Last week, I blogged about an upcoming event and how I was struggling with what to say and how to try to stand out among the crowd of wonderful authors and illustrators.
Well, the CLN Books and Breakfast happened Saturday morning, and it was a great event. About 200 school librarians and teachers came to hear from 30 or 40 area authors and illustrators what was new. We each had 2 minutes (supposedly–I learned some writers apparently have some problems telling time) to share something about our recent published work to make them want to buy that book, use that book, and share that book with all their students. Yikes.
First, I’ll tell you that Carol-Ann Hoyt suggested I wear a hat or a striking blouse. My first reaction was "Right. Maybe next millenium." I don’t like to call attention to myself, and the idea of wearing anything that would make every look at me–eek! But after giving it some hard thought, I decided to wear a safari guide hat plus a khaki jacket, so that I, as a safari guide, could lead everyone on the hunt for the elusive Stampede. It worked! Elementary people are the kind to appreciate a dorky costume, and I got lots of compliments and plenty of, "Excuse me, what’s your safari outfit for?" Which then gave me a chance to mention my book. I felt really conspicuous at times, but it made me easy to find for book signing and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ll confess that as I packed for the hotel the night before, I didn’t bring anything else but my safari guide outfit, so that I couldn’t chicken out. That was probably a good thing. I was committed. (Or maybe I just should have been committed!) I’ll have pictures to share eventually…
Second, the three books they had for me sold out! They had Stampede plus paperback versions of two other poetry books, and they were gone by halfway through the event. Now they only stock about 10-15 copies of each book (unless it’s already got a huge audience of buyers), so that may not seem like much. But with my storytime sales history…let’s just say I was thrilled!
Third, my two-minute talk went fine. My voice shook a little because of that nervous adrenaline about speaking in front of a huge roomful of adults, but people were nice and lied that they couldn’t even tell. I explained why I was in a safari getup, did a little callback joke tied into other presenters’ comments, slipped in how honored I was that Stampede was just chosen as a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, shared the inspiration for the book and tied that into a very cute thank you note I got last week from a 2nd-grader after my school visit, and then closed with a poem from Stampede.
So it was a nerve-wracking but successful event. I’m (slowly) learning to embrace my inner marketer. It was really fun to hear what other people are up to, and it’s amazing to see the creative ways that writers and artists can come up with to share their work.