Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Four Types of Author Events for Promoting Your Books at Libraries (Alissa Grosso)

I worked in libraries for years, and as an author I've done a number of library events to promote my books. Library events can vary greatly in terms of format and audience size. They can be a great way to promote your books as an author, but they can also be a lot of work. As far as what to expect, well, I would say expect the unexpected, but that's not too helpful.

It really depends on the type of event. Generally, I would break author-themed library events down into four main types of events. They are:

1. Solo Author Presentations
These might be billed as a "meet the author" event or a "local author" event. For one of these events
My 2011 solo talk at Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg, PA
you will be the only author there and will (hopefully) be speaking to a group of people who have come for the event. You might be talking about your experiences as an author, your journey to publication or simply sharing a sort of behind the scenes look at writing your book. You could intersperse talking about your book with doing a short reading from your book. Think about including some visuals to help engage your audience, and be prepared to answer questions from aspiring authors about how they too can get their book published.

I've done solo author talks for a good-sized audience of twenty or more people and other talks where it was me, the library director and a couple of patrons. Even though I write books for teens, at least half the events I've done at libraries, the audience was all adults.

Some events I've been standing behind a podium at the front of a large meeting room, sitting in a chair facing the assembled crowd or, especially for the smaller events, seated in a circle along with people attending the event.

2. Author Panels
If you're not a big fan of public speaking or prefer not to do a solo author event, you can partner with other authors and do a panel style discussion at a library. Sometimes libraries put together their own panel and will invite you to join in, but most of the panels I've been part of at libraries have been organized by the authors themselves.

A YA author panel at the Cranford, NJ Public Library
If you're interested in being part of a panel, you'll want to get involved with different local author promotional groups. Some groups are organized simply by region, while others are by genre. At different points in my career I've been members of both sorts of groups and met some author friends as a result.

The nice thing about doing a panel discussion, is even if you don't get an audience for your event, you won't be alone because you'll have some other authors to talk to. The other nice thing about panels is with multiple authors, there won't be any lull in the conversation, and it keeps things interesting for the audience.

3. Writing Workshops
Leading a writing workshop is a fun way to inspire aspiring authors. These participatory style events mean you won't have to do as much in the way of public speaking, but they can take a fair amount of planning.

You may have to plan different workshops depending on the age of the attendees, the length of time
Working with young writers at the Little Flower Teen Writers Festival
allotted for the program and whether or not this is a one-day event or an ongoing workshop series.

They can be a lot of fun, and if you come from a teaching background or really enjoy teaching others a writing workshop is a great way to combine your love of writing and your love of teaching.

Basing your lessons or exercises around passages from your own books is a way to squeeze in a little bit of book promotion into your event.

4. Book Fairs
Sometimes called book fairs or author fairs or perhaps book festivals or expos these events usually involve multiple authors and little to no public speaking. In most cases, you'll be sitting behind a table with your books on display in front of you.

At the Bucks County Library Author Expo in 2018
Other than perhaps making sure you have enough hard copies of your books as well as some sort of takeaway promotional item or flyer that has your name and author website on it such as sticker or bookmark, you won't have to do much in the way of planning.

Usually these book fair style events run for a few hours or more, so they may require a greater time commitment, and while you'll hopefully sell some books at the event, you probably won't be earning anything near minimum wage for your time commitment.

From my experience, those with books for children, can usually do a little bit better than those writing for adults or even teens.

Library author festivals can be a great chance to engage with readers in person, and it's so much more thrilling to sell a book directly to a customer and autograph it for them then it is to sell books to unknown internet strangers.

Closing Thoughts
While selling books at library events can be hit or miss (remember, most regular library users tend to borrow books for free from their library) they are a great way to meet and engage with your fans and potential readers. It can be a lot of fun to share your books and your passion for writing with like-minded people. Plus it will give you the chance to explore some different libraries, which is always pretty cool.

If you're looking to do a presentation or other library event, start by reaching out to your local library. Then contact other libraries around your area either by phone or by sending an email.

Besides spending a lot of time hanging out in libraries, Alissa Grosso is the author of 7 books for adults and teens, and chronicles her author life in her weekly Awkward Author vlog and podcast. Find out more about her and her books at alissagrosso.com.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Building A School Visit is just like Building A...Sandcastle! (Jodi Moore)

Around the time I was shopping When A Dragon Moves In around to various agents and publishing houses, my friend Loren was working hard on her degree in library science. “I know it’ll be published,” she said (as good friends will say), “and you’ll be my first author visit.”

And then...it happened! Loren graduated, a lucky school snapped her up and Flashlight Press agreed to publish my debut picture book!

“Can you come the end of May?” Loren asked me over the phone.

“YES!” I Tigger-danced around the room. Then, reality hit. “But...I’ve never done this before. What do I do?”

There was a moment of silence. “I don’t know. I’ve never done this before either.”

Since research is something both librarians and writers love, we set off to find out: by asking teachers what they wanted in an author visit.

“Encourage our students to write,” one said.

“Talk about the parts of a story,” another suggested.

“Discuss the need for revision,” a kindergarten teacher (yes! A KINDERGARTEN TEACHER) weighed in. “These kids think they can get it right the first time.”

And so, using my husband's original sandcastle as a visual metaphor, I crafted concrete, relatable, interactive presentations with grains of inspiration as shared by teachers themselves.

Here’s what I provide:

K through 4th grades:

“Building a strong story is just like building a sandcastle!” 

From "organizing tools" and "digging for ideas" to "building a strong base" and "re-reading and revising", students are introduced to the parts of a story, including the daunting "story arc" using the award-winning picture book When A Dragon Moves In.

Primary grades: Students will first be detectives, fixing spelling and punctuation errors; then will act as artists, “painting a picture” with words. They will then participate in Cool Kids Theater, acting out a scene from the book, learning how to “immerse themselves” in the writing process.

Upper grades:  Using The Wizard of Oz as an example, we will discuss adding dimension to stories and layering characters (adding a little “meat” and a lot of “heart” to the “skeleton” of the tale) as well as Character vs. Plot-Driven work.

And you never know…the DRAGON may even MOVE IN!
Towards the end of the presentation, students will “meet” the dragon and explore a professional masking technique used in theater, thereby infusing a bit of art inspiration...and recycling!

NEW for 5th-12th grades:

“Unleashing the Power of Words”

A picture may be worth a thousand words; however, if we choose our words carefully, we can express ourselves with the power and flair to rival any artist.

In this session, students examine the rich emotion and nuances reflected in the illustrations of a picture book and then explore innovative methods they can use to strengthen their own words and concepts to develop believable, 3-dimensional characters, vivid settings and gripping plots.

Discussion topics include: What’s the difference between a plot-driven and a character-driven story, and why should we care? Can a character be all good or all bad? Adjectives and adverbs…creative or crutch?

Because here’s the thing: stories have the power to teach, to connect and to heal us. I share examples of books that serve these needs, and close by impressing upon students that there are stories missing the world needs to hear…their own.

As authors, we speak to the most important audiences in the world. This letter took my breath away, and reminds me of my mission, my passion and my responsibility. Every day.

I’d love to connect with you and your students. Contact me at https://www.writerjodimoore.com/contact for further details and scheduling. All attendees receive hand-signed bookmarks at the end of the presentation/day. Hope to hear from you soon!

Monday, February 10, 2020

A Few Common Themes by Sydney Salter

I craft a unique presentation for each audience, but I usually hit upon a few themes.

Spending a summer living amongst the descendants of the ancient Mayans inspired me to write my first novel Jungle Crossing. I love to research before I write any story because I love to learn new things.

Long before I wrote any fiction, I wrote in diaries. I have rarely missed a day of journaling since I was fourteen years old. Even the shortest most boring entries end up telling a more complete story.

Sometimes rereading those old journals (I don't do it often) is painful, but doing all that personal writing has taught me how to access emotions in my fiction writing. I encourage young writers to keep a journal.

I talk about how I wasn't a superstar student. I like to encourage those kids whose potential isn't recognized by teachers, or anyone, but who have a passion for something and ambition to succeed.

I talk about how hard I worked to learn how to write. Again, keeping a journal helped me get to that personal and honest spot. But I still had to learn how to spell - and I still had to learn about the importance of meeting deadlines.

I still practice my writing skills by doing short writing exercises, writing short stories, and playing with writing. I rarely reread these pieces. Writing practice has taught me to write fast and without self-criticism. You can always make bad writing better!

I talk about learning to deal with rejection. I use to keep all my rejection letters in a notebook, but now writers get ignored more than rejected. We still have to figure out a way to keep going. I often talk about how many novels I've written (12) versus how many I've sold to be published (5). Every story I've written has taught me something new - and I have no regrets! I will only regret not writing the stories I hoped to tell.

I talk about how to find stories. I love to do workshops with advice columns. Everyone takes the same scenario and quickly writes a story. It's really fun to see what everyone comes up with! No two stories are ever the same.

I always emphasize that writing is a skill that's important to every single person in the modern world. Some of us will end up writing stories, but others will write grants so that they can do their scientific research, fund their nonprofit work, or report about some other aspect of their business.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Sparks of inspiration and information: Reaching out to Book Sellers, Teachers, Librarians and Book Clubs by Kimberly Sabatini

This month on the blog we're reaching out to book sellers, teachers, librarians and book clubs to let them know what sparks of inspiration and information we can provide to assist THEM!

This means, if you book me for a visit (in person or virtual) I have a magic hat full of things I can use to add to your day and make your life a little better. 

First thing to know is that there is some overlap in what these groups of book folks are looking for--despite the fact that they might have very different needs on other occasions.

What I'm going to do is give you the areas where I think I have something to add and I'll let you decide if any of those buttons are worth pushing. 

First and foremost--TOUCHING THE SURFACE (Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster) has a professionally crafted Common Core Curriculum Guide.

Exploring the Authenticity, Originality, Tenacity, and the Community of Being a Writer
(Prepared by Debbie Gonzales — www.debbiegonzales.com)
Table of Contents:
Practice vs. Talent – Sentence Crafting
Excerpt: Touching the Surface
Authenticity – A Study in Voice
Originality – Writing Outside the Box
Community – e Peer Writers Workshop
The Peer Writers Workshop: Participant Information
Meet the Author: Kimberly Sabatini
Common Core State Standards Alignment:
English Language Arts Standards » Writing
English Language Arts Standards » Speaking & Listening
Touching the Surface: Synopsis
And you can find the link to the full TOUCHING THE SURFACE Curriculum Guide HERE.
isbn: 978-1-4424-4002-9
Note: The projects and lessons included in the document have been created to compliment the content of my school visit presentation and are intended to enhance the students’ program participation and reading experience. But if you are not able to arrange a visit with me--I would LOVE for you to use the curriculum in conjunction with my book. I'm a former Special Education teacher and I know that bringing kids to reading is a fluid process and I would be proud to help you out with that. 

But growing community does not only happen in schools. I know, I've been a member of the SCBWI (the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators for over a decade. I've journeyed from nervously stepping out and looking for my crew to just recently becoming the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI Eastern New York
My calling--my purpose in this group is a community builder. 
So, whether you're looking for sessions on starting a critique group, finding the tenacity to keep writing despite any lemons tossed at you, learning how to write outside the box or you'd like a class on becoming best friends with similies, metaphors and analogies--I can be of service.  
And I am always available to take any group through my personal journey to publication with hands on materials from my process or interject this within my other presentations depending on time.
Lastly, I am ALWAYS developing as a writer, a teacher--that never leaves you--and a presenter. After reading TOUCHING THE SURFACE if your readers or book club members organically becomes inspired by the story or ignite something new in their journey as writers--feel free to reach out to me because I believe that sparks of inspiration should always find a way to glow brighter. 
If you have the time, I'd love to know who provided you your favorite author visit/event and what made it so special.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Safe Spaces ... and Dreams of Cupcakes (Mary Strand)

This month, we’re blogging about what librarians, teachers, booksellers, and pretty much anyone in the vicinity can expect from our visit.

On a good day? Cupcakes.

Seriously, you can expect ME ... along with books, bookmarks, and other author swag.

I haven’t yet brought a guitar, but that very concept is currently being discussed in connection with a possible book event with another author who (like me) is also a songwriter. But it would definitely have to be for the right crowd.

Book cupcakes at a Barbara Vey Reader Weekend

I’m an extrovert, which is rare for a writer, and not even remotely shy. I’m not the type to shove myself in anyone’s face, though, because it’s not my style. I can speak on pretty much any topic, sometimes even knowledgeably. (Sometimes not, but then whatever I say will be pretty funny.) I’m not a stand-up comic and don’t aspire to be, but I’m pretty funny if I’m in the mood, and I’m often in the mood.

I love Q&A’s, especially when the Q’s come from kids and teens. Kids and teens don’t get a pinched look on their face when asking why I write about the things I do. Although my books err on the “sweet” side, I think they’re realistic, and real life isn’t as neat and tidy as some parents of kid and teen readers want it to be, and I don’t pretend. Even though I write fiction.

Pinched Face: “Did your character really have to say ‘rat’s ass’? Do the sisters really have to talk about BOYS and the possibility of having SEX some day?”

Me: “They really do, because it’s true to their personality. Kids and teens are THINKING these things, and books are a safe space to explore those thoughts.”

Yeah. Kids and teens don’t ask questions like that.

I’m happy to read excerpts from my books, but most readers prefer Q&A’s. They can read on their own, but they can’t easily ask me questions and get answers unless we’re both in the same room. I think Q&A’s are a better use of the reader’s time, but hey: up to you. (You can also ask me questions on Goodreads, though, or via my website or my author email address. Go for it.)

The best book events feature at least a couple of authors, along with readers (some of whom might be future authors) who want to join in an open exchange of thoughts: about books, about anything they like. My book events provide a safe space for that, even when a few pinched looks on a few parents’ faces threaten that safe space. I simply don’t let them.

But cupcakes are good, too.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.