Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snowy's Christmas Blog Tour with Sally Murphy

Welcome to Writing Children's Books with Robyn Opie. Today, as part of Snowy's Christmas blog tour, we're lucky to have an interview with Sally Murphy, author of children's books. poetry and educational titles.

In previous blog entries, you'll find advice on "how to write" and "how to get published". Sally's interview is a little different, as it focuses on another important role of the author - marketing and promotion.

Thanks for visiting my blog as part of your blog tour, Sally.

For those who have just tuned in, tell us about Snowy’s Christmas.

Thanks Robyn. Well, Snowy’s Christmas is a very Australian Christmas story, featuring a white kangaroo called Snowy who discovers on Christmas Eve that being different from the other ‘roos is the very thing that makes him special. It is (loosely) an Aussie version of the Rudolph story.

The illustrations, by my clever brother in law David Murphy, are bright and playful, with lots of very Aussie touches.

Why a blog tour?

Well, David lives in Canberra and I live in rural Western Australia, so it’s pretty hard for us to get together for in-person appearances. On top of that, we both have day jobs, spouses and children, so being away from home for long stretches of time is difficult. But we wanted to get the word about our wonderful new book out to as many different people as possible. What better way to overcome the physical barriers and still get the word out than a virtual tour, moving from blog to blog to talk about our new book. And, as well as being good promotion, it’s lots of fun too.

This blog tour is a little different than others you’ve done. How and why?

I’ve had two previous tours – for my chapter book The Big Blowie and my verse novel Pearl Verses the World, and each of these were conducted over consecutive days (for example, Sunday to Saturday), which is quite a common way to conduct a tour. However, the Snowy tour is going for eleven weeks – just one day per week. So every Sunday for eleven weeks I’m visiting a different blog.

The reason I’m doing it this way is because, when I started planning the tour, I couldn’t choose the best time to do it. The book was released on October 1 and Christmas is (obviously) December 25, so I couldn’t decide whether it was better to do the tour when the book was first released or later when people were more likely to be doing their Christmas shopping. Then I hit on the idea of spreading the tour out by doing just one stop per week.

What else do you do to promote Snowy and your other books?

Lots of things. I have an author website,, a blog, and a blog specifically about Christmas and Snowy at I put details of my latest books in my email signature lines. I do school and festival appearances and media interviews. I run writing workshops. I write articles for other people’s blogs and websites – and other things as opportunities arise.

Sounds like a lot of work. Why do you do all that yourself? Isn’t that the publisher’s job?

Well, yes, publishers do promote my books. They send out review copies and media releases. They promote the book at trade shows, and develop point of sale materials. But most successful authors know that they also need to be involved in promotion. Promotion budgets are small for each book, and the publicity person at a publishing house will have many books to promote, whereas as the author I have usually only one book at a time coming out, so can throw all my energy into promoting that one book. It is in my best interest to ensure that my book sells. And, to be honest, I enjoy spreading the word about my book.

So being a writer isn’t all about writing then?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! There is an image of authors sitting at home in front of typewriters or keyboards churning out words which are printed out, sent off to publishers then magically turned into books. For me, that is quite a long way from reality. Yes, I do sit at my desk and write – but actual writing of new stories is a small proportion of what I do. The rest of the time is a mix of things – reading, studying the craft, promotion, networking, research, looking for markets, preparing submissions, revising... It is a big juggling act really to do everything else but still find time for writing. After all, if I stop writing, I stop "being" a writer. And I’m in the business because I love writing. Fortunately, though, I enjoy the other stuff, too, so it’s all good.

Thanks heaps for having me here, Robyn. Thanks for being here, Sally.

Snowy’s Christmas tells the tale of a young kangaroo who doesn’t like being different, until Christmas arrives and, with it, a surprise for Snowy. There is something that only Snowy can do to help Santa – and suddenly he knows that being different can be a good thing. Available as a hard cover picture book, Snowy’s Christmas is a gentle Christmas story suitable for kids of all ages. You can learn a little more about the book by visiting the website of publisher Random House Australia.

I hope you enjoyed the interview with Sally Murphy. Feel free to leave a comment. Or, if you have any questions you'd like answered on my blog, please email me. If you'd like to find out more about "How to Write a Great Picture Book", please visit

Happy reading and writing,

Robyn Opie

Snowy's Christmas blog tour dates:

Week One: October 4 2009
Deescribe Writing Blog -

Week Two: October 11 2009

Write and Read With Dale -

Week three: October 18 2009
Alphabet Soup Blog -

Week Four: October 25 2009
Let’s Have Words -

Week Five: November 1
Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog -

Week Six: November 8 2009
Aussiereviews Blog -

Week Seven: November 15 2009
Samantha Hughes’ Blog -

Week Eight: November 22 2009
Robyn Opie’s Writing Children’s Books Blog -

Week Nine:
November 29 2009
Stories are Light -

Week Ten:
6 December 2009
The Aussie Christmas Blog -

Week Eleven:
13 December 2009
Tales I Tell -


Dee White said...

Thanks Robyn and Sally. I enjoyed the interview - can particularly relate to the bit about writing being only 'part' of a writer's job. But like Sally says, it's fun being able to tell people about your book.

Best wishes to Sally, David and Snowy. Hope Snowy is found under many Christmas trees this year.

Sandy Fussell said...

I liked the comment: After all, if I stop writing, I stop "being" a writer.

Dee, I can tell you Snowy will be under at least one Christmas tree. I know just the little person who will love it.

Unknown said...

Hi Sally and Robyn,
Really enjoyed the interview and especially the acknowledgement (as others have said) that the writing is only part of what a writer actually does. I'm looking forward to my scheduled blog in December when I hope to be joined by some little people who have already read/heard the story.
All the best