A couple of days ago, a sharp-eyed reader called David Jones wrote to ask whether I'd seen the press reports about the latest book published by the Aultbea stable. And I hadn't, so I went a-looking.
Well, without too much trouble I found lots of publicity for 10-year-old Libby Rees, who has written a book called Help, Hope and Happiness. It's a guide to help other kids to survive their parents' divorce. Lots of UK papers carried the story earlier this week -- e.g. the Telegraph, the Guardian, and the Mirror. And, for all I know, a dozen others.
This morning, however, came the icing on the cake. Young Libby gets a two-inch banner on the front page of the main section of the Times, pointing to a story inside. And in the Times 2 section, Libby's portrait takes up the whole of the front page, while on the inside there is a two-page interview with Penny Wark, plus extract.
Well, stap me vitals. Whatever else may be said about Charles Faulkner, head of Aultbea, you have to admit that he has some formidable skills when it comes to getting free publicity for his young authors. Whether he has the sales team and the distribution channels to be able to take full advantage of it remains to be seen.
In the meantime Charles seems to have set up a nice little deal with the Times, because anyone who is intrigued by the lengthy description of Libby's book can buy a copy from Times Book First. It's 2,200 words in length, and it will cost you £9.45. But look, it's Christmas, OK? Don't be such a Scrooge. Make a kid happy.
As for the rest of you ambitious young writers out there: well, I suspect that some of you are going to have mixed feelings. There you are, struggling to finish that novel, your thirtieth birthday came up and went past, and you're still working on the damn thing, and all of a sudden some kid one third your age taps out a few pages on the computer and gets a contract!
It's a bit bloody much, don't you think?
For those readers who have just joined us, you might care to get up to speed on Mr Faulkner's previous endeavours by reading the Dragon Tamers saga. It's all good clean fun.