Guys, I am really excited to have Jonathan Auxier, author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes and the upcoming The Night Gardener, to talk about what he's learned after his first year in publishing. Definitely an interesting and eye-opening series he has put together.
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 Six: Can I Have Your Autograph?
Last week, we discussed what to do before your book comes out, this week we’ll be moving onto the actual launch! First up: autographs!
My first signing event was at an ALA Annual Conference, and before the event, I was terrified. Luckily, before the event, I ran into a crew of nice authors who were willing to give me some lifesaving pointers. Below are five things every author should do before their first signing ...
1) Do a Dry Run
This sounds silly, but I was advised to practice signing a few books before I started doing autographs for actual people. The goal was to figure out a few basic things: what page I wanted to sign on, what pen I wanted to use, where on the page I wanted to sign. The experience of signing a book (even your own!) is stranger than you might think, and it’s nice to get a feel for it before you’re actually in front of a reader.
2) Pick a Catchphrase
Probably the best advice I got was to figure out a phrase or word from the book that I could sign in every copy. In the case of Peter Nimble, I chose “Adventure ho!” and for my new book, I simply write “Courage!” It’s not fancy, but it at least assures that every autograph is more than just an illegible signature at the bottom of the page. (A great alternative, especially for children, is to come up with a few easy/silly sketches that relate to the story—they don’t have to be fancy, just legible!)
3) Get a New Signature
Speaking of jumbled names, a few authors warned me about the danger of people misusing your legal signature and advised that I come up with something specifically for signing books. Whether or not that fear is valid, I do think it’s nice to create a distinction between Jonathan-as-author and Jonathan-as-citizen. In my case, there was an added benefit: for books I only write my first initial ... sparing me some major hand-cramp!
4) Perfect Your Pitch
Something authors hate doing (but MUST do!) is memorizing a one-sentence pitch for their book. I can’t tell you how valuable this is in signing situations. Often someone will walk near your table, pick up your book, and ask you what it’s about. You need to be able to answer with something specific and catchy enough to make them want the book. (And short enough to Tweet!) Spend some time crafting this pitch—because you’ll be repeating it thousands of times in the next year. In the case of my first book, here’s what I said:
“Peter Nimble is the story of a small, blind orphan ... who also happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived.”
And for my new book, The Night Gardener:
“The Night Gardener is a spooky story about two children who discover an ancient, mysterious tree that seems to grant their heart’s desires ... but only at a price!”
Don’t worry about spoilers—you’d rather have someone learn the twist and read your book than have them skip reading it altogether! Basically, you want to tell them the thing you hope they may repeat to someone else in future conversation.
5) Don’t Guess Names—Ask!
Don’t ever assume that you know how to spell a person’s name. Always ask how a name is spelled—people would much rather spell it out for you than have you mess it up!
That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow I’ll be at The O.W.L. talking about how to plan a book launch party. Follow along, 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 www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children's books old and new.
"Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves. As you can well imagine, blind children have incredible senses of smell, and they can tell what lies behind a locked door- be it fine cloth, gold, or peanut brittle- at fifty paces. Moreover, their fingers are so small and nimble that they can slip right through keyholes, and their ears so keen that they can hear the faint clicks and clacks of every moving part inside even the most complicated lock. Of course, the age of great thievery has long since passed;today there are few child-thieves left, blind or otherwise. At one time, however, the world was simply thick with them. This is the story of the greatest thief who ever lived. His name, as you've probably guessed, is Peter Nimble."
You can add Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, which is one amazing read, to your Goodreads shelf, trust me you want to read this one.
This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.
You can add The Night Gardener to your Goodreads shelf, I know I'll be adding it to mine.