May 22, 2024

Have Swag Will Travel: Planning Events that Align with a Book's Theme, by Carol Gordon Ekster

Dear Readers, it's time to buckle up for another great Have Swag Will Travel guest post. 

Today's guest, Carol Gordon Ekster, is a retired educator with several books to her credit--AND she is one of my "agency sisters" at The Seymour Agency. She has visited the blog previously to share her path to publication stories for YOU KNOW WHAT? and SOME DADDIES. Today she's stopping by the blog to share her book event experience and planning tips with us. Take it away, Carol!  

Author Carol Gordon Ekster in a trucker hat sitting behind a table filled with books she has authored.
Image Source: Carol Gordon Ekster

Have Swag Will Travel: Tips for Planning Book Events

by Carol Gordon Ekster

When you have a book coming out, you need to brainstorm: Who might be interested in your title? What type of event could you join that might tie into the theme of your book?  Of course, children's book festivals are great. People come to buy books! All of us would think of bookstores and libraries. One of my critique groups meets in my local library, so we reached out to see if they would plan a local author fair. And they did! That's perfect because people who come are interested in buying signed copies of books and want to meet you and chat with you. 

And what if you could enhance a library or bookstore visit by offering your visitors more? My book, TRUCKER KID, Capstone, 2023, illustrated by Russ Cox, was a perfect example of a picture book to connect with transportation events. A brilliant librarian, Amy Martin, invited me to the Peobody Institute Library in Danvers, MA, and she also connected with the Department of Public Works in their town, to send over a couple of trucks to accompany my reading. We first met inside and I shared the book, we sang the Trucker Kid song from my book trailer, and moved around the room like trucks. I had some activity sheets for kids to work on if we needed them while we waited for the trucks to roll into the parking lot. Soon they arrived honking their horns, inviting the kids to climb aboard and explore the town's trucks. If you can get a nice day and a bookstore involved, fantastic! Someone suggested I partner up with a Touch a Truck event and I've reached out to a few and will hopefully be able to connect at some point in the future. 

Image of a child near author Carol Gordon Ekster holding her book and near a Big Truck
Image Source: Carol Gordon Ekster  

Not all books lend themselves to specific events. But sometimes there may be a type of store that isn't a bookstore, but would be happy to carry your books. I've reached out to a local store that carried baby outfits and they made a lovely display with my books in case people wanted to gift a book with a onesie. I offered to come in and sign books for anyone who asked. I did sell a few before the store closed. For Ruth the Sleuth and the Messy Room, Mazor Publishers, 2018, illustrated by Kimberly Soderberg, I reached out to a bakery, because the story's plot has to do with chocolate chip cookies. I sold a few there as well. How many people spotted the titles? How many people bought the book after their visit to the store or bakery? I don't know. But we need to do what we can to get our books seen and read. 

Some Daddies, Beaming Books, 2022, illustrated by Javiera Maclean Alvarez, is easier in that I can promote it each Father's Day. But what other family gatherings can I do a reading for? Almost every family has a daddy or daddy figure. Reaching interested buyers for your book is not necessarily easy, but shine some of your creativity onto your marketing endeavors and you can figure out some excellent possibilities for your title. And if you're in a critique group or have #kidlit friends, find a time for a planning session where you can brainstorm together the places to promote each creative's books. Team work makes the dream work! 

Authors Carol Gordon Ekster, Kirsti Call, and Carrie Finison each holding picture books they have authored
Authors Carol Gordon Ekster, Kirsti Call, and Carrie Finison

And if even only one family shows up to something you've planned, you never know where that can lead. Try not to be discouraged. Have faith and carry on. Share your books wherever and whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Good luck! 

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insights with us, Carol!  I am definitely inspired by your creative book promotion ideas. And I agree whole-heartedly with your encouragement to think outside the typical framework for book promotion. One of my favorite events last year involved a collaboration with a florist -- a fun match-up for Lucy's Blooms

And now, dear readers, you know what to do. The best way to thank an author whose insights have been helpful and/or inspiring to you is to support their work. Buy their books. Request them from your library. Read and share them with others. Carol's books, including her latest, TRUCKER KID, and SOME DADDIES are available everywhere books are borrowed and sold, including your own local, indie bookstore

Close of photo of author Carol Gordon Ekster Smiling
Image Source: Carol Gordon Ekster
Carol Gordon Ekster was a passionate elementary school teacher for thirty-five years. Now retired, Carol is grateful that her writing allows her to continue communicating with children. She is the author of Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You which won 3rd place in the children’s category of the Catholic Press Association Book Awards and was also a finalist for the ACP Excellence in Publishing Awards 2016. Her picture book, You Know What?, came out first in Dutch (Mama, Wist Je Dat?), December 2016 with Clavis Books. The English version released September 2017 and was a CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards Nominee for Talk (2018) and a finalist for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award in the New England region, 2018. The Korean language edition came out 2019 and Arabic and Chinese editions are in process.  Some Daddies, illustrated by Javiera Maclean Alvarez came out May 2022 with Beaming Books. Trucker Kid, illustrated by Russ Cox came out spring 2023 with Capstone. When Carol is not in a critique group or at her computer she might be doing yoga or biking. She lives in Andover, Massachusetts with her husband Mark. Find out more at .

And connect with her here: 

Have Swag Will Travel is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at