In Part 1 of my interview with Katrina Roe, we looked at her inspiration for writing and the things that encourage and help her hone her craft. In this installment, we continue that and look at ‘what next?’ once the book is published.
Katrina, I’ve often bumped into you at festivals and conferences. The CBCA conference was the most recent (photos this month are from the conference). How do you think they benefit you as an author?
I think it’s important to stay in touch with the industry, to understand what’s working and what’s not, to know what publishers are looking for, what librarians are excited about and to connect with other lovers of children’s books. I go mainly for inspiration and connection. Writing is a pretty lonely path to tread, most of the work happens inside your head, so staying connected is one way to stop yourself from going insane, or eating more chocolate than is strictly necessary. Writers are generally pretty fun people to hang out with, but I go a bit stir-crazy after spending a whole day in a room without any fresh air or natural light. I do wish conference organisers would consider our creative sensitivities and have a few workshops up a tree, or on a fast moving train or something.
Katrina,I look at your calendar of events on your website and am amazed – you work very hard at promoting your books via events – Author visits and storytime etc. What inspires you to do this and what benefit does it have?
I have a theory that most people only buy picture books they already know. As a relatively new and unknown author, getting out and about is the best way to win over new readers, who will hopefully pass your books onto others.
If you tried to measure the benefit empirically, (ie. in terms of books sales, or the number of Facebook likes) it probably isn’t worthwhile, but I think it’s always good to connect with your audience. Reading the book out loud to children, and hearing their response to it, breathes new life into your story in a way that is very fulfilling. After all, your purpose in writing the book was for it to be read by children. When you get out and do that, it’s very energising and that energy flows into your creative life.
I like what you say about breathing new life into your story and how energising that can be. It echoes a comment at another conference I attended recently where one publisher said that books can take on a different feel when read in front of a group of kids. I’ve certainly experienced this with my own book.
I think there is a myth out there that once the book is published and launched, all the hard work is done. What do you think?
I remember hearing other authors warn that the writing and publishing is the easy part, and that the hard work begins after the book is published. No matter how many times you hear people say that, you still have to learn it the hard way. I was prepared to work hard to promote my book, but I didn’t realise just how difficult it would be. The link between publicity and sales seems very tenuous and it’s always difficult to know which promotional or marketing activities are effective. For example, a lot of likes or shares on social media, doesn’t necessarily lead to many book sales.
Have you been published elsewhere?
I have written for various magazines and websites, but I’ve been pretty inconsistent with it, mostly because they pay very little, if at all! I’ve been published in The Hoopla, Huffington Post, Newcastle’s Child, Kidspot, etc but I don’t write regularly for any publications. I used to blog a lot, but now I prefer to put my creative energy into writing books! Besides, all my friends have a Thermomix now, so they are too busy exchanging recipes and making dips to read blogs. At least the kids still l read, hey?
Ha! That’s exactly why I chop these interviews up into bite sized pieced – can’t keep those people away from their thermomixes for too long! The third and final installment of this interview will be next month. In the mean time, Katrina’s website is: www.katrinaroe.com
And mine is: www.debratidball.com