28 April 2015

I'll be at Books of Wonder in New York on June 20. Will you? (Please say yes. I'm dying to see you!)

I'm joining seven other Fearless Fifteeners (2015 debut authors) at Books of Wonder on June 20, where we will be talking about and signing our brand new spiffy YA novels! I hope you can come see us. Go here and let us know if you can make it! (Tickets are not required but we'd love to know if you'll be there.) 

16 April 2015

A Debut Author's Guide to Planning Book Events

My debut novel, Between the Notes, will be released into the world in exactly two months. It's exciting, and kind of terrifying. Most nerve-wracking of all is the prospect of speaking in front of crowds (God, I hope there are crowds) at book events. I've scheduled several appearances—some solo, some with other YA authors. Now I'm trying to figure out how to make the most of them!

I went to author friend Evelyn Skye for advice. Evelyn guest-hosts events at her local independent bookstore, Kepler's Books in San Francisco. She agreed to share her insights. 

Every debut author's dream: A standing-room only crowd
like this one at Kepler's Books. 

Hi Evelyn! Welcome to my humble blog.

Thanks so much for having me, Sharon! I’m thrilled to answer questions about what makes a good book event!

Thank you! Like many debut authors, I've scheduled events. So, now I'm wondering: What role does a bookstore play in developing an event? What about the authors?

That’s a perfect question to start with, as I’m sure many authors (especially debuts) are wondering the same thing. Now, I can only speak to my experience at this one bookstore, but I imagine it’s similar at other indies. The people who work there love books and love authors, and they want to make your event as successful (and fun) as possible.

Sometimes, a publisher’s publicist will organize the book tour, and in that case, they will already have things in mind. For example, Marissa Meyer recently came through Kepler’s to promote Fairest, and that was part of a larger “Lunar Ball” book tour across the country, where there were costume contests and giveaways at each stop.

If your publicist doesn’t already have a set agenda for you, though, you can usually work with the booksellers to mold the event. 

On that note, what kind of activities can be included in a typical event?

All sorts of things! But first, you’ll need to figure out if you’re doing the event solo or whether you’re part of a panel. That affects how you budget your time.

If you’re solo, I’d estimate that you can keep your audience’s attention for about 15-20 minutes. After that, they’ll start to zone out (unless you are an especially charming sort, in which case, carry on!) In your 15-20 minutes, you could:
  • give a presentation about a unique aspect of your book (Stacey Lee recently did a lovely, short bit on The Oregon Trail at her launch)
  • talk about how you became a writer or where you got your idea for this book,
  • show your book trailer if you have one,
  • read a short excerpt (short is key, no more than 5 minutes, in my opinion, although some people say you could read for up to 15),
  • play a game with the audience where you give away prizes (bookmarks or other small swag is great!) to anyone who asks you a question. 
If you’re on a panel, some of the pressure will be off of you. Of course, that means you won’t have all the limelight to yourself, but it also means you won’t have to entertain the crowd all on your own, either.

Evelyn Skye (far right) recently moderated a Kepler's Books event
with Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff.

If the bookstore provides a moderator, then you really have it easy. The moderator will ask you scintillating questions and you’ll give witty answers. The banter will be so delightful that, before you know it, Jimmy Fallon will be calling you to appear with him and Justin Timberlake on The Tonight Show, where you’ll do a skit about your book, which will then go YouTube-viral. (At least, this is how I always envision it whenever I moderate events. J).

The bookstore will often expect you to have a moderator already, though, and in that case, you and your fellow authors should go in with a plan. Just like you’d have a program prepared if you were a solo act, your panel ought to know what it’s going to talk about. I like it when there is a theme or something that unites the books and authors. I don’t mean they all have to be contemporary authors or all fantasy books. It could be something like Stories that Came from Dreams or Writing Books Based in Personal Experience. Then fashion 5-7 questions around that theme.

To kick off, give everyone one minute (or less) to describe their book to the audience. Literally one minute or less. Then move on to the questions/program you’ve prepared, making sure that each author is conscientious of how much s/he speaks so that it’s roughly even amongst you. It not only keeps the audience engaged, it’s also fair to the others sitting up there at the table with you. Keep answers 1-2 minutes long, then let the next person speak. (Also, not everyone has to speak on every question/topic.)

At the end of the event (whether a solo event or a panel), it’s nice to give the audience a chance to ask questions, but keep it to just a handful. You can always offer to answer questions after the event, if you’d like.

And then comes autograph time!

What else can we do to make our events stand out?

Book-themed treats, anyone? I.W. Gregorio offered
these yummy cupcakes at her launch, based on
the book cover design for NONE OF THE ABOVE!
Personally, I love treats, especially book-themed ones! For instance, if your book features fortunetellers, you could bring fortune cookies. Or maybe your main character is obsessed with jelly beans, in which case, Jelly Bellys are in order. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can really add a personal touch and help your fans feel cared for and special.

(But make sure to ask the bookstore ahead of time. They may have policies about the kinds of food or drink you can bring. After all, they are in the business of selling stacks of delicate paper that are sensitive to sticky fingers. Buffalo wings and caramel apples are probably not allowed.)

But don’t feel pressure to bring food or swag if it’s not in your budget. This is about your books, and the people who come to the events are there for your stories, not for the jellybeans!

Any last advice?

Try to relax and have fun. You’ve written a book! People want to buy it! People want you to write your name on their skin and crowd surf with you! (Oops. I mean, they want you to autograph their books in the appropriate spot on the title page.)

This is a big moment in your career, and you should enjoy it. At the same time, it’s just one moment in your entire life, so don’t let it cause you too much stress. Just remember this:

You wrote a book. You’re amazing. Now let’s celebrate!

THANK YOU, Evelyn! 

Evelyn Skye is the author of THE CROWN’S GAME (HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, 2016). She is also an event host at Kepler’s Books; Social Media Manager for SCBWI’s San Francisco region; and the ringleader of YA Lunch Break, a popular Bay Area book club. When she’s not writing, she can be found chasing after her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. Evelyn is online at www.evelynskye.com and on twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

07 April 2015

Bookstore Love: The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, N.C. (Guest Post by Laurie McKay)

As part of a new blog feature in which I swoon over my favorite bookstores, I've invited author friends to share their own bookstore love. Today, I'm happy to welcome Laurie McKay, author of the middle grade fantasy VILLAIN KEEPER (The Last Dragon Charmer #1), to tell us about one of her favorite bookstores. Here's Laurie!

I grew up near Southern Pines, a quaint and bustling town. It’s an amazing place with an amazing bookshop.  The Country Bookshop is actually over sixty years old. I always like it when things are older than me. Also, notice the cool hound on the sign. What’s better than books and hound dogs?

Authors from across the US visit the shop and do events. It’s pretty fantastic to walk into a shop with so much history that still feels so current, and that has such a great collection of books.

That’s one of my favorite things about the bookshop. They’re a cool, local, independent bookstore that supports best-selling authors and also local authors, that works with the community and with the nearby schools, and that does great things to get kids reading, and to get kids books.

Here’s a great view from inside. Notice the carafe and cups by the window? You know what’s better than books and dogs. Books, dogs, AND coffee.

They have a nice YA section. In real life, it’s not blurry. That’s just my picture taking lack of skills.

And a great MG and kid section. When I stopped by recently, there was a cardboard castle. Books, castles, coffee, and dogs. What more does a book, castle, coffee, dog lover need? Nothing. That’s what. Except maybe a photo. That grinning person standing in front of the castle is me.  

I remember buying books there when I was a kid. It was such a thrill when they stocked my book. They even set up a window for me during my visit. Yes, that’s a large awesome sword among the books.

Thank you, Laurie. The Country Bookshop sounds (and looks) awesome. How exciting for your book to be featured in the window with a giant sword! And huge congratulations on VILLAIN KEEPER. I hope it finds lots of bookstore love itself ;-) 

Readers, Laurie's book is available NOW from HarperCollins at your local bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Check it out:

Unexpected magic, villainous teachers, and dragons in disguise await readers in the first book of a delightful new tween adventure series by debut author Laurie  McKay.
All his life, Prince Caden has dreamed of being sent on a quest to slay a dragon. But before he has the chance, he is ripped from his home in the Winterlands of Razzon and finds himself in Asheville, North Carolina—a land with no magic and no dragons. But a prince must always complete his quest. And the longer Caden is in Asheville, the more he realizes there is magic in this strange land after all. More important, there may just be dragons here, too. But what if Caden’s destiny isn’t to slay a dragon, like he’s always believed?

Fans of Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil and Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories will be transported by this first book in an epic new series for middle  grade readers about a brave young prince’s quest to find answers, honor, friendship—and what it really means to be a hero.
Laurie McKay is an author and biology instructor who lives in Durham, North Carolina. When she’s not working, she spends time with her family and her two elderly dogs. You can find Laurie at lauriemckay.net, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest!

Share YOUR bookstore love! If you'd like to offer a guest post featuring your favorite bookstore, email me here!

06 April 2015

My Goodreads Giveaway Ends at Midnight!

I've had a Goodreads giveaway running for a month now… and it ends at midnight! Click on the link below if you want to enter! I'm giving away 2 ARCs (advance reader copies). Open internationally!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

Between the Notes

by Sharon Huss Roat

Giveaway ends April 06, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

02 April 2015

YA Scavenger Hunt

The Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt is now over! Thanks for playing. Go to the YASH blog for a list of winners, which will be announced on April 10. 

Thanks to everyone who supported Team Teal! I hope you will get a chance to read some of these awesome books:

And there's still a little bit of time to enter my giveaway, which closes at midnight. Enter below!


In addition to the Advance Reader Copy of Between the Notes that will be included in the grand prize for our team, I'm giving away a little something special here on my blog: A LOVE tote, for carrying all the books you love! (I'll stuff it full of bookmarks and… a mystery ARC from my collection!)

Thanks to my darling husband for donating this awesome prize from his company, font and design studio House Industries

Enter the rafflecopter below to win! 

(You can also click here to enter my international Goodreads giveaway.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway