Friday, April 27, 2012

GETTING IN THE RHYTHM: Marketing & Events

GETTING IN THE RHYTHM: Marketing & Events

I'm now getting ready for my third (!) book to come out in the space of a little over a year. Sometimes the world of writing and publishing seems interminably slow and the process of learning what one needs to know, daunting.  But when I look back over the past couple of years, I realize how much I've learned not only about the publishing and editing process, but about the marketing of children's books.  

I have to be honest and say that marketing and publicity is not my favorite thing.  But I've been dogged, if not particularly talented, about trying out advice (Facebook page, Facebook ads, Twitter, blog tour, bookstore events, school visits!), and now I feel I have a bit of a rhythm down.  Maybe I know what I'm doing.  Maybe not, but at least I don't feel completely lost. 

My job organizing children's author events for an indie bookstore was invaluable in helping me understand what an author event even IS and in seeing how authors went about scheduling them. Here's some wisdom I've gleaned:

1. If you have a publicist helping you set up events, that's fantastic. If not, you can reach out to stores, schools, and libraries on your own. If you know local children's librarians, ask if you can be a guest at story time or hold a full-fledged book event at the library. If you don't know children's librarians, get to know children's librarians. It's also great to know the folks at bookstores in your area. Connect with the events coordinator via email, phone, or a face-to-face chat. Bookstores have events on site and often can also provide books for you to sell at off-site events.

2. I was lucky to have been a bookseller at two stores, which in turn have helped me set up events at local schools where they have ties. But they do that for non-former-employees, too. Let the children's buyers and/or events coordinators at bookstores know you're interested in doing school visits. If you go through a store, though, those visits will generally be free to the school in exchange for them offering your books for sale to their students. The store will coordinate the sales. I'm still working on making more connections at schools, though. I'm going to try emailing school librarians and sending them my author visit brochure as a PDF.

3. Attend other author events. I got to see lots as an events coordinator, but I still try to go to support other authors, because I'm a fangirl, and because it helps me get ideas.

4. Plan your presentations well ahead of time, so you can pitch them!  Have school versions and store versions, since the venues are a bit different.  You'll want your school visits to be more lesson-like (but still FUN). Have a page on your website that describes your various presentations. Have a brochure to give out, too.

5. Communicate with the place where you'll be having your event! (Or communicate with your publicist so she can communicate with them for you.) Make sure they'll have the technology, set-up, and supplies you'll need. Find out when they would like you to arrive. If you want to bring food, make sure food is okay with them . . . .

6. Everyone has their own stye, but I find it very helpful to write up my presentations (especially the school visits) in detail. I write them up lesson plan style, which comes from my teaching days. And I practice. I really want to feel comfortable with my material.  I find that if I know it, I can be looser, maybe improvise if I see a good opportunity come up, tailor to my audience.

7. Deep breaths. Maybe some soothing medication. When you get up there, and the kids are engaged with YOUR book, you'll feel great.

I've been so very pleased that with my third book, Duck Sock Hop, I have a publicist helping me to set up some of my events. It feels odd, though, to let someone else be my go-between after being used to doing it all myself. It makes me feel important, but a little out of control. I think I need a lesson from my own ducks.  Let go now and then and dance. Don't be afraid to look silly. I don't think it's gonna happen, ducks. But at least I get to spend some time with you.

My Upcoming Event Dates:
Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA: Saturday, May 19, 3 PM
Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA: Saturday, May 26, 11 AM - 1 PM 
The Blue Bunny, Dedham, MA: Thursday, June 7, 6:30 PM
Tatnuck Booksellers, Westborough MA: Saturday, June 16, 10 AM
Wellesley Free Library, Wellesley, MA: Monday, June 18, 10:30 AM
Holliston Public Library, Holliston, MA: Tuesday, July 17, 11 AM
Westwinds Bookshop, Duxbury, MA: Wednesday, August 22, 10:30 AM

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Put on Your Dancing Socks . . .

I have to confess that I had the idea for my Duck Sock Hop events before the book was even sold.  Make a sock box (like the ducks in the book), fill it with crazy socks (like the ducks in the book), and hold a sock hop (like the ducks in the book), of course!  And decorate some crazy socks, too. And now those events I imagined are almost here.  Here's the first few:

Wellesley Books, Wellesley MA: Saturday, May 19, 3 PM
Eight Cousins, Falmouth MA: Saturday, May 26, 11 AM - 1 PM 
The Blue Bunny, Dedham MA: Thursday, June 7, 6:30 PM