Event Case Study: Kathy Duval & Take Me To Your BBQ

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

In August, Kathy Duval shared her new picture book, Take Me To Your BBQ, illustrated by Adam McCauley (Hyperion, 2013) with the storytime crowd at BookPeople in Austin. From the promotional copy:

Aliens have landed on Willy’s farm, and they’re not leaving without a square dance and a square meal.

So fire up that grill, pour on the barbecue sauce, and snatch up that fiddle. 

Adam McCauley’s out-of-this-world illustrations match Kathy Duval’s hoedown rhymes like ribs and taters! 

Get ready for some extraterrestrial, lip-smackin’ fun.

Kathy’s event was one of the best I’ve seen for presenting to young families and other children’s literature enthusiasts in a bookstore setting. It featured an interactive read-aloud, an original song, an easy-to-execute craft project, a Q&A and a signing.

Kathy began by greeting new arrivals. Note: if you are a local author/illustrator, try to arrive at a bookstore event 15-to-20 minutes early. It’s reassuring to a traveling author–even a popular one–that the audience is coming together, and, if need be, you can be available for any last minute, out-of-the-box support. (In the past, I’ve made last-minute runs to fetch napkins, pens, and aspirin.)

Austin authors Greg Leitich Smith, Cynthia Levinson, Susie Kralovansky, Cynthia Leitich Smith & Kathy

Cynthia and Susie chat informally with Kathy

YA author Cory Putnam Oakes visits with Kathy

Kathy leads an interactive tie-in song & reading of the book.

Kathy models a tin-foil hat–which ties into the story. Note: that’s Kathy’s husband/wing man in the background, beaming.

Readers make tin-foil hats of their own.

Soon everyone is modeling a tin-foil hat!

Hooray! Kathy signs my book.

What made the event so successful?

  • Local authors Donna Bowman Bratton & Lindsey Lane

    Kathy drew a number of her fans, including local authors who helped with word-of-mouth, to the bookstore. 

  • The book itself is fun, funny, and kid friendly. 
  • Bookpeople is an inherently great destination for children’s literature enthusiasts.
  • The event capitalized on a pre-existing crowd (the storytime regulars) at the bookstore. 
  • Kathy was a relaxed and entertaining speaker who offered original content (in the form of the tie-in song) and stories behind the story. 
  • The song and read-aloud were interactive, so young readers were fully engaged. 
  • The presentation was kept short and upbeat. 
  • The presentation segued into a craft that was easy-to-execute, fun, and a conversation starter. It also was inexpensive and readily portable for the author. 
  • Kathy brought a wing man–her husband–who took photos and offered both logistical and emotional support. Family and friends can be great for this role; just make sure you choose low-maintenance, reliable people who bring lots of positive energy.
  • Kathy is a charmer. 

See also Magic with a Bit of Serendipity: The Story Behind the Story of Take Me To Your BBQ and a video (below) by Vonna Carter from Kathy’s official launch party for the book at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

6 thoughts on “Event Case Study: Kathy Duval & Take Me To Your BBQ

  1. Once again, Cyn, a great informative post for authors trying to promote through bookstore events. Plus great love for Kathy, a terrific author and a sweetheart.

  2. Great post! Kathy is a multi-talented author/musician/artist, and so much fun. I would have loved to have been at this event. The children's writing community in Austin is so supportive, and Bookpeople is a fantastic venue. I love their stadium seating!

  3. I had a great time at the BookPeople and was so appreciative of the support of Austin writers. Love, love, love you guys in Austin! Thank you Cynthia!

  4. Vonna, yes, Kathy is a wonder! Come to Austin anytime; you're always welcome, and between the Writers' League, Austin SCBWI, the Writing Barn, the Book Spot and BookPeople, there's always tons going on!

    Kathy, you rock star! You were amazing. It was such a treat to see you in action. Austin loves you, too!

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