The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

20 Author Rejections

From SCBWI British Isles Members.

It’s the 20th anniversary of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.


It’s the only largest organisation for published AND unpublished writers in the world and I’ve been part of it for years. Holding hands with fellow writers as we climb through the snowdrift of rejection letters to publication has kept many of us going.

So to celebrate 20 fabulous years this year, the utterly wonderful Candy Gourlay thought it would be cool to share some of those rejections – and boy were there a lot to choose from! Members donated them left, right and center and here they are to inspire you to keep going. Quite a lot of the donated rejections came from authors who are published now…but they shall remain anonymous, as indeed, will the agents and editors from whence they came…

P.S. No agents or editors  were (C)harmed in the making of this video.

P.P.S. We love our agents and editors. Especially the ones who said YES!

P.P.P.S. And the ones that didn’t, they’re so often right…but not always…

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Second Book Syndrome

Well Meaning Pal ( WMP) “Hey Kathy, how’s the new book coming along?”

Me: Look at this thing I did on Instagram.


WMP: So the new book..?

Me: Yeah, sorry, I’ve got fencing training, and I don’t want to be late…


WMP: I heard it was much easier to get a second book published.


Thank god for writer friends on Facebook reminding me I am not alone. I love you. You are all fab. And hey, it’s not QUITE that bad (now.)

Last week I wanted to put a brick through my computer.

Now, I’ve just started on the fourth draft, the one where I tweak all the relationships, and you know what?  It’s not rubbish.  I like it. Some of it, I really like.

Of course that’s today. Tomorrow I might be reaching for the brick…



For Readers, The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

A Week in the Life of an Author



The craziest of train journeys; a wonderful day with librarians and a short lived but highly productive afternoon at the SCBWI writer’s retreat… Continue reading “A Week in the Life of an Author”

Writing Advice

How to Make an Author Website Part 2

Hello! If you’re back, YAY!!!  That isn’t you banging your head against the desk after last week’s post on the basics of How to make an Author Website.   That is brillopants because this week we are going to be personalizing your website. We are going to look briefly at categories and tags but, but when I looked at the site we made last week I thought we needed to make it look a bit more, well, us…

So, first of all you need to log in to your site, you might have  stayed logged in from last time. If you did that you can get behind the scenes of your blog by clicking on the top left corner where it says my sites.  If not, just type in your user name ( or email) and password. Ok, ready? Remember how to snap the pages to each side so you can work in one and still see the other? ( Hint: Click on the reduce size button , top right of the page, then drag the page all the way over to one side of the screen…and then the other).

Good. So first things first, we are going to add a  header picture on our New Author Site .  To do that we need to go back to the menu behind your shop front, you should be there once you’ve logged in. Hopefully you can see all the things you can tweak and change down the left hand side. Go to themes, and just to the right of that, the customize button.

wk2 themes csutom

Now click on Header

wk2 header

And Add New Image – we did adding images in last weeks tutorial  – just upload a new picture that will look good as a banner header, something in landscape  maybe….book shelves work well, so let’s do that!

Oops, I seem to have chosen tiny cakes instead…upload the image and now you get to crop it to size. You see the sort of highlighted section towards the top? If you hover your mouse over the dotted line ( you might need to have it over the tiny square in the middle of the line)  you can drag the highlighted area up and down. Move the top and bottom line until you’ve got an interesting header image and then go to the bottom right and save your crop.

wk 2 crop

And there you are, you have a new header image:

wk 2 header title lost

But uh oh! Now we can’t see the title of our website, it’s lost in all the cakes! Oh and also I changed the colour theme, so I’ll tell you how I did that and then I’ll tell you how to make your header title pop out again!

To change the colour is really easy, just look on the menu to your left for Colours & Backgrounds and choose one you like. You can change it as many times as you like. I’ve gone for blue for now, it matches my cakes!

Now, to change the header title: First, choose a font – go ahead and click on fonts on the menu on the left there. The top bar will change your header font, the one underneath will change the font that appears in the body of your text.  Choose what you like then use the little back arrow just above the font section to go back to the menu. And now you’re going to learn something really important.

Sometimes things don’t work.

I’ve changed the font  but I can’t see how to  change the colour of the text…it might be me but I’ve tried out all kinds of things and I can’t find a way to do it so now we have some options:

  • Change the header image to something paler so the title is more visible
  • Change the theme to something with a few more options
  • Design a header that’ll work better and incorporates the image we want

I don’t like the limitations of the orignal theme I chose so I’ve decide I’m going to change it – and it’s easy. Click save and publish so you don’t lose what you’ve done so far, then click the X in the top left hand corner of the webpage and you should be back at the page with all the themes.  We’ve done this before so I won’t repeat myself but I wanted to show you that everyone has hiccups when they’re working with webpages, and there’s always a way round it!

So now I’ve chosen anew theme,  Button. I clicked on it and then clicked Try & Customise – what do you think? It’s saved our original information and images but put them into a different template:

wk 2 button


I like it but we’re supposed to be customizing so on the left, go to Site, Title, Tagline and Logo.  You can write in the boxes you see when you click it. It will change your header text and the tag line under it, if you want to  – and if you want to add a logo, you can upload an image here aswell. Done? Click the little back arrow under the cross on the left.

Next on the list down is Colors & Backgrounds – we did that already so go ahead, chose what you like. And we’ve looked at fonts to so…now lets go back to that pesky header image.

I’ve uploaded a different picture, one I think might be more informative – and with this template, the title sits underneath so we solved the problem of the text colour!


The next things on the customisation list are menus, widgets and  static front page. We’ll come to the first two another time but a static front page you can decide now. Do you want to have your blog uploading fresh content to your home page all the time? Or do you want to keep it the same and have people navigate to your blog using a menu ( a button the can click). It’s up to you. I have a static front page but I dither about it…if you want to keep the blog uploading a fresh post to the front page each time you write one, just leave the static front page box unchecked.


Now at the top left of all those tolls is a button that says Save & Activate – do that to change to your new template IF YOU WANT TO. I do, so I did.

new template


You know what I just did? I tricked you into playing around and look! No disasters happened. You literally can not go wrong. Fun hey? The best way to learn is to mess about – you can always come back here and ask me questions.

Now, before you go, we’re going to put up a new blog post. CLick the little x top left of the customizing page and it’ll take you back to the main work shop. Now on the right, look down the list until you see the add button next to “blog posts”.

Add blog posts

Click that button and up comes your blank post. Fill it in the same as we did last week but with some super interesting content and pictures and we’re going to tag and categorise it.

Categories will make it easier for you to group content as your website grows so it’s a good idea to tag your posts. My two most used categories are For Readers and For Writers.

Tags make it easy for people to find your posts on the internet when they search for content. If you’re writing about yourself or your books, each of those things could be a tag.


To add them  click on the drop down menu marked categories and Tags to the left of your blog post. Click add category, in the box that pops up, give your catagory a name and make it a top level catagory for now. When you’ve closed that, check the box for your new catagory on the left and uncheck the one for uncategorized because that would be a fib, and we don’t like fibs.


Now, tags are slightly different. Just type in any useful reference word – I’ve used new website, new author, WordPress – to separate each one, just press entre. You’ll build up a lost of tags and can just click on the ones you want eventually.

Alrighty? Just set your featured image …we did this last week guys….got it?


Fab – we are done! And here’s one we made earlier. Well, now actually.

Couple of things, if you lose your post while your working on it, go back to the main workspace, it might be in drafts there’s a greyed out link top centre, click it and see – WordPress is pretty good at saving things.

Back soon with more – linking to social media and widgets!










The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

How to Make an Author Website Part 1

The very obvious answer is to pay a professional but hey, most of us live in the real world. Paying a professional web designer may be desirable, even sensible,  but it’s also far more expensive than free. Author advances can quickly be gobbled by such expenses. If you want to build a free site for yourself,  but are baffled at how to begin, hopefully I can give you a few tips over the next few weeks. Ready?

WEEK  1 The very, very basics……….

A few people have asked this question on various different forums so I thought I’d tell you how I did it. I’m no expert, I know a very very limited  amount of coding, so what what I’m going to tell you is very basic but it’s probably enough to get you started. It’s also based on what I’ve learned as I’ve built various sites – there will be other ways to do it, possibly even easier ways!


Imagine a village high street full of shop fronts, behind which is the workshop with all the equipment to display the things in the shop hidden at the back. Those workshops are the website builders, or the platforms, and  the shop front is your website. There are a lot of workshops to choose from and I can’t tell you about them all because I  don’t have experience of them all. I’ve used:

Blogger ( meh)

Jimdo (Ok )

Weebly (Ok)

BT’s own website builder ( yuk) (my fave and where this website is built)


Ready? We’re going to use wordpress and we’re going to build a really simple website together. I can’t promise I’ll do it all logically, I learned this stuff by trial and error, but by the end of this page you will have a website. Click this link, it’ll open  on a new page so you won’t lose this one: GETTING STARTED  (TIP To save you hopping back from one page to another,  if you have Windows 7 or above, , you can pull apart the tabs at the top. We’ll call this blog A, and your new website B. Just left click on the tab for A and drag it away from B. Use the double page icon top right to make it smaller, then drag it to the left hand side of the screen as far as it’ll go – it should lock in place and fill the left side of the screen. Now  make B a bit smaller the same way and drag it all the way over to the right. It should lock in place next to it so you can work in them side by side.)


web theme

On the page you’ve opened, you’ll be asked to choose a theme. This is the style of your website. Choose one you like, you can always change it later. I’ve chosen SOLA because it’s pink and I like it. Click your choice and you’ll move on to choose your…


Your domain name is just your blog address. That’s it. If you already own a domain name, you’ll need to map it to your new website.  If you are starting from scratch, as I’m guessing you are if you are using my super easy guide,  you can chose a domain name in the next step. Unless you choose something that ends you will need to pay for it and it’s usually a small annual fee. The advantage of a paid web address is just that it looks more professional and fits more neatly on your business cards/book marks.


But it’s up to you – for the purposes of this exercise, I’ve chosen

Cos it’s free and I already have a website.

So go ahead, type what you like in the domain or key name box and take your pick. It makes sense for you to choose your name  not your book title – there’ll be more books coming after all! And we’re nearly there….


Choose your plan – we’re going for a freebie, you can always upgrade it later – so do it now,  click select a free plan!


There you go, we’ve done it! The website exists – now all we need to do is add content and for that we need to go into the workshop behind the shopfront…ready?


Click the magic words Let’s get Started.

new site

And we’re in the workshop…



Today we’re going to WRITE a front page, insert  a PICTURE and add  some LINKS.

To begin just WRITE your title in the box where it says title…just type over it, it’ll be fine.

Now click underneath the little bar of icons to add content to the body of the page..

We’re going to add a PICTURE.  See the add media button  in this picture?

add picture


Click it.

This page will store all your images and videos – click add new or add media and choose a file from your pictures folder on your computer.  Make it a good one…Once it’s uploaded, click insert. There’s other stuff you can do on this page but we are keeping it simple…

add media

Once you have inserted your picture you can change its size by clicking on it and dragging one of the tiny white boxes at the corner in or out.  When you’ve clicked the picture, you’ll also see some icons – these allow you to change the position of the picture and add a caption – go ahead and have a play – you can always use the back arrow to undo what you’ve done – you’ll find that in the second bar of icons at the top of  the place you’re adding your content. It’s just a back bending arrow.

picture added


Ok, now add some text underneath

Let’s use your bio – you can get some bio writing tips from me and Nick Cross over on Notes from the Slushpile.

You are basically writing a blog post but we can organise your content more as we learn.  Wordpress will save as you go but if you want to save more frequently there’s a tiny blue SAVE up on the left hand side, over the publish button. You  are doing GREAT and we’re nearly there for today. All we’re going to do now is add some LINKS! These are little gateways to other webpages. You might want to link straight to where someone can buy your book, or you might want to link to some other interesting content.

You could just put a web address in for people to copy and paste but it looks so much more professional to add a link to text. To do this, first find the website you want to link to . Next, highlight the piece of text you want the link to jump from.


Next, copy the web address you want to link to from the address bar of the page – highlight, right click, copy. Come back to your new website . Now look at the top line of icons at the top of the page, see the little chain icon? That’s your tool for adding hyperlinks. Click it.

hyperlink button

Right click in the box marked URL and paste the website address you want to link to. Then tick the box underneath that says ‘open in another page’ – that just means they won’t lose your website when they click the link. Click Add link.

link url

You’ve done it!!

Just one more tiny thing:

On the left hand side of the screen there are a few buttons that will help people find and navigate around your websites.  We’ll come to most of them another time but we’re going to set your featured image today. Just click the drop down menu on featured image, select Set featured image, and choose the picture you uploaded earlier by clicking on it and then clicking Set Featured Image.


Now press that big blue button on the left that says PUBLISH.


We like that word 🙂 Well done, you’ve got a very basic website! We’ll add more next time! Now I have to go and write a book…but in the mean time, here’s one we made earlier. we’ll iron out some of the creases soon!


Next week : Categories and tags


In addition to running a fruit farm, Kathryn is a mother who loves to belly dance, fences competitively and is  a passionate supporter of SCBWI for whom she volunteers as Finance Co-ordinator for SCBWI British Isles. She lives on her farm near Chichester. More of Me, published by Usborne, is her debut novel. Agent: 


















For Readers, Writing Advice

Book Blogs and Book Bloggers

It’s all work, work, work…

This week I had the honour of being part of The Notes from The Slushpile team, along with Teri Terry,  who attended a Book Trust Bloggers Brunch. The idea was to learn more about what The Book Trust do . I knew they were involved in the Laureate scheme and I knew about Book Start, giving books to all  preschool children. But I had no idea about the amazing Letterbox scheme, designed to get books to children in care so they can build their own libraries and the new Story Hunters scheme to assist under-privileged children in the same way.  In the days when our public libraries are under threat, it was so great to see there was a broad government funded organisation really supporting the importance of books. I hope to be sharing more of what they do in the future.

A Sample Story Hunters Pack

Books and libraries are so much a part of my life, it’s hard to imagine how anyone couldn’t recognise how important they are, especially when you like to hang out with the UKYA crowd.

With Sita Brahmachari  former Writer-in-Residence for Book Trust

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging and bloggers, particularly about the UKYA people. You’d be hard pressed to find a more friendly and passionate group of readers and writers.  They get together on twitter under various hashtags #ukya #YAtakeover. Probably the most dynamic of these chats is organised by blogger Lucy Powrie under the #ukyachat tag. It usually happens on a Friday night and I usually miss it because I am out doing this:


But when I have holidays or when, hoorah, it’s bumped to a Saturday night, I get to join in. I absolutely love it  – so many people sharing your passion, even though we’re all sat behind a computer or a phone I can see their hands flapping as they recommend a book or excitedly share some thing we all know from some book we’ve all read. I can see it because that’s what I’m doing!

As we  gathered to chat this week, I was reminded of a tweet from someone asking how to find book bloggers. It was a good question – if you don’t know, you don’t know right? So here’s a good place to start:

Follow  hashtags on twitter:  the ones above and also these #bookbloggers, #tbr #books and #yabooks .

Google them! To make it even easier, I’ve made a list of as many as I could remember before I had to cook dinner. I even included the one who didn’t really like my book *sniffle*, because that’s OK, not everyone is going to like every book or every character – that would be weird.  Besides, she didn’t hate it, she just didn’t connect with Teva, which seriously, I’m fine about it, really…


Okay, enough of that. Book Bloggers! There are heaps of them, please add more in the comments and correct me if I’ve got any information wrong- I thought it might be good to add Instagram links too – let me know if you’d like to.

Here’s the list so far – In alphabetical order according to Twitter name:

Twitter Blog



@emilymaylowrey WWW.EMILYLOWREY.COM



giphy (2)Who’ve I missed? Over to you!

PS This fab list  has already been done by Mr Ripley’s  Enchanted  Books: Book Bloggers.

On my goodness and there is this amazing spreadsheet from @snugglingonthesofa SpreadsheetofWonder


Books, For Readers, More of Me, The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

How Facebook Brings You Readers.


Want to know my  action plan on how to be media savvy? How to strategise promotions on social media?

Well, sorry, but you’re in the wrong place. Having people try and sell me stuff makes me want to scream. This is more a  reminder  to be a human. Most humans are great. Let me introduce you to Grace and Erin.

Two Lovely Readers in One Lovely Bookshop.


Grace is the very first reader to email me through my website.    Grace and Erin are best friends and they are both  writers as well as readers.  I think Grace has a lovely, fresh tone to her voice.

This is her email:


I am writing to praise you about your book ‘More Of Me’. I found it through Cathy Cassidy’s blog post, as Cathy is one of my favourite authors and has been for years. Just by reading the synopsis I knew it was something I’d fall in love with, and the idea was so inviting I had to buy it! I visited a local store to buy with my best friend, and we even had a picture posted on Twitter of us holding the book!
The people at my local bookshop (Write Blend in Liverpool) had said you were wondering what people would think of the idea, and I felt I had to write to reassure you that your book is a masterpiece! I write myself all of the time, and I want to be an author, and More Of Me wowed me. It’s amazing how you could come up with an idea so out of the ordinary. More Of Me was actually the best written book I think I have ever read, and I mean that. And please bear in mind that I’ve read hundreds of books, ha ha!
I loved the way that throughout the book you tamed the crazy thing that was taking over Teva and managed to make her and her life very relatable, despite her condition. The book was just so beautifully written, the story line was inviting and it had a way of taking me  on the journey Teva was experiencing- I cried and laughed hysterically along with her.
My friend is currently reading the book, as I recommended it to her, and within reading two chapters she’s already vowing that it’s her favourite book!
I just thought I’d write to tell you how amazing I found More Of Me, and that i really hope you continue writing books!

Aside from being touched that Grace had taken the time to write, I was  completely thrilled to hear that she’d enjoyed my book. So much so that she’d passed it on to Erin, who then emailed me too!

I’m Erin – Graces best friend, we bought your book together at write blend. I’m writing to tell you that I’m reading the book at the minute and I’m really really enjoying it ! Me and Grace LOVE Cathy Cassidy and she’d recommended it on her website ! Grace told me about it and I said we’ll have to buy it. So, Me and Grace then planned a trip to write blend to buy your book and ended up on Twitter !!

Grace and I want to be writers when we’re older and you and Cathy Cassidy have certainly inspired us ! Thanks so much Kathryn, I’m excited to see what happens in the end of “more of me” the only bad thing will be finishing it !

Erin’s voice sings with excitement , don’t you think? Definitely two young women with the gift of immediacy in their writing style.  As I was reading their emails, I was  struck by the journey it had taken to get into their hands. From Cathy Cassidy to Write Blend to Grace to Erin…a word of mouth journey that started on…


For that’s where I met Cathy Cassidy who I later met  in real life when she was one of our keynote SCBWI conference speakers.

It’s also where I met Bob Stone, owner of Write Blend, and where Bob and I discovered we went to the same University in North Wales and (obviously ) share a passion for books.

write blend

I didn’t bombard Cathy and Bob with messages requesting they sell my book for me. They’re just nice humans.  We got on. Had nice chats. Shared values. They wanted to help me.

So here’s the best bit of advice I can give you about promoting your book on any social media.


Here’s what you do:

  1. Write the best book you can.

  2. Be visible but not demanding.

  3. Give more than you take.

  4. Be a good human.

That’s it.

That last one  works for other stuff too.

Like  life.

Thank you Grace and Erin and Bob and Cathy and all of you who’ve been so brill along the way.

You’re top humans and I’m proud to be the same species.



The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas From?

Writers are asked this ALL the time. And the truth is, ideas come from everywhere, you just have to be receptive to them. Listen to conversations for the hidden under tones, read newspaper articles with a writer’s eye – ask:

“What if?”

at every possible situation. I find trying to force ideas quite hard but if I remain open, little seeds sow themselves and start to sprout. Today however, it was not so much a seed as a fully planted tree.

This was passed on to me this morning:

British Pharmocopoeia

This book used to belong to my mother-in-law’s mother, Isabelle Keymer.  Isabelle began training as a pharmacist at a time when young women were not encouraged to go out to work. Unfortunately for her, family circumstances meant she was not able to complete her training – when her mother died she was expected to stay home and look after her father and she did exactly that. I suspect she wasn’t given a great deal of choice.   Male privilege held her back more than once in her life. I’m so glad I got to meet her, though it was just the once shortly before she died. Even then, post a leg amputation, she was  a strong, kind, determined and interesting woman. It’s not hard to see where my daughter has inherited her academic brain and drive from.

Isabelle’s life is an interesting story in itself but then  I opened the book and saw the first page:


Graffiti!!! Joy of joys, look at this page – not only is this a first edition published in 1864 (book swot alert) but someone, judging by the copperplate hand-writing possibly the first owner – has completely defaced it! Isabelle clearly wasn’t the first person to use this book – so who on earth was Rice Forsyth? Page after page is full of Rices’ amendments:



This is pure magic for a writer.

J. K. Rowling uses the device of a hand me down book with just these kind of amendments  in Harry Potter and the Half Blood  Prince! Oh, what a happy hour I’ve just spent looking through the book and wondering…What if?

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like? After Your book Launch.

It’s been three weeks since More of Me was launched and I am well aware my attention to this blog has been SCANT.  I am ashamed but I also have no idea where to start in sharing what it’s been like. It’s been crazy. So I’m taking a little writerly advice and am “showing not telling”  everything that has basically run through my brain in the last few days. Don’t worry, edited highlights only…


As launch week draws to a close, this happens:

I’ll just have a little look on Amazon- sales rank 189? What does that mean? Am I doing OK? Is anyone (apart from my fab friends and family buying the book?) How do I know? Oooh! New review…Better check Goodreads…


1 star?


Okay…I can live with that, there are all these other stars – these other lovely stars.

And look at this! My book on a table in Foyles!

When friends spot your books out and about.

But there’s still that 1 star and no explanation. Really? Ok, let it go, let it go, it’s fine.

Oh that’s nice, look at that blog post for the Scottish Book Trust, I forgot I did that – and look how many people are tweeting. That’s great. It’s all great.

I wonder how many books we’ve sold?Can I ask that? Is that a thing? Oh, it’s too early to tell. OK.



And then, this surfaces in my brain…





Crazed Author in Panic
Crazed Author in Panic

And there was this:

COCKTAILS at the #Yaspeakeasy event in London’s Drink, Shop, Do. What a great night! Nicci Cloke, Holly Bourne, Eve Ainsworth and ME!! Reading our books, drinking our own book cocktails and making up ridiculous stories about dinosaurs ( Nicci Cloke and I were on a team and quite frankly, our dino snakes and ladders improvisation was genius – we should have won, we so were robbed…) My fab editor Sarah Stewart even came along,  so I genuinely could pretend having so much fun was work…

Plus – I came home with  a haul of signed books – most of which I’ve already read and already love (you may have seen me blubbing over the first in Holly Bourne’s “Am I Normal yet” books in this review) but LOOK – I also got Eve Ainsworth’s new book and it isn’t even out yet ! ( I started reading it on the train and it is FAB)

Book Swag – The Best Kind.

Today, I am back at my desk checking invoices for the farm, fixing the network printers in the office and this is running through my brain again:





But on the whole, life’s being pretty kind to this author. I even managed to cope with this review:

A very original and interesting idea that is sadly very very badly exploited. The whole plot makes no sense, in the end none of the interesting issues are “solved”, but just magically wished away by a plot device. Characters are bland and generic, and the one very interesting idea of having copies of you laying around is criminally under explored.

Well, you can’t please everyone can you?


The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like? 2 Days To Launch Day

I have tried to write a sensible “week before launch day” post. Honestly I have tried . The thing is,


Twitter header

On Monday very many of my friends and family will be joining myself and Usborne  to celebrate the launch of More of Me in London. That is genuinely enough excitement for anyone. Then I’m  doing it all again in Chichester on Thursday.  I am as giddy as a school girl who’s eaten too many fruit pastilles and just been introduced to Beyonce.

That is my current base line level of excitement.

Add to that a continuous trickle of breath takingly good reviews, ( THANK YOU SO MUCH),  winning a silver medal at last weekend’s fencing competition, being sent gorgeous flowers  by my Aussie Aunt and Uncle and jewellery from my baby sister, signing contracts with my German publisher and other behind the scenes publishy stuff and well, you can see why I am actually bouncing off the walls.

So I’ve given up. Nothing sensible is coming out of this head for at least a week.  Thank you, all of you, your support means the world. I shall try and be slightly less annoying when it’s all over.


PS: What’s it like? IT’S AWESOME, keep writing – it is SO WORTH IT.