Tag Archives: Kim Donovan

Spring makeover for Electrik Inc

Pip spring cleanSpring has sprung early at Electrik Inc thanks to the design team at The Curved House. They swept in like a new broom sprucing up our blogsite, installing a bright new banner, sorting out the clutter and generally making sure everything worked. We’re delighted with the result and our mascot, Pip, is very happy to be centre stage championing ‘Our Books’. A big thank you to Kristen Harrison and Rowan Powell.

And congratulations to The Curved House on their own new ‘make a book’ project for children. The creative agency have established a new division, Curved House Kids, and are busy creating books which primary-aged children can either illustrate or write themselves. What a fantastic idea! Check out their website here.

And while we’re on the subject of promoting reading and literacy, we’d like to thank everyone who supported our Stories for Stockings campaign just before Christmas.  It created a great buzz with the magic spreading far and wide all the way to Japan via more than 100 facebook shares.

Jenny Landor, Co-founder

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BELIEVE IN BOOKS!

storiesstockings2jpg

Do you believe in books?

Children are reading fewer books than ever, with increasingly more time spent on games apps, Youtube and text messaging. Sadly, many are becoming non-readers. After reading this report in theguardiancom, we are campaigning to persuade Father Christmas to include a story in every child’s stocking (ebooks as well as physical ones). We need your help to make this happen.

If, like us, you believe in books, help spread the magic – please like this post and share with everyone you know.
Thank you.

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Murder Mystery for Kids: Kay’s Halloween Launch

ELECTRIK INC’S NEW ARRIVAL

Talent, hard work, patience and determination – all were rewarded last Wednesday when Electrik Inc’s Kay Leitch launched her dazzling new murder mystery for children, Treasure This. There was only one word to describe the atmosphere as fans, friends, writers and family packed the Comedy Cavern at The Victoria, Bath, to celebrate the crowning moment in Kay’s journey to publication – ‘electrik’.

Mystery, suspense and humour: Kay holds her audience spellbound

Mystery, suspense and humour: Kay holds her audience spellbound

There were no bats flying. And certainly no vampires present. But the orange-jacketed books with heroine Addy silhouetted in front of that ominous garden shed, gave the occasion a decidedly Halloween feel. So did the hunt for dead bodies! Very small, ingeniously hidden, yellow ones, I hasten to add.

Most spine-tingling of all, however, was the hushed silence which fell on the room as Kay picked up her debut novel to read. You could have heard a pin drop. And the faces reflected in the extraordinary mirror on the wall behind her, confirmed that we had stepped into another realm. The wit and humour which infuses every scene of Treasure This, produced laughter in the Comedy Cavern, although the mood changed quickly to shock and suspense as two bumbling thugs invaded the once cosy world of Roseleigh Manor.

It was a fitting evening for Electrik Inc’s second birthday. We were proud. Kay is the second in our author collective to become an independent publisher in her own right. BOLDbooks, her company name, says it all. She follows in the footsteps of Kim Donovan whose St Viper’s series goes from strength to strength, with a growing fan base among younger readers.

The team. From the left: Janine Amos, Jenny Landor, Kay Leitch and Kim Donovan.

The team. From the left: Janine Amos, Jenny Landor, Kay Leitch and Kim Donovan.

‘One of the joys of writing Treasure This,’ Kay told her audience, ‘was being part of the Electrik Inc collective, and knowing that the book would go through three professional editors before it was finished. We want to write and produce quality books for children, and publish them independently. With the seismic changes in digital publishing over the past few years, it’s become much easier to do that.

‘I don’t believe for a minute that physical books are dead – too many of us love them. I certainly do. But books are evolving in really exciting ways. All this means writers can take control – of their novels, of how the cover looks, how the book sounds – everything. I hope quality independent publishing can co-exist with traditional publishing, which means readers get more choice – more good stories, which is what I want to write.’

Book signing begins

Book signing begins

A former Sunday Times and Cosmopolitan production editor, Kay is more used to writing the headlines than making them. Yet she’s already been the subject of a feature article in The Bath Chronicle, with a caption her editors love: Kay’s Killer Debut Novel. The marketing rollercoaster has got off to a flying start.

Treasure this moment, Kay. You’re a star!

Jenny Landor, Electrik Inc Co-Founder

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The author. Kay Leitch launching Treasure This at the Comedy Cavern.

The author. Kay Leitch launching Treasure This at the Comedy Cavern.

Read more about Kay’s launch here: http://kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com/

Her book is available via Amazon and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.

 

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MAGIC MOMENTS

ELECTRIK INC’S FIRST BOOK LAUNCH

Super Villains pretending to be Ultra Ordinaries

Magical moments come in all shapes and sizes and can brighten our lives at any time. Some are a pleasant surprise, like rainbows on a cloudy day. Others are the realisation of a dream. The kind of dream that encompasses hard work, perseverance, talent, patience, and the ability to run around doing twenty-five things at once while still maintaining the outward appearance of sanity. The kind of dream that starts with a blank sheet of paper and ends in a local bookshop filled to the rafters with screaming, whooping, whistling, clapping children. All practising their evil laugh, just like Dr Super Evil in St Viper’s School for Super Villains.

Kim Donovan launching St Viper’s School for Super Villains at Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath

This was Kim Donovan’s magic moment: Friday 15th June, at Topping & Company, an independent book store in Bath, when the launch of St Vipers proved that all her tenacity (writing, rewriting, proofreading, editing, organising illustrations, correcting illustrations, formatting pages, swearing at the computer, re-formatting pages, banging head against the wall and re-re-formatting pages, marketing, organising, writing to schools etc etc…) – all that hard work was worth it.

Writer slave!

Green balloons bobbed everywhere, the kids wore super-villain masks and yelled their evil laughs and bought the book until the tills were smoking. St Viper’s School for Super Villains was a sell out and Toppings had to break into the box of books which had been set aside for school visits and brought along ‘just in case they need them’. Boy, did they need them. Kim signed books while the queue grew ever longer.

The Team. From the left: Jenny, Kay and Janine

It was a magic moment for Electrik Inc, too, and the culmination of all our blood, sweat and proofreading,  seeing our first ‘baby’ safely delivered – and so well received. Toppings declared it a ‘great success’, parents beamed, and the kids lapped it up. They loved the story, they loved Petherick’s illustrations, they loved the characters. Just seeing them jumping around pretending to be Demon, or Stretch, or Wolfie, made me realise how fantastic it is to write books that children love. There they were, up late, in a wonderful book shop, wearing fun masks and being read to by a lovely woman who told a story about a school where it was not only okay to be very naughty but was actively encouraged and on the curriculum. Unblinkinbelievable! What bliss. So this was their magic moment too. And that’s what it’s all about.

The Author, Kim Donovan

Here’s to more magic.

Kay Leitch

The Illustrator, Petherick

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May The Force Be With You

‘May the force be with you,’ Lu Hursley wrote in an email to me after reading my last blog. At times, the process of independently publishing St Viper’s School for Super Villains has felt like going up against The Galactic Empire.

But no longer a Padawan am I. A publishing Jedi like Yoda, I think. Proficient in formatting, contract negotiation, producing illustrator briefs, finding suppliers, selling to bookshops, distributing books, balance sheets, blogging/tweeting/facebooking, facilitating creative writing workshops in schools, I have proved myself. Yet, very little time for writing this has left me.

For the last six months I have made very slow progress with the second book in the St Viper’s series. I pick it up in fits and starts and it takes me ages to get back into the story. I’m not in a playful, creative mood either. The business hat I’m wearing won’t come off! Alarm bells are ringing.

In the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, Mark Croker says, ‘Most of the bestselling authors at Smashwords publish more than one book’. Journal articles talk about how successful writers write every day and set target word counts and top earners spend more time writing than marketing their books. Writers find that blogging ‘can eat up far too much creative energy ’(see below for ref).  And that’s just blogging on its own. However, ‘Blogging is one of the most important and cost effective ways that companies have to promote their brand and spread their message,’ according to http://www.netlz.com/seo-blog/2010/01/02/the-importance-of-blogging-  It’s a dilemma ─ no doubt shared by every professional writer.

I must confess it’s been exhilarating to take control of the publishing process and bring a book to market myself with the help of my wonderful friends, the other Electrik Inc co-founders. The mystique has gone out of book production. I know exactly how long tasks take to complete, how much they will cost and most of the pitfalls (I’m sure a few more problems will jump out on us as time goes on!) The more I do myself, the more I feel I can do. Set up our own on-line bookshop ─ makes perfect sense. Consider publishing other people’s books ─ we have the skills. Distribute books nationally ourselves ─ it just needs some research into warehousing and transportation. However, there is a price to pay.  Everything takes time away from my writing.

Book one needs less attention now it’s published but I have only just started to write again. So I have to think carefully about how much I take on in the future. I am perfectly capable of doing it all but is it the best use of my time? Children want to know when they can have the next book. Write must Jedi writer.

Kim Donovan

Electrik Inc

*Reference not available on-line:  Kona Macphee. Blogaholic. Mslexia. April/May 2012

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A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

My moment of extraordinary happiness.

Kim

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Help Will Always Be Given

Ever since I started writing ten years ago I’ve imagined my stories in bookshops: entire shelves dedicated to my books, with exciting displays in the windows of Waterstones or little notes attached to them saying ‘Highly Recommended’.  But it is incredibly difficult for independent writers/publishers to have their books stocked in shops. Even if you produce a high quality product, which book buyers think will sell, as Electrik Inc has with St Viper’s School for Super Villains, there is still the issue of distribution.  All the chain retailers and many of the independent bookshops like to buy from wholesalers and want books ‘sale or return’. Wholesalers ask for a whopping 55-60% reduction on the list price, which enables them to pass a fair discount onto the retailers. I understand everyone has to make money and I’m sure they do a brilliant job, but for an individual or a small publisher with a high print cost (a short print run is far more expensive), the financial figures don’t add up. Plus the real sting in the tail is that if the book fails to sell or gets a bit dog-eared and is returned, the printer and the wholesaler still have to be paid. In this case, by me.

I have been putting on a brave face. ‘The ebook for St Viper’s is going to look brilliant,’ I say. ‘Buying books on-line is so easy.’ But secretly I have been feeling glum about not having my book in bookshops. So, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and did something about it. I visited Kathleen, the children’s book buyer at Topping & Co Booksellers of Bath, who was really supportive. She gave St Viper’s to her eight-year-old son who “absolutely devoured it” and, as a result, has offered to launch and stock the book.  Next I visited Harry Wainwright, the owner of Oldfield Park Bookshop. He offered to stock the book too. Harry was unbelievably generous with his time and gave me lots of valuable advice on marketing. He reminded me of the line from Harry Potter: “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” He said I shouldn’t be afraid to ask the book industry for help. I took his advice and went straight to Waterstones to see my friend John Lloyd. And he also came up with a possible local solution.

It looks like my fantasy will become reality. St Viper’s will be sold in local bookshops. But as Harry Wainwright said, ‘This is a pilot study to see if there is a market for your book. At some point soon you will have to take it to a national level. That requires a leap of faith.’ I walked home thinking about the challenges that lie ahead: funding large print runs (to bring the unit cost down), warehousing and distributing books, PR and sales on a countrywide scale and how to manage financial risk. For a moment I felt worried, but then I remembered that it’s okay to ask for help.

Kim Donovan

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