Preparing for a book signing? Here’s what I did.

In my last post I told you about my great adventure to my local independent bookstore. While there, I was offered the opportunity to sell my books during Rhubarb days this weekend. I’m really excited and have been preparing for weeks. Now that the event is here and I’m as prepared as I’m going to get, I want to share what I did to get ready.

Preparing for the saleA Good Book Storefront

First, I invited a friend and local author who I know has experience selling at events. Chris Bailey, author of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0989973417/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0989973417&linkCode=as2&tag=experiencew03-20&linkId=922fa1eed4feb46266c21fc8ded629f2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Crystal Key (Starjumper Legacy, Book 1) and the Starjumper Legacy series, Without Chance and Whisper has done many local events including Oddmall and Sumner's A Victorian Country Christmas, so I knew he could show me the ropes. Also, his daughter is Gator McBumpypants's biggest fan and I've enjoyed his books, so we can cross-sell and talk each other up.

It's important to know exactly what will be provided by your host and what you are expected to bring.
After Chris okayed things with A Good Book he said all we need to bring is a way to take payment and our books. The store is supplying the tables and chairs.

Make sure you have enough books and they are exactly how you want them.

I asked Chris for advice on this as well and ordered more books than I would have otherwise. I thought I would sell the first book the most. His experience was that if you sell the whole set at a discount, you are more likely to sell the whole set. Since I was planning on selling the whole set at a discount already, I ordered only a few extra of the first book, and more of the rest than I had originally imagined.

I also used this re-order to review the books and update them to include online information about the other books and Gator McBumpypants website and facebook on the last page. Because I use Create Space to make my books, I can make these changes for free and it only takes a couple days. The books I ordered arrived a week before expected.

The next thing to think about is your display. You will want to have:

  • A table cloth or table skirt (I have not tried this product. I will be using a piece of stretch-velvet fabric)
  • Book stands to display the books well
  • Signs so customers don't have to ask the prices
  • Business cards - make sure your business cards are up-to-date and appropriate for the books you are selling. I have separate business cards for my adult and children's books
  • Email sign-up sheets - I printed sheets with a table with three columns for name, email, and comments. Everyone who signs up gets a copy of the first book in PDF form.

You'll also want to think about give-aways

I designed and printed bookmarks but I have seen other things like little pins or stickers. Get creative.

One Little Extra

This should be an opportunity to get some great pictures of people enjoying my books, so I'm going to bring photo-release forms in hopes that people will give me permission to use their images for publicity.

Time to promote your sale!

Now that you're ready. It's time to get people to come. Because this is a local event, I approached promotion a little differently.

Facebook.com- I created my first event from Gator McBumpypants's Facebook page. All you have to do is click on Events on the left sidebar and then click Create an Event. Fill out the information, add a nice picture and invite your friends who live nearby. I also shared my event with some local writer pages I follow.

Nextdoor.com- I participate in a neighborhood website on nextdoor.com. I was happy to see that I was also able to set up an event on this page. This is directed to my neighborhood and the close surrounding area, so I hope my event will reach the people most likely to go to Sumner Rhubarb Days.

Blog - This post will go out to Twitter, Google+ and Tumbler.

There you have it. The inside story of how I prepared for my book signing/ sale this weekend at Rhubarb Days in Sumner, WA.

Anything I forgot? What would you do differently? Any fun book signing stories to tell? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

If you are in the Pacific Northwest and are looking for some Free Family Fun this Sunday, July 16th, please come enjoy Rhubarb Days in Sumner. I'll be signing books in front of A Good Book Bookstore, 1014 Main Street from 11am to 4pm.

 

 

 

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Summer Book Bingo 2: Adventures with A Good Book

In my last post, I told you about all the fun squares/book choices of the Seattle Summer Book Bingo. One of those squares said to get a recommendation from an independent bookseller, so I headed over to A Good Book in Sumner, WA to see what they could recommend.

Recommendations

When I mentioned to the dark-haired, bespectacled young man behind the counter what I was up to, he motioned toward the woman behind him who was the proprietor of the establishment, Evelyn Nicholas. They were both quick to point out the books that were next to the cash register.

Campfire Bookclub

The first book they showed me was A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel (Shades of Magic) by V. E. Schwab. This is the book selection for their June Campfire Bookclub. You are welcome to join in a discussion of the book around a campfire with a drink and marshmallows on June 28th from 7-9pm. The book is part of a trilogy and Evelyn told me that her customers who read the first book rush back in for the second,  A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic). The third book in the series is A Conjuring of Light: A Novel (Shades of Magic).

Though this sounded interesting, and the bookclub sounds fun, I was curious to see what else they would recommend.

MC The great train robbery 75

The Great Train Robbery

The second book near the register that they recommended was a 2014 re-release of the 1975 novel by Michael Crichton. I had heard of the film and didn’t know it was based on a Michael Crichton book. I have read most of his books and found this tempting, but it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.

Evelyn said, “and we also have used books,” and took me into the other half of the shop. This reminded me that I had read on their website that they buy used books, so I asked her about their buy-back policy. Turns out they do a one-to-one exchange, meaning for every book you bring in, you get a discount on a purchase. I’ll definitely be taking her up on that, next time I visit.

Since I recently enjoyed Pest Control and The Exterminators (Assassin Bug Thrillers) by Bill Fitzhugh and I’ve enjoyed every book by Carl Hiaasen, I asked her if she had any recommendations in that vein.

Evelyn said, “You like funny,” and took me to another section of the shop. She told me about a couple of books then grabbed Hidden Palms: A Butch Bliss Novel by hidden palms coverHarry Bryant. The plot, as she described it, sounded like something Mr. Hiaasen might have conjured and I really liked the cover. Then she directed me over to another area of the store while she explained that Harry Bryant is a new nom de plume of an author that works at the store. I was pretty sure I knew who she was speaking of because I had met him and as I looked over what she called his “darker titles” I saw I was right.

Harry Bryant is the “more light-hearted and funny” persona of Mark Teppo who I met at an authors’ talk at the Sumner library and again when I went to a NaNoWriMo write-in at this bookstore. I haven’t read any of his books yet, so this was a perfect recommendation. SOLD.

While back at the register, where my adventure began, I saw that they, too, have a Summer Book Bingo. I excitedly got my first BUY A BOOK square stamped in the top

A Good Book Summer Bingo Card

row, though I was given a choice, so I recommend reading through and seeing where it will be most advantageous for you to fill a row.

This bingo card is a clever way to inspire me to come back and buy books. The squares aren’t only types of books to read, but calls to action as well. Not only do you get a stamp for buying books, but also:

Read a media tie-in – Okay, this isn’t a call to action. Turns out it’s a genre. The call to action is, I had to look this up. I thought it would be reading articles or essays about books, but it’s not. It’s a genre all its own and, actually, will help me out with my “Genre that is new to you” square on my Seattle Summer Book Bingo card. Media tie-ins are books made from TV or movies. Things like Star Wars and Star Trek books. I really enjoyed the TV shows Monk and Castle, so I will probably read one of the books made as extensions of those series.

Attend an event – I’m not sure, but I would think that attending the Fireside Bookclub would get stamps for an event and a book discussion. Another event at A Good Book that I think sounds interesting is A Good Talk Salon where local people give talks on subjects other than their profession. The only problem being I would have to sign up to give a talk. I hope they have another one soon.

Have a book discussion – It’ll be interesting to see how I prove some of these things for my stamp. I have book discussions all the time.

Show them your library card – I should have gotten this stamp while I was there. I always have it on me.

Review a book – this is something I have been working on. Reviews are so important to authors these days. If you like a book, you should quickly head over to Amazon and Goodreads and let everyone know.

and Gift a book – I’m always excited when I find a book that I think is just right for a friend or family member.

Supporting Local Authors

Evelyn told me, as the only bookstore in town, she really wants to help local authors. She showed me a Free Books in return for review shelf at the front of the store that she hopes to fill with local authors. These are the books I took.

Wedgie & Gizmo- This will be my “Gift a book” bingo square. I plan to give it to my niece and can picture her reading it to her little brother. I’ve already posted my review on Goodreads.

The Fallen Star: The Nocturnals Book 3- Not a local author, but I’m hoping this will be a nice birthday gift for my niece. I better read and review it quickly as she’s an independence day baby.

The Best of Talebones-I was excited to see this on the free-for-review shelf. I met Patrick Swenson at the same author talk at the Sumner library as Mark Teppo. I got a signed copy of The Ultra Thin Man: A Science Fiction Novel and enjoyed it. Though the sequel, The Ultra Big Sleep

was on the shelf, I left it for another reader, for now, and grabbed the collection of short stories from Patrick Swenson‘s previous magazine. As a short story writer, I’m always looking for interesting short story collections.

Another way that A Good Book is supporting local authors is by inviting local authors to sell their books in front of the shop during the Rhubarb Days weekend. Evelyn offered me a spot on Sunday, July 16th and I am very excited to bring Gator McBumpypants to my local community. I’ll talk more about it soon.

I want to thank Evelyn and A Good Book Bookstore for her time, great book recommendations and her work for local authors. I had no idea that trying to fill one square on my Summer Book Bingo Card could be such a great adventure. Goes to show how important independent bookstores are to a community. I hope this inspires you to venture to your local independent bookseller and ask for a recommendation. I would love to hear about your local bookstore and the latest book you bought there.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Tooling up for the new book: the photography of Gator McBumpypants

An array of affordable photography equipment

Some very affordable photography tools to enhance the magic of Gator McBumpypants

My first picture book, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, started out as a photography project. I was taking an online photography course and needed models for an assignment, so I took a couple of my stuffed friends outside and started taking pictures. As the photo shoot progressed, a story came into my head about how this alligator met a baby pterodactyl who was attempting to fly.

Last year, with my third book, Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three,  Mother Daughter Book Review published my post about a new hybrid genre in picture books. I believe that photo-illustration in children’s fiction will grow, but the photos need to be imaginative, colorful and fun. So, as I do with every one of my books, I have challenged myself to make my photo-illustrations even better.

After becoming very frustrated with the costs of photography equipment, I got creative. I

fisheye

Fish-eye effect

discovered that a very cheap fish-eye lens made some great effects, so I looked at other incredibly cheap options for effects I want.

Here’s what I’m trying out for the fourth Gator McBumpypants adventure picture book:

Some Extra Light

Last year’s photography focus was on light. I worked very hard on interior lighting and had some success with a small headshot studio. However, Gator McBupypants and his friends will be on an adventure in a place where I can only bring a small backpack, so I found some small light sources.

Macro Ring 48 LED Light

This light makes a great circular light in eyes, as apposed to the regular rectangle. Human subjects complain of its brightness when I stick my lens that close to their eyeball. However, Gator McBumyppants and his friends probably won’t be bothered.

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

I’m excited to finally have a directional flash. This should be great for creating or reducing foliage shadows.

Some Extra Color

Opteka HD Multicoated Graduated Color Filter Kit

These color filters give a subtle effect over only a portion of the lens and rotate to the section of the image you wish to color.

Opteka HD Multicoated Solid Color Filter Kit

These solid color filters blanket the entire image and may be useful for dramatic mood.

Some Unique Perspective

55MM Professional Lens Filter and Close-Up Macro Accessory Kit

This is fun for getting pictures of flowers and insects, perhaps some close-ups of things Gator McBumpypants sees on his adventure.

Super 500mm/1000mm f/8 Manual Telephoto Lens

This is great for birds and other critters that are far away. I’m looking forward to experimenting with photos of the gang from far away.

More Unique Perspective

Recommended photography books:

The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life

Bryan Peterson’s Exposure Solutions: The Most Common Photography Problems and How to Solve Them

I hope you’re getting as excited as I am for the fourth Gator McBumpypants book. Don’t forget to like Gator McBumpypants and Friends on Facebook to keep up with all the fun activities leading up to the book release.

A Quick Note of Thanks

pastel reflectionI want to thank Renee at Mother Daughter Book Review  for allowing me to guest post and for making the post look so lovely.  I did  research on photography as illustration in children’s picture books and found an interested study that illuminated a hybrid genre. I hope you’ll take a moment to click on the link and read my post. I would love to hear your thoughts.

And for those of you who have not read the first two Gator McBumpypants books, or you just want a chance to win a signed copy, I have two Goodreads giveaways going on right now.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise Giveaway until Dec. 2, 2015

Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly Giveaway until Dec. 11, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you are surrounded by reasons to be thankful.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Book Giveaway Linky: #Freebooks

Book Giveaway Linky

Thank you to Mother Daughter Book Reviews for hosting the Book Giveaway Linky. It provides a great platform to let authors inform readers about their book giveaways.

Please click on the link and enjoy all the free books.

Happy reading.

Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three First Draft Thanks To A Thousand Words A Day

Dee Dee the Duck with her new friendsThough I did not write another 1,000 words since I reported yesterday, I did write 570 words to finish up the first draft of my third picture book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series: Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three. That brings the weekend total to 2,014! By my math, I made it to the goal of 1,000 words a day (though I still have to write 1,000 today, but that’s for tomorrow’s blog). I’m very excited about this book, not only because it’s fun to take pictures of stuffed animals in the wild and tell their stories, but because Dee Dee is the first of my characters that I designed and created myself. Spoiler alert! I plan to make a box turtle next.

For the rest of my 5,000 words this week I will be working on two projects:

One is a middle grade novel that I plan as a series. It’s about a nine year old girl who realizes she can interact with spirits to help them with their unfinished business. However, she doesn’t want anyone, especially her classmates, to know, so she creates a business getting rid of household noises.

The other project is a series of short stories about a lake spirit. The story I’m trying to finish is called “Creation of the Lake Spirit” and is about half done. I hope to finish this week.

As part of the Novel Recommit challenge, I said I would post my word count each day, so I will keep you posted. I have a couple of more instructional yet-to-be-finished blog posts saved in my drafts to dust off for you throughout the week and hopefully some very fun pictures of Gator McBumpypants and his new friend Dee Dee as the week progresses.

Happy Writing!

My first vocal interview: Chris is a talented interviewer; I want to buy my own books.

ROACHOPERA

The cover of Christian Champagne’s poetry book.

YAT DICTIONARY ine YAT DICTIONARY2Chris Champagne, author of  Roach Opera and The Yat Dictionary who has been voted Best Comedian in New Orleans two years running, interviewed me about my books for his podcast. It’s a great interview. He made me want to read my books.

The first part of the podcast is a comedy quiz show, my interview starts at 24:37. I recommend following his podcast; it’s funny and I learned most of the truth about New Orleans politics through Chris’s comedy. He is a true New Orleanian.

Finding the Nearsighted Narwhal

A pod of narwhalsIt’s easy as a self published author to focus all of your promotion and marketing on the web. However, I recently experienced the joy of seeing my books on the shelves of a local bookstore and it feels great!

It all started with a facebook invitation to a Saturday night showing of local films. It looked like fun, so I looked up the location. It turned out that the films were being shown at a small bookstore called the Nearsighted Narwhal.

The store not only had a wonderful name, but the website said it took self published books on commission. It sounded like a great opportunity to get my children’s books into the hands of readers, so I took a look at their commissions contract.

logo for the Nearsighted Narwhal bookstore

2610A 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406 253.301.4098 Sunday 10 – 6, Monday Closed, Tuesday 10-10 Wednesday-Saturday 10 – 7

As an artist and crafter, I have put items in stores on commission before–usually the store takes at least 60% of the sale price leaving the artist with 40% or less. The Nearsighted Narwhal only takes 30% of the sale price. So, I printed off the contract, signed a couple of my books and eagerly awaited the event.

I arrived a half hour early to conduct business before the show. I had expected the entire store to be crowded with books, with the amount of people self publishing these days, but there were three double sided free-standing racks at the front of the store, nicely organized with great visibility. There were some crafts in the middle of the store and the back of the store was filled with self published ‘zines.

I walked to the desk and introduced myself to the proprietors who put price tags on my books and walked them straight to the children’s book section at the very front of the store. It was wonderful.

The local films that were shown were entertaining and of high quality. I’m so glad I decided to look into this local event and that I found this great supporter of local authors.

Have you looked into places that might carry your books on commission? I’m thinking of looking into children’s clothing stores that take clothing on commission. They may also be interested in books.

Marketing: Societies, Associations, Meetups and Clubs

A tiny shiny hummingbird on a branch

Like this tiny hummingbird, our books need to shine to be seen.

I apologize for neglecting you last week, dear readers. I received the fully copy-edited version of my chapter book and dove into choosing agents to query and revising my query letter. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, querying is a nerve-wracking full time job. Today, I posted my second revision, after many helpful critiques, on Agent Query Connect and hope I am getting closer. But that is for tomorrow’s topic.

In the past I’ve looked at writing societies and associations and didn’t see past the expense to the value. Now that I have two self-published books to promote and another that I’m trying to get agented, I joined both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I’m also really enjoying a biweekly writer’s social meet-up and many online clubs.

So, what are the benefits?

SCBWI: SCBWI is an international society with local chapters. Once a member, you have access to current information in every aspect of children’s book writing, illustrating and publishing. That alone is worth the membership price.They also offer many tools to promote your work and connect with other professionals. They have conferences and an online members’ bookstore.

PNWA: They have a member library to show off members’ work. As a member, you get a discount to their convention (which I’m thinking I might attend this summer). You can attend meetings from home on a conference call when you don’t have the time to drive out to a meeting.

Meetups and Clubs: These are great places to make personal relationships with other authors. I’m hoping the aforementioned are too, but I personally have found meetups and clubs to be a good place to ask questions and get feedback. You can also see what topics are important to other authors and learn from their experiences.

An important part of marketing is getting your book into people’s hands to create word of mouth. Meeting people through local associations, societies, meetups and clubs can help you get the word out.

My first interview as a children’s book author!

I planned on re-posting the fun interview Andy Mulberry did with me, but that’s not working, so I’ll link to it instead.

Here are the first few lines from Andy’s post:

Welcome Maria L. Berg, Children’s Book Author | Guest Post

It’s Sunday! Which means, it’s time for a fun Q&A with a children’s book author! I’d like to welcome Maria L. Berg to my blog! She’s a fellow Goodreads author and recently released a photography picture book, called… 434 more words

Thank you, Andy, for taking the time to support your fellow authors. What a treat!