Where will you be on Valentine’s Day? If you live in New England, you might consider, as part of your day of love festivities, bundling up your brood and bringing your family to your local independent bookstore for a signed literary Valentine. On February 14, 2009, newly dubbed Kids ♥ Authors Day, 170 children’s and teen authors and illustrators will be visiting 40+ regional bookstores to spread some literary love to neighborhood kids and families. Young readers of all ages will meet published authors and illustrators and get an in-person look at what writing and illustrating is all about, have the chance to ask questions about how they do what they do, and come home with a signed book and a great Valentine’s Day memory.
Kids ♥ Authors Day is the brainchild of children’s book author, Mitali Perkins, whose latest book for teens, Secret Keeper, will be published in January from Delacorte. Here Mitali gives us the scoop behind this regional lovefest:
Deborah Sloan: What was the idea behind Kids ♥ Authors Day?
Mitali Perkins: One snowy day in December, after reading a depressing royalty statement from my agent, and bad news from the publishing world came screaming from my computer screen, I asked myself, "What's the big picture here?"
The answer's easy: children's book publishing is about getting great stories to the kids who need and want them. With a diversity of kids on the planet, we need a broad mix of stories. Some of the key players in the industry who fight valiantly for that breadth are independent booksellers, and they've been taking some hits.
"We should show them some love," I thought, and logged onto Twitter, a social networking tool that limits posts to 140 characters. “IDEA,” I tweeted. “Indies partner with authors for a ‘give a signed book’ day, all Kid/YA authors in area show up at stores to sign one afternoon.”
Other Twitterers responded and the conversation took off. Since the idea was so new, we decided to focus on only one region, New England, and picked Valentine's Day as the perfect date. I approached (New England Independent Booksellers Association and New England Children’s Booksellers Association, and as soon as they communicated their excitement, I set up the website. Through Facebook, I cajoled you into participating. And when as you agreed to join us, I knew we were good to go.
Deborah Sloan: Why did you, as a children’s book author, decide to take on such a big project?
Mitali Perkins: I have no idea. I'm crazy. And you're equally crazy. No, Deborah, seriously, we've talked about how our vocations (me as an author, you as a marketing guru) are about that big picture -- connecting all kinds of stories to all kinds of kids.
Deborah Sloan: Who are some of the children’s book authors and illustrators participating?
Mitali Perkins: People may see a full -- and still growing -- list of authors and illustrators in the sidebar on our website: http://www.kidsheartauthors.com/
Deborah Sloan: Why are independent booksellers important to our communities?
Mitali Perkins: We asked our authors and illustrators to answer this question, and if you read through their responses, you'll be absolutely convinced that independent booksellers are irreplaceable and immensely valuable members of our communities.
Deborah Sloan: Thanks, Mitali. Readers, booklovers, aspiring writers and artists: If you live in ME, CT, VT, NH, RI, MA, or NY, please visit www.kidsheartauthors.com to find a participating store near you and join in on the fun. Hope to see you on Valentine’s Day!
Deborah Sloan is the founder of Deborah Sloan and Company, a marketing and promotions firm for books and their creators. A publishing professional with over twenty years experience, Deborah works to connect books and authors with their reader (and visa versa). See www.deborahsloanandcompany.com, www.thepicnic-basket.com (her blog that offers sample books to teachers and librarians for reading and reviewing), and/or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dsloanandco.