Archive for September 28, 2013

The 1st Annual Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival: October 5th . . . That’s Soon!

Come to the Bell Middle School in Chappaqua, NY and celebrate reading with some of the area’s most fabulous authors (and I’m crashing the party!).

This particular festival has risen from the ashes of the great, departed Sunnyside Book Festival in Tarrytown, which I dearly loved.

Here’s to new beginnings. If you are around, please stop by and say hello.

As always, great weather is personally guaranteed.

If You Really Want to Talk Like a Pirate . . .

PUBLISHING 101 . . . Plus The New Scary Tales Website (w/ Free Stuff)

An an author, let me tell you, it’s an amazing feeling to know that your publisher is working hard to try to sell your books.

Maybe that sounds basic, right?

Aren’t they all? Don’t they always?

Well, no. As in, ha-ha, no, no, no, no-no, NO.

The industry formula for book marketing begins with this equation:

Publish more books than you can promote.

At that point, publishers will select a few to aggressively market. Another group of titles will also be promoted, but on a much smaller scale. And then some books, maybe even most books, will receive only the standard promotional efforts. It exists. It is. Here’s the price and ISBN. Come and get it.

Like Mom ringing the dinner bell.

At that point, publishers follow a read-and-react strategy, like an NFL linebacker deciphering a play. Drop back in coverage, pick up a receiver; or step into the line to plug a hole against the run. In the case of publishing, it’s reacting to word-of-mouth, initial sales, reviews, award buzz, and so on.

In essence, they throw a bunch of books into the world. If the world smiles, then a secondary promotional effort steps forward. If the world shrugs, indifferent, that poor lamb is on its own. And it’s often fated to go out-of-print unless something unexpected happens.

And sometimes, yes, the unexpected happens. Oprah descends or whatever. Great books often find a way (but not always). Good ones, well, a lot of good books die, that’s the sad truth.

Now some folks say, “Hey, that’s crazy. If that’s the case, they should publish less books.”

Well, that’s tricky. Do we really want fewer books, fewer authors? And can anyone really predict which books will sell, and which will be ignored? At least if a book is published — which requires a tremendous amount of work and resources — that book gets a chance in the world, like a tadpole in the pond. A great many wonderful books will never be great sellers, and therefore will never benefit for a big marketing push. Should those books not be published?

It’s a complicated business and I don’t pretend to be smarter than the folks running it.

In my life as an author, first published in 1986, my books have never really been actively marketed. But now with SCARY TALES, I’m fortunate to benefit from actual promotional efforts on behalf of the books.

It’s awesome. I feel grateful. My toes are crossed.

Today I learned there’s even a new website. Where? Don’t be frightened. Just . . . click here.

So far, there’s a video to see. Activities to download. An excerpt to read. Cool art to gander. I’ve even heard rumors of scary pencils — a possibility too terrifying to ponder.

What could be scarier than pencils?

JIGSAW JONES, The Musical: Appearing On Long Island, Suffolk County Community College, October 5

QUICK INFO for Long Island-based fans of “Jigsaw Jones” ¬†. . .

The Lively Arts Series at Suffolk County Community College will present Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Class Clown in the Van Nostrand Theatre on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood on Sunday, October 5, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Athena Lorenzo has been slimed and she doesn’t think it’s very funny. Someone in Ms. Gleason’s class is playing practical jokes. Theodore “Jigsaw” Jones claims to be the very first detective in the whole school. It’s up to Jigsaw and his friend Mila to investigate the sliming and track down the class clown. Brimming with music and charm, this show is perfect for students in grades 1-4.

General Admission is $8.00; senior citizens and SCCC faculty pay $7.00. SCCC students with current I.D. are entitled to one FREE ticket. For more information, please call the Van Nostrand Box Office at 631-851-6589 or

For more background, here’s a link to an old post written after I attended the show back in 2010. I actually thought it was pretty entertaining and heartfelt. Thumbs up. Both of ’em!

And Now There Are Three

My agent — who prefers not to be identified — in fact, she has asked me never to call her again — or even wave to her in public — says that “three is the magic number.”

There may be something to it. The third book makes this feel like an actual series, instead of two books that sort of look alike. You can begin to see what’s going on.

Confession: The number I’ve been stuck on, and this makes no logical sense, it’s just a number I latched on to from the outset, is twenty. I felt like I needed at least 20 books to establish what I am trying to achieve here. I want variety and the range, different genre under the large “scary/creepy/strange” umbrella. I want the books to be different, but they must also hang together as a family.

Anyway, today’s post has been brought to you by the number 3. I took this photo with my phone in the kitchen today, while talking to my 9th grader about his fantasy football team. It’s how we roll.

If you want to purchase any of these books, I want to say . . . thank you. Seriously, thanks. I really believe that kids will enjoy them. Not like my other books!