Arlie the Alligator Book Launch: After the Fact

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The October 5th, Book Launch of Arlie the Alligator is over and done. It is now time to reflect.

In the previous four blogs, I shared the extensive planning that went into the event, from the first mailings through consideration for all who might attend; children and adults. Make it-take it Activities were planned, books, not just Arlie the Alligator but all of the books I've authored, would be made available for purchase, and a continuous slide-show was planned to run while children and adults enjoyed the refreshments. Everything from Arlie stickers for the children, release forms for photos taken of children, and water bottles and Handi-wipes dressed up with Arlie the Alligator labels, was in place.

 Two yummy cakes arrived decorated with Arlie on the cover. One looked like a book! BALLOONS showed up to add a festive touch.

                                                                        All was ready!

Children arrived eager and excited. They made Alligator Hats with the help of a good friend and neighbor, Jean Honeycutt. Debbie Allmand, a critique partner, also helped. 

Thank you Jean & Debbie! 


The children had a GREAT TIME making hats and coloring Arlie the Alligator pages.

Even some adults played along!

At the appointed hour, an interactive reading of Arlie the Alligator took place. Children clapped and laughed and took great big gigundous breathes before BELLOWING as loud as they could.  

A legion of friends and neighbors arrived to add to the mix. 

Everything went as planned, EXCEPT...

I'd like to be able to spout large attendance numbers, show you lines snaked around the children's library and even WOW you with book sale totals, but I can't. All the planning, all the mailings, 50+ postcards and over 20+ letters to school librarians and school media persons, Pre-K, K, and First grade teachers in five schools, plus tons of publicity put forth by the awesome McDowell County Library Staff, brought in but a few. For the most part, attendees included friends and neighbors, writers from other writer's groups and families who happened into the library that day. 

Disappointed? Oh yeah, I'm disappointed. Did I do anything wrong? No. The entire event couldn't have been better organized. The support, help and encouragement from friends couldn't have been better, especially from my critique group. 

My Awesome Critique Partners!
Would I do anything differently? Not really. Well, maybe. I could have put an ad on local radio and television stations, hung flyers in grocery stores and stood on a corner with a sandwich board shouting, "Come meet Arlie!" 

Being a published author is like being on a roller coaster -- tremendous highs followed by the opposite. I've always said that to be a published writer you need to be super-sensitive to write a good story and tough-as-nails to get you through the rest. I've got the super-sensitive part down pat. I'm working on the tough-as-nails part.  

How about you? How have you mastered the tough-as-nails part?

Book Launch Countdown: Last Minute Details

Friday, October 4, 2013

One more day!

Things are getting tense. Boxes filled with books, CD's, plates, forks, water bottles and decorations, including stuffed alligators, are piled in my foyer. Set-up is later this afternoon. Tomorrow is the big day. Time to check the details once more.

I don't know what method you use for checking details but one that works for me is to put myself in every phase of the event.

Attending as a CHILD:
I'll start as a child coming to the library to see an Author. What should I expect? Will it be decorated? Will it look like a fun place to be? My big sign is there already announcing the event. Tomorrow morning, balloons will be added to make it really festive.

Arlie the Alligator takes place on a beach. There is sand, water, children, parents, and all things that one sees and takes to the beach. I've gathered many things for a display and have an idea how to use them but I won't decide for sure until I'm in the room.

Activity sheets and Arlie the Alligator Hat Pattern pieces are all cut out and ready. A stapler and a large bag of crayons are also packed.

The stickers and bookmarks are ready to go, also.

Attending as the BOOK SELLER:
My husband has graciously offered to take care of book sales.

For that job he'll need the following:
Books - Inventory sheet - Price List/s
Stand-up card with Price of Books on it (use a 4X6 Index Card)
Stand-up card that says: Checks or Cash Only (or Credit Cards)
Cash in a Cash Box - plenty of change
Receipt books
Bags for book purchases
Oh, but WHAT IF I RUN OUT OF BOOKS?  To prevent disappointment and a lost sale, I've created an Arlie the Alligator BOOK PLATE using Avery Labels #5264 (3.5" X 4").  That way the buyer can purchase the book after which I will autograph the Book Plate and mail the book to them postage free when the book comes in. The child will be a little bit disappointed but they'll still have my autograph to stick in the book when it arrives.

Attending as the AUTHOR: That's me!    
You might think that I'll enjoy all the attention. Let me assure you that my knees will be knocking under the table at all times.

Here are some things that I feel will make my job easier:
Pens - several. (I'll need ones that write on both paper & plastic because of the audio CD)
Post-it Notes or a pad of paper to write/spell out the name to go into the book.
Flash drive for the PowerPoint Presentation
Mints, so I don't offend anyone.
A Helper to initiate the correct spelling of names and keep me on-schedule.

Attending as the Photographer:
I've designated a friend to snap photos during the launch. Assuming that my photographer will get some really cute ones that I'll want to post on my website or other social media devices, I've created a simple RELEASE form granting "permission to post" that parents will have to sign before photos can be taken.

Enjoying the Refreshments:
The cake will be displayed in the middle of all the beach paraphernalia, much like a cake at a picnic. But to serve the cake we'll need:

Cake server/knife - I'll just use the cake server to avoid having a knife around
Handi-wipes - we created an Arlie the Alligator Label to dress it up.
Plastic Wrap to cover leftover cake

Helpers needed:
I've identified several places where I could use some help. Fortunately, several friends have offered.

Here's where I anticipate needing help:
With book sales
Kid's corner making Alligator Hats and coloring the Arlie paper
Serving the cake
Taking pictures
Keeping me on track

Whew! It looks like I'm ready. Obviously, I always THINK BIG! I'm counting on the "if you build it they will come," theory. Whatever happens, I've done everything I can think of to ensure a great day and a fun event for everyone.

I hope you can come! And, yes, if you can't make it, I'll post photos on my Author Page and do a blog about it, even if it's a bust.

To Celebrate my Book Launch, I'm giving away an autographed book & CD of Arlie the Alligator. Leave a comment before October 17th and I'll put your name into a hat for a chance to win.

I hope my Book Launch Journey was entertaining as well as helpful.


Countdown to Book Launch: The Food

Thursday, October 3, 2013

2 Days and counting!

The invitations are long gone. Activities are planned and books packed and ready for transport. It's time to talk turkey! No, we're not serving THAT bird. In fact, we're not serving meat at all.

Several weeks ago, when planning began for my book launch, I had the idea that I'd make alligator cut-out cookies and frost them. I began a search online for an alligator cookie cutter. One of my critique partners had one she was happy to loan me. I was about to jump in and start baking when I realized that my over-stuffed freezer couldn't handle one more thing, so I waited.

Then, someone gave me the idea to get plastic buckets with shovels and make that MUDD or DIRT recipe where you layer vanilla wafers, chocolate pudding and cool whip into a pail, dump in some gummy worms and you're ready to impress the most devious of young boys. That sounded like a great idea to go along with the beach scenes from the book, the picnics and all things along the shore.

But, I had to consider the facilities where the book launch would take place. The children's library section of our local county library just didn't seem like the place to mix pudding, sticky fingers and books. So, back to square one.

I was still thinking about the cookies but had pretty much eliminated the idea of the MUDD, when a friend mentioned food allergies and kids who get sick at parties. My entire being came on alert. Sad to say, we need to think about the "what if's," even when planning something as innocent as a book launch.

In the end, I decided that cake, purchased from the local store, would be the safest on multiple fronts. If the store supplied the cake, I could not be held accountable for a child becoming ill on the food.

I ordered a 1/2 sheet cake and an 1/8th of a sheet cake. The 1/2 sheet cake will have Arlie on it with the Book Launch information --  Arlie the Alligator Book Launch, October 5, 2013. Thank you for coming. 

The 1/8 th of a sheet cake will have the book cover on it and will be decorated to look like a book with pages.

So let them eat cake!

Now, what about a beverage? Drink boxes? Fruit punch? Punch bowl? All good ideas but again, I had visions of sticky fingers on multiple library books. At the grocery store, I came across 8-ounce bottles of water, small enough for little fingers, not sweet or sticky, and I wouldn't have to answer questions about 100% juice vs concentrate with sugar added. Drink solved!

That's when my husband suggested making labels to paste over the water bottle label. 
Whaaa Laaa! I had a healthy drink; spring water, clean and fresh and good for all, all wrapped up in a personalized Arlie the Alligator label. The label gave me one more chance to add my website address and thank everyone for coming to my book launch. The water will not be refrigerated. Cold bottles create condensation that will ruin our special labels.  

The food is done. Plain and simple. Baked by an outside source freeing me of any claims of bad food. 

One more day! One more blog, well, pre-launch blog. The next blog, Book Launch Count Down: Checking the Details will wrap up all the fine details and cover the "what if's?" especially, what if I run out of books? I've got that covered but you'll have to read tomorrow's blog to see how I'm going to handle it. 

Don't forget to share YOUR book launch food ideas. As I've said before, I hope this isn't my only one.

Be sure to sign up for my blog email so we can keep in touch. I'd love to read your blog posts. 

Countdown to Book Launch: Entertaining Kids

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 3 and Counting!

Yesterday, I blogged about The Invites: who to invite to your book launch. I shared my rationale for sending out invitations. Today, I'll discuss how to entertain the children that may show up with their parents.

If you are launching a children's book, chances are you'll welcome the children who come, with open arms.  Arlie the Alligator is a children's story-song picture book. My fingers and toes are crossed hoping that parents will bring their kids.

But before I continue, let me digress to say that it's important that you have a plan, a goal, if you will, about your book launch. What do you want it to look like? What do you want it to accomplish? Who do you want to attend?

Your book launch can be as simple as having your books on a table with a short presentation, or as wild and crazy as your mind will allow. Even a chapter book, a middle-grade or a young adult novel book launch can have fun activities with food keyed to a theme in the book or a character's likes and dislikes. Let your creative mind flow. It's all up to you. But beware, even the simplest idea will take planning. And the better the plan, the greater the chances that the book launch you envision will happen.

One of my book launch goals, beyond selling books and introducing the new Arlie the Alligator to friends, local educators and their children, is to expose the greater community to the work I love doing; the work of writing. Another goal is for those who attend to have a good time.

I've built FUN into my book launch by having activities for children. I got the idea from Gretchen Griffith's Book Launch where she took activities from the pages of her new book, When Christmas Feels Like Home. At her launch, children were able to "make pumpkins smile," and "trees stand like skeletons."

On Saturday, young and old alike will be able to make an adorable Arlie the Alligator Hat.

When ever you have a make-it, take-it project, make sure the the craft is age-appropriate and then figure out how to involve children with maximum safety and the least amount of mess and stress. I determined that the alligator hats would be a simple idea and that even young children, with assistance, could make one.

Prior to the event, paper pattern pieces were cut out  for 55 alligator hats. Key parts were cut-in and marked for reference. Children will only have to color in Arlie's eyes. Assistants will measure each child's head and assemble the hats with staples--not to the heads of the children, of course!  The Arlie the Alligator Hat Pattern is a FREE download at

Young children will be able color a page with the outline of Arlie on it. The page also includes a word scramble that unscrambled spells Arlie. Download the Primary Coloring Sheet for Free at

In addition, children who attend will receive a hand made bookmark as well as an oval Arlie the Alligator Sticker. 

Both the bookmark and the stickers were made on a PC. A template was made for the bookmark and the stickers were made from a package of Avery Labels #22804

Two readings of Arlie the Alligator are scheduled during the 3-hour launch. While enjoying refreshments, children will also be able to listen to the Arlie's story fully produced with actors, sound effects and music on the Arlie the Alligator CD, while watching a power point slide show of the illustrations in the book.

These are the things I've planned for children. I do hope everyone has a good time.

Next Blog: Count down to Book Launch - Day 2: The food!

What kinds of activities did you have at your book launch? Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

I'd love to hear your ideas. Hopefully, this won't be the last book I launch.

I've added a Subscribe by Email button and an RSS feed in the right hand column. Won't you please consider signing up? I'd love to stay in touch.

Countdown to Book Launch: The Invites

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Four days and counting! 

In four days I'll be launching my children's story-song picture book, Arlie the Alligator. I'm feeling excited, scared and harried as I move through the days before the big event. Pushing thoughts of  "who will come?" out of my mind, I jumped into the planning. 

Through out the next four days, I'll share my book launch journey.   Hopefully, you'll gain some new ideas that will keep you from making the same mistakes that I made. 

Late August, I chose October 5th as my launch date. I wanted plenty of time to order postcards, address, stamp and get them in the mail and make plans for activities children can do. 

Three weeks ago, The postcards I ordered to announce the event, showed up at my door. I put the book cover on one side of the postcard and details of the event on the backside. I also included details about the event such as times for presentations, a craft activity for children--make an alligator hat--the fact that books would be available for purchase, and, of course, my websites address. 


One hundred postcards were ordered with the idea that I'd have some left over for additional events, after all, who would I mail them too? We've only lived in NC for 7-years and we have no family here, the little church I attend has only 37 members and most of my new friends have already purchased my books, so who will come? Now you know why I'm a little scared. 

On-line, I found a list of schools in our county. Each school has their own web page. On those webpages you can find lists of staff, the schooladdress as well as the names of staff at each grade level and those teaching the special classes. 

Since the grade level/age range of my book spans children aged 4 to 8, I focused on the lists of primary teachers and mailed a postcard to the Media Specialists, Title One educators, Pre-k, K and First grade teachers in five classes for gifted children. I considered mailing to the second and third graded teachers also but decided not to.  

Fifty-five postcards were mailed. The rest were given to the children's librarian at the library where the event will take place. She was thrilled to get them saying that children love to receive postcards. The one hundred I ordered were gone in a flash. I wish I had ordered 100 more. Next time I'll get 200 for sure. 

Postcards are relatively inexpensive through Vista-print. Your order almost always comes with a coupon to order more. They're always having deals. After your event, if you have any left-over, you can put a blank label over the outdated information and re-purpose them. Postcards work well as book marks and handouts at book fairs and school events. 

In addition to the postcards I sent out, a flyer was made for the librarian at the branch where I'm holding the event. The library itself does their own publicity. Last, Friday, in their weekly article in the local newspaper, they talked about the event. I was told it would be in again this Friday, the night before the launch. 

So, between word-of-mouth, postcards mailed to friends and half the school population in the county, and the publicity done by the local librarian, I'm hoping a few folks will stop by. After all, who can resist the lure of a home made alligator hat?  

Tomorrow, I'll share the activities and presentations I'm planning to have available for children. 

I'd love to hear how you handled the idea of invites to your book launch. 

Subscribe By Email

About Me

My photo
Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

Comment By RSS


Search This Blog