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Hey, Tara! Thanks for letting me share about my Stinky Stench!

(Umm, P.U., but OK…?)

Over the last year and a half—ever since first book LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST was released—a small handful of bookstores around the country reached out to me asking if I’d be interested in visiting to do readings and signings.

For those in and around New England (my home), I tried to make it happen. But occasionally, a store far out of driving distance asked. And while I was honored, I didn’t have any imminent plans to travel to New Orleans or St. Louis or Los Angeles*.

Well, word got back to my amazing publicity and marketing team at Sterling Publishing. In preparation for the release of the sequel, they offered to send me on a short tour to celebrate THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH and they even worked it out that I could visit a bunch of those stores that had contacted me!

So for the first two weeks of May I traveled from Boston to Allentown, PA to Asheville, NC to New Orleans to Kalamazoo, MI taking a detoured route through Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis, then finishing up in Baltimore.

I had seven bookstore events: The Novel Neighbor, Octavia Books, Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, Bookbug, The Ivy Bookshop, and two Barnes & Nobles (Allentown, PA and Portage, MI).

At Bookbug they made these cupcakes:

And I got to hang out with a bunch of nErDcampMI friends.

At the Novel Neighbor, they ordered special Flapjacks Lip Gloss:

At The Ivy Bookshop, it was standing room only!

But the best part was that I got to visit 19 schools in those ten school days.

Some days I visited three different schools. Other days I’d stay at a single school all day and do multiple presentations.

Sometimes I’d be reading to a single class or grade at a time. Other times I presented to entire elementary schools—from 600 students in the gym to 200 students in the auditorium to 150 students in the library to 20 preschoolers in the art room—I tried it all.

One school got creative with life-size minecraft and Pirasaurs!

Sometimes I had slides and a microphone.

Other times I had neither. Luckily I’m not a diva …yet (traveling with a personal masseuse is totally acceptable, right?).

One school that I had Skyped with previously got me to read my poem about my cat that poops all over the house.

So I’d like to thank Sterling for everything! From the tour all the way back to taking a risk on the slush pile submission in 2013 that was Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (yes, it was a slush pile submission – Sterling accepts unsolicited submissions via snail mail – see guidelines here).

*Don’t worry, Los Angeles. I promise I’ll get out to you eventually!

Josh is giving away YOUR CHOICE:

  • EITHER a personalized signed copy of THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH
  • OR a written critique of your picture book manuscript (Josh values this at an estimated $1 billion)

Leave one comment below to enter. A winner will be randomly selected soon!

Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as picture books – such as Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and its sequel The Case of the Stinky Stench along with Pirasaurs!, Dear Dragon, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk (9.19.17), Albie Newton (Spring 2018), Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude (2018), and more coming soon!

Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences. He’s written a free 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books available on his website here.

Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts.

Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.

Find out more about Josh at his website joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter at @joshfunkbooks.

sharonchriscoeby Sharon Chriscoe

Ready, Set, Events!

Hooray! Your book is about to release! You’re geared up and ready for some super fun book events. But what happens when you live in an area that has very few bookstores?

Answer: You think outside the bookstore!

The first thing any author thinks of when planning their book launch is bookstore . . . bookstore . . . bookstore. After all, you have a BOOK! Books belong in bookstores. Your book events need to take place in a bookstore. However, as I soon discovered while planning RACE CAR DREAMS’ book launch, not all events have to be inside a brick and mortar bookstore. In fact, they don’t have to take place inside a store at all.

signWhat? Yes, that’s right. My second book event took place at our local Chick-Fil-A! And we had a vrooming good time! Check out the sign they even displayed weeks in advance!

Why Chick-Fil-A?

One of the things that drew me to my local Chick-Fil-A was that they are always hosting events for kid related themes. They host a Kids Club, School Spirit contests, and many other fun-filled events that support the community and provide a wonderful experience for kids. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I already knew the owner (my husband and I deliver their buns on our bread route! Connections are good, right?).

Start your engines!

Once, I secured the only two bookstores in our community for events, I called up the owner of Chick-Fil-A to see if they would be interested in hosting an event. And he was! He connected me with the Marketing Director who not only was fantastic to work with but was phenomenal in creating an action-packed afternoon! She even secured TWO real live race cars to coincide with the race car theme of my book!

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Doesn’t RACE CAR DREAMS look happy to be featured alongside real live race cars?

Plan, plan, plan! And let the good times roll!

Incorporating as many kid activities as possible (but stick to a budget!) will ensure a crowd pleasing event.

The happier the crowd, the longer they will stick around. Try to start planning for these events as far in advance as you can. My husband and I started a fun project in early spring that featured a battery powered toy car replica of my main character. He was tiny, so only the littlest of kids would be able to fit inside. For the older kids, I picked up a Hot Wheels race track during the Holiday season (at half price!) for the events. Both were huge successes! If possible, decorate your event with theme related items that tie into your book. I used racing banners, racing flags, a checkered rug, race tracks, and goodie bags with all sorts of racing themed items inside for giveaways. All of which I found on Amazon at great prices! And my publisher was kind enough to send me bookmarks and posters for the little ones to enjoy!

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Vrooming into first place!

On the day of the event, show up early because setting up in a non-bookstore will take extra time, especially if you hold it outdoors. Thankfully, mother nature was on our side and it was a beautiful day, but it’s best to have a backup plan for a not-so-friendly mother nature because well, she does as she pleases. We were prepared to move the event indoors if needed.

As kids and their families arrive, chat with them, show them around, point out the fun activities for the kids to enjoy, talk about your book, and mention when story time will take place (decide this in advance and stick to a schedule). Also, include your own family and friends as much as possible in your events. This always makes for an extra special day not only for you but for them as well.

And throughout the day, be sure lots of pictures are being taken. You don’t get re-do’s on events, and capturing the day will make for great memories.

Now, it’s your time to rev up your own creative engines!

So, as you can see, bookstores are not the only places to have a successful book event. If you have a release coming up, or a book already out in the world, rev up your creative engine and see what happens. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a non-bookstore and ask if they’d like to host a book event for you — you just never know . . . it could lead to a vrooming good time!

Thank you, Sharon! Looks like you had a fun and memorable event!

Leave a comment below to be entered into the RACE CAR DREAMS Giveaway. The random winner will receive an autographed book, a poster, bookmarks, and a goodie bag stuffed with all sorts of racing themed items. Good luck!

race-car-dreams-high-resolution-picture

sharon-chriscoe-photoSharon Chriscoe may not vroom around a race track, but she does zip and zoom around in a bread truck with her husband, Ricky. Fueled with fresh bread, snacks, and writing tools, Sharon has made this her mobile office! She and her husband live in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. They have three children and one grandchild on the way, as well as an assortment of dogs, cats, bunnies and occasionally a groundhog. In addition to RACE CAR DREAMS, she is the author of BULLDOZER DREAMS (a companion book to RACE CAR DREAMS, Running Press Kids, 2017), and THE SPARROW AND THE TREES (Arbordale Publishing, 2015). She is also a contributor to several magazines such as Highlights High Five, Highlights Hello, and The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids. She is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. To learn more about Sharon, her books, and future events, visit her website: SharonChriscoeBooks.com.

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I am thrilled to be writing this blog post.

bored

Wait a second…

That’s the worst opening, isn’t it?

Let me explain.

powersaleswritingBack when I wrote marketing copy, sales letters and press releases for a living, I bought POWER SALES WRITING by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, an eye-opening guide and the most useful business book I’ve ever read. Good business requires sharp writing.

In the book, Hershkowitz-Coore tells marketing writers to stop being thrilled all the time. Sure, you are thrilled to announce a deal, launch a product or publish a book. But why should your audience be thrilled? What’s in it for them? No one is going to be thrilled simply because you are (except for your mother).

thumbsup

The point? Stop writing sales pitches from your point of view and write from the target audience’s POV. Make your audience thrilled. Give them something to get excited about.

I receive dozens of unsolicited book review pitches a week. There are too many, so I take a simple approach to weeding them out. Those that use “I am thrilled” to open the pitch get deleted. (Sorry.) With that introduction, I know they haven’t considered my blog readers’ point of view.

I never forgot that thrilling lesson. Yes, I’m sometimes still too thrilled for my own good. I want friends to be happy for me, so I will occasionally toot my own flugelhorn. But then I remember what my Nana used to say: “Well, your arms are long enough to pat yourself on the back.” (Yeah, Nana could be harsh.) In a way, Nan was trying to teach me the same lesson as Hershkowitz-Coore. No one is going to be as thrilled as you are, so you’d better make your news worthwhile to others.

I am thrilled to be finished writing this blog post…because I hope it has helped you.

I’ve done several dozen classroom Skype visits and I keep refining my techniques. (Yes, I have actual techniques!) I found that many author friends were nervous about doing Skype visits and I’m here to tell you—they’re the best thing since sliced smoked-meat knishes from Caplansky’s! (What can I say, I’m hungry and I just saw them on Food Network.)

Skype visits allow you to stay at home while spreading the joy of reading all over the world! I’ve visited Sicily, Brazil, Kuala Lumpur, and yes—even Canada—from the comfort of my laptop.

Here are my best tips for planning a fun and memorable author Skype visit…

skypevisitscreen

FOR AUTHORS

Create anticipation.
I love Skype visits because I don’t have to get dressed up. I can stay in my jammies all day! I tell the kids as a children’s book author, pajamas are my “office uniform.” No suit and tie or fancy-schmancy pearl necklace for me!

I have several pairs of cute themed jammies and I let the class predict which ones I’ll be wearing for their visit. Some teachers use this as a math exercise, plotting the results on a chart, like this Kindergarten:

jammiechart

And I wore purple owls that day!

Other classes have even worn jammies to school on the day of my visit!

Sometimes a teacher will read one of my other books prior to the Skype. Suggest something the class can do in advance to create anticipation! Goodie, goodie gumdrops!

Add magic and secrets.
Besides reading my book, I perform a magic trick during the visit, but I won’t tell you what that is. A magician never reveals her secrets.

But, I promise to tell the children a secret about the book once we’ve read it. Every book has at least one. Mine typically have to do with the book’s creation. For instance, I let the illustrator choose what kind of animal NORMAL NORMAN should be. I was giddy with glee when S.britt made Norman a purple orangutan! And the character “Mr. Scruffles” is named after my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal. Speaking of stuffed animals…

Norman with Merideth and Meredith 2

Sterling Children’s Art Director Merideth Harte and Executive Editor Meredith Mundy with NORMAL NORMAN. He’ll be joining me for Skypes soon.

Be spontaneous.
When I visited a school in Florida, it was snowing here and most of those children had never seen the fluffy white stuff. So guess what? I took my laptop outside! I threw a few snowballs at my husband’s car. They loved it! (Husband, not so much.)

I’ve showed the kids my bookshelves, made popcorn and even interviewed my own children. There are a ton of fun things to do—you’re only limited by your imagination. And if I know you, you have one outrageous imagination!

I do Skype visits in my jammies--whichever kind the kids pick. This time it was ice skate jammies!

Ensure the teacher/class has the book you’re reading.
It’s difficult to hold up your book for the webcam. And if you display an electronic copy from your screen share, the kids aren’t seeing YOU. (I make tons of funny faces while I read dramatically.)

It’s preferable for the teacher to have a copy (or two or three for a large group) to show to the kids as you read aloud. Do character voices! Comment on the illustrations!

Back in the 70’s when we viewed slide shows at school, the recording beeped, signaling the teacher to forward the slide. Now I beep for the teacher when it’s time to turn the page! (Because sometimes I comment A LOT on the illustrations.) Plus, the kids get a kick out of it.

monstoreopening

How could I NOT comment on this page?

Have the kids participate.
I prompt the kids to knock when reading THE MONSTORE at the “knock five times fast” part, which happens twice. I also ask them to read the repetitive refrain with me. With LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD, I ask students to listen for the other nursery rhymes and fairy tales and count how many there are. Other authors have kids act out character parts. Create some way for the kids to interact with your story.

Have the class develop author questions prior to the visit.
I used to open the floor to questions at the end of the visit, but then I might have kids asking repetitive questions, or, with the preschool and Kinder-crowd, just making statements. (My favorite: “My grandpa has hair in his ears!”) It works best for the class to arrange questions ahead of time. I ask them to come up with about 4-5. The teacher can pick students to ask the questions.

Reading my book, performing my schtick and answering five questions usually takes up the entire 20-minute time slot. (I’ve been known to go over!)

Provide a follow-up activity.
Email the teacher afterwards with a thank you and an activity sheet for the class to do following the visit. (Or you can email the activity in advance.) Some authors also send bookplates, bookmarks or other SWAG to the class.

skypecontestsierrav

Coordinate your visit with special days.
Is your book about doughnuts? Well, promote Skype visits on National Doughnut Day! Ninjas? International Ninja Day! Of course, there’s also World Read Aloud Day and International Literacy Day for non-doughnut-and-ninja books. (“The Doughnut Ninja” should be my next project.)

Don’t limit yourself to an age group or group size.
I write picture books but I’ve done Skype visits for middle schools and high schools. With older students, I share writing tips and talk about life as a children’s book author. I adjust my presentation for the age group.

Many schools display the Skype session on a large screen or Smartboard, so you’re really not limited to the size of group you can accommodate. All the kids can see you well. I’ve Skyped with over a hundred students at once and it’s been no different from a class of 18.

Ask the teacher to share your info with parents and other teachers.
You’d like the parents to know that you visited, right? Ask the teacher to provide that info in their class newsletter or other missive. Some teachers will even send home a book flyer so the parents can purchase your books. Create one to have ready should they request it.

 

FOR TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS

I’m not the only author who will do Skype visits for free. Check out Kate Messner’s list and education.microsoft.com for the Skype Education site. Subject matter experts are also available.

Have the book ready the day of the Skype visit.
Ask the author if you should read the book with the class in advance or not. I often have the teacher read one of my other books prior to the visit.

Test out your Skype connection in advance.
Many authors will visit via alternative services, like Facetime or Google Hangout. Just ask.

Create an activity the students can do prior to the visit and/or afterwards.
Ask the author if they have ready-made activities or suggestions.

If you enjoyed the visit, let others know.
Tell teacher friends, suggest that author for an in-person visit or a paid Skype seminar, write a testimonial or tell the parents about the visit. Do whatever feels right. Authors are taking time out of their day to do these visits and they appreciate the support.

So, do you want to Skype with me for free on World Read Aloud Day on February 24th? I’m available for any grade or preschool and can adjust my content to meet your needs.

Just email me at tarakidlit at gmail dot com to schedule it! Should I run out of slots on the 24th, I’ll gladly do a Skype visit another day that week.

I also do more in-depth Skype sessions to teach writing concepts, for a nominal fee.

If you have questions, suggestions or knish recommendations to add, please leave them in the comments.

SKYPE ON!

110912_Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen_BB_AB_0136by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

As an author, I look forward to my next book release the way parents look forward to the birth of their child. After all, the release date is a birthday of sorts—the day my creation is real to everyone, not just me! If you’ve ever known someone expecting twins, the excitement is even higher—though, the fear associated with the event is also heightened.

This year, I’m having the publishing equivalent of quadruplets:

duckduckmoose orangutangled

snoringbeauty tywrecks

Like I said, I’ve got 99 problems, but a book ain’t one.

I get it. To have her problems, you might be thinking. After all, too many things publishing is a far better problem than too few. Or none at all. But there are problems created by my multiple birthing. Here are a few things you might not consider when praying for a year like this:

  • The whirlwind of marketing becomes a tornado.
    Since January, I’ve done three blog giveaways (the first was a DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE package of a book, a book, and a package of magic erasers, the second was a piece of Aaron Zenz’s original art, and the third is the autographed book we will give away here on this blog) with a fourth one coming up. I’ve done 42 Skype classroom visits—not including the 14 I have scheduled for the TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS launch. I’ve flown to a conference in California and done a bunch of signings. I’ve revamped my website, I’ve had educator guides created, I’ve read the books so many times I have them memorized. And on the 7th day I rested…except, not really. Remember, all these marketing things are in addition to my regular job of writing, revising, preparing workshops, creating professional development. Oh, and raising all my kids.
  • orangutangsbyaaronToo much of anything is good for nothing.
    As much as we want to see our books in print, publishing is about more than just personal accomplishment—t’s about sales. While my ego might be excited by multiple books out at the same time, the market is another story. Have you ever heard of market saturation? Economic theory says in a given market, only so much growth can be supported. For authors, that means there are only so many new books a consumer will buy at a given time. Having too many books at once can actually reduce the probability that a fan will buy all of them, just because he may not want to buy more than a certain number of books within a short time period. This principle also extends to recognition. It’s highly unlikely that you’d have multiple books nominated for a given award in the same year. So you’ve increased your overcall competition by competing with yourself.
  • The “what have you done for me lately?” problem.
    Let’s face it—people are basically raccoons, distracted by whatever is new and shiny. And if you have a bunch of books come out at once, chances are, that will be followed by a long gap until your next release. But a book only keeps it’s “new car smell” for a finite amount of time. When something else new and shiny comes along, you won’t be able to compete and the raccoons will move on.

So, who still wants to have lots of books published at once? And who doesn’t?

Well, let me tell you a secret—it’s not up to you.

For the most part, publishers work on their schedule. And their concerns aren’t your concerns. So books may come out slowly at regular intervals, or they might appear all at once. As authors, we don’t have much say in this.

So how do you deal with this? How can you turn all these negatives into something positive for you?

I’ve given you the problems, so let me propose some solutions:

  • Find your overarching narrative.
    Whenever I have a book release, I take the details of its inspiration and craft a storyline that matches to a theme. For example, every night at bedtime in my house, my kids go nuts. My son, especially, when he was younger, he refused to sleep—no naps, no bedtime, no nothing. He was absolutely convinced I was going to do something awesome. This became the backstory for CHICKS RUN WILD, and I’ve introduced the book to hundreds if not thousands of readers by telling this story. With each of your books, you should be creating a narrative as well—but when you have multiple books at once, think of an umbrella narrative that talks about all the books. For example, DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE and ORANGUTANGLED are both about having bad days (though they resolve that issue differently). When I talk about them together, I tell my audience about taking bad days, mistakes, blunders and turning them into inspiration. They’re also both about friendship, and the different ways your friends can help you get through a rough patch. When you have one narrative, that message starts to represent you as a brand instead of the individual products/books. And at the end of the day, you want fans of your brand, not just your book.
  • Coordinate efforts.
    When you start marketing one book, leave yourself openings to market the others. For example, when I was booking release day virtual visits for SNORING BEAUTY and I had too many requests, I offered the folks I couldn’t schedule in March a spot on the TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS release day. So instead of having to start from scratch for the next release, I’ve got some legwork done already.

sudiptabookmarkUse this principle in your marketing materials, too. Having bookmarks printed? Think about designing something that works for all your new releases. Making postcards? Create a “New for 2014” card instead of individual designs.

Just breathe. As I said before, in the grand scheme of things, having too many things published at once is the better dilemma to have. Because if you’ve got to have 99 problems, at least a book ain’t one.

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Thank you, Sudipta! This is all good to know since I will be having two books released in 2015! Yikes! TWINS! Somebody boil some water!

Do you have any questions or comments for Sudipta? Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of one of her 2014 books, YOUR CHOICE! (And a tough choice it is!)

Also be sure to visit Sudipta’s awesomely nerdy blog, Nerdy Chicks Rule.
 

bookstack$Slapping a book on a blog is not all it takes to sell it. I know you know this, but I had to explore this book-marketing-101 concept further.

I mean, it seems like a logical idea, right? Create a blog, develop a loyal following, and they’ll buy your book. Easy, peasy!

But being the curious type, trapped in Post Book-Launch Stress Disorder, I decided to don my gumshoes. (BTW, thank you for all the awesome comments on PBLSD. I want to reply to each and every one, just gimme some time. Remember, PBLSD cannot be cured with two aspirin and a morning call.)

I opened my WordPress stats. In the last six months, this blog has had approximately 75,000 visits.

Wow, right? Amazing. I can’t believe it myself.

Six months ago is when I inserted links to pre-order THE MONSTORE in my blog column (so it appears on every page on this site) and on my books page. And guess how many clicks those links have had?

7,500? That would be about 10%—not too shabby. But no.

1,500? That would be about 2%. Still pretty respectable. When I was working in marketing, a 2% response to a direct mail offer was considered average. But, nope. Not even close.

Out of 75,000 visits, links to order THE MONSTORE have been clicked on only 355 times. That’s [almost] 0.5%.

But, I have no idea how many of those clicks turned into purchases. If it’s 2% like my direct mail experience has shown, then I’ve sold 7 books.

Kinda humbling, isn’t it?

75,000 visits = 7 books sold.

Now, I realize this is very unscientific. Any statistics professor would knock my knuckles with a ruler. People have other ways of purchasing books, and I know I’ve sold more than 7 books!

But, I wanted to demonstrate that slapping a book on a website is not all it takes. That don’t do diddly.

Boy, I’ve just realized this post is really not helping the PBLSD! (But maybe it will help you!)

BTW, if you do want to crawl inside THE MONSTORE, you can by clicking below. Ya can’t blame a girl for trying!

monstorefrontcover

IndieBound.org
Amazon.com
BarnesandNoble.com
BooksAMillion.com
Chapters.Indigo.ca

“My two boys (3 and 6) loved this book. They wanted me to read it many times. Then they played Monstore games all afternoon. They made their own monsters (pom-poms, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes). They built Monstores with blocks. Then they made booby traps and trap doors with couch cushions. I can’t remember the last time reading one book led to such prolonged creative play.”

~ Amazon customer review

My debut book is still 9 months away, but what I’m hearing from friends is that the promotion process is fraught with dilemmas and doubts. Yes, we managed to write a book, submit it and get it accepted for publication, BUT WILL ANYONE BUY IT? And what if some bookstores don’t even carry it?

Well, don’t worry. Ryan Gosling is here again today to calm your fears.

Ah, how I love spending a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in suburban mecca: Best Buy. We went in for a digital camera, but stopped at every department, drooling over the latest gas ranges with dual ovens and french-door refrigerators (a thrill you’ll only understand once you’re married with kids).

We were also oogling over the QR codes. Yes, we were two geeks in paradise.

What are QR codes? You’ve probably seen them—pixelated bar-code-like squares that link your smart phone or iWhatever to additional information about a product. Want to see a video of the range in action? Learn about the warranty? View an extended list of features? Call the manufacturer’s customer service? Just scan the QR code and it will lead you to a website, video or other crucial piece of marketing magic that doesn’t fit on the price tag.

So what does the QR code mean for authors?

Glad you asked. Author/illustrator Katie Davis recently explored the possibilities. Just click on the graphic below to read her post:

Wouldn’t it be great if publishers started putting them on book jackets? Link to the book trailer! The author’s own book club! Her Formspring fan page! (Gee, the customer could even call you at home. But I digress.) The QR code delivers more whiz-pow-bang to help sell the buyer on the book.

Are QR codes the next big thing? Maybe. They’ve been used in Japan for about 10 years now and I’ve personally seen them more and more over the past few months.

Read Katie’s post about how to generate your own QR code and start examining the possibilities!

Thanks to The Daring Librarian for the graphic.

by Ruth Spiro

In 2003, I sold my first picture book manuscript, Lester Fizz, Bubble Gum Artist, as the result of a contact made at the SCBWI Annual Conference. In the five years between the sale and my book’s release in 2008, I had plenty of time to think about innovative ways to promote it. Yes, my marketing plan included the tried-and-true mailings, signings and presentations, but I also wanted to do something a little different. That’s just me.

With a moderate investment of time and money, in 2006 I created my own holiday, “Bubble Gum Day.” Unsure of my publication date at the time, I chose the first Friday in February because aside from Groundhog Day, there’s little else going on. This year, Bubble Gum Day falls on Friday, February 4.

The premise is simple: On Bubble Gum Day, kids pay fifty cents to chew gum at school, with the proceeds used for any project or charity the school chooses. Kids have fun, schools benefit, and my name and book title get valuable publicity.

Six years later, it’s become a fun and effective promotional tool that has increased my visibility as an author and “Bubble Gum Expert.” It has also gained me exposure in both print and broadcast media, including The Washington Post Express, The New York Daily News online and Good Day Sacramento, as well as on radio stations in both large and small markets. This holiday with kid-appeal has been celebrated in countless schools, public libraries, children’s museums and community organizations.

Most importantly, schools and community groups have used Bubble Gum Day to do some wonderful things. One school raised enough money to buy a goat for a village in Africa through Heifer International. Another used their proceeds to purchase snacks, which they sent to soldiers in Iraq. Yet another school collected used books instead of money, and wound up with over one thousand books, which they donated to local women’s shelters.

Frankly, when emails with these stories began appearing in my mailbox, I stopped thinking about the holiday as a promotional tool—it’s become so much bigger than that.

This year, I’ll spend Bubble Gum Day with a group of second and third graders in Oak Brook, IL. The money they collect will go to Reading is Fundamental. They don’t know this, but I plan to chew lots of bubble gum too, for which I’ll also make the required donation!

Then, as in past years, I’ll eagerly anticipate the emails, photos and packages of letters I’ll receive over the coming weeks, as schools tally up their proceeds and continue to make Bubble Gum Day a sweet success!

Win a signed copy of Lester Fizz and a bubble gum prize pack! Send a photo of your most creative bubble gum bubble—in a group (like your class), individually, or like one of Lester’s unique bubbles. Email photos to bubblegumday@gmail.com with the sujbect line “Tara Lazar contest” by February 7th.  Ruth will select a winner and some bubble photos will be featured here. Good luck!

Ruth Spiro is the author of Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist, published by Dutton. Her essays and articles have appeared in FamilyFun, The Writer and Woman’s World, as well as The Right Words at the Right Time: Your Turn, edited by Marlo Thomas, and several Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. She frequently speaks at schools and conferences. Visit her online at www.ruthspiro.com. Learn more about Bubble Gum Day at www.bubblegumday.com.

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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COMING SOON:

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Summer/Fall 2018

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