Guest Blog by Nancy Tandon
Nancy Tandon launched two middle grade novels, including her debut, in 2022.
24 Carrot Writing is excited to have Nancy guest blog for us today. She is sharing the details behind the creative events she hosted and how she pulled off two very different book launches.
Speaking at an NESCBWI conference years ago, Jarrett Krosoczka imparted this sage advice to the gathered kidlit writers: “You get one book launch.”
He was talking about the fact that your first book launch usually ends up looking very much like an episode of “This Is Your Life,” with friends and family turning out in large numbers to support the culmination of your hard work. My takeaway was: enjoy the heck out of it, and don’t expect to get the same reaction with subsequent launches.
That day in the audience, I never imagined that I’d be launching two debut middle grade novels in one year! Like many aspiring authors, I’d been dreaming for a long time about hosting my own book event. But when things became real, I felt a bit overwhelmed about the particulars such as location and what the heck I was actually supposed to do and say if people showed up. Spoiler alert: they did! And people are going to show up for you, too. So, here are a few tips to consider when you are headed into your own countdown.
My first novel, THE WAY I SAY IT, arrived on the scene in January 2022. Because the threat of Covid spread was still high, I knew I’d have to get creative with both the location and ways for people to access the event. I wanted attendees to feel safe, but I also desperately wanted to celebrate this long-delayed moment. My local indie bookstore (River Bend Bookshop in Glastonbury, CT) is an amazing but very small space. A winter event in an adorable house-sized bookstore was not going to work.
or example, since you may have folks that cannot attend in person, consider asking the bookstore if they can add a virtual component to your launch. That way you'll be sure even Aunt Sally in Idaho can be there for your big moment. For my hybrid launch, River Bend staff were key in setting up a way for guests to join the event virtually. They created an Eventbrite link, handled the registrations, and on the day of the launch ran all the tech for me. All I had to do was remember to turn to the webcam and smile! And even if technology is not a terrifying black hole for you, let the bookstore staff (or some other competent friend) take the lead on any virtual/high-tech components. That way you can concentrate on being fabulous!
If for any reason your local bookstore’s space isn’t the best setting for you, don’t be afraid to speak to them about partnering at a different venue. Maybe a park, ballfield or a community center would better fit the mood of your book and be more appealing to your launch audience. Libraries are another great (and low-cost) idea, and you may pick up audience members just by centering your event in a book-loving space. Get creative! But do also think about logistics such as bathrooms, acoustics, and seating. Remember, you are hosting guests.
For people showing up in-person at my January launch, I wanted to make leaving their homes on a cold winter day worth it. I had snacks (individually packaged), games, prizes, and a photo booth. Games and prizes were themed to scenes from the book (such as a magnetic dart board because that’s what the main character plays during speech therapy and a “Guess how many M & M’s jar” because those are another character’s favorite candy).
I enlisted members of my book club and critique group to run the activity stations for me. Everyone was so helpful! I really could not have done it without them.
I recommend you earmark a book launch “maid of honor” who knows how you want things to run. And, of course, thank all your assistants with cards and/or small gifts afterward.
In the end, I signed a ton of books, enjoyed friends and family, and truly felt like the book had a proper birthday celebration.
Again, I relied on local bookstore staff to help with book ordering and sales, and this time used the nearby library’s gorgeous event space. I spread the word to the middle grade-minded audience in the area through my family and friend connections.
I like to think of a launch from a guest’s point of view, striving to make it more about them and their experience than about selling books. You will want to practice (and time) your presentation, making sure to keep the pace clicking along. I began by thanking my hosts and particular audience members, then read an excerpt from chapter one. After that, we played “Ghost-story Mad Libs” as a group, which was a huge hit. I would encourage you to think of an all-play game you can offer your launch crowd. This gets the audience involved and having fun.
Next was another brief reading where I let the audience in on a “family secret” which had made it into the book. Afterwards, many people told me that learning "insider information" was one of their favorite parts. You may want to share or at least hint at some of the hidden gems in your novel as an exclusive treat for the people who came to your event.
Finally, I showed examples of the crafts we’d set up at the back of the room and pointed out where I’d be sitting to sign books. This time, family members helped me run my activity stations, which included making ghost bookmarks, building cairn photo holders, and decorating cookies.
That evening, I got to have the “post-launch” party I had to forgo with the first book. The most exciting thing was that we were able to host a dinner at the exact inn that the book’s fictional Home Away Inn is based on. Afterwards, we had a bonfire and told ghost stories. It was a magical, fantastical day.
Writers, your book will have its own life and celebrations in the weeks and months (and hopefully decades!) to follow the launch. That day is for you to celebrate and share. So, gather the people you love, in a place you love, and do things that will be fun for everyone. I wish you an exciting launch and wonderful memories for years to come!
Guest Blog by Ana Siqueira
Are you an author who speaks multiple languages? Are you curious about how to write a book using more than one language? 24 Carrot Writing has invited Spanish-language elementary teacher, and award-winning Brazilian children’s author Ana Siqueira to share her tips for writing bilingual books and her thoughts on translated books.
On Bilingual Books
My books BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS (art by Geraldine Rodriguez- Beaming Books 2021), IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA (art by Irena Freitas - Simon&Schuster 2022), ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA (art by Elisa Chavarri- HarperCollins 2023) and ROOM IN MAMI’S CORAZON (art by Nomar Perez - HarperCollins 2024) are all bilingual books.
What are the tricks to writing a bilingual book that readers can understand, even when they don’t know the language? My tips are:
On Translated Books
Remember that bilingual books are different than translated books.
Some of my bilingual books will be published simultaneously in English and Spanish. IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA will be CUANDO TU NIÑERA ES UNA BRUJA, ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA will be LA SUPERCAPA DE ABUELA
and ROOM IN MAMI’S CORAZÓN will be translated, but we don’t have a title translation yet.
I am proud of having these books published in Spanish. Children can read in their own language and that makes me excited. I can’t wait to hear parents’ voices proudly telling stories in their own language.
I relied on her experience writing and translating in Spanish to help me with that task. When you translate a picture book, you can’t only translate the words. You must work on flow, rhythm, and structure. So Mariana and I had to go back and forth many times to translate sentences, rhythm, and flow.
For my book IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA, the Spanish version is also bilingual, that is the text is mostly in Spanish sprinkled with words in English.
Here is the first page of the Spanish version:
Si ya es casi Halloween y tienes una nueva niñera…¡Cuidado!
¡Podría ser una bruja! A witch!
Si vuela en una escoba, con un sombrero negro en la cabeza, graznando como un cuervo…
When the books get published, I will learn the challenges of marketing both versions. It’s naturally easier to market the version in English. So where can I market the Spanish version? That’s something I need to research and work on.
The third challenge, for me, is how to get these books translated into Portuguese. I would love to see Brazilian children reading it in their own language. This is a battle I will be pursuing.
But no matter if readers choose to read my bilingual version or the Spanish version, I hope they can have fun and learn an important lesson: Don’t judge a bruja by her sombrero.
Ana Siqueira is an award-winning author from Brazil. In addition to Bella’s Recipe for Success and If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja, Ana has also published a Spanish early reader for the education market. Ana was born in Rio, Brazil and lives in Tampa with her Cuban husband. When she’s not writing or reading, she is playing with her Cuban-Brazilian-American grandkids. To learn more about Ana visit her website here.
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