Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Debut Author Interview with Catherine Bailey

Catherine Bailey is a children's author from sunny Florida. She just celebrated the release of her debut picture book MIND YOUR MONSTERS on August 8, 2015 in her hometown's Barnes &  Noble, which proved to be a MONSTER of a party!

Catherine started promoting her book way in advance. I won my MYM swag during her cover-reveal giveaway on her blog back in March. She's created a lot of buzz since so I wanted to get the inside scoops of her marketing skills. 

In this interview, you will learn every detail on what goes into planning a book launch party and more. Lots of monsterly love here so let's get started! 

Monster Marketing 

An interview with debut author Catherine Bailey

Catherine, how did you come up with the idea for Mind Your Monsters?

My then two year old daughter asked me “Mommy, how do you move a monster?” The best answer I could come up with was “Politely.” – LOL! Then I was intrigued by this idea that by using manners – specifically please – small kids could have this great big power. Plus I love Halloween and all things monster.

Sterling Publishing, 2015
PLEASE (notice my politeness?) tell us the path you took that led you to your agent 

Basically I queried Kathleen, was very kindly and thoughtfully rejected, and then approached her again a few months later when Mind Your Monsters was pulled from the slush pile by an editor at Sterling Publishing. Kathleen had never seen Mind Your Monsters before because I queried her with a different manuscript (You don’t query agents with stories that you have out on sub to editors).

You can read the long version of this story on my author blog here.

Who initiated the set-up of your book launch party? 

I initiated the launch party – as well as every single library, school and store visit since. My publisher provided me with a publicist who has been wonderful in terms of submitting the book to print media. But as a debut author it really was on me to get the word out – in person and on social media. I spent three days driving to every place I could think of that might sell or carry my book, equipped with a self-made “media packet.” I called newspapers and schools. I figured out Twitter…. Eventually…. Sort of. I hired a web designer and paid for a website. I made a Facebook page. I kept my blog updated. I bought promo items, made an enormous plywood replica of my book cover for photo ops, and researched what to do at events (crafts games, work sheets, etc.) Bottom line – I hustled, and I’m still hustling! 

"As a debut author it really was on me to get the word out"

I love the idea of the photo op with your giant book cover! So tell me, what goes on in the planning of a launch party at a bookstore?

Well first I had to pick a place. The local Barnes and Noble was the obvious choice (though I had a back up option just in case). I called and got the B&N event coordinator’s name and email. I contacted her with a pitch for the party, my headshot, Press Release, book cover graphic, black and white samples of the artwork, etc. Once Barnes and Noble was on board with hosting the event I mapped out a rough schedule – reading, crafts, signing – and got everything approved by B&N. I didn't plan any food because it was prohibited and frankly that was fine with me.

Then I promoted the event online and in person. I had flyers designed by my web designer and printed them up at Staples. It was summer so I approached local camps and asked them to send the flyers home with the kids. If school had been in session I would have contacted them as well – at least schools where my daughters attend, and where I have teacher and mom friends. I posted them at YMCAs, stores, gyms, libraries, daycares – pretty much if it was in Stuart and didn’t move, I taped my flyer to it.

"I promoted the event online and in person"

How did I figure out what to do? I researched launch parties on the Blueboards, I asked my critique partners who are published, and I read author blogs. I also chatted with librarians for ideas and my agent was SUPER helpful. I did all this BEFORE I contacted B&N so I could approach them with a concrete, professional plan.

Did much of your marketing expense come out-of-pocket?

Yup, LOL! I have paid for everything – from gas for road trips to launch party flyers to little monster toys – except for a huge and beautiful poster that my publicist sent to me. My husband is less than thrilled with this but I think it’s crucial to show readers, educators and your publisher that you are “in it to win it”

How many months in advance did you plan for the book launch?

Two months.

Any other marketing strategies that worked or didn't work for you? 

Facebook has been a wonderful resource, as has Twitter. And I don’t even really understand Twitter. I do know that I can be at a reading or signing and post a picture to these sites from my phone – which is easy, free, fun promotion. They are also great places to get the word out about events, and most importantly to show thanks. A lot of people will work hard to make you successful and support you. Be grateful – and be grateful publicly!

Adorable plush monsters!
Also stick with what you know and don’t spread yourself too thin. Do I use Pinterest and Instagram? Nope. They are probably fabulous but I have enough with my FB page, Twitter account, website, blog and in person work.   

"A lot of people will work hard to make you successful and support you. Be grateful and be grateful publicly!"

What resources did you use to help you plan for the marketing of your book?

The best resources were my critique partners and the Blueboards. Which is to say – you should learn from authors who’ve already done this. And be sure to pay it forward. For example, school visits were a mystery to me. But after weeks of online research and talking to teachers, I drafted and polished my Author Visit Packet. Then another writer asked to see it, copied it, tweaked it, and is using it now. I’m thrilled I could help her like so many other writers helped me.

Oh and does Diet Coke and Nutella count as resources? Because I used those too :)

Oh, I LOVE Nutella! Yes, they count as resources. Nothing like nuts to keep you sane!

Thank you so much, Catherine, for doing this interview with me. I've learned so much as to what goes on behind the scenes of an author! I'm finding that an author wears many hats.  I wish you happiness and abundance! 

PLEASE show Catherine your monsterly love by picking up a copy of MIND YOUR MONSTERS. Available in bookstores today!

Fun Facts:

  • # of rewrites/revisions for Mind Your Monsters: Dozens 
  • # of months from first draft to polished ms: 14 months
  • # of months for Sterling to publish Mind Your Monsters: 32 months!
  • # of months from agent contract to Sterling contract:  7 months


  1. First of all, congratulations to Catherine on her debut book! Secondly, this is an awesome inside look on how debut authors can/need to take charge of their own publicity. I am definitely saving this in case I ever get published. Thanks, Romelle and Catherine!

    1. Yes, this is good to know for when that time comes so we go in prepared! It will happen some day soon for you, Teresa!

  2. Great interview, Romelle! I especially like the Fun Facts.

    Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your experience. I am sure it will help folks.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Amy! Glad you enjoyed the fun facts as I did.



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