Last week I went to another great lecture put on by The Foundation for Children's Books. If you live in the Boston area I highly recommend attending some of their events; there is always a great line-up of speakers and the format is nice- more of a conversation with the author rather than a traditional interview.
Thursday the featured author was Brian Lies, author/illustrator extraordinaire of the much loved Bats at the Beach. Last week he talked about the follow-up book, Bats at the Library, which looks fantastic. He talked a lot about the process of creating his books and brought bunches of amazing art and sketches for show and tell. Below are some of the book dummies for the new Bats book, and a color study. I couldn't believe how detailed his "sketch" was, puts mine to shame! It could almost be the finished art!!
He also said some interesting things about promotion. When he got the contract for the first Bats book he enlisted the help of his wife (who was a pro at marketing/launching new products) and they decided to throw all their chips in and promote the heck out of the book. He said one of the things that helped was to make a list of real goals for the book (ie NYT Bestseller list kind of thing), and then strategize about how to accomplish those goals specifically, instead of shooting for a more generalized idea of "success". He compared it to lighting small sticks to make a bonfire- you don't start by lighting a log with a match, you start by making a smaller fire first. Or something like that (I may be botching the analogy). Anyways, I thought that was a good way to look at marketing books. He also said it is much easier to get people into a book signing when you park your car with a giant bat on the top in front of the store, ha.
After the talk I got a pic with fellow author/illustrator Mary Newell DePalma (left), and children's book expert Susannah Richards (right), who did a fabulous job of conducting the interview with Brian. I was too shy to take a picture of Brian since he was busy with a long line of people waiting to get books signed. Oh well, next time!