My first community book event

Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that I’ve joined a group of award-winning authors called CWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators in South London).  Apart from fabulous carrot-crunching meetings and wash-down-that-cake-with-wine winter brainstorming sessions, I also took part in two of CWISL’s community events last weekend. For me, it was a new experience. I should say Balu has inspired me to spread the word about my books. Many of my books have been around for many years and I never did anything like this. I think the power of 1 is not as good as the power of many.


We were at the Carnegie Library Winter Fair in Dulwich. I sold two of my books and many of others too. I loved talking to kids about all the books on display, helping them choose. Parents, grandparents, I-am-not-impressed nursery school manager – I met them all. We had kids come up because the authors of these books were right there at the stall. They asked questions, commented on illustrations and pondered about what to buy.



For me, it was a first experience of doing such a thing with other writers and also selling my books by hand. My business brain was telling me that the hours I spent there didn’t justify the sales. But my creative brain knew why I had to be there. It is the connection – the presence of a local author, the interaction with parents and children, recommending your own books and the books of your friends. It is the kind of grass-root connection that I lack in my writing world.

I learnt a lot about stickers, banners, stall displays. I learnt to relax and wait for the buyer to come to us – but this time not on the Internet. But in the real world.

I’m thankful to be part of this wonderful group of CWISL-ers.

  These books were on display at the event. If you missed the event, you can buy your books here

 Balu’s Basket

Where is Gola’s Home?

A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom

As I Watch

Balu’s Basket – the journey

Balu’s Basket is the first book where I’m going on a journey from the germ of an idea to actually marketing the book – of course, all in under two years.

Before this when a book came out, I was naive and inexperienced to do anything about it. Sometimes my books would come out only in some countries and I wasn’t sure what to do on the day of the launch, if I found about it.

This time though, I think I’ve picked up some tricks and tips along the way, I should say, thanks to SCBWI and its wonderful family – where people talk about how they do things so you could learn from them.

So, back to the story that I came to tell.

Balu’s Basket was an idea based on my eternal themes – I keep coming back to grandparents, villages, fruits and Indian motifs. I wrote the first 20 lines and I really liked the shape of the story.

Tulika accepted it early this year and confirmed that it would come out in 2013. Hurrah!

Lucky for me, this year I also had plans to go home to Chennai in India. Guess what? Tulika, my publisher is based in Chennai too. The last time I had been to India was four years ago and I thought this was divine coincidence.

People at Tulika were absolutely amazing to me. Right from the receptionist who said, “You’re Chitra Soundar, I recognised you from your photo.” to the publisher Radhika Menon who gave up her valuable time to talk to me.

Deeya Nair the editor who I’ve been working with, since my first book with Tulika introduced me to the illustrator who was working on my book. Uttara a digital design student and an illustrator was right there in the next room working on my book – giving it finishing touches.


That was fun – I could see her originals – she flipped through them. She is an amazing artist and so young. This was her internship project and what wonderful work she has produced.

When Deeya gave me the original contracts to sign, she remarked that this was the first time a contract was being signed in the office by the author and witnessed by the illustrator. A good first, I’d say.

Then I met with the amazing duo – Aneesha and Pallavi. Aneesha manages marketing for Tulika and she is very positive about Balu’s Basket as she loves my first book too. She is my partner in crime, as we plan marketing across two continents.


Pallavi had literally joined that week, but was no stranger to Tulika. She’s going to spread the Tulika word in the UK and US and gearing up for it.

[Pallavi (far left), Aneesha, Uttara]


So from manuscript to illustrations, the first part of the journey is almost over. While Aneesha plans the book launch in Chennai, here I am planning the book launch here in London.

Here is the sneak preview of the coversBalu's Basket Eng-Tamil F.pmd Balu's Basket Eng-Hindi F.pmd! I love the colours, don’t you?

The first one is the English-Tamil version

and the second one is the English-Hindi version.

And of course, this time I am also doing events in the UK where I will sell all my Indian books.  The full circle – from being a writer to an author to a full-fledged author-machine. I kid myself – I’ve just begun this new aspect of my unknown courage. I have signed up to the book launch, I am telling stories to young children (we all know how intimidating that can be) during autumn and winter of 2013.

And guess what the next book will be out in early 2014 from Karadi Tales and the whole thing will start again. I’m excited. Perhaps this book came out at the right moment of my maturing author life. Perhaps the wind was blowing in the right direction.

Acceptances Galore!

When I got the email today from my editor at Karadi Tales with the contract – I felt elated, accomplished. It felt good. But I also wondered about why this year? None of the books I placed this year were written earlier. None were revised year after year like the story of spider I’m trying to place for years.

So what was the magic all about?

Firstly, I think I studied each of these publishers closely. I didn’t have access to their books in the UK as two are Indian publishers and the other is from US. But I read their guidelines, went through their catalogue, asked them questions about what they are expecting to see.

Then the second most important thing I did was pick the story that fits the audience – I knew the target audience of the publisher. I knew what stories I wanted to write. I religiously incorporated features the editors would like.

For example, all the 4 topics I wrote about – a clever camel, a flying umbrella, a cumulative trip, a market trip – were topics close to my heart. I like journey stories, I like stories where the protagonist meets lots of interesting characters on the way. I like clever tales, with a funny ending.

Once I wrote and revised many times, I incorporated some of the things the editor might like. For example, Pratham Books were going to translate the book into many languages. So I chose the language carefully. Nothing complex. I also knew they wanted a cheerful character. They absolutely loved it and sent an acceptance ahead of their review calendar.

For Farmer Falgu’s first book with Karadi Tales, I wanted to bring out the music elements. Not in the first few drafts – but I got an opportunity to edit. The editor wanted changes and gave me some overall feedback. But when I rewrote it, I also incorporated the music elements. I did some overt rhymes and rhythms. Because the publisher is primarily an audio producer, I knew the book stood a chance with those elements.

I loved the character I wrote for Karadi Tales. Farmer Falgu stuck in my head and wanted to go on a trip again. This time instead of sending  him on a mission, I sent him to the market. But it turned out to be an eventful trip and Farmer Falgu conquers his problems at the end and comes out succesful.

Again I got great feedback, but some edits as well. And I loved the edits the editor had made. I understood more of what they want and how they liked some of the words, structures etc.

So, after I sold my first picture book in 2006, I’ve had 1 with GAP (As I Watch) since then and then a few e-books. But this year has been a bumper crop. Acceptance parade! And I think that’s because I’ve matured as a writer. I am able to acknowledge my strengths and weakness and play on the strengths more.

This is nowhere the end of the story. It has just begun. I want to place some picture books in the UK and some chapter books too. Have you read “A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom?” I want the next book now! This came out in 2009 and I want a few more to be published here.

If I wish for it loud enough, work for it hard enough, I’m sure that too will come!


As I Watch

Preview this book at

As I Watch

Littlest Angels
Author: Chitra Soundar
Artist: Samantha Bell
PRINT: 978-1-61633-013-2; 16161330139
EBook: 978-1-61633-014-9; 1616330147
Nature watching needs patience. But patience is certainly rewarded. In this book, every young reader will learn how to watch a butterfly is born from a tiny egg hanging under a leaf. The concept of life cycle is illustrated by the text that brings the reader back to where he started. The repetitive text guides the reader to follow the text and repeat.