For Readers

Ten Tips to Support Authors You Love

I’ve got lots of friends with books coming out soon. Some of them are well established writers who already have a following but some of them are debut writers, who might struggle to get their books noticed amid all the noise and excitement that surrounds big name books. So what can we readers do to help?

  1. Pre-order the book. Pre-orders help nudge a book up the charts in the early days of sales, that helps the book bob to the top and be a little bit more visible.
  2. Order from your local book shop – I’ve just popped in to my Waterstone’s in Chichester to pre-order Kate Mallinder’s Summer of No Regrets and  Thomas Taylor’s  Summer of No Regrets (Paperback)Malamander - The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea (Paperback)Malamander. This ensures the books pass through a book seller’s hands and hopefully, once seen, they’ll order more in.
  3. Be excited about the books to other people, share on social media, tell people about it. I’m super excited to see Marie Basting’s first book, Princess BMX – what a great premise for a story! And when Candy Gourlay’s new book, Bone Talk, was shortlisted for the Costa, I made this video and shared it without shame!
  4. Leave good reviews. You don’t have to buy a book from Amazon to leave a review there and they really make a difference – if a book gets over 50 reviews, Amazon will start to promote it. And a lot of readers use Goodreads – I used to love it until I was published but now it is a very scary place – someone I know gave me 1 star (the worst you can get) for More of Me when it first came out – I think it was a mistake but I couldn’t tell them because I didn’t want to upset them. That 1 star dragged down the average for ages. And before any copies of Beauty Sleep were available, some one gave it 3 stars out of 5 – they couldn’t possibly have read it but again, that score will effect the average rating. So be kind, if you love a book, go give it  4 or 5 stars and help counter any of those kind of blips!
  5. Send a message to the writer or illustrator about how much you liked the book and why – they really will be touched. It can be a lonely old business and one fraught with self doubt.
  6. Share their posts on social media to boost their own efforts to shout about there books – it all helps. Apparently you need to see something seven times before it even makes an impression. Be part of their seven.
  7. Go and see them if they put on an event near you. Take pictures, tweet about it. Let your local paper know what a great time you had – kind readers have done this for me and it’s very wonderful.
  8. Vote for them. Competitions crop up for all sorts of things, if you see one and get the chance to vote, do.
  9. Join in if they’re running a competition – or get your children to join in. Huge thanks to Cathy Cassidy who is running a competition for me on her Dreamcatcher’s blog.
  10. Follow them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress – where ever – let them feel the love!

Now following my own advice, here are a couple more books I can not wait to get my paws on. Click the books for a sales link.

Patrice Lawrence

Voices: Diver's Daughter: A Tudor Story by [Lawrence, Patrice]

Karen Ball


Books, For Readers, More of Me

More of Me is One Year Old

By Kathryn Evans

I feel like I should have a little birthday tea. One year ago today, my first book was born. After more than 15 years of trying, I became an actual, real life  published author. My debut YA novel More of Me was released by Usborne  to U.K. readers.

The birth was celebrated by many of my  amazing friends. The tribute below was  lead by Candy Gourlay and Amanda Lillywhite, who encouraged enormous numbers of people to do this to their faces and post it all over facebook and twitter.

Just a few of the many pals who “MorphedofMe” for Launch day.

I was so moved by this, it’s amazing, don’t you think?  And then very many of them turned out for my launch parties – the first hosted by Daunt Books, the second, by Waterstones. You can see loads of pictures here but this is one of my favourites, because it sums up all the support, kindness and squidging  I’ve had along the way:

All the hugs for SCBWI pal Addy Farmer

I think it’s traditional  to talk about the highs and lows of having a first bookbaby- and at some point I will be doing a post on that for SCBWI’s Words and Pictures   – I’ll link to it when it comes out.  But not here. Here, in the spirit of new motherhood, I’m going to celebrate my book’s first birthday by inviting  a few pregnant friends over…I think I may be taking this metaphor a bit too far…Basically, I’m going to celebrate my book’s birthday with the

Joy of New Books!

During this last year, I teamed up with four other SCBWI debut authors, my fellow Lost and Founders,  and they all have new books out this year. I’ve read one of them, Olivia Levez, The Circus, and loved it. Sue Wallman’s See How They Lie,  Patrice Lawrence’s Indigo Donut  and Eugene Lambert’s Into The No Zone, I couldn’t quite get my hands on yet but I will! I will!  I’m so happy for them, they give me hope! I’m still writing my book 2 ( slacker).


I also want to mention Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart – this book was Usborne’s lead debut in 2016 and made a huge and deserved splash. It’s middle grade with a strong story,  wonderful characters and a gorgeous steampunk feel to it. If you haven’t read it,  do – I can’t wait for the follow up, MoonLocket, out in May..need to get working on my dress ups for that event…


Fellow Slushpiler Teri Terry has a new series launching in May this year, Contagion – I’ve not read it yet but she is consistently good, I loved Book of Lies released this year and I can’t wait for this creepy looking series!


I am also desperate to read Candy Gourlay’s new book but I don’t know when that’s going to happen – come on Candy, you have readers waiting!! ( I keep nagging int he hope she’ll give me a sneaky peak…sigh…)

I’ve just realised I could go on forever with this list…especially as I want to give a heads up to some brilliant SCBWI authors who have recently been signed to an agent or publishing house and I know are going to produce amazing books: Em Lynas, Sheila Averbach and Lucy Van Smit get on with it gang, I await new treats!

There are so many more, it’s going to be another exciting year for books and hoorah for that.  Now it’s nearly time for cake, but first I must say:

Thank you:

  • Heaps if you were involved in More of Me winning, being nominated for, or long listed or shortlisted for an award. I am beyond grateful. And a bit stunned to be honest.
  • A ton if you read  and reviewed More of Me, or just read  and loved it or  read  and didn’t like it but didn’t slay me in a review – or if you did slay me in a review you did it for the betterment of book kind.
  • A gazillion times if you were involved in anyway in spreading More of Me’s wings worldwide, I love seeing all the foreign editions and hearing from readers all over the world.
  • Mahoosively if you’re a school or library that’s invited me to talk to your children.
  • Endlessly  for encouraging, handholding and being generally fabulous.

And now….CAKE!

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

How the SCBWI Conference Blew My Mind

My Seawig of Books! All the launching SCBWI Titles of 2015 Awesome Photo by: Candy Gourlay


Every year I think this year’s conference has been the best ever but this year, it really might have been. Was it just me or did we fill Winchester with enough warmth and creativity to power a small ship? And what about it really blew my mind?

Was it our fantastic, if bonkers, keynote speakers who set the tone for a fabulous weekend? Sarah Macintyre & Philip Reeve, Jonny Duddle and David Fickling were all inspiring and hilarious.

With Sarah Macintyre and Philip Reeve – two of our AWESOME keynotes. They sold out of books, our lovely bookseller sneaked back to one of the shops and got me one! Thanks David from  P.G.Wells in Winchester!

Was it because we had a great break out program which showed me the way to go with my school visits, fixed a HUGE plot problem I was having (Candy Gourlay you GENIUS) and answered many tricky questions under The Cone of Silence?

Candy Gourlay’s Structure Break Out was exactly the butt kick I needed.

Was it the fringe critique or the killer 1-2-1 that may have been hard to hear but was absolutely the medicine my younger fiction needed? Thanks David Maybury –  honesty was definitely the best policy. I’ve stopped crying now.  I’M KIDDING – it’s all good.


With  George Kirk (valiant organiser), Steve Hartley (school visit genius), Philippa Francis ( all round good egg)

It may have been  the awesome party, celebrating the success of all our new SCBWI books published this year. Or was it just the gathering of the clan? The cementing of of old friendships?

Addy Farmer, Me in a Wig, Teri Terry

The sparking of new ones?

Dom Conlon fellow FunEverser.


Robin Stevens, I wish I could post our pictures but what happens in the bar, stays in the bar…

It was all those things because all those things embody SCBWI.  The sharing of our craft, our knowledge, our experience, our friendship. And that true symbol of SCBWI,  giant pants.

Steve Hartley Doing His Thing.



Book Reviews, Writing Advice

SCBWI -BI Conference 2011

I am dreaming story ideas. My head is buzzing. My fingers are twitching to type. The  SCBWI Winchester Conference has struck again.

Candy with the much deserved Crystal kite Award. Am sure my vote helped ;o)

This year was a little tricky for me. I had some issues to deal with at home that were made it a struggle to focus so I must apologise if  you were disturbed by the  curiously subdued,  irritating woman who kept disappearing out of the lecture theatre – I wasn’t having bladder problems my children were on the phone. In the end I went home for a bit so I missed the party on Saturday night and Candy Gourlay winning, not only the Crystal Kite Award  but also the Award for Outstanding Contribution to SCBWI so massive belated HOORAH for Candy x

Home dramas aside, the weekend was, as ever, immensely informative and inspiring. For those that couldn’t make it, here’s a flavour of that:

From Frank Cottrell Boyce:

Keep your eye on the detail, that’s where humour lies. Comedy comes from the dissonance between who kids see themselves as and who they actually are – think Just William – he sees himself as a good guy!

It's the little things that make people laugh.











From Anthony Mcgowan: Writing guidelines can sometimes help you  unstick a plot – take a look at this:

Or if you can’t use a power point, this:

Freytag's Pyramid. Sort of.

Ask yourself four questions:

Who is your main character?

What are they trying to achieve?

Who’s trying to stop them?

What happen’s if they don’t achieve their goal?

If you can’t answer these questions maybe you haven’t yet got a fully formed story.

Try messing with the structure – different points of view, tense, chronology – shake things up and see if your story shakes up to.

Anthony’s workshop was CRAMMED with good stuff. I think he need’s to write a ‘How to’ Book – seek him out and tell him:

Sara Grant - author of Dark Parties | autor von NEVAFrom Sara Grant who talked series fiction – again, two hours packed with stimulating ideas impossible to sum up here. Briefly helpful might be her word count guide for Working Partners:

Age Range Word Count Number Chapters Things to consider Examples
5-8 4-5000 words 6-8 even chapters Simple characters, simple setting (they’ll be illustrated) Naughtiest puppy, Rainbow Magic
7-9 10-15,000 words 10-12 even chapters Again, simple characters, formulaic plots Beast Quest, Dinosaur Cover
Tween 15-30,000 words 15-20 chapters Characters more 3 d , more complex story lines
YA 40,000+ 20+ chapters As above

Sara suggested writing your pitch, or even your strap line, before you write your series story – it will give a good indication whether your idea is a strong one. Find your formula – what are you going to give a reader everytime?

I left Sara’s workshop with an idea how to improve my Dylan and Mouse books  and ideas for 2 more series- not including the amazing CSI Mars Alien Brain mystery we brainstormed while we were there.

From the Friday night critique group to the parting hugs on Sunday, I felt supported and educated and part of our SCBWI family. A pretty big one these days. If you write or ilustrate for children, you’ll belong too.

SCBWI British Isles - Supporting Published and Unpublished Writers and Illustrators of Children's Books

The Publishing Process, Word Counts, Writing Advice

Word Counts

By Kathryn Evans

Getting a feel for the right length of your novel is a puzzling thing. I know it shouldn’t matter – a story takes as long to be told as a story takes to be told BUT I do tend to obsess about it. I think I like guidelines – like to know I’m on the right track. So here are some for comparison – they’re my choice, books I love – some of them quite surprised me:

Louis Sachar’s ‘Holes’ – 47079

Candy Gourlay’s ‘Tall Story’ – 47405

Meg Rosoff’s ‘How I live now’ – 46920

Maurice Sendak’s  ‘Where the wild things are’ – 336 ( the film had more words)

Philip Ardagh’s  Eddie Dickens ‘Dreadful Acts’ – 25104 ( Suprisingly long, they’re always over so quickly)

Alice Sebold’s  ‘The Lovely Bones’ – 97914

Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ – 158012 – really??!

‘Sarwat Chadda’s  ‘Devil’s Kiss’ – 68567

David Almond’s ‘Skellig’ –  31202 ( so short – who knew?)

Michael Morpurgo’s  ‘Private Peaceful’ 46316

Francesca Simon’s ‘Horrid Henry’ between 5,000 and 7,500 ( but you have to read them over and over again to persistent small children)

Sally Gardner’s  ‘I, Coriander’ 66497

J.K. Rowling’s  ‘Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone’ –  77325

Strange how similar they feel in story weight – ‘The Help’ didn’t feel like it was 3 times as long as ‘Holes’.

This is fun too – for when you’re daydreaming about holding that finished book in your hand:

Ok, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away…..and if I’ve listed your book – do feel free to dispute my word counts – I didn’t actually count them all myself – I’m not that desperate for procrastination tools…although….

Kathryn Evans is the author of  More of Me. She’ll be appearing at  YAShot on 22nd October 2016.  If you enjoyed More of Me, please vote for it in the EdBookFest first book award🙂 You have until the middle of October. Thanks!


Book Reviews, Writing Advice

Take Heart, Writers in the Wings – Remember the Branford Boase Shortlist 2011

Meg Rosoff just posted a blog about Battery Books . It’s nothing to do with the ipad and everything to do with Factory Book Production.

It briefly got me down – for a moment my vision was clouded with pulp fiction and celebrity books – but then I remembered this:


I Am the Blade by J P Buxton, edited by Beverley Birch – Hachette 

When I Was Joe by Keren David, edited by Maurice Lyon- Frances Lincoln 

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay, edited by Bella Pearson – David Fickling 

Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes, edited by Roisin Heycock – Quercus 

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace, edited by Charlie Sheppard – Andersen Press 

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh, edited by Imogen Cooper – Chicken House

I know some of these writers, some of them  quite well, and they’re terrific. Talented, hard working, innovative and persistent.

And I know some of the editors too – not well, but enough to know they are also talented, hard working, innovative and persistent.

So take heart, writers in the wings – it’s not all pulp – there will always be a market for good writing. Just keep at it, learn your craft, don’t give up – our time will come.

PS – I can’t make the links work directly! If you want to buy any of these titles, click the book, then click the book image that comes  up on a new page :o)