23 June 2011
Katie Davis' LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY (giveaway)
Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to a good friend of mine, extremely talented author/illustrator, uber-marketer, and now webinar hostess, Katie Davis. (You probably remember when I visited her talk show, Brain Burps About Books a while back.)
Well, Katie has a new picture book out, LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY, and it is the cutest thing EVAH! I asked Katie a few questions about it and got some fantastic marketing advice in the process - get your pen and pencil ready...
Please tell my readers how LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY came to be, because it is a very sweet story.
Well, in a nutshell, for years my husband Jerry worked with a guy who, whenever Jer would ask him where some work was, would brush him off with, “Yeah, yeah, I hear you cluckin’, Big Chicken!” Jerry kept bugging me to turn that phrase into a picture book, but I just kept telling him that he should do it if he thought it was such a great idea. Truth is, I had no idea how it could possibly translate. It wasn’t my story, that’s why.
So one day I was in Florida at a book festival, and I got an email from Jerry with an attachment. Two seconds later, before I had a chance to read it, I got another email from him, telling me, “DO NOT READ WHAT I JUST SENT YOU!” So I didn’t!
When he finally got the courage to have me read it, I thought it was fabulous and got to work on it right away. My (now our) agent loved it, and soon after, sold it to S&S/McElderry Books.
This is your first title with your husband, Jerry Davis. And he's a pretty creative heavyweight himself. Tell us about him.
Jerry has been producing animated features for a long time. He's worked with mammoth stars (Ice Age), robotic ones (Robots and Iron Giant) and playful ones (Toy Story). He's a creative producer so he really knows about story arc and has been helping me with my picture books and novels for years so this was a very natural progression.
LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY is such a simple story told with bold, simple art. It reminds me a bit of Roy Lichtenstein - only for a very young audience. I mean, that cover just JUMPS out at you! What was your thought behind your illustrations for this book?
Wow. That's an incredible compliment, thank you. I knew from the start I wanted it very spare, but the art director brought it to an even starker level, which really helped "purify" the story. Then she suggested just a few pages have a bold background and for some reason, one only a graphic designer would know, it made it a cohesive style.
As for the characters, I knew I needed to have some iconic items to "tag" them (like a character in a novel with a habit or quirk) and to make them unique, so I gave Little Chicken's red high tops and Big Chicken red pumps and a handbag. I thought about a pearl necklace for her but that ended up being too much and anyway, whoever heard of a chicken with pearls? But everyone knows they wear pumps and carry a purse so that made sense.
You've done some uber-creative marketing for LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY - can you tell us about it? Especially the "Cutest Little Chick Contest" (how sweet is THAT!?). AND the MOST ADORABLE BOOK TRAILER EVAH, EVAH, EVAH...
Hooboy. You sure you want this?! To preface my gigantic list that will certainly freak some people out, you should know that a lot of things had no effect or failed completely. I have no problem with failing because it means I’m trying things, experimenting, and hopeful. That said, it can be exhausting!
We began this whole process with some researching, like simply doing a Google search of “chickens” and contacting people involved with backyard chicken raising, for example. From that, I met a famous chicken expert whose wife, it turns out, is also a podcaster and a kindergarten teacher! She interviewed me on her show, so you never know where things will lead.
In no particular order I or we…
• bought the URL for littlechickensbigday.com which leads to the book’s page on my site
• redesigned my entire website and upped my commitment to blogging almost daily (and actually, my site is now a blogsite (katiedavis.com), a site where the blog is incorporated within it so the visitor doesn’t need to find me in two different places)
• created video FAQs to help visitors to my site (and to strengthen my SEO)
• added opt-in forms to more places on my site to make it easier for people to sign up for my announcements and newsletter which I…
• redesigned through Mailchimp and is full of book recommendations, literacy-related videos, and other links - it’s self-promotional, for sure, but I work at making it more weighted on promoting other people’s books
• wrote an eBook all about how to market oneself and ones books that is now being edited and will be available this summer (and will include great tips and some of my giant FAILS!)
• created a series of both free and low-cost webinars which you can learn about here (July 13 is my first, and there is an early bird discount through the end of June!) The presentations are fantastic, and even though I have great references from the Highlights Foundation where I’ve done similar in-person seminars, it could be a total fail. We shall see!
• created tattoos to give out at events
• printed business cards with same proportions as the cover so it looks like a mini version of the book
• made onesies (which you can see here) to give as prizes or to sell with the book, since the two together make such a great baby gift
• brought the book (along with Jerry!) on my regular monthly TV spot (where I usually recommend other people’s books!) on Good Morning, CT
• interviewed Jerry on my podcast, which is #1 in iTunes in Children’s Publishing
threw a launch party
• created a series on my blog called 30 Days to a Book Launch that garnered me a ton of readers and hits culminating with 666 on the day of the book’s launch
• registered with Mitali Perkins’ fabulous “Twitter Book Birthday” site so it was feted exponentially the day it came out (and contributed to all those site hits)
• threw contests which failed miserably so I discontinued them
• contacted the Cutest Little Chick contest organizers in Petaluma, CA and created a book tour through Copperfield’s books in conjunction with that, and became a judge for that contest
• bought copies on behalf of my large family from favorite indie book stores around the country (to spread the wealth) and in doing so, got connected with Books & Books, who then brought us to the Cayman Islands for a book tour where we also appeared on radio and TV
• created a Facebook fan page (finally!) that highlights the book – though that will become more general over time
• created my YouTube channel in conjunction with my other videos and …
• created our book trailer, which then got a nomination for a Moby Award
• took out or bartered for ads on various online parenting and/or chicken sites
• wrote numerous conference proposals in anticipation of the book’s publication, resulting in acceptances to a regional IRA conference, the NAEYC annual conference and the national and largest regional SCBWI conferences, among others
• created numerous craft projects and coloring pages available through my Freebie Fridays (inspired by your Coloring Page Tuesdays!)
• became involved in World Read Aloud Day and offered free Skype sessions with a number of schools around the country, introducing the book to totally new groups. Here is where something like that can lead: last night on Twitter I got this tweet from one of the schools’ librarians: @KatieDavisBurps Little Chicken was 1 of the last overdue books returned to my library. Kids don't want to give it up!)
• registered with Author Skype Tour and garnered many Skype visits through that (which Kate Messner created with Marjorie Light)
• donated books to various places (libraries, associations) and contests
• became a Cybils judge, which got my name out there more
• attended BEA and ALA and donated a piece of original Little Chicken art to the ABC art auction at BEA
• did a bunch of other stuff which I can’t remember and…
• last, but perhaps most importantly, promoted other people which is exponentially more valuable, kinder, and frankly, a lot more entertaining for me (as well as others, I’d think). It is the ultimate example of “what goes around comes around,” as evidenced in being invited to do this interview.
Woosie!!! I hope all my readers learned a lot from that. I know I did!
Finally, you've got another grand adventure going on - please tell my readers about BRAIN BURPS ABOUT BOOKS!
This is the perfect follow up question to the last point I made above, actually, because of the “passive marketing” I receive from Brain Burps About Books promoting other people.
I started my podcast (which is an online radio show) last August for numerous reasons, but mostly because I love talking about this business, whether it’s about creativity, craft, marketing, specific books, whatever. When I started I had no idea if anyone would ever listen to it. At the time I’m writing this, eight months after starting the show, people in almost 100 countries have listened to through almost 30,000 downloads (more through the app), and scores of authors have been promoted either by being interviewed or through my contributors who review: Betsy Bird (the NYPL librarian whose SLJ blog is A Fuse #8 Production), Jennifer Hubert Swan (whose blog is Reading Rants), and now, Travis Jonker, of 100 Scope Notes.
Through the show I’ve had the opportunity to interview fascinating people, like the man who decided to edit the N-word out of Huck Finn, and Ellen Hopkins after she’d been disinvited to the book festival in Humble, Texas, and to talk about ebooks apps, and passive income. In one of my favorite episodes which I posted during Library Week, 36 authors talked about their childhood experiences with libraries and how it had an impact on their lives as writers.
Is there anything I’ve left out? Probably! But I thank you, E, for this great opportunity! You are an inspiration to me, and I know to many others too. Continued success to you and your readers!
Thank YOU Katie! This is incredible advice, and an adorable picture book. Y'all go check out LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY and BRAIN BURPS ABOUT BOOKS!!!
To make it easier on you - once I have 25 comments on my blog, I will do a drawing for someone (inside the US) to win a FREE copy of LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY - wahooo!!!! Be sure to leave your contact info so I can find you if you win - no duplicate entries please.