Saturday, 28 November 2009

Adswood Primary School has been selected to test drive future HPM MEDIA Ltd material.

After the previous reading at the Fruit Cake not going so well, I was back on the phone on Monday to schools in the local area to see if they wanted me to attend and perform a reading to their pupils. After all, the more children are aware of the book then the more likely they are to buy it.

We had quite a good response from a few schools, with Lisburne Lane School booking me in for January 13th and my children's school Great Moor wanting me in even sooner on the 10th December ( and possibly even later to work on some projects with the children.) One Head teacher Kath Conwell rang me back almost straight away and asked

" Could I come tomorrow?"

So off I went to Adswood Primary School, and was instantly greeted by really enthusiastic receptionist's and the effervescent head herself. I was invited to attend the assembly which was more like an aerobics workout, with the children and teachers all singing and dancing along to Ronan Keeting's " Say nothing at all".

This made a really refreshing change from the tuneless durge we had to sing as kids all about the glory of everything. Assuming that I would only be there for about 30 mins, I started to read the Hairy Plug Monster to years 1 and 2 and again the same look of wonderment came over their faces as I read about the monster under the bath.

As soon as I read the book, Kath and the pupils demanded that I read it again, and then the follow up The HPM goes to town. So it proved to be a really enjoyable experience. I was then asked if "I had time would like to read to the rest of the school"


So starting at the bottom, I worked my way up through the classes before finally ending at year 6, who although were above the intended age group loved the story and the interaction with a "real author". Each class had lots of questions and a year 4 class even based the following lesson on creating stories around the Hairy Plug Monster - which they then passed over to me the next day.

I dont know who was the more grateful - them or me. getting the chance to read to over 180 kids was an experience, as well as interacting with a more than enthusiastic audience. Finally 4 hours later, Kath advised that each year she bought a present for the children and could she buy my book?

what she meant was could she buy a copy of my book for every single pupil in the school ?

WOW, not a problem at all, I told that to make it a bit more personal, I would be more than happy to dedicate each book personally as it was the least I could do. So two days later I came back with three huge boxes of books and sat down in the office with a list of names.

As I was signing them, every so often pupils would come up and say "hi" and tell me how much they liked the Plug Monster and "could I read it again?".

"In fact I could do better than that" I told them and organised with the head if I could test drive all my material on the school and get their response. Grass roots market research. I realised that having a group of 60 somethings sat round a table in a boardroom somewhere discussing the merits of my book, is so far removed Now if that isn't going to inspire me to write then I dont know what will.

So after selling a gazillion books as Christmas presents I came home feeling rather chuffed with myself and had an email from Craig in the US, who advised me that the Japanese may offer us a licensing deal to cover the whole of SE Asia and Australia. I cant tell you the nutz and boltz, suffice to say if it comes off then we will be well on the way to global exposure within 5 years.

There is talk of an animated version of the Hairy Plug Monster, and given my contacts in Russian T.V it may well expedite selling the program at least to the Russians.

Obviously with all this good news about there needs to be a balance. Unfortunately it came in the guise that Borders have gone into administration, initially throwing my intended reading into disarray. However they assured me that the reading will still go ahead and I should still turn up...whether they pay me for the books that they have already had remains to be seen.

From what I can gather there will be quite a posse on Saturday so if your planning on coming it may be pertinent to get there early.

Bookings for the coming few weeks

Nov 28 Stockport Borders
Dec 6th Waterstones Trafford Centre
Dec 10 Great Moor Junior School
Dec 13 Waterstones Stockport
Jan 13 Lisburne Lane School

Monday, 23 November 2009

Money cant buy some things - like the attention of a five year old

After the highs of the recent weeks, the Hairy plug Monster machine was bought firmly back down to earth on Thursday with a reading in the newly refurbished Fruit Cake Cafe bar in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

Not in a bad way ,you understand but it became apparent that unless you have the santuary of a school or bookstore, it is very very hard to get the attention of a 5 year old - especially when you are in competition with about fifty other toys and games. Having tried very hard to inspire the " young hudlum's " with the exploits of the HPM for nearly an hour, I finally managed to read to one girl who was only there because her mum took pity on me and made her sit there while I read. Even Maya and Arisha, the most loyal of followers were led astray by the lure of of the flashing-plastic-bleeping-bits-and-bobs.. It wasn't a totally wasted night, as we still managed to sell a few books, but oh the ignominy of it all.

I received the pictures from Park Road Primary School after I left them with a brief to illustrate Be Careful Ethel which will go on the website when I get chance to catch up with myself. Unfortunately the blog doesn't seem to want to upload the images for some reason and If I stop now, I will never finish this weeks entry.

As it happens there is not much else to say, I have began my assault on the schools of Stockport in a bid to book a few readings before the Christmas brake and maybe prompt a few of them to ask for it as a Christmas Present. Following the succesful reading at Waterstones in Macclesfield I have also decided to try and take take on the Waterstones empire at the weekend.

Confirmed Dates so far include:

24th November Adswood Primary School
28th November Borders Stockport
6th December Waterstones Traffod Centre
13th December Waterstones Stockport

Finally, the HPM made it debut on T.V albeit a very brief one, however for the few seconds it was on at least 1m women would have seen it, on prime time ITV.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Is the Hairy Plug Monster ready to go global?

The reading on Saturday 7th at the Macclesfield branch of Waterstones went exceptionally well - and although the turnout wasn't quite how I imagined it to be (after seeing such things on the T.V.) we managed to sell quite a lot of books.

Apparently we are outselling Julia Donaldson at the moment in the Macclesfield branch.

We also had a visit from local author Simon Waring who passed over a short passage from his latest fantasy novel going under the working title of " The Dark Approach" aimed at the more discerning 12-16 year old.

Following the successful reading - we then went over to the nearby delicatessen to celebrate in true Plug Monster style with coffee and cake and lo and behold the choice of venue was exactly how I pictured the bakers in the next release " The Hairy Plug Monster goes to Town".

While I was there we started chatting to some random people behind us who, it turned out had missed the reading but still wanted a copy of the book - so there I was signing books in the middle of the bakers while Kul took pictures for the blog.

Earlier on in the week I made my way to Park Lane Primary School in Sale and read to an extremely well behaved class of year 1's and 2's who devoured the tales of both the Hairy Plug Monster and Be Careful Ethel before I left them with the task of producing images of how they thought the pictures in Be Careful Ethel should look like.

Oddly enough, the mother of a pupil there, Morgan - was a former schoolmate, and this weekend she celebrated her 40th with a "shindig" at a local Rugby club. Having blagged an invite by association, the whole family went and were greeted by not only Morgan but her friend Megan who were both very excited at the prospect of "Maya" from the book and the writer coming to the party.

It seems that the Plug Monster has left a good impression, and even Megan's parents told me they had ordered the book through the school and couldn't wait to read it.

Finally and perhaps more importantly, a trans global company with their foundations in Japan, emailed me on Monday night, to express an interest in representing HPM MEDIA ltd in Japan, with a view to producing a 3d cartoon of the HPM and other titles. The implications of this are huge and could accelerate the global awareness for the HPM brand beyond imagination.

It is still very early days where this is concerned, although they are very enthusiastic about getting the ball rolling as soon as possible. Dare I say that it is becoming more a question of "when" rather than "if" .

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster goes to Town

Last week started in the most bizarre fashion as both myself and the girls took part in a world record attempt in the centre of Manchester. All over the world "Zombies" have become the new vampires and "Zombie Aid" - the brainchild of Carl Whiteley went to try and smash the world record attempt in three different areas.

1. The largest gathering of Zombies in one area
2. The largest gathering of Zombies dancing to Micheal Jackson's Thriller
3. The greatest number of Zombies in a shopping mall

This required like-minded souls to dress up as Zombies and gather at Manchester's Printworks for a group stroll around the town, much to the amusement of mortal onlookers.

Brilliant - is the only word I can use to describe the whole day. Unfortunately, the record was missed, but this might have been due to the typical cold, wet Manchester weather "bigging itself up". Thankfully it stayed dry for most of the walk, which was rounded off with a " crawl through the Arndale Centre" in true Giorgio Romero fashion.

Trying to integrate myself back in the land of the living was difficult as each time I closed my eyes, "I see dead people", however a brief stint in the countryside the following day listening to Bhangra and performing extreme gardening brought me back from the dead.

My second school visit was booked for Tuesday at Park Road Primary School in Sale, and again it went down really well. I started off reading The Hairy Plug Monster, with the opening

"Where does the bath water go?" and received lots of really sensible answers from the
Year 1 and Year 2's, which I took great delight in dispelling with the story. After which I read the follow up - "The HPM goes to Town" for the first time, which also went down rather well.

We then had a question and answer session, with the main question being "Is there really a monster under the bath?", so job done.

I set the pupils a small task of drawing some illustrations for Be Careful Ethel which are on the way back to me as I write, and will be scanned onto the website next week. More importantly was the invitation from the school to sell the books through them to the pupils, and they are going to include it on the next parents newsletter.

On the subject of sales, we are starting to feel the effect of the mailshot last week to Waterstones, with a steady trickle of orders throughout the week. Which was then underlined with an order for 30 from Borders in Stockport. That magical figure of 500 is getting closer by the day.

More importantly is the interest that has been shown from a Japanese and American party, who may want to licence the Hairy Plug Monster in the Far East, I had my first joint Skype conference on Wednesday morning as a means of introducing myself and gave them a list of sales projections and figures. To tell the truth, I think they were expecting a greater volume of sales, but I explained that HPM Media Ltd is a start up company with a staff of 2, and most of the sales have been on a local basis. All may not be lost though, as the American contingent may want to commission me to write children's stories exclusively for the Japanese market, with a possibility to earn royalties at a later date.

With a reading on Saturday 7th at Waterstones in Macclesfield together with the fun-day at Borders i am really confident that by Christmas we could already be close to that 1000 sales target.