Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

National Indie Excellence Award Finalist Announcement!

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I’m so excited to announce that my third children’s book, Night Buddies Go Sky High, was announced to be a National Indie Excellence Award Finalist! We placed in the Chapter Book category among two other excellent titles (for a full list of winners, click here).

This is the first award Night Buddies Go Sky High has won, but makes the Night Buddies series an 8-time award winning series!

As an indie author, much of the time you wonder if your book matters in this large market, amid books backed by big-name publishers. But awards like the National Indie Excellence Awards (who have now been around for 10 years!) bring authors confidence and pride in the work they’ve put forth, as well as bring readers a great opportunity to give books they might otherwise not have known about a read.

I’m extremely grateful to NIEA for choosing my book as a finalist, as well as to all the readers who have believed in it all along. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now it’s time to celebrate!

What do you think of awards for indie authors? Have you ever discovered a book you love because they won an award? Let me know in the comments!

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The Benefit of Doing Live Readings as an Author

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I was fortunate to be invited to do a live reading of my newest book, Night Buddies Go Sky High, at the store Books to be Red on Ocracoke Island, NC last week, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had since the book released earlier this year. A close-knit, enthusiastic group of both children and parents came out to listen to my reading, and through that experience I had the opportunity to take on an entirely different perspective of my book.

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Marketing a book seems to be all about the Internet these days. You have to do blog tours, keep up-to-date on Twitter and Facebook, send out e-mails, and all kinds of things that allow you to interact with readers—but Internet interaction can only take you so far. When you get the chance to hear someone laugh at a particularly funny scene or line, watch their eyes light up as you imitate character’s voices, and have the chance to answer their questions or talk about the characters face-to-face, that is when you really feel as though you’ve passed your book on from being your creation, to being something for other people to love.

As an independently published author, it can be more difficult to set up in-person readings, you’ll have to foot any travel expenses, and you might not get the giant crows showing up the way they do for best-selling authors—but let me tell you, doing a live reading is worth all of those difficulties. I’ve had the opportunity to read in schools, libraries, and independent bookstores like Books to be Red, and no matter how big or small the crowd, I always walk away glad to have gone through with it. Connecting with readers is one of the most rewarding parts of being an author, and no connection is more intimate than one established in a live reading.

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If anyone who came to my reading on Ocracoke Island is reading this, thank you so much for taking the time to come listen to me read. If any other independent authors are reading this, look into setting up a live reading as soon as possible; you’ll have a chance to market your book the old-fashioned way, by connecting with individuals person-to-person, not computer-to-computer.

Have you ever attended a live reading? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

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Book Trailers 101: The Tools You Need to Make Your Trailer Work

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As authors, we write books for people to read. We don’t make movies; we want people to follow our stories through our words.  So where do we start when we have to all of a sudden turn our literary stories into visual ones?

Well, when I was making my trailer for Night Buddies Go Sky High, I began by thinking about what a book trailer ought to do.

1. Give readers information on what Night Buddies was about.

2. Give readers a feel for what they would find on the page.

3. Generate enough interest in a viewer to look more into reading a Night Buddies book.

When you’re creating a book trailer, you have to understand that most likely, the trailer won’t sell the book. Trailers are used as a jumping point, meaning that they should be intriguing enough, cute enough, or funny enough for someone to think, “I want more.” With that in mind, I knew I had to focus on how to give readers information about my book and give them a feel for its style in an intriguing, cute, or funny way. No pressure.

I think the best thing you can do as an author is work with what you have. I knew I wasn’t going to make a million-dollar, special-effect-filled, Hollywood-style trailer. My book didn’t call for one of those. What I needed was something simple, short, and to the point. I decided to use what visual tools I already had—the illustrations from my book—and combine them with my strongest asset, my writing.

What I ended up with was this:

I utilized what tools I couldn’t use in a book, mainly audio such as children’s cheering and music in the background that gave a sense for the whimsical, cute nature of the story, to make the trailer that much more interesting to watch, but overall I just let my characters tell the story, just like they do in the book. I’m of the mind that book trailers don’t have to, and really shouldn’t be, complex. If you have an interesting story, and a book trailer that really represents it, you don’t need to worry about making it feature-film status.

Do you enjoy watching book trailers? Have you used one to promote one of your books? Link it in the comments below!

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