Kicking Off My Debut Year

I couldn’t be more excited to be ramping up for a wild debut year full of book launches! I finally revealed the covers of my last two books of the year, which means all five books are ready to brag about (and to pre-order, hint hint!)

This also means I’ve been deep in the weeds trying to figure out how to balance editor revisions, promotional activities, and writing new work. Right now, it feels like it’s been about 60% promotional activities, 30% revisions, and 10% writing new stuff. I’m hoping that will shift as the year continues, since I need to write new stuff if I want to have anything to revise/promote in the future!

To share some highlights so far:

• I’ve gotten to talk to some awesome kids.
I’ve been having a fantastic time working with Christie B. and the #kidsneedmentors 1st graders over at Walker Elementary in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. I also had a ton of fun on World Read Aloud Day talking to kids from Hawaii, Texas, and New York. One class even sent me an amazing video inspired by my INVENT-A-PET session with them!

• I got my first Kirkus review, for Layla and the Bots: Happy Paws:
“This easy-to-predict story, told in a mix of text and speech balloons, will give new readers confidence while imparting solid STEM lessons of research and implementation, and it’s great to see a young girl of color portrayed as a confident inventor (and rock star).
A solid introduction for an appealing new chapter-book character.”
-Kirkus Reviews

Cover of Layla and the Bots:Happy Paws and Kirkus Reviews quote "a solid introduction for an appealing new chapter-book character"

• I’ve started lining up events for March:
I’ll be attending the SCBWI Asilomar conference (Mar 13-15) for my 4th year to soak in the advice and inspiration of my local writers. I’ll be going to the Southern Kentucky Book Fest (SOKY) (Mar 20) to talk about Layla and the Bots on a Scholastic Branches panel (and I am SO excited to meet some of my esteemed fellow Branches authors!). And I’ll be at KidLitCon 2020 (Mar 27-28) to talk about STEM books and being a debut author.

• I revealed the covers for my upcoming I CAN CODE board book series, which releases in October!

• I’m hugely grateful to my launch groups.
I’m a member of three launch groups: Soaring 20’s Picture Books, New Readers Rock 2020, and SteamTeam2020. Each of these groups is filled with immensely talented and knowledgeable writers – so of course, you should follow them! As a debut author, having launch groups has been incredibly valuable. Whenever I have questions, I know I can find helpful and supportive answers from their members. They keep me accountable to maintain some of the marketing tasks that I might otherwise let slide. Writing books can be a lonely business, so I appreciate the camaraderie and support of writers going through similar experiences. And last but not least, I love getting to read and review all of their amazing 2020 books!

Soaring 20's Picture Book Group logo with flying books
New Readers Rock 2020 logo with diverse kids reading
Steam Team 2020 logo with books and globe

• And finally, there’s all the marketing stuff.
It feels satisfying to finally package up and brag about my books, but I haven’t figured out what the best use of my time is yet! So, I’ve been spending time updating my website, blasting my excitement on social media, getting new headshots, making promotional banners, messing around with Facebook ads (are they worth it? I don’t know yet!), thinking about activity guides, arranging blog posts and interviews (which I need to develop the content for!), pitching for conferences, talking to my publicists, and updating my website some more. I know, from listening to others, that most of this won’t move the needle, so I should just do what I enjoy. But right now, I’m also just trying to figure out which pieces of it I enjoy! Stay tuned for interviews coming from all sorts of exciting channels.

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