Performancing Metrics

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After the Book Deal Banner

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!


School Days: Crafting an Effective School Program

Yesterday I talked about how to do Skype visits with classrooms, now I want to move on to school assemblies! When my first book came out, I did almost nonstop school events for seven months—it was exhausting but extremely rewarding. I picked up a few things along the way that might be worth sharing …


NightGardener Cover

Be a Storyteller, not an Author

In the vast majority of cases, you will be coming to these kids as a complete stranger. Most kids will not have read (or even heard of) your books. This is important to remember as you’re crafting your presentation: don’t assume they will be impressed by the fact that you’re a published author. Your only job is to convince them that your story is something they want to read. The best way to do this is by BEING A STORYTELLER. Don’t just read an excerpt and give a summary—instead invite them into the world of your story, put them in the shoes of your hero, make the book come alive right there on the stage.


Play to Your Strengths

Take careful inventory of personal skills that you can bring to the table. Some authors draw on giant notepads. Others perform music. Others juggle or teach dance routines or fold origami. I exploited my past career as a professional yo-yo demonstrator by incorporating a yo-yo into my routine. It is hands-down the most popular part of every presentation! Chances are, you’ve got some silly talent that can be turned into a memorable moment in your presentations—make the most of it! Here’s a video of my yo-yo presentation, for the curious:


Crowd Control

There’s no question that wrangling a crowd of kids can be tricky. I have a loud voice, but with groups over 100, I always require that schools provide a microphone. Even with a mic, however, a hall full of squirming kids can get pretty loud. I always request that the teacher/librarian who introduces me gives the kids a special reminder about appropriate assembly behavior. And when the classes are streaming into the room, I go to every one of the teachers and introduce myself, thank them for coming, and ask them where their students are sitting—this is a subtle way of encouraging the teachers to be more proactive with crowd control. My final crowd control trick is to start every presentation by showing the Peter Nimble book trailer. Not only does this give kids something to visualize the story, but it creates a baseline of actual silence from the crowd. I’ve found that when I don’t show the trailer, I’m never able to eliminate the dull roar of whispers and fidgeting that passes for “quiet” in other circumstances.


Build a Flexible Program

Every school runs on a different schedule. Generally speaking, assemblies will run between 40-60 minutes. It’s important that you have a program that can expand or contract to fit these requirements. Your goal should be to have discrete “bits” that you can add and remove at will depending on the needs of your audience. If I’m talking to a restless crowd, for example, I can trade out a more serious literary discussion for an extra game. Flexibility goes beyond time-management. When I started touring, I carried around two vintage suitcases full of props. The suitcases looked cool, but they were a serious pain in the neck. I’ve since learned to pare down my props—fitting everything I need into a single shoulder bag. Likewise, when showing my book trailer, I used to haul my laptop computer (school computers were just too unreliable). Recently, however, I’ve ditched the laptop for a small VGA adaptor that plugs directly into my iPhone … so much easier!

Selling Books

You always want to be working with a local bookseller that can handle sales—you don’t have time to deal with that stuff yourself. If the school doesn’t have a store they regularly work with, then offer to connect them to someone. In most cases, a store will give 10-20% of all proceeds back to the school … which you should encourage them to do. Every store has a different way of handling book sales. I’ve found the best method is to send out pre-order forms in advance of the event as well as a “last chance” order form that kids take home the day that you visit—then once all orders are collected, you can sign books at the store, which will deliver them to the school later in the week.


That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEALTomorrow we’ll be talking about how how and when to charge for appearances. In the meantime, you can catch up on previous posts (listed below), and please-oh-please spread the word!


WEEK ONE: Before Your Book Comes Out
4/21 – Finding Your Tribe: entering the publishing community
4/22 – Do I Really Need a Headshot?: crafting your public persona
4/23 – I Hate Networking: surviving social media
4/24 – A Night at the Movies: the ins and outs of book trailers
4/25 –  Giveaways! … are they worth it?


WEEK TWO: Your Book Launch
4/28 – Can I have Your Autograph?: 5 things to do before your first signing
4/29 –  Cinderella at the Ball: planning a successful book launch
5/1 – Being Heard in the Crowd: conferences and festivals
5/2 – The Loneliest Writer in the World: surviving no-show events


WEEK THREE: The Business of Being an Author
5/5 – Handling Reviews … the Good and the Bad!
5/6 – Back to the Grindstone: writing your next book
5/7 – The Root of All Evil: some thoughts on money
5/8 – The Green-Eyed Monster: some thoughts on professional jealousy


WEEK FOUR: Ongoing Promotion
5/12 – Death by 1000 Cuts: Keeping ahead of busywork
5/13 – Can You Hear Me Now? Tips for Skype visits

Jonthan Auxier Headshot - web square

JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores on May 20—why not come to his book launch party? You can visit him online at where he blogs about children’s books old and new.

Find The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN-10/ISBN-13: 141971144X / 9781419711442

Thank you so much to Jonathan for stopping by today! Connect with Jonathan on Twitter and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

The 20 Question Interview with our very own Turkeybird is our feature interview that happens with all of the book authors, illustrators and poets we love!

Today we are delighted to welcome a friend and long time favorite author of Turkeybird’s mom, Beth Kephart. Beth’s new book Going Over was published this past week. Much like Dangerous Neighbors, You Are My Only, Small Damages and many other of Beth’s novels Going Over was one that will not soon be forgotten. After many long hours (or possibly minutes) talking with his mom Turkeybird came up with a few questions to ask Beth that he knew he needed to know. So, without further hesitation on our part, the Turkeybird’s interview with Beth Kephart…

Beth Kephart_Author Photo_smI LOVE these questions, Turkeybird. Also, you are such a cute guy! I’ve heard many fine things about you….. But I digress….

1. So, my mom tried to explain why someone would put a big wall in the middle of a big country, but why do you think they did it? Sounds pretty weird to me!

Sadly, there are still many walls in the world today. Walls between Palestine and Israel, between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and between our own country and Mexico, among other places. Often walls are built to keep people or perceived dangers out. In Berlin, the wall was built in 1961 to keep the people in. The East Germans had begun flocking to the West—unhappy with the conditions where they lived and in search of better opportunities. The East German government needed those people to stay put—who would do the work if they were gone?—and so the Wall (devastatingly) went up.

2. How do you talk to someone when there’s a big wall in the way?

Well, often, you don’t. You can’t. You are cut off from communication. But people are ingenious, and many found a way. Westerners could visit the East, with certain passes. And sometimes the Easterners could get a pass to visit the West. But most of the time, between many people, sometimes even between husbands and wives or siblings or best friends, there was silence. It was terrible.

3. If you were seven what would you read next?

Where the Wild Things Are.

4. How about if you were four, what would you read next? (Littlebug likes to read a lot too. I’ve gotta get books for her.)

flamingo and littlebugFlora and the Flamingo. Which doesn’t even have any words, but it has the best message.
(Turkeybird: AH! That is one of her most favorite books ever…see the picture and you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

5. Swings or Slides?

I’d have to say Slides.

6. Why?

Because when I was nine years old I shattered my arm in a fall from a swing. I still have the scars and weak arm to prove it!

7. Math or English class? (I can’t decide right now, I like both!)

Don’t decide! Like both!

8. Do you have a favorite treat? (Mine is anything chocolate!)

I’m right with you, buddy.

9. Crayons or Markers?


10. Why?

Because then I can write the next Famous Crayon Book.

11. What’s your favorite color?

It used to be blue-green. Now it might be orange.

There's a Book_Beth's ceramics12. I heard you like to make pots and things out of clay. (That sounds neat!) What was your favorite pot that you’ve made?

Oh. I can send you a photograph. I made it for my editor at Chronicle Books, Tamra Tuller. I will attach a picture.

13. When you were my age did you like to draw and read?

I liked Spirographs! And doll fashion.

14. Why do you like to write?

Boy, well. Do you have all day? Or are you busy eating chocolate while drawing with crayons?

Going Over_FC15. My mom said you write lots of books about things that happened a long time ago, she called it history. What’s your favorite time that’s already happened?

Your mother is a smart cookie. I like her. Tell her that. I’m a big fan of late 19th century stuff. But I really loved going back to 1983 Berlin.

16. I love Legos and building things! Do you like Legos or something else fun?

Does ballroom dance count?

17. Why?

Because I can do it with the music on.

18. Lakes or the ocean? We live next to the ocean and it is so neat!

OCEAN!! (Lucky guy, you.)

19. What’s your favorite thing to do outside? (Mine is exploring!)


20. What are you writing right now?

Answers to your questions.

TurkeybirdThe Turkeybird Speaks: Wow Beth, I can’t believe how crazy that there are still places in the world like you talked about. I asked my mom if there are any books I could read on my own about Mexico, Israel and Germany. We are going to go to the bookstore and the library to find some. I really want to learn lots and lots more!

The dancing sounds like lots and lots of fun too, but not the broken arm. I think I will stay away from swings (I didn’t like them before very much) and dance a lot more. Except my dancing is kind of really crazy!

Thank you super a lot Beth! Your answers were so so good and when I get older I really want to read all of your books, just because they sound so neat!

Going Over Blog Tour Banner

Find Going Over by Beth Kephart at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 1452124574 / 9781452124575

CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide (Opens to pdf)

Going Over Radio Playlist!


Thanks to the generous folks at Chronicle books we are delighted to be able to giveaway one signed copy of Going Over plus an audiobook to one lucky There’s A Book reader!
Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US/Canadian residents only.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Chronicle Books, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, on Facebook and on Pinterest!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

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It’s a well known fact that a child in possession of a well-loved book is unlikely to set down this well-loved book. Case in point:

TurkeybirdReadingandWalking LittlebugReadingandWalking

Yes, both Turkeybird and Littlebug are smitten with books. To the point they simply will not put them down at any time, even while walking. This, makes me one very happy mom.

Books in hand:

Kylie Jean Pirate Queen by Marci Peschke
Today I Will Fly! (Elephant and Piggie #1) by Mo Willems

Also, tomorrow is T-Bird’s big 7th birthday! If you get a chance I know he’d love to read all your birthday wish comments! (Like I said, he loves reading…especially when it’s about him. Haha!)

Today I wanted to share with everyone a truly spectacular giveaway. Thanks to the generosity of Candlewick Press I have not one, but five of their spring debut novels to giveaway to one lucky reader.

Caminar The Chance You Won't Return Breakfast Served Anytime There Will Be Bears The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Caminar by Skila Brown
The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi
Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
There Will Be Bears by Ryan Gebhart
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

(Click on the jacket covers above to learn more about each book.)

First Pages - Candlewick Debut Novels

Also, the above picture featuring each of the covers for these books connects to a wonderful Pinterest board where each of the books is highlighted. I wouldn’t miss it and I’d definitely begin following it, if you haven’t already!

First Pages - Candlewick Debut Novels back

Over the holiday I already devoured Caminar by Skila Brown from this group and I cannot wait to dive into the other copies I’ve been sent for my personal reviews. I adored everything about this story and I’m excited to share a full review closer to the publication date. Until then I’m content with the opportunity to give this set away!


One winner will receive galley copies of all five titles and an accordion bookmark set that includes tear out bookmarks for each individual book direct from Candlewick Press. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only, and please be sure to use the rafflecopter form below to enter (comments do not count as having entered).

RELATED: Candlewick Press Launches E-Volt A New YA E-book Tumblr, a new source for young-adult e-book deals and information. This is another spectacular source of info for YA readers not to miss!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

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