“Norm!” (Whoops, I mean “Tara!”)

Well, 6 weeks post book-launch and it would normally be time to wipe down the counters, flip over the barstools and tell the person knocking outside, “Sorry, we’re closed.” Tara has left the building.


Instead of that final episode of Cheers, imagine Norm walking back in and everyone yelling “Norm!” Except, um, shouting some other name. “Tara!”


Yep, I’m sticking around. Keep the stool on the corner warm for me.

I realized some of the most interesting debut experiences have happened to me post-launch. So why depart now? This is stuff that’s rarely discussed.

  • Like a corporate dispute between your publisher and America’s sole remaining national book chain which keeps your book out of the brick-and-mortar shops.
  • Like a gut-punching review.
  • Like your own child’s school declining your offer of a free school visit.
  • Like your daughter’s name being misspelled in the dedication.
  • Like most bookstores wanting you to appear in October because your book has Halloween appeal, yet very few wanting you NOW, when early sales are crucial to momentum.

BUT, there’s also the really cool stuff.

  • Like bookstores tweeting pictures of children drawing the monsters they’d like to buy at THE MONSTORE.
  • Like receiving fan mail from 22 kids at a summer writing camp, after using the first page of your book as their favorite writing prompt.
  • Like Skyping with classrooms across the country…in your jammies.
  • Like complete strangers showing up to your very first book signing. Even the town mayor.
  • Like being on a radio show!
  • Like people reviewing your book on blogs, Amazon and GoodReads, saying they love your book.

Yes, these things make you feel all warm and fuzzy, like an evening at a place where everybody knows your name.


So I’ll be here for a while longer. And let’s make this blog post interactive, shall we? Ask me anything about my post-book-launch experiences and I’ll be happy to oblige.



Filed under Book Promotion, Book signing, Updates on our Books!

23 responses to ““Norm!” (Whoops, I mean “Tara!”)

  1. Yay, Tara! I keep forgetting to ask, but I have been meaning to! So:

    You mentioned once that a sentence was left out of the F&Gs, and I HAVE to know which one it is, because with a book so spare, they all have such weight. So interested in what it was and how it would have affected the read.

    I know this isn’t about your launch experience, but still. Curious!


    • “No more sneaky sister snooping, sleep walking or snatching his stuff.”

      Maybe that line isn’t SO crucial, but I loved the alliteration and the way it rolls off the tongue when read aloud. Plus it was really demonstrating Zack’s frustration and his hope that this would be the end of his Gracie troubles!


  2. What’s been the biggest surprise post launch? (Perhaps the kid’s school thing might be one! Surprised me.)


    • Yes, that was very surprising. We had a new principal who did know me, but maybe didn’t realize I had been visiting various classrooms for three years, doing free writing presentations. So about two months before the release, I asked her if I could do a larger presentation to multiple classes, and they could also have kids buy the book and I’d sign it, like a usual author visit. But I didn’t hear back. I figured the principal was very busy. Turns out she handed it off to the librarian, who thought the principal was taking care of it. By the time I realized what was going on, it was a few days from June and both the principal and the librarian didn’t want to take any time to do it so close to the last day of school (which wasn’t until the 26th, so I was still baffled). When I asked if they could at least alert parents that the book was out, they said it was against district policy. I understand, but it was really disappointing that they did nothing to help me get the word out about the book. I *thought* I would have a built-in audience for the book, but no. Don’t count your book sales before they hatch! LOL


  3. Tara, ask again, maybe? Your post-release experiences really show how humbling things can be!


    • Carol, last I heard is that they’d consider it for….when….? OCTOBER! LOL. I am going to be exhausted in October. I’m gonna need all the candy to keep me awake.

      I did make sure that they knew this was an S&S book, not something I had self-published, and therefore it had been vetted. But instead of feeling like I had accomplished something special, that they had a “resident author” willing to mentor the kids (I have done umpteen writing presentations over the years), they really made me feel as if I were a snake oil salesman. 😦


  4. Thanks for writing this Tara. I’m learning so much about this process from you!


  5. Tara, been meaning to tell you this. Your book was on my kitchen table and I told my son to read it- he looked at me disdainfully (He’s 15) . “No really, you should read it.” I urged. So as he finished his cereal he read, studied the illustrations, flipped the pages, and read and studied some more. When he finished, the macho 15 year old facade was gone. He smiled, rubbed his hand over the cover and said, “Cool, really cool.”


  6. I’m curious how you will approach the launch for I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK knowing what you know now?


    • Good question, Cathy. I really don’t have a clue yet! All I can say now is that I hope the B&N/S&S dispute is over by then! (Fall 2014…there’s plenty of time…I think…)


  7. Yvonne V.

    I appreciate your honesty about the good and the bad. Thanks for sharing.


  8. Tara – I’m so glad that you’re sticking around, and it’s so cool that you’re doing a Q&A like this!

    Here’s a question: Do you have any thoughts on book trailers? Did you consider doing one for The Monstore?


    • That’s a good question, Tara. I did consider making a trailer, but after viewing many of them and looking at the number of hits, I realized very few people outside the industry ever looked at them…unless they went viral. And I don’t think a single picture book trailer has gone viral. And going viral is a matter of luck. I mean, I could do a trailer with my kids: “Charlie bit my Monstore!” but would it go viral? Probably not.

      When you’re marketing and promoting a book, you have to think where your time and money will be best spent, and I didn’t think a trailer would give me much mileage. I surveyed non-author, non-writing friends and they didn’t even know book trailers existed. That was the nail in the coffin for me. I still believe in video for publicity purposes, like vlogging and creating your own YouTube Channel (like Tim McCanna and Will Terry), and Vine has fun applications for promo purposes…but trailers? I’m not entirely convinced they’re right for picture books. I had been gung-ho on them when they first came out, but now I’m not–for me or this book. They might be right for someone else or another project, though. This is just my current opinion.


  9. Susan Halko

    Well, here’s to the warm and fuzzy stuff! But thanks for sharing all of it, Tara.


  10. Great post, Tara! I’m curious what you think has been the most successful thing you’ve done to help launch The Monstore? Conversely, is there anything you’d do differently if you could go back and take another shot at it?


    • Laurie, it’s hard to tell what has been the most successful thing, because I have no idea what sales have resulted from which actions. But, if I had to guess, my blog and reaching out to fellow bloggers was very fruitful. Because I’ve hosted so many at my blog over the years, they offered to host me back. I didn’t do a traditional blog tour per se–I just did interviews at various blogs and let the bloggers post whenever they wanted. I didn’t publicize it on my blog (because, really, a week of me in a row is going to get old quickly), I just let their blog readers discover my book (yet a lot of them already knew about it). There’s still more blog appearances to come. Everyone has been so generous with their support.

      I don’t know if there’s anything I could have or would have done differently. I really liked doing the free Skype school visits the week after my release, so much fun. I did my best with the blogger reviews. Maybe I could have done more local appearances, but I’m still lining those up. I’m excited to be at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival and the Baltimore Book Festival in September. There’s lots of good things going on.

      Maybe I could have handled my daughters’ school differently. That’s what I really regret. So many parents have bumped into me and asked, “When is your book out?” and when I tell them it’s out already, they’re surprised they didn’t hear about it via the school. There’s no good way to reach all of them, and I can see the darn school from my guest bedroom window. LOL.


  11. Great and honest post, Tara. A book release is such a roller coaster of emotions. Hoping your positive experiences are the ones you’ll hang on to. My daughter and I adore The Monstore and give it five stars – so count us among your throngs of fans!


  12. Tara, thanks for sharing the *bad* with the good. For those of us who are unpublished, we always think that once the deal is done, it’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Reality is so much bettter. No questions here, but I wanted to tell you that my 5 year old loves The Monstore. We’ve been reading it regularly since I picked it up at NJSCBWI. Keep ’em coming!


  13. Thanks, Tara. I have learned not only from your words in the post, but your answers to all these wonderful questions and comments! I LOVE your book! I’ve read it many times since it arrived at my house! And since I’m late to comment on this post, another “good” has happened with your book now being available at B&N…Yippee!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.