If you have written a children's book or are thinking of writing one, you will need to consider how you represent yourself and your book at children's book festivals. Here we give some tips on how to get the best out your reading performance; from audience interaction to ideas in addition to the reading itself...
It's not enough to write a children's book, you need to get out there and let everybody know about it! But what are some of the things you need to consider when preparing for your event?
The next episode in our brand new Pixels and Paper episode is all about how to survive presenting a children's book at festivals.
Let us guide you through our top ten tips for preparation...
Wow, Gusto is a great guy. What do you mean you've never met him? Oh man, he's the best; gregarious, confident, nothing phases Gusto.
Gusto always looks at the upside of any predicament, never wavering in his focus to brighten up any situation. He's the master of his own destiny, king of confidence, duke of daring deeds, chancellor of cheer....you know what I mean, you get the idea.
Faced with a crowd of people, all staring at him, waiting anxiously for him to begin, he strides out before them like a demi-god, an unswervingly confident, lucky sod.
No hat too silly, no shirt too garish, always smiling, always swish. He dons his curly wigs with flair, he doesn't care about his hair.
You may know Gusto has a twin, though no one likes to mention him.
Oh dear, here comes Meeker now, come on Meeker take a bow.
He shuffles up to the plate, makes excuses why he's late.
Mumbles his lines, drops his script, over his laces he has tripped.
Getting up, he bangs his head, apologises, face turns red.
Stumbling back onto the stage, “what's my line?”, “where's my page?”
He clears his throat, he sounds quite hoarse, he's lost his audience now, of course.
Oh dear, why? Where did they go?
They've wandered off to see Gusto.
-Trevor Young, Tapocketa
We realised we needed Gusto for all our public appearance, and did our best to lose Meeker along the way. Worrying about making mistakes, we found, is more disabling than the mistakes themselves. Throwing yourself into your performance with gusto takes people along with you.
The odd mistake is all part of the show when done with flair of the Great Gusto.
When it comes to preparation for a book festival reading, there are probably people who are a lot more self-confident than we are who would just turn up and see what happens. If you do this, take a well deserved bow; probably to the three people that turned up and slow clapped you as you left after your half-baked performance, away with you!
Ok, some may smugly recount the the time they “didn't prepare at all and it went fantastico”; well I'm not listening -la, la, la, la. You played with the proverbial children's festival bumper box of matches one time and didn't get burnt, lucky you, smarty pants! What? You've been doing it for years? Oh right, yeah, that's the exception, I'm just talking about those who are new to this, on your way please.
So, our prep regime was tough; up at dawn for vocal exercises and smile practice, rigorous silly gesturing rehearsal and, being true method actors becoming absorbed by our characters King Galdo and Brendara and the rest, months in advance of the big day...
...or alternatively, we may have just had a quick run through the day before. Yes, I think it was that last one.
To be fair we had already performed a number of times at a local school, so we had an idea of what we were going to do. We knew we were going to use cardboard masks of our characters (actually, I managed to persuade Eleanor to do all the mask wearing, me wearing them would have creeped the children out). We knew we were going to get the audience to join in by helping us with the sound effects. We also knew that we needed to prepare our performance based on what we had learnt from that school booking.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, other prep stuff: we had posters made up (beautifully designed by a talented designer called Eleanor) which went up in the local bookshop a week before the event.
Our friend and all round pr guru, Emma, rallied round beforehand getting us a mention on local mummy blogs and an hour or so before the performance we walked around in silly hats handing out flyers and stickers and pleaded with anyone who would listen to come and see the show or risk seeing me, a grown man, break down to a shell of my former self before their eyes. At which point many people told me that would not be necessary as they were already coming anyway as they already knew about it -the power of prep.