A big step for a small book

I don’t get nervous. That is what I keep telling myself as I pace the kitchen, boiling water for another cup of tea. Not nervous at all. Pace, pace. Not me. Pace, pace. Never.
Today I join my partners in LivingEd, an education-oriented independent publishing company, in debuting The Ferguson a Files: the Mystery Spot at the New York City Comic Con. While it is not a comic, this children’s book has plenty of illustrations, heart, and a bunch of eight-year-olds solving a fun little mystery. The back of the book is filled with fun detective games that can be safely played around the house to keep kids thinking.
It is a fun book that I am proud to have published.
So why am I pacing?
Some of it has to do with the bags of promotional giveaways on my dining table. All done inexpensively, I still spent about three times what I can earn today, unless every single person who gets a card or a magnifying glass, or a goodie bag at the end of our drawing class at the NYCCC buys at least one copy of the book.
Marketing doesn’t work that way. One in ten would be more likely. But I am okay with that. This is the launch, this is getting the word out, this is the starting line. Patience, padawan.
I learned that patience pays off in the marketing of my first novel, CITY OF WOE. While it has yet to amaze Amazon.com, there has been a steady trickle of buyers, enthusiastic reviewers, and generous people who have spread the word. A little something encouraging keeps happening with that novel, and now there is a base for the prequel short story collection CITY OF SIN, available very soon.
So why am I pacing?
Because I want The Ferguson Files to do well. I want kids to love our heroine, Margaret Agnes Ferguson, like I love her. I want them to embrace her way of asking endless questions, of thinking for herself, of always wanting to learn more. Like so many of us, my little creation is like my child…
And I am about to shove her out there into the Big Bad City, among the muscular superheroes and scantily clad heroines, the villains and demons and darkness, and worse, the public, who can turn from kind to cruel in an instant.
I keep thinking of last Saturday, when we previewed The Ferguson Files: The Mystery Spot at The Collingswood Book Fair in south Jersey. I gave out business card-sized announcements with a magnifying glass taped to the back to kids, saw them come to the booth with it still in their hands. Cool. Sold a few. Cooler.
Then two women in their late thirties, early forties walked by. One saw Margaret Agnes Ferguson’s book and raised an eyebrow. I went into the pitch, ” She’s an eight-year-old detective solving the questions surrounding her….”
Too late, one leaned into the other’s ear. I heard her whisper something about “a red-headed eight-year-old” and then they both snickered (that’s right, snickered) and walked away.
I knew then that Margaret Agnes Ferguson was my child just as surely as my sons because I wanted to step in front of her right then, protect her from these cold, mean, snickering villains.
That’s how it is with what we create. We want to protect them, shelter them, make sure nothing bad ever happens. And now I am bringing little Margaret Agnes Ferguson from a suburban street fest to the chaotic, sensory-overloaded realm of commerce and hustle and spectacle and hugely-financed marketing campaigns. And I have business cards from Staples and plastic magnifying glasses from The Party Box.
That’s why I am pacing. Because we can’t protect our creations or our kids from what is out in the world. We can only do our best to prepare them to be the best they can be.
Margaret is exactly what I hoped she’d become, and her book is a warm and fun story that can make kids feel good and get them thinking. She’ll never wear a metal bikini or fight space villains wearing cinnamon buns on her ears. She explores her neighborhood with her friends, asking why, and finding answers, and learning lessons. And that’s good enough for me.
I love you, Margaret Agnes Ferguson. Best of luck today. And don’t worry about the snickerers, I’ve got your back.

Christopher Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and Nook, and in print. For more info, click here.</em

About chrisryanwrites

I do my best to tell fast-paced stories with humor and heart. My fiction work is available on amazon.com. Here, I’ll write about the sources for those stories from what I read, watch, listen to, and observe to my experiences as a former award-winning journalist, high school teacher, actor, and producer.
This entry was posted in America, comics, digital publishing, ebook publishing, education, fiction, independent publishing, kids, love, parenting, pop culture, super-heroes, teaching, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A big step for a small book

  1. Mary Killian says:

    Alas, there is no alternative for ambassadors of self-expression. Good luck this weekend.


    • There isn’t, there wasn’t, but it wound p being okay.

      Kids liked her, colored her picture, used her magnifying glass, accepted her gift “detective’s starter kit”, but parents did not purchase the book in droves. One parent and daughter were particularly excited about the book, which was very satisfying, but the tens of thousands of people outside the basement room where Margaret Agnes Ferguson made her quiet, fun debut were mostly interested in dressing themselves up and being seen elaborately pretending to be someone else. I hope they had fun with that. I know I had fun with Margaret.


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