Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

July Meeting: 2018 Debut Author Panel

Cate Berry, Samantha M Clark, Kendra Fortmeyer, Vanessa Roeder and Gayleen Rabakukk

July’s meeting featured authors Cate Berry, Samantha M Clark, Kendra Fortmeyer and author/ illustrator Vanessa Roeder sharing insights on being newly published, moderated by ARA Gayleen Rabakukk. Here are a few highlights:

On Marketing and Promotion:
Vanessa suggests interviews set up by publicist, blog and tv interviews, as well as advertising on social media
Kendra believes writing a good book and previous connections are key. “I wrote a good book and I was not a jerk”. Make connections and be kind!
Samantha had success with brainstorming and being invited to panels with organizations such as TLA, ILA and NCTE. Give those wonderful librarians your ARCS (they talk!), do signings and giveaways and keep up with social media.
Cate advises to do what you do best. She loves connecting with people, calling bookstores to do signings, making friends and school visits….

School Visits:
Cate knows school visits can be lucrative but are not easy so reach out to other experienced authors to learn what goes into one.
Samantha reminded us this is the author’s time and absolutely should be paid for it.
Kendra and Vanessa support Cate and Sam’s advice. All agreed how energizing school visits are. This is why you write children’s books!

Surprises or Changes:
All authors discussed the highs and lows, peaks and valleys of your debut year. The first week is the highest peak and then it might feel as if there is nothing after that and you hit another high when your book is selected for an award or book club or comes out in paperback, etc. The laundry does not fold itself after you debut. You get back to normal life and write the next one.
Kendra said it’s like you’re “on the bottom rung of a very tall ladder and you keep climbing.” Samantha warns that you will be busier trying to market book one while working on book two, that it’s okay to take a step back and not doing a ton of marketing. At some point you let the book go and let it have its own life.
Cate reminds us “It’s just a book. It’s everything but it’s also just words on paper.” But because of all the work she’s done to promote book one, she feels as though she can coast more for book two. She’s already set up those connections.

Last minute advice
If you’re not enjoying it, it will show!
Take a smaller advance. Expectations to earn out will be smaller
Your next book will help sales for Book One.