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Rain Man
02-01-2007, 08:27 PM
Long story behind this, but my company has "adopted" an elementary school, and we occasionally send people there to volunteer for the school.

My turn came up yesterday, and I approached the situation with a great degree of ignorance, having not actually seen a child since the mid-1990s. I showed up at the school, and I actually got a pretty good job: while my office manager read stories to various groups of kids, my job was to organize a book giveaway. Every kid at story time got a free book, so my job was to pull the kids out of the story circle in small groups, explain to them the choices, and make sure that they only took one book. I was also in charge of stocking the books on a couple of little tables.

Keep in mind that this is one elementary school, so this wasn't a huge operation. I gave away about a hundred books in three hours to kids ranging from 4 to 7 years old.

My lessons as a bookseller:

1. When the first group came in, it was a very small preschool class, so I brought the kids to the tables one at a time, let them pick out their book, and then took them back to the story area. One little girl wasn't paying attention, so I tapped her on her four year-old shoulder. Alarms immediately went off in my head. DON'T TOUCH LITTLE GIRLS! DON'T TOUCH LITTLE GIRLS! YOU'LL GO TO PRISON! So from that point on, I would wave my hand in front of their faces if I couldn't get their attention.

2. About 75 percent of the preschool kids coming in are Spanish speakers, so they had two tables of books, one in English and one in Spanish. My English-only preferences shone through, so I would try to steer the kids toward the English books. In a good sign, most of the youngest kids would pick Spanish books, while the older kids almost all got English books as the schools developed their language skills. Good job, school system! I was also a bit impressed that several of the 7 year-olds would wander back and forth between the tables checking out books. They were apparently fully bilingual.

3. By the age of six, you can already predict the destiny of a good proportion of children, just by observing them.

4. If you want a successful children's book, you apparently have to base it off of a famous televised cartoon character. It was annoying to me, so I pushed the other types of books in my marketing role. ("No, no. You don't want Shrek. Go with "I Know a Rhino". You'll love the surprise ending.")

5. If you don't have the rights to a famous televised cartoon character, make your main character a dinosaur.

6. On the Spanish-language table, I was pushing a book that showed pictures of houses all around the world. It was really kind of cool, but it took me forever to find a taker. Kids kept picking lame-o books with bright colors instead. "Come on, come on. You already know about how the dinosaur learned to make his bed. Look at this one. Wigwams! Quonset huts! Adobe! Trust me on this one."

7. On the English language table, there was little interest in self-help books (I could never sell anyone on the 'how to tie your shoes' book, though some kids really needed it), and I could never get anyone to take the cool "A Day in an Apple Orchard" book. ("Look. Trees. Apples. This is much more interesting than the dancing hippopotomous. Seriously.")

8. I had a theory going in that books that were physically bigger would go faster, especially among the littlest market segments. However, that was not true. I was surprised.

9. As a small businessman, I favor the independents. Books that were ghost-written by celebrities got poor placement on my table. Take that, you big-money stars.

10. I attempted to mold young minds by putting the better books in the best positions on the table. Biography of Einstein? Book on the planets? History of North American explorers? Good position. Stupid theme books about friendly pirates who want to give cake to young stowaways? Back of the bus (though still in front of the celebrities' books).

11. Kids don't get my jokes.

12. It was a little embarrassing when a five-year old asked me what a Spanish-language book was about, and I couldn't figure it out.

All in all, it was an interesting market research study. I discovered that nonfiction books for six year-olds is not a good market, and that content is less important than cover art for most consumers under the age of five. I also learned that you want to make a good impression on the bookseller if you want good placement in the store, and of course I learned that you should never touch a small child if you're a 40-something man.

A good day, overall, before I turned over the keys to the store to DaFace. I bet he wasn't expecting this assignment when he moved to Denver.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 08:35 PM
Cute story. I am actually looking for a publisher-can you help a brother out??

Adept Havelock
02-01-2007, 08:49 PM
Pretty cool, Rain Man. I worked at bookshops through college...it's a unique little world. I've got to say that it was finding the little ones that hated to read something they really enjoyed that made it worthwhile.

El Jefe
02-01-2007, 08:51 PM
If Halfcan publish a book I have to buy a copy to read it.

DaFace
02-01-2007, 08:57 PM
A good day, overall, before I turned over the keys to the store to DaFace. I bet he wasn't expecting this assignment when he moved to Denver.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure you left that one out of the job description. It was a fun experience for the most part, though I have to say that reading a book to a bunch of preschoolers (which I'm not good at) is a little weird when none of them speak English. I basically read a line, then waited on their teacher to translate. I eventually gave up and pretty much started gesturing and pointing to the cute pictures of a hedgehog.

The only thing I can add to RM's story is that the art of "perusing" is developed somewhere during the kindergarten year. The preschoolers could walk to the table and pick a book in about 3.7 seconds, while the first graders would just walk around the table looking unless you told them that their time was up.

Count Alex's Losses
02-01-2007, 09:00 PM
Sounds like an excruciating experience.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 09:02 PM
Yeah, I'm pretty sure you left that one out of the job description. It was a fun experience for the most part, though I have to say that reading a book to a bunch of preschoolers (which I'm not good at) is a little weird when none of them speak English. I basically read a line, then waited on their teacher to translate. I eventually gave up and pretty much started gesturing and pointing to the cute pictures of a hedgehog.

The only thing I can add to RM's story is that the art of "perusing" is developed somewhere during the kindergarten year. The preschoolers could walk to the table and pick a book in about 3.7 seconds, while the first graders would just walk around the table looking unless you told them that their time was up.

I spent a lot of time up at my kids school working with the kids to help them read better. One kid named Brandon-was having a ton of problems. He had come home and found his Dad dead-hung himself in the back yard. Obviously the trauma put him way behind in school. I worked with him a lot-became a big brother type and then years later coached him in Basketball for 3 years. That little bit of time I spent- really made a big difference. Sometime kids just need a break.

Jenson71
02-01-2007, 09:06 PM
I spent a lot of time up at my kids school working with the kids to help them read better. One kid named Brandon-was having a ton of problems. He had come home and found his Dad dead-hung himself in the back yard. Obviously the trauma put him way behind in school. I worked with him a lot-became a big brother type and then years later coached him in Basketball for 3 years. That little bit of time I spent- really made a big difference. Sometime kids just need a break.

That's good. When I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club, I came away thinking "sometimes kids just need some attention". I spent my time with a lot of little black kids, grew up in poor homes or just above that poverty line, welfare homes, etc. You think, these kids are crazy, but then you sit down and give them your time and they're good.

milkman
02-01-2007, 09:09 PM
If Halfcan publish a book I have to buy a copy to read it.

I'm sure it'll be a quick read.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 09:09 PM
If Halfcan publish a book I have to buy a copy to read it.

Get your money ready this is the year. :)

I have been shopping to agents with little success so far. I did have one offer in Canada-but would have to move there and become a citizen. The Publishing world seems to not want great work right now, they want quick hits or the next Harry Potter. If you name is not famous it is long odds to get published. So I think I am going the self publishing route to start-just to get some copies out there and provide a track record of sales with my proposal. Hopefully by the end of the year I will have my 2nd novel done.

That is why I was asking if anyone had connections. :banghead:

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 09:13 PM
I'm sure it'll be a quick read.

Actually, it is a Historic Mystery that tops out at 484 pages. It took about 9 months of research, 2 years to write it and a year to edit. Finishing up the cover now. I have the artwork just need an expert to put the whole thing together and polish it up a bit.

Jenson71
02-01-2007, 09:19 PM
Actually, it is a Historic Mystery that tops out at 484 pages. It took about 9 months of research, 2 years to write it and a year to edit. Finishing up the cover now. I have the artwork just need an expert to put the whole thing together and polish it up a bit.

Hopefully things go real well for you, Halfcan.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 09:32 PM
I will go ahead and put the Synopsis on here in case somebody has a friend in the Publishing Industry.

Queen Anne's Revenge

"Behind every great fortune is a crime."
Honor De Balzac

In 1996, Intersal Inc. made a distinguished maritime discovery when they found the Queen Anne's Revenge burried in shallow water off the North Carolina coast. The divers recovered small amounts of gold dust from the former slave vessel turned pirate flagship, but the cargo hold was empty and the fortune of the infamous Captain Teach remained missing.

Rose Rodriquez, a direct descendant of a slave from the Queen Anne's Revenge, is determined to wrap up the lose ends of her life with dignity and come to terms with her estranged daughter, Isabelle. A box of old mementos from her past life was recently uncovered in a forgotten closet and has become Rose's latest projest. Still recuperating from cancer, she enlist the help of her granddaughter, Sophie. During the process, a seemingly innocuous gift to Sophie, plunges the twelve-year old into a maze of adventure, shrouded by a deadly curse. In the end, Sophie must decide what she will risk for an opportunity at unimaginable wealth: her life, her family, or even her soul.

Meticulously researched plot twist and a tapestry of hidden clues, will pull you into this historical mystery. After reading to a stunning conclusion laced with multiple surprises you will ask yourself, what would I risk, to unlock the secrets of the Queen Anne's Revenge?

Count Alex's Losses
02-01-2007, 09:33 PM
DUN DUN DUN

Donger
02-01-2007, 09:38 PM
3. By the age of six, you can already predict the destiny of a good proportion of children, just by observing them.

One of these days RainMan, you will meet my children. You will leave shaking your head.

Delano
02-01-2007, 09:39 PM
I will go ahead and put the Synopsis on here in case somebody has a friend in the Publishing Industry.

Queen Anne's Revenge
...

You should have allocated some of the time spent editing the novel to time spent editing your synopsis.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 09:43 PM
Hopefully things go real well for you, Halfcan.

I appreciate that-it was a ton of hard work, rewrites after rewrites. I dumped the first three chapters and started over because I was just not good enough. Although I have written poetry for over 20 years- the flowery language of poetry does not transfer well to a Novel. So I spent a year reading every book on writing I could find-and then started over. I think after the first 10 chapters I really found my voice and the writing is clean and crisp. Early on, it was a struggle. From reading my post on hear- you can tell, spelling and grammer have never been my strong suits-lol It is a struggle sometimes. It is great to have fantastic ideas-but if you cannot communicate them to the reader-it does not matter.

My big break came after going through two pathetic editors. My girl in California took over and it has been a breath of fresh air. She is great at finding mistakes, so the whole project is very professional now.

One thing I found out- A great writer can be a lousy editor and Vice versa. It is two different parts of your brain I suppose.

Good luck with your project, would love to read it when you are done.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 09:49 PM
You should have allocated some of the time spent editing the novel to time spent editing your synopsis.

I am open for suggestions- any help would be appreciated.

It was a whole different animal doing a Synopsis, Character Index, Outline, Bibliography, and Bio. There are some things I am good at and others I have never attempted. But you just give it your best shot.

Delano
02-01-2007, 09:59 PM
I am open for suggestions- any help would be appreciated.

It was a whole different animal doing a Synopsis, Character Index, Outline, Bibliography, and Bio. There are some things I am good at and others I have never attempted. But you just give it your best shot.

I am sure it is quite difficult. I have quite a bit of writing on my plate for courses I am taking this semester so I can't help you out ;) Try reading your writing backwards so it isn't the same old thing and you may be able to pick out errors better that way. Bibliographies are easy enough with a MLA handbook.

Dr. Facebook Fever
02-01-2007, 10:10 PM
11. Kids don't get my jokes.


What a shocker.

ROFL

You're a piece of work RM.

NewChief
02-01-2007, 10:24 PM
Pretty cool, Rain Man. I worked at bookshops through college...it's a unique little world. I've got to say that it was finding the little ones that hated to read something they really enjoyed that made it worthwhile.

Some of the coolest (as in, interesting in their desire to help kids) people in my school are the librarians. It is wonderful to see people so dedicated (dare I say passionate in a post about teenagers?) to literacy. My two librarians are amazing in their desire to get kids to read. We do a book club in my classes where kids form their own clubs and get to choose a common book to read from our "book club collection." Watching the librarians discuss the books with prospective readers is really something to behold.

Rain Man
02-01-2007, 10:25 PM
Cute story. I am actually looking for a publisher-can you help a brother out??

With a little work, I can possibly get your book placed in the library of a Denver elementary school.

Rain Man
02-01-2007, 10:29 PM
Yeah, I'm pretty sure you left that one out of the job description. It was a fun experience for the most part, though I have to say that reading a book to a bunch of preschoolers (which I'm not good at) is a little weird when none of them speak English. I basically read a line, then waited on their teacher to translate. I eventually gave up and pretty much started gesturing and pointing to the cute pictures of a hedgehog.

Groundhog! Groundhog! If a hedgehog sees his shadow in February 2nd, it means that we're facing six weeks of nuclear winter. Big difference.

The only thing I can add to RM's story is that the art of "perusing" is developed somewhere during the kindergarten year. The preschoolers could walk to the table and pick a book in about 3.7 seconds, while the first graders would just walk around the table looking unless you told them that their time was up.

I noticed that, too. Freaky, wasn't it? The little ones would go up to the table and just grab a book without even looking at it, and then all of a sudden at a certain age I'd have to eventually evict them. I had one girl who took so long to pick that finally the class left and the teacher just made her grab the nearest one.

booger
02-01-2007, 10:40 PM
Don't provoke them rain man.

The little buggers bite when provoked.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 10:40 PM
With a little work, I can possibly get your book placed in the library of a Denver elementary school.

ROFL that is the best offer I have had. Teens reading it would be okay-but it is not a kids book. Although there is no bad language, sex, that type of "R" rated stuff, 3 people get their heads chopped off in the first chapter.

Rain Man
02-01-2007, 10:42 PM
ROFL that is the best offer I have had. Teens reading it would be okay-but it is not a kids book. Although there is no bad language, sex, that type of "R" rated stuff, 3 people get their heads chopped off in the first chapter.

I hope they aren't your main characters, because that would really limit the dialogue in the rest of the book.

RJ
02-01-2007, 10:49 PM
All in all it sounds like a fun day. I really enjoy the time I get to spend at my daughter's pre-school. Little kids are funny people. Last week there was a class trip, we went to a concert. Three year olds sure do like to dance but I'm not so sure about that "natural ryhtm" theory.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 10:51 PM
Actually the QAR was the flagship of Captain Teach (Blackbeard) who stole it from slave traders-it is probably one of the most imprtant finds since Titanic. They have a musuem in NC now that has all the cool stuff they have found.

When I started this- there was nearly nothing out there on Pirates and such. My Dad even made the comment-who would want to read about an old pirate ship. Well low and behold- Pirates of the Caribean came out and the whole world went pirate crazy. Even though the main story revolves around a 12 yr old girl, her mother and grandmother-there are characters I developed to explain the connection.

Publishers don't even want to hear about Pirates now, so I am trying to tone that part of the story down.

Halfcan
02-01-2007, 10:52 PM
I thought I would take a shot and see if someone knew someone that knew someone.....

booger
02-01-2007, 10:53 PM
Genuinly a funny little book I read to my niece a few years back.

Reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Poops-My-Body-Science/dp/0916291456

Rain Man
02-01-2007, 11:02 PM
I thought I would take a shot and see if someone knew someone that knew someone.....

I've got two completed manuscripts myself, but once I finish them I never think they're good enough. I hate that.

I've got a third one going now that I'm really liking at the moment. Then again, that happens every time, too.

Count Alex's Losses
02-01-2007, 11:25 PM
I've got two completed manuscripts myself, but once I finish them I never think they're good enough. I hate that.

I've got a third one going now that I'm really liking at the moment. Then again, that happens every time, too.

Maybe you don't think they're good enough because you're too close to them. You've read them dozens of times presumably so it just seems boring.

kc rush
02-02-2007, 08:40 AM
Actually the QAR was the flagship of Captain Teach (Blackbeard) who stole it from slave traders-it is probably one of the most imprtant finds since Titanic. They have a musuem in NC now that has all the cool stuff they have found.

When I started this- there was nearly nothing out there on Pirates and such. My Dad even made the comment-who would want to read about an old pirate ship. Well low and behold- Pirates of the Caribean came out and the whole world went pirate crazy. Even though the main story revolves around a 12 yr old girl, her mother and grandmother-there are characters I developed to explain the connection.

Publishers don't even want to hear about Pirates now, so I am trying to tone that part of the story down.

We've vacationed on the outer banks of NC the last couple of years. You should see all of the pirate books out there. If you could get through the editing process and self publish you might be able to find a distributor out there.

We bought some pirate books for my 5 year old while we were out there, I'll check and see if I can find publisher or distributor information in them.

Cave Johnson
02-02-2007, 11:42 AM
3. By the age of six, you can already predict the destiny of a good proportion of children, just by observing them.


Examples?