Monday 10 December 2018

Six things I’ve learnt this year about being a children’s author. Moira Butterfield

My blogging Xmas present to you is a list of things I’ve learnt this year about being a children’s author. Short and sweet, but hopefully one of these may prove to be useful.

1. It’s become ever more ruinously expensive to get to London for meetings with publishers and agent, but I can save some money by trainsplitting the ticket. Hopefully that might work for you, too.

It would be cheaper to go to London by reindeer, via Lapland....

2. It's important to take opportunities to learn from others, and so I found myself, not once, but twice, at one of the inspiring performance workshops run by Cat Weatherill at the Society of Authors headquarters. Highly recommended. In 2019 I'm going to make sure I keep an eye on the workshops and talks being offered by the SoA, and by our very own wondrous writing guru Jenny Alexander, who luckily ran a workshop in my home town this year. 

Hello! Can I join your workshop?

3. Chatting at a general level to kids, parents and teachers is hugely helpful at the very beginning of developing a new idea. In 2018 it really helped me steer my thinking in the right direction and it helped me get the quickest ‘yes’ from a publisher I’ve ever had.

Talking to kids, parents and teachers is good! (Though once I start writing, I'll probably shut up). 

4. Instagram is creatively helpful if you follow the right folk – illustrators in particular – who put up some absolute jewels that inspire.  I try to limit looking at it to twice a day, however, as it's all addictive, as we know. And, yes, I did a helpful Instagram workshop in 2018 (year of the workshops - they are all tax-deductible by the way). 

5. Mixing with other authors and illustrators, even if only on social media, has upped my game. Their successes and thought processes have helped to spark me up and do better.

You helped me up my game! 

6. Blogs must be short and to the point, or I just won't read them. Well done for getting this far! Have you learnt something this year that you'd like to share with other authors? 

Happy Xmas!

Moira Butterfield 
Author of all sorts of things for ages 4+, such as Welcome To Our World, published by Nosy Crow. 
2019 sees more highly-illustrated non-fiction and picture book publications from me. 
Twitter: @moiraworld
Instagram: @moirabutterfieldauthor


Penny Dolan said...

Happy Christmas to you too , Moira. Lots of good advice - and I must say that, from here, the learning is a continuing task.

Sue Purkiss said...

Yes - great ideas! But could you explain a bit more about train-splitting, please?

Moira Butterfield said...

Yes, Sue! By booking your ticket on - (actually I did it through, which sent me on to the trainsplitting site) - you can save a few quid. Basically it worked out that I could get sit on a train from (in my case) Bath to London, with two sets of tickets - one from Bath to Didcot, and one from Didcot to Paddington (and the same back the other way). I didn't have to get off the train, but I did have to make sure I was on a train that did actually stop at Didcot (in case the ticket was checked). The website worked out the cost, which was around £25 cheaper than a direct ticket - I can't remember the exact saving but it's nutty isn't it! I've just done this for the first time, and I didn't travel on the peak trains. Worth looking into wherever you live.

Pippa Goodhart said...

All excellent points. Thank you, Moira, and Happy Christmas to you too!

Jenny Alexander said...

The thing I learnt about being a children's author was that I still am a children's author - after a few years of mostly writing for adults. And that I need my children's authoring tribe. It was wonderful to meet up with SASsies again at Charney - and that workshop in Bath!

Andrew Preston said...

Re: split tickets.

I've been looking to do some foreign travel in the near future, and had already
checked out the cost of a return ( with Senior railcard ) from Somerset, Weston super Mare to Glasgow. It would be £129.55

With that Raileasy split-ticketing, they quoted £88.58.


Moira Butterfield said...


Andy Seed said...

Good blog as always!

Lynne Garner said...

Great post.

Our minds must think alike as I did a very similar post on the picture book den last week.

P.S. Will defiantly look into split- ticketing