Sally Launches to the Stars!

In celebration of the publication of the beautiful Sally Go Round the Stars, first-time author Claire Ranson shares her 10-year journey through rhyme and her experience of working with co-author Sarah Webb and illustrator Steve McCarthy to create this timeless collection…

As a first time author, I am thrilled beyond measure that my first book Sally Go Round the Stars, has finally made it into print in such a beautiful form. This book has been a long time labour of love for my co-editor, Sarah Webb and I, as we first came up with the idea of creating a collection of nursery rhymes about ten years ago. We gathered street rhymes, lullabies, songs and jingles from many sources, from dusty library books to the older generations of our families, but mostly from children and our own memories of the rhymes and poems that were important to us when we were children. It wasn’t possible for the book to be published at that stage, but when the O’Brien Press approached us last year to see if we would be interested in talking about a nursery rhyme book again, we leapt at the chance!

Interestingly enough, despite both having busy lives, and Sarah having published many books in the meantime, we both still had all the research that we had done, and had each added to it since the project had been shelved. Over the years, I would always jot down any new rhymes or versions that I heard and Sarah had done the same. Our only problem was in choosing which rhymes would make it into the book, as we had enough material for three or four books! The selection and editing process was very enjoyable, and although we mostly agreed on which rhymes should go into the book, at other times we were trading backwards and forwards to make sure our favourites were included. Ide, our editor at O’BP, was referee when the discussions got heated!

For a nursery rhyme book, the illustrations are, of course, all important, and we had very particular requirements for the illustrations. We were enormously lucky to get Steve as our illustrator, and I am just blown away by his fantastic illustrations. I love the quirky inventiveness of his pictures and they bring a fresh vision of the familiar rhymes.

As the book is published, it is a very exciting time, and we hope that readers, both young and old, will enjoy sharing the book as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Sally Go Round the Stars is available now from all good bookshops and priced €14.99!

EDDA is here…


Award-winning author Conor Kostick is back with the eagerly-anticipated follow up to EPIC and SAGA

EDDA is a fast-paced, futuristic fantasy, set in a virtual world full of avatars, magic and mythical beings.

Penelope is ensnared in EDDA: a universe where everyone is made of pixels. While her body is kept alive in a hospital bed, her avatar runs free, able to go anywhere and do anything, including create deadly weapons for Edda’s ruler, her guardian Lord Scanthax. When Scanthax decides to invade another virtual world, Erik/Cindella from EPIC and Ghost from SAGA become entwined in the story and war is unleashed throughout the virtual universes.

Conor has now sold over 100,000 books internationally and readers in fifteen countries have eaten up the trilogy. They are not the only ones excited about his latest installment! The crazy presenters over at Elev8 on RTE2 are dressing up as avatars in honour of the book’s release, tonight at 4pm! Conor will be in the studio with them (he’s brave!) for a live interview to talk about the book and what it’s like inside this new, virtual universe. Tune in if you can or watch out on our facebook page for a link to the show once it’s been broadcast!

The EDDA fever continues next week as family, friends and fans descend on the Irish Writers’ Centre (19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1) for the official launch of the book at 6.30pm on Thursday 2nd June. All are welcome and Conor is like part of the furniture there, being a massively popular creative-writing tutor at the Centre, so there will be a big crowd squeezing themselves inside those big, old door to celebrate with Conor and The O’Brien Press. Come along to be part of it and go get your hands on a copy of EDDA!

Bright Sparks

Book Now for Story Spark, a fantastic season of tales, literature and imagination taking place at The Ark in Dublin’s Temple Bar in December. With fun and lively readings and events for all ages with children’s authors Joe O’Brien, Oisín McGann, Gillian Perdue, Brianóg Brady Dawson, Sarah Webb, Aubrey Flegg and Enda Wyley and others, a visit to Story Spark is a great way to light up those dark winter days! Check out for The Ark for more information and details on how to book. Also, a big congratulations to Joe O’Brien, who has just been nominated for an Irish Book Award for his magical children’s book Alfie Green and the Chocolate Cosmos – don’t forget to vote!

Death on the Hill

The trial of Eamonn Lillis for the murder of Celine Cawley was one of the most-followed in recent memory: author Abigail Rieley talks about the trial and the media circus it generated, as well as about writing her book.

Moorehawke competition

Celine Kiernan, author of the international smash hit Moorehawke trilogy, has just announced a competition: the prize is a signed copy of The Poison Throne (UK edition), a signed copy of The Crowded Shadows (our Irish edition) and a signed copy of the conclusion to the trilogy The Rebel Prince (the Australian edition).

So what’s involved? Celine would like you to pick your ideal cast of actors to play Wynter, Christopher and Razi in a movie version of The Poison Throne: get your thinking cap on! All the details are on Celine’s blog.

Entries close on 22 June and the winner will be announced on 2 July — so the winner will have The Rebel Prince in their hands MONTHS ahead of anybody else, as well as having a pretty unique set of books. It’s a great idea by Celine, and we are really looking forward to seeing the results.


O’Brien Press author is named first ever Laureate na nÓg

Siobhan ParkinsonIrish children’s author Siobhán Parkinson was named the first ever Laureate na nÓg in a ceremony in Dublin yesterday. A new initiative by the Arts Council, with the support of Children’s Books Ireland, the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and Poetry Ireland, the honour was awarded to Siobhán by President Mary McAleese. A multi-award-winning children’s author, Siobhán has published many books for children and her work has been translated into many languages. Among her most popular and award-winning books are Four Kids, Three Cats, Two Cows, One Witch (maybe), which was described by Robert Dunbar as ‘one of the best Irish children’s books we’ve ever had’, Sisters … no way! and Amelia among others. Congratulations to Siobhán from all at The O’Brien Press!

Old and New

The old and new worlds of publishing and marketing all happen at the same time these days: we have just launched An Irish Voice by Niall O’Dowd, a very influential Irish-American with links everywhere, who played a crucial role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, among other things. It’s a great book, but I’ll stop the sales pitch here! What I want to explore here is how the changes in the book world have impacted on how we have taken this title to market. In many ways, this title has been a textbook example of the traditional way to launch a book:

  • pre-sell to the book trade five months in advance with a good cover, advance information sheet etc
  • release the book in to the supply chain ten days before you start the publicity, to give the books time to make their way onto the shelves: there’s nothing worse than a customer leaving a shop because the book is still in goods inwards!
  • get the book into key reviewers’ hands, and ensure that all the authors friends, colleagues and ex-colleagues know about it in plenty of time to use their influence in the national print media: we got a string of fabulous reviews, particularly Tim Pat Coogan in the Irish Independent.
  • select a newspaper to have exclusive access to an extract from the book
  • get all the traditional broadcast media lined up behind it: Today With Pat Kenny, Ireland AM, The George Hook Show, Drivetime etc
  • get a high-profile person to launch it (you can’t get much more high profile than An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen!) and hope that the press will cover it. The event was great, both Niall O’Dowd and Brian Cowen gave excellent speeches and lots of influential people enjoyed mingling with each other. And even better (the day after a soccer international with Brazil) the Irish Independent had a picture from our book launch on their cover (as well as an inside story) instead of Robbie Keane!
  • get the author to sign stock
  • keep pushing for more stories, more coverage and a wider spread in the local media

And yet, current trends in the world of books are playing an ever-increasing role

  • the microsite is live:
  • this is our first ever commercial eBook: it is available (and copies have been sold) on the Amazon Kindle
  • other electronic versions are following quickly in its heels: more news to follow on this very soon
  • the media list contains an ever-increasing list of blogs, websites and other online opinion-formers (many of the enthusiastic amateurs) as well as the more traditional targets
  • the signed stock is being sold online (on our site as well as the microsite) in addition to via traditional booksellers.
  • the presence of the book on is enhanced with extracts and a video (produced in-house) of Niall talking about the book. Both as a marketing and sales tool, is becoming ever more important, and was responsible for 2% of our total sales last year — not to be sniffed at, and growing all the time.

And all this without facebook, twitter, Google AdWords, iPhone apps and enhanced Smell-O-Vision e-book! Marketing and selling a book is all about making connections with the reader effectively and efficiently: how much of this will look a little quaint and old-fashioned in another couple of years? How many more books will sell electronically and how many less physically (sadly, no more will sell via Hughes & Hughes: this family-owned Irish chain had some excellent shops and great booksellers, and will be sorely missed by book-lovers here. Our sincere sympathies to the 100 or so people who have lost their jobs — the latest victims of the Irish economic collapse. We are delighted that Eason have taken over the contract for the airports — great news for World Book Day)?


Awards Season

More good news here at OBP this week with the announcement that The Guinness Story by  Edward J. Bourke has been shortlisted for a Gourmand World Cook Book Award.

First published in 2009, The Guinness Story was named the ‘Winner in Ireland’ in three categories: ‘Best Drinks History Book’, ‘Best Book for Professionals’ and ‘Best Beer Book’. It will now go forward to compete with the best international titles from 2009 in the category of ‘Best Drinks History Book’. The Guinness Story is one of just four titles to be shortlisted for this prestigious Award.

The winners will be announced at the Paris Bookfair on 11th February. Fingers crossed!

Snap, Crackle, Pop, Read!

I promised some exciting new promotions for the start of 2010, and we have just launched the first one: in association with Hughes & Hughes booksellers and Kelloggs, we are absolutely thrilled to be part of Rice Krispies Storytime. As you can see from the picture (taken in my local supermarket the other day: my first sighting in the wild after months of planning), every pack of Ireland’s Loudest Breakfast Cereal is promoting reading at the moment, with a selection of six O’Brien Press books on the front and back of the box. There is a lovely website to follow soon and an official launch at the start of February.

In time-honoured fashion, the cereal boxes have vouchers to collect and these can be redeemed against the books for a small postage and packing fee. One recession-friendly change to this pattern is that the Storytime books can also be collected directly (at no charge) from any Hughes & Hughes bookshop, where the books will be prominently displayed.

The books and authors involved are

This is the first time we have done a promotion in association with an FMCG company (fast-moving consumer goods ie the stuff you find in supermarkets!) What I really love about this one is that it’s Irish: many multi-national brands don’t seem to make any real effort to appeal to their local audience, preferring to rely on their international muscle to do most things on a multi-national level. Kelloggs, however, have arranged this locally with an Irish-owned chain retailer and an Irish-owned publisher to appeal to Irish kids, and have put a lot of thought and effort into it — well done them, I say.

Now, let’s get all our kids reading, seeing as it’s too cold for them to be outside at the moment!