Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Why Failure IS an option

7th June 2019

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Today is the first Friday of Walker Books’ #FailureFriday campaign which is running throughout the month of June in support of the new-look Timmy Failure books. The aim of the campaign is to show children that failure is an option and to embrace, rather than fear, it.

This is a subject that is close to our heart at Toppsta Towers and so we asked four different authors about their thoughts and experiences of failure. Check out the answers from Matt Oldfield, Abi Elphinstone, Jeff Norton and Amy McCulloch below. We’ll be sharing more failure stories from authors next #FailureFriday!

Matt Oldfield – author of the much-loved Football Heroes series

We all have setbacks in life, even football heroes. Call them failures if you like, but I prefer to think of them as opportunities to stop, think and learn.

Before I started writing books, I worked in publishing. I loved being involved in the world of books, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the jobs that I wanted. At first, it was disappointing and frustrating, but after a while, it made me think – ‘What do I really, really want to do?’ The answer was simple: I wanted to write books. That had been my dream, ever since I was a child. And so I decided to focus all my efforts on becoming an author. Ta-da!

The aim of our football series is to tell the full stories of today’s heroes; not just their amazing successes but also their setbacks along the way. The growth problems, the injuries, the poor performances, the rejections; the failures, I guess. That way, readers get to see real-life examples of determination, resilience, and bouncing back.


Abi Elphinstone – bestselling author of magical middle-grade adventure stories, including recently-published new novel, Rumblestar

It took me seven years, three failed manuscripts and ninety-six agent rejections to secure my first book deal back in 2015. My journey to publication was disheartening, painful and frequently embarrassing but it taught me more about grit, humility and joy than any of my good fortune ever has.

Jeff Norton – author of Dino Knights, the new, fast-paced chapter book series for readers aged 6+

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. I coach baseball and the thing that baseball teaches you is that the most important thing is to try, and try again. The key thing in baseball is to stand up at the plate and swing at pitches that you believe you can hit. And you’re going to get it wrong. A lot.

In fact, if you look at the very best baseball players who have ever played, they have “batting averages” (a measure of how many times they successfully hit the ball compared to the opportunities they had to hit the ball) less than .400, which is a 60% failure rate. Babe Ruth is considered one of the all-time greats. His batting average was .342.  That means 65.8% of the time, he didn’t hit the ball. And this guy had one job…to hit the baseball! But over a career, over a lifetime, if you keep getting up to the plate, keep swinging, and have the courage to try to do your best, you’ll strike out a lot but you could also end up in the Hall of Fame.  

Amy McCulloch – author of The Potion Diaries series and soon-to-be-published Unleashed, the thrilling follow-up to Jinxed

As a classic overachiever in school, I used to hate the thought of failure. But now, as a full-time author, I've learned to embrace it - even to love it! My path to success so far has been paved with missteps. I've failed in big, public ways - like losing a book contract - and in small ways that no one would know about - like taking a wrong turn in the plot of my books and having to start from scratch. But all these failures have brought me to where I am today. Failure forces me to ask questions and to move out of my comfort zone. I have learnt to be resilient and to challenge myself to find a new path when failure closed something off to me. All my failures have inspired me to take more risks and to try something new and different with my work. It's exciting and I honestly hope to fail more in the future! 

Don't forget to join us next #FailureFriday for more words of wisdom from authors that champion failure.

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