Do you wear more than one hat in the children's-YA book world? There are a lot of us. Writers who also are teachers or librarians. Illustrators who do promotional design. Retired librarians who work as consultants.
Today we welcome indie bookseller and author-illustrator Annette Simon, who has boldly decided to split herself into three people (the third of whom is a special guest reporter at Cynsations) and interview herself. Or herselves? Read on to discover for yourself.
By Annette Simon
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
Reporter AS: I’m glad we could all get together. Where do each of you work?
Bookseller AS: My work is play in a lovely independent, The BookMark, in Neptune Beach, Florida.
Writer/Artist AS: I play in my studio, at my kitchen table, and on whatever paper scraps are handy.
Reporter AS: You both love books. How does it feel to be surrounded by them?
Bookseller AS: Pretty much like heaven, except without the time to read them all.
Writer/Artist AS: Both inspired and intimidated. All those fantastic, new books! But a store’s never-ending supply makes getting published look easy.
Bookseller AS: Booksellers know otherwise. Besides, we champion the creators of those fantastic, new books.
Writer/Artist AS: Really? Bet we champion you more....
Reporter AS: I take it, reading is both a privilege and a job requirement?
Writer/Artist AS: Ditto. And ditto. Hey, remember ditto paper?
Bookseller AS: The smell of third grade! Remember when our teacher’s sub –
Reporter AS: Ladies, what’s the best part of your job?
Bookseller AS: Talking with people who love books. Matchmaking people and books. And when someone comes back for more? That reluctant reader now reads? Just … joy.
Writer/Artist AS: I’d say it’s those moments of creating when you’re in the zone, almost outside of yourself. But copy that about talking and reading. Nothing beats knowing your work matters to someone.
Bookseller AS: Icing on the cake is when that book was created by a friend.
Writer/Artist AS: Aww…. Uh, we’re friends, right?
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Bookseller AS: It’s our reason for being.
Writer/Artist AS: Absolutely.
Reporter AS: What’s something you learned on the job that surprised you?
Bookseller AS: That there is no perfect book.
Writer/Artist AS: Are you kidding me? I can name several right now. How ‘bout –
Bookseller AS: I mean, there is no one book that’s perfect for everybody, every time. Its connection will depend on a person’s reading level, time, interests, desires, life story, mood, and goals at that moment, which can and will vary any day of the week.
For children’s books, the buyers are also the gatekeepers, so add their goals for the reader. However, these are also the reasons why most good books will probably connect with someone, at some point.
Writer/Artist AS: Hmm ... I hadn’t thought of that. Okay. It relieves a bit of pressure. My book will not be for everybody, all the time, and that doesn’t mean it is (or I am) a failure.
More likely, my book will connect with someone, somewhere. I’ll channel Mr. Dean Martin….
Reporter AS: Tell me about the bookseller/author relationship. How do you best work with each other?
Bookseller AS: As I said, booksellers love writers and artists.
Writer/Artist AS: And we love booksellers. Also, librarians and media specialists.
Unless, of course, you’re Harper Lee, J.K. Rowling, John Green, Judy Blume, my parents, or the President.
Then, please. And by all means!
Writer/Artist AS: So what do I do if I’d like to see my book in your store?
Bookseller AS: Please visit the store’s website, and contact appropriately. If you’re a regular customer (and we hope that you are), please say so. If you’re visiting the area and can sign stock, let us know. But please, never tell indie booksellers that they can purchase your book from that giant online store.
Reporter AS: That happens?
Bookseller AS: More than you’d think. If you’re traditionally published, our source is your publisher. If you’re not, make sure your book is available through a reputable distributor.
Also, when you’re visiting the store, please don’t yammer on all "me, me, me." Talk with the sellers, ask about business or favorite titles. And once your book is on the shelf, please consider a link to the store on your author website. It’s just good business, you know?
Reporter AS: Parting thoughts?
Bookseller AS: Um ... I’ve become addicted to spine poetry.
Writer/Artist AS: I may have had a hand in that. Wanna share one we made together?
Bookseller AS: With pleasure. ‘Cause it’s true.
Reporter AS: Thank you, Annettes. I couldn’t have said it better, myself.
Cynsational Event Report
Last weekend, writer/art gal Annette Simon launched her new picture book, Robot Burp Head Smartypants! (Candlewick, 2014), at bookseller Annette Simon’s store.
Check out how it went, and enter to win a copy of her new release:
"We're on the store's events board!"
"Books in the house! Er, store."
"Prime real estate: a store window."
"Event prizes included foam numbers and alphabet puzzles, and sticker packages made by Annette and her mother-in-law."
"Party treats included iced cookies."
"Annette recruited store colleague and Duval County reading specialist Pat Laurence to play the green robot (and wear its tie)."
"Why we do what we do."
Enter to win a signed and personalized copy of Robot Burp Head Smartypants! (Candlewick, 2014) and a set of alphabet-and-numbers foam stickers. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S.
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