Thursday, 16 January 2014

Differently similar - John Dougherty

I've got a new book out this month.

Actually, after a gap of over two years, I've got two new books out this month. But I have to keep reminding myself of that, because - to misquote Kermit the Frog - one of these books is not like the others.

The one that's very much at the forefront of my mind is the one I've been trailing at the foot of my blogposts for months. Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers was published on January 9th, and I'm ever so excited about it. My new publishers, OUP, are sending me on a book tour next week - my first proper one - and they've been sending it out for review and getting it into Waterstones and all that sort of thing. They've even printed posters, and they're doing me some bookmarks as well! Already, it's got more reviews on Amazon than any of my other titles. It's starting to feel just a little bit buzzy, to be honest. Just a bit.

And it feels very much part of what I do, because I did it much the same way I did most of my other titles - I had an idea, I wrote the story, I sent it to publishers, and somebody took a liking to it and decided to publish it. I've been including readings from it in my school visits since September, so I feel very much 'in touch' with it.

The other new book feels very different. It's not a trade book - that is, it won't be in the bookshops. It's part of the Treetops reading scheme, and it all came together very differently. OUP educational approached me (through my agent) and asked me to write a funny book - in fact, as I've just remembered, I blogged about it here. Instead of having an idea and writing a story, I had to propose a number of ideas, of which they picked the one they liked best, and then I had to turn it into a funny book. But not just any old funny book - certain guidelines were laid down before I started writing, which I had to follow.

For instance, I had to write two stories, each of a given length... I won't bore you with detail, but suffice to say, the process was different from my usual one, and not one I'd have chosen. The editing process has been considerably less intensive, as well, so I haven't thought about it for months. It was a bit of a surprise to receive my copies through the post yesterday and realise that it came out on the 9th. It was even more surprising to flick through it and realise that, yes, actually, it is funny; funnier even than I'd remembered. I'm proud of it.

And it reminded me that I really enjoyed the difference in process - in fact, I'd do it again like a shot. Besides, while Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face will probably do a lot more for my profile (especially since a sequel comes out in August, and I'm already working on a third), there's every possibility, given the reach of the Treetops scheme, that Twice Upon a Time will earn me more.

So, what's the point of this post? I suppose it's that even two short, funny books for children can come about in quite different ways, be positioned and sold differently, have different functions... and that, as a writer, I should always be prepared to try something new.


Sue Purkiss said...

Good luck with both of them!

Sue Purkiss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather Dyer said...

This is really interesting John - I haven't tried writing a book the second way yet but have been curious about it. Good to know that you can get results both ways. Congratulations and good luck with both.

Joan Lennon said...


Anonymous said...

Interesting post!