Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Short Guide to Book Launch Parties

Book launches are on my mind right now, as I am preparing for the book launch for my second book, and so I thought I'd put together a quick post about what happens at a typical book launch.

1. Scheduling your book launch, when, where and how

Do I have to schedule my own book events? Yes, most likely you will arrange your own events. Sometimes you'll have a publicist who can help you schedule your launch or at least get you contact information, but generally you'll be reaching out yourself.

Most authors and illustrators will have their book launches at a local indie bookstore. Contacting a bookstore when you are a debut author can seem intimidating, but it's actually a very simple process. You can stop by in person and introduce yourself and inquire about hosting a book launch, or you can simply email them! For those of you wondering what to say in your email, something like this generally does the trick:

Hi, I'm a local author/illustrator and I have a picture book, TITLE, coming out on (date) from (publisher.) I wanted to inquire about scheduling a book launch at your store. Do you have any availability during (this date range)?

I also include the cover image, description of the book pulled from my publisher's website and the ISBN.

Don't have a local bookstore? Try your local library. Most libraries have a meeting room that you can book, often for free. The downside is that you'll have to sell your own books, but it's a good option for those who don't live near a bookstore.

When should you have your book launch party? Generally within a week of the book coming out, if possible. You want to make sure it's close enough to the release date that your friends and family won't have already gone out and bought the book somewhere else. Book launches can be hosted on a weeknight evening or on a weekend day. Since the main attendees will be your friends and family, consider when they'll be able to attend. If you know mostly families and kids, a weekend event might work best. If you're mostly friends with adults, a weeknight might be ideal.

Should you have multiple book launch parties? Some authors and illustrators want to have multiple events at various bookstores, which is fine, if you think you can attract an audience to more than one event. But check with the first bookstore to make sure that your second event is not in competition with your first. If you schedule too many events too close together in time and geographical area, the first bookstore might think you are drawing away potential sales.

Now invite your family and friends! Create a Facebook event, send out an evite, an email, post on social media - all of those are options to get the word out. Create a simple little graphic that you can use to post on social media. It doesn't have to be fancy, but a tip: rectangular works best on Facebook and Twitter. Here's mine, that I created while at my day job using MS Paint. I was serious when I said it doesn't need to be fancy.

2. What happens at a book launch?

Book launches can be as simple or as complicated as you want, but most book launches seem to have the following elements:

Book reading (of course)

Snacks! (optional, but everyone seems to have snacks). Some authors and illustrators will have themed snacks, like these snake-shaped cookies from Kathryn Dennis' book launch for SNAKES ON A TRAIN:

Q & A, or talking a little bit about the inspiration behind the book or showing process

Book signing!

3. Optional book launch activities

Many authors and illustrators will incorporate some other activity into their book launch. Some ideas include:
  • Trivia (have a book about an animal? how about some trivia questions about that animal?)
  • Giveaways of prints or artwork (you can hand out raffle tickets or give them out as prizes for trivia)
  • A quick craft related to the book (just make sure to tell the bookstore if you need a table for the craft, and make sure it's easy enough that it can be done by kids on their own - you'll be too busy signing books to run the craft)
  • Coloring pages to take home
  • Photo ops

At Kathryn Dennis' book launch for SNAKES ON A TRAIN, stuffed snakes were hidden around the bookstore that kids could find (and take home!)

Photo ops! Make a craft AND take a picture from one of my book events for QUACKERS:

Kelly Jones with a photo frame that you could pose with (and post on social media afterwards!) at her book launch for ARE YOU READY TO HATCH AN UNUSUAL CHICKEN?

4. SWAG!

Swag: is it necessary? No! Is it fun? Yes!

Some of the most common items I've picked up at book launches are bookmarks, buttons and stickers. Bookmarks seem the most desirable to bookstores and libraries, stickers are the most coveted by kids, and while I love buttons, they do have sharp pointy bits that need to be kept away from the really little ones.

Buttons: fun but can be pointy!

Bookmarks acquired from various book launches:

Stickers from Kathy Dennis' book launch:

Some of my favorite places for getting swag made include for buttons and for bookmarks. I haven't gotten stickers made but these pictured above are from

For further book launch advice, see this excellent post by author and bookstore events host, Lish McBride:

Friday, January 4, 2019

Our Books: The 2019 Preview!

Happy New Year, it's 2019! Here is  sneak preview of all the titles to come from our KidlitArtists members this year. 13 members have 18 books coming out in 2019--and nearly half of those books are authored by KidlitArtist members as well. Check out the list below! 

We will update this post as more details and cover art becomes available.

Written and illustrated by Lisa Anchin
Apr. 2, 2019 from Dial/Penguin Random House

The Little Green Girl is no ordinary topiary. She dreams of visiting far off places and exploring the world beyond her garden’s walls. But for her gardener, Mr. Aster, the prospect of deviating from his daily routine–let alone leaving his beloved home–is unimaginable. Try as she might, the Little Green Girl can’t uproot herself and set off on her own. To realize her dream, she’ll have to find a way to show Mr. Aster that it’s possible to carry a bit of home with you wherever you go.


Brave Molly
Written and illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
Spring 2019 from Chronicle Books

What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally...Molly faces her fears. Author-illustrator Brooke Boynton-Hughes delivers a modern classic in this moving adventure that honors everyday acts of bravery and the power of friendship to banish the monsters that haunt us.

Up, Up, Up, Down!
Written and illustrated by Kimberly Gee
May 7, 2019 from Penguin Random House/Putnam

From his first demand to be picked up and then immediately put down, opposites pop up all day long for this energetic boy. Breakfast is no, no, no, yes! At the sandbox, it’s make, make, make, break! And jumping into the pool goes from can’t, can’t, can’t, to can!

Little Muir's Song
Written by John Muir, illustrated by Ssie Ghahremani
August 2019 from Yosemite Conservancy

This book — written by John Muir himself — introduces the wonder season of the Sierras to little readers from the perspective of a young John Muir.


Take Your Pet to School Day
Written by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
July 2, 2019
from Penguin Random House

When pets show up with their kids at Maple View Elementary, it's total chaos! These animals have no respect for school rules, and every class quickly gets out of hand. But why did they show up in the first place? Who said they could come? Could it have been...the pets themselves? It turns out they just wanted in on the fun! Now, if they want to stay, they'll just have to behave....

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet
Written by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Jan 29, 2019 from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Kids

Do you wonder if humans are the only beings who wonder if they are alone in the universe? Our sun is a star. In the night sky are all kinds of stars, and orbiting those stars are planets like the ones in our own solar system. Could those planets have life like we do on Earth? Planet Earth is not too big, not too small, not too hot, and not too cold. It’s just right. Our very own Goldilocks planet. Follow a young girl as she learns about the wondrous search for another Goldilocks planet.
A Junior Library Guild Selection.

The Fisherman and the Whale
Written and illustrated by Jessica Lanan
May 14, 2019
from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

A fisherman takes his son for a trip out on the water. When they encounter a whale entangled at sea, they discover a connection that transcends the bounds of species... and learn that their relationship with the sea is more complicated than they may have realized.

Finding Narnia: The Story of C.S. Lewis and his Brother
Written by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
November 19, 2019
from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Kids

Jack (C.S.) Lewis and Warren Lewis weren't just brothers; they were best friends. Follow the childhood of the boy who grew up to write the Chronicles of Narnia in this picture book biography to follow Caroline McAlister's "John Ronald's Dragons" (2017.)

Cover art coming soon!

My Heart

Written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Jan 8, 2019 from Dial/Penguin Random House

Some days your heart is a puddle or a fence to keep the world out. But some days it is wide open to the love that surrounds you. With lyrical text and breathtaking art, My Heart, My Heart empowers all readers to listen to the guide within in this ode to love and self-acceptance.

Weird Little Robots
Written by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Fall 2019 from Candlewick Press

In a new town with only the robots she creates for company, it only takes a little bit of magic to change everything for nine-year-old Penny Rose.

Cover art coming soon!

Written by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
April 2, 2019 from Candlewick Press

Inside the cozy house, a baby has arrived! The world is eager to meet the newcomer, but there will be time enough for that later. Right now, the family is on its babymoon: cocooning, connecting, learning, and muddling through each new concern. While the term “babymoon” is often used to refer to a parents’ getaway before the birth of a child, it was originally coined by midwives to describe days like these: at home with a newborn, with the world held at bay and the wonder of a new family constellation unfolding. Paired with warm and winsome illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal, Hayley Barrett’s lyrical ode to these tender first days will resonate with new families everywhere.

Fry Bread
Written byKevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
October 22, 2019 from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Kids

Description and cover art coming soon!

I'm Worried
Written by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ohi
June 4, 2019 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Potato is worried. About everything.

Because anything might happen.

When he tells his friends, he expects them to comfort him by saying that everything will be okay. Except they don’t. Because it might not be, and that’s okay too. Still, there’s one thing they can promise for sure: no matter what happens…they will always be by his side.

I Am a Thief
Written by Abigail Rayner, illustrated by Molly Ruttan
Fall 2019 from NorthSouth Books

Description and cover art coming soon!

Are Your Stars like My Stars?
Written by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield
Fall 2019 from Sterling

Description and cover art coming soon!

A Normal Pig
Written and illustrated by K-Fai Steele
June 2019 from Balzer + Bray/Harpercollins Childrens

Pip is a normal pig who does normal stuff: cooking, painting, and dreaming of what she’ll be when she grows up. But one day a new pig comes to school and starts pointing out all the ways in which Pip is different. Suddenly she doesn’t like any of the same things she used to . . . the things that made her Pip. This charming picture book celebrates all our differences while questioning the idea that there is only one way to be “normal.”

Cover art coming soon!

Written by Jacob Kramer, illustrated by K-Fai Steele
Jan 2019 from Enchanted Lion

NOODLEPHANT is a story about an elephant and her friends who band together to overthrow the kangaroos that run their town. It’s about who makes the rules, and who must break them. It’s about noodles and revolution, laws and lasagna.

The Goose Egg
 Written and illustrated by Liz Wong
Jan 22 2019 from Penguin Random House

Henrietta likes her quiet life. A morning swim, a cup of tea–all is serene. But everything changes when she bumps her head and winds up with a goose egg–a REAL goose egg. Henrietta tries to return the baby goose to the nest, but her flock has flown. It’s up to Henrietta to raise her.

Goose isn’t anything like Henrietta. She’s flappy, and noisy, and exhausting. But Henrietta raises that goose right. She teaches her to swim, and to honk, and to fly. When Goose flies off with the other geese, Henrietta is so proud!

And then . . . lonely. How quiet her life feels now.

But the love you give has a way of coming back to you. And Henrietta has a wonderful surprise in store. . . .

 Written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill
March 26 2019 from Schwartz and Wade/Penguin Random House

Sweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat. She has protruding front teeth, thick glasses, and some very unusual hobbies, including interpretive dance and fungus identification. She’s intense and passionate–and her peers don’t always get her. But surely there are other mushroom lovers out there? As Sweety sets out to find them, she comes to realize–with a little help from her cool Aunt Ruth– that being Sweety is actually pretty awesome. With heart and humor and a whole lot of charm, Andrea Zuill delivers a story about learning to embrace everything that makes you you–and that’s something many kids are going to relate to.

Jessica Lanan was the recipient of the SCBWI mentorship award in 2011. She is the illustrator of THE STORY I'LL TELL (Lee & Low, 2015) and OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO NATURE: THE ANNA COMSTOCK STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017.)

Her first book as an author and illustrator, THE FISHERMAN AND THE WHALE, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2019.

Other upcoming books include:
  • A KID OF THEIR OWN (Charlesbridge, spring 2020)
  • LOST (Roaring Brook, 2020)
instagram: JessicaLanan
twitter: @jalanan

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Our 2018 Books! (Year-end Review)

This year was full of fantastic books from the KidLit Artists! We had 17 artists with 23 books. Here is a look at the titles that came out in 2018 - making great gifts for little or big readers! 

Our Celebración
written by Middleton Elya, illustrated by Ana Aranda
It's a sunny summer day. Come join the crowd headed for the parade! Marvel at the people riding motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and unicycles. Clap to the music as bands of musicians playing clarinetes, saxophones, flautas, trumpets, and drums march by. At night marvel at the sparkling fireworks. Pop, pop, pop! ¡Bón, bón, bón! A NCTE Notable Poetry Book.
Available to order here

Hedgehog Needs a Hug
by Jen Betton
When Hedgehog feels down in the snout and droopy in the prickles, he knows a hug will make him feel better. But none of his friends are eager to wrap their arms around Hedgehog's prickles, and he's too smart to fall for Fox's sly offer. Then to his surprise, Hedgehog discovers another animal who is feeling exactly the same way.
Available to order here

Twilight Chant
written by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Jen Betton
As day slips softly into night, sharp eyes catch glimpses of the special creatures who are active at dusk. Melodic text captures the richness of the animal life that emerges in the low light. A picture book that will inspire budding naturalists and anyone who has ever chased a firefly in the twilight. A NCTE Notable Poetry Book.
Available to order here

Frenemies in the Family
written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Maple Lam

They blame you when they get in trouble. They seem like your parents' favorite. They are the only enemy you can't live without. Almost everyone has a juicy story about their siblings–even famous people. Meet those who got along, those who didn't, and everyone in between! Middle grade novel.
What Can You Do With A Toolbox?
written by John Colaneri & Anthony Carrino, illustrated by Maple Lam
A hammer. Nails. A screwdriver. How do we use them? Discover all the exciting things you can build with a toolbox, and at the end how all the pieces fit together to make something special.
Available to order here

Where is the Treasure? 
by Maple Lam
A young bear and his grandfather explore Taipei together in a day-long treasure-hunt, delighting in many experiences and overcoming fears along the way to a glorious high-rise surprise.
Available to order here

Bark Park 
written by Trudy Krisher, illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes
Welcome to Bark Park! There are dogs running and dogs relaxing, dogs riding and dogs sliding – all before returning home to bubble baths, cozy dog beds, and sweet dreams of – what else? – being back at the park!
Available for pre-order here

Cycle City
by Alison Farrell
When little Etta the Elephant goes to her Aunt Ellen's house, she takes a journey through bicycle-filled Cycle City, a town filled with bikes of all kinds! At the end of the day, a special surprise awaits Etta – the most amazing bicycle parade imaginable.
Available to order here

The perfect bedtime book for young soccer fans. From the opening kickoff to the final goal, a young girl says goodnight to her most beloved sport: soccer.
Available to order here

Mad Mad Bear
 by Kimberly Gee
Bear is very, very, very MAD! Will he ever feel better? A little bear learns to cope with his frustrations in this sweet and silly book about toddler tantrums.
Available to order here

Balance the Birds
 by Susie Ghahremani
A sequel to the popular Stack The Cats counting book, Balance the Birds is about balance and relative size. When birds spot a tree and decide to land on its branches, the readers can help them find the perfect balance. This book introduces key early math skills for toddlers.
Available to order here

Meddy Teddy: A Mindful Yoga Journey
 written by Apple Jordan, illustrated by Nicholas Hong
Say namaste to Meddy Teddy, a rising star in the yogi world. Meddy practices yoga poses as he emerges from hibernation, greets the springtime, and mindfully gets through a variety of situations.
Available to order here

100 Bugs! A Counting Book
written by Kate Narita, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufmann
How many bugs can you count? From walking sticks to spittlebugs, dragonflies to katydids, discovering 10 bugs at a time, you just might see 100 bugs!
Available  to order here

All Are Welcome
 written by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufmann
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms no matter their race, religion, or background. A school where it is normal to wear a hajib, learn a Vietnamese dance and witness a Dragon dance for Lunar New Year. A New York Times bestseller!

available for pre-order here

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
written by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse – the best and most beautiful horse anywhere. But Chloe does NOT believe him. The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school, Chloe doesn't get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important. A Junior Library Guild Selection, and Top 10 Indie Next pick.
Available to order here

Alma and How She Got Her Name /
Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre
by Juana Martinez-Neal
If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of all her namesakes, and as she hears the story starts to think her name might be the perfect fit after all. The Spanish version launches simultaneously. School Library Journal Best Books, NCTE Charlotte Huck Award, Original Art Show Selection, New York Public Library Best Books.

Available to order here
Available to order here

 written by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Andrea Offermann
When a fearsome dragon takes over their village bridge, twin sisters have opposing views of how to fix the problem. This empowering sibling story is about celebrating differences and how they can make for a powerful team. 
I'm Sad
 written by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ohi
A girl, a potato, and a very sad flamingo star in this sequel to I'm Bored. Everyone feels sad sometimes – even flamingos. Sigh. When Flamingo announces he's feeling down, his friends try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work. Not even dirt! (Which usually works for Potato)...
Available to order here

The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection
 edited by Colby Sharp, contributed to by Debbie Ohi (and others)
Colby Sharp invited more than forty children's authors and illustrators to provide story starters for each other; photos, drawings, poems, prose or anything they could dream up. They responded to the prompts by transforming these seeds into any form of creative work they wanted to share! A section of story starters provides inspiration for readers to create works of their own.
Available to order here

Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World 
that Fairies are Real 
 written by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
The true story of British cousins who fooled the world for more than 60 years with a remarkable hoax, photographs of "real" fairies. A delightful historical account blending the actual photographs with Eliza Wheeler's evocative illustrations.
Available to order here

Good Night, Little Monsters
 written by Kara Lareau, illustrated by Brian Won
Watch little monsters go about their bedtime routines, as Frankenbaby lays down his green head, loosens his bolts and is tucked into bed. Lochnessie is assured of swimming when awake, and snuggles close in the deep cool lake.
Available for pre-order here

Marigold & Daisy
by Andrea Zuill
Even snails can feel jealous over a new baby! Marigold realizes that her new sister Daisy must be an evil genius, capable of mesmerizing everyone. They even think her pooping is cute! Just when Marigold reaches her breaking point, she discovers that Daisy's amazing skills may come in handy after all.
Available to order here
Business Pig
by Andrea Zuill
No wallowing in the mud or rooting for grubs for Jasper; he'd rather help with the bookkeeping or conduct a meeting. But no matter how many business cards he hands out, no one wants to adopt him. Can this above-average pig find a special person to cut deals with?
Available to order here

Jen Betton wrote and illustrated HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG (Penguin Books). She also illustrated TWILIGHT CHANT by Holly Thompson (Clarion-HMH).
You can find her here: 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Our Art Thrives with Hope

I'm experiencing something I couldn't have imagined a few years ago: I'm a full time picture book author and illustrator now! There is officially no part of my year when I'm not making books! And as I celebrate/promote/fret about the release of my new book while I work on the next, I came to a realization:

From my new book, BALANCE THE BIRDS by Susie Ghahremani

For me, promoting a new book is an anxiety-filled endeavor. I worry it won't find its way onto library and store bookshelves. I worry it won't resonate with readers. I worry it will be forgotten or go out of print. And, quite often, I have to step outside of my comfort zone to do in-person events like book signings and talks. I have to promote and market and share which feels like the antithesis of why I got into art. And all of it opens me up to very public, very permanent criticism.

But making art comes from the exact opposite mindset: I think about the audience -- little readers -- almost to the exclusion of everything else. I try to make something that will resonate with them. I want to make something timeless and lasting. I work in comfortable solitude doing what I love best -- being creative. No one is judging my process or skewering me for it, and I feel totally free.

This same spread, back when I quietly painted it in pieces on translucent vellum.

Today, when writing about my complicated experience promoting a book while working on the next, I had a revelation: Making a book -- whether it's creating the first "draft" of a manuscript, putting pencil to paper to sketch, or painting the last detail on the final art -- it all thrives when we come from a mindset of hope and optimism. But, immersed in the anxieties of a book launch, your hope and optimism fades when you need it most.

This has all made me think about how important it is as creators to protect our mental health and to try to create joy in the less comfortable days after publication so we can get back to our studios with that great mindset. Here are some of the things I've been doing to reset my hope and optimism in-between the tense high wire act of a book launch:

Signing my books with drawings! Fun for me and you.

1. Plan to have fun -- CREATE fun -- at your book launch events!

Yes, you might be out of your comfort zone -- but drawing in every book I sign brings my favorite activity into something that might otherwise be stressful. Making a face cut out made for hilarious and adorable photos that allowed my art to come alive with the interaction of visitors.

2. Don't stop making art during stressful times!

Even though a book launch is a demand on your schedule and time, and you might have other deadlines to meet for your next book, try to create space to make art just for fun. Not for your book launch, and not for your next book, but just optimistic, hopeful art just for fun. Maybe take a class! Maybe doodle in your sketchbook. Maybe post for #Inktober. It will energize you in all kinds of ways and reset all that book launch anxiety.

Making ceramics - totally unrelated to my work on books - has helped me during stressful times! Shoutout to my ceramics studio, a 501(c)3 non-profit called Clay Associates, and my marvelous teacher Eric Woods who is always bringing me back down to earth.
3. Live your life.

There will always be more you can do as an artist and author -- a new portfolio piece, a new proposal, a new manuscript, edits, outreach, education. There will always be something you have to do: a deadline, an event, an interview. A blog post (like this)! Try to protect time in your schedule to just be a person. Cook a meal from scratch, read a book, call a faraway friend, travel and go for a nature walk to see what you might discover.

Those simple interactions are filled with hope. These events strung together make a lovely life. The hopeful acts of making art and launching it into the world again and again can make a lovely life, too. Keep optimism on your side if you can.

Hiking in Japan with my husband! Living life, immediately after delivering the final art for Balance the Birds.

4. Get back to work!

These books aren't going to make themselves!

What are your favorite ways to get back to a hopeful mentality where creativity thrives?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Susie Ghahremani is the author and illustrator of BALANCE THE BIRDS and STACK THE CATS. She paints in gouache, drinks a lot of coffee, and is always looking for great reasons to feel hopeful. One hope she has is that you are registered to vote in this upcoming election.

Susie is represented by Stefanie von Borstel of Full Circle Literary. Find her at: