Catching up with international online writing buddies


I was particularly interested in this workshop as I wanted to know how differently authors promote themselves in USA versus how they do things in Australia.

Verla is the award winning author of  nine books and her website has twice been named one of the 101 best sites for writers by Writers’ Digest and her message board has around 2000 members and gets about 1 million hits per month.

She had heaps of useful information about improving your website.


  • Can you quickly change information on your website without major effort?
  • Is it professional looking?
  • Do images load fast on pages
  • Can visitors navigate easily through your website
  • Are your pages too busy?
  • Are your colours hard on viewer’s eyes?
  • Does your site welcome visitors?
  • Is it hard for viewers to navigate?


  • Does your website have a theme?
  • Librarian information
  • Writer and/or illustrator information
  • Children’s activity or fan club pages.
  • Information helpful to teachers and/or pages containing lessons
  • About the Author pages for kids doing school projects
  • Addictive fun games or videoes etc – something people will want to come back to again?
  • A subject that ‘matches’ your book


At the SCBWI Pyjama Ball


  • Constantly changing content will create pages that people want to visit multiple times
  • Some pages can change or be active without requiring a lot of effort
  • Have an on-going monthly contest with fun prizes (can’t give things away for children under 13 or let them go in comp)
  • Activity page for kids with games, puzzles, colouring pages
  • For kids over 13 an interactive Fan Club Page
  • Get teens to create book trailers and link to it – have fun comp.
  • Get trailer made by kids


Verla Kay is probably best known in the writing and illustrating community for her Blueboard. She set it up as “A safe, friendly place where children’s writers & illustrators could share information with each other”.

Since Verla started her Blue Board it has expanded rapidly and now has 4 administrators and 12-15 moderators. There are more than 1500 active members, and over 13,400 people have registered since its conception.

The site attracts 800,000 to 1 million hits every month


  • Search engines are vitally important to you
  • You need your site to show on search engines
  • Effective use of meta tags will get your site linked to as many other active sites as possible
  • – tells you what weaknesses on website are
  • tells you weaknesses on your blog.
  • Link to as many other sites as possible. This helps bring your site to the top of the search engines

Rabbit slippers were popular at the ball

After a big day, there was a showcase of the amazing illustrator portfolios. This year there were around 190 entries.

It was time for the Pyjama cocktail party where there were some very inventive costumes. Everything from pink rabbits to a flock of around 20 sheep.

After another big day I crawled into bed around 11.30pm


Brisbane author, J.E. Fison, launches two new books in the Hazard River series this month. Tiger Terror and Bat Attack follow the action-packed holiday adventures of Jack Wilde and his friends. J.E. has embarked on a virtual book tour after reading my post on blog tours. She stops by to share some tips on touring and explain the inspiration for her new books.

It’s no secret that marketing plays a large part in the success of a book. So I shouldn’t  have been surprised when my publisher asked me to write an article for a children’s literature magazine to promote the Hazard River series. But I was. I was also surprised when he asked me present at a book distributers’ conference and appear at a Scotch College literary festival in Melbourne. I was a brand new author – I’d been a journalist, marketing manager and mother for the previous two decades. What could I possibly tell an audience about writing? The same applies to a blog tour. What to blog about?

After much soul searching and several interviews I’ve come up with a better idea of what readers want to know. Writing blogs, articles and doing talks is like anything else, you have to know your audience. But generally you can assume that they’ll want to know something about your background and the inspiration for your book.

I know that if I’ve enjoyed a book I want to find out more about the real story behind the story – not just because I’m a sticky beak, but also to uncover the author’s credentials for writing a book. No one tells a story like someone with first-hand experience of the issue, the characters or the setting.

Writing and literature blogs are an obvious choice for hosting a blog tour, but they’re not the only choice. Take the themes in your book or your life and look for relevant blogs outside the writing world. As long as you put together a sensible and well-written piece, anything you blog on will give your book a bit more exposure that will hopefully translate into more sales.

I’m kicking off my virtual book tour on Dee Scribe writing because the book tour was Dee’s idea (and a great one at that). And I’ll get things started at the start, with the inspiration for the first paragraph of my new book Tiger Terror.

It was probably my mother’s screaming that frightened the cat. It’s just a guess. No one knows for sure why a cat fell from a ten-storey building onto my head. It was about the last thing I was expecting on my visit to Summercity. I wasn’t expecting to get mixed up with tigers either. I live in Australia. A tiger is one dangerous animal I shouldn’t have to worry about. But the cat changed all that.

The curious incident of the falling cat might sound like the product of an author’s  imagination, but it was actually inspired by a true story. Some years back a cat fell from a high rise apartment block in China, hitting and injuring a woman. The event triggered calls for pets to be banned from apartment blocks. I have no idea how things panned out for the cat, the woman or pets in China, in general, but the story stuck in my mind. Eventually I found a home for it in Tiger Terror.

In the story, the falling cat puts Hazard River’s narrator, Jack Wilde, in hospital. But just before it does so, Jack spots two men in a traditional medicine shop handling a tiger’s paw. The Hazard River gang must track down the men before they kill another tiger. The action is fictitious, but it was inspired by a worrying fact. Tigers are on the verge of extinction. One hundred years ago more than 100,000 tigers roamed Asia, now the numbers have dropped to around 3,000. Three subspecies of tigers have already become extinct. The rest live in isolated populations, threatened by poachers and habitat destruction.

The whole Hazard River series is firmly rooted in the real world. It came out of a family holiday on the Noosa River. My sons teamed up with friends and spent the summer exploring sand banks, dodging sting rays, building camps, getting stuck in quicksand, discovering abandoned boats, finding a whole lot of thongs (where do they come from) and having a Boys Versus Wild adventure.  I had to write about it.

My children are a constant source of inspiration, but I don’t just rely on my kids’ adventures. I look back to my own misadventures as a journalist in Asia, Europe and Australia. I also keep an open mind, whatever I’m doing – reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, checking a news website. I’m always looking out for a bizarre story or a quirky tale that I can incorporate into one of my adventures. As we all know – the  truth is often stranger than fiction.

For more details on J.E. Fison’s Hazard River series visit

See the trailer at

Stop by my blog at

Hazard River virtual book tour dates:

14/3/2011 Review of Tiger Terror and Bat Attack

15/3/2011 Inspiration – it’s all around us

16/3/2011 Interview

17/3/2011Writing for kids helped me become a better parent

18/3/2011 Does my front cover look too scary in this?


Today we are pleased to welcome a guest poster at DeeScribewriting.

My good friend and writerly colleague, Catriona Hoy is here to talk about her experiences with blog touring. Catriona is currently on her second blog tour with her beautiful new picture book, George and Ghost.

by Catriona Hoy

I’m fairly new to the blogging world myself and only blog sporadically so the thought of starting a blog tour last year was something that was fairly daunting. I am in awe of those bloggers like Dee, here, who have the dedication and drive to come up with new and interesting things to talk about.

So the first thing about starting a blog tour was to get over the guilt… that I myself wasn’t a great blogger.

Next, I had to conquer the fear that I people wouldn’t be interested or that I wouldn’t find anything to say. Eventually, as with many of those non-writing aspects of being a writer, I just had to decide to jump in with both feet.

By the end of my blog tour for my picture book, Puggle ,  I’d learnt a lot. Firstly that there are lots of bloggers out there and lots of people who read blogs. I really enjoyed some of the questions that were thrown at me and I found the comments interesting that other people made about my book.

So this year when I start my blog tour for my new picture book, George and Ghost, I’ll be doing so with renewed enthusiasm. I’ll make sure I publicise as widely as I can. I’ve also organized for the publisher to include a few give aways.

All in all, I still like a book launch but a blog tour is a way to reach many more people and meet new people along the way.

Things I’ve tried to think about have been varying the type of blog that you visit. While it’s great to generate interest amongst the writing fraternity, it’s important to reach a wider audience.

Also I’ve made the tour shorter as last year I was exhausted by the end. I’ve tried not to repeat myself too much, although inevitable there are some types of similar questions.

In the week before the blog tour, some of the bloggers that I was going to visit put up tasters on their blogs, so that also helps to advertise. So…when I self-googled (we all do, don’t we?) there were a lot more listing for the book. It also creates an opportunity to refer to older titles and hopefully generate some re interest in those.

Thanks for letting me ramble on Dee. I’m no expert but I certainly see the value in blog tours. I’m on a learning journey like everyone else.

My next foray will be into the world of book trailers…I think!

Thanks for visiting, Catriona and sharing your experiences with us.

Catriona is now popping over to my other blog at where she’s going to be talking about ghosts and you can win one of FIVE copies of Catriona’s fabulous new book!


Congratulations! You have a copy of your new book in your hand and now you have decided to take it on a blog tour so you can share it with the rest of the reading world.

As I have mentioned in last week’s post, a blog tour can lead to direct sales of your book. A blog tour might sound a bit scary, but seriously they are a lot of fun. You visit different blogs and you get to talk about your new book baby and show pics. But the key to a successful blog tour is variety.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently about doing tours is:

How do you stop the tour from becoming boring?

The difference between a real tour and a virtual tour are that in a real tour, readers are unlikely to follow your around the country and go to every bookshop or library you stop at.

But in a virtual or blog tour, it is quite common for readers to visit a number of stops along the way to find out more and more about your book.

Readers also like to find out all the interesting things about you the author and about your journey to publication.

Spice Up Your Blog Tour

The simplest way to stop your blog tour from becoming boring is variety. Give your hosts a list of different topics to choose from. If each host chooses a different topic then they will be encouraged to ask you different questions from other hosts

Vary the content

You can stop your blog tour from becoming boring by varying the content – make it look and sound different. Some other things you might like to consider besides straight question and answer interviews by you or straight reviews are:

1.            Puzzles and classroom activities. I invented a word search for my Letters to Leonardo blog tour

2.            Upload excerpts from the book

3.            Upload a book trailer and talk about how you made it.

4.            Get some young readers to do advance reviews and include them on the site

5.            Hold competitions and giveaways – they can include a copy of the book or related merchandise.

6.            Upload YouTube clips showing how you wrote the book or related to the subject matter

7.            Upload podcast reviews of your book

8.            Encourage school blogs to participate and have an online chat with a class about your book

There are no limitations to what you or your blog host can do to make your blog tour fun and exciting. Go wild and have fun!

If you have any blog touring questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing and blog touring:)


On Friday at DeeScribe Writing (that’s here:) PB author, Catriona Hoy is visiting to talk about her blog touring experiences. Hope you can join us then:)


It’s the start of the year and the season for book launches so I thought a blog tour post might be timely.

So much work has gone into creating your new book and now it’s time for celebration – time to send your new baby out into the world. Time to let people know that you HAVE A NEW BOOK! (Congratulations by the way. Whether you’re a writer, illustrator, editor or publisher, a new book is a massive achievement.)

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, is a blog tour really worth all that effort and how much is it going to cost me?


A recent Publisher’s Weekly post reported that a blog tour has been instrumental in selling 450,000 copies of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.

Of course giving away original artwork by the author and the odd iPod or two might have helped the promotion along and admittedly, most of us can’t afford these kind of giveaways, but I can tell you from experience that the average author can have a successful blog tour – just on a smaller scale.

My blog tour with my YA novel, Letters to Leonardo was done on a zero budget but it led to many hits on my blog and proven sales. It introduced me and my work to other bloggers and a whole new set of readers. How do I know there were direct sales? Because people bought my book at subsequent festivals and conferences saying they had read about it on my blog tour.


It’s an event that can go for several days or even a month. (A warning, that readership seems to drop off if your tour goes for more than about ten days – unless you have the resources to offer exotic giveaways daily.)

It’s like going on a ‘real’ author tour where you visit different places talking about your book. The good thing about a blog tour is that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. There are no airline ticket costs, no excess luggage, now waiting in airports for a flight home:)

Before you start the tour, you need to select your blog hosts. These might include other authors and illustrators (overseas as well as in your own country), blogs on the theme of your book and class blogs (lots of schools blog now and are looking for fun things to do).

Facebook and Twitter are great places to connect with possible blog hosts. There’s also nothing to stop you doing a google search and approaching people whose blog you like the look of and asking if they would host you.


Once you have found a selection of willing hosts you need to agree on dates and also materials. When I’m arranging a blog tour,  I  try and offer my hosts topics to choose from. That way the content is less likely to overlap so there will be variety for readers following the tour.

Don’t stress about holding a tour the day your book comes out. It won’t matter if it’s a week late and you can generate interest prior to the tour by blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting about any actual launches or other book release activities.

You might want to offer competitions and giveaways on your tour just make sure you factor these into your promotion’s budget.


  1. Put an excerpt on your blog advertising the tour including tour dates and destinations
  2. Provide photo of you and your book cover to put on blog and any links for other materials like book trailers that you may want to publicise too.
  3. Provide materials to blog hosts including answers to interview questions, books for reviews etc
  4. Provide every blog host with a schedule so they can put that on their blog so readers will know where to go next on the tour and where you have already been. That way you are not just promoting yourself and your book, you are also promoting your hosts.
  5. Return to host sites for next four to seven days to answer questions and comments from blog readers
  6. Always remember to thank your blog hosts and be prepared to host them in return
  7. Blog, tweet, Facebook and promote the blog tour  any way you can.

If you have any questions about blog tours or would like more information, feel free to leave your questions and responses in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing and blog touring:)



When Letters to Leonardo was released by Walker Books Australia on 1st July this year, it was a fabulous time for me. (Still is – whenever I walk into a bookstore and see my book, I get excited all over again:-).

Two of the most fun bits were the blog tour and cyber launch that happened right here on this blog, just after Letters to Leonardo came out.

I had over 1000 hits for the tour and some direct sales as a result – but more than that; it was such a great experience to get to talk about my work on other great blogs – and cyber meet other authors (I even cyber travelled to the USA).

With today’s technology, getting your book ‘out there’ on the internet is an important part of author promotion. I know how hard this can be which is why I have set up a special page on this blog to share with others how I sent Letters to Leonardo into cyberspace, and the things I learned.

I hope you enjoy reading my tips and experiences, and that they provide some ideas for promoting your own book.

Happy writing and good luck.


P.S. I’ll be talking on this topic at the CBCA NSW Conference next June with my good friend and author of the wonderful Samurai Kid’s books (my boys just love them), Sandy Fussell.


j0384807We’ve had an absolute blast today – and we’re so glad you could make it to help us celebrate the release of Letters to Leonardo.

Please feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments about anything to do with today’s Cyber Launch.

Thanks so much Sue Whiting, Margaret Hamilton, Robyn Opie, Hal, Debbie  and SJ – and all my kind writing friends who have left lovely comments, for making this such a wonderful occasion.

This event has been brought to you by the following: and

Don’t forget to check out our movie book preview at:

Tomorrow, the blog tour continues and it should be a really fun day because we’re off to visit Persnickety Snark. If you’d like to know how my life paralleled Matt’s, drop in and see us at

It’s been a huge day – thanks so much for coming. Now it’s time to curl up with a hot cuppa and a good book.

Hope to catch you again in Cyber Space.

Dee and Matt:-)





letterstoleonardolrgSeeing as it’s Cyber Launch day, Matt Hudson has decided to put in an appearance. He doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, but he said he has a few questions for me, and he doesn’t mind if I share his questions and my answers with you. Matt wanted to talk about how Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings have been used in Letters to Leonardo.

MATT:       Why did you think that Leonardo da Vinci would be a good person to help me tell my story?


DEE:          Even though you two lived over 500 years apart, Leonardo was a lot like you, Matt.

MATT:       How?

DEE:          You both got taken away from your Mum’s at a young age, you both seek truth, you’re both sensitive – and you’re both perfectionists.

MATT:       I guess you’re right. Anything else?

DEE:          Your art – it was a strong connection between the two of you – and it linked you to your mother as well.

MATT:       You used Leonardo’s paintings a lot throughout the book. Why do you think people will want to know about them? Not everyone is an LDV fan like us?

DEE:         The paintings were a great way to symbolise people and events in the story. Take the Mona Lisa for example – she was an enigma, just like your mum.

MATT:       And that painting of St Jerome – you used that to show how I was feeling?

DEE:         That’s right – sometimes the emotion of the painting was a good way to show what was going on with you – without have to say “Matt’s upset” or “Matt feels bad”.

MATT:       Why did you have to tell everyone how much I loved LDV’s stuff? Why do you think it was their business anyway?

DEE:         Readers needed to understand the sort of person that you were – so they could empathise with you. Like when you talked about the Drapery Study and you said, “We all wear an outer layer to hide who we really are,” that was to help people realise how vulnerable you were.

MATT:       How does LDV connect us – you and me, I mean?

DEE:          He’s our shared obsession:-)

LETTERS TO LEONARDO – MORE YA REVIEWS – Debbie and SJ have their say


A compelling story – cliffhangers around every corner. Lots of emotion and an incredible storyline. I definitely recommend it to everybody.

SJ – aged 13

A powerful story, makes you think.

Debbie – aged 15



Matt was so excited with what the YA  reviewers had to say about his story, that he asked SJ to stick around and answer some questions.


What did you like best about my story?


It was a good storyline and it kept me hooked – there were a lot of cliffhangers in there and there was a lot of emotion and I could really get a sense of how you felt.


You don’t have to say, ‘me’, but who was your favourite character in the book?


Troy, because he had a good sense of humour and was a good friend to everybody.


Who do you think would like reading my story?


Kids from about 12 or 13 up to adults.


Is my story like any other book you have read?


Not really, it’s nothing like the sort of books I normally read.


Was there anything you didn’t like in the story?


Not really, maybe just some of the descriptions I didn’t like – but it was a really good book.


Would you recommend this book to other people?


Definitely, it’s a great book that anyone would enjoy.