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Lulu UK Blog

Welcome to the Lulu UK Blog where we look forward to chatting about our services and the publishing industry and writing in the UK and Ireland.

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LULU launches global print and fulfilment API software for all content owners

Lulu is proud to announce the release of our Print API, the first of several API connections we plan to offer the publishing and developer communities.

What exactly does this mean for you?

I’m glad you asked! Are you a content aggregator, publisher, a developer, an entrepreneur, or a business owner? Are you a web-savvy author with your own website who would like to sell directly to your readers? If you fall into any of these categories, the Lulu Print API will allow you to take advantage of our print network directly.

Let’s take a closer look at the Lulu Print API and how this new service might work for you or somebody you know.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the technical aspects of APIs for software, you’ve almost certainly encountered them online without realizing. The acronym API stands for “Application Programming Interface.” Most basically, API is code that allows two unique pieces of software to talk to each other. This, in and of itself, is pretty simple. I say this as someone with only the most rudimentary understanding of coding.

Retailers, individuals, and institutions all make use of APIs to expand their capabilities and offer their users more options, better pricing, faster shipping and much more. Lulu’s Print API serves the same functionality. Once the API is integrated, users can create unique “buy now” options on their SHOP pages within their websites, and all orders placed are channeled into Lulu’s global printing network, to be fulfilled by the same process as any order on Lulu.

But before we dive into the technology aspects of this new tool, let’s take a moment to consider how this impacts the everyday author and the publishing community.

Breaking down Boundaries, Creating Partners

Lulu has always aspired to be a premiere destination for authors, as well as a powerful print and fulfillment partner for businesses, institutions, and publishers. We want to empower everyone to tell their stories and share their knowledge.

From a technical stand point, our Print API service may not seem like an exciting piece of news for the individual author (APIs run in the background and are never seen). API tools are usually meant for web developers, who implement the cross-platform code so the two discrete programs work in harmony. The average author might have little need for an API connection if they don’t want to deal with selling directly from their website.

That being said, publishers and businesses need APIs for many things. And here at Lulu, we understand that need, because we’ve lived in that world for the last fifteen years. We’ve witnessed, year after year, small and independent publishers who start up, bring on a handful of authors, publish a few books, and then eventually fold. Yes, of course, some small publishers succeed, and some even succeed beyond all expectations. We’re more concerned with the publishers who couldn’t keep up.

One of the biggest problems facing many small publishers is the cost associated with printing and fulfilling book orders. The price to print and ship can be prohibitive for small publishers, who likely are operating on a limited budget and need to make the most out of every dollar invested. Print API is an answer to the funding problems these small publishers face. Because the Lulu Print API can be implemented to allow for direct print on demand services at low prices, small publishers can remove the cost of printing and storing books from their budget.

Just like using Lulu’s self-publishing tools, the Print API features all the formats and sizes Lulu has to offer, at the same low prices, and with the same quality and global shipping you’ve come to expect from Lulu. The difference is that publishers the world over can plug into our network while maintaining their brand’s independence.

Harnessing the power of the Web

To further highlight how an API works, here’s an example of how a business might use the Lulu Print API:

Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur with a history in finance and banking for years. You’re taking that experience and offering independent financial advice. You can go out as an individual and meet people, making connections and building up a clientele. Now imagine you wrote your plan for financial success down. You’ve got a valuable document that offers your unique skills but comes at a much lower cost than individual financial planning. With Lulu Print API, you can publish your book, offer it for sale on your website, and print on demand to control costs. Your book becomes a crucial supplement to your income as well as a tool for sharing your expertise. And all of that comes without upfront cost to you, and all the sales are handled on your end, with Lulu only printing and shipping on your behalf.

The API process capitalizes on Internet connectivity to enable collaboration among a variety of companies and individuals, further opening the printing and publishing world to more readers, authors, and publishers.

Pricing is another important aspect to consider with an API connection. Rather than pricing your book on the Lulu site for your profit and our commission, you price it with 100% return of profits. The price you charge on your site is entirely up to you! With the API integrated, the order bills from Lulu to you for the printing and shipping, while the amount you charge a customer is entirely on your end. This expands on the already generous and easy to control profit model Lulu utilizes.

Integration is In

Using API integration is more than just the cool new thing happening across the web. Take a look at this article from TechCrunch last year, “The Rise of APIs”. While the title sounds very Terminator-esque, the point the author makes is clear: third-party APIs are the future, and they are here to shake up the way the Internet works. The opening paragraph of the article sums it up; ” there is a rising wave of software innovation in the area of APIs that provide critical connective tissue and increasingly important functionality.”

While a clean and easy-to-navigate interface is always going to be important, the ability to quickly implement a new program through API connections is what will keep web based retailers one step ahead. Adding new features, replacing out of date products, and generally being able to work with the range of other programs on the web is a key to staying relevant; using API connections solves all of these problems. All modern software providers are conscious of API connectivity, and the implications of creating software that does not allow for API integration. The way of the future is sharing, through both open and private API connections, and mutually finding success through shared programming.

Lulu embraces this mentality wholly. From the first day, we’ve been a company designed to help content creators better share their stories and knowledge. Enabling API connections with our print network is a logical and necessary step for us.

Looking to the Future

Lulu’s Print API is the first of many steps from Lulu you’ll see in the months and years to come. Our eyes have always been toward the future, toward finding better, cheaper, and more efficient ways to help you share your story.

Whether you’re an individual author with a website you’d like to sell your book directly from or a business with a high volume of printed material you need created and shipped directly to customers, Lulu’s Print API offers the services and versatility you need. Designed with developers in mind, Lulu’s Print API will be a crucial piece of Lulu’s ability to offer the best printing and self-publishing options to everyone, everywhere.

Look for more from Lulu in the future, as we continue to make innovations in the publishing community. For now, you can check out our API/Developer’s Portal site at develpers.lulu.com to learn more about Lulu’s Print API and see if the tool might be right for you.

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Spotlight on Authoright – helping Lulu authors making their book-shaped dreams come true with new marketing and publicity services

Writing a book is true labour of love and an amazing achievement for anyone. It can be a very solitary experience however, and often, once the writing part has been completed, authors really want to talk about the process and to ask the all important question: what’s next for me and my book? Authoright began so that writers could do exactly that; ask questions and have a chat with like-minded publishing insiders who understood the business of books and could give them the right advice to help them publish and promote their books successfully. Authoright are passionate about supporting new writers who are indie-publishing. We’re a small team of hardworking book lovers, and we can help writers to complete the all-important steps to publishing and promoting their books that go far beyond the writing part. Cover design, editing services, website creation, multi-media services, publicity and marketing; we can help new writers to really find their voices and to connect with their audiences.

GarethAuthoright was founded in the early days of indie-publishing by a lawyer-turned author who was going through all the challenges of publishing and launching his debut novel. In 2004, Gareth Howard was trying to sell his first novel but soon discovered that traditional publishing was something of a closed shop; you couldn’t simply call or email a literary agent or a publisher to ask their advice. The process of securing the services of an agent, who then in turn had to sell the work to a publisher, was slow and frustrating and publishing houses were more inclined to work with celebrities rather than new talent. After lots of rejection. Gareth knew he had to try and figure out how to bring his book to market, on his own terms. So he decided to take a proactive step and turned to self publishing. This meant learning on the job, and having to quickly fine-tune the skills required to produce and publish a book professionally. Gareth effectively had to become his own agent, publisher, designer and publicist overnight.

With a bit of creativity and a lot of hard graft, Gareth produced a good-looking book and secured extensive media coverage – both for the book and for him as a writer and his experiences of self publishing at a time when it was almost unheard of – managing the publishing and PR process on a shoestring budget. Over a six month period, managing the production and launch of his book had become a full-time job! But Gareth’s efforts soon paid off and his novel became one of the earliest indie-publishing success stories, earning positive reviews and being featured in the national media in the UK, the USA and even Australia. Readers contacted him through his website to tell him how much they were enjoying his book and were sharing it with others (and this was at a time when social media barely even existed).

Gareth had learned first-hand how to produce and publicise a book on a budget and he wanted to share his experiences with other writers by creating a company that offered the kind of services he had found to be so important to the success of his own novel. And so Authoright was born, sharing advice, tips and tricks of the book trade, as well as providing effective and affordable editing, design, marketing and publicity services to unknown, first-time and self publishing authors. From how to write an elevator pitch, to media training ahead of a big interview, to creating an author brand; Authoright helps authors to make their books the best they can be without breaking the bank. Every author will make an investment in their writing if they want it to be a success, but finessing the book and supporting it with the right kind of services is important, rather than spending as much money as possible. Together we still speak to around 1,500 writers a year, listening to their questions and concerns about publishing, and helping them to find the best route for them to becoming a bestseller of the future.

Every author deserves a team of cheerleaders to help them bring their book to market. To supplement their writing abilities with expertise in cover design, editing, online marketing and publicity. Every author wants their book to be a success and Authoright can help authors find the right way for them to tell their own, labour of love story.

We’re thrilled to be able to work with Lulu,com and their help their awesome authors make their book-shaped dreams come true.

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Announcing our new UK based Marketing and PR services to support indie-authors and small publishers

We are delighted to announce that we have launched a new UK based book and marketing service to support UK an Ireland based authors in helping to bring your works to a larger audience. We are delighted to have joined forces with Authoright who are a UK based marketing and publicity agency with strong industry links to help you build the buzz about your book.

We choose Authoright because we know that marketing and publicity ‘combined packages’ don’t work for every book and every author; sometimes only a flexible and bespoke campaign will work. Authoright offers a ‘pick and mix’ selection of services to help to get the pitch just right without breaking the bank. So if you are great at your own social media, for example, why pay for it again as part of a marketing package when you don’t have to.

By partnering with a UK based company you can be assured that they have their finger on the pulse of the UK publishing and promotion scene. And, since Authoright is UK based this means you can contact their publicists within UK working hours.

The new UK services can be viewed by visiting http://www.lulu.com and selecting the United Kingdom or Ireland shopping carts as your preferred cart.

We will be regularly featuring success stories from authors using this service on this blog – be it a radio interview, book signing tour or an author that has just launched a great new website with cutting edge design we will be sharing these success stories. 

How does it work?

When you submit the marketing enquiry form it will be reviewed by Authoright staff who will contact you directly with more information on the services you are interested in together with their Terms and Conditions. You will naturally have a lot of questions. We try and capture as much information as we can so that the Authoright team can give you the best advice.

The Authoright team is very experienced with a good feel for which types of publications fail or succeed in the book market; they will assess your publication and give you their honest view of your possibilities for media success and if they feel that they can take your publication on and market it for you. They want the books they represent to be a success too.

 

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Patti Boulaye chose LULU to indie publish her autobiograhy The Faith of a Child

PattyLulu is delighted that such a high-profile star as Patti chose to publish her autobiography The Faith of a Child with us. The Faith of a Child is the account of her courageous journey from poverty to celebrity from her roots in Nigeria. Perhaps Patti Boulaye’s decision to indie-publish, rather than through a large brand publisher (who I am certain would have been hotly bidding for the manuscript),  is also testament to her brave and independent spirit. It is a great sign that celebrity authors like Patti have made a conscious decision to move away from the ‘me too celebrity’ publishing of the main publisher brands and, in doing so, makes this account of her life even more personal and courageous.

Today’s Daily Mail spotlights The Faith of a Child so it’s worth taking the time to take a few minutes to read the link below.  Patti’s book can also be purchased from Lulu’s independent online bookshop at:

www.lulu.com/…/the-faith-of…/paperback/product-22883196.html

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-4298486/Patti-Boulaye-s-journey-poverty-celebrity.html#ixzz4bCJvQVY5

World Book Day – How do you get kids to read? by CL Bennett

For #WorldBookDay #WorldBookDay20 here’s my 10 BUGGLEPUFF tips to inspire kids to read books…

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  1. Buggleden – Make a book play den with the kids. Throw in their favorite toys, blankets. Take time to decorate it whether it’s under a table, behind a sofa, make glitter banners and create a multi-coloured Buggleden of silliness and eye candy colours. Kids love creating their own zone and with a book in your hand you are sure to have hours of #wordmagic time. cover
  2. Bugglepairedreading – Instead of doing all the reading yourself for the kids get them to read a page with you. Maybe get them to act it out or encourage them to be a character with silly voices and plenty of laughter.
  3. Bugglepatience – Never be too strict when listening to a child read. Let them make mistakes, tumble over words because the longer you can get them to read the more every sentence will eventually come together. Bugglepatience is very important for a child to feel excited about turning a page!
  4. Bugglefood – Nothing beats a hot chocolate and book time together. If a child associates a treat with book reading it may help them to feel that bit more engaged and excited in books.eating
  5. Buggleinterest – Before choosing the book think about what your child is interested in. They may not want to read a traditional story or classic and find a history book, nature book more fun! Take them to the #library and let them choose their own book – you might be surprised what they want to read or what you learn from them:-)
  6. Bugglepets – Without a doubt my favourite if you have a pet encourage story time next to the family pet. They enjoy listening and will happily cuddle up next to you will a child reads a book aloud. Watch out for parrots though as our Albert tends to eat more books around the Bugglepuff house than read them!!!!pig
  7.  Bugglepicnic – When the rains stop and the summer sunshine glitters the sky go on a picnic with the kids. Take books to read and you’ll all find it very rewarding sharing a tale or too while enjoying a food feast.
  8. Buggledressingup – Dressing up for story time is hilarious fun – whether a brave knight, rascally pirate or sparkling fairy. Then open a book and share in the land of adventures. Before you know it, they will be reading.
  9. Buggleatsea – There is something very gloriously magical about the sea and I think it’s one of the happiest places to share story time and put a child at ease. So, drive to the coast, grab an ice cream, throw sand between your toes and read over a wave or too!
  10. Bugglelight – Soft lighting, or by candlelight can be a wonderfully calming way to get a child to read or in the dark by torchlight to add a book world atmosphere where everything is focused on the story.

spreadReading is not always a natural joy but encouraging reading from an early age does give a child’s mind a wonderful foundation stone for what if?

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Anthony O’Farrell from Logic Press tells us why, as a small publisher, he uses the Lulu publishing platform

How long have you been publishing and what made you decide to enter this business?

anayst-zeroLogic Press started in 2002. With colleagues I initiated mathematical enrichment activities (linked to the Mathematical Olympiads) for secondary school children in the mid-nineties, and we structured our activities around a book by the New Zealand mathematician Derek Holton, published by the University of Waterloo (Canada). We bought this book in bulk each year (about 90 per annum) and distributed it to our students.The stock ran out in 2002, and neither Waterloo nor the author could supply an alternative. By that stage, we had some other ideas about a better book, more suitable for Irish students, so I got the team together to write our own manual, and set up Logic Press to publish it. This was the Maynooth Mathematical Olympiad Manual. In part, it drew on a textbook book in the Irish language that I had written earlier.

My books are not mass-market items, and I publish them as a service to a small public.

What genres do you publish?  Who are your customers?

The press publishes mathematics-related books. The Olympiad Manual was revised, with input from colleagues in other universities, and became the Irish Mathematical Olympiad Manual. This is used at five enrichment centres in Ireland and across the world. Later texts were mainly for university students.  Our ‘Less Serious Division’ caters for the fact that there is more to mathematical life than mathematics.

Why did you decide to use the Lulu platform for your publishing needs?

Initially, our books were heat bound A4 size, relatively poor print quality, and prone to come apart with heavy use. I paid the university to print them, using facilities in place. The big advantages were that I could supply them at low prices, and that I could print only on demand, holding no stock, needing no capital or support staff. I was impressed by the quality of some student-produced journals from Cork and Cambridge, and discovered print-on-demand online services. I realised that Lulu’s setup allowed me to maintain low prices, print only on demand and make a big improvement to the print quality. I am proud of what goes between the covers of the books, and glad that the appearance of the books now matches that quality.

Lulu has been described as a platform and community which provides the tools to allow publishing and distribution – are you using all of the Lulu services for a complete end to end solution or only some of them?

I use Lulu to print my own ISBN’s and use Lulu ISBN’s for titles needing print and distribution; using Lulu ISBN’s relieves me of the burden of distribution. I sell more books internationally since I started using Lulu ISBN’s.

I generally use the Lulu cover-design tool rather than making my own.

Do you use both print and ebook services from Lulu?

At present, I just use print. I will implement ebook delivery in the future.

As a small publisher have you found that using one publishing platform helps reduce your overheads, provides better time management with handling less suppliers, allows you to concentrate on the process of author acquisition v logistics and production focus?

As long as things continue as they are, Lulu suits me. I invest my own time, pay for internet connectivity and web hosting, and otherwise I have no other costs.

Which one of your publications are you most excited about right now?

tipperary-tangoFergal Anton’s Tipperary Tango from our Less Serious division which is a great little adult romp. Fionn Mac Tubaiste is a university lecturer, whose life is complicated by frustrating women and his part-time job as the field man of the Irish Secret Service, ASR. ASR is run by Malachy Mulligan (“M”), the least civil and least principled Principal Officer in the Civil Service. It has a surprising number of jobs to do, and Fionn is supposed to do them all. His methods are nothing like James Bond’s. The period is the early eighties. The world’s finest secret service operates in Ireland, as it does everywhere else, but it finds conditions unusually trying. When Fionn comes to the Russians’ attention, things rapidly begin to come unstuck.
Tipperary Tango and other titles published by Logic Press can be purchased from the Lulu bookshop http://www.lulu.com/shop and are currently our February ‘spotlight titles’. Please note Tipperary Tango is marked 18+ adult content.

Teresa Dancer shares her experience of why she chose indie-publishing with Lulu

pockethandbookTeresa is the author of Pocket Handbook for Assistant Buyers A-Z of Textile Terms and has been involved in the world of fashion and clothing all her working life. After gaining a degree in sociology at Goldsmith’s College, she decided to pursue her career and enrolled on a course at Westminster College, London which introduced her to the world of pattern cutting, design and garment production. From there her first role involved working as a wholesale merchandiser for a large Hong Kong based company who were manufacturing and supplying men’s clothing into the high street. Using the product knowledge she gained in this role, she went on to work for Pepe jeans as a product manager alongside the head of men’s wear design. She then entered the world of buying where she worked for two iconic British brands, namely Laura Ashley and BHS.

After leaving buying, she helped to set up the UK office for a well-known French trend forecasting agency, Groupe Carlin. Subsequently, she was involved in working with some leading clothing manufacturers including Floreal Knitwear (part of the Ciel Group), a significant supplier of core product to Marks and Spencer. More recently she has been helping to promote Danish clothing brands into the UK.

Teresa also works part time as a lecturer/tutor at the London College of Fashion teaching both an introductory and further advanced course in Fashion Buying and Merchandising. She has been involved with the University for over 10 years.

What made you decide to indie-publish your work the Pocket Handbook for Assistant Buyers A-Z of Textile Terms

I have never published before and to be honest I didn’t think that an established publisher would be interested in taking my book and I was advised for a first publication it would be easier to self publish.I wrote my book in response to what I perceived to be a gap in the market. After having taught for over ten years I felt there was a need to provide an easy-to-use handbook which could be used by my target audience once they started on their journey in Fashion Buying. My book was based on the knowledge I myself gained during the many years I worked in the industry, both as a product developer and as a fashion buyer.

How is your publication used by your fashion students?

My students can use my publication to enhance their knowledge and if necessary prepare and assist them in entering into the world of buying.

Would you recommend independent publishing to your academic colleagues/friends and why?

If you are passionate about a subject matter and have experienced rejection or lack of interest from traditional publishers, then self publishing is certainly an option although you will have to work very much on your own initiative in order to tackle the processes needed in getting to the final goal.

How did you promote and market your book?

As my book is primarily an academic book with a very specific subject matter, I concentrated my efforts on promoting my book to established  universities and colleges in the UK and USA as well as through multi media routes such as Linkedin and Twitter.

What are you plans for a next book?

It is year since I published my first book so at the moment I would like to build on the sales for this book before embarking on another.

Teresa’s book Pocket Handbook for Assistant Buyers A-Z of Textile Terms is available in both print and ebook versions from the Lulu bookshop at http://www.lulu.com/shop.

 

LIVE TWITTER DEBATE: Is there a place for independent publishing in the academic world?

Date: 26 Jan

Time: 14:00 – 15:00 GMT

Location: Twitter – use #indyacademics and #acbookweek to join the debate

In the trade book publishing sector, the emergence of independent publishing is perhaps the single most disruptive trend of recent years. Technology has empowered writers to publish their work professionally, affordably, expediently, across multiple formats and into different geographical territories, and to profit from it. But while this significant revolution has been taking place, the model for academic monographs and books has largely remained unscathed, with the largest scholarly publishers still monopolising the market and the academic community still tied to traditional processes, which have been in place for years.

In this Twitter chat, hosted by author, journalist and digital publishing expert Alastair Horne (@pressfuturist), we will discuss independent publishing in the context of the academic publishing market. The virtual panel, which will consist of leading academics and prominent voices from scholarly publishing, will tackle the following questions: Is independent publishing the solution many frustrated academics have been waiting for in order to share their work? Can academics retain more control through independent publishing? What are the main challenges which will need to be addressed in order for independent publishing to become accepted within academia?

More info: https://acbookweek.com/featured-events/

CL Bennett shares her views on why she indie-published and the dreaded ‘writer’s block’

buggglepuffsWhy did you choose self-publishing instead of a traditional publisher?

It took me six months to write the first book and when I got to the end of my scribbled pages, I sat there with an enormous pile of papers and wondered what do I do next? If I want it to be presented in the best possible way, then maybe I should create a finished book. I still had a long way to go developing the characters, bringing them to life through illustrations and putting the series together from hundreds of muddled up pages so I decided to work with an indie-publishing company to bring the ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key’ to life.

What made you decide to indie-publish? Did you enjoy the process?

Publishing a book is very hard work and I now hold great respect for traditional publishing houses and the process a book goes through from a manuscript to the finished book on a shop shelf. I naively thought it was easy – not! To create twenty-four illustrations for the book I had to go into exquisite details to help animate the Bugglepuff characters. My husband and I managed to miss this fun but my children very kindly dressed up as the Bugglepuff children with their own pets from the book and acted out silly Bugglepuff poses until I got the right photos for the first illustrations!

This was a lot of chaos, chasing chickens around the garden and getting our pig to carry a basket without eating it, was tremendously entertaining. Then I had to sketch out the basic illustrations, with other pictures and wait and wait and wait some more. When I got the first email saying the first few illustrations were ready to view I was so deliriously excited I nearly cried, in fact I think I did. The illustrator at Lulu captured my family and their personalities. I chose black and white sketches for the interior because I love the simplicity of them and they’re so deliciously crisp and timeless.

The editing process was a long, complicated and sometimes frustrating time but I was well supported throughout by Lulu Publishing. It took eight months from August 2013 to April 2014 to complete but I know it was all worth it when I finally got to hold my first ‘Bugglepuff and the Magic Key’ on the 10th April 2014 – my animated family was in print – yippee!

As an author is your job done after you finish the book?

Goodness me no. There is a slight breather when you feel complete holding the first copy of your first book. A sparkle of pride and something inside shouts, “YES!” but then the hard work really starts. Some writers write for the sheer personal pleasure but if you want to reach a wider audience you must look at the readers your targeting. Their age, interests and social media is a massive portal to share your book all over the world. Make sure your up to speed or have an indie-publisher like Lulu on hand to give you marketing guidance. Share the book in the local community and shops. The stigma that used to go with a self-published book in the retail world is getting less biased. If your books are good enough and they catch a retailer’s eye you may be able to launch your book in a bookshop. Online booksellers, including Lulu’s own online shop, are very fast to deliver your books whether you live in China, Europe or the US.

To be a successful and happy writer you need to be able to have a passion for writing, marketing and understand that it takes time and patience to get people to turn the pages of your books. But if you believe in your books worth then so may many other readers – good luck!

Do you suffer with ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it?

keyWriter’s block for me only came with lack of time in the day to write between juggling everything else. If I felt I needed inspiration I would go for a walk by the sea. I always carry a camera with me to take photos of scenery, a crooked doorway, a curious animal or the ever-changing colours in the sky. Never miss an opportunity to write if an idea pops into your head so always carry a pen and paper to capture that spark. Ideas when they are fresh are the most original and alive in a writer’s imagination.

Did you know? 

The great children’s writer Roald Dahl used to keep exercise books called ‘ideas books’ to write down even the smallest of ideas which could potentially become stories. The BFG started with one such sentence scribbled in one of his ideas books. Today, children visiting the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire are still presented with an ideas book to help them capture ideas for their stories. Brilliant!

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