Wednesday 30 October 2019

Who knew the extra skills I'd learn after getting my first book deal? By Tamsin Cooke

After getting my first book deal, my life went on a steep learning curve. 

1)    Website Designer
If you had asked me five years ago, that I would create a website, I would have burst out laughing. I was (and still am to some extent) a technophobe. I have to pass my phone over to my children so they can tell me how to work WhatsApp etc…
But when I got my first book deal, my editor suggested I create a website. My whole body went into shut down/panic mode. 
However, I soon realized that it made a lot of sense. People can find out all about you and your books. Children and schools can contact you. Even though it pushed me out of my comfort zone, I knew it was something I had to do.

And so I researched the Internet, got completely baffled, closed my eyes and picked a website creation tool to help me. I chose Wordpress, but I know there are lots of others out there that are equally good. Then I embarked on something which possibly took me longer than writing a book! Luckily my host support was incredibly helpful. I contacted them so many times, I now know all of their children’s names and birthdays! ; )
As difficult as it was, by the end of the process, I had produced something that I’m incredibly proud of. My website gets lots of hits everyday, especially the quizzes, which I also created. ‘What is your Nahualli/Spirit animal?’ generates so much interest. If you have an idea for a quiz, I thoroughly recommend including it. 
Other things you can include are: Pages about yourself, your books, videos, schemes of work, book trailers, games. The list can go on and on. 
Plus if you create the website yourself and something goes wrong, you can fix it. I do this – with the help of host support of course!

2)    Children’s Entertainer
I had a little head-start on this one, as I used to be a primary school teacher. However, going into school as an author is something else entirely. Children think you’re a celebrity. I often get asked:
‘Are you famous?’ 
To which of course, there is only one answer. ‘Of course. I am the most famous person you will ever meet! I had to fight through the paparazzi to get here.’ 
They then tell me that they’ve met David Walliams or the Queen, and I say, ‘Who?’
 If you are worried about going into schools, it does get easier. And I really recommend playing to your strengths. If you can draw, sing, play a musical instrument, then include those in your act. Children love things like that!  Unfortunately, I’m not very good at any of those. However, I love drama. So I turn up at the school or festival dressed like a cat burglar, and I dress up a few children as well. I mime stunts and get the audience to guess what I’m doing. And using drama and a clapper board, the children perform a story that we create together. 
I try to make the event as inspiring, memorable and fun as possible. 
If the thought of going into a school terrifies you, please remember: children are just so happy that someone other than their teacher is working with them! More importantly, nothing is better than having a person read aloud to you, especially the person who wrote the book or drew the illustrations. You are giving the children a magical gift.

What other skills have you learnt since becoming an author? Things that you never thought possible?

Tamsin Cooke
Author of The Scarlet Files Series and Stunt Double Series
Twitter: @TamsinCooke1 


Nick Garlick said...

Interesting post. I love the idea of a quiz.

Tamsin Cooke said...

Thanks Nick. Quizzes work well. I found them tricky to make, but really worth it. They generate so much interest from both children and adults.

Ann Turnbull said...

Crumbs, I'm an eagle! Who'd have thought it? These books sound great, Tamsin. I shall get one for Christmas for a young relation.

Tamsin Cooke said...

Ooh Ann, you're a free spirit, curious and a great problem solver. An eagle is fab Nahualli! And thank you so much for your kind words about my books. I hope they like it. X