What’s in the bag?

I’ve already written one article this year covering my gnawing insecurity over my second book, and anyone who knows me will be sick of hearing my woes in this matter. What does this have to do with CBeebies? Don’t worry, I’m not going to rant about their accentism again. Have you seen The Baby Club? What do you mean, ‘no’? Losers. For the uninitiated, it’s basically like a carer-and-baby group, but on TV, so they edit out the screaming and you don’t have to experience the bad smells. Anyway. A regular feature is ‘What’s in the bag?’ where the presenter tries to get the babies interested in a mystery item hidden in a cloth bag. Sadly Youtube have removed the video of this song but you’ll just have to trust me that it’s catchy.

Strong Stuff’s connection with CBeebies is this song. For about a year now, I’ve had this song going round and round my head, with altered lyrics. Instead of ‘Is it square? Is it round? Is it quiet, or does it make a sound?’ the version in my brain goes ‘Is it shit? Is it shit? Is it shit, or is it shit?’ So. Now the reviews have started trickling in and they’re good (so far), to say I’m relieved is an understatement. When my publisher contacted me to say pre=sales were strong (hahaha) I was mainly bricking it but also thought, well, at least I will have raised some money for charity. Then when royalty-day rolled around and it really had done better than anyone expected, I was bowled over. 

Strong Stuff is (currently) my publisher’s bestselling book and so far has sold approx. ten times more than The Raven Wheel did in almost two years. I completely expect sales to flatline now, mainly because I’m convinced this is all the result of one online retailer adding an extra 0 to their order by mistake and they’re now sat with a load of boxes they’ll be shifting until 2050 – but if that’s the case, they’ve already handed over the money, so it’s their problem. My royalties are £1,500, 100% of which has gone to Roundabout. My publisher is matching this, so £3k is on its way to Roundabout and that’s basically made my life worthwhile. I can die happy now (no offence to my children, I mean that in terms of creative endeavour, honestly). 

I have to say a MASSIVE thanks to my publisher for supporting me in this and matching my royalty pay-out. They didn’t have to, I never even asked them to, they just did it because they’re bloody lovely. Small, independent publishers are run on a shoestring, often with razor-thin margins, so it really is the mark of a legend.

I’m sadly not the kind of person who will ever run a marathon or do a skydive for charity. I’m not made of the right material. The most I’ve managed to raise is £260 for Sober October last year, and I was pretty bloody proud of that, but this is like the equivalent of what a year of sobriety would raise and I know which I’d rather do. 

Speaking of alcohol, it’s time to celebrate. If you’d like to buy me a drink (I do spend money I don’t have on coffee, too, so it won’t necessarily be booze) to help me make a big deal of this because I never got to have a launch party, you’re most welcome to do so via https://www.buymeacoffee.com/afstone 

What’s in the bag? Well, it’s not shit, and it’s raised a decent sum for charity, so I’ll take that. Not shit! Cheers!

Artwork by the amazing Melody Clark

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