Monday, February 14, 2011

Marketing Monday - Anna Dewdney

When I asked Anna Dewdney, author/illustrator of the extremely popular Llama llama books what she did to market her books, she gave me an answer every author wishes were their own:
I really didn't do much to market my books, other than show up at bookstores.  It was a word of mouth thing, and after that, Penguin started marketing me. 
But Anna doesn't just show up, she provides an engaging experience for her audience, one that likely boosts the number of recommendations people give regarding her books (and the live experience).

I saw Anna at the Texas Book Festival in October. When she first got on "stage" she said not a word. Instead, she gave a little wave to the children sitting up front, uncapped a black marker, and set to work drawing Llama llama on a large posterboard. Anna made quick work of it, since she draws Llama llama often. When she was done, she turned to address her audience.

"Someone wants to say hi." She gestured at the illustration. "He's waving to you."

The children cheered and waved back.

Anna talked a bit about how she came to write Llama Llama Red Pyjama, which she then read. But she didn't just read it, she practically acted it out, doing different voices for Llama llama and his mother, making Llama llama's voice tremble when he was frightened. It was a highly entertaining performance.

Anna was at the Texas Book Festival to promote her new book, Llama Llama Holiday Drama, and she gave a similar performance for that one, even swooning near the end. The children giggled wildly, parents were grinning, it was a memorable event.

During the signing, Anna drew Llama llama in each and every book. So while Anna claims that she just "showed up" there is much more to her successful appearances than this modest author would like to admit.

Live appearances are not for everyone, but for authors (particularly authors of picture books) with a dramatic flair, events such as this once can speed the word of mouth along.

If you are a published author and you would like to share your experiences with marketing and promoting your book(s), I'd love to share your story! Please contact me at anpstevens [at] gmail [dot] com. 


  1. Publishers love an author who can market their work, let alone charm their audience so well! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Awww,I just love this woman's books. As a librarian who has to (I mean "gets to"--it's a pleasure) read picture books aloud to up to 40 squirming little children, I know how important it is that the sentences need to roll off my tongue. Not a lot of picture books are appropriate for that anymore, in that they're too long, or the wording is too complex, for group readings. These work, and llama is adorable.

  3. Plus the books have very catchy covers too. And greetings fellow crusader!

  4. Can't imagine acting out my book in front of real people!

  5. Hi Alison - I am a fellow Crusader and picture book writer (although fiction, not non-fiction so far) and was delighted to find your blog on the list - there are so few picture book writers on it. Your blog looks great, and I love Anna Dewdney! I hope you'll have a chance to come check out mine :)

  6. Will: That they do!

    Catherine: What a fun job description! These books are extremely well written and easy to read.

    Michael: Greetings! Anna's also a terrific illustrator.

    Alex: It's definitely not for everyone. And I think it's probably easier to act out a 400-word rhyming book than something like yours!

    Susanna: Great to find another PB writer. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I left a long comment but I'm pretty sure captcha captured it and devoured it. So I'll just say this was a good example of author driven marketing.

    the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

  8. Great post. Those Llama Llama pictures are adorable. It's clear that Anna has a bit of charisma about her.

  9. Lee: Gotta love captcha, my comments disappear all the time!

    SariBelle: Thanks! I completely agree. Anna puts her charisma to good use.

  10. Hi Crusader - good to meet you.

    I suspect that marketing is my biggest weakness - it's always good to see other people's thoughts and experiences on the subject.

  11. What a lovely post - marketing can be hard but if you have such an engaing character and can hold an audience, that's a big plus.
    Pleased to meet you fellow crusader!

  12. Tony: hi! I'm with you, which is why I started asking published authors what they do.

    Margo: pleased to meet you, too!

  13. Oh, I LOVE "Llama"! I act it out for my kids too! It is so easy to turn it into a performance. This is my kind of writing!!

    Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog. It means a lot to me that it meant something to you!

  14. That was very brave to act out with voices...good for her. I'll bet her fans loved it!

    Dropped by to follow and to say hello from the crusade. =)
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  15. wow.....she sounds like an incredible person...the cartoons are so cute....

  16. Hello fellow Crusader! :)

    Great post! I admire how personable Anna is, what a great lady!

    One of these days I'll be contacting you on book promotions. *Sigh*

    ♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥