This summer the kids at our local pool are busily weaving rubber band bracelets using something called the Rainbow Loom®. These looms aren’t easy to come by. You can only find them at Learning Express, a handful of independent shops, or online which means it takes a little extra effort to acquire one. Has this deterred the craze? Not one bit. As I sit under my umbrella, kids ranging in age from five to fifteen huddle around nearby tables weaving between dips in the pool. And while the kids swim, their mothers sneak turns on the loom.
It wasn’t like this in early June. Then, only one or two kids had looms, but when the other kids tried the looms, excitement spread. Kids asked their moms if they could have looms. Moms took the time to seek out the looms. More kids saw and tried the looms. More moms went shopping and the craze was on! Sitting here now, I’m surrounded by looms. My daughter (whose fingers and wrist are pictured above) is busily weaving bracelets for every possible holiday. Her enthusiasm is contagious and several kids have stopped by to admire her handiwork.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be thrilled if my debut picture book enjoyed the same popularity as the Rainbow Loom®. So, what’s the secret to such smashing success?
First, you need a great product. For picture books this means creating engaging stories with wonderful illustrations that spark readers imaginations and make them want to read the story again and again.
Second, the product needs to be readily available. As the Rainbow Loom® proves, however, this doesn’t mean our books must figure prominently in every national bookstore. They must, however, be available enough places so that our readers can easily acquire them.
But what’s the most important factor, in my opinion? The kid-talk! Rainbow Looms® have taken over our pool because kids spread the word. So, how do we get kids (and their parents) excited about our books? By interacting with them! This means scheduling book signings and readings. It means getting into classrooms with in-person or Skype visits (as Tara Lazar did so beautifully in my daughter’s class). Using social media like Twitter and Facebook is another way to get the word out and generate some interactive excitement.
As a first-time picture book author with a launch date of next August (’14), I’d love to hear your ideas. What have you done or seen done that effectively generates excitement about newly published books and gets kids and parents talking? Let the comments begin! =)