Archives for the month of: August, 2013

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I’ll be heading north, way up north to Humboldt County (that’s an hour south of the Oregon border) in a little over two months! I’ve been invited back to the Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival, which happens in the middle of October.

http://www.authorfest.org/

The Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival began in 1975 with goals of bringing well-known, published authors to Humboldt County and enabling them to visit schools to talk with students about fantasy fiction books and the business and craft of writing, and to reinforce the idea that people create books and that children and students can write fantasy as well as read. Begun as a one-time festival, its popularity with kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and the general public was such that the festival evolved into a biennial event.

This October, 25 authors and illustrators will come to Humboldt from throughout California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, Florida and Indiana. They will travel to 60 Humboldt County schools, talk about themselves and their work to thousands of school children, and spend a day at a public autographing session in the Main Library in Eureka, where their fantasy dragon books can be purchased.

I can’t wait until October. 2011 was so much fun!

A testimonial:

“Conor and the Crossworlds is the perfect blend of fantasy and adventure.
Action around every corner! Conor is my favorite character for his courage and bravery. People can relate to him.” – Andrew – Portland, Oregon

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
ConorandtheCrossworlds

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ImageGreat!

You’ve emailed the librarian kit, snail-mailed some fantasy fiction book cover posters, and encouraged the librarian to pick a few fantasy dragon illustrations for the coloring contest.

Now comes your part. Make sure YOU are ready when the date arrives for your author talk. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Books – do you have enough YA books on hand for the visit? If yes, great, but if you don’t, make certain you give enough lead time for the order. You don’t want the books for a school visit to arrive the day after you make your presentation.

     Make sure you bring enough adventure books! I always bring too many, but I don’t ever want to run out. If you’re selling a series, make sure you order a lot of the first book, and a handful of the rest. Some students will buy a new series of books, but most will want to read the first book and then see if they want to continue.

2. Giveaways – I bring posters, postcards, and sometimes t-shirts to the schools. I don’t sell these items, but I do give them away as prizes (posters and t-shirts), or just as freebies (postcards). Kids love free stuff, and the librarian is overjoyed when she sees her students excited at an event.

3. Reminders – I set at least three reminders in my outlook calendar; one for book orders, one a week ahead of time, and one two days before the event. I’ve never missed an author talk, and hopefully I never will.

     I said this in a recent post about school visits – VIEW IT HERE – if you think you’re early, go to the venue anyway. I was way down in the south one winter and showed up late twice when I thought I had time to drive around before I was supposed to be there. Don’t ever do that, early is always better than late.

4. Media – Contact every media source in the surrounding area. If you can get any type of coverage it will be a huge bonus for you. It’s hard to get them to pay attention unless you’re published by one of the biggies, but hey, a little time spent could go a long way if somebody bites.

5. A/V equipment and presentation – run through everything the night before your visit. Better to find out that something needs to be tweaked ahead of time rather than fifteen minutes before your start time at the school.

And remember to have fun!

A testimonial:

“I love the Conor and the Crossworlds books because in an instant Conor’s life goes from ordinary to getting to experience being in an alternate world beyond imagination. When Conor starts gaining abilities from serving as a warrior for the Crossworlds creators, it makes me wish I could escape to an alternate world of my own and meet majestic cougars like Purugama. The third book “Surviving an Altered World” is my favorite because of the quest for the five keys. The plot for the third book was awesome and the scavenger hunt that the author did for the five keys that went across the United States was a lot of fun! That’s why I love the Conor and Crossworlds books. Not only that but I’ve always liked writing, thanks to this series I am inspired to write so much more!” – Jade – Lumberton, Mississippi

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

One of my favorite librarians, Judy, has once again moved to a new school. People must know that she straightens out every library she’s hired to oversee, so she gets hired a lot!

She loves her libraries, her students, and her YA books (not to mention her middle grade authors), and she just landed at a local high school. I’ll be giving a talk there in September, and it will be my first at this level. I’ve stuck to middle and elementary schools to this point because that’s how old my characters are, and I’ve heard that kids like to “read up,” which means they like to read fantasy dragon stories about characters that are older.

She hasn’t worked there for more than a week, and she’s begun a program called “Literary Lunch in the Library.” How cool is that? I’ll be her first adventure books author, and I’ll talk to the students about self-publishing and how to write fantasy for e-books.

One of my goals this year is to get Diego’s Dragon accepted by the Accelerated Reader program. Librarians can make this happen just by filling out a form on their website. Perhaps Judy can help me accomplish this – we’ll see.

At any rate, I’m always happy to help her. She’s been with me since the beginning.

A testimonial:

“Hi, it’s Ryan. Big fan!!!!!!!!! Love the books, but, I’m thinking you should make a movie. I want to see what colors the places are, I want to see how big they are. I can see the pictures; I just see them in black and white. And I’m almost done with the second book. I met you at the Clairemont branch Library 50th Celebration. That’s where we bought the first book. Who won the key thing, or is it still going on? Please reply…” – Ryan – San Diego, California

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

ImageWhew!

Here we go again. A few months ago I decided to take my distributor up on their offer of a free hardcover setup for my latest adventure book. If I’d done it correctly the first time it would have been free, but after mistakes one, two, and three, it’s getting pretty expensive. Last night I reloaded the cover again. Now I wait for the proof and hold my breath.

I have a friend in Los Angeles who writes a very good newsletter. In a recent edition he made this comment, “I think I’m getting the hang of this publishing thing.” He’s worked very hard on his craft and has signed a handful of good authors. He does what the big six publishers do to create, distribute, and promote the books under his imprint. He’s a mentor to me, and I’m proud of what he’s accomplished.

I’m learning a lot, but I don’t think I’m “getting the hang of this publishing thing” just yet. Perhaps with a little more time and a few dozen clones of myself I’ll find the best way to launch a new book series. For now I’ll keep an open mind.

My latest push to promote Diego’s fantasy dragons story is into schools in the country of Mexico and Blogs for YA and middle grade fantasy fiction books. There are about 2000 Blogs, give or take a score. If I can find some good ones and they like Diego’s story, perhaps they’ll share it with others, and the fire will spread about one of the latest children’s books to hit the shelves.

But first I have to see if I’ll be going to a fifth proof on the Spirits of the Sun hardcover.

Here’s a testimonial:

“I just love the Conor and the Crossworlds books! When I pick them up I can’t put them down! I feel like I’m in another world!”
Jocelyn – Manchester, New Hampshire

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

ImageAwesome!

Now you have a school librarian who’s excited about your fantasy fiction books visit, and she’s set a date! The next item on the agenda is to give her a ton of work to do to make the author talk as great as it can be, right?

ERRRRRRRRR – wrong!

You better make the process as effortless as possible for her. She has enough to do, trust me. Give her assignments, yes, but make them fun so she won’t mind expending the energy to tell everyone about the fantasy dragons author who’s coming to visit. She loves her library and she loves her students, and she wants to put on a great show for them. It’s your job to help her do that, and to do as much as you can to take the load off of her shoulders.

Sure, there will be some librarians that just grab the ball and run with it, and that’s great, but they will be few and far between. For the others, and that will be most of them, you need to carry the water. They’ll love you for it.

Remember, you have a librarian kit with all kinds of cool YA book stuff she can use to prepare for the visit. Send it to her EARLY, and ask a few times leading up to the visit if there’s anything else you can do. Don’t be a pest, but let her know you’re there for her to help her shine.

Okay? Now go set up that talk, and tell a giant group of kids about the top new fantasy books in the state!

A testimonial:

“I’m from the high school in Burlington, Vermont, that you visited. I didn’t really get a chance to properly thank you, so I’d like to do that now. Not only is your series, Conor and the Crossworlds, one of the most imaginative, brilliant and overall best fantasy reads ever, you’ve also inspired me to write more than I can ever express. Keep speaking at schools; you’re very motivating. I’m so grateful for your stories and kind words.
Thank you!” – Matt – Burlington, Vermont

Kevin Gerard
http://www.diegosdragon.com
http://www.conorandthecrossworlds.com
twitter – @DiegosDragon
Facebook – Kevin Gerard

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There are more prizes in the book three contest for Diego’s fantasy dragon series. The winner gets $100. Second place gets $50. The third and fourth place entries will each get $25. All four get their names on the publishing page in the book.

Create the subtitle of Diego’s next fantasy fiction novel. It has to be something that reflects the story.

In the 16th century, the Spanish Conquistadors are sailing to the Americas to find Diego’s ancestors, the Aztecs. If history repeats itself and the Aztecs are destroyed, Diego’s people will suffer in the present time. If the Sol Dragones can stop the Conquistadors, they can save everyone in the present.

Think of a cool subtitle that reflects this plot. So far, Battle at Tenochtitlan is the best subtitle.

You remember book one, when Diego and Magnifico had to rescue the souls of those who’d died in the deserts between Mexico and America? That subtitle is “Spirits of the Sun.”

And book two, where the Sol Dragones had to battle Vipero’s army of dragons, that came from a place called the Dark Rift? That subtitle is “Dragons of the Dark Rift.”

Think about the plot for this YA book and create a subtitle.

Send all entries to this email address:
kevin@cryingcougarpress.com
Put “Diego Book Three Entry” in the subject line. Make sure and tell me your name, what grade you’re in, and the name of your school.

Check out the web page for complete rules and explanations:

http://www.diegosdragon.com/cooladventurebookscontests.html

Good luck with the top new fantasy book series around!

Onward!

ImageRule #3 is simple – if you can’t nail down a date for an author talk in three phone calls with a librarian, thank her very much and move on to the next school.

School librarians have been squeezed like no other in the last few years. They are being asked to do more while having their hours cut, and that means administration, book purchases, managing teacher requests, you name it, and they’re bombarded constantly by book dealers trying to sell titles.

Another factor is the school administration. Some principals just roll right over faculty and staff. The bottom line is their only consideration. That makes sense in our world of ever diminishing school budgets, but when a librarian tells them about a free event and they brush them off without a word, that’s tough to swallow.

With all due respect to the wonderful school librarians out there, if they can’t set a date, they surely won’t be able to do everything else to arrange and execute a great visit.

Wish them well and call the next school about the top new fantasy books around.

A testimonial:

I love your fantasy fiction books so much! — Tanner — Palm Desert Charter School

http://www.diegosdragon.com
http://www.conorandthecrossworlds.com

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Okay – now you have a school librarian on the phone, and you have 60 seconds to get her interested in having you present a talk about the top new fantasy books to her students.

1. Allay her fears immediately – tell her you visit schools for free because you know how strapped budgets are – she’ll love you for that.

2. Ask her if she’d be interested in a fantasy fiction book librarian kit you’ve put together over the years, which includes a handful of black and white illustrations she can use to host a coloring contest for her students.

3. Ask her when the best time would be for a presentation, or presentations, at her school. Tell her at this point you are free on the following days.

4. Ask her if there’s anything you can do to help organize the visit. Offer to send her anything she likes, even fantasy dragon illustrations, and tell her she can share them with the language arts teachers.

Many times, librarians are operating under administrative constraints. You’ll have to be patient while she works things out. It’s worth it, though, especially when it results in a great author talk.

“Hi there,

My son bought 2 books, Spirits of the Sun and Dragons of the Dark Rift, and is loving them! We were wondering when you will be at the market off Melrose again and if they are always on special if you buy them in person?
 
Thanks — Adina”

http://www.diegosdragon.com
http://www.conorandthecrossworlds.com

ImageDo you write fantasy or YA books? Are you planning on calling any school librarians this fall, hoping you’ll convince them to invite you for an author talk about the top new fantasy books around? Here’s rule #1 – listen to what they say when they answer the phone.

a. If they say they have students with them, politely tell them you’ll call another time and let them go.

b. If they say they’re busy or they’re having lunch, politely ask them if you can call back and when.

c. If they agree to give you a minute, make sure you give a quality 60 second pitch. Write it, practice it, and revise and practice it again.

You might only get one chance to convince them that your talk about fantasy dragons is something they and their students would love to experience!

A testimonial — ..

My name is Eric and I like your book, “Diego’s Dragon” a lot. My teacher brought the book to class yesterday.  He says he bought it at the La Jolla Farmer’s Market on Sunday. I think you are a good author because your book is really good.

http://www.diegosdragon.com

It’s rare when something works out exactly as I’d planned it. When it does, the world seems okay.

Some of you know Jesse the WonderCat, my five year old, orange tabby, best buddy in life? And if you follow me at all, you know I’ve wanted to get a playmate for him for some time. Well I did, and now he has a young little buddy who used to be called Braveheart. I don’t have the “heart” to tell the couple I got him from that his name has been changed to “Jelly.”

Yep – that Jelly – the funny mafia guy from the movie “Analyze This.” Cats need names that end in an “eee” sound. I thought of Houdini because I could never find him, then Crazy because of the way he screams all over the house. I was with my wife the other day and she said “Jelly,” and it stuck.

So now it’s Jesse and Jelly, the two buddies. I’ll post pictures on my WordPress Blog from time to time.

Onward!