Now that the whirling debut dust has settled, Lui Sit invites Carrie Sellon to talk about one thing she's learnt since becoming a published author.


What have I learnt since my debut, Pizza Pete and the Perilous Potions, came out last June?


Where do I start? To show up at my computer even if I’m not feeling it that day (I always end up writing something). To value my beta readers (you know who you are). To celebrate the small wins (my first fan mail, the longlists and shortlists, The Times Children’s Book of the Week). And crucially I’ve learnt my back doesn’t take kindly to hours sat in one position (I now have a very simple standing desk – 3 pieces of wood that, slotted together, have transformed my life and massively reduced osteopath bills).


But the biggest thing I’ve learnt? You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: it turns out it’s not enough just to write a book, you have to market it too.


My brilliant publicist helped with so much – organising school visits, talking to bookshops on my behalf, advice on social media – but I knew that if I really wanted to spread the word about my new book, I needed to get out there myself.


Two weeks before my book was launched into the world, I visited ten local bookshops. Some people would find that a breeze. I didn’t. Imposter syndrome walloped me over the head as I walked down Winchester High Street. What right did I have, a new author (could I even call myself that?), asking for a shop to consider stocking my book? Going into that first shop, clutching my new shiny book, was nerve-wracking, especially as my usual bookseller wasn’t there. Of course, the new bookseller was friendly and warm. He took my book and promised to read it. By the tenth shop, I was enjoying myself, chatting away to the booksellers, especially as most of the shops either had the book already or had ordered it in.


Carrie Sellon signing books in a bookshop

My first school visit was terrifying. I was told I’d be in a cosy library, but on the day I was moved to a huge theatre. The children were already sat down as I walked in, two hundred pairs of eyes looking up at me expectantly. My stomach flipped but I got through it, with a shaky voice. The librarian called me afterwards to say the children were buzzing after I’d left, and she’d spotted at least three children reading my book in the playground.

Carrie presenting at a school visit

Carrie at another school visit

The next school was a little less scary, and they got progressively easier. At the end of the promotional tour, I visited three schools in one morning without so much as breaking a sweat (actually I did, but only because it was peak heatwave). I felt so proud of myself as I drove home, having pushed myself out of my comfort zone and achieved something I wouldn’t have imagined possible a year ago.


Carrie pre-signing her book

No one forces you to do school visits. Lots of authors choose not to for all sorts of reasons: time, accessibility, hassle. My publisher, Guppy Books, told me they were a good way of publicising the book and selling a few copies, but they would totally understand if I preferred not to do them. I’m glad I did. I look forward to them now. It’s fun chatting to children, getting ideas from their wild imaginations and writing silly stories together in workshops. It’s the best way of connecting with your audience, and inspiring young readers and writers. And they don’t realise you’re new or terrified. You’re an author! Therefore you’re famous! Which makes you automatically cool!


Tools of the writing trade on a school visit

What’s next? The second book in the trilogy, Pizza Pete and the Missing Magic, is coming out in September, so I’m off on another school tour. I’m also doing school and library visits with my brilliant illustrator, Sarah Horne, as a result of Pizza Pete being shortlisted for the InspiREAD award. I’ve got my first virtual visit coming up, and I’ve been asked to judge a short story competition for The Federation of Children’s Book Groups. And I’m writing the third and final book in the trilogy, Pizza Pete and the Peculiar Professor, which will come out next year.


Cover of Pizza Pete and the Missing Magic

Authors aren’t generally extroverts. We’re often quiet people, happiest with a laptop, a coffee and a dog/electric blanket wrapped around us (I’m writing this in April – it’s still arctic and our boiler has broken). Standing up in front of hundreds of children, being loud and gregarious, isn’t necessarily our natural environment. But, to anyone about to publish their debut, if I can get out there and meet readers, you can too. Yes, it’s a bit scary at first, but they don’t bite and they’re very sweet (apart from the one who nicked my phone and threw it at a teacher).


Carrie Sellon

Carrie Sellon was born in Bristol and now lives in Hampshire with her husband, three children, dog friend (Mabel), tortoise friend (Sid), chicken friends (Bluebell and Snowy) and 30,000 bee friends (Andy, Pamela, Ellie, get the idea). She used to travel the world making wildlife films for the BBC, but now, much like Pizza Pete, prefers hanging out at home, eating too much pizza. 
Instagram: carriesellon
*Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo
**Photos courtesy of Carrie Sellon


Lui Sit writes MG, non-fiction, adult short stories, and memoir. She is agented by Becky Bagnell of Lindsay Literary Agency. Find her on X, Instagram and on her website.


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Find their work at Follow them on Instagram and X. Contact them at

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Follow her on Instagram and X or Contact her at:


Anne Boyere is one of Words & Pictures' Feature Editors and runs the #SCBWIchat X chat about books for all ages @SCBWI_BI. You can find her on X.

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