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I don’t do all that many trendwatch posts on this site, if only because it’s impossible to keep track of them all. One minute you’re seeing tons of picture books involving whales. Another minute you’re noticing more than one book about encouraging your pet to become atheist (see this and this). If you do notice such things you are inclined to put your discovery into some sort of context. What do atheist children’s books say about the state of the world today? How do we equate whales with ourselves? That sort of thing.
First off, it was early in the year when I noticed two books with those coincidental similarities you sometimes find in our field. Every year there will be some titles that resemble one another by complete coincidence. At the beginning of this year they were Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin and Bird by Crystal Chan. The similarities weren’t overly obvious but they were there. They both slot into that “A stranger comes to town” plotline. Here’s a plot summary for Loftin’s book:
It doesn’t seem right that a twelve-year-old boy would carry around a guilt as deep and profound as Little John’s. But when you feel personally responsible for the death of your little sister, it’s hard to let go of those feelings. It doesn’t help matters any that John has to spend the summer helping his dad clear brush for the richest man in town, a guy so extravagant, the local residents just call him The Emperor. It’s on one of these jobs that John comes to meet and get to know The Emperor’s next door neighbor, Gayle. About the age of his own sister when she died, Gayle’s a foster kid who prefers sitting in trees in her own self-made nest to any other activity. But as the two become close friends, John notices odd things about the girl. When she sings it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before, and she even appears to possibly have the ability to heal people with her voice. It doesn’t take long before The Emperor becomes aware of the treasure in his midst. He wants Gayle’s one of a kind voice, and he’ll do anything to have it. The question is, what does John think is more important: His family’s livelihood or the full-throated song of one little girl?
And here’s the publisher plot summary for Chan’s:
Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence. Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe—just maybe—the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.
Both stories involve a dead sibling and a family’s ability (or inability) to cope after the fact. Bird wasn’t quite as reliant as magical realism as far as I could tell, but there was a distinct mystery about it. And, of course, the idea of children as birds, for good or for ill.
Later in the year more bird books started cropping up. When Beyond the Laughing Sky by Michelle Cuevas appeared it has some striking similarities to Nightingale’s Nest as well. The plot summary reads:
Ten-year-old Nashville doesn’t feel like he belongs with his family, in his town, or even in this world. He was hatched from an egg his father found on the sidewalk and has grown into something not quite boy and not quite bird. Despite the support of his loving parents and his adoring sister, Junebug, Nashville wishes more than anything that he could join his fellow birds up in the sky. After all, what’s the point of being part bird if you can’t even touch the clouds?
Far more of a magical realism title, the book takes the idea of a bird-child to the next level. This one has actually hatched from an egg and has a beak.
And none of this even counts books like Nest by Esther Ehrlich which involves birdwatching in some capacity. It’s a very different kind of title, but it fits with this overall theme.
I suppose that in the end birds are perfect little metaphor receptacles. Whatever the case, they yield some pretty darn interesting books.
I’m thrilled to welcome Steve Barr today with an idea that will touch the hearts of many…
As a professional cartoonist and the author of 13 “How to Draw” books, I’ve spent my entire life trying to make other people laugh and smile. While this has been an extremely satisfying endeavor over the years, it’s not exactly a get-rich-quick scheme! My path along the way has had many ups and downs, triumphs and failures. But the rewards—those smiles on other people’s faces—have always made me feel like the roller-coaster ride we know as freelancing was worth it.
However, lately I’ve found myself longing to do something with a much more profound, longer-lasting impact. I’ve begun to feel drawn (no pun intended!) to begin working with pediatric patients and their families. Art activities, as well as music therapy, has been shown to substantially reduce stress in young children who are battling really difficult diseases. Drawing and painting has even been proven to have fairly long-lasting effects involving pain reduction.
I can’t think of a better type of art therapy than teaching children to draw cartoons! It’s easy to do, entertaining and distracting. When kids are in the hospital, they have very little control over anything in their life. They’re expected to follow orders, and do whatever they are told. But when they’re drawing cartoons, there are NO RULES! Cartooning is one of the only art forms I know of where someone’s art is not expected to look exactly like someone else’s. Every successful cartoonist I know has a very distinct style that is easily recognizable as their own.
That’s why I’ll be teaching the children to experiment, to try different techniques, explore options and just have fun with their creations. Their drawings will begin with simple lines and shapes, and we’ll build on that to come up with characters that they can bring to life! The lessons are so easy to follow, I’ve had five year-olds grasp them immediately and amaze me with their natural talent.
Click image for full page, printable version.
Once the patients and their families feel comfortable with the cartoons they’ve drawn, they’ll be encouraged to experiment by making slight alterations to their creation to change them into other characters. That will let them have hours of fun on their own after I’ve left.
I want to provide these services completely free of charge to the hospitals, patients, their families and the art therapy groups that serve the facilities where they’re being treated. I’m dreaming of also sharing them with the surrounding communities and bringing more attention to the lingering benefits these classes will have.
But I can’t do this alone. I need help. I’ve begun researching grant opportunities and funding possibilities, but those can be very difficult for individuals to qualify for. With that in mind, I decided to set up a “Go Fund Me” page and seek funding from other people who would like to help me make this happen. If you’d like to take a peek at that campaign, here’s a link: http://www.gofundme.com/e9oahg
When children are hospitalized and fighting diseases like cancer, they often have a difficult time expressing how they are feeling. Art therapy can often help them open up and share their emotions. When they’re drawing cartoons, they can do that simply and easily with just a few shapes and lines. This can help both the medical staff and their therapists determine where the kids are in the process, and address any problems they’re having in dealing with their treatments.
I am hoping that this idea will continue to grow. If it really takes off, I would love to involve other cartoonists and illustrators in the effort. It has already become quite a time-consuming process, but I know the rewards will be fantastic.
I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend the next few years of my life. And perhaps even longer than that!
Note: Please feel free to use the drawing lessons I’ve included in this blog if you are an Art Therapist, Child Life Specialist, Teacher or Nurse who works with children. Parents and guardians are also welcome to share the lessons with their kids. It’s not to be republished commercially without permission, but I’d be quite happy if it was shared personally with kids who would enjoy it.
I first heard Rita Lorraine Hubbard’s name several years ago, when she produced her documentary. How impressive! I followed her remarkable career as she wrote book after book and finally asked her to share her writing success with our readers. Here, in her own words is how she has accomplished so much.
When I was asked to talk about my writing career, I had no clue where to begin. If you’ve been writing since the time you could hold a pencil, telling other people about your journey can be overwhelming.
I’m a southern girl, born and bred in Chattanooga, Tennessee; the product of a public education and fiercely proud of that fact. My degrees are in education and school psychology, but my passion is in writing across genres, depending upon which voice (elementary, middle grade or young adult) is speaking to me loudest at the time.
I have been writing all my life, and since I’ve been on the earth for several decades (I won’t say how many, if you don’t mind), and since my works are only just starting to be recognized, this means it has been a long road to where I am now.
Where am I? Well, I have a nonfiction educational reference book called
African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes that has been included
in the Tennessee State Library and Archives and recognized by the State’s Historical Society.
I have a historical fiction picture book that will debut in 2015, Lee and Low Books. It’s tentatively titled Uncle Billy’s Family Reunion. I have three books published by Rosen Publishing (Getting a Job in the Food Industry; Getting the Most Out of MOOC–Massive Open Online Courses; The Right Degree for Me in Health Care).
None of these achievements happened overnight. They came about over the process of time. But whether your road is as long as mine or happens at the speed of light, I firmly believe there are things you can do and opportunities you can take advantage of while you’re waiting for your writing career to manifest itself.
So here is my list of five ways to take advantage of opportunities while you’re waiting to become a published author.
1. Keep Writing! Write what’s in your head and heart. Write for the love of writing, even if you don’t have anyone to share your work with at the time. I’ve written 42 books so far (told you I’ve been on the earth a long time!) but only the two are out there. Two more will debut this fall, and one will debut in 2015. Yet I continue to add to my long list because you never know when a storyline you’re working with will suddenly be all the rave. Diversity is in now; take advantage of it by writing something from your own wonderfully unique perspective.
2. Join Something. Hone your craft by joining groups where peers share your interests. Consider…
• ACAIC (Association of Children’s Authors and Illustrators of Color), which will be launching soon
• Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
• Critique group with members who write what you write.
• Funds for Writers (www.FundsForWriters.com), which alerts writers to various competitions and opportunities).
I’m even a member of Stage 32, a free social network filled with writers, screenwriters, actors, directors, etc.
3. Be a daredevil. Find out what’s out there and dare to put yourself in the mix. For example…• Don’t limit yourself to books or articles. You can even try out film! In 2009, I stumbled across a nonprofit looking for original short films that focused on ways to combat poverty. So I wrote and co-produced An Entrepreneur’s Heart It was the first time I’d ever written a script or tried my hand at filmmaking, and the film became a finalist in the global competition.
• Take on small writing opportunities, even if there’s no prize money. My article, “How to Get Going on a Grant Application” was a first place winner in a For Dummies Online™ competition. There was no prize money but I did get a by-line with a well-known brand.
• Become a writer-for-hire. In 2010, I heard that an educational publisher was looking for writers, and after a year of trying, I finally got an assignment. I now have three titles with Rosen Publications.
• Keep your ears open for state or regional all-calls. A few years ago, two women from the Tennessee American Association of University Women (AAUW) needed volunteers to write about early women who helped shape Tennessee. I jumped on board ensure African American women were represented. My biography on Dr. Emma Rochelle Wheeler made the cut. Every high school in Tennessee now has a copy of the book, and to this day, I’m called upon to speak about Dr. Wheeler and make appearances at book signings.
• Submit to writing competitions. I wrote The Man Who Saw Everything, in 2004, and I’m proud to say it just received the 2014 Letter of Merit in SCBWI’s Work In Progress competition. See what I mean when I say “keep writing?”
4. Share. When you stumble upon something good, don’t hoard. Share writing competitions, fellowships, and all-call’s via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. People are busy and it’s easy to overlook things. Your colleagues will appreciate your generosity and you’ll soon find them sharing their treasures with you.
5. Pay it Forward. The writing community has always been generous and we should do what we can to keep it that way. I started the Picture Book Depot review website to help get the word out about book debuts, and to breathe life into books that have been all but forgotten.
By the way, I also review for The New York Journal of Books. It’s extra work but I see it as a writing opportunity. FYI, I just reviewed a delightful little book called Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by our talented colleague, Katheryn Russell-Brown. Be sure to check it out at this link New York Journal of Books – Little Melba and Her Big Trombone.
In many ways, it is difficult to believe that my library has been circulating iPads in the children’s library for almost three years. Despite the continued discourse on the role of tablet technology among pre-readers, there is no question that children and families have continued to integrate such devices into their lives. In our community parents look to the librarians to guide their app selections, or at least point them towards the resources that can assist in discerning which purchases to make.
Kids grasping a new Tween Tab from the library. Photo courtesy of Jacquie Miller.
It first began with the preschool set, as our library made the decision to circulate Early Literacy Kits. The idea was to infuse tech into what we as children’s librarians were already expounding to parents and caregivers about the practices they can master in order to cultivate a reader. Now after so many parents have expressed that their child has already “Spot the Red Dot,” so to speak, what’s next?
After the debut of our nonfiction reorganization we began thinking of ways to market the collection glades and showcase other resources that reflected these areas. Time and time again we kept hearing requests to circulate tablets for school-age children. Some of our initial concerns stemmed from the prevalence in the community of iPads in the home. Was there even really a need with most families already owning at least one device? We realized that this wasn’t the case for all families, and if anything a lot of the feedback has been that patrons look to our curated list of apps as the main draw. With this encouragement, why not mirror some of the same subjects we wanted to point kids to in redefining how we navigate nonfiction? Our focus would be to highlight apps that inform, engage, and are used to create. Looking to a previous attempt at providing tweens with circulating devices that dissolved, we knew that we could give our Tween Tabs new life.
The method of circulating, updating, and restricting the devices would match the process of the early literacy tablets. Due to other initiatives we wouldn’t be able to roll out six iPads at once, but decided to test-drive the service with two tablets. Instead of the 5 Early Literacy Practices, we would be dividing our apps into the new nonfiction glades: Facts, Traditions, Create, Sports, Self, Fun, Animals, STEM, Then & Now, adding Bio and Languages to round it out. Compiling some of our favorites from the past few years, which we have demoed in programs and sometimes spontaneously in the stacks, the total list included over 70 apps.
So I need to talk about something on my mind but blurt it out hastily and therefore with less finesse than I’d prefer. There has been a Recent Unpleasantness in LibraryLand where a librarian sued two other librarians for libel. Normally we are a free-speechy sort of group not inclined to sue one another over Things People Said, but as noted in this post by bossladywrites (another academic library director–we are legion), we are not in normal times. And as Meredith observes in another smart post, it is hard to see the upside of any part of this. Note: I’m not going to discuss the actual details of the lawsuit; I’m more interested in the state of play that got us there. To quote my own tweet:
Not going to wade deeply into #teamharpy except to note that “thought leaders from the library community” are generally not pro-SLAPP.
But first — the context for my run-on sentences and choppy transitions, this being a personal blog and therefore sans an editor to say “stop, stick to topic.” The last two weeks have featured a fender-bender with our Honda where the other driver decided to file a medical claim, presumably for chipping a nail, as you can’t do much damage at 5 mph, even when you are passing on the right and running a stop sign; intense work effort around a mid-year budget adjustment; an “afternoon off” to do homework during which the Most Important Database I needed at that moment was erratic at best; a terrible case of last-minuting by another campus department that should really know better; and the death at home last Saturday of our 18-year-old cat Emma, which included not only the trauma of her departure, but also the mild shame of bargain-shopping for a pet crematorium early last Sunday morning after the first place I called wanted more than I felt would be reasonable for my own cremation.
Now Emma’s ashes are on the shelf with the ashes of Darcy, Dot, and Prada; I am feeling no longer so far behind on homework, though I have a weekend ahead of me that needs to feature less Crazy and more productivity; and I have about 45 minutes before I drive Sandy to a Diabetes Walk, zoom to the Alemany farmer’s market, then settle in for some productive toiling.
It will sound hypocritical for a librarian who has been highly visible for over two decades to say this, but I agree that there is a hyper-rock-stardom afoot in our profession, and I do wonder if bossladywrites isn’t correct that social media is the gasoline over its fire. It does not help when programs designed to help professionals build group project skills have “leader” in the title and become so heavily coveted that librarians publicly gnash teeth and wail if they are not selected, as if their professional lives have been ruined.
It will also sound like the most sour of grapes to say this (not being a Mover & Shaker), and perhaps it is, but there is also a huge element of Shiny in the M&S “award,” which after all is bestowed by an industry magazine and based on a rather casual referral process. There are some well-deserved names mingling with people who are there for reasons such as schmoozing a nomination from another Famous Name (and I know of more than one case of post-nomination regret). Yet being selected for a Library Journal Mover & Shaker automatically labels that person with a gilded status, as I have seen time and again on committees and elsewhere. It’s a magazine, people, not a professional committee.
We own this problem. I have participated in professional activities where it was clear that these titles — and not the performance behind them — fast-tracked librarians for nominations far too premature for their skills. (And no, I am not suggesting the person that brought the suit is an EL–I don’t know that, though I know he was an M&S.) I am familiar with one former EL (not from MPOW!) who will take decades if ever to live up to anything with “leader” in the title, and have watched him get proposed as a candidate for association-wide office–by virtue of being on the magic EL-graduate roster.
Do I think Emerging Leaders is a good program? If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have carved money out of our tiny budget to commit to supporting one at MPOW. Do I think being an EL graduate means you are qualified for just about anything the world might offer, and your poop don’t stink? No, absolutely not. I did not single out one person due to magical sparkly librarian powers; it had a lot more to do with this being a good fit for that librarian at the time, just as I have helped others at MPOW get into leadership programs, research institutes, information-literacy boot camps, and skill-honing committees. It’s just part of my job.
The over-the-top moment for me with EL was the trading cards. Really? Coronets and fanfare for librarians learning project management and group work? Couldn’t we at least wait until their work was done? Of the tens of thousands of librarians in the U.S. alone, less than one hundred become ELs every year. The vast majority of the remainder are “emerging” just fine in their own right; there are great people doing great work that you will never, ever hear of. Why not just give us all trading cards — yes, every damn librarian? And before you conclude KGS Hates EL, keep in mind I have some serious EL street cred, having not only sponsored an EL but also for successfully proposing GLBTRT’s first EL and making a modest founding donation to its effort to boot.
Then there was ALA’s “invitational summit” last spring where fewer than 100 “thought leaders from the library field” gathered to “begin a national conversation.” Good for them, but as one of the uninvited, I could not resist poking mild fun at this on Twitter, partly for its exclusivity and partly because this “national conversation” was invisible to the rest of the world. I was instantly lathered in Righteous Indignation by some of the chosen people who attended — and not even to my (social network) face, but in the worst passive-aggressive librarian style, through “vaguebook” comments on social networks. (And a la Forrest Gump, the person who brought the lawsuit against the two librarians was at this summit, too, though I give the organizers credit for blending interesting outliers along with the usual suspects.) If you take yourself that seriously, you need a readjustment — perhaps something we can discuss if that conversation is ever launched.
I have a particularly bitter taste in my mouth about the absentee rockstar librarian syndrome because I had one job, eons ago, where I succeeded an absentee leader who had been on the conference circuit for several years, and all the queen’s horses couldn’t put that department together again. There were a slew of other things that were going wrong, but above all, the poor place stank of neglect. The mark of a real rock star is the ability to ensure that no one back at the ranch ever has any reason to begrudge you your occasional Shiny Moment. Like the way so many of us learn hard lessons, it gave me pause about my own practices, and caused me to silently beg forgiveness from past organizations for any and all transgressions.
Shiny Syndrome can twist people’s priorities and make the quotidian seem unimportant (along with making them boors at dinner parties, as Meredith recounts). Someone I intensely dislike is attributed with saying that 80 percent of life is showing up, a statement I grudgingly agree is spot-on. When people ask if I would run for some office or serve on some very busy board, or even do a one-off talk across country, I point out that I have a full-time job and am a full-time student (I barely have time to brew beer more than three times a year these days!). But it’s also true that I get a huge amount of satisfaction simply from showing up for work every day, as well as activities that likely sound dull but to me are very exciting, such as shared-print pilots and statewide resource sharing, as well as the interviews I am conducting for a research paper that is part of my doctoral process, a project that has big words like Antecedents in the title but is to me fascinating and rewarding.
I also get a lot of pleasure from professional actions that don’t seem terribly fun, such as pursuing the question of whether there should be a Planning and Budget Assembly, a question that may seem meaningless to some; in fact, at an ALA midwinter social, one Shiny Person belittled me for my actions on PBA to the point where I left the event in tears. Come to think of it, that makes two white men who have belittled me for pursuing the question of PBA, which brings up something Meredith and bossladywrites hint at: the disproportionate number of rockstar librarians who are young, white, and male. They left off age, but I feel that acutely; far too often, “young” is used as a synonym for forward-thinking, tech-savvy, energetic, smart, creative, and showcase-worthy.
I do work in a presentation now and then — and who can complain about being “limited” to the occasional talk in Australia and New Zealand (I like to think “I’m big, really big, in Palmerston North”), though my favorite talk in the last five years was to California’s community college library directors, because they are such a nice group and it was a timely jolt of Vitamin Colleague — but when I do, I end up talking about my work in one way or the other. And one of the most touching moments of my career happened this August when at an event where MPOW acknowledged my Futas Award — something that honors two decades of following Elizabeth Futas’ model of outspoken activism, sometimes at personal risk, sometimes wrongheadedly, sometimes to no effect, but certainly without pause — I realized that some of our faculty thought I was receiving this award for my efforts on behalf of my dear library, as if there were an award for fixing broken bathroom exhaust fans and replacing tables and chairs, activities that along with the doctoral program take up the space where shiny stuff would go. That flash of insight was one of the deepest, purest moments of joy in my professional life. I got to be two people that day: the renegade of my youth, and the macher of my maturity.
Finally, I am now venturing into serious geezer territory, but back in the day, librarians were rock stars for big stuff, like inventing online catalogs, going to jail rather than revealing their patrons’ identities, and desegregating state associations. These days you get your face, if not on the cover of Rolling Stone, as a centerfold in a library magazine, position yourself as a futurist or guru, go ping ping ping all over the social networks, and you’re now at every conference dais. (In private messaging about this topic, I found myself quoting the lyrics from “You’re So Vain.”)
Name recognition has always had its issues (however convenient it is for those of us, like me, who have it). I often comment, and it is not false modesty, that I know some people vote for me for the wrong reasons. I have my areas of competence, but I know that name recognition and living in a state with a large population (as I am wont to do) play a role in my ability to get elected. (Once I get there, I like to think I do well enough, but that is beside the point. A favorite moment of mine, from back when I chaired a state intellectual freedom committee, was a colleague who remarked, clearly surprised, that”you know how to run a meeting!”) And of course, there are rock stars who rock deservedly, and sometimes being outward-facing is just part of the package (and some of us can’t help it — I was that little kid that crazy people walked up to in train stations to gift with hand-knit sweaters, and yes, that really happened). But we seem to have gone into a new space, where a growing percentage of Shiny People are famous for being shiny. It’s not good for us, and it’s not good for them, and it’s terrible for our profession.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a book with your name on it. The beautiful cover, the weight of it in your hands, the pages of your creativity bundled into a package for readers to enjoy. It sits o the shelf–maybe a physical one, perhaps a virtual one–but it is there, mingling with other books, rubbing spines with both fresh and established voices alike.
And there it will sit, waiting to be noticed..among not hundreds, not thousands, but a virtual tsunami of books that grows larger each day. Sure, family and friends will buy your book, and perhaps some of your supporters and connections online, too. But unless you do something, it will eventually fade into obscurity, never having the chance to break out and be discovered by the exact people looking to read a book just like yours.
The number one failing of authors (provided they have a well edited, quality book) is an inability to connect with their exact audience.
Traditionally published or self-published, in this competitive market, authors must actively find readers or risk their book dying on the shelf. Many fiction authors try hard, but often miss the mark as far as targeting an audience (promoting too narrowly for example, say only to other writers). Some unfortunately go the spam route, misusing social media to shout constantly about their book, sales, 5 star reviews and even sending “check out my book + LINK” messages to followers. This type of promo becomes “White Noise,” which most ignore. In some cases, people become so annoyed, rather than this strategy pulling new readers in, it pushes them away.
So How Does An Author Find Their Ideal Audience?
1) Know What Makes Your Book Special
While a book’s genre (and sub-genres) help to narrow reader interest, this is only the start of your journey to finding your ideal audience. A Fantasy enthusiast will not be interested in reading ALL types of Fantasy, right? So the first step is defining what about your book makes it stand out from all the other novels like yours. Move beyond just genre. What themes or elements are unique about your book? What are the strongest qualities about your hero or heroine that make them likeable? What concept makes your book pop?
Is your fantasy about a race of nomadic humans who are really shape shifting dragons, but over the generations, have forgotten what they are? Or, does your book have a hero who must solve codes and cyphers to uncover an astrological prophesy? Maybe it involves unusual magical travel…wizards that have discovered they can bottle the scents associated with a location and when a subject inhales it, he travels to that place. Whatever it is, this “special element” is a big part of what makes your book unique, and what will draw readers to your type of story and characters.
2) Make a List of Groups that Tie into this Element
Figured out what makes your book stand out from all the others like it? Awesome. Now it’s time to find out what interests people who think X is compelling, because that’s what’s special about your book.
Let’s take one of my examples. Say your book is the Dragon Fantasy concept above. A book featuring dragons may appeal to people who collect dragon figurines, read dragon-centric books, play dragon fantasy games, create dragon artwork, fashion dragon jewellery, blog about dragons, go to dragon-themed movies, visit forums that discuss dragon culture, etc. Google has 38 pages for “dragon lovers.” In less than a minute, I found a Dragon Museum, Dragon Decor Designs and a ton of forums, facebook groups, and the like. Using Twitter Search, I discovered there is a #Dragon hashtag that brings up people, products and discussions about dragons. All of these people have the potential to be your exact reading audience, especially those who wish dragons were real, but are hiding their true forms. Or Fantasy readers interested in shape shifters and nomadic cultures.
(Don’t forget to look around locally, too. There may be groups, events and activities that tie into your book’s special concept in your own backyard.)
3) Identify Possible Influencers and Opportunities
Now within this glorious pool of Dragondom, there will be influencers: people who blog about all things dragons that really draw an audience, or active forums that discuss the latest dragon films and books. Perhaps gaming communities or even Facebook or Goodreads groups that draw a crowd. All of these help dragon enthusiasts discuss the thing they all love.
Check some of these places out to see if they might be a home for you too. After all, if what makes your book special is the shape-shifting dragon element, I’m going to assume you have a strong interest in dragons, right? Surely you have some things to talk about, links to share, books to recommend, etc. We write what we love, and so we should love to talk about what we write.
You want to find several groups or blogs that offer content to their readers that would also appeal to your readers. See who is discussing dragons on the web. Is there a Twitter Chat about dragons? Also look for people who create tangible goods for dragon lovers (artists, designers, etc.) These are people you want to try and connect with, because opportunities might exist down the road for some cross promotion. Don’t forget other authors with books like yours. Make friends, tweet links to their blog and book. They will notice and most reciprocate, meaning your book might get noticed by their audience.
4) Connect and Engage
Hurray! We have found a slew of blogs, websites, forums and people who are into dragons! Time to join up, follow and send messages about our book, right?
Sorry, that’s not how it works.
Finding out who your audience might be is one thing, but actually (hopefully) turning them into your audience is another.To do that, you need to connect. Interact. Join conversations going on about dragons. Discuss your own collection, the books you read, the movies you watch. Talk to people, find out more about them. Talk about life. Ask questions. Be genuine. Add to the conversation, supply links to things you think others will find interesting about dragons. Build relationships.
Yes, this takes time. It’s work, but if your heart is into it, it’s fun too. In time you will see that these relationships are worth far more than a handful of sales generated from spam promo. Why? Because when you need help, you can ask. Maybe you need reviewers, or have a book launch coming up and need people to spread the word. These individuals who you have invested your time in will often be the most enthusiastic about helping you gain visibility. They become not just supporters, but if we are lucky, fans.
5) Create Book Events to Draw in Your Reading Audience
One of the best ways to gain visibility is to host a big book event online. Thinking very hard about who your exact audience is, and what they would find interesting or entertaining is the key to drawing the right crowd to your event. Online book events like a book launch are the one time when people expect us to shout about our new book from the rooftops. We can build buzz and flash our cover and blurbs, and draw interest. Events are excellent ways to get your book noticed by the right people!
But the trick is to create an event that utilizes Social Media well, and draws the attention of the right people: people most suited to enjoy our book. Unfortunately this has been made harder because of all the “White Noise” of online promotion out there. So, the task is up to us to WOW people enough that they take notice, and don’t dismiss the event as more “book promotion.”
When you create your event, keep your theme or special element in mind. Build around it.Could you do a dragon treasure hunt across many different blogs using street team members? Perhaps add a shape shifting element where participants follow clues to figure out which street team member is human and which is a dragon, so they can find the hoard (giveaway prize) on someone’s blog? Something else? You decide!
Becca and I have run many successful events that have generated thousands of visitors, huge visibility and strong sales. In this webinar we will show you how to create your own book event that attracts attention, engages your audience, and rises it above Promo White Noise. It’s not just about getting eyes on your book, it’s about the RIGHT eyes.
October here again, Children’s Book Festival – it’s a lovely month for children’s writers, booksellers, libraries, schools and children all over Ireland.
I am someone who finds it hard to switch my brain off from what is happening in the world – I never understand how it is possible for anyone to switch off. Sometimes it overwhelms. Cruelty, bigotry, prejudice, hatred, intolerance, brutality, murder and mayhem. Yup, we have it all. And I am lucky that it just overwhelms me – I do not live it or die because of it.
And what on earth does that have to do with Children’s Book Festival. Well … partly because it helps me to look on the bright side of life – because what I and many other children’s authors get to do is to travel to different parts of Ireland and talk to children. Children full of questions, children from all over the world who have through different circumstances ended up here (as have I), children who are only starting out on life. Children whose minds are mostly still open, unshuttered.
And in between them librarians and the wonderful CBI staff who all work so damn hard to make this happen.
This month I’m going to Cork, Clare, Wexford and Carlow and in November to Kildare. And I’m really looking forward to it. Writers and entertainers are not always one and the same thing – writing stories and storytelling do not always go hand in hand. And we all do things differently – I have watched other children’s writers present their work to children and have thought, ‘nope, I could never do that’ But that doesn’t matter because I do something else. Part of what I hope to do, as it is where I have lived for most of my life so far, is to bring them to the doorstep of Africa. A vast, beautiful continent that is ‘somewhere else’ in their lives. To show them what is different and what is the same. To slough off some of the preconceptions. Big aim but if I only achieve ten percent of it I’m happy.
Some snakes made by a class in the wonderful St Johns school when they were reading my first book, The Butterfly Heart
And a baobab tree just because it’s my favourite tree .. and that sky!
The American Booksellers Association has recruited Newbery Medal-winning author Neil Gaiman and his rockstar wifeAmanda Palmer (both pictured, via) to serve as spokespeople for this year’s Indies First campaign.
Gaiman and Palmer penned an open letter calling for fellow writers to participate. Those who answer the call will be serving as volunteer sellers at their favorite independent bookstores on Saturday, November 29th (aka “Small Business Saturday“).
Let me introduce you to our guest blogger Mrs. Alabaster Daisy.
Mrs. Daisy has been studying the residents of the enchanted forest some years now. She has a FTD in the Habits of the Fairy Tale World, and has been featured in Forest Fairy Daily sharing her expert tips on life in a magical land. She’s here today to share with the ladies her tips for romance. Take it away Alabaster!
True Love’s kiss is the best way to find your love however, not every maiden wants to wander about kissing frogs hoping for the best. (Or should I say hopping for the best? Sometimes I crack myself up!) There are other useful ways for a lady to know she’s found it. Why I myself met my true love after falling to my doom from the top of a mountain of doom right into his arms. Don’t miss your chance at “hoppiness” by not knowing what they are.
Good luck on your journey to love ladies.
Thanks Alabaster! I know our readers will find that advice very helpful, and I hope we can host you as a guest in the future.
I am now halfway through the blog tour to help promote the release of my first book, a MG historical titled WHEELS OF CHANGE. I’m excited to be sharing the journey with all of you and hope you will visit some of the stops on the tour to learn about how the book came to be. Here’s the schedule, and please send me your comments about your favorite post; I’d love to hear from you. There will also be two opportunities to win a free autographed copy of WHEELS OF CHANGE at two stops on the tour.
I think many of us have done this at some point. You’ve picked up a favorite old children’s book to read to your own kiddos. Everything’s going smoothly and you’re all having a fabulous time. Then, WHAMMO! Surprise! It’s racist!
Have no idea what I’m talking about? Well today we’re talking race and we’re talking classic children’s books. It’s a match made in heaven!
A couple things inspired this post and the first was when I received a copy of the new edition of If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss. Ladies and gentlemen if prior to reading this book you had asked me whether or not Dr. Seuss was ever racist in a picture book I would have laughed you off. WWII political cartoons? Sure. But his books? Not unless you count that theory about The Cat in the Hat and the elevator operator. Then I bring this book home and my husband proceeds to read it to my daughter. It’s all going well for a while . . . then we have some problems.
There are the little African guys, grass skirts and all:
There’s the Arabic fellow where it is suggested that he be collected along with his steed.
And then there’s this:
The text honest-to-goodness uses the term “slant-eyes” at one point.
You see, when it comes to surprising racism, we all sort of expect Native Americans and African-Americans to fare poorly. We tend to forget how AWFUL Asian people had it, and they show up all the friggin’ time. Whether it’s The Cricket in Times Square (see this rather lovely critique of it here) or Cheaper by the Dozen (check out the chapter “Chinese Cooking”) it’s out there. But the most unexpected racism? Voila:
Surprised? Many of us have heard the tale of how the Oompa Loompas were changed from African pygmies to something significantly less offensive in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So why does no one recall that Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator has its own cringe-worthy moment? I suspect because it isn’t accompanied by any art. You see, there’s a moment when the President calls the Prime Minister of China . . . I’ll just leave it at that. Let your imagination fill in the details.
Not that there aren’t surprises in books where Native American and African-Americans fare poorly. We all know the Little House books are racist but we forget the details until we stumble on them. Then there are the fuzzy cases.
I was having dinner with librarian Kyle Lukoff and we were discussing these types of books. Heck, that conversation was the real impetus for this post. We covered the usual suspects (Pippi in the South Seas, Doctor Doolittle, etc.) when Kyle pointed out a book that might not be out-and-out racist but sure is unfortunate. Remember the Mr. Men books? Of course you do. So do any of you guys remember this fellow?
Author/illustrator Richard Hargreaves was an Englishman so one can hope that the term “uppity” perhaps did not have the same connotations in his part of the globe as here. Maybe. It’s just awfully odd that the only brown-skinned Mr. Men character I can think of happened to get that particular moniker. The scan here makes him look possibly purple. It would be better.
For my part, lots of my favorites have one element that drives me crazy: cannibals. Lots of my dearly beloved books from childhood turn out to be just chock full of them. From The Thyme Garden and Magic by the Lake (both Edward Eager) to Bednob and Broomstick and The Phoenix and the Carpet, seen here:
So fess up. What’s your childhood favorite that caught you off guard years later?
Hooray! Newly Released Books (or to be released before 1/2015 )
Danny’s Doodles: The Squirting Donuts (Sourcebooks) Something is amiss in Danny and Calvin’s fourth grade class when their loud, rule enforcing teacher Mrs. Cakel suddenly transforms into a whole new person. Danny and Calvin decide the only way to find out what’s really going on is to spy on their personality switching teacher. But spying soon leads to a greater mystery filled with dog chasing, jelly injected donuts, peanut butter induced experiments, riddle mania, and more!
A Pet For Fly Guy (Scholastic) In the first zany, hilarious Fly Guy picture book, Buzz tries to help Fly Guy find the right pet. It seems that everyone else at the park has a pet, so Fly Guy wants one, too. A dog licked Fly Guy. A frog chased Fly Guy. A cricket was too jumpy. Who will be the best pet for Fly Guy.
Fly Guy #14 Fly Guy’s Amazing Tricks (Scholastic) Fly Guy puts on a show with all the new tricks that Buzz taught him. But when Fly Guy shows off The Backstroke, The Dizzy Doozie, and The Big Booger at dinner-time, Buzz tells Fly Guy only to do the tricks on command. The tricks come in handy when an annoying kid starts picking on Buzz and Fly Guy–and by the time Fly Guy pulls off The Big Booger, he runs away.
Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day (MacMillan) Publication date-1/6/15 “This eighth book in the popular Bad Kitty series features a day in the life of Kitty’s ever-slobbering foe, Puppy”
Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Katy Duck Goes To Work (Simon and Schuster) Katy Duck is so excited to go to work with her dad. She chooses her best tutu, finds a beautiful crown, and dons her boa. At the office, Katy Duck types, she colors, she gets water from the water cooler, and, of course, she dances. But as she’s dancing, Katy Duck knocks over a huge stack of papers! Katy learns that sometimes she must be a bit more careful…but she also learns that going to work with her dad is so much fun! Tra-la-la. Quack! Quack!
Katy Duck Happy Halloween (Simon and Schuster)”Tra-la-la. Quack! Quack! I will be a magical dancing unicorn!” Katy galloped. She twirled.”No one will have a costume like this,” she said. And no one does have a costume like hers, but when Katy sees Alice Duck dressed up in a shimmery, glimmery outfit, Katy wishes she was shimmery and glimmery, too! Suddenly, trick-or-treating doesn’t sound so fun. But with a little help from Alice and Ralph, Katy realizes that her costume is still very special. And besides, she can be shimmery and glimmery next year!
Katy Duck and the Secret Valentine (Simon and Schuster)When Katy Duck receives a secret valentine filled with sparkly stars, she wonders who it could be from! With a little help from her friend Ralph, Katy makes the perfect card for her secret valentine…and discovers who it is!
Willie and Me (Harper Collins) Stosh thought he was finished traveling back in time. But then Ralph Branca shows up in his room one night, begging for Stosh’s help. In 1951, Branca pitched a ball to Bobby Thomson that would become the “Shot Heard Round the World,” a home run that won the National League pennant for the New York Giants and changed the lives of Branca and Thomson forever. Branca says the Giants were cheating, and he needs Stosh to use his power with baseball cards to go back in time and set things right. With wisdom from all the players he has helped before-plus the surprise return of some familiar faces-Stosh uses his power to travel in time using baseball cards one last time in a fabulous finale to the adventure of a lifetime.
Genuis Files #5 License To Thrill (Harper Collins) The wackiest road trip in history comes to an action-packed conclusion in book five of the New York Times bestselling Genius Files series.When we last left our heroes, twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald were in Roswell, New Mexico, and they had just seen a strange beam of light. Now their cross-country road trip is about to take a detour that’s out of this world-literally! Once the twins get their feet back on the ground, they embark on the final leg of their trip, which will take them from the Hoover Dam all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Flags Over America (Albert Whitman and Company) Cheryl Harness brings to life a picture book history of flags focusing on the United States’ revolutionary beginnings, from liberty poles to the legendary “Star-Spangled Banner” that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814. Includes a glossary of flag terminology and an American flag timeline.
Charise Mericle Harper
Superlove (Disney-Hyperion)Today I am Superlove! There will be love, a wedding, and happily ever after.”So begins the day of one young girl who decides to stage a wedding between her stuffed animal, Mr. Mittens, and Pinky-her cat. Pinky is less than thrilled with the idea, even when Superlove dresses up as the flower girl and arranges some practice weddings between her other stuffed animals. Will Superlove get Pinky out of the tree in time to be the blushing bride? Or will she come up with another way to save the day?
Princess Patty Meets Her Match (Disney-Hyperion) One day your prince will come . . .. . . or so Princess Patty was told. But he’s taking too long, and she’s tired of waiting; so with Miss Loverpuff (her pet starfish) in tow, Patty sets off to find her own happily-ever-after. Along the way, she meets a prince who places leftover peas under the bed, and another who can’t tell the difference between catching dragons and dragonflies! Will she ever meet the right Prince Charming?
Tickly Toes (Kids Can Press)This rhyming read-aloud celebrates baby’s first playthings-his toes!-and baby’s first accomplishment-discovering to his great delight that he can grab hold of those “runaway, fun-all-day tickly toes.”
Pinkerton Behave (revised and re-illustrated 35th edition) (Penguin)The impossibly foolish but irresistibly sweet Pinkerton has been a picture book favorite for thirty-five years. Now Steven Kellogg has created this exuberant updated version, with an edited text and completely new illustrations, so that future generations of children can enjoy the Great Dane’s timeless silliness.
The Circus Goes To Sea ( Algonquin) For many years, Sir Sidney’s Circus has traveled by train. But one day a letter arrives from Miss Flora Endora Eliza LaBuena LaPasta, inviting the circus to travel aboard the SSSpaghetti. Who can resist? The Spaghetti is a floating palace of elegance and entertainment. There’s only one problem: Miss LaPasta doesn’t want Barnabas Brambles to come aboard because she’s heard he’s the meanest man alive. Lucky for Barnabas Brambles, his boss is Sir Sidney, the nicest man alive. Sir Sidney insists the entire circus, including Barnabas Brambles, accept the invitation. But Leo doesn’t like water. Elsa’s never been swimming. The Famous Flying Banana Brothers have no idea where they’ll put their trapeze. And, oh dear, what’s that large object up ahead in the water?
Flashpoint (Scholastic) The final book in the UNSTOPPABLE series. This time, the Cahills are facing their greatest adversary yet, J. Rutherford Pierce, billionaire media tycoon and all-around psychopath. Pierce has managed to replicate Gideon Cahill’s serum to create an unstoppable army of supermen. FLASHPOINT is the story of the final confrontation, Amy and Dan’s last chance to throw a monkey wrench into Pierce’s plans for nothing less than world domination.
Memory Maze (Scholastic) Book 2 of The Hypnotists-12-year-old Jackson Opus, the world’s most powerful natural mind-bender, is back. Jax and his family have escaped New York City, but are they really any safer in hiding? Strange things are happening, starting with an unbelievable invitation from one of the richest men on earth. Back in New York, hypnotists are mysteriously disappearing. Could it be the work of Dr. Elias Mako and his Sentia Institute? Or is something entirely different going on?
Unleashed (Scholastic) The SWINDLE team is coming back. Luthor is unleashed! The ex-guard dog has a dangerous new hobby – chasing cars. And no amount of dog-whispering from Savannah can do anything to stop it. Meanwhile, Cedarville Middle School has joined Invent-a-Palooza, a national competition for young inventors. As the son of a real professional inventor, Griffin is expected to ace the contest. But he faces stiff competition from Darren Vader, and even from one of his own best friends. The big story becomes mutiny on the SWINDLE team – until the front-running invention mysteriously disappears.
Jarrett Krosoczka and Eric Wight (contributor)
Comics Squad ( Random House) A bust-your-gut-laughing graphic-novel anthology with original contributions from the most beloved names in the genre! * Jennifer Holm & Matthew Holm * Jarrett J. Krosoczka * Dav Pilkey * Dan Santat * Raina Telgemeier * Dave Roman * Ursula Vernon * Eric Wight * Gene Yang * This all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s favorite subject-RECESS! With popular characters from Babymouse and Lunch Lady and brand-new soon-to-be favorite characters from superstars including Dav Pilkey! Raina Telgemeier! Gene Yang! and many more!
Donna Jo Napoli
Hands & Hearts (Abrams) This mother-daughter beach outing features an added layer: Throughout the day, they use American Sign Language to communicate.Looking deeper, children will notice hands embracing, fingers touching, hands and fingers shaping words. In addition, one word in each passage appears in red type. This word is then featured in a sidebar illustrating the sign. When done, readers will have learned how to sign 15 words.
Storm (Simon and Schuster) A sixteen-year old stowaway discovers her destiny on Noah’s Ark in this riveting reimagining. The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.
Hidden (Simon and Schuster) Lost at sea when her sister is taken captive on a marauding slave ship, Brigid is far removed from the only life she knew as a princess and the pampered daughter of an Irish king. Now Brigid has few choices. Alone and abandoned, she disguises herself as a boy and vows to find her innocent sister taken into slavery. Through her search many years pass and she grows from being a child to a woman, tough Brigid does not give up. She lives from the land, meets friend and foe along the way, and gains a reputation as a woman thought to be fierce enough to conquer men. It is not fierceness that guides her but the love of her sister and the longing for her family to be united. One day she finds her way, knowing that her only real power comes from within herself.
Fiona’s Lace (Penguin) An Irish family stays together with the help of Fiona’s talent for making one-of-a-kind lace in this heartwarming immigration story. Many years ago, times were hard in all of Ireland, so when passage to America becomes available, Fiona and her family travel to Chicago. They find work in domestic service to pay back their passage, and at night Fiona turns tangles of thread into a fine, glorious lace. Then when the family is separated, it is the lace that Fiona’s parents follow to find her and her sister and bring the family back together.
Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece (Penguin) In this story, Patricia Polacco recalls overcoming a paralyzing fear of speaking in public. Young Patricia has memorized the entire school play, and she’s comfortable in her role as prompter, but when the lead actress moves away, someone must step in. “Patricia, you have to, you just have to,” the cast members plead. Horrified at the thought, she allows herself to be coached by the charismatic theater teacher, Mr. Wayne.
Scary Tales #4 Nightmareland (MacMillan) Welcome. Have a seat. The wolves will wait. Let us tell you a story. But be warned. Nightmareland isn’t just any tale. This is a Scary Tale. Meet Aaron Wheeler, who just got a strange, new video game. A game that sucks Aaron right in. All alone, caught in a snowstorm, a howl comes from the nearby woods. And there is no way out….
Scary Tales #5 One-Eyed Doll (MacMillan) Welcome. Have a seat. The doll will move if you ask nicely. She’s got a story to tell. But be warned. One-Eyed Doll isn’t just any tale. This is a Scary Tale. Meet Malick Rice and his sister, Tiana. Two kids who love to hunt for hidden treasure and are about to make their biggest find yet. A small box, locked tight, buried behind a deserted house. A box meant to stay buried forever…
Love You, Hug You, Read to You (Tish Rabe Books LLC) Studies have shown that talking about what’s happening in a book helps children master pre-reading skills much faster than if they just sit and listen to a story. This book will show you how to use the “5W’s” to ask your child questions that begin with “Who? What? Where? When? Why?” Rabe has written some for you and you can make up your own.
Pants For Chuck (Holiday House) Big Chuck, a woodchuck, is having fun with Rabbit, Raccoon, Chipmunk and the mice brothers when he spots a pair of blue pants. Chuck must have the pants. He holds up the game while he struggles to put them on. “You are too big and the pants are too small,” his friends tell him, but Chuck thinks he looks spiffy. Sidesplitting illustrations show a determined Chuck, stuffed into his much-too-tiny blue pants trying in vain to keep up. Comfort and fun finally trump fashion as Chuck sheds the pants and joins the gang for a game of hide and seek.
Kid Sheriff and The Terrible Toads (Roaring Brook Press) Drywater Gulch has a toad problem. Not the hop-down-your-britches, croaking-all-night toad kind of problem. The thievin’, hootin’ and hollerin’, steal-your-gold never-say-thank-you outlaw toad kind of problem. Then hope rides into town. Sheriff Ryan might only be seven years old, and he might not know much about shooting and roping. But he knows a lot about dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. And it turns out that knowing a thing or two about paleontology can come in handy when it comes to hoodwinking and rounding up a few no-good bandits.
Charles R. Smith Jr.
28 Days (Roaring Brook)1/3/2015
Einstein The Class Hamster and The Very Real Game Show ( Henry Holt) In Einstein the Class Hamster and the Very Real Game Show, the companion to Janet and Jake Tashjian’s Einstein the Class Hamster, we follow Ms. Moreno’s class as they face off against the students of Crackerjack Elementary on the hit game show Kids Know Stuff. But when Principal Decker sneaks Twinkles the python into the studio, there’s widespread panic; the show’s host is afraid of snakes and walks off the set. Now is Einstein’s chance to shine! With the assistance of a sound engineer who can also hear Einstein, Ned and Marlon help Einstein get ready to host the show and save the day. But something goes wrong. Does Einstein have . . . STAGE FRIGHT? Oh no! Ned and Marlon must find a way to help Einstein and win the game show.
This week, we will publish short interviews with some of the Ghanaian authors on the Golden Baobab Prize longlist released a few weeks ago. It is our hope that this introduces the authors to you. As this is only the longlist, we are not looking to pose probing questions, but rather intend the questions to be quite cursory in their outlook.
Today, we start with Ricky Ansong, a young Ghanaian writer and author of Koryor and the Sea. We (CWG) started by asking Ricky how he heard about the prize and why he decided to send in his entry.
Ricky Ansong (RA): I heard about the Prize through Twitter. I decided to enter this category because I love writing for children and I wanted validation from Golden Baobab. I wanted to know if what I wrote for children was good enough.
CWG: How did you receive the news about the longlist, where were you and how did you feel?
RA:I received the news about the longlist through an email. I was then at the Vodafone Café at Cantoments. I felt like my heart would explode. I had to take a walk around the compound to calm my racing heart.
CWG: Is this your first time making a Longlist? What are writing at the moment?
RA: Yes, this is my first time making a longlist. I am working on a young adult novel currently.
Do you have an innovative new program or service that requires funding? Are you looking to serve an underserved part of your community more fully? The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant is a great opportunity for your library!
The Light the Way Grant was formed in honor of Newbery Medalist and Geisel Honoree author Kate DiCamillo. The spirit of the award honors the themes represented in her books. The award itself consists of a $3,000 grant to assist a library in conducting exemplary outreach to underserved populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done. So, whether yours is a new idea or one that has already been put into place, your library would be eligible.
The ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee has the honor of selecting the winner. Special population children may include those who have learning or physical differences, those who speak English as a second language, those who are in a non-traditional school environment, those who live in foster care settings, those who are in the juvenile justice system, those who live in gay and lesbian families, those who have teen parents, and those who need accommodation service to meet their needs.
Be inspired by the impact and the work of the 2014 ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way” current grant winner. Don’t forget to check back on the ALSC website for the most current grant application to be available soon!
I’ve worked in bookstores on and off for five years now. I started off at Barnes & Noble in 2009 before accepting a job at my favorite independent children’s bookstore the fall of 2011 where I’m back working part-time. I’ve also been hanging with a lot of local New York authors who aren’t sure about protocol with setting up launch parties, pitching panels, signing stock, etc.. so here’s a post with how we’ve handled things in the stores I’ve worked at with the understanding that all stores – especially indies – operate differently. Okay, let’s battle.
First, figure out who the go-to person for events and author care is. Sometimes it’s an events manager, events coordinator, special projects manager, the owner, a bookseller with extra responsibility, whatever the title, this is the person you’re going to be harassing/befriending. Helpful Person can assist with planning any events you want to put together and will also keep you in mind for any panels the bookstore is putting together on their end. If you have a publicist, they can also coordinate all this for you, but sometimes it’s just easier if they’re CC’ed and chime in at all the right times.
Bookstores love hosting launch parties, especially for local authors who can usually guarantee a great turnout and excited family members who will each buy ten copies for their neighbor, doctor, dentist, ex-wife, etc. New York authors (or authors launching in New York) are especially lucky because they benefit from their publishing team coming out to celebrate. Bookstores can plan events anywhere from a week to eight months so take the initiative to reach out to the bookstore to lock down the date yourself. It’s rare that a bookstore will say no to hosting an author if they have staffing and an available evening, but if an author is turned away it might be because of too short a notice to order books or concern with getting an audience. Don’t expect to the bookstore to draw in the crowd alone, definitely help promote it across all your platforms so everyone can make money. It’s a business – a charming business, but a business. It costs money to bring it books and it costs money to return them.
Pretty much the same deal as above. If you’re an out of towner, bookstores still want to host you! The only time they’ll shy away is if you’ve already done an event with another store in the area that week or month. Getting readers to come back out can be difficult unless you’re part of a group panel where there’s an opportunity for you to be introduced to the fans of another panelist. Panels are awesome, by the way, especially if you have a theme. Feel free to pitch your Super Special Panel of Super Specialness to a bookstore with multiple available dates and times for all authors and the contact information of all your publicists.
Independent bookstores love taking pre-orders! Yes, they take pre-orders and can usually be done directly through the bookstore. You should also check out indiebound so we can continue to have awesome bookstores that carry our awesome books and host our awesome events. It’s also a good opportunity to work with the bookstore to offer your readers a little extra something as incentive, like a poster of your book cover, special keychains and buttons, signed copies, etc. You or your publisher produce that swag and send it to the bookstore and the bookstore promotes it accordingly through their website, online platforms, and newsletters. (Trust me, I’ve seen a keychain boost sales, don’t shrug it off.)
Are you only in town for a hot second but want to sign stock for a bookstore? Awesome! Let the bookstore know in advance (like at least a week or two) so they can order a sufficient amount of stock for you to sign. Don’t let them know day of because they may only have three copies. Or zero. After you sign stock, be sure to direct interested customers to where you’ve signed stock so everyone (author, bookseller, customer) will be happy.
THANK YOU, BOOKSTORE!
Lastly, don’t feel bad if you’ve never done this, but find a special way to say thank you. Thank You cards are so perfect and so are Thank You cupcakes. Even writing a little something extra in a bookseller’s copy of your book goes a long way. And if you become a big name trying to figure out where to have your next launch party, be sure to remember the bookstore that took a chance on you before anyone knew who you were.
Okay, hope this helps! I’m sure I’ve missed stuff so feel free to ask me anything in the comments section. Happy Friday!
Adam was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and is tall for no reason. In the past he worked as a marketing assistant for a literary development company. He’s currently a children’s bookseller and reviews children’s and young adult novels for Shelf Awareness. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, about a boy who wants to undergo a memory-alteration procedure to forget he’s gay, will be available June 16th, 2015 from Soho Teen. Go say stuff to him on Twitter.
Hi, dear kickers. The illustrations I had planned to share today aren’t up, because I had some issues with the image files. Well, most of the images are fine, but two of them are not, so I’ll just wait. I’ll get that fixed soon (I hope) and post about the book another day.
But since posting without images is just not something I can tolerate here at 7-Imp, I’m sharing a piece of art my 10-year-old made. She and her sister are all the time drawing ninja cats, and this particular image cracks me up. It’s the age-old narrative of good vs. evil. This time it’s Ninja Cat vs. Angel Cat. Who will win?
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *
Forgive me for this super short post, but I’m going to let kicks 1 to 7 be sleep. Sleep when you really need it. I’ve had a long, busy day, and I’m going to put myself to bed.
But please do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week? I always enjoy reading them.
“Pretend the window is a screen,” said poet Susan Blackaby at this morning’s #alsc14 session “The Poetry of Science.” People spend so much time with their eyes glued to their electronic devices that they’re liable to miss what’s going on in their environment. Imagine if people gave as much concentration to nature as they give to their computer screens. How many hawks would they see? What other wonders would they encounter?
Author Margarita Engle joined today’s panel, discussing how she uses both poetry and her science background to advocate for animal and environment conservation. As a child, Engle said, “No curiosity was too small for concentration.” She made the point that the phrase “the spirit of wonder” is applicable to both science and poetry. Because of this commonality, it’s possible to interest poetry loving kids in science phenomena and give science fans the chance to experiment with language.
Poet Janet Wong said that it’s easy–and vital–to create science literacy moments in the classroom and at the library. The key is to be bold. “Science and technology are accessible to people if they’re not afraid.” As gatekeepers of information, teachers and librarians should embrace the responsibility to expose kids to all subjects. Linking language and science may be a key way to make science more approachable. It doesn’t even have to be an elaborate lesson: just a few science literacy moments a week will have a lasting impact on children’s lives.
Renee Grassi led this informative session on serving children (and adults) with special needs. She started off by sharing the rationale behind expanding services to this population: To provide a supportive and inclusive environment for a traditionally underserved group in your community.
She also shared some startling statistics:
Nearly 20% of the US population lives with a disability- about 13% with a severe disability. Only 56% of students w/ autism finish high school, even though there are more than 1 million people w/ autism in the USA.
For those wondering where to begin w/ developing services for people w/ special needs, Renee suggests starting with conversations- get to know people and talk to them about what they need and want. One way to do this is by offering family tour services at the library. This can be available for any family- special-needs or just new to the community or library. They simply make an appointment and have a customized personal library tour with a librarian, just for that family, adapted to their needs and interests. Other ways to find out about community needs include surveys and focus groups.
Renee talked about where to find partners to help your library reach and serve families with special needs: parks, museums, disability organizations, therapists, health centers & hospitals, support groups, special educators & schools, and other librarians who are already working in this area.
Renee described her major partnership w/ her area special-education district- the spedial-ed teachers & specialists provided training and expertise to the library staff, and used their connections to get a community needs survey distributed to the families they serve.
Top 3 library materials requested in that community needs survey were:
high interest/low reading level books & booklists
chapter books paired w/ audio books
more parenting books on special-needs topics
Top 4 services requested:
storytime designed for children w/ special needs
book discussion for teens & adults w/ special needs
eReader & downloading demos
social stories about the library- these are first-person stories used to introduce a person with special needs (especially autism) to a new concept or experience.
Next Renee discussed the concept of person-first language: Say “The child with autism” vs. “The autistic child” – or better yet, learn and use their name! It’s important to watch your language even when talking to fellow staff- you never know who hears you, and how disability has affected them.
We talked about ways to adapt existing programs to include children with special needs, and specially-designed programs just for this population. Libraries can offer integrated programs that are open to a mix of ‘”typically-developing” children and those with special needs, or programs that are just for those with special needs- there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and what’s best to do depends on the needs and priorities of the families being served.
One great idea that Renee shared, that I hope to try at my own library, is for when you have a great big noisy program for a large crowd, like a magician or puppet show: ask the performer if they can offer a second, much smaller session that’s adapted to be sensory-friendly. This would mean keeping the lights on, turning the volume on the sound system down, reducing sudden loud noises, and allowing the audience to move around, talk, and fidget with toys. Publicise this extra session as “autism and sensory-friendly” and require registration or tickets to keep the crowd small.
There are many ways to make sure that your library services are accessible and welcoming to everyone, and Renee’s great ideas make an excellent starting point for doing just that.
Laurie Willhalm started off this session by telling the history of Books for Wider Horizons, an outreach program of the Oakland Public Library that sends well-trained storytime readers into childcare centers and preschools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. They started with about 3 volunteers and have grown over the past 20 years into a corps to 60 volunteers making 71 weekly storytime visits to 1300 kids at 31sites!
Celia Jackson explained the logistics of how the program works:
They are continually recruiting, in order to replace volunteers who drop out or retire. The m ajority of their volunteers are reached by word of mouth, and they also list themselves on a website called Volunteer Match. Careful screening is key to ensuring that the volunteers area good match for this program and understand the training and time commitments. There is a wirten application with references (which they carefully check), and a phone interview with 4 key questions:
-how did you hear about our program?
-what interests you about this opportunity?
-do you understand the training requirements and volunteer commitments?
-Do your have any questions?
Once recruited, volunteers recieve a binder stuffed with all the info, resources, and paperwork they’ll need, and go through an intensive training institute of 7 session over 3 weeks. All the sessions are required; not only is every element of the training important, but this also weeds out those who may want to vounteer but can’t really committ- if they can’t make all the training sessions, they probably can’t make all of their weekly storytime visits over the long term.
Gay Ducey described the training program- it indeed sounds excellent and intensive! She starts every training session by saying: “Thank your for conisidering your time and your energy spent in the service of the children of Oakland, who deserve the very best that we have.” They teach that the role of a story reader is not to teach- there are plenty of adults in their lives to do that. Their role is to bring joy in reading- to create a special, protected, magical time with books and stories that will make the children associate reading with joy and fun, so that they never stop reading.
Training sessions consist of a brief lesson, a demonstration by a librarian or active story reader, then the volunteers practice what they’ve seen in triads. They get homework to go home and practice. They progress from familiar concepts like reaading alout & singing to more unfamiliar skills like fingerplays. and feltboards. There is a survey of classic and contemporary children’s literature, and lessons on child development. The hardest thing to learn is how to hold the book- the volunteers need lots of practice! Gay says: “Our training is long, and it’s hard sometimes, but it’s fun and entertaining and it moves along at a good clip. Otherwise we might all come down a case of terminal earnestness.”
Randi Voorhies is a longtime Books for Wider Horizons volunteer, who shared her experience in the program. She echoed what Gay had already said: if any of us decide to start a similar program, don’t water down the training! Its length and depth are essential in the volunteers’ success and long-term commitment. talked about her experience.
Laurie Willhalm, in her conclusion, responded to a comment from an earlier session from a librarian who despaired of being able to build a materials collection and volunteer corps on the scale of BWH- “You are sufficient as you are.” Start with what you have and build from there as you’re able.
Laurie Willhalm’s contact info for more information: email@example.com, 510-238-2848
Celebrating its 9th year, the Princeton Children’s Book Festival provides children, and bigger children like myself, the opportunity to meet some of their all-time favorite authors and illustrators, to learn about their craft, and to pray that their credit cards won’t exceed their credit limits because they’ve bought so many books. :)
And here are some photographic highlights of this year’s festival:
John Bemelmans Marciano
Me & Leeza Hernandez
Corey Rosen Schwartz
Shhh! You didn’t see me.
Alison Ashley Formento
I had an awesome, amazing, super, wonderful, very, very good day at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival! And I’m looking forward…
We hope to see you next Monday, September 26 at the Columbus Museum of Art for an Evening with Kathy Reichs! Beginning at 7:30 p.m., Reichs will be discussing her bestselling crime series that acts as the inspiration for the hit T.V. show, Bones. Dr. Temperance Brennan (also known as Bones) is the heroine for this 17 novel series that works to solve seemingly unsolvable cases. In her newest novel, Reichs takes Dr. Temperance on a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to find the connection between two murders on opposite sides of the country.
While general admission tickets for this event are sold out, we do have limited availability in an overflow seating area at a discounted rate. Please call 614-464-1032 x.11 for more information and ticket availability.
As a gesture of respect to our authors and guests, the event will begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. with no admission allowed past 7:45 p.m. We thank you for your understanding on this matter.