Derek Benz and J. S. Lewis, creators of the Grey Griffins series from Scholastic, decided to jumpstart the buzz for the launch signing of the second book in the series, The Rise of the Black Wolf at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., by providing raffle prizes that went well beyond what most stores offer. PW reports, "We've done some raffles, like a free signed copy, but nothing like this," said Changing Hands' PR manager Yvette Roeder. "This was in my experience the very first time an author has stepped up, and they lifted it to another level." Both the GreyGriffins.com Web site and the store newsletter promoted the prizes, which ranged from a grand prize of an iPod nano to a lunch at the Rainforest Cafe with the authors, your best friend, up to four family members, your homeroom teacher and school librarian; a $50 Toys R Us gift card; and a signed manuscript page.
As a result, attendance more than doubled; close to 300 parents, teachers and children came to hear Benz and Lewis's presentation using storyboards from the book. "A typical turnout," Roeder told PW, "would be 100 to 150 if the author is well-known, 20 for a lesser-known children's author."
Should authors pay for their own marketing? Well, maybe. A lot of us do. PW says it does "point up the need for better prizes, or incentives, to draw audiences even for writers who do have a strong following. At the event, Changing Hands sold out of the book, and The Rise of the Black Wolf continues to sell briskly at the store."