AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier
The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog.
Can You Hear Me Now?: Skype Visits
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about one valuable tool way to connect with readers: Skype visits! Below are a few things I’ve picked up from numerous Skype visits …
Get a “Studio”
This is actually one of my biggest challenges right now. If you plan on doing a lot of Skype visits, you will save a lot of time by having a set space with lights and an appropriate background—that way you don’t have to fiddle around framing the shot beforehand. Unfortunately, since having baby #2, my office has been relocated to our unfinished basement. It’s actually a good place for me to work, but it has a definite “dungeon” vibe. One of my goals after The Night Gardener comes out is to spend a little time putting up some lights, so at least the dungeon looks cheerful!
Use Skype as an Incentive
The first thing I like do with Skype visits is use them as a way to incentivize teachers and librarians. I usually do not charge for visits, but I do require that the entire class has read my book. This has value for two reasons. First, it motivates teachers to actually read my book aloud—assuring greater exposure and (I’m hoping) a bigger fan base for subsequent books. Second, it’s much easier to answer direct/specific questions from students—video is a pretty stilted medium, and it goes better if the kids already feel like they know me through my work.
While kids can be awesomely creative, they are not always fast on their feet. Many times a kid will start asking a question only to forget what they were saying halfway through. In order to cut down on this, I ask teachers to work with kids to develop questions before hand an write them on cards (which they can consult). This has the added bonus on cutting down on repeated questions.
Develop “Bonus Material”
I try to think of my Skype visits like the “deluxe blu-ray” experience for my book. I try to include behind-the-scenes stories to share with kids so that they feel special. For example, when talking Peter Nimble, I read the scene from Treasure Island that first inspired me to write a blind character. I also read aloud a short chapter from Peter Nimble that my editor made me cut out because it was too gruesome—kids love it!
Make Each Visit Unique
I try to also do something that is unique to that specific class. Often this involves drawing a silly digital portrait of the teacher. Of course, there is such a thing as taking this idea too far. A few weeks ago, I wanted to make a really memorable Skype visit for an awesome, supportive teacher. I ended up playing a “game” with kids where I let them all pick a different ingredient from my fridge to mix into a bowl. Then at the end, I promised to eat it. I’m not going to say I actually puked … but I came pretty darn close! (You can read all about it here.)
That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow we’ll be talking about how to craft an effective school program! In the meantime, you can catch up on previous posts (listed below), and please-oh-please!
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Stops So Far
WEEK ONE: Before Your Book Comes Out
4/21 – Finding Your Tribe: entering the publishing community
WEEK TWO: Your Book Launch
4/28 – Can I have Your Autograph?: 5 things to do before your first signing
WEEK THREE: The Business of Being an Author
5/5 – Handling Reviews … the Good and the Bad!
WEEK FOUR: Ongoing Promotion
JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores on May 20—why not come to his book launch party? You can visit him online at www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children’s books old and new.