When Authors Help with Events

Josie Leavitt - May 6, 2010

Tomorrow, we’re very lucky to host Cynthia Lord for her book Hot Rod Hamster. Usually, for an event like this, we’d do several things.
– Promote the book through various means: calendar listings, ads,  social media, email list blasts, and in-store flyers.
– Have plenty of copies of the book on display and read it at story hour.
– Recommend it to parents and kids at the register.
– Get the room ready for little ones, with chairs and a snack table.
I thought we were on the ball, and then Cynthia Lord sent us a letter about two weeks ago, which I’ve copied below:
“We’re less than two weeks away now from my visit to Flying Pig, so I wanted to send you an email and say how excited I am to come and see you again. I’m really looking forward to being there. So my event is at 4:00 pm on 7th. Is it upstairs at the store?  I ask because if it isn’t too much trouble, I’d like to use my projector and project the book onto a blank wall, instead of holding the book as I read it.  Because Hot Rod Hamster has choices in it, it’s easier for the kids to see those choices, if the pages are big. I have all my own equipment, so all I’d need is a small table for the projector and an outlet.  But I can certainly hold the book if that’s any problem at all.
Derek Anderson did a wonderful drawing page that kids have enjoyed at other events I’ve done. The kids draw Hamster a new race car. http://www.cynthialord.com/pdf/hrh-draw-sheet.pdf Would it be okay with you if I invite the kids to do this when I’m done reading?  If you like this idea, I can bring copies and crayons with me.
Scholastic also asked me to write a letter about the writing of Hot Rod Hamster that you’re welcome to copy, if you’d like to use it in any way.  http://www.cynthialord.com/pdf/schol-hrh-news.pdf
So I’ll come by around 3:30 that Friday to set up, but is there anything else you’d like from me?  I have a school visit the day before in White River Junction, and then I have booked a hotel room in South Burlington that night. So no pressure at all (because I know you’re very busy!) but I am offering that if there’s anything else you’d like me to do the night before (come to a book group, have a supper with teachers, etc,) or the day of my signing while I’m in your area, just ask.”
I was thrilled to get this letter. What an organized author who is extremely generous with her time. How great it is to know what she needs ahead of time. Yes, I have a table and an extension cord for her projector and will reconfigure the room for that kind of set up. Knowing this ahead of time saves me from scrambling the day of the event. I like to have the event room looking perfect before the event; I want authors to walk into a room that’s ready for them and looks great.
What a great idea to have the book on the projector.  This way everyone can see all the art and the author can just focus on her reading and not worry about holding the book up. Hot Rod Hamster begs to have kids shouting out choices and having fun, and to being able see the book projected on a screen will make it a very lively reading, not to mention making it seem a little bit like magic.
A drawing page from the book is a wonderful idea, too. Kids can color while others ask questions. Cynthia has clearly laid out how the event can be successful and heaps of fun.  She’s even offered to bring crayons! I can’t wait to see all these kids drawing a page from the book, after reading the book and meeting the author. What a wonderful experience for them.
I’ve never gotten a letter like this before from an author who was so clear about her needs, but I love it. Her tone is not demanding at all, it’s collaborative.  I can’t wait to meet Cynthia and to have a great event. I’ll post pictures from the event next Monday.  And honestly? I can’t wait to color a page from the book.

10 thoughts on “When Authors Help with Events

  1. Kenny Brechner

    I see that Cynthia left out the bit about bringing an actual talking hamster to the event, which, apart from all her terrific planning and execution, really is the topper!

  2. Kirby Larson

    Thank you, Cindy and Josie, for being gracious enough to share this. It gives me lots of food for thought!
    Have a ton of fun with Hot Rod Hamster — it’s a blast! And you couldn’t find a sweeter author than Cindy to have at your store.

  3. Eileen Beha

    Hello Josie,
    Thank you for sharing Cynthia Lord’s letter. You’ve helped debut authors (like me) with an example of concrete ways that we can be more successful (and helpful) during our visits to bookstores.
    Happy coloring!
    Eileen Beha

  4. Diane Ranney

    Isn’t it great when authors help publicize their events! We’ve been very lucky to have most of our authors give suggestions about how to get the word out–and to a small library with not a lot of staff, that’s critical! Our latest is Carol McCleary, (The Alchemy of Murder) who will be speaking on May 12 and she sent us her link to a YouTube vid!


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