by E. L. Tenenbaum
Last month, SCBWI-L.A. held its first Makers Mixer, which gave SCBWI PAL members — agented or not — a chance to pitch intellectual property to film and TV representatives. However, a major highlight of the evening came in-between pitches, when writers and illustrators chatted with fellow authors, sharing ideas, experiences, and encouragement. Here are five takeaways from the night to help promote you and your work at events.
- Be Display Ready
Of course, your book is coming with you to events, but can you make it stand out in the limited space you have? A stand is a start, as are small items connected to your book’s theme to decorate the space and attract attention. An author whose book was set in New Orleans brought Mardi Gras beads and small masks. A children’s book author created a small theater with changeable backdrops. Anything to add a bit more pop to your display.
- Carry Branded Items
Help someone remember you and your work with something branded that’s easy to have on hand. Standard is a business card with your basic information, name, website, social media, or other. Bookmarks are highly recommended because readers will always see it. I saw coasters for a middle grade book set in Washington, D.C., and colorful stickers for a children’s book. I’d even suggest always keeping some items on hand, so you can give them out anywhere!
- Prepare a One Sheet
A one sheet is an automatic takeaway when dealing with industry professionals. It contains your name, contact info, project title, logline, and short synopsis, all on one easy-to-grab sheet of paper. The point of the one sheet is to get the basics of your project down for quick reference. Many authors hadn’t thought to prepare one, though producers are almost always happy to take one.
- What’s Next?
Inevitably, after your initial pitch, someone will ask about what else you’re working on. Have an answer not connected to what you’ve already shown them, no matter how far along you are. My publisher once wisely advised me to always keep building a library. If a reader likes your work, the reader will look for more. If an industry person likes your work, or even just you, they want to know you have more to bring to the table.
- Think Outside the Box
This one comes courtesy of author Kitty Felde (Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza), distributor of above-mentioned coasters: Besides the usual bookstores and libraries, where else can you target your book? Her book is set in Washington, D.C., and serves as a middle grade “backstage pass” to Congress, so she targeted gift shops on Capitol Hill and planted her coasters in offices across our legislature. She suggested that author Elana Azose (Never Insult a Killer Zucchini), find out about getting into local farmers’ markets where she won’t be competing with bunches of other titles! Think: books about animals belong in the zoo; medieval tales have a place at a Renaissance fair.
Not all of us have perfected the art of talking about ourselves or our work, but remember, if you’re at a writing or promo event, people are there to hear about what you’ve got. They want to know! So, don’t be shy, tell them. Then give them something to remember you by.
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E. L. Tenenbaum is a recently minted SCBWI PAL member. She is the author of several YA novels. Visit ELTenenbaum.com and take a book off the shelf! Or say hi on Twitter (@ELTenenbaum) or Instagram (@ELTenenbaum).
Pictures provided by E. L. Tenebaum. Book cover from Black Rose Writing.