The Fussy Librarian

Edward Trayer

One book purchased from Edward Trayer helps hundreds of authors (besides him) and thousands of children each year.

That’s not an exaggeration. Because Trayer, who writes children’s and YA books under the name Billy Bob Buttons, can support himself on his royalties, he has been able to launch The Wishing Shelf Book Awards and actively promote a love of literature among UK youths.

The Wishing Shelf awards aren’t just vanity prizes, either — in fact, they were inspired by Trayer’s frustration with awards that brought almost no value to authors.

He thought about what he as a writer would want from an award and set out offering it. So Wishing Shelf entrants — who numbered forty-two in its first year and who have reached nearly four hundred, seven years later — receive feedback, marketing help, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and more.

(And as a fun side note: One of the book awards that Trayer dislikes intensely has offered to purchase The Wishing Shelf ... twice. He has declined, needless to say.)

What about all those kids we said he helped? We’re glad you asked.

First, the money left over from actually running the awards goes to the charity Blind Children UK, helping them to produce books for kids with sight problems.

And then, because Trayer’s book sales support him, he has the freedom to host writing workshops, customized to each school’s curriculum, at learning institutions around the country.

One such place, this past year, was an orphanage. There, Trayer spoke with three teen boys who only loved the video game Minecraft — no workshop, just talking.

A week later, he got a letter from the visit organizer. Those boys hadn’t played Minecraft in the past seven days, the letter said. They’d simply been reading Trayer’s books and talking about how much he’d inspired them.

That’s three kids out of the 750,000 Trayer estimates he’s met with. How many more such stories are out there ... all because people thought Billy Bob Buttons was worth a few bucks/pounds/euros?

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