Until ten minutes ago, I had no idea that my most recent Who Pooped in the Park book was being considered for a Moonbeam award. Then I opened my email to find that Who Pooped in the Cascades has won the silver medal in the nonfiction/animals category! According to Independent Publisher, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Isn’t that the goal of everyone involved in creating books for children?
An award like this one means a lot to an author of children’s books. The slogan on the medal says, “celebrating youthful curiosity, discovery, and learning through books and reading.” That is exactly why we write. The Who Pooped series is all about curiosity and discovery — my intent in creating it was to engage reluctant readers and kids with a minimal connection to nature and science. How better to interest them in nature than through a giggle?
When I started writing these books, it was my first foray into mainstream writing. All of my previous books were highly specialized; they weren’t the kind of books you’d find in a general bookstore. I didn’t have very high expectations for that first kids’ book (the Yellowstone edition of Who Pooped in the Park?), and my publisher (Farcountry Press) hadn’t dealt with many children’s books before. Review copies weren’t submitted to publications like Publisher’s Weekly, and it wasn’t promoted to schools or libraries. Who would have thought that this summer we’d sell our 100,000th copy of that first book?
Now, 18 books later, the series is gaining mainstream acceptance. I wrote a few months ago about the Cascades book being a finalist for the High Plains Book Awards, and winning a Moonbeam award makes everything suddenly more tangible.
Thank you to all of you that have read and enjoyed my books. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy them in the future!
It’s Sunday, July 6, 2014. I’m at Old Faithful Inn signing copies of the Yellowstone edition of Who Pooped in the Park? People show up in spurts here. When the Old Faithful geyser is about to erupt, the lobby is almost empty. Right after the eruption, it teems with people. The cell service here is spotty at best (doesn’t work for me at all), so I’m jotting down thoughts in my notebook when I’m not busy. Here’s a sampling of them.
- Hmmm. There’s no WiFi here. I think I’ll set up a WiFi hotspot on my cellphone. I did this last year, too. Every time someone turns on their phone/iPad/computer and looks for a WiFi network, they’ll see this:
- That woman was headed right for my table. She made eye contact. She looked at the sign. She looked at the books. And then her friend stopped her and pointed out something else. HEY! What are you doing? That’s a potential sale right there. Don’t distract her!
- This is probably the strangest thing I’ll hear today. A couple walked up and the man said, “You might want to file a police report. My wife wants to steal that radiator in the hallway.”
- Approximately 34,000 people have walked up to my table and asked me when Old Faithful will erupt next. Here’s a picture of me at my table. Want to guess when the next eruption is? As Bill Engvall might say, “Here’s your sign.”
- If you buy a fountain drink in the deli, they offer free refills all day! That works nicely when you’re sitting in the lobby for 6 hours (today) or 8 hours (tomorrow).
- Sometimes, when I say “howdy,” people respond and walk over to the table to see what’s going on. Sometimes they:
Carefully avoid eye contact,
Say, “I already bought one,” and keep moving,
Find a quick distraction (“ooh, shiny!”), or
Nod and walk faster.
- Fashion faux pas of the day: a checkered cowboy shirt with a bright multicolored bowtie.
- Closing my day with a smile. A young lady (high school? college? I can’t tell anymore) walked up and looked at my book sign. She then looked at me, said “Who Pooped in the Park?”, threw her hands in the air, did a little curtsy, and in a perfect Valley Girl voice, said “eeeeeverybody!”
- My first customer of the day bought one book. The second customer bought two. The third customer bought four. The pattern broke there. I was hoping it would continue. Twenty customers and I could retire. Don’t bother me with logistics.
- A woman walked by with her son (Or somebody else’s 12-year-old. I don’t know.) and said, “Who Pooped in the Park? Is his name in it?” I responded, “It could be!”
- I have a sign on the table saying “100,000 copies sold” (referring to the Yellowstone edition — the whole series is pushing 400,000 copies now). A family bought a book, and as they were walking away, one of the kids turned to me and said, “Now you can change your sign to say 100,001 copies sold!”
- Book signing tip: Don’t make assumptions about who looks like they’ll buy a book. That high school girl could have a little brother. That big burly biker could be a grandfather. Every single person that walks by the table is a potential customer.
- I have a bunch of thoughts about something I’ll call the “intimidation zone,” but I’m going to save that for its own post.
- This lobby is one of the coolest places in the world to sign books.
NOTE: The information in this post is obsolete, but it’s all been brought up to date in a new post from 2017.
My 23rd book — 18th in the Who Pooped? series — is now officially out. In the beginning, each book in the series was for a specific national park, and most of those national parks were tucked securely in a single state (Yellowstone does span three states, however). As the series progressed, the books covered more ecosystems than specific parks, and sometimes those covered multiple states. That got me thinking: what states does this series cover?
So far, the series covers 18 states in 18 books — a coincidence, since some books cover multiple states and some states have multiple books. The number of national parks, national conservation areas, national monuments, national recreation areas, and national forests is significantly larger than that. I haven’t compiled that list lately. A project for another day!
- Who Pooped on the Colorado Plateau?
- Who Pooped in the Sonoran Desert?
- Who Pooped in the Park? Grand Canyon National Park
- Who Pooped in the Cascades?
- Who Pooped in the Park? Death Valley National Park
- Who Pooped in the Park? Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
- Who Pooped in the Park? Yosemite National Park
- Who Pooped in the Sonoran Desert?
So, given that my publisher is most interested in covering well-traveled areas, what do you think should come next? The next one is pretty well decided, although we’re not announcing it until a contract is signed. What should the 20th book be? I’d love to hear some feedback?