First up is Tina Nichols Coury. She launched her very first picture book,
Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore, Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport.
Here is my interview with the effervescent Tina!
Was there any particular way you went about planning your book launch or knowing what you wanted?
This was a birthday party for my book so I wanted a huge bash. If you have a book coming out, start planning your launch one year before your book is published. Choose a date. Get your mailing list together way in advance and invite everyone you know. Book friends and relatives to help with nametags so people know they are part of the event. I liked snail mail invitations with an RSVP request to get an accurate count and to make it special. Provide finger food and a couple of craft activities for kids; I had bookmarks for coloring and flag cookies to decorate. Place a box with a poster requesting book donations for libraries and schools in a prominent position. Find a venue or bookstore that is large enough to hold your crowd. Set up a screen, if there’s space, and loop a slide show of the cover and interior illustrations of your book. I produced a fifteen-minute power point show with the story of my 17-year journey to publication. Make your event a charity event. I partnered with the bookstore at the Autry Museum and split the cost of the party. They were thrilled and invited me back to do a signing.
Any favorite tips or must-do’s?
1) Provide a place on your invitations for friends to buy and/or donate a book. A lot of my invitations were sent to friends and relatives out of town. This gave them a chance both to buy and donate books. It was a definite win-win. 2) A few days before the launch, sign all the books you’ve ordered. At the launch, you can designate an already signed book and save yourself time and energy; your event will be great fun but also exhausting! Be sure to use the same color pen and have back up pens at the launch. 3) Place bookmarks and business cards on your signing table for people to take. 4) Make sure someone is always working the book-signing line. 5) Hire a photographer or have a friend take photos of the event. 6) Have a different person video the event, asking guests how they know you and what they want to say to you. I was so busy the night of the launch that I didn’t get a chance to visit with many friends and it was wonderful to watch their good cheer later.
Were you nervous at all?
No, I was exhilarated! All my friends and family were there, so I could feel the love. I’m a natural born ham and I thrived on the attention.
Did anything stand out for you what to do or not do next time?
Next time I would have bigger RSVP’s. They turned out small and hard to read. I would have more help for the bookseller and more help with the flow of the autograph line. During my presentation I forgot to read from the book—I’d definitely do that next time. I would not open the event up on Facebook and invite the world. I didn’t do that and was glad I didn’t. It kept the event classy and exclusive. My only problem was I’m sure I forgot to invite some people and I was sorry for that.
Did you have a lot of support from your publisher or agent for your first book?
My editor and publicist have been remarkable and incredibly supportive. I think that’s because I’ve been pro-active with my own marketing. I set up my own blog tour and asked my editor to donate a manuscript critique as a give-away. He gave me five! I hired Blue Slip Media to write my curriculum guide, provide extra press and coordinate with my Penguin publicist. My editor loved the curriculum guide that Blue Slip made for my website and put it on the Penguin site. I continue to give my editor and publicity gal weekly updates providing information on interviews, school visits and other events I’m involved in. My perspective is that it’s my job to make my publisher’s job easy. Booking events is one way to do that. Another thing I did that blew my editor’s mind was have a buddy who is a professional musician write a theme song for the book. It’s already paid off; two days before the release, my editor told me my book was already going into a second printing! I am very grateful for all the support I’ve received from Penguin.
Do you plan on doing signings elsewhere?Many. In July I go to Mount Rushmore to do two events. July 28th the Autry Museum invited me to sign at the Cowboy Festival. August I do the PAL event at the SCBWI conference. In September I am participating in the South Dakota Book Festival. October I am at the Santa Barbara Author’s Fair. October I am spotlight speaker at the SCBWI Writer’s Day. That’s just so far for this year. It takes some work to book events, but it’s worth it!
Tina Nichols Coury is an author, award winning multi-media artist, blogger, vlogger, producer of book trailers and all around Renaissance woman.
In her debut picture book, Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up on Mt. Rushmore (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012), Tina brings to life the story of Lincoln Borglum, the boy who helped build Mt. Rushmore.
Tina grew up in L.A. as the youngest of four children to a single saint of a mom. She wrote her first play, What Santa wants for Xmas, in third grade and had her class perform it.
Tina currently lives and works on the beach in Oxnard, California with her husband Al, their Doberman, Honey, and the Keyboard Kitties, Toulouse and Monet.