Sometimes, when I watch the different authors on venues like Fox News promote their books, I think, “Wow! What would it be like to have that kind of publicity!” However, until that happens, there are other methods that I am using to “get my name out there”!
My name is Rosie Bosse—real name, not a pen name! I started writing children’s books 4 years ago. Wandering the vast desert, looking for the right publisher was really hard for me—until I found Niki and Imperium! Now, my publisher is in Kansas, my illustrator is in Kansas…oh, and I am in Kansas!
Since kids are my primary audience, it makes sense to me to go to where the kids are—school. The great thing about reading at schools is the net-working aspect. If you give a great program and connect with the kids, you will also connect with the teachers. Teachers talk to other teachers, and they share the programs that they like. Starting is slow but the snowball effect is definitely starting to happen. My first school book reading was in November of 2018. As of today, I have read in 8 schools and more are scheduled. Some have reached out to me and others have been the result of a phone call from me to their school or someone’s recommendation within the system. This has also led to other venues. I am now participating in two summer reading programs in western Kansas as a result of the book readings in their school or a school in their network.
The book that I have been reading is “Curly, the Orphan Calf”. In my introduction, I tell a little about myself and why I started writing. Then, I give a little history of the fires that took place in western Kansas and Oklahoma. I tell how this inspired me to write “Curly”. In addition, I like to use the local area’s geography to put the size of the fire in scale for them. For example, when I talked at Beloit, Kansas, I used four towns in four different directions to give them an idea of distance in relation to fire size. The preliminary info can take 15 to 20 minutes depending on the time frame. It takes me about 15 minutes to read the book itself with the questions mixed in.
As I read, I ask the kids “agricultural” questions. If I am in a very rural area, they can be more detailed than if I am in a more urban setting. I love to involve the kids. After my presentation at a small Catholic school this past week, I told the teachers that I was much better at “revving” the kids up than I was settling them down! I have so much fun! I ask things like, “What does a cow’s tongue feel like? Is it important that a calf’s front feet come first when it is born? (I don’t say WHERE it comes out from!) Why does the cow lick off the calf after it is born? What do a new-born calf’s feet look like?” What I have found in perusing children’s books is that everyone thinks they can write a kid’s book. KNOW WHAT YOU WRITE! If you don’t know anything about a subject, don’t try to fake it as you will get busted. Kid’s books don’t require the amount of research that a realistic novel does but do know your material. Kids are pretty sharp.
I don’t charge the schools to do the presentation; however, I do ask that they take pre-orders for my books. I like to have that order back at least 2 weeks in advance so that I can evaluate what I have on hand and what needs to be ordered. I email the contact person my pre-order form which has my picture and a little info about me as an author. That is in addition to all of the book information. You are selling yourself along with your books! I also attach a synopsis of each of the books that I have written. I don’t think the teachers are including that when they send the order sheet home but I do think it is important for the teacher to have. I would want to know what I was promoting as a teacher before I gave it my sign of approval! My book prices all end with $.99. However, when I sell through the schools, I round them up to an even $.00 to make the addition easier and I pay the tax. If late orders come in after the event, I will mail a group order to the school with no shipping charge—media mail is still pretty cheap!
Some schools will have me sign the books with the kids present and that is a ball. However, other schools have a tight schedule that you must fit in and those books may be signed in advance or after the presentation. That decision is up to the school. For example, we were going to sign the books this week with the kids present, but there was a fire drill scheduled for that day and the teachers all needed to have their students in their home rooms. I stayed after and signed books. We then left them with the coordinating teacher. I sign all of the books that I sell. I personalize them according to what the buyer wants. If there is no specification, they are just signed with a couple of lines—because I hate Christmas cards with just a signature! Personalize them from you. Create a connection! My first book to be published was, “How Clicker, the Dog, Earned His Name.” I always sign that one as, “I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!” Rosie. If the person is there, I ask if they want it dedicated to someone special.
I take plastic bags with me to bag them in---not recycled ones as they are representing me! You can get a huge box of “Thank you” bags at one of the box stores. I also like to give each student a book mark and they do seem to like that.
After my first book reading, I put the illustrations on a zip drive. Especially in larger groups, it is helpful if the teacher/tech person can put the book illustrations up on a screen. If we are in an assembly-type group, I will walk up and down the line of kids to read. In a small room, I will sit down. The school decides how they want to do it—I roll with the flow! Several of the schools have asked me to speak to their creative writing classes for older students. I don’t read the books to them. I talk about grammar, punctuation and writing—about how important reading and writing skills are to survive in any job! I also point out how the ability to write intelligently will save them money when it comes to editing, should they choose to write. Usually, there is at least one student who wants to be a writer and that is exciting.
I have had amazing response to this. I would say the book pre-orders are averaging $250 - $500 per reading. I have started telling the teachers that they may accept orders afterwards if they want; however, teachers are busy and pretty much what comes in before will be the bulk of it.
I am not getting rich—yet! However, I am having fun. Working with children and watching their faces is delightful! They are so honest and their faces show just what they are thinking. When you look around the room at the end of your reading and see happy, engaged faces, both adults and kids, you know you have done well. When the coordinator or teachers ask if they may pass your information on to other libraries or other schools, then you know you have moved up one more rung on your ladder to writing success.
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