Workshop Transcript

Self-Promotion Panel

with Toni Buzzeo, Verla Kay, & Linda Joy Singleton

Official start of Workshop


ICL (Institute of Children's Literature) Course Information/Testimonials


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Log file opened at: 4/10/01 5:41:07 PM

VerlaKay waves at everyone and looks around for the rest of the panel members... not here? NOT HERE! YEEKS. I only have five things written down for tonight! LOL

NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud

BGLit: Toni's coming, Verla...

MRSfields: Yeah, well...if you had called your speech..."How to force people to publish you"...folks would sign up

elsbet: still got 15 minutes, Verla- don't get your panties in a bunch, lol

VerlaKay: LOL els! Now that's a very descriptive phrase!!!!!

hari-kary: panties in a bunch, knickers in a knot

BGLit: I always heard it as "panties in a twist"

*** VerlaKay has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Self Promotion - Panel Workshop here tonight

elsbet: I've heard Knickers in a twist, too.

Deetie: man, it's rough when they get twisted like that.


*** _Lyra has joined channel #Kidlit.

VerlaKay: hooray! Panelist #2 is here

VerlaKay: now we just need Toni

BGLit: Toni's futzing with her new email program, she'll be here in a sec

*** _Lyra is now known as LJSingleton

MRSfields: Ohhhh...Lyra put her dress up clothes on

elsbet: Lyra! stand behind a screen while you change!

*** ToniB has joined channel #Kidlit.

BGLit: See, I told you...hi Toni!!

ToniB: Hey all.

VerlaKay: Hello everyone!

VerlaKay: workshop will start in a couple of minutes, folks

LJSingleto: nice crowd tonight -- already

VerlaKay: Hmmmm. Should I post our bios? I should, so they will be in the transcript, huh?

VerlaKay: Okay, folks... here we go....


*** VerlaKay has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Self Promotion - Panel Workshop IN PROGRESS

VerlaKay: Hello Everyone, welcome to our monthly Kidlit Workshop. We ask that you hold all personal chit-chat until the hour is up, but please feel free to join in the topic currently under discussion.

VerlaKay: We encourage and even ASK for questions and comments

VerlaKay: so please... jump in and join the discussion! If you have promoted a book, give us your opinion and experiences, too. The more info we get into the workshop, the better it will be for all of us.

VerlaKay: Tonight's topic will be about Self Promotion

VerlaKay: and it's being led by a panel of three of us...

VerlaKay: Toni Buzzeo

VerlaKay: Linda Joy (LJ) Singleton

VerlaKay: and Verla Kay (that's me)

VerlaKay: I will give you our bios first.... then we will start

VerlaKay: Toni Buzzeo is both an author and a school library media specialist. She considers it the perfect blend of careers--if only each day had 38 hours! She is the co-author, with Jane Kurtz, of two professional books, Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators, and Storytellers: Real Space and Virtual Links (Libraries Unlimited 1999) and Read Novels Across America (Scholastic Professional 2001) as well as the author of two upcoming books on Teacher-Librarian collaborations.

VerlaKay: Best of all, she has recently sold her first picture book, The Sea Chest, to be illustrated by Mary GrandPre. The book, which won the 2000 Barbara Karlin Grant, will be published by Dial, fall 2002.

VerlaKay: As a librarian, Toni is passionate about connecting kids with the authors and illustrators of the books that they read. For the past several years, she has sponsored 4-6 visits (both real space and virtual) annually at Longfellow School in Portland, Maine. She is committed to creating connections that are meaningful for bookpeople and for students and to helping authors and illustrators to get the most from the visits they make to schools and libraries. For more information, go to Toni Buzzeo's website.

BGLit: And her second pb too!

VerlaKay: HOORAY Toni!!!!!!

VerlaKay: (you need to update that bio, Toni!)

ToniB: Okey doke!

elsbet: yayy Toni

VerlaKay: Verla says about herself, "Writing is the love of my life, which seems amazing to me now, since as a child I not only hated to write, but was convinced that I was the "world's worst writer." It wasn't until I was in my 40's that I finally understood that the reason I had such a hard time writing wasn't because I was a "bad" writer, it was because I was a "dedicated" writer who needed to revise over and over again before I was satisfied with what I'd written."

VerlaKay: Verla started writing for children in 1989, by taking a correspondence course from the Institute of Children's Literature in Connecticut. Her first picture book, "Moving On" (name later changed to Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails,) was pulled from the slush pile by G.P. Putnam's Sons in December of 1994, exactly two months after it was sent out to seven publishers as a multiple submission.

VerlaKay: In June of 1995, Putnam sent Verla a contract for "Gold Fever," and in March of 1996, they sent her another contract for "Iron Horses." Verla's fourth picture book, "Tattered Sails," was accepted by Putnam in November of 1997, just one week after it was mailed to them. "Homespun Sarah," was accepted in 1998, her sixth book, "Rough, Tough, Charley," was accepted by Millbrook Press in 1999.

VerlaKay: "Broken Feather," was accepted by Putnam in May of 1999, and in March of 2000, Putnam contracted for an as-yet-unwritten "Orphan Train" book (which was to be completed by March of 2001.)

VerlaKay: (I finished it in October of 2000)

Hols: woohoo!

ToniB: You need to update your bio, kia!

VerlaKay: (yes, I know I need to update it, Toni.)

VerlaKay: Verla's books have gotten starred reviews from such prestegious places as Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal. Gold Fever has been placed on San Francisco library system's "recommended reading list" and was named by Bank Street College of Education as one of the "Best Books of the Year."

elsbet: yay Verla!

VerlaKay: Iron Horses has been named to the Children's Book Council's Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People list for 2000 and was also named a Society of School Librarians' International Honor Book for 1999.

VerlaKay: And that is our panel for tonight.... (Applause will be gratefully accepted by the panelists at this time....)

tem2: Yay.

ToniB: What about LJ?

VerlaKay bows and nudges at Toni and LJS to do the same...

BGLit: yea, you forgot LJ

Hols: applauds

Windy2u: Linda Joy???

Amishka: LJ?

VerlaKay: Oh... LOL!

Hols: lol

Amishka: Kick her now Linda

VerlaKay: I thought I did you first, Linda. LOL LOL! I was GOING to!

hari-kary: oops

tem2: What's the topic?

Hols: LJ's just famous.

elsbet: ach- we all know her anyway

VerlaKay: Linda Joy Singleton began writing as a child, filling notebooks with stories about a cat named Taben and girl-sleuth mysteries. It wasn't until she had children of her own that she learned about marketing, critique groups and how to become a professional writer. She writes almost daily and attends writing conferences whenever possible. A frequent speaker, she LOVES to speak about writing -- to both kids and adults.

VerlaKay: Among Linda Joy Singleton's 20 published books are two series by Avon Camelot -- MY SISTER THE GHOST and CHEER SQUAD. Her most recent book is THE TALKING SNOWMAN, a self-produced Judy Bolton mystery, co-written with author Margaret Sutton, the author of the original Judy Bolton series.

LJSingleto: Okay, that's better. I'm not forgotten.

VerlaKay: Linda.. you didn't update YOUR bio, either...nothing in there about your FABULOUS Regeneration Series!

LJSingleto: I'm up to 24 with the REGENERATION books...guess I need to update (g)

VerlaKay: Or the fact that they have been optioned by 20th Century Fox for a possible TV series!

LJSingleto: I think the option is non-news, unfortunately -- not going to be exercised by Fox

Paige_Turn: Wow... congratulations, LJ!

LJSingleto: But hey, an option sounds cool

VerlaKay: Or that they were put on the ALA Quick Pick list of best books for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

LJSingleto: yeah--that's an honor I'm really proud of.

Hols: That's cool LJ

VerlaKay: Linda lives near Sacramento, CA, on three acres with her supportive husband, David, and their two great teenagers, Melissa and Andy. She loves sunshine, cats, old-fashioned series books, camping, swimming and walking.

LJSingleto: My publisher isn't behind the books, but librarians gave it many votes of confidence

VerlaKay: Okay.. NOW you may clap

BGLit: <loud applause>

VerlaKay hangs her head in SHAME at forgetting Linda's bio...

elsbet claps enthusiatically

Amishka: hurray!

DeniP11: applause!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VerlaKay: Okay...

Hols: cheers

MRSfields: Clap clap clap clap clap small delicate whistle

hari-kary: wooohooo

Elaine B: Two questions: I've noticed that Verla recommends the Institute for Children's Literature. Why? How good is it and how important do you think it is to take such a course? Also, I noticed Verla mentioned making multiple submissions, but the SCBWI frowns on this. What do you all think about making multiple submissions?

ToniB: Those are good questions, Elaine B. But kia, do they apply to the topic?

ToniB: Self-Promotion?

Elaine B: Sorry, I guess not.

VerlaKay: Okay Elaine B... that's not quite "on topic" but I will be glad to answer them right after the workshop, if you will ask them again then.

ToniB: We can answer them at the end, though!

LJSingleto: good idea, Verla

elsbet: hang around after for chat, Elaine B!

ToniB: I'd be happy to also!

VerlaKay: yes, please do!

^Libby: What was Elaine B's question?

VerlaKay: Okay... Toni and Linda Joy... what do you think is the most important thing about promoting yourself?

LJSingleto: wow, big question right away!

LJSingleto: Okay--give us a minute (g).


ToniB: The most important REASON to or the most important thing to DO?

VerlaKay: Either one, Toni...

VerlaKay: they are both very important aspects of Self Promotion...

ToniB: Okay. I think that the MOST important reason to self-promote is that it sells your books, keeps your name before the reading public, and thus KEEPS YOUR BOOKS IN PRINT!

LJSingleto: The more you self-promote, the better chance you have of staying in print.

VerlaKay: Agreed, Toni & Linda!

VerlaKay: Self promotion can almost be synonymous with self preservation

LJSingleto: But I do have to say it depends on the type of book you've sold.

LJSingleto: For my paperback series, no matter how much I did, it wasn't enough to influence the high sales required to keep a series in print.

BGLit: I would argue otherwise, LS. I'll give you a great example: Peter Catalanotto. Many of his books would be long o.p. if he didn't tour and do as many visits as he does

NOTE: o.p. = Out of Print

LindaSue: OK, but BG, part of it is what you said--he does *lots* of visits. If you can't do lots, you don't have those numbers.

LindaSue: Can an author get away with relatively little self-promotion? I have a website, and a publicist working for me...and I send flyers out. But I can't afford to go to conferences on my own nickel. Am I doing enough or should I be worried...

ToniB: Linda Sue, I don't think you can get away with relatively little self-promotion and have a vibrant career. But yes, I think you can have a wonderful career that is quieter than many.

ToniB: LS, I think you need to be promoting yourself as a speaker who is INVITED to speak.

LJSingleto: There are some instances where you can get away with little promotion -- if your book is a huge success and wins major awards.

LJSingleto: But the most awards you win, the more in demand you'll become as a speaker. They'll wave $$$$ in your face to tempt you.

LindaSue: But Toni, sales at school/library events are relatively small numbers. Unless you do *dozens* of events a year, those sales don't mean much. I've always heard that the reason to do school visits is for the fees themselves, and if you enjoy it...

ToniB: Sales at schools should not be relatively small.

VerlaKay: the last school visits I did... they sold 500 of my books to the children and the teachers at the three schools in the district... that makes an impact! (But I do have to say, that was unusually large number of books sold. Often there are just a very few sold.)

ToniB: Say you do 12 schools a year (one a month) and you sold a conservative 50-100 books at each. That's not a number to sneeze at. And many times you'll sell more.

LindaSue: Toni, OK, every little bit helps, but that amount won't keep a book in print.

LJSingleto: I know author David Swartz is a huge success with school talks and sales -- very lucrative for him

ToniB: I think that another reason to do school visits is that it spreads your name around like butter on hot toast. The word spreads, you meet influential librarians, and then you get invited to the conferences.

Hols: It seems relatively easy to get local recognition, but how do you go about promoting yourself on a national level?

Hols: or international for that matter.

VerlaKay: I think you have to "work up" to the National level, hols.

VerlaKay: I started with my state regional reading conferences...

VerlaKay: offered to speak for free and was invited to particpate.

VerlaKay: I even PAID to go to some of the conferences in order to be a speaker

LJSingleto: I started out free too -- in fact, I still do career days locally for free

LindaSue: But Verla, you paid your own way at first, right?

VerlaKay: yes, LindaSue

LindaSue: I can't afford to do that.

VerlaKay: then do only the local ones that will let you come free, LS

VerlaKay: to start with

VerlaKay: later, they will pay YOU to come, if you are good at it...

LJSingleto: If you can't physically travel somewhere to speak, you can network online

VerlaKay: and about getting good...

VerlaKay: I recommend taking a speech class and/or acting classes... what do you say about that, Toni and LJS?

LJSingleto: I never took a speech or acting class -- but it's a great idea.

LJSingleto: I knew I would have to speak when I sold my first book in '88 and I listened carefully, studied other authors, until I gave my first talk in 1991

LJSingleto: By studying how other authors gave their talks, I chose the ways that worked best for me -- and I've grown to love speaking

BGLit: I'd say that if you're comfortable talking in front of people, and are passionate about your topic, you'll do fine. But fine tuning your speaking can only help

tem2: An acting class to learn how to act like an author?

ToniB: I've never had to do that. Those of you who know me will understand

BGLit: LOL Toni

LindaSue: LOL@Toni

ToniB: O

ToniB: DEAR!

ToniB: I'm not so much the shy retiring type.

tem2: Toni: I'd never have guessed.

Elaine B: How do you hear about promotional opportunities, like reading conferences? And would promotion also include going around the country making appearances at book stores? -- Elaine B


ToniB: Be sure to look for my article about the importance on school visits in the November 2000 issue of CW.

NOTE: The CW is the Children's Writers' newsletter published by the Institute of Children's Literature. For more information, see the information/testimonials at the end of this workshop.

elsbet: my question- how far in advance of actually being published should a writer start promoting herself as a writer?

^Libby: How long before the book comes out should a writer start a website, Verla?

LJSingleto: I think you can't start promoting TOO early if you have a hardback book coming out -- Verla did that splendidly.

ToniB: Okay, I'm a good example. I launched my website this winter and will start to build it heavily around THE SEA CHEST this summer so that it's fully promoting the book a year before it comes out.

VerlaKay: great idea, toni

VerlaKay: I started over a year before my first book came out, too. (since it was five years after I sold a book before one ever came into print, I had LOTS of time!)

VerlaKay: and it was VERY helpful!

LJSingleto: I remember shaking my head at everything Verla was doing so far in advance of her books. I thought she was nuts -- but she was totally RIGHT.

LindaSue: Oh dear I'm already WAY behind then, LOL

^Libby: What did you do, step by step, Verla?

VerlaKay: I put up a website...

VerlaKay: I designed bookmarks

VerlaKay: and flyers

VerlaKay: I planned two "talks" - one about my books and one about me

Hols: Obviously, your website is very successful, Verla. What advice do you have for authors who want to create websites? And how much do you think that helps in the promotion of your books?

VerlaKay: I would say, "just DO it," Hols. Put something up. Put up something that will bring people BACK again and again. If you offer freebies on your site, people will come. Give them information, put quizzes up... tests they can take (Are YOU a writer?) something that will bring them back. And don't just put it up and LEAVE it. MAINTAIN it...

VerlaKay: plan to change something on your site at LEAST once a month...twice a month is better.

Elaine B: Verla's website is so informative. I wonder how she manages to maintain it.

VerlaKay: I just DO it, Elaine B. (Maintaining my site.) And really, once it's designed and up and running, updating is a fairly simple thing for the most part.

ToniB: Hols, I do think having a website helps quite a bit. In terms of teachers, librarians, and even average consumers, we are web savvy and go online to learn more about books and authors.

VerlaKay: I think my website helped a LOT

tem2: Okay to start promoting before the book is sold? :D

DeniP11: And, did you start your promotion before your book even sold?

VerlaKay: not before they sold, deni and tem. No

MeredithW: Verla, how did you present yourself to the public so far before your books came out?

VerlaKay: I did some school visits for free

VerlaKay: I talked about creating my books

VerlaKay: I showed some preliminary sketches of the first book that my editor had sent me from the artist

ToniB: Absolutely important to get the buzz going before the books come out.

LindaSue: Cynthia Smith gave me a good idea--she took out an ad in the Texas Library Association publication on the strength of just ONE picture book, and has way more offers than she can handle!

LJSingleto: I think Verla's helpfulness on the CW list helped, too -- people couldn't wait to buy her books

NOTE: The CW list is an email list of over 700 Children's Writers

ToniB: Free school visits are great then. You have an INVESTED audience.

VerlaKay: when my book finally launched... I was READY

Amishka: It's good to do school visits even before your books sell (talk about writing process) it'll give you practice speaking in front of people

VerlaKay: I had school visits "perfected"

VerlaKay: I had flyers to hand out...

VerlaKay: and bookmarks made for the kids

tem2: How much help can you expect to get from your publisher?

LindaSue: tem2--my publisher doesn't do tours unless you win a major award. But they do some promotion--they go to the big conferences and hand around flyers for me and display my books.

LindaSue: Toni, Verla, LJS--when you get a promotion idea, do you ask your publisher if they'll foot the bill for some of it?

VerlaKay: I haven't, LS... but you certainly COULD.

LindaSue: Clarion does a beautiful flyer for me; I never had to do one of my own...

BGLit: Never hurts to ask, LS, within reason

LindaSue: I just wonder if they might do something more?

VerlaKay: I asked my publisher about a conference...and found out they would pay to send me to one a year! I wouldn't have known, unless I asked

LindaSue: BG--what's 'within reason', LOL? (Flight to Bologna please!)

VerlaKay: I don't believe the publishers mind you ASKING, LindaSue... as long as you don't demand what they aren't willing to give

LJSingleto: All of my books have been paperback originals, and I've had little support from publishers

BGLit: And use your agent...that's what she's there for!

LJSingleto: BG--how do you suggest we use our agent?

ToniB: Yes, BG, how SHOULD we use our agents??????

LindaSue: BG--can you tell us what you do for your clients in terms of promotion (as opposed to selling their work)?

NOTE: BG is a children's literary agent (see his bio on the Workshops page of this website for more information)

BGLit: LJS: Get them involved. Heck, they should be automatically, but if they're not, ask them to help exert a little pressure once in a while

BGLit: Most agents will have a multitude of clients with any given publisher, some more important, some less. But regardless, they'll have clout that you as a single author might have less, and you can use theirs

tem2: Toni: Make sure that agent of yours gets off his butt and works for you! Right, Barry? :D

NOTE" BG is Toni's agent

BGLit: Well, LS, I can tell you what I plan to do. Since I don't yet have any books near publication, I've got time to think about stuff still

LindaSue: Cool, Barry :-)

^GailM: Etta Wilson said she looked for oportunites for her authors to promote, as an agent.

BGLit: First off, I'm making a lot of effort to get to know the marketing and publicity directors at all the houses I submit to.

BGLit: I also take a page from Steve Malk's book: always try and think outside the box. He transformed Elise Primavera's career single handedly by working the Saks deal for her book, AUNTIE CLAUS

ToniB: That was BRILLIANT, BG

ToniB: LS, you are BRILLIANT!! Are you listening, bg?

BGLit: Yup, it was...and now everyone is pitching Saks, lol!

LindaSue: FAO Schwarz makes more sense to me, BG--a "Sea Chest" display there maybe?? ;-)

BGLit: FAO is a pain in the butt to work with, but hey, I'll try anything. Might be even better to try Ellis Island tho =)

tem2: BG: What did they do with Saks? I'm not familiar with it.

LindaSue: tem2--Primavera's agent got Saks to do a big window display based on her book "Auntie Claus"

BGLit: sorry, tem, didn't see your question. Yea, what LS said

Hols: I love Auntie Claus.

^GailM: I love Auntie Claus, too. And Olive, the Other Reindeer.

ToniB: LS, I haven't done much of that. (Asking the publisher to pay for promotion efforts by the author.) Libraries Unlimited has been great about sending out discount flyers---hundreds at a time--on request. And I've asked both of my pubs to foot the cost of an ALA badge with good results.

NOTE: ALA = American Library Association conference

LindaSue: An ALA badge? What's that, Toni?

VerlaKay: American Library Association conference fee, LindaSue

^GailM: The cost of the conference?

ToniB: I have asked my publishers to pay the cost of my attendance at American Library Association Conference by giving me a badge.

Hols: It seems to me that unless you are JK Rowling, a successful author has to be in it for the love of the writing/book. Because, its seems (at least I've seen this from my mother's experience) that a lot of the money made from a book goes back into keeping it alive.

ToniB: Yes, Hols, that's completely true.

ToniB: In fact, LS's and my friend, CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH, is the genius of self-promotion. I believe she spent her entire advance for her first book.

LindaSue: Hols--you see, that's what I can't do, my family *eats* my advance money and royalties; I can't plow that money back into promotion...

Hols: That's tough LindaSue. I understand. Fortunately my mother has enough money that she doesn't really *need* her advances. So, she usually spends most of them on self-promotion. I'm sure there are ways to promote yourself inexpensively though.

ToniB: Me either, LS. Mine goes straight to Williams College.

LJSingleto: I caution spending too much money on self-promotion unless you know it will really be effective. I know one author of a paperback series hired a publicist for MORE than the advance -- but the publisher let the books go out of print anyway

Hols: One thing my mom did that was inexpensive (and I hope she wouldn't mind if I share this) was send thank-you cards to her publisher's marketing reps. Her editor said that was a really nice touch.

^Libby: Hols: When did she do that? After the book came out?

Hols: Yes, Libby. I believe it was after the book came out.

VerlaKay: I couldn't spend much money on promotion at first either, LindaSue... but I was able to make bookmarks and my own flyers on my computer. I could go to local schools and places around my community and neighboring towns and promote my books. And that's what I did. I started slowly and added more to my "plate" as I could afford it

tem2: LJ: You have a good start.

LJSingleto: I think LS's idea of offering free books on her website is great

MeredithW: It is great--it's gotten me there every month. LOL

Elaine B: Do you ever collaborate with illustrators in promoting a book?

ToniB: Ooooo, good question, Elaine B!


ToniB: One important thing that both Verla and Cynthia have done is to create a site dedicated to MORE than just their own work...

ToniB: A bigger goal, if you will.

ToniB: Verla's is dedicated to the beginning writer, especially, and Cyn's is dedicated to Children's literature.

PamelaRoss: Toni: I was thinking aquariums.. Kids.. Parents with money... :>

VerlaKay: I'll tell you one thing I think would be GREAT. And that's to plan your site with creative printable activities for teachers to use along with your books in classrooms.

VerlaKay: Think about it... the teachers would be thrilled to get activities they could just print, then copy and use in their classrooms, and they would buy your books to go along with them

elsbet: That is a good idea, Verla

ToniB: Anna Grossnickle Hines has done that, Kia.

MeredithW: Seems like Jan Brett has that stuff on her web site, too.

LJSingleto: I'll do that with my historical mission e-book, Verla

Elaine B: Isn't Dav Pilkey doing something like that, Toni?

Hols: It seems like most promotional efforts are targeted at teachers and writers. Is there a good way of targeting parents, aunties, grandmas, etc.?


ToniB: They both attract a wider crowd that just people interested in their books. And they develop a following this way.

Hols: I agree Toni. Their sites are targeted at other writers, rather than just customers.

LJSingleto: I need to do more with my site -- but I do have some fun stuff there; fan letters, a Harry Potter quiz, and an original REGENERATION story

Elaine B: Caroline Arnold and Dav Pilkey have very attractive sites. The latter has lots of "activities." Caroline Arnold's is very professional looking.

VerlaKay: Yes, "target" your website to one specific area.

LJSingleto: For anyone thinking of getting a domain website -- I just got my own with my name LJSingleton -- and the reason I did this was a comment someone in chat made.

VerlaKay: what comment was that, Linda Joy?

PamelaRoss: What was the comment, Linda J?

LJSingleto: I was trying to decide whether I should get my own domain, knowing that Berkley wasn't continuing my series, so why keep trying so hard. But someone told me, the series might be ending, but my career wasn't.

PamelaRoss: (Linda J: but of course your heart will go on and on..)

LJSingleto: LOL, Pam

^Libby: Verla, how long before a book comes out do you think an author should put up a website?

VerlaKay: a year at least, libby!

ToniB: At least a year, Lib.

ToniB: More if possible.

^Libby: How much more, ideally?

VerlaKay: It will take you a year to learn how to make your site effective and to get a "following"

tem2: You can't just put up a website, either. You need to promote a website so that people can find it.

VerlaKay: people love to be in on the beginning of things...

DeniP11: So, you think right about the time you sell your book you should start a website?

BGLit: That's a good time, yes, Deni

LJSingleto: It never hurts to pre-promote -- do reviews of other books while you're waiting for yours to come out

Elaine B: How do you get a site that you can design yourself (rather than one of this "pre-fab" sites?)

LindaSue: Elaine B--I did my own with FrontPage Express. It's not fancy like Verla's, but it works pretty well....

LindaSue: FrontPage Express came free on my gateway, that's why I used it, LOL

VerlaKay: I use Claris Home Page to do my site, Elaine B... and I love it

VerlaKay: it's easy to use - as easy as a word processor and only cost $100

VerlaKay: you can try it out free for a month before buying it, too. (link is on the home page of my website)

Verlie: You could ask your freindly neighborhood website designer/children's author, Verlie, about a website design. :-)

VerlaKay: there you go! We have a website designer on board!... Verlie... would you like to share your website URL or email with everyone?

Verlie:! But the opening page is made with one of those stupid canned programs. %-D LOL

<<< LindaSue ducks out quietly, waving to everyone and THANKING the big Three for this great workshop--TRANSCRIPT PLEASE, verla! xoxox >>>

ToniB: Whose questions have we MISSED?

LJSingleto: good question, Toni (g)

VerlaKay: I was trying to keep track of the questions...but I've been a wee bit busy ANSWERING them. LOL!

ToniB: If we skipped your question, please step back up to the microphone.

Verlie: I'm happy to share about where I learned things too, and what programs I use.

LJSingleto: I have done a lot of different booksignings, if anyone wants to ask about that

tem2: And my web design page is at -- what's up there is aimed at lawfirms, but also applies to other types of websites.

tem2: is where the consultation form is located.

BGLit: One thing no one has mentioned, but it's worth thinking about: ask your publisher what kinds of things they think you can/should do to promote. They may have some excellent suggestions

ToniB: Oh, BG, I'd better do that when the dust settles, eh?

BGLit: Yup, Toni.

VerlaKay: good idea, Barry...about asking your publisher for ideas

Elaine B: I had asked how you learned about reading conferences and also if you ever collaborate with illustrators in promoting a book.

LJSingleto: Verla, where did we hear about the first reading conference? Another writer, I think, told us

BGLit: Guest: I know a few authors and artists who have done books together who also travel and promote together. I think that can be tough, but if you and your artist are friends, can be quite successful

Verlie: I'd love to learn more about HOW to do a good school visit sometime.

ToniB: And I'm happy to talk about school and library visits :>

ToniB: And TERRIFIC CONNECTIONS, for which you can get a discount flyer because you're here tonight :>

LJSingleto: I got that flyer. Now I just need to mail it in!

ToniB: LJ, shame. MAIL IT IN!

VerlaKay: Also... look on the web! Look up the national reading association and then find all the state conferences and see which ones are close to you. Contact them and ask how an author can become a speaker ....

ToniB: Guest, you can find out about the reading conferences by going to

ToniB: That is the International Reading Association. Conferences are listed by region.

ToniB: International Reading Association:

LJSingleto: I love going to library/reading conferences -- I passed out bookmarks

ToniB: You can do the same for Library Conferences by going to and then going to regional conferences.

ToniB: American Library Association:

elsbet: I'm spending my advances on livestock. No ifs ands or butts

Hols: lol Els

ToniB: PITCH YOURSELF is the key. Don't wait for them to come to you!

Elaine B: Thanks, Toni. I have great connections in social work - my profession up until now. I feel like I'm starting all over again at the bottom!

ToniB: You ARE starting again, Elaine B, but it's a very open and sharing community.

BGLit: Jan Brett is one of the queens of self-promotion. She spends a fortune every year

ToniB: Yes, Dav and Jan.

BGLit: I remember one year Jan sent out handmade chocolate hedgehogs to booksellers, key reviewers, and others...truly over the top

Hols: Wow, BG.

elsbet: oh that is cool, Barry!

MeredithW: I bet they remembered it though, BG!

ClaraRose: did it work BG?

BGLit: Of course it did, but then, she's Jan Brett. People already know her, but it just goes to show that every little bit helps. I mean, every one of Jan's books have hit the bestseller list, and she still does that kind of self promotion

elsbet: So I could give away Maple leaf candies for my ample sugaring book... If it ever sells, lol

MeredithW: Hols, you could give out Spuds.

Hols: Good idea, Mer. ;)

VerlaKay: ask your local schools and children's librarians for the dates and places of local reading conferences, Elaine B. And then join your State Reading Association. It's only about $20 a year to belong to the California State Association, and then you get all the bulletins.

LJSingleto: pitching yourself might seem hard -- like bragging, but you have to get past that and think of it as bragging about your new book

Hols: Kind of like applying for a job, LJ. lol.

VerlaKay: Toni's book, Terrific Connections is WONDERFUL!

ToniB: Thanks, Verla!

elsbet: I'm going to pick up Toni's book with my return this year

ToniB: Els, do you have the discount flyer?

elsbet: no, Toni

elsbet: how can I get it?

ToniB: Els, send me your e-mail addy and I'll send one.

NOTE: Check out Toni Buzzeo's website <> for more information.

VerlaKay: Another book I recommend is How to Promote Your Children's Book on a Shoestring sold on the Write4Kids website <>

VerlaKay: and also Evelyn Gallardo's book... <>

VerlaKay: between those three books, you don't need anything else!

Amishka: LJ I'd like to hear some of the things you do at signings (to draw attention)

LJSingleto: I have some good, okay, poor, and great signings. I don't really like doing bookstore signings unless I'm with other authors.

LJSingleto: But I've tried some inventive things on my own. I did a craft workshop making pompons for my Cheer Squad books -- and brought in cheerleaders to perform at the bookstore

MeredithW: LOL--did it work, LJ?

LJSingleto: Meredith--I had my son make animal balloons at a signing once -- but he's 16 and won't do it anymore

^Libby: How did you use the balloons, LS? Just to get kids to the table? Or was it tied to your books somehow?

LJSingleto: Lib--I just had my son doing balloons to entertain -- but that was years ago, for my GHOST series.

tem2: Is there enough room in a bookstore for cheerleading?

LJSingleto: Tem, it was hilarious when the boy cheerleaders tossed the girls -- and nearly toppled bookshelves!

Hols: lol LJ

LJSingleto: I also did a mystery game with clues and make-believe villains -- brought in my own kids and had only two others, but it was fun

MeredithW: Note to self: learn how to make balloon animals. :-P

BGLit: lol Mer

BGLit: Bookstore signings are tough, unless you KNOW you're going to have a good audience. There's nothing worse than sitting next to a stack of your books with no one there to buy them

elsbet: eerk, Barry

Amishka: That's my worst nightmare BG

Hols: I've helped my mom with some of her book signings, and it seems to me that you need a hook, something that draws people (especially kids dragging mommies by the hands) to your table.

Amishka: actually it would be worse to sit beside someone very popular and have everyone in that line and no one in yours

LJSingleto: Mish--I have sat by popular authors -- did a signing with romance authors, some big names -- but I just let my natural enthusiasm bring people over to the books

BGLit: Mish: I've seen it happen even to better known authors. If the event isn't well planned or publicized, it can be ugly

MeredithW: It seems strange though, especially when we think of writers as "famous" -- not insecure artists.

Hols: My mom uses a fish in a fish bowl for her Pattern Fish book. It has worked really well.

Verlie: If my Snot Fairy book sells, that one should be a piece of cake to promote. ;-)

Amishka: LOL

MeredithW: Yuck Verlie! Just promote it during flu season.

tem2: You could give away snot!

Verlie: Free Kleenex...

elsbet: SNOT FAIRY??

Verlie: I've got the costume moldering in my basement.

elsbet: does she put a nickel under your pillow when you sneeze?

Hols: You could hand out snot-flavored jelly bellies. (I'm not kidding. They really have those now)

tem2: Mouldering snot... fun!

LJSingleto: What worked the best for me is having candy out and having a game of guessing how many M&M's

Amishka: candy always attracts kids

Hols: Lol. I'm just sitting here thinking how funny it is that we have to lure people to our tables. I'm picturing myself as an old woman one day saying, "Come here little boy. Want some candy?" lol

ClaraRose: LOL, HOLS!

^Libby: Verla, when you did your first free school visits, did you just contact the schools?

NOTE: This question was not answered at this time.

VerlaKay: For bookstore signings...

VerlaKay: I like the ones that are combined with a story hour for the kids

VerlaKay: you have a built in audience

VerlaKay: and they are there for a presentation, so they usually go over great

ToniB: I have an article about book store signings coming in the September CHILDREN'S WRITER.

VerlaKay: Hooray, Toni!

ToniB: Read it to learn more.

ToniB: I'm a genius at mining all my colleagues for suggestions and experiences :>

Verlie: ;-D LOL You'll have to read the book to find out.

BGLit: There are two authors I can currently think of who do everything right at appearances: Lemony Snickett and Chris Raschka. If you see either one is coming to your neighborhood, don't miss 'em!

elsbet: Lemony Snickett? I thought he had "someone else" stand in for him at signings

ToniB: LOL, els. It's his HANDLER, Don Handler :>

BGLit: els: the "someone else" is the author, pretending to be Lemony's lawyer

elsbet: ok- I really want to meet this guy- I loved his first book!

BGLit: He's a genius; his adult books are great too

Verlie: Lemony writes adult books? Under what name?

BGLit: Verlie: Daniel Handler. Look for THE BASIC EIGHT, it's a scream

Verlie: Thanks BGLit. :-)

VerlaKay: It's important to do a few things when you know you are going to be giving a presentation....

VerlaKay: First, Think POSITIVE

VerlaKay: Second, Plan your "attack" and then attack your plan!

VerlaKay: know what you are going to be doing/saying and then PRACTICE it

LJSingleto: Now what works for me at some events is having a quiz with clone questions

VerlaKay: what works really good for me with the kids at schools is telling them "how old I am"

VerlaKay: Kids LOVE to know how old you are!

elsbet: LOL, Verla

LJSingleto: I'm always happy to tell kids how old VERLA is (weg)

NOTE: weg = Wicked Evil Grin

MeredithW: LOL LJ!

Amishka: LOL

Amishka: Awk, do you tell the truth Verla?

VerlaKay: Here's what I tell them: I tell them I'm SO old....when I started school there was NO SUCH THING AS A COLOR TV

VerlaKay: the kids scream

MRSfields: my next function, I tell how old Verla is

Hols: lol

elsbet: you mean there is such a thing as COLOR TV???

VerlaKay: Then I tell them, there were no spaceships, no microwave ovens, no STEREOS

VerlaKay: No boomboxes, no COMPUTERS

tem2: Verla: I had no idea you were that old!!! :D

MeredithW: Verla--my stepdaughter didn't know how to use a rotary phone...

VerlaKay: they are positively screaming in agony at this point

MRSfields: No mammals

VerlaKay: LOL meredith

elsbet: LOL, MRS

hari-kary: lol

Amishka: LOL


VerlaKay: I tell them no Cable TV...

VerlaKay: and worst of all... NO NINTENDOS

elsbet: just primordial soup and Verla

VerlaKay: the kids LOVE it...

VerlaKay: by the time I'm done... they are eating out of my hands

Hols: ugh! No Nintendo! My son would die!

Hols: :)

VerlaKay: I tell them, when I was your age, we had to GO OUTSIDE to play!

MRSfields: In the beginning...was the KIA

Hols: lol Mrs

Elaine B: MRSFields - you may have a book there :)

VerlaKay: I'm looking for a roller skate with a skate key... I want to show that to them

NOTE: Verla now has this for her presentations. The kids love seeing an old roller skate, complete with skate key

^Libby: Verla, for your first free school visits, did you just call the schools and volunteer?

VerlaKay: yes, libby. Exactly!

VerlaKay: And they were very happy to have me come in and do free presentations for them. Since they were free, I didn't stress if everything didn't go perfectly at first. Also, I was able to get some good recommendations/endorsements to use when contacting other schools later for paid presentations.

LJSingleto: Something else I do is incorporate my holiday cards with bookmarks -- and sometimes I'll mail postcards in advance of a new book

ToniB: Libby, it's great to meet the librarian (or meet her/him by phone) and offer to do a free visit. I had an new Maine illustrator do that this fall.

LJSingleto: Another tip -- if you are speaking to promote, be sure to weave in part of your book to get them curious. I try to discuss the ones I hope to sell at talks.

^Libby: Verla, how far before the book comes out do you think authors should start doing these free school visits? Anybody else's opinions too, I'd love to hear.

ToniB: I think six months is the outside limit, Lib.

ToniB: You want to create excitement for the books.

^Libby: ToniB, by outside limit, do you mean the maximum time?

ToniB: Yep.

VerlaKay LOL! I started 3 1/2 years before my first book came out, Libby. But that's because I thought it was going to come out "on time." It wasn't released for 6 years! I agree with Toni… and I'd recommend starting them about six months before your book comes out so you have worked out the bugs in some of your presentations

VerlaKay: find something that will work for YOU. And you will find it by trying different things out on different audiences.

Elaine B: How much promoting across country do you do?

VerlaKay: Not much yet, Elaine B. I stay pretty close to home still. But I'm beginning to get asked to speak further away and I have hopes of being nationwide eventually

^Libby: What is the ideal time to start a website--time before book comes out.

ClaraRose: good job everyone

ToniB: At least a year, Libby.

LJSingleto: It never hurts to have a website, Lib -- if you have a book coming out, make people curious about it

VerlaKay: at least a year ahead, Libby... I'd recommend a year and a half to two years before your book comes out

ClaraRose: Cool

VerlaKay: I started my exactly one year before my first book came out and it was BARELY enough time

Hols: I know Randall has started to promote his book. He went to his first school visit recently. Sounds like it went really well.

Hols: Randall said he felt funny when the kids asked where his book was. I think I would feel the same way. But, you've reinforced in my mind, Verla how important promotion is even before a book comes out.

BGLit: Here's a rather extreme example, if Toni really wants to haul baggage around (literally). She could create a mock sea chest for her new book, so kids could see how the baby really did have a miraculous survival

ToniB: Barry, I HAVE a sea chest.

ToniB: But they're HUGE. I think that's going to have to be a slide :>

BGLit: Yea, Toni, but I bet the real thing weighs a ton =)

ToniB: I did buy a miniature one on e-bay.

ToniB: I'll have to get a miniature doll for it.

VerlaKay: a sea chest?

VerlaKay: LOL

ToniB: Yep, I have a big one and a miniature one.

ToniB: We're winding down, I see...

ToniB: Are there questions we forgot to answer?

VerlaKay: Oh... I think we are almost done...

Hols: lol Ami

VerlaKay: I want to thank everyone for coming...and especially Toni and Linda Joy for their wonderful expertise!

Hols: Thanks ladies!

BGLit: <cheers>

Amishka: Thank you all!

elsbet: Thanks Verla, Toni, ANd Lyra!

ToniB: Welcome!

LJSingleto: I feel like I didn't say enough -- just ask if there's anything missed, I'm sticking around

tem2: Thanks all.

MRSfields: Thanks

hari-kary: thanks

VerlaKay: Next month we have Barry Goldblatt leading our workshop!

VerlaKay: On May 8th!

BGLit: aww shucks, Verla, you'll make me blush =)

tem2: Ooo. That'll be good.

DeniP11: Thank you all! I now have a lot to think about.

^RoseM: Thanks..:)

Elaine B: Thanks, Toni

Elaine B: Thanks for humoring a new-comer!

VerlaKay: Children's Book Agent Extraordinaire


ClaraRose claps loudly

Verlie: 'nite everyone. It's been great. :-)

^Libby: Verla, ToniB, and LJ--thanks for the wonderful workshop!


--------END OF WORKSHOP------

---------INFO ABOUT ICL COURSE------

elsbet: Guest asked a question at the beginning about ICL

Elaine B: Yes, I'm still here and wondering about ICL I noticed Jan Fields also mentions it in her site and a member of the CW list said he was taking a course now and it was helping. I understand it's expensive - $500?

Elaine B: How do you share your work with them or do they just give you assignments?

LJSingleto: I think whever you can learn to write better, it's worth it. For me it was critique groups, writing groups, and reading voraciously.

VerlaKay: yes, it was, Verlie

elsbet: I have gotten great suggestions, and had things pointed out to me that I didn't get before.

VerlaKay: guest.. about your questions at the beginning of the evening.

VerlaKay: I think ICL is WONDEFUL

elsbet: I am taking the course, Elaine B- it seems to be helping, though I am not far into it

elsbet: It is expensive, but you get 6 college credits

elsbet: and they say that if it doesn't help you get published you get a full refund

elsbet: You are teamed up with a published author or an editor who guides you through your writing

elsbet: telling you what works and what doesn't

elsbet: I am learning to focus with my writing, too.

MRSfields: Their materials are very thorough and well written...and I like the way they approach writing, Guest

Elaine B: I'm the kind of person who is always attracted to learning experiences. I did this a lot in social work, but I want to be careful about getting carried away, investing a lot before I'm sure there will be some return. Does that make sense?

ClaraRose: yes, the material is VERY GOOD

VerlaKay: the course cut at least ten years off the time it would have taken me to get published, Guest. I'm sure of it.

Hols: Really, Verla? Wow.

Elaine B: Verla, why do you say?

elsbet: yes, guest- I had seen ICL's ads for years and thought they must be bogus, until I met people who had taken the course. They are legit and a wonderful school

VerlaKay: and the very first book I sold paid for the course multifold

MRSfields: ICL's marketing is a little over the top, but they are a good course...I was impressed with the materials...impressed enough to teach for them

elsbet: My great gram always said the more you cry the less you pee

VerlaKay: they taught me not only how to write well FOR CHILDREN but also how to market what I wrote, guest

Elaine B: Ok, you've convinced me the ICL is worth looking into. I noticed they have some sort of admissions test (wrong name, I know). Is this for real?

MRSfields: I think they are a little too aggressive...they almost look like a scam...I think they scare a lot of folks?

VerlaKay: oh, you mean their advertisements to get people to take the course! I thought you meant the part of the course that "teaches" how to market your stories.

PamelaRoss: I know many ICL teachers. They are a wonderful lot.

ClaraRose: yes, aptitude test - it is for real.

VerlaKay: yes, the test is for real, guest. But understand, that very few people can't LEARN to write well

ClaraRose: not everyone who takes it passes it.

VerlaKay: and that is what the test is see if you have the POTENTIAL to be a good writer

Elaine B: I have already written several manuscripts. I have shown one to a librarian thus far. I would like to find a critique group. How would the ICL help me compared to a critique group?

ClaraRose: much better than a critique group, Guest

VerlaKay: ICL will teach you to write to the best of your abilities, Guest. A critique group will help you with individual manuscripts

elsbet: guest- I am a member of three crit groups, and they are invaluable, but very different from what I get from ICL

hari-kary: Verla, think ICL will ever go to email lessons?

VerlaKay: I doubt it, hari-kary. Part of the course is teaching you patience for submissions!

VerlaKay: and how to let things "sit" and wait

VerlaKay: it's a full two year course, guest

Hols: I have no patience.

tem2: Does ICL have a course in patience?

Hols: But I don't think I can be taught.

BGLit: Patience, there's a good thing to teach. I actually had someone call me today about a submission they mailed last week!

Amishka: can I ask you about one I haven't mailed yet (G)

hari-kary: lol ami

Hols: lol

BGLit: Sorry, mish, my swami hat is at the cleaners, so no prognostication here

BGLit: Hols: Neither do I, but there's reasonable pursuit, and then there's insanity =)

tem2: Barry: Can I ask you about one I haven't finished writing yet, and why you haven't gotten back to me about it yet? :D

BGLit: tem: Oh, that one? I let the cat have it <g>

PamelaRoss: BG: You know cats tell no tales. ;>


NOTE: ROFL = Rolling On the Floor, Laughing

Elaine B: Do they look at what you have already written or just assignments they give. This still isn't clear.

VerlaKay: they teach you how to generate your own ideas using pictures as a starting point

VerlaKay: and a list of words

VerlaKay: basically, you write new stuff for the course

ClaraRose: lol, naw just waiting on the lessons to return. But, I'm getting used to it.

ClaraRose: Verla - I will likely finish in around a year - at least at the pace I seem to be going.

Elaine B: Wow, and do you ever use this in cover letters as a testament to your experience?

VerlaKay: I have mentioned in cover letters that I'm a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature, yes. Because people who have taken that course, as a rule, are very good!

VerlaKay: are you taking the shorter course, Clara? The 7 lesson one?

ClaraRose: nope -- but once I've sent an assignment, I read on and have the next one nearly ready by the time I get back the previous one.

VerlaKay: I took the one that was 12 lessons long... 10 lessons plus 10A and 10B

Elaine B: So, would the next step be to complete the "admissions test" (for lack of a better term)?

VerlaKay: yes, Elaine. But once you send that in, they will bombard you with encouragement to sign up for the prepared... don't do it unless you WANT to do the course.

ClaraRose: yes, Elaine. You can take it online -- but take your time with it.

Elaine B: Did you submit any mss while you were taking the course?

NOTE: mss = manuscripts

VerlaKay: yes, I sold my first short story right after finishing the course.

Hols: It's pretty expensive isn't it Verla?

VerlaKay: Yes, it is expensive, hols. but they have an easy pay plan... so much down, so much a month. It's "do-able" if you are determined to do it.

VerlaKay: and if you follow the course the way they tell you to do it, it will definitely help you to grow tremendously as a writer

Elaine B: Well, thanks for all that info about ICL

Hols: I think I'm at a point now where the ICL course wouldn't do me a lot of good. I'm getting about 80% personal rejects now. I just need to find someone who loves me.

VerlaKay: there's a lot of info available today on the web that wasn't there before.. but one of the big things the course does is get you to write on a regular basis and get you to submit

VerlaKay: and also.. it helps you to think of yourself as a serious writer.

VerlaKay: I still "LOVE" my first instructor

VerlaKay: she was so wonderful

Hols: I visited an ICL online workshop a while back. It was very interesting.

PamelaRoss: Who was it, Verla?

VerlaKay: Patricia Calvert

PamelaRoss: Oh I've seen her name in the booklet.

Hols: It sounds like a good course.

VerlaKay: it is, hols. VERY good.


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