school visits for beginners

I’ve never tweeted a whole talk before, but last night I got my twitter finger out and had a go at it: School Visits for Beginners, at the Society of Authors, part of a series of talks run by its Children’s Writers & Illustrators Group.

I thought the talk would be a good things to share because a lot of my friends who have just started making books don’t realise that sometimes you can actually earn more doing events than you can by getting the book published. Getting a book published doesn’t usually give you enough money to live on, and write more books, so events are important.

Of course, that’s aside from the fact that visiting writers and illustrators get kids WAY more interested in reading books, when they discover they don’t come out of machines at the press of a button, but are actually written by people. (Oh wait, Miss, does that mean I can write a book, too? Why, yes it does…) Helena Pielichaty said that only 10% of schools invite writers and illustrators to visit, so there’s loads of room for growth.

The room was full, and here’s our lovely panel: CWIG organiser Helena Pielichaty, Dianne Hofmeyr and fellow CWIG committee member Bali Rai. Oh, and just for a bit of location context: some lovely cherry blossoms outside the Society of Authors headquarters in Kensington, and the painting of someone beardy who is not Philip Ardagh but might as well be.

Now there’s a record of a great deal of the things said at the meeting over on the #CWIG hashtag on Twitter. (You don’t need to use Twitter just to have a look.) And people are still adding their thoughts and tips for school visits on the #SchoolVisits hashtag. Go have a peek!

Most importantly, we REALLY NEED 40 more people to book for the CWIG Conference by 10 April! I know it’s not cheap, and I saw on the list that most of the people who are coming are pretty big names in children’s books. But that means if you CAN stump up the money, you’ll be hanging out with the best in the business, and if you’re serious about a career in making children’s books, the networking and learning potential is enormous. Go book now, don’t delay!

Twitter’s very ephemeral; our tweets will drift down the list until they disappear. So here are a few from last night to give you a taster of what was going on. It was great seeing how many people jumped in, who weren’t able to be physically present at the meeting, we had quite a good Twitter following! And some writers and illustrators were able to add their two bits:

I couldn’t help laughing at the cheeky ones from Philip Ardagh; almost every time I’d tweet, he’d come back with something:

And some more from the night! (When I tweeted, I used @balirai, @helenapielichat, etc, to report who was talking.) Helena has written an article on the Society of Authors blog about school visits, which you can read here. Lots of useful links!

So keep an eye on @Soc_of_Authors on Twitter, think about becoming a member if you have at least one book published, and do sign up for that conference! Speaking of school visits, I just saw Philip Reeve did one to the Royal Ballet School in Richmond Park and posted yesterday his drawings of Gollarks in tutus and such… worth a peek.

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