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My Social Media Playground

I’ve just signed up for a 30-day social media challenge for authors. And through the initial discussions it has occurred to me that social media can be very much likened to a playground (particularly by me – as I write children’s books, it’s a totally fitting analogy!)

So there’s:

 

The slide– You climb to the top, only to slide back down to the bottom, before starting your climb again. If you are not making a constant effort you get no-where, and even when you give it a huge push, you always end up right back at the beginning. For me, this is Instagram.

 

 

The Roundabout – Need I explain? You’re going round in circles. You’re not sure what you’re doing. You have momentum, but you’re not really sure you’re achieving anything at all. This is most likely linkedin in my world.

 

The Swings – Look at me! Look at me! Look how high I am. You can build momentum and keep it there, so long as you keep on swinging those little legs. Facebook!

The Fying Fox – We all love the flying fox right? Well the bit as we’re zipping along at breakneck speed, wind through our hair, huge cheesy grin on our faces. But then we hit the end, DOINK! And we have to get off, and run the thing all the way up the hill back to the beginning. This is Twitter, you have moments of fabulous engagement, you’re flying. Then DOINK! You run out of momentum and have to work you’re ass off to build it up again. But how much fun is the ride?!

The Phones – You know, the talky funnels. You think of something important to say and then in your biggest boldest voice you announce it into the funnel. Only to be heard, or miss-heard by the one person at the other end, who just happens to have their ear to the other funnel (your mum?). The Blog!

 

 

The Spinny Things– These I fear! I have been green in the past – I’m not being green again. They’re my no go zone. In social media, this is snap chat and pinterest. I’m not saying they’re not awesome for some people. It’s just I don’t have the stomach, especially not when I’ve already exhausted myself on all the other equipment.

 

But it’s all good fun. It’s all playing, right? Important not to take it too seriously, but maybe there are techniques to making each ride easier and more fun. And at the end of the day we all need friends at the park, if we don’t take them with us, we can make them there, and there’s lots of fun in that!!

For those interested the challenge is being run by Michelle Worthington, you can find it on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/socialmediaforcreativebusinesses/?multi_permalinks=297067150819636%2C294818521044499&notif_id=1517826002446951&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif

If you’d like to come play with me in the playground, you can find me here:

Blog: https://shellyunwin.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=shelly%20unwin%20author%20page

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/shellyunwin/

Twitter @unwin_shelly

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shellyunwin/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Win Win Win!!

Shelly and books

This week the Australian Writers’ Centre is running a competition for one lucky winner to walk away with the complete You’re series! That’s all five books! You’re One! to You’re Five! So… if you’ve got some special little ones in your life why don’t you give it a go. It’s super easy!!

Just follow the link below …

and Good Luck xxx

click here to enter

Could this be yours??? book stack

https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/win-whats-favourite-number/

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The ‘Big’ Book Launch

Thursday night was epic! As we held an adult book launch over wine and cheese to celebrate the release of You’re One! You’re Two! You’re Three! You’re Four! and You’re Five!

The evening started with Valerie Khoo talking about the dedication, education and commitment it takes to establish a career in writing picture books. We then talked about my path to publication and I read from You’re One! which is dedicated, To Sean, my one in a million! We had a video from Katherine Battersby, who spoke about the fun she had illustrating the series, the different materials she used for the collages and how she works digitally to create the artwork for the books.

Anna McFarlane, Children’s Publisher from Allen & Unwin gave a beautiful and very moving speech about how she felt when she first received the texts for this series. We played a fun game of Heads and Tails with the crowd to win a full set of books. And then toasted the launch of the series.

On the night we also ran a social media competition to win two framed, signed prints from the book which Katherine had kindly organised. Which was won by a very excited Alex who managed to garner 108 like is just over an hour! That is some serious social media power!

We still have two major launches to go – One at Abbotsleigh ELC this Tuesday and the funky ‘numbers disco’ at East Lindfield preschool on Thursday.

But here is the show real from Thursday night….

 

The evening was such a buzz as we celebrated three years in the making for this gorgeous series.

Huge thank you’s have to go to Valerie Khoo, National Director of the Australian Writers Centre who was the most spectacular MC and launched the series on the night.

To Anna McFarlane, Publisher, Allen & Unwin for her beautiful and moving speech.

To Alex Adsett, Director of AAPS for coming to celebrate all the way from Brisbane.

To my Critique group, Picture This, for all of their help and support on the night and over the last three years.

To our fabulous illustrator Katherine Battersby, who couldn’t attend the evening as she now lives in Canada, but who sent a wonderful video.

To all the people who helped with set up, organisation and lending equipment – Nicola, Alyce, Adele, Felicity & Ross and Andrew Stevenson.

To the team at The Lindfield Learning Hub for hosting such a wonderful night.

To my dad for coming over from the UK to help out during this very hectic time.

To all the friends and family who came along to support the evening,

and of course,

To my gorgeous husband Sean, for the years of believing in me and supporting me in this exciting venture – You’re The Best!

 

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Launch Time

It’s been a distant promise for so long, and all of a sudden launch time is upon us.

I have organised a multitude of launches, including this one for everyone who would like to join the fun welcoming these books to the world at The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft. I’d love to see you at this launch if you can make it. Please make sure you come and say hi!

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CBCA Night of Notables

Last week I was so thrilled when I attended the  CBCA Night of Notables at Dymocks, George Street, Sydney, to discover that my awesome Writing Group buddy Penny Morrison had made it into the Notables. Her wonderful picture book ‘Captain Sneer The Buccaneer‘ was in the ‘Early Childhood’ category and shone out as the table was uncovered at the launch.

CBCA NSW Branch Judge, Nette Hilton talked us through the judging process and explained how a book’s setting, characterisation, plot, theme, conventions of writing, writing style, and mood, all working together, were used as criteria for selecting the Notables.

Congratulations Penny!! And all the other fabulous authors who were selected as Notables.

penny CBCA Notables

On the night we also heard from the super talented Jacqueline Harvey who talked about the challenges of getting children to read when there are so many other entertainment options available to them. She spoke of the importance of making reading an enjoyable and fun experience for them. She believes a love for reading often begins with parents who value reading and who build visits to the library, and reading aloud to kids into their busy lives.

Jacqui believes teachers also have a large role to play, and can sometimes be the first person to have an impact on their reading. “Reading needs to be front and centre and at the heart of school. School libraries have to be welcoming places where books can be touched and explored and enjoyed,” she says.  She also places a huge amount of value on school author visits, where children have the opportunity to talk to authors and talk with passion about books.

It was wonderful to hear her speak with such a passion and drive and you can see what a valuable asset she is as an ambassador of Room To Read.

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In the Room with Aussie Greatness

Gleebooks in Glebe brought together some of Australia’s finest Young Adult Writing talent last night for what turned out to be a very humorous and enjoyable panel discussion.  Melina Marchetta, Erin Gough, Will Kostakis and  Chris Morphew were chaired by Felicity Castagna and discussed a range of topics pertinent to the current YA market.

One of the most striking facts from the evening was a statistic, only 1 out of 10 Young Adult books sold in Australia is from Australia. The majority are bought in from the US and the UK. Will, who has just released his latest novel Sidekicks, commented on how great our Aussie talent is at the moment, particularly some of the contemporary voices. He said he connects to seeing the places he lives being reflected in the work. Melina, who’s work includes The Lumatere Chronicles, thought the statistic to be very sad and believes that the Young Adult novels from Australia have been very strong over the last two years. It would be interesting to know how much the block busters such as John Green’s various titles influence these numbers. It would also be interesting to know how many Australian titles are released by Australian publishers compared to the number of titles they buy in from overseas.

There was a vibrant conversation about the appeal of writing for a YA audience. Chris, who is hilarious (and who’s book, Man in the Shadows, I had to buy because I know I will belly laugh when I read it) said that he loves the YA audience because they are so up for the adventure you want to take them on, they’re open minded readers. Erin added that this audience is all embracing, and to write for them gives you a sense of freedom.

The big conversation of the evening was around covering diversity in text. Both Erin and Will’s books have characters with different sexual orientation. Erin spent about eight years trying to write the great Australian novel, she didn’t want to be pigeonholed as ‘the gay writer’ and have a limited readership. But she has found this not to be the case, people have embraced her book, Flywheel, and they’ve embraced it for more than its lesbian content.

I’ve read and enjoyed work from most of these authors and I now have a handful of new books that I can’t wait to get stuck into. Felicity, who’s own book The Incredible Here and Now received the Prime Minister’s Literature Award, was an eloquent and engaging chair. Thank you for sharing Melina, Erin, Will, Chris and Felicity, and to Gleebooks for pulling such an awesome panel together and hosting such an enjoyable evening.

 

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The inside word from Penguin, Random and Panterra

Saturday was the highlight of the Southerland Shire Writers calendar with the Writers Unleashed Festival providing the opportunity to hear from editors from various publishing houses. The event concluded with the Editor panel where we heard from:

  • Heather Curdie, Children’s at Penguin.
  • Beverley Cousins Adult Fiction Random House.
  • Zoe Walton, Children’s at Random House, and
  • James Read YA and Adult, Pantera Press.

Heather highlighted her tips and recommendations for manuscript submissions. She said that first and foremost she comes to a manuscript as a reader, looking to be engaged and entertained. She follows no firm rules and tries to clear her mind of preconceived ideas. But what it must have is;

  • Quality writing
  • A great voice (must be distinctive and original)
  • Great characterisation (characters must come to life on the page)
  • Compelling plot
  • Engaging first few chapters (for children’s books this is so important, they won’t persevere if they are not pulled into the story in the first couple of chapters)
  • A really satisfying conclusion

She’s currently looking for: Contemporary YA with a strong male protagonist & High quality stand alone Junior Fiction, that’s fun and intelligent.

Beverley spoke about what makes a manuscript publishable.

Things that are taken into consideration when looking at a manuscript they like;

  • Balance of the list – do they need more or less historical fiction at that time, do they already have too many rural fiction pieces on the list etc.
  • Profit potential – is the book commercially viable
  • Publishability of the book.

It is a difficult balance because each book is a work of art, but it needs to make a profit. So there is no easy answer.

She looks for Quality;

  • Well written
  • Compelling story
  • Ability to reach a wide audience

For commercial fiction, here is her advice:

  • Plot is key
  • They like a novel that promotes debate
  • The author has a clear idea of what the novel is about and it is something that a large number of people would want to read about.
  • Don’t go overboard describing everything you have researched.
  • Don’t overload with stage management.
  • Don’t over explain characters emotions.
  • Everything on the page should have a reason for being there and drive the story forward.
  • Make sure it is well edited before submitting.

Zoe used examples of books that they have recently published to highlight what they look for.

Starting with her best selling Rangers Apprentice series. She noted that whilst it was not an original concept John brought a really great sense of humour to his writing which kids love. He uses fantasy without magic which is unusual and makes his characters have to work hard for their success.

Next she looked at Alice Miranda. She said it is Jacqueline that makes these books special, she really understands and engages with her fans, and she works really hard for her books.

Lulu Bell was next, of Belinda she said that she really knows her market and knows what appeals to her readers. She is a great example of write what you know. Belinda’s dad is a vet and so is Lulu Bell’s in her stories.

Samuri verses Ninja, Here the title says it all. It is a high concept book with wide appeal.

Moving on to her Young Adult books she said that what makes a story stand out from the crowd is an original voice.

Are You Seeing Me? She couldn’t stop thinking about the characters in the story after she’d read it, which compelled her to acquire it.

 

James said that Pantera are a boutique press and they like to take on debut authors and nurture them, their writing and their careers. They are VERY unique in the publishing industry in that they pride themselves on a fast turnaround time. Getting back to authors within 3 weeks. Yes 3 weeks!!!! But you do need to follow their submission guidelines very closely.

They consider all types of fiction from Young Adult upwards and they are currently looking for commercial womans fiction. Ideally the next The Devil Wears Prada. Their submission guidelines are on their website https://www.panterapress.com.au/submit-your-manuscript