INSPIRED BY PENNY, LIST-MAKER & CROSS-OUT QUEEN:
Welcome One & All!
Invite your family, friends, new and old neighbors and acquaintances from all walks of life—you never know who will come! I expected my mother, siblings and their families to be there, but I was surprised by some cousins, some of my former classmates from St. Joseph’s elementary school—even my daughter’s kindergarten and 5th grade Montessori teachers drove up from Boston!
Ms. Rubina, Maria, Ms. Jutta, Anya & cousin, Brynn.
My high school English teacher popped by too, though I didn’t have a chance to speak with him. My Emu’s sister, Tam came, as did my new writer friend Cathy and her daughter, Grace.
An old neighbor, Jennifer came, as did many of my mother’s current neighbors. But by far the most people in attendance were friends of my mother’s (see # 1 :)).
This may be obvious, but it bears repeating—have fun! You’re here to celebrate your book’s birthday and your journey to becoming a published author.
Tam as a silly musician-magician and Maria as a snake charmer.
C is for Cookies!
Did you say cookies? Who doesn’t love a cookie? I had two kinds of cookies, themed sugar cookies: dog, bone and pawprint shaped, and the quintessential American classic, chocolate chip cookies. Ask your friends and family for help. My mother made one batch of chocolate chip cookies, and Karen, my sister-in-law, made a second; I made the sugar cookies. They were eaten before I could get a good picture ;).
Everyone loves Freebies!
I prepared a basket of goodie bags with postcards, a Penny & Jelly notepad, mini-pen, stickers & business cards in a drawstring organza bag.
Calling all techies!
Tech support is a must, especially if you’re technically challenged like me! My techie husband, Niko, set up the slide show for me, and cleverly slowed down the pace when I began to read too quickly. He also designed both my website as well as the Penny & Jelly website.
Delegate, delegate, delegate! Niko helped me set up tables, the screen and projector for the slideshow. I had a basket with different colored pens (thanks for this idea, Megan!), and my niece Brynn’s job was to ask people which colors they’d like to have their books signed in. She also helped with props and drew the winning raffle ticket (see #4).
Anya and nephew, Aidan, expertly took down names and numbers for the raffle tickets. My sister, Lee Lee handed out cookies.
Aidan (before his raffle duties began).
Grand Prize Drawing!
Along with the freebies, have some kind of prize for people who buy your book. Those who purchased a copy of Penny & Jelly were entered into a raffle for a gift basket for each book purchased. My raffle basket contained a signed copy of Penny & Jelly, a Penny & Jelly tote bag, a Penny & Jelly “best friends” mug, assorted postcards and stickers, doggy cookie cutters, a feather boa and a kazoo. Anya tied the perfect bow.
Keep it Local!
Give back by organizing a community and theme-oriented charity event tie-in. Since I love dogs, and Penny & Jelly celebrates a bond between a girl and her canine best friend, I organized a goods drive with the local animal shelter, the Monadnock Humane Society. Anya decorated a collection box for food, toys and towels, the items they most needed.
I bought a cute pawprint jar at the Dollar Store and we collected over $50.00 which was totally unexpected, and wonderful. I also offered to donate $1 per book sold (but ended up contributing more, since they ran out, see #1). The Monadnock Humane Society was happy to help advertise the event on Facebook. Lincoln, the Toadstool Events Manager, also partnered with a local pet store, One Stop Country Pet Supply, who placed a box for in-store donations. And I felt really happy about helping local animals in a small way—win-win! ❤
Get Curious about Curious City!
Hire Kirsten Cappy—marketing guru extraordinaire! Seriously! She’s smart, savvy, creative and so down-to-earth! She designed my business cards, postcards, notepads as well as the Penny & Jelly banner for kids to “be” Penny and pose with Jelly and a variety of props from the book, featuring original art by the über-talented, Thyra Heder.
The Power of Roberta :)!
Spread the word aka—the power of Roberta, my mother, who has a ton of friends, and invited them all. Thanks, Mom!!
Roberta, in blue, among friends.
This may give you a hint, to quote her granddaughter, Brynn who ran errands with her one day, “Nonna—you know too many people.”
Better yet, hire Roberta to do some publicity for you—there’s one catch: you must come to Keene, where she knows everyone :). I don’t exactly know how many people attended, but the Toadstool had only ordered 30 books, and they sold out quickly, and many more people wanted to buy copies. I just ordered a bunch of plain bookplates that I can sign and send to the Toadstool for those unable to buy signed copies that day. They’re also useful to send to family and friends who live far away but want their owned signed copies.
Three siblings: Lee Lee, Maria & Michael.
Don’t worry, be happy :).
It’s about celebrating, not sales (see # 9 Dos).
Smile! I really dislike being the center of attention and public speaking, but once I began talking and engaging with the audience, I relaxed, and it actually became fun.
Short and sweet is key, especially when there are lots of kids in the audience. And if you’re like me, you’ll be happy when you can just chat with people one-on-one.
Thank you so much to everyone who helped out and attended, those both near and far, and thanks to my fellow Emu’s Debuts for supporting the virtual Penny & Jelly book launch! ❤
Just one more thing: it’s time to announce the lucky winner of Tamara Ellis Smith’s ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE launch: LINDA MARTIN ANDERSEN!!!
Congrats, Linda!! You’ve won a signed book plus a lucky marble keepsake. Please contact us with your mailing address.
Thanks to all who stopped by last week to leave comments!
And don’t forget to join us in August when we launch Penny Parker Klostermann’s THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON starting August 3rd, as well as Luke Reynolds’s THE LOONEY EXPERIMENT on August 10th!
Photo of Maria & Becca by Monogram Arts Photo.
Maria writes fiction and nonfiction picture books while dog Becca snores at her feet. This is what they do when they’re not writing (or snoring). Her debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder, was released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on July 7, 2015. A second book, Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars, will follow in June 2016. Maria has both fiction and nonfiction picture books forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, Aladdin Books and Boyds Mills Press. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary. To learn more, please visit her website: mariagianferrari.com, or visit Maria at Facebook.