Sunday, 29 June 2014

Behind the scenes

Holidays!!  Yay, we are on holidays!!  You know what that means – yes, we get to have sleep-ins in the morning, and no school lunches, and no mad rush after school pick up to get to extra-curricular activities.  We can just chill at home!  Read books!  Wear pajamas all day! (well I don’t usually wear my pajamas all day, but my writing clothes are kind of pajama-like: trackie pants and ugg boots)  But first of all, we’ll have a nice big round of cleaning the house, so it’s in a fit state for the next few weeks of lazing about and flopping on the couch and so on.

I celebrated the first weekend of the school hols by going to Sydney.  It was a bit crazy – Friday was a mega day, with a 4.30am start for the plane, and then a bus trip out to Crow’s Nest to say hi to the Allen & Unwin crew, before a full afternoon of touring around bookshops.  I met some lovely booksellers, and signed a lot of copies of Every Word and Every Breath.  I even met some fans, and book bloggers, and had a great – if exhausting – time.  I also bought some awesome books.  There were an awful lot of books I wanted to buy but didn’t – honestly, I was really proud of myself for being so restrained.

In this blog post I wanted to tell you about the kind of behind-the-scenes stuff that you don’t think about when a book is released.  You’ve written your Amazing Manuscript Made of Gold, and then by some strange alchemical process, it gets turned into a book – a real book, on a real shelf, in a real bookshop.  But such a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make that happen.

While I was in Sydney, I met a few of the team members that are involved in the book-alchemy process – Liz, the Head of children’s publishing at A&U, and Theresa, who sorts out the marketing of my books, and Clare, the new children’s and YA publicist, who's about to dive into the massive task that Lara, my previous publicist (bless you, Lara!) is moving on from.  We all sat around and ate cake together (such delicious cakes, mmm…), and talked about Every Word’s reception out in the real world, and plans for the series as a whole.

They represented a whole super-group of people who put their energies behind your book as it comes out of its manuscript state - a butterfly from a cocoon - and into a form that people like to pick up and hold, and hopefully take home with them.  That super-group is made up of cover designers, marketing boffins, sales reps, finance managers, advertising organisers, and trend trackers. Without them, the Every series would just be mouldering away in obscurity on my computer.  With them, the books become something recognisable and real.

A lovely sales rep called Michelle took me by the hand and - in an amazing display of endurance and people-skills - drove me all over Sydney to visit bookstores, sign books, and talk to booksellers.  That took six hours, and gave me a lot of insight into the book-selling process, as well as infinite respect for Michelle, who does this every day.  Michelle knew everyone by name, and I realised that it’s her friendliness and tenacity and book-love that actually helps get the Every series into shops, and into readers’ hot little hands.  Michelle and I had a grand time chatting about books, TV (we both lurve Hannibal, and want one of those shirts that says ‘Someone please help Will!’), and life in general.  She was an absolute doll, and mainlined me coffee when I really needed it.  Plus, she knew every sneaky parking spot in Sydney.  Michelle – respect.

Then there are book bloggers and book tubers, who do an incredible – and unpaid! – amount of work to review ALL THE BOOKS (so many books they must surely have trouble keeping up) and create a buzz about them out in the online world, and by extension the real world.  I met Mandee, the Bookish Manicurist, and Sunny, from A Sunny Spot blog, who amazed me with their zeal.  Many online reviewers are young, and holding down study or other jobs, on top of their blogging/tubing commitments.  They do it because they love the books, and it’s a pretty awe-inspiring effort.

I just thought you’d like to know that a whole lot of work by many many people goes into the creation of a traditionally published book.  It’s not a solo process, at all, and once the manuscript leaves my hands, it flutters around the offices of heaps of lovely folks, all of whom have input into bringing the best possible book to you, the readers.  I’d like to say a huge Thank You to everyone who’s played a part in bringing the Every series to life – such a lot of tireless hard work by others is involved in bringing my dream into reality, and I’m immensely grateful.  Special thanks to Lara Wallace, who is an amazing publicist and has always been there to hold my hand - Lara, I will miss you!

Okay – a couple more things.  First, the Every Word Goodreads giveaway (see linkie-link at right) is about to end.  More than 580 people have entered so far, and if you’re quick as a wink, you can too.  Good luck!

Second, I’m going to be appearing at Death in July, the women crime writers festival in Ballarat on 4-5th July.  I’m attending the first night keynote address by my mate (who launched Every Word), Angela Savage.  Then I’ll be on a panel on Saturday with Simmone Howell and Nansi Kunze, where we’ll get to talk about YA crime – first panel discussion on this topic that I’ve ever heard of, so far as I know, so hey, come and check it out - plus a special morning tea launch of Every WordHere’s a link for bookings - if you’d like to come along and heckle, I’d love to see you there.

That’s it.  I’m gonna try to update more frequently now I’m on hols, and I think the next post will be on the Every Word playlist…  Until then, have a good week, stay warm (it’s 6 degrees here), and take care!

Xx Ellie


  1. Looking forward to seeing you again at Death in July, Ellie. If the cold doesn't kill us, here's hoping we die laughing at The Great Debate on 'Who does it better, Dicks or Dames?'

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