April 29, 2014

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier

Very very excited today to welcome Jonathan Auxier! He has a new book coming out - The Night Gardener, on May 20th. He's best known for Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes - a book I've got kids reading and loving. 
 He decided  that while promoting his new book he'd talk about what happens AFTER you get a book deal - where does an author go then.

Welcome Jonathan

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. Follow along and please spread the word!


Day Seven: Cinderella at the Ball
After the years of toil and waiting, the day has finally arrived—your book is coming out! For many authors, this will be one of the happiest days of their lives (it was for me). I don’t have too many tips for new authors other than to be present to the moment and actually let yourself enjoy the day. (You can resume being miserable tomorrow.)

A Tale of Two Launches
When discussing what it takes to plan a “successful” book launch, I think it’s important to know who your guests will be. In my case, I actually had two separate launch events, and that ended up being a very good thing. Each party represented a different, important aspect of my career:

Launch #1 - Personal Book Party
Your first book is more than just a story sold—it represents years of struggle and work in the face of adversity and rejection. For that reason, a book launch is not just a celebration of your book, but a chance to recognize the people who supported you along the way. When Peter Nimble came out, my in-laws hosted a small party at their house for friends and family. Books were signed and stories were told, but more than that, the event was an opportunity for me to thank specific people who had supported my career back when it was just a dream. Another benefit of doing an event like this is that it allowed me to practice reading and discussing my book in front of a sympathetic audience—and as it turned out, I needed the practice!

Launch #2 - Professional Book Party
Ideally, you want this party to be at an established independent bookstore—the sort of place that can report back to your publisher about what a wonderful event it was. (I was lucky enough to have mine at the legendary Books of Wonder in Manhattan.) Unlike a personal party, this is a work event. Your job is to make sure as many people as possible show up (and buy books!). Invite every person you can think of. Beg friends to bring friends. Drag people off the street. I reached out to people I barely knew and was shocked when most of them showed up. So long as you can guarantee a minimum number of attendees (20+), your publisher should be willing to cover the cost of food and drinks. 

So what do you do for the actual event? It’s appropriate and probably expected that you will read aloud an excerpt from your book. Reading aloud can be tricky, and I would recommend keeping it under 10 minutes (5 minutes is even better). I would also recommend picking an excerpt that doesn't require a great deal of backstory/context ... something from the first 2-3 chapters is probably best. Finally, you should absolutely practice reading aloud beforehand. The goal is to memorize the passage enough that you can comfortably look up from the book at the people who have come to hear you. As for the rest of your event, this is the moment where all your preparation over the last few months pays off. You share about your superhero origin story. You talk about the books that inspired you and the tribe of readers who now support you. You prepare with the five things every author should know before their first signing. And maybe even do a giveaway for people who ask questions.

Of course, you should never miss an opportunity to spread the word about the upcoming event! Make sure to mention it in every blog post and interview leading up to the launch. In that spirit, I should probably announce that I’ll be having a book release party for The Night Gardener on May 31 at the CC Mellor Memorial Library in Pittsburgh from 2-4pm (with bookseller support from Mystery Lovers Bookshop). If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you!

That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow I’ll be at Mundie Kids talking about how to navigate the crazy world of book festivals and trade shows. Swing by, and please-oh-please spread the word!

JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at where he blogs about children's books old and new.

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