Category Archives: marketing your book

Warwick Children’s Book Festival – 2017

Warwick book fest logoNo less than 61–count ’em–61 authors and illustrators took part in the children’s book festival in beautiful Warwick, New York on Saturday, October 7th, including yours truly.  After spending the night at the idyllic Warwick Village Bed & Breakfast (which reminded me a little of the Dragon Fly Inn from Gilmore Girls),Warwick B and B I met up with my fellow authors at the Railroad Green in the center of town where we were greeted with swag bags, balloons, live music, snacks galore (apple cider doughnuts!) and a huge crowd of enthusiastic readers. Warwick 2

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Such much going on! A finger-puppet making station? Even doggy volunteers eager to be read aloud to by reluctant readers.

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And what a delight meeting renowned children’s book author Jane Yolen (who penned nearly 300 books–yikes!) and her author-daughter Heidi Stemple. Great writing genes in that family! We actually met during breakfast at the B&B and within seconds we were all three laughing our heads off. My kind of peeps.


Here we are at the festival looking appropriately amiable and authorly…

Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple and Me

And here we are when a fly the size of the Hindenburg decided to photo-bomb us…

Jane, Heidi, Me, and the FLY

I’m summoning a volunteer with a  flyswatter to come help. (Many thanks to the many volunteers in the green T-shirts, by the way, who were super helpful–even going so far as to recharge my cell phone.) Warwick 5

Couldn’t leave town without a visit to Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe, which is just as charming as it sounds. I love things that start with “Ye Olde”…except maybe Ye Olde Sushi Shoppe.

Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe

Thank You card


Bye bye, Warwick…until next time. Back to ye olde Times Square!

Warwick Children’s Book Festival

“Happy Trailers To You…” (Book trailers, that is.)

I was really excited to create my own book trailer for Madhattan Mystery but with zero budget, I couldn’t exactly go high tech. I’d have to use what was already at my fingertips: a camera, my imagination, and an old version of Windows Moviemaker. (The newest version wasn’t compatible with my XP operating system. Did I mention I need a new computer?) Since I live in Manhattan, I had tons of fun traipsing around the city, snapping most of the photos myself—but some stuff was impossible to get, like a photo of the abandoned underground train station in Grand Central since the public isn’t  usually allowed down there. But after an online search, I found a great photo by a professional photographer, Sam Horine, who granted me permission to use it. Whew!

More complications were cropping up regarding the rights of a few more photos I had found online, so I ended up having to replace them. My friend, Delores, a second-grade teacher in Chicago, agreed to step in and pose for the character of Aunt Roz; and for the pic of a  homeless woman, my friend, Mary-Ann, volunteered to sit on a dirty curb, wrapped in a blanket, holding a cup of coins. “A friend in need is a friend indeed!” But when it came to the photo representing Kim Ling, I was really stumped. A street smart Asian-American girl with blue-streaked pigtails and an angry expression that makes your skin crawl? Try Googling that! Luckily, a woman in my writing critique group came to the rescue. Her daughter, Catie, was eager to portray the character in a photo shoot and she knocked it out of the park.

Then there was the endless search for the perfect royalty-free music to accompany the video but that’s a whole other story. I’m so happy to have ultimately found a piece called “Sneaky Snitch” by Kevin MacLeod on Let’s leave it at that.

So I guess my point is that even going the easy route and creating a trailer with still photos was not that easy–for me anyway. It takes a village!


Happy Trailers…

Who doesn’t love a good book trailer? I’ve already begun planning mine, even though my next book, MADhattan Mystery (Bloomsbury/Walker Books), isn’t due out until Spring of 2012. The story centers around a mystery in Grand Central Station that takes the main characters on a wild goose chase all around Manhattan. Think of the book trailer possibilities! I’d love to go all Hollywood – hire actors, a special effects artist, John Williams to do the score, James Cameron to direct – maybe do it in 3D! (Ooh, I just got a little head rush.)

Realistically speaking, it’ll mostly be me with my Canon PowerShot begging favors from unsuspecting friends. I’ve already put a bug in the ear of my best friend, who does video projections for Broadway shows. Hopefully, he’ll find the time to work his magic for me. In lieu of a Christmas gift this year? Steve, if you’re listening… [QUICK ASIDE: In a newspaper montage that flashes onstage during Tony-Award-winner Memphis, he included a blurb that read, “Bonk’s book sells out!” It’s just filler and goes by much too quickly to make out what it says, but still… Maybe it’ll have a subliminal effect on all those theatergoers.] 

Anyway, back to book trailers. I’ve found that some of the simpler ones, if done well, can be more effective than the mega-produced variety. The official trailer for Because of Winn-Dixie, one of my favorite books, is just a series of still shots with captions and background music but it really works. Whereas the extended trailer for bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is a high-quality video with professional voiceover, seems way too long and as a result, loses its impact. (It’s still a fantastic book though, and the dog in the trailer is adorable.)

So simple is probably the way to go. Although, now that I think of it, Blythe Danner (Gwyneth’s mom) would make the perfect Aunt Roz character for my trailer. Quirky. Sophisticated. Heart of gold. Moves back to NYC to resume her acting career after her husband cheats on her. We’d have to blow-dry Blythe’s hair straight to match the description in the book – I wonder if she’d work for scale. No, no, forget it. Simple pimple.



To Market, To Market or What’s Kathy Griffin Got To Do With It?

Kathy Griffin HeadOkay, here’s the thing… I was riding my bike along the Hudson River when I thought to myself “What’s that on the road ahead?” Actually “What’s that on the road, a head?” It turned out to be Kathy Griffin’s cardboard head-on-a-stick – a promotional giveaway for her book entitled Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin. Score! Hardly a tread mark on it. Say what you will about the standup/reality star with her potty-mouth and all that deity-dissing, the girl’s got spunk. And brains. And ingenuity. (I’m thinking of calling my next book, Official Newbery Award Winner: A Novel by John J. Bonk.) No doubt about it, KG is a never-say-die, self-promoting machine. We all could learn a thing or two from her in that department. And forgive the blatant suck-up to Random House, but she must have some brilliant and infinitely patient marketing folks behind her, too. Kudos all around.

Anyway, this got me thinking about a few of my own unique marketing attempts for my books, aside from promoting them relentlessly on my Bravo TV show. (Oh, wait – that was Griffin.) Let’s see, there was my website, fliers, a few interviews… Oh, yeah. I printed out homemade bookmarks with pix of my book covers and review blurbs, laminated them and distributed them to local bookshops. I also handed out bookmarks on Halloween to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters who came to my door, along with the obligatory sugary treats. But only to the target-age ghouls and goblins – those bookmarks are time consuming.

What else? I had my wax figure done at Madame Tussauds, holding a copy of – (Ugh, scratch that. Griffin again!) Okay, this one’s legit. A writer friend suggested I sell my books at a local block party with a placard reading “A signed book makes the perfect gift,” which I thought was a great idea considering the upcoming holidays. But since everyone else was selling junk from their closets (tchotchkes, old muumuus, Hits From the ‘70s), my customers were stuck in haggling mode and tried to drive me down on price. I didn’t cave, though, and still sold some books. “A” for effort, but in retrospect, it did feel a little D-list.

Which brings me back to you, Kathy Griffin. With two Emmys, two more noms, a Grammy nom and a $2 million book deal, I’m sure even YOU have to admit that your D-list persona is wearing thinner than your cardboard head-on-a-stick. You’re a winner, Miss Kathy! “Life on the D-List?” If you insist. Better than the DUI-List that a lot of celebrities are on these days. You’re definitely making headway.