Juggling Children’s Author

by Jo Franklin

Being a children’s author is really hard work. I thought it was going to be all about writing books and living the life of an eccentric recluse in a hobbit hole or writing shack. But I was so wrong. I am juggling so many things and I don’t think I am always successful.

Here are some of the things that I have to do every day :

Write my books – This is the best bit of my author life. I’d love to be doing it all day every day, but that is totally unrealistic. It takes me a year to write most of my books. That is partly because I have to do all the other things listed below, but it is also because the space between actually writing is as important as the writing itself.  I like to leave gaps in between writing my drafts so that I can look at my work with fresh eyes and come up with important improvements to the text. The non-writing spaces in my working day are also important. It’s amazing how I often find the answer to a problem in my writing in a pile of dirty laundry.


Jo Franklin at work

Website Design – In case you didn’t realise, this website was designed by me. I hope you like it. The problem with having a website is that I need to keep it fresh so my visitors (you!) don’t get bored and keep coming back to see what I am up to.
I feel I am failing at this. I have to keep reminding myself that I do more on my website than some authors but not as much as others (Pop over to Candy Gourlay’s website if you want to see some awesome content) . And now someone has emailed me telling me that a link doesn’t work and I don’t know how to fix it. Gah!

School Visits – Not only do I have to develop great school visits, I also have to go out there and deliver them. Yes I do school visits and author appearances at libraries and festivals. Here are the details.  Meeting readers is the second best bit of being a children’s author (after writing the books in the place) but the downside is that it is very tiring and normally wipes me out for a day afterwards which stops.

Author Talks St Alphege

Jo Franklin visiting St Alphege school in Solihull

Provide Extra Content – Either on my website or to schools I have visited or will be visiting soon. This means colouring sheets, wordsearches, teacher’s resources, craft activities to go with my books. I have totally failed at this one but it is on my To Do List – honest.

Twitter – I’m on Twitter – @Jofranklin2 – but I need to be better at it. I think I should be engaging in lively conversations with the right people (authors, publishers, librarians, bookshops and teachers) without engaging with the wrong people (trolls and spammers for certain, but also an sort of time suckers that don’t lead me anywhere) while promoting myself, my book and my author appearances (children’s authors need to do many author events and school visits)  without being a promotion bore which upsets people (especially me).

Acronyms and How to Use Them – SEO, HTML, CSS and probably a hundred more that I don’t even know exist at the moment. I am having a go at this but I’m still an amateur which probably shows. Part of the problem is that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is such a black art that it is easy to upset Google by mistake.

FYI – I never mean to upset anyone but it does happen sometimes so if that’s you – I’m sorry!

Video Artist – It’s all about YouTube these days. In fact it’s getting to the point that no one is ever going to get a contract for a children’s book ever again unless they have a YouTube channel and a gazillion subscribers. I currently have two videos on my YouTube channel (as of 10th October 2016) and I will make more but they are so time consuming to make and then I have the added responsibility of making sure that I don’t accidentally post them with obscene words in the subtitles. Don’t ask! I leaned this the hard way.

Photographer – So that I have an unlimited stream of visual publicity material. This is one of my latest efforts. In fairness, I had to enlist the help of my daughter Eleanor because taking a selfie while sitting on a grave is very difficult


Jo Franklin pretending to be wistful in Nunhead Cemetery

Ideas Factory – I need to be able to come up with new concepts at the drop of a hat so when my agent lets me know about a new opportunity for some commissioned work I am able to respond instantly. I did this the other week and …. yippee! Sorry it’s secret squirrels for now but it seems to have paid off this time.

Juggling all of the above – The hardest thing of all is that I have to juggle everything. Switching between tasks is very bad for my writing. I am trying to be more disciplined about ring fencing my writing time, but it is difficult because if I get an email from my agent or from a librarian trying to organise a school visit, I have to respond immediately.

So next time you ask yourself the question ‘What does an author do all day?’ think of me juggling all these tasks and more.


Hopping About

It’s very hard to explain to non-writers how horrible it is for a writer to be not-writing. There are loads of reasons why writers might be not-writing today and even if those things are important they don’t make us feel better.

Reasons why a writer might not be writing today:

  • They are earning money at another job (not me)

  • They are looking after their family (my family would say this never happens, which isn’t true).

  • There is nothing we can do about this one, other than get better. It’s boring and frustrating.

  • 50 Shades of Writer’s Block. I guess I will have to write about this one day

  • Promoting another book. That’s me at the moment.

Help I’m an Alien comes out at the end of the month which is very exciting and I am trying to give it a helping hand in the world by adding to the work that my amazing publicist Andrea Reece is doing on my behalf.

This means a lot of hopping about.

frog jumping snipped

I am writing blog posts here and for other bloggers who have kindly taken an interest in my book. I’m trying to keep my blog posts fresh and interesting which means hopping from one thought to another to develop ideas I haven’t expressed before. Blog posts take a couple of hours to perfect. That’s a lot of hopping.

Kangaroo hopping snipped

I am also organising author talks and school visits which means lots of phone calls and emails as we thrash out arrangements. I have to investigate travel options and make sure there is someone to feed my children and walk my dog while I’m away. So more hopping about


Hopping about is the very worst thing a writer can do when they are working on a new book. Hopping about is the complete opposite of immersing yourself in your writing. Hopping about is why writers want a writer’s shack and sometimes have to go on writer’s retreat to clear their mind of all those hopping things so they can get on with their book.

Cricket jumping snipped


I suspected that promoting Alien would mess up my writing so I worked hard to get the first draft finished for 29th February. We had an extra day for leap year and I wanted to make the most of it. I met my deadline and felt very good about it.

I set myself a new target for completing the second draft and even though it looked like I had plenty of time, I’m not sure I am going to make that date.

Too much hopping about!

hare jumping snipped

I’m cross about this because I don’t miss deadlines, even self-imposed ones. And I’m fed up because writing is so important to me. I love the book I’m writing and I’m pleased with how it is going. I think other people might like it too. So not writing makes me feel horrible.

But good news! I have started working on my wip (Work in Progress) again. I sorted out some chapters and written lots of fresh words. I’m at the mid-way point and it feels great.

So from now on, I am absolutely determined to keep my hopping about to the afternoons until this draft is finished. Sorry if you need to get hold of me urgently, I am not answering emails or phone calls in the morning. I will be in my writer’s shack. Even though I don’t have one.