So, the Runaway Smile reading I mentioned the other day took place on Saturday in Rafina, at the Municipal Library. Some forty children showed up, along with several parents.
With Dimitri, we had decided this wouldn’t be a usual book reading. In fact, there was no reading from the book whatsoever. We deliberately played down the “book promoting” aspect and focused instead on giving the children a great time. So, I started off the event by welcoming the kids and by introducing them briefly to the story about the little boy who woke up one day and had lost his smile.
Dimitris then took over and asked them to draw a picture of a little boy (or girl), and showed them how he would draw the characters himself. Confessing he’s a rather poor illustrator, though, he asked for help from the audience, which the kids were more than happy to provide.
Things started to take off after that. Dimitris did some rounds to help kids with their drawings and provide inspiration where needed.
We introduced the closet monster (see second photo above), the king, and the clown before reaching the story’s – and the event’s – conclusion.
Once we finished, we asked all the kids to place their works on the floor and to pick whichever they wished.
The second best part was when one of the moms came to me and confessed she’d been a bit apprehensive about bringing her kid to the event, as book readings can be “a tad boring.” Her child was beaming, however, and she bought a copy of Smile while thanking me for a fun evening.
The best part came shortly after we left, and I was driving back home. A childhood friend I hadn’t spoken to in years called me to tell me his sons had been at the event, and that he’d only then realized it was hosted by me (his sons had been escorted by a friend’s mom). His children were pretty excited about it, so he promised to buy the book when we next met.
Which brings me to a marketing note: during the event, Agnes (or Arni as she prefers to be called in English), whom I can’t thank enough for organizing the event, asked me a couple of times whether I wanted to promote the book more actively by reading from it. I politely refused and told her, “this event isn’t about selling a book; it’s about giving the children the best time we possibly can.”
Despite this, we did sell quite a few copies – some 30 of them. Not because I had talked the book up, but because I didn’t really say all that much about it! So, I guess there’s a marketing lesson there 🙂
Oh, and if you want to check out the book for yourself, it’s available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback form.