The most common question I get about Goodnight, Dragons is how did the story come to me. There are really three layers to the answer.
The reason I sat down that night to write was because of an unexpected rejection on the heels of another unexpected rejection. I usually expect rejection, since that is my experience. But I had two novels out at two different publishers, and the editors at both publishers had asked for and received revisions. Very hopeful signs, especially when they tell you how much they love your novel. But after one editorial team decided one novel wouldn’t have a big enough audience (soccer fans revolt!), and the next editorial team decided the cat novel was not going in the direction they’d hoped (“and never send it to us again”–okay, that’s not a direct quote, but it’s pretty close), I moved beyond crushed to steaming. I sat down at my computer and told the universe, “I’m going to write a story they will have to publish,” and I let my fingers fly.
Now, the probable reason that my fingers began writing about dragons is that I’d just spent a long car ride with a writer friend who was talking about her dragon novel. Which caused me concern later when I wondered if I’d pilfered her idea. Kindly she assured me that she gets ideas from other writers all the time, and as long as I wasn’t writing her novel with her creative twist on a dragon story (it really is, and someone will buy it soon, Kathy!) I was fine.
The probable underlying reason for a story about dragons is that my youngest son has been dreaming about dragons for as long as I can remember. I started to write, “yammering,” but there’s more drawing and writing and ceramic-making than actual conversation. He loves the fiery-breathing things.
That final reason is what ended up on the jacket flap copy. “Judith L. Roth was inspired to write Goodnight, Dragons thanks to her youngest son, who thinks dragons are much more interesting than any “real” animals.” He actually said “a whole lot cooler,” but apparently that’s not good flap copy. Also not good flap copy–“She got the idea from another writer” or “she wrote it in a mad-hot conniption fit.” So Corey gets the credit. And the dedication to him is sincere.
But now you know the whole truth of where Goodnight, Dragons came from.
One of Corey's creations
In the last two weeks, I’ve done two booksignings for Goodnight, Dragons. They were very different in theme, place, enjoyment and number of books sold. I am trying to figure out how to make a booksigning successful.
The first booksigning took place at the book launch party. This was held in the largest room of my church. BetterWorld Books sold the books for me. My husband’s band provided lively music. My sister-in-law coordinated refreshments. After it was set up, all I needed to do was sit behind the table, sign books and enjoy conversations with friends. I met a few new people which was also enjoyable. Book count tally: 51 Goodnight, Dragons sold. 8 of my older picture books sold. I would call that successful.
The second booksigning took place at Barnes & Noble. I prepared by cutting out numerous tiny fleece blankets for the children at storytime to drape over the toy dragons they were encouraged to bring. I wrote a dragon song and my friend put out the news to her sixth graders about singing it to start off the storytime. About 7 kids agreed to do it. I practiced reading the book aloud. Barnes & Noble prepared by advertising in their newsletter and by making and displaying posters about the event many weeks ahead of time. They also had a large display of my books at the entrance to the children’s section. Three newspapers ran articles of different interviews with me and telling about the event. I”m not sure what more could have been done.
This is not to say the event was a disaster. I think it was about normal for a writer who is not a celebrity or a well-known author. Only one of the seven singers showed up, so we had a tiny, pitchy performance. None of the children brought along a dragon, so my lonely dragon was the only one draped in a blanket. There were about 7 children who sat and listened to the story, all but one of them melting away with their parents when the time came to get a book. Book count tally: 8 sold, three of them to my good neighbor. I have done worse.
But I am wondering about the usefulness of the endeavor. Was the pay-off of books sold worth the effort Barnes & Noble put into it? How much will this affect sales/impressions of Goodnight, Dragons? Was it worth my effort, not to mention my anxious stomach? Was it worth the always humbling notion that most bookstore browsers want to sidle away from me when I’m behind the signing table?
I would welcome any thoughts on the matter.
The book launch party was a great success, by my outlook, anyway. Here’s a picture of the guys who made the fun part happen. As an added bonus, the drummer (Paul) is a children’s librarian!
Last night after taking invitations to our neighbors, I realized in a week I would be greeting old and new friends, signing books and listening to my husband’s band. I’m not quite ready yet, so the idea was a little frightening.
We had a crisis this week. It was more of a crisis for Bob, who tore his quadricep muscle and had to have surgery. My part of the crisis was that it looked like the live music for the party would not happen. Bob is central to the band and no one could conceive of doing the music without him. But my friend Tracy suggested a substitute and got me in touch with him, and the other band members opened up and decided to try it. Craig is a great musician, and very gracious. My husband is excited about getting to know another musician in the area. And I am so glad that my favorite part of the party can still happen. Thank you, Tracy and Craig!
Last night the contest ceremony took place. I nabbed my husband coming in the back door from work and asked him to reach in the bowl for the two winning names. I stirred the contents and held the bowl up high. He pulled out two folded slips of paper. The winning entries are Connie Torres and Tracy Burchett. Congratulations, you two!