Monday, 30 January 2012

Live and In Person - Elen Caldecott

I thought I would chime in in what appears to have become an unofficial and impromptu publicity week on the blog.

(c) Eye Imagery
We've had great posts already from Liz, Nicola and Celia on the subject. I commented on one of those posts that my favourite part of book publicity was the live events. I would much rather talk to a room of 200 school children than try to follow a conversation on Twitter. So, events are always a big part of my promo efforts.
But what are events for? What can they achieve? And are they a good use of my time?

I am a secret exhibitionist. If there is such a thing, of course. I did Theatre Studies at A-level and was part of my local Youth Theatre. Whenever there was any getting up on stage and showing off to be done, I was your girl. But I came to dislike the close physicality of the business of show - everyone wanted to plait each other's hair all the time. Ewww.

Doing events pleases my inner thesp. I tell stories, I do the voices, I make 'em laugh, make 'em cry (I do a good 'angry security guard', and that usually terrifies someone...). So, I have a great time, but what else is gained?

In my opinion, there are three main audiences for events. First, there's the actual children sitting in front of you; they need to have a good time. Second, the person who booked you, so that might be a teacher, librarian or festival organiser; they're hoping that you'll bring some added value to their organisation. Finally, there's your publisher and perhaps a bookseller; they hope that you'll actually shift some copies.
And who does the author try to please? All of them, of course!

I try to make sure that every child feels involved and inspired. I show them how stories work and regularly have zombie invasions, pirates, aliens rampaging over magical landscapes. Last week I started a Jelly Babies versus Gummy Bears war, it can get very raucous. For the teachers, I smuggle in some genuine useful information in with the messing around. And I'll plug the books too.

It's that last part that I have the most trouble with - to my publicist's occasional chagrin. I'm more of a children's tv presenter than salesperson. Still, two happy audiences out of three ain't bad.

If you do events, who are you hoping to please? If you attend events, what do you hope to get from them?

If you'd like to see me at my capering best, you can catch me at the Imagine Festival in London on 16th February.
Elen's Facebook Page


Stroppy Author said...

Your events sound such fun, Elen! I'd love to witness a war between gummy bears and jelly babies - how fantastic!

catdownunder said...

Gummy bears AND jelly babies? Ooh!

Liz Kessler said...

Elen, I'd love to see you in action - your events sound brilliant! Can't get to London on Feb 16th sadly, but hopefully one day!

Penny Dolan said...

This really captures the joy of doing children's events! Hope you have brilliant fun at the Imagine festival.

It seems to be getting really hard to sell books at events, especially in schools. I'm sure that many people don't quite understand how the author, book and publisher relationship works. If you don't sell the books, you end up being an unpublished author.