The CBCA Book of the Year awards were announced this week, and I’m so pleased for all the winning and honour book authors. I loved The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett, which I thought was an old-fashioned children’s novel in the very best possible way. And The Coat was simply beautiful, story and illustrations. I sent it to my niece’s new-born son last year as a coming-into the world gift. Congratulations to Julie Hunt and Ron Brooks.

Hunt J Coat











Yesterday I got up early and headed to Melbourne on the 7.50 train – and thank-you to the barista/tea-bag jiggler at the Castlemaine station cafe for making my first cup of tea for the day – or else I’d have turned into a fanged and clawed monster in the V-Line “Quiet Carriage”. I was off to attend an all-day seminar on book marketing and publicity. It was organised by the ASA (Australian Society of Authors and well worth joining) and presented by Dr Emily Booth of Text.
It was a very useful day. For a start, I never knew what was the difference between marketing and publicity…and now I do. Marketing is all the stuff the publisher does to get bookshops to stock your book. It’s presentations by the sales reps and pre-release information and getting orders before the book even hits the shelves. And publicity is what the publisher does to get a buzz about you and your book around the time of release.  That’s book reviews, interviews, author talks and visits. Emily was a living fount of information because she’s got years of experience in both areas.

The reason I decided to attend at great personal sacrifice on a cold and rainy day when not only was it my son’s last soccer game before the finals but also my husband’s birthday (thus risking bad mother/wife guilting) was that this is My Year of Saying Yes. Specifically, to writerly invitations. I have been quite the busy bee lately. You might not think so, but I’m coming from a very low base – my reflex answer has usually been “no”. In the past couple of months I’ve attended the Toddler to Teens Festival in Williamstown as a guest of a beautiful small bookshop called Book and Paper ; talked to a group of lovely young readers at Bookgrove Bookshop in Ocean Grove; been guest speaker for the Ballarat Writer’s Group at their wonderful HQ in the historic Ballarat Mechanics Institute; and given a writer’s workshop on Writing Character to a group at my local school, Castlemaine Secondary College. Next Sunday I’m revisiting Ballarat as part of a panel speaking at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka as part of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. (there’s a fantastic program).

I’ll be on the same platform as Alison Arnold, Nadine Cranenburgh, Penni Russon and Karen Collum. I met Karen at the Ballarat Writers meeting and look forward to seeing her again. I’ve never done anything quite like this before, so I expect I will be buzzing with nerves. However I shall follow Emily’s sage advice, and so I will be well prepared, having read my speech out loud many times, asked for feedback from a significant other or two and timed it (very important). I shall have a copy on hand in case of memory failure, but if I gabble it out in a minute flat, I shall smoothly move into a reading from a carefully pre-marked page of my book. Which I will have in my hand. Whew!

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