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Penny Parker Klostermann – Featured Author August 2015

Penny Parker Klostermann – Featured Author August 2015

12 x 12 Featured Author Penny Parker Klostermann

If you’ve been watching any of the Kidlit Forums lately, you’ve probably seen our August Featured Author, Penny Parker Klostermann, blogging about the craft of writing and the business of selling a picture book as part of the celebration of the release of her first picture book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT. I’m delighted that she agreed to join us on her tour. Penny is both a friend and a former 12 x 12 member. 

I was one of the “early hearers” of Penny’s book! About four years ago, we both participated in a “first pages” session at the Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference. Although authors aren’t identified in the readings, I remember my ears perked up at how cute and funny and PERFECTLY RHYMED this book was. Later, when I found out it was Penny’s, I asked her how it ended. I knew right then it would sell, and sell huge. I wish I could predict the success of my own books as effectively – LOL!

Speaking of selling, publishing a book is only the beginning of the story. As we all know, authors are expected to participate in the marketing and promotion of their books. So I asked Penny if she could share with our group the what she’s done in the way of marketing and promotion as a debut author. What I love about her post is that it’s so “real.” She’s not going to tell you to do everything. But she WILL show you how to choose activities within your comfort zone and excel at those. 

Penny has graciously offered a signed copy of her book THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT to one lucky 12 x 12 member. Get those drafts and revisions done to increase your chances of winning this month. Please welcome Penny! 

There Was an Old Author Who Sold a Book!

There were happy tears
and friendly cheers.
Tweaks and revisions.
Final decisions.

Then . . .
there were two long years. Well, long and short.

Because it’s here! My book release is right around the corner. So what did I do in those two years to prepare for my August 4th, 2015 release?

First of all, I view my writing as a career. It’s not just this one book. So I had to continue doing the things I’d been doing. Learning and improving my craft. Generating ideas. Writing first drafts. Revising. Honoring my commitment to my critique group and my critique partner. Keeping up with my blog and social media.

But what did I do to prepare for the release of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT?

The truthful answer is that I feel like I did a lot and I feel like I didn’t do enough. But I had to prioritize, make choices, and do what was “right” for me. I could’ve done less and I could’ve done more, but in the end I had to find a balance that wouldn’t drive me crazy. There was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann

Disclaimer: A lot of what I share was shared with me. Kidlit writers are lucky to be amongst writers who are generous with their experience. I want to give special credit to the EMUs of Erin Murphy Literary for helping me navigate this unfamiliar territory. I’ll add an extra special thanks to fellow EMU, Laurie Thompson, who shared generously and directed me to this post by Lisa Schroeder. The post is geared toward MG and YA but very applicable to picture books. I suggest you read and bookmark this informative post. It helped me form a book-specific checklist for the months leading up to my book release.

In hopes of helping others when they are in the pre-publication stage (between deal and debut), I’m going to share the things I did and am still doing as I prepare for my release.

Local Festivals and Media: Last fall, I contacted the coordinator for our local book festival. He saw my F&Gs and loved my book. On the spot he booked me as a feature author for this fall’s festival. I will be doing ten school visits and speak at three events. It so happens he owns a bookstore and I will be doing my hometown signing at his store. He writes a column for the newspaper each week about books by Texas authors so he will mention my book in his column. He passed my information along to another editor at the newspaper and she will be doing a feature on my book just a few days before it comes out. He also contacted the TV stations on my behalf. One of the stations is having me on twice. As you can see, he has been an extremely valuable contact.

Website: I already had a website and at this point, I’m not ready to spend the money for a web designer, so I’m on my own. I researched other authors’ websites to determine ways to make mine more appealing. Also, I made a point of keeping my website updated. As my book reviews came in, I added them. I kept my bio updated. I added my new author photo. I’m working on adding information for my school visits and my media kit.

Author Questionnaire: My publisher emailed my author questionnaire. I filled that out right away. It provided them with information about my book and me.

Blog Tour: A blog tour is a fun way to spread the news that your book is out in the world. I blog with EMUs Debuts and we party all week when a fellow EMU has a book release, so I knew I’d have their wonderful support. Also, I had several bloggers contact me about featuring my book. I contacted other bloggers. I provided my publicist with addresses for sending out review copies. I felt strongly that I should only include bloggers that I had a relationship with. When I contacted them to see if they’d like a review copy, I let them know that they didn’t have to feature my book just because they’d received a review copy. After all, I love my book but not everyone will.

Online Presence: For me, this includes my Website/Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Social media is an area I struggle with. Mainly due to time. I consider myself a slow writer and reviser. I need time to settle in and spend time with my thoughts. Social media gobbles time. I’m amazed that some people seem to be everywhere. They’re active on social media plus they have published books and new deals announced. But my agent, Tricia Lawrence, has made it clear to me that this is my career and that I’m doing just fine. She’s strongly suggested that I do what feels right for me. So what does feel right to me? Currently, my online priority is my blog. My A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt series makes me happy. It encourages collaboration between text and art. It involves other Kidlit writers and most episodes have featured kids. It’s not a specific marketing tool for this book or any book but it’s Penny Parker Klostermann online. I stay as active as time allows on my other social media sites because I do love keeping up with other authors. But above all, writing is my priority.

In-house Publicist/Marketing: Random House provided me with a detailed marketing plan. My book is a key title for their fall picture book list, which means it gets extra marketing push. There will be a craft for purchase September 8th to go along with my book. We discussed publicity, retail and merchandising, educator and librarian outreach, social media, and websites and newsletters. I’m delighted with Random House’s plans.

Activity Guide/Curriculum Guide: Random House is providing a nice activity guide. If they weren’t, I would create a guide myself or hire a specialist.

Book Signing and Release Party: As I mentioned above, I will have a book signing in my hometown. Afterwards, I’m having my family for the release party. I wanted to keep it small and celebrate with those closest to me. No stress. My publicist from Random House is scheduling two or threes other signings in other cities. Even though I know my book inside out, I’m practicing for readings. I have pens for signing (another decision aided by others’ advice). I’ve come up with some possible taglines for signing my book. Soon I’ll decide which, if any, tagline I will use. I’m considering what I will wear for my signing/s.

Author Photo: I hired a photographer to take author photos. These will be available in my media kit and come in handy in many ways.

Newsletter: This is one area where I should’ve been more on the ball. After research and advice from other authors, I decided to go with Mail Chimp. My goal is to send out 4-6 newsletters a year. I don’t want to flood Inboxes but I do want to share news. You can sign up HERE. I’ll be sending out my first newsletter soon.

Swag: I had to think about what I wanted. Bookmarks? Postcards? Stickers? Temporary tattoos? Buttons? I asked other authors what they chose and why. I got varied answers, but some of the reasons rang true to what I had in mind. I requested artwork to use for swag. I researched designers and printers.

School Visits: I’m excited about school visits. I taught school for twenty-six years and feel at home in the school setting. I’ve already booked some school visits for the fall and am continuing to contact librarians to schedule more. A big part of preparing for school visits is creating presentations. I’m creating several so that I will have an ideal presentation for each age group. I’ve also created a poetry workshop for upper elementary. I actually presented it last spring and it was key in landing me three school visits for this fall.

I hope you find some of this helpful when it comes time for your book release. If you read Lisa Schroeder’s blog post, you will see I didn’t cover everything. But I’m happy with what I have covered and I’m ready to celebrate as my book enters the world.

Penny Parker Klostermann is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT. She loves all kinds of books, but especially loves very silly picture books that make her laugh. She has been known to hug her favorite picture books and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too. Penny lives in Abilene, TX. You can find Penny online at her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

This Post Has 128 Comments
    1. I never knew so much went into the authors part of marketing. I hope I am up to it when the time comes, there is so much more to learn. Daunting! I’ve been writing for thirty years, I wonder if I’m too old now.
      Thanks for sharing your experience.

  1. Thanks for this helpful information. What an amount of new work to help your book get launched! Who knew? Now, we do.

  2. Wow – great info! Thanks so much, Penny – and I am ABSOLUTELY looking forward to getting my hands on your book! Your book birthday is the day after my “person” birthday 😉

  3. Thanks, Penny, for breaking down all of the key marketing areas. Sounds like you’ve done a fantastic job at what for many seems to be the hardest part of this process. Best wishes and congratulations!

    1. Lisa,
      I don’t think this is the hardest part of this process . . . more the part I didn’t think about at all before I sold a book. Writing a book that will sell is the hardest part of this process for me, but also the part I enjoy the most. The marketing/promotion hasn’t been terrible but it does take away from my writing time. I have a manuscript I’m itching to revise, but I have so much to do to prepare for Tuesday that I’m not even going to open the document! That’s hard!
      Thanks for your comment 😀

  4. Wonderful post, Penny! Thank you for sharing your marketing journey with us. It’s very helpful to see the process you went through. I can’t wait to read, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT.

  5. Thank you Penny for this great post. Can’t wait to read your THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT. My granddaughter was visiting, and she is crazy for dragon stories. She even wants to grow up to be an engineer, who designs dragon parks for kids!

  6. This is an awesome list, Penny! Thanks for sharing! Just wish I’d come across something like this last year. 😉

    1. Hi Rebecca! Lisa Schroeder’s post is amazing! Hopefully it will be helpful as you plan for future releases. There’s just so much to do!!! I can’t wait for IT’S RAINING BATS AND FROGS!!! Not very long. I have it pre-ordered!!!

  7. Penny, thank you for this great post and for sharing. Congratulations on THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT. I ‘m looking forward to reading it!

  8. I have just stumbled upon this through the Picture Book Online Summit Facebook Page and am trying to find a follow button with no success. Dumb question – how do I follow your blog? Thanks. Kathy.

    Actually I might have found it (insert blush emoticon). I will tick the box “Notify me of new posts” at the bottom of this comment and see if that works :).

  9. Excellent advice, Penny. Thanks for sharing your marketing journey and sharing Lisa’s web site list. Congrats again, on the release of your book this week!

  10. As usual Penny, you are so generous with all this information. Sounds like a ton of work, but so much fun. I didn’t hear that first pages so many years ago, but I still remember meeting you and hearing so many kind words on the first pages! Enzo and I will get a copy soon … we pre-ordered. I also love how your agency mates help. That’s another great reason to have an agent. Best of luck and I can’t wait to hear about your upcoming news. Signed up for the newsletter this week. 🙂

  11. YAY! Fabulous post, Penny..wish I’d had it when my parenting book came out…but I am totally bookmarking this and printing out a list…you’ve given us all the benefit of your research…so thank you so much. I was happy to read that your agent encourages you to choose what fits best with your persona…instead of trying to paint yourself thin by doing everything. And I love your blog series! I know your book is going to be a BIG success…deservedly so!

    1. Yes Tricia has been great about reminding me that I’m doing just fine. She loves A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. She said that’s “my thing.” And for now it is because I do love the blog series, too. I didn’t have a master plan when I started it. I just wanted to shared some poetry and it has developed organically from there. And you and Jeremy were my first guests!!!

  12. Ooh, your book sounds delightful, Penny! I can’t wait to check it out. And all the information here is just so valuable. The many people who say the children’s book community is the BEST, most generous, most welcoming community… well, I think they’re on to something.

  13. Great Article Penny and congratulations!! I love the outline you have provided for marketing and publicity. Very helpful.

  14. Penny, I’l so eager to read your upcoming book! Beautiful cover. And all the best for your book promotion. I’m sure whatever any of us decide to do or not do, we’d also feel we didn’t do enough. We just need to pick and choose and do what we can. I’m sure your book will do great!

    1. Isn’t the cover awesome, Carol? And the rest of the book is just as beautiful. I’m completely in love with the endpapers. I wanted illustrated endpapers soooo bad, but that’s not my call. When I saw them I cried!

  15. Love this post! I think marketing is the hardest, but I love school visits! Can’t wait to get your book!

  16. Penny, thank you so much for all this valuable information. All the marketing information has had my head swimming. You have shown that it can be narrowed down. Thank you so much.

  17. I had the good fortune to be in that first-hearing experience, too, and I am so excited to see your book in the flesh, Penny! Thanks for a great post. I suspect I will be referring back to it in the future!

  18. Hi Penny,
    Thanks so much for sharing your process. My first pb debuts next year and it’s wonderful to have a heads-up on the entire promotion process. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  19. Congratulations on your book! I have a soft spot for the “original” There Was An Old Woman . . .” (my dad used to sing it to me), so I will definitely be reading your version! I hope to prepare for a book launch someday, so I thank you for all of this great advice!

  20. Penny I am so thrilled this day has come. Sending you big hugs and lots of well wishes for success with this and all your books.

  21. Penny, Wow what an informative post. So many things I hadn’t considered. A newsletter is genius! The thought behind stickers, bookmarks or other promotional materials was interesting. Thank you sharing your thoughts. Good luck with the launch of your book!

  22. Thank you Penny!! I’m definitely not “there” yet, but I sure hope to use all of this great information someday! Can’t wait to read your book.

  23. This was a very educational post! Wow! There is so much to do, but it sounds like you have really covered the bases. Best wishes with the book launch!

  24. I like your approach to your online presence—it feels balanced and practical. I’ve actually read quite a few of your blog tour posts. You do a great job of giving new information for each one. I enjoy finding out so much about your process. It’s helpful and inspiring. Your book is lovely. I’m not a big fan of the original version, but I loved your version. Congratulations! Thanks for the info and links.

  25. Wonderful post Penny….seeing all your pre-pub activity and promotion, I had thought “How do you do all this, get all this stuff done?” Now I know — determination and priority rankings. You seemed to have struck the right balance and I can’t wait to get my hands on ‘Old Dragon.’ Thanks for sharing your experience.

  26. Thanks so much for this valuable advice and for the link to the other blog posting. Congrats on your success! I look forward to reading the book.

  27. So thrilled for you and your sweet Dragon! Thanks for sharing your knowledge, inspiration and marketing tips with us. (And for the record, I think you’ve done a TON.) 😉

  28. What a great post! I’m definitely bookmarking this to hopefully use in future years. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experiences with us. And congrats on the book release!

  29. Penny, What a helpful and detailed list of things to do to prepare for a book launch! Thank you for your honesty and insights. Your picture book sounds like fun. I am looking forward to reading it. Congratulations.

  30. Congratulations, Penny! Can’t wait to read your debut pb – I love dragons and I’m a rhyming fanatic. And, WOW!, what great information you shared. There’s so much to do to be prepared for a book’s release. Thank you and congratulations!

  31. You are the perfect example of the generous nature of people in the kitlit community…I’m encouraged to know your website “works” for you even withoutweb designer $ invested up to now. You’re doing an impressive job with social media!
    CONGRATS on your exciting book release!

  32. Thanks, Penny, for all the valuable information and links for marketing a new picture book. I love reading your blog “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” and I can’t wait to read your new picture book. I especially loved reading here that you only do the activities you are most comfortable with on the web and in the community.

  33. So interesting and such great tips to follow when (if?) I get to the stage of marketing a book. Your book sounds and looks gorgeous. I hope it sells really well!

  34. Great suggestions. Thanks. I love the way you took an old idea and made it new in this book. Looking forward to reading it.

  35. Can’t believe I missed this post and didn’t read it until now! It is full of great and (for me timely) information. Thanks for giving me that extra incentive to get ready in the lead up to my book releases! I can’t wait to read your book, Penny!

  36. Wow, Penny! I never realized how much work is involved in the pre-publication stage. Thank you very much for sharing! It was eye-opening for me. Congratulations on your new book!!!

  37. Thanks for all the helpful information. I’m working hard to follow your lead and have my stories published. I can’t wait to hug my books!

  38. Thanks, Penny, for all of this wonderful information. I’m about 8 months out from my first book being published and just gearing up on some of these things. I love Lisa’s lists, too! Best of luck to you!


  39. Thanks for sharing an insider’s experience of what the process is like for when (not if) we get published. ? Can’t wait to read your book!

  40. Thanks Penny for sharing your excitement and experience as an author. It gives us writers much to look forward to. School visits sounds especially fun!! Take care and enjoy your success! 🙂

  41. I love hearing about success stories! It keeps you motivated and reminds you that it is achievable even when you think it isn’t!

  42. What a wonderful account of the two years leading up to publication. Congratulations on your book. I’m anxious to read it. Thank you for your honesty and insight into the journey of being a published author.

  43. Really great info.
    Interesting to see the impact that the one festival/media contact had. I’m a bit awkward/insecure with that sort of thing, so I appreciate the reminder of why reaching out is so important.
    Congrats and continued success, Penny.

  44. Wow! What an incredibly comprehensive and helpful overview of marketing a picturebook! Congratulations to well-prepared Penny, who is sure to be a smash hit on the book signings/school visits tour. Can’t wait to see THE DRAGON! Thanks, Penny, for sharing all of your well-researched information and best of luck with everything!

  45. Thank you so much for sharing this great info with us! Your excitement is contagious. I’m looking forward to the day when I can use your fabulous advice. For now, I’m looking forward to reading your book!

  46. Thanks, Penny, for all of your practical advice. Your social media comments particularly resonated with me. I just don’t see myself having the time — or interest — in doing it all. Best wishes for continued success.

  47. Thank you for getting down and dirty with us. I knew there was some prep work but was surprised by the scope of it all. If you can, please let me know how much time you split between writing new master pieces and the work you did to promote your new baby? Was it sort of a 50/50 thing, or did the promotion prep take longer? Just curious. Thanks again. Great info to know.

    1. Julie,

      Sorry that I’m just getting back over here. Honestly, it was more like 60/40 with the 60 being the promotion prep. I got nervous about that but after talking with other authors I felt better because they’d had similar experiences preparing for their launch. I could’ve done some tasks earlier than I did them but it was a learning curve for me. Maybe next time 🙂

  48. Penny
    First off, Congratulations on your book release! Secondly, thank you for taking the time to not just detail out steps to prepare but sharing your own experiences as well. I appreciate that. Ans also thanks for the great resources you referenced/ linked.
    Best Regards,
    Clark Haaland

  49. Wow Penny! I’m so impressed with all of your planning and sharing. Lot of good information. I do have your book!! And I love it! It is truly a great read aloud. You sure are a master of poetry. Congratulations!

  50. This blog was fascinating. There is so much one can do to market a book and what struck me was that the activities Penny provided all seemed so enjoyable and creative. Clearly, her teaching background seems to be a huge plus because of her connection with classroom comfort, children’s attention spans and interests, ways to make books come alive in various formats and ways to connect with adult book purchasers (the parents/caregivers). I was warmed to hear that she had started serious PB writing after teaching for 25 years because it gave me that feeling that one can always develop a passion and pursue it, even when it is not at that first “out of the gate” time of younger days of employment and/or parenting.
    The info on the website and the suggestions are so informative. Thank you, Penny, for sharing!! I had no idea how much might be offered by a publishing house as well as being able to have (or purchase?) pre-release books to send to people.

  51. Wow – such helpful information. Thank you so much sharing. Congratulations on your book release. I can’t wait to pick it up.

  52. Wow, Penny! Thanks for a thorough overview of preparation for the release of your book. I can see some things to do now, even before selling a manuscript. Onward and Upward!

  53. Congrats on your book, Penny! Can’t wait to read it. Your post is very informative. Sure sounds like a lot to do. Whew!

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