Monthly Archives: February 2012

Be Inspired by Space

by Vix Southgate

I spent my childhood with an avid fascination of the solar system, mainly due to the fact that I had a Brother who chose his career in Astrophysics aged 5!

I also have a love of history, a passion for creativity and a want to inspire children. So a few years ago I was inspired to bring all my passions together, I decided to write and illustrate children’s books.

Yuri Gagarin – The First Spaceman was first published for the 50th Anniversary of Gagarin’s spaceflight on 12th April 2011.  But it was the Gagarin-related events and my own personal interests that mean I want to inspire the next generation of star-gazers, astronomers, rocket scientists and astronauts. I want to get children excited by space and science in general, and to help them get a better understanding and appreciation of the world and universe around them.

Over the past year I have met many cosmonauts and astronauts, all of whom seem to have an air of wonder about them – An inner understanding of what is important in life. I guess your view of life changes when you have pushed your body to its limits and then been propelled into space in a rocket and seen our World for what it really is.

What better way to understand the world we live in, than to see it for yourself from space!

But to go into space you have to train like an astronaut! ‘Venture Thinking’ have developed an international challenge called Mission X, which is an international fitness challenge for kids. For more information go to: http://trainlikeanastronaut.org/

I can only wonder at what an awesome experience it is to go into space. I doubt I will ever know exactly what it feels like but through researching Gagarin and talking with the people who have been, it sounds inspirational.

Understanding the possibilities of what space travels holds, understanding the physical stresses weightlessness puts on our bodies helps us to understand the forces that are at work in the universe and that science is all around us.

Let’s start exploring the possibilities!

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The Fun of the Fairs…

…Book fairs that is! 🙂 It’s that time of the year again, every publisher is gearing up for two major book fairs. Bologna and London.

I recall going to my first book fair. I was so very green. A new writer and illustrator, fresh faced, confident and hungry to get published. I had been preparing for this day for months. Trawling through the Writers and Artists Yearbook to familiarise myself with the companies and potential contact names. Fighting with the online booking system to try to make appointments (and failing). I had left it all a bit too late. So many companies had booked their time with their clients months in advance. There was no hope for me to get even a few minutes of their time, but I had registered and paid my entrance fee, I was going anyway!

I prepared all my work for presenting to potential publishers, packed my bags, traveled to the fair, logged in, a very nice gent scanned me into the building, I checked my surplus into the cloakroom and then stopped.

I was there! A joy, an anticipation filled me… Then I thought… What now?

I found myself becoming overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place. The endless aisles, crammed with stand after stand.It doesn’t matter how much preparation you do, it never seems enough! I had no idea what to do next. So I stood and watched what everyone else was doing. Everyone seemed to have a purpose, they seemed to know where they were going and I realised that very few people were alone, as I was.  I must have looked daft as I stood there motionless. My mind reeling with advice for myself. ‘take a deep breath’ ‘let’s find the children’s publishers’ ‘don’t panic!’

That last one was the one that brought me out of my stupor, then I took a deep breath and went to find a map and an adviser to help me understand how to best use my time and where would be good to go first. The map was doable, but the adviser was not. So I took my first step…The hall was immense, so many aisles with stands of differing sizes, each one full of people. Some in meetings, some browsing the bookshelves, but all of them busy and with purpose.

I wandered around for the first hour, I found the stands of the companies I had researched. I even managed to talk to a receptionist on one and got a contact name. This is it, I thought, this is what I am here to do. Get names, meet people, talk talk talk!

And that is exactly what I did. My first fair didn’t get me the big publishing deal I was hoping for, instead it started me on an even more exciting  journey -not that I realised it at the time- I started my journey of discovery, discovering the highs and lows of publishing and the imminent changes that faced the industry as a whole. I started to learn the inner workings of the industry machine and I realised I could provide support for the huge machine and help to maintain its efficiency in the future.

My advice if you are attending a book fair for the first time:

Prepare prepare prepare, but be flexible once there!

Know why you are going and set yourself goals for each day you attend. Start small and build up but most of all – talk to as many people as you possibly can.

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Time is in short supply.

My Apologies that I have been lax on the blogging front of late.

I tend not to write unless I have something worthwhile to say.

Or when I feel the need to throw my thoughts out into the ether to see if anything inspirational comes back.

But as the year hots up the blogs will increase in quantity with updates on the business process, interspersed with other topics, so I hope not lose quality in the process!

Please join in with your thoughts – any feedback or discussions would be great to inspire follow-up blogs.

New blog post coming soon! 🙂

Thx for reading!

 

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I want to help Freelancers

I have had many people ask me why I want to build a business with freelancers instead of employing a team of workers.

Both have their merits and I agree that a dedicated team would be a more stable (but costly) option – knowing that I have someone on hand to do the job when it lands.

However, I have spent my life as a freelance worker and I know the benefits.  I also know it can be a very lonely place. Never-more-so than a freelance starting out in the publishing world.

When I started out, the one thing I was wanting was FEEDBACK.  I spent 8 months submitting manuscripts to various Publishers and Literary Agents – it was a thankless task and after the 6th rejection letter, I started to wonder if it was ever going to go anywhere. I was prepared for this however; I had read all the books that tell you how to send successful submissions, how to write a successful covering letter and synopsis, as far as I was aware, I had done everything to the best of my ability but I was still getting rejections. Was the work not good enough? Would they prefer it if I send it without illustrations? These are questions you never get answered when submitting work, so I decided to network, go and talk to people face to face… where to start?

‘Start close to home’ I thought. The London Book Fair was imminent. I registered (not fully understanding what it meant when it said it was a rights and licensing fair – I soon learned). But there were still publishers there, I could finally get someone to look at my book and be able to see for myself, their reaction! Body language! Never underestimate how powerful it is.

The London Book Fair, regardless of the fact that it was not the ideal venue for an unpublished author and illustrator, was the greatest experience of my publishing career. Within 2 hours I knew I had potentially successful product, but I had packaged it wrongly!

It was from this point on, that I decided that I want to help other freelancers stride more confidently into their future. I wanted to provide a support network that gives feedback, not just me, but from other freelancers in the network.

When I set up VixenUK I decided I would dedicate a sector of my business to developing the VixenUK Freelance Community (website coming soon).

I understand, first hand, how difficult it is to get into creative businesses (having worked in 2 of the most difficult to break into) and I also understand that many creative people don’t know how to network and sell their work. Some simply don’t want to, they’d rather focus on their creativity.

Selling your work and selling yourselves as the worker is an essential part of getting jobs but… you are the creators not the sales people! Which is where I can help. You simply have to ‘sell yourself to me’ – get me to buy into your work, skills, desire and prove your work ethic is something I can sell on and I will!

I am blessed (some may say cursed) with the knowledge and ability to be both creative and business-minded, however, even though I posses these skills, I find it is impossible to do them at the same time which means I spend my time flitting between the two… selling myself, my business and products, and then having to develop them (sometimes the other way round). I need a team of people I can rely on to be creative when I am out selling and bringing in the contracts. I am finding that the more contracts I attract the more I am having to multitask business and creativity and it is becoming more difficult to find the right balance.  I realise I cannot do this alone I need to delegate some work!

If you are a freelance (in any field of work) wanting to find out more about the work and support VixenUK can offer please send me your CV via the email link on this website: http://vixenuk.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.

by Victoria Southgate

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