right first. Worry about all the rest of the hoopla later.

Here's something I've learned over the last 15 years - if your book is really, really good, word of mouth is the most vital ingredient of all when it comes to book sales. You can have the best cover in the world, be on all the radio and telly shows, have bookmarks and posters coming out your ears, and if the book isn't up to scratch no one will recommend it to their friends or family.

So heads down and write!

But I must say visiting 8 schools all over England and meeting some amazing girls and teachers was an experience I will never forget. More about that next week . . .

Have a fab weekend.

And remember - heads down, the writing's the thing!

Sarah XXX