ORGANIZING a BOOK LAUNCH: Notebook Style!

In just under four months my seventh children’s book, Happy Birthday Christmas Child, published by Paraclete Press and illustrated by Gabi Murphy will release.  For a couple of months already, I have been busy preparing for release day. And as I have been doing so, I’m realizing that over the course of these seven books, I have hit upon a strategy that really works for me in terms of keeping track of all the many moving parts that go into successfully welcoming a new book into the world.  The moving parts include communicating with the publisher to see what their plans are and complementing/enhancing those with your own publicity efforts including setting up social media/blog/podcast opportunities, building and working with a launch team, setting up in-person and virtual book events at stores, schools etc., creating ancillary materials for your book like lessons, activities, etc. and more. 

All this can seem a bit daunting, but I think I’ve found a way to keep it manageable. What’s my secret?  For each of my books I have created a book launch notebook which serves as ground control for all aspects of the launch.  And today, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek into how I have organized it. 

Here’s the cover. There’s logic behind this colorful cover.  I want it to stand out and be easy to find. Having it be book-themed and cute is also motivating to me to persevere with my planning because good things come to those who plan ahead.

Small (but not too small). I have chosen a 5”by 7” notebook with a thick and sturdy cover so it’s small enough to toss into my bag and carry with me, but not so flimsy as to slip between the cushions of my sofa which happened with my first book launch notebook and, oh my, but I was stressed before I found it again!

Front page.  Here I have clearly noted the title of the book that is releasing, the publisher as well as two over-arching goals. 

Five Sections. The notebook is divided into five sections, each marked for now with a post-it, though I may switch those for paper clips as I get going, for extra easy flipping.

Section One: Events. This section has two parts. 

The first is a summary page which will be filled in later, once I have all my events in place so I can list them in date order. This page also include columns with each book title so I can note how many books were sold as a result of each event. (It’s fun to look back and see the grand total of sales I directly influenced over the years and also is good for analysing what worked well (or didn’t) at each event.)

The second is a large, continuing section where I make notes on each of the events as I set them up.  I also fill in dream destinations and then see if I can make them happen. 

Section Two: Blog, Podcasts, Press etc.  This also has two sections. 

The first is a summary page, which again I will fill in later, once I have everything in place.  It will include the date, venue, and topic with the goal of reaching a range of target audiences including teachers, librarians, parents, faith-based ministries, writers and more.  I will also strive for a range of topics and formats so it all feels fresh and fun. 

The second, again, is a large, continuing section where I make notes on each of opportunities as I set them up. I also leave open boxes for dream opportunities and then see if I can make them happen (such as being on a nationally or regionally syndicated show! A girl can dream, right?)

Section Three: Launch Team. This section is for contacts, who aren’t necessarily bloggers etc, but who are active in their communities and who have said they’d be happy to help spread word about my newest book. This list typically includes teachers, librarians, directors, friends, moms in the thick of the preschool years etc.  Again it includes two parts. The first is a list of who they are. The second is a list of tasks/requests for them to do (if they so choose). All efforts are voluntary and doing even just one or two helps!  The tasks include things like telling three friends about the book, suggesting it for purchase at local libraries and schools, taking a picture reading the book and then sharing on social media, writing a Goodreads review etc. 

Section Four: Libraries This is where I record libraries that I or others have reached out to to recommend the book for acquisition – along with a column for the result.  

Section Five: Daily Actionable Steps  This is the secret sauce to the success of the launch.  It’s also what keeps everything manageable.  The secret?  I set myself a goal to take two manageable/actionable steps per day towards reaching my book launch goals and I record them at the back of the notebook, working from the last page towards the front.  I simply record the action taken. This can be as small as reaching out to a venue or creating an order form for a school visit.  Just two small steps per day, recorded at the back of the notebook.  Each daily effort is entered in the left hand column, with the eventual result in the right hand column.  Keeping this list helps me remember what small steps I have taken and serves as a reminder for what I need to follow up on until I have a result.  

And that’s my notebook!  Anyone else have something similar?  I’d love to hear what works for you or if you plan on giving something like this a try. Happy Monday, all. 

Happy BOOK Birthday, BUNNY FINDS EASTER!

Hip! HOP! Hooray!

It’s on its way!  

BUNNY FINDS EASTER

Releases today! 

Here’s the book scoop on this new board book from Zonderkidz written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek: 

As Bunny bounces through her day she encounters various items that are connected to Easter including colorful Easter eggs, hot cross buns, an Easter bonnet, lilies and an Easter Egg Hunt. All these are fun, but it’s not until she arrives at church and all rise to sing the good news of Easter that Bunny realizes what it’s really about — Jesus!

BUNNY FINDS EASTER is:

  • For ages 0-4
  • A board book perfect for little hands, and in a size that works great for lap reading
  • Ideal for Easter gift-giving and fits perfectly in an Easter basket
  • A conversation starter for a discussion of the true meaning of Easter

This book has an extra special place in my heart because it reminds us that Easter is about Jesus! I hope it is read and enjoyed by little bunnies, er I mean, little ones and their families, for years to come!

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook.com or from your favorite retailer.

BUNNY FINDS EASTER: Schedule a FREE Author Visit!

Hip-HOP-Hooray!  BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz) releases February 1, 2022. Told in bouncy rhyme, BUNNY FINDS EASTER is about a little rabbit on a quest to find out what Easter is all about. Is it about chocolate eggs and jelly beans or might it just be about a little bit more?  Light and fun, I think it’s the perfect introduction for littlest ones that Easter is about Jesus – he is the gift of Easter.

In celebration of the book’s release, I have a special offer!

From now through April 30th, 2022, I am offering free 20-minute BUNNY FINDS EASTER author visits to the TEN first groups who reach out to me via the contact tab. This special visit is ideal for preschools, church ministries, homeschool coops etc. and can be in–person or VIRTUAL.

IMPORTANT DETAILS:

For each FREE 20-minute BUNNY FINDS EASTER visit I will:

  1. Introduce the story with the help of Bunny and an Easter basket full of the items we will encounter in the story including colorful eggs, lilies, Easter candies and more.
  1. Engage the children in an interactive reading.
  1. Review the message of the story by re-examining the items in our basket to see how each reminds us of Easter and God’s love. 

REQUEST:  

The visit is free, but I respectfully request that you purchase a copy the book for your class/church library and that you offer families the opportunity to purchase copies as well. I do not sell my own books, but they are available through the major online vendors as well as your favorite local indie book stores. To help spread word to families, I can provide an order form for schools/groups to collect and order as a group from the vendor of your choosing. Be sure keep a list of first names for book inscriptions and, as a thank you, I will provide a signed and personalized book plate for each book purchased!

I look forward to spreading Easter joy in this special way.  

Pre-Order Your SIGNED Copy of BUNNY FINDS EASTER

Will you help my new board book BUNNY FINDS EASTER make a BIG SPLASH when it releases next month by pre-ordering your copy today? I didn’t realize with my first two books just how important pre-orders can be in capturing the attention of readers, booksellers, reviewers and more. As I have now learned, those pre-order sales get included in the sales numbers for the first week of the book’s release. High numbers can influence how many runs a book has, whether it makes a best-selling list and more. All good and fun stuff!

So, if you are thinking of purchasing copies of BUNNY FINDS EASTER (which is the perfect size for Easter baskets, just saying), I would be delighted if you would consider pre-ordering it from your favorite book store.  It is for little ones ages 0 – 4.

Or…. if you want SIGNED copies, my favorite indie has a special deal for you! If you PRE-ORDER my new book from The Town Book Store, in Westfield, NJ, any time between NOW and February 1st (the book’s release day), owner Anne Laird is offering a 10% discount off the retail price.  Simply mention that you want the “BUNNY FINDS EASTER DISCOUNT”.

If this interests you, please call the store. Be sure to explain that you would like to have the book signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books.  Depending on where you live, you can either pick them up in-store at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details.

You can reach The Town Book Store at (908) 233-3535. You can also email the owner, Anne, at anne@townbookstore.com. Either way, remember to ask for the “BUNNY FINDS EASTER” discount.

Thank you, The Town Book Store, for making this possible and thank you, readers, for supporting my books!

NOTE: If you are long-distance and prefer to order from the vendor of your choice, I’m also happy to make arrangements for a signed book plate to be sent to you by sending me a SASE. Just let me know and we can make that happen.

Happy Book Birthday LITTLE EWE! (Plus FIVE FUN FACTS)

Baah! Baah! Yay! 

It’s on its way!  

Sweet LITTLE EWE

Releases today! 

Here’s the official description from Beaming Books:

Little Ewe would rather jump on logs and investigate spider webs than follow the shepherd when he calls. But what happens when she gets lost? How will she find her way home? Told in whimsical rhyme, this humorous counting book for our littlest ones is a delightful reminder that, like a loving parent, our Shepherd will find us and care for us, even when we wander from the path.

In Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep, award-winning author Laura Sassi and illustrator Tommy Doyle tell an endearing tale of a distracted sheep and her persistent shepherd, inspired by the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15.”

This book has an extra special place in my heart because I am so grateful for the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who cares for us unfailingly! I hope the book is read and enjoyed by little sheep and their flocks, er I mean, little ones and their families, for years to come!

Now, to celebrate its release, join me over on Glenys Nellist’s blog as I share five fun facts about the book. And in the extra fun category, she’s organized a three-book giveaway! So grab a cup of tea and head on over. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link.

LITTLE EWE Book Launch Party Craft: MAKE YOUR OWN FLUFFY LITTLE EWE!

All my book launch parties up until now have been in-person, but this year is different! This year I’m having a virtual party, but one that I hope will feel just as fun as the in-person version. To give it that “in-person” feel, I’m keeping all the elements of an in-person party including a story time (of course!), games, a snack (virtual of course) and a craft!

I’ll explain about the snack as we get closer, but I wanted to share the craft today so you can be sure to have all the items on hand for the party. The materials are easy to gather and if you are local, it’ll be extra easy because I’m putting together party craft kits which you can pick up at The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ starting later this week.

Now for the craft:

PARTY TIME CRAFT: MAKE YOUR OWN FLUFFY LITTLE EWE! 

Inspired by illustrator Tommy Doyle’s sweet rendering of Little Ewe with a red kerchief, our launch party craft will be to create our own Little Ewes. 

To make one, each child will need:

  • a cut out of lamb body (approx 2.5” x 1.5”) from card stock with three holes punched for legs and bow (as shown) 
  • two cotton balls
  • two six inch-long chenille sticks
  • a piece of yarn or ribbon (about 8 inches)
  • markers and glue. 

Here are the steps:

Begin by coloring in Little Ewe’s face on the cardboard body. Be sure to color in both sides.

Next, have each child thread the yarn through the hole at the top and tie into a bow. This will be Little Ewe’s “kerchief”.

Next, fold each 6” chenille stick in half and gently twist together to create sturdy legs, as shown.

Let each child thread a twisted strand through the front leg hole. Stop half way, then bend in half and twist (like you would a twist-tie) to secure in place.  Adjust the ends to form two short legs. Repeat for back leg hole.

Stretch and fluff the cotton balls. Then, using fingers or toothpicks, apply tacky glue to the front and back of the little lamb body and press. Let dry.

Baa-ahh! Your fluffy Little Ewe is finished and ready for a game of “Oh,where is Little Ewe?” (Rules for that can be found in the activity kit.

As a closing reminder, this is the adorable craft that I’ll be presenting at the Little Ewe Book Launch Party which will take place LIVE on my Author Facebook Page on Thursday, February 25th at 7pm eastern.  Here’s the event link for that or you can just “like” my Facebook author page and then you’ll be sure to get all the updates for this and other bookish things.  

You’re Invited to a VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for LITTLE EWE!

Click here to get to the event page on Facebook. If you mark yourself as “interested” or “going”, then you will receive a reminder on Facebook so you don’t miss it. It can also be viewed after the event.

Who’s ready for a party? I am and so is Little Ewe. That’s why we’re inviting “ewe” to join us for a FACEBOOK LIVE BOOK PARTY on Thursday, February 25th at 7pm Eastern to celebrate the release of LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP (Beaming Books, February 23, 2021). Enjoy a reading, games, a virtual snack (inspired by Little Ewe’s taste buds) and a simple book-inspired craft. To access the party, simply stop by my Facebook Author Page at 7pm Eastern on the 25th.

BUT, WAIT. THERE’S MORE!!! Since SIGNED copies are part of the fun, I’m delighted to share that my local independent books store, The Town Book Store in Westfield New Jersey, will have copies available for purchase and I will come in and sign any books that are ordered through them. Anne, the owner, is even offering a 10% off the book if you mention the “LITTLE EWE DISCOUNT”.

If this interests you, please call the store or stop in to order LITTLE EWE. Be sure to explain that you would like to have the book signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books.  Depending on where you live, you can either pick them up in-store or curbside at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details. 

You can reach The Town Book Store at (908) 233-3535. You can also email the owner, Anne, at anne@townbookstore.com. Either way, remember to ask for the “LITTLE EWE DISCOUNT”.

NOTE: If you are long-distance and prefer to order from your own local book shop, I’m also happy to make arrangements for a signed book plate to be sent to you. Just let me know.

HOLD ON… THERE’S EVEN MORE!!! The craft is all ready! We’ll be making our own fluffy Little Ewes and then I’ll explain how they can be used to play a game. It’s all going to be so, so cute and so, so fun. (Just saying.) You can find craft instructions here. Local people can also pick up craft kits at the Town Book Store beginning February 10th and while supplies last. Here’s picture of the craft.

SPECIAL OFFER: Pre-Order Your SIGNED Copy of LITTLE EWE!

Will you help my new book LITTLE EWE make a BIG SPLASH when it releases next month by pre-ordering your copy today?  I didn’t realize with my first two books just how important pre-orders can be in capturing the attention of readers, booksellers, reviewers and more. As I have now learned, pre-orders are important because those sales get included in the sales numbers for the first week of the book’s release. High numbers can influence how many runs a book has, whether it makes a best-selling list and more. All good and fun stuff!

So, if you are thinking of purchasing copies of my newest book, LITTLE EWE, I would be delighted if you would consider pre-ordering it from your favorite book store.  Or…. if you want SIGNED copies,  my favorite indie has a special deal for you!

If you PRE-ORDER my new book from The Town Book Store, in Westfield, NJ, any time between NOW and February 23rd (the book’s release day), owner Anne Laird is offering a 10% discount off the retail price.  Simply mention that you want the “LITTLE EWE DISCOUNT”.

If this interests you, please call the store to order LITTLE EWE. Be sure to explain that you would like to have the book signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books.  Depending on where you live, you can either pick them up in-store at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details.

I thought this was a nice way to make signed copies available, support a wonderful independent book store, and encourage pre-orders!

You can reach The Town Book Store at (908) 233-3535. You can also email the owner, Anne, at anne@townbookstore.com.  Either way, remember to ask for the “LITTLE EWE DISCOUNT”.

Thank you, The Town Book Store, for making this possible and thank you, readers, for supporting my books!

NOTE: If you are long-distance and choose to order from the vendor of your choice, I’m also happy to make arrangements for a signed book plate to be sent to you. Just let me know.

NOW BOOKING: Author Visits and Speaking Engagements

As part of getting reading for the release of LITTLE EWE next month, I’ve been spiffing up my blog. Part of that has included adding a new tab devoted to author visits and speaking engagements. You can access the tab using the menu option (if you are on your phone) or by simply looking at the tabs above if you are on your computer or laptop. I’m also sharing the information in today’s blog post. Looking forward to set up some great events in 2021! Here’s the info:

I would be delighted to visit your preschool, daycare, elementary school, community organization, church, MOPS or women’s group for a story time, author talk, workshop, or other creative program.

SCHOOL VISITS: For school/library visits, I can do any/all of the following (or something different that we work out together):

  • Read the story of your choice, using puppets to help with the story telling.
  • Celebrate the special ability of picture books to tell a story using both pictures and words! Demonstrate that neither is complete without the other.
  • Take the children on the engaging journey a book takes from inspiration to publication (and get them excited about their own writing too!)
  • Share interesting “artifacts” related to the book including early drafts and sketches, proofs, folded galleys and more.
  • Participate in a Q&A session 

AUTHOR TALKS: I love speaking with church groups, MOPS groups, community groups etc. Topics I’ve spoken on include (but are not limited to):

  • The power of story to connect us with others in meaningful ways
  • Behind the scenes: one author’s journey into books
  • The Gift: an inspirational message and testimony plus tips for sparking meaningful faith conversations with our children

WRITING TALKS:  I also love connecting with children’s book writers. My topics include:

  • Writing in rhyme
  • Making the most of the picture book format
  • Using feedback to improve your craft
  • Examining and employing different story structures in picture books
  • Exploring the ins and outs of the submission process 
  • and more…

For information on fees and scheduling, or any other questions you might have, contact me.

Happy Monday, all!

LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP – Six LOVELY Endorsements!

I was looking at the LITTLE EWE page on Amazon and was delighted to spot a new addition: six endorsements for this upcoming title. I’ve never had endorsements before and I’m very grateful. They are one tool a publisher uses to introduce a new book into the world.

And now, with the permission of Beaming Books, I’m delighted to share those endorsements here. I hope they inspire you to pre-order your copy of the book. And a big thank you to the endorsers for their thoughtful descriptions and recommendations.

“This adorable counting book incorporates the parable of the Lost Sheep and teaches little ones about the Shepherd’s love. With sweet rhyming text and colorful illustrations, parents will smile when their child says, “Read it again!” –– Crystal Bowman, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for Preschoolers and My Mama and Me.

“Meet Little Ewe and Shepherd in this perfectly penned rhyming, counting tale. A charming new take on an old story.”   — Glenys Nellist, author of author of over 20 children’s books including Little Mole Finds Hope and Little Mole’s Christmas Gift.

“Count along with Little Ewe as she explores the countryside in this beautiful picture book for young readers. Ignoring her shepherd, Little Ewe encounters spooky eyes and other captivating creatures. Caregivers and children alike will enjoy the reminder that when we feel lost and alone, our Shepherd’s love is always near and comforting.”  — Tina Cho, author of Rice from Heaven, My Breakfast with Jesus, and The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

“From the engaging rhythm to the emotive illustrations, Little Ewe provides parents, teachers, and leaders with a powerful tool for sharing this seemingly simple retelling of the story of the Shepherd—and that one lost sheep. Kiddos will no doubt bounce and count along to the beat, while internalizing the unconditional love of a Shepherd who is always looking for that one mischievous little ewe.” —Amy Parker, Bestselling Author & Podcast Host

“Wrapped in lilting rhyme and inviting illustrations, Little Ewe is a delightful and poignant tale of God’s love for each one. Surrounded by a clever cast of characters and engaging numeric climb, we find our sweet Ewe in need of rescue that only the Shepherd can bring. Kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy the adventure again and again.” –– Becky Kopitzke, author of The Cranky Mom Fix and The SuperMom Myth

“Little Ewe skips away from her herd on her own counting adventure under the watchful eye of the Good Shepherd. Though her distractions lead her to a dark place where she is hungry and alone, the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to bring her back in a ‘Shepherd’s hug.’  This parable for young readers not only teaches numbers but the healing power of reconciliation.” — Rev. Elizabeth Wilder, Lead Pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church & School, Maplewood, Minnesota

It won’t be long now, until “ewe” too can read LITTLE EWE because it releases in just over three months –– February 23, 2021!

Please consider PRE-ORDERING your copy today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, Indiebound.com or the vendor of your choice because pre-orders really do make a difference. If you do, let me know, and I’ll add you to my list of folks to send the pre-release link for the activity kit when it’s ready.