Sunday, 22 September 2013

Nosy Crow Conference, September 2013.

Yesterday children's authors and illustrators, aspiring and established, converged on The St Bride's Foundation, London for the first Nosy Crow Conference entitled 

"Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Children's Publishing 
(But Were Afraid To Ask.)

Nosy Crow is the exciting independent children's publisher established in 2010 by Kate Wilson and Camilla Reid.  In its short life to date, Nosy Crow have already published a host of beautiful children's books, several ground breaking apps (they are very hot on new technology) and have been voted IPG Children's Publisher of the Year two years running. That's quite a start.

Nosy Crow are keen to support emerging talent and I believe this must be the motivation behind this incredibly comprehensive and ambitious conference.

After a brief introduction by Kate Wilson, Guardian columnist Lucy Mangan explained why children's literature has always been so important to her.  She said that she did not know what he would have done without books in her childhood; books bought by her parents and loaned by school and public libraries.  Books gave the young Lucy freedom and and a means of escape.  She spoke of the inherent desire in all of us for stories.

This theme was picked up later by brilliant children's author, Tracy Corderoy.  Her childhood in Wales was not full of books, but her passion for stories was enormous, nonetheless.  She described the world in which she grew up as rather grey; her notorious Comprehensive school was overshadowed by the one of towns principal employers, an enormous chemical works.  Tracy recalled vividly a stage production she saw as a young child, in which people in red hoods danced to 'Walking In A Winter Wonderland'.  This dazzling splash of colour and glamour clearly left a strong impression on Tracy and is one of the reasons she believes that live author events are so important for children.  They bring colour and excitement into children's lives.

Live events are also essential for authors and illustrators.  Tracy spoke warmly and encouragingly about forcing ourselves to step out of our comfort zones, leave the safety and security of our offices and studios and actually get in touch with our audience, the children.  She offered practical advice on preparation for events which I found very helpful. Drawing on personal anecdotes, she was self-efacing, charming and very funny without a hint of egotism or 
self-promotion.  I got the impression that Tracy is still very much in touch with her inner child and has enormous and genuine affection for her audience. 

Nosy Crow's editors, Camilla Reid, Louise Bolongaro and Kirsty Stansfield spoke in turn about their individual roles, areas of expertise and what they look for in a submission.  It was pointed out that as well as a desire to create beautiful books, Nosy Crow is ultimately a commercial enterprise, with a need to sell books and make money.  This was a useful reminder, in case we become too romantic about our motivation as authors and illustrators. We do all need to live and eat.

However, a real love for their work was obvious in all three and a desire to help author and illustrator create the very best possible book.

Agent Hilary Delamare spoke brilliantly about the role of agent, dispelling suspicions of exploitative parasites and explaining that securing a contact is only the first step in a ongoing process.  The relationship between agent and client should be a close one and I know from my own experience that the support and advice of a good one can be career changing.

Debut authors Paula Harrison, Helen Peters and Sue Ransom described their individual journeys to publication with Nosy Crow. All their experiences were different, unexpected and ultimately encouraging for as-yet unpublished audience members.

John Reed of Publishing Talks gave a head-spinning introduction to building your own brand through social networking and blogging. He managed to convey a great deal of useful information and ideas in a short time.

For me, one of the highlights of the day was an appearance from Melissa Cox, Waterstone's Children's New Titles Buyer.
Melissa gave an illuminating insight into what makes a book stand out on the shop floor. Her love for children's books was very apparent, as was her desire to give every book she sells the opportunity to shine. She described what draws her attention to a book or author and gave some great examples of what does and doesn't work. Melissa also acknowledged that book selling is not an exact science, and that expected successes can flop just as easily as outsiders can become best sellers.

The day was really interesting and informative and I am sure that everybody will have learned a great deal, regardless of the amount of experience they have in the publishing industry. I know that I did. As Dr Seuss said

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 

So, thank you, Nosy Crow. You are clearly going places.  I look forward to your next conference.

Check out the Nosy Crow blog at

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A wonderful day at Grafton School ...

Kelly Gerrard and I were lucky enough to be invited to Grafton Primary School last week as part of the Pop-Up Project.

We did a graphic novel workshop with the children based around An Egyptian Escape. After our event we left the year four classes with a project inspired by the book and asked them to create their very own graphic novel style stories. 

It was so inspiring to see the children letting their imaginations run wild and many of them were incredibly talented illustrators already - let's hope they keep it up. 

We had a great day and the work the children produced was spectacular. I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone at Grafton Primary School and the Pop-Up Project for looking after us so well. 

Have a look at some of our favourites, I think you will agree they are a very talented bunch.

You can purchase An Egyptian Escape and The Roman Rescue in all good book shops. You can also read more about them here 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Work in progress....

Here's a little work in progress....

Black and white line and then colour!

The winner of the a signed copy of Cinderelephant is Rebecca Colby! 


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Celebrating World Book Day

It's World Book Day today, so I'd like to celebrate my love for children's books by heartily recommending 5 of my faves (in no particular order!)

1- Maggot Moon Written by Sally Gardner

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-coloured eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the "train-track thinkers." So when Standish and his only friend and neighbour, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big...One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

Visit Sally's blog here 

2- Mr BIG written and illustrated by Ed Vere

Mr Big is strong, Mr Big is tough, Mr Big is ...well ...big! He has just one small problem - because of the way he looks he just can't get people to stick around. How can he show them that although he may look a little scary, he is just a great big softy inside? With his trademark bold colour and masterful graphic simplicity, Ed Vere sensitively and humorously tackles the universal and current subject of inclusion, reminding the reader that to get to know someone you need to look beyond their exterior. This is the third picture book from an exciting new talent, whose previous titles "The Getaway" and "Banana" have received great critical acclaim.

3- My Grandpa written and illustrated by Marta Altes 

My Grandpa is getting old. But that's how he is, and that's why I love him.

Visit Marta's website here

4- Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella written and illustrated by James Mayhew 

Can the adorable Ella Bella Ballerina help Cinderella get to the Royal Ball?
Alone on the stage after class, Ella Bella opens Madame Rosa's magical musical box and is whisked off into the world of the Cinderella ballet. But will Ella Bella be able to help Cinderella meet her perfect Prince Charming?

Visit James wonderful blog here.. 

5- The Tom Gates books by Liz Pichon

The highs and lows of Tom's life are funnier and more extreme than ever in this fourth wicked diary from the Roald Dahl Funny Prize winning series! 

Visit Liz's blog here 

Visit the World Book Day website here 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Pop-Up festival - VIDEO

 Hip Hip Hooray for the Pop-Up festival!

Hear about the work of Pop-Up Projects 
CIC from the people who make it happen.

I have been really fortunate to have been asked to become involved with the Pop-Up festival this year and here I am speaking as part of this fabulous collaborative video.
(I appear at 2:05 and 8:02 mins)

Visit the fabulous pop-up website here to find out more 

tBK Magazine

Spotted this wonderful feature on my new website in
tBK Magazine! If you haven't visited yet, please do 
Follow tBK Magazine on Twitter @tbktweets

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

It's competition time!

A signed hardback copy of my latest picture book Cinderelephant

Dishy Prince Trunky is on the lookout for a bride and the whole kingdom is invited to a ball. The Warty Sisters are determined to keep Cinderella at home and snag the handsome bachelor for themselves, but the Furry Godmouse has other ideas. The moment Cinderelephant trips into his arms, Prince Trunky knows that she is his one true love, but can he track down the lady who fits her dainty (well - almost dainty) slipper?
To win a copy for your loved one simply email your name and address to
Subject line EMMA DODD COMP
CLOSING DATE 28th March 2013 UK residents only
winner will be picked at random
Quick - hop to it! ...