From Real World to Digital World – Guest post by Jude Lennon

Last March I was really busy. As usual, World Book Day week had involved me visiting a range of schools to deliver author visits, workshops and storytelling sessions. I was part way through delivering a six week writing course and, I was about to launch my latest picture book ‘That’s Our Home!’ The diary for April was packed with events, visits, book readings and forthcoming workshops to deliver. It was shaping up to be a bumper year for me.

Then…Lockdown.  Overnight, everything was cancelled.

Like so many of us I felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under me. My thriving business was  in danger of toppling. I’d spent six years building up my name, my reputation and my followers and I wasn’t prepared to let it all sink without a trace. My mantra became ‘remain visible’ and I turned to technology  to help me.

 
Before this date, I’d delivered all my Author Talks, workshops, writing courses etc  in person. I had shied away from offering anything online because I was a face to face teacher. I’d done the odd live book reading from my Facebook page but on the whole I was totally ignorant of the technical possibilities. The learning curve began. 

Initially I started with what I was most familiar with and offered daily storytelling sessions  and a weekly book reading session for children via Facebook Live. This enabled me to grow my confidence in talking to the camera and working within the confines of what could be captured in the screen area.

Since those first lives I have moved my business entirely online as well as taken on new roles delivering virtual sessions for other organisations.  These include:-

  • Taking part in several online literary festivals including WOWFest, Wrexham Carnival of Words and Indie Author Week UK Festival.
  • Running three separate six week writing courses.
  • Delivering several writing workshops for other organisations such as Writing on the Wall, Scouts and Phoenix Housing.
  • Setting up my Pick Up Your Pen membership club for writers.
  • Becoming part of the team at EYFSHome who provide daily activities for 3-5 year old’s.
  • Attending national networking events.
  • Delivering virtual storytelling/author visits to schools.

Obviously the writing workshop sessions had to be adapted. My sessions are normally hands on and practical. I share resources, ask delegates to bring books and interesting objects for us to look at and we normally pass various things around the table. I also had to spend a bit of time preparing slides for screen share. And then of course, learning how to screen share. But we got there.

Have I made mistakes along the way? Absolutely. Have I dreaded getting used to yet another form of technology? For sure. Have I longed for a day without yet another Zoom/Teams/insert other platform? Definitely. But, my business is still here and it’s still bringing in an income and I’ve been able to pick up new opportunities by having an online presence.

I long for face to face work to return. There is nothing like having a class full of children in front of me and being able to invite them up to interact with my props and characters. There’s nothing like arriving at an outdoor event, setting up my camper van and books and telling stories to children and families. No screen will ever replace that.

But, even when these activities do return there are some things I’ll keep. I will still offer my courses online. I’ll still offer schools the choice of virtual or face to face visits. I will still take part in literary festivals. Most of them have intimated that they’ll keep an element of online interaction going forward. My membership club is here to stay.

When I look back at my business a year ago, it was totally different.  Online options didn’t even register and if they had they would have terrified me. Now, I’ve completely changed my relationship with technology. The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my fear of it failing. This is still the thing which alarms me the most about delivering online services but it won’t stop me.

As far as my business is concerned, the digital world is one I’ve embraced and I’ll continue to do so even when the real world is back.

About the Author

“I used to be a teacher who loved writing, now I’m an author who loves storytelling.”

Jude Lennon is a former Early Years teacher who now works as a Storyteller under the name Little Lamb Tales. She tells stories at Primary schools, community events, festivals and libraries. Jude is also a children’s author and is the current Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate for the North West of England.  As an official Patron of Reading, Jude works with schools to spread the message about reading and writing for pleasure.

You can find out more about Jude, her books and her services at

  • https://litt lelambpublishing.co.uk/
  • Facebook – JudeLennonAuthor
  • Twitter – JudeLennonBooks
  • Instagram – JudeLennonBooks

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