On September 1st, 2017 my newest picture book, YOU KNOW WHAT? released with Clavis Books. This was an unusual launch for me in many ways. It came out first in Dutch. Mama Wist Je Dat? released December 2016 and I could not be involved in that launch in any way. I didn’t see it in bookstores, I couldn’t check how many I sold at the usual e-tailers, and I couldn’t read it aloud properly or hear or see kids’ responses to the book. You see, Clavis Books, more commonly known as Clavis Uitgeverij, is an international publisher based in the Netherlands. All their books release first in Dutch. There have been a lot of unknowns, but it has been a wonderful and interesting adventure. Especially now that the book is here in English!
This is the first time my books are being sent out to major reviewers like Kirkus. Deborah Sloan organized a Goodreads #giveaway and she arranged for my book to be listed in Shelf Awareness as part of KidsBuzz, offering another opportunity to win copies of the book. I received so many e-mails from people wanting to enter the contest and many of them wrote the sweetest notes. I wrote back and was thrilled to be engaging future readers in this personal way. This was also the first time my book has a sleeve or book jacket! All of these firsts were thrilling. Though I’ve been grateful for all my publishing contracts and books that have come out and been able to touch lives, all were smaller niche publishers and didn’t have the outreach that Clavis has. Clavis shows their books at most of the book fairs all over the world. You can read more about Clavis in this interview with the publisher, Philippe Werck. I’ve already been informed that Korean and Chinese versions are in the works.
I hardly told anyone, but word spread. Students, parents, and colleagues surrounded me. It was a very special evening.
I didn’t have launches for my next two books. I’m honestly not comfortable with the attention and would rather quietly market my book on social media behind the scenes. But I had been to others’ launches, like Josh Funk‘s, who had his launch combined with a #kidlit drink night. First we met at a restaurant and then walked over to Porter Square Books after drinks, eating, and chit-chat about books. I loved being surrounded by people who both understand this crazy business and are passionate about books. I decided that when this new book came out, I’d try doing a similar launch. And I wanted to share the evening with another NESCBWI author who had a book coming out about the same time.
I am not a baker, don’t like to cook much (I”d rather be writing), but I did make these cupcakes from a mix. I even made the flags myself, which said, “It’s delicious to share YOU KNOW WHAT?” I think the best thing about this wonderful evening was that there were many of my critique buddies and other Boston area #kidlit folk as well as friends who showed up. In this often isolated business of writing for children, I felt so supported. It was truly a gift of an evening.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the book’s talented illustrator, Nynke Mare Talsma. She was there in every page of the book! You can read an interview with her about working on this project and her illustrating life.
Other fantastic events followed: NerdcampLI in Long Island, New York, is a place where educators, authors, and librarians come together to share their love for #kidlit.
The following day I was invited to my first Connecticut Children’s Book Fair where authors are treated like stars with a wonderful food spread and a person assigned to each of us to make our day go smoothly. Their book display was impressive!
Also, because of a lovely connection (thank you, Helen Kampion) from the launch, I was asked to participate in three bookstore events at the Framingham Barnes & Noble…more opportunities to share YOU KNOW WHAT? with new audiences. And I believe there will be more possibilities that I’m not yet aware of. It’s that hope and faith that keeps me going. And recently I read in a Kidlit411 link, “Don’t stop with the book launch.” I believe I knew that, I’ve lived it with my other books. You must always try to get the word out about your book, do events when you can, share relevant new information about your book as long as your book is in the world. As the post said, “…. if you’re smart enough to realize that and keep promoting your book as long as it’s available for purchase, you’ll be rewarded with ongoing sales.” So we must start promoting even before the launch, at the launch, and then keep on going! And I’m so happy to be a part of Writers’ Rumpus which allows me to do that, right here, right now.
I know for many of you this is a busy month filled with joy and stress. For me, this holiday season is filled with gratitude for a multitude of reasons, but as an author, I’m thankful that I have a new book to share with readers. And as you do your holiday shopping, I hope you’ll consider giving books to your friends and loved ones. And if you can support your local bookstores, please do. Happy holidays to all!
YOU KNOW WHAT?
by Carol Ekster
Clavis Books, 2017