Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the two hundred and sixty-sixth, is of children’s writer Sarahjane Funnell. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look here.
She currently writes the Phillipa series of picture books and has previously had stories Princess Rose and the Royal Tea Castle, published in the children’s magical anthology A Pocketful of Moon Dust by Rebel Books, along with an independent YA fantasy ebook, Blake.
Phillipa is a Trademarked series of picture books by Sarahjane Funnell published by Gibson Publishing.
The first title in the series is Phillipa Knickerbocker Glory and the Ice Cream Castle, along with her new book Phillipa Fairy Cake and the Secret Pets’ Tea Party.
And now from the author herself:
So it’s been about 18 months since my last post on Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog and it’s been a busy year and a half at that. My last post coincided with the launch of my debut picture book Phillipa Knickerbocker Glory and the Ice Cream Castle, independently published with Gibson Publishing (March 2012).
Now, after running over 30 children’s book events with my first book, alongside working full-time as a beauty press officer for ethical cosmetics brand Lush, I am now launching my second book in the Trademarked Phillipa series, Phillipa Fairy Cake and the Secret Pets’ Tea Party.
Producing two picture books in less than two years is no mean feat. It takes an unbelievable amount of energy, passion, will power and determination. From writing the initial story, through to copy editing, getting the ball rolling again with the chosen publisher and sourcing and commissioning an available illustrator, the process has taken almost 9 months from start to finish (which is an incredibly fast turn around compared with traditional publishing).
Though things may be stressful at times juggling dual careers, directing all 32 pages of the book as well as organising design and print schedules, the overall outcome of having a second book to call your own, far outweighs any sleepless nights suffered.
The decision to publish a second book within 18 months of the first was always in my publishing plan. The first title even makes reference to the second book on the last page where it mentions ‘…Look out for Phillipa Fairy Cake.’ My reasoning for this quick turn around being with picture books, particularly if you are planning a series, it’s important to capture your audience while they are still within the relevant age range for your books. This really helps to establish a loyal following of readers by maintaining their interests with new material. It also shows you are serious about your career as a professional writer.
My first book Phillipa Knickerbocker Glory, launched at Waterstones Hastings during March 2013. This was the nearest bookshop to where the title was published in East Sussex. With the launch of my second title with the same publisher, I wanted to run the second book’s launch again with the same shop. The Phillipa Fairy Cake and the Secret Pets’ Tea Party launch took place on Saturday 15th June and the very talented Hastings team put together a wonderful event with a beautiful display of both book titles side by side. I then added some personal touches including character cut outs from the book and some imitation grass to emphasise the garden tea party theme.
During the event, many customers who had come along to the launch of my first book also came along to this new launch. These repeat customers were delighted to find there was another Phillipa book, some of which had bought the first book as a Christmas present and others mentioned they had loved the first book so much they were incredibly delighted to see a second title to add to their collection.
As an author, being told by readers that your book is ‘their child’s favourite story’ and ‘how much they love reading it’ makes writing all the more special knowing your work makes someone happy and captures their imagination.
The team at Hastings Waterstones including Lizzie, Laura and Linda, are absolutely lovely and so supportive – especially with the book being a local title, and that really matters to an author too – knowing you have the support of book experts behind you too.
So, my advice to anyone wondering whether to take that first or second step into the independent publishing market would be, as long as you have the determination, a clear vision of your goal, you’ve sufficiently tested your readership and have a plan in terms of both time and finance to take you there, then go for it. Not only is it a huge achievement having your first or second book in print or ebook format, you are very likely to have some very happy, new and loyal readers to share it with too!
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.