On July first, my picture book, “It’ll be Irie” published by Cardinal Rule Press, made its world debut. What seemed like such a far-off time back in Winter of 2022, back when I’d just been offered my first publishing contract, was suddenly here.
Prepping for the official Book Launch weekend, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to have such a supportive publisher; Cardinal Rule Press CEO Maria Dismondy generously provided funding for that weekend and for the additional events in the coming month. I was able to purchase paper, pencils, crayons and crayon trays as part of the kids’ activity table I’d have set up. I was also able to buy the ingredients to make honey-sweetened hibiscus tea with mint and also two Jamaican Christmas cakes from a Jamaican restaurant. My books events were going to be done in style and I owed it all to my amazing publisher!
But truthfully, this was just par-for-the-course in the way Maria and the Cardinal Rule Press family have gone above and beyond in helping me maximize my experience as a newly published author, just one example being the series of CRP Academy classes where we learned so much, including, but not limited to, utilizing social media to implement marketing and promotion strategies, build a network of fellow authors, teachers, parents and librarians, create author visit programs for schools.
The first book launch event at Village Well Books in Culver City, CA was great; I had several friends show up to support, including one of CRP’s own awesome reviewers, Jenn Kim, who also invited me to do an interview on her podcast, which was fun.
I had such a blast reading my book aloud. Reading to kids was something I’ve always loved doing ever since I’d been a volunteer reader via the Screen Actors Guild and later, when I was doing Author Visits to schools and presenting my self-published first picture book. Having a book debut was the perfect way to get back to doing something that gave me great joy.
Of course, the Jamaican Christmas cake and hibiscus tea with mint were a hit. Kids enjoyed drawing, doing the crossword puzzle or coloring pages consisting of black and white illustrations from my book (the work of my awesome illustrator, Alejandra Barajas.) As the photos of me with friends new and old suggest, my first book launch event was a success!
The following day’s event at The Book Jewel in the Westchester area of Los Angeles was just as wonderful as the previous day’s event. I was blessed to not only have several friends show up to support, but I also had several members of my critique group, all amazingly talented published authors there as well and a good-sized crowd of book store patrons with their children. In addition, the staff at Book Jewel provided snacks and drinks for patrons and gifted me with a poster commemorating the event.
During the reading, I was delighted to see a few older kids in the audience who got all the American slang references. Afterwards, while chatting with everyone, having them sign my poster, taking photos together, eating yummy snacks as well as enjoying the Christmas cake and hibiscus tea, I realized the event and indeed the entire first weekend couldn’t have been better. Oh yeah, and I sold some books too!
The next several weeks would be other book reading and signing events where I’d get to interact with more bright, inquisitive and insightful kids, reconnect with more longtime friends showing their support and meet more new people (and potentially more new friends!)
I got to meet another amazing Cardinal Rule Press team member, Advertising Director, Sujin Gilmore, who brought me, on behalf of CRP, colorful balloons and a gift bag with all kinds of cool goodies. Yet another reason I am so incredibly grateful to have Maria and Cardinal Rule Press as my publisher. From the stories I hear from colleagues and other writers, not every author is this fortunate.
One particular book event will always be special to me because it coincided with my mother’s birthday weekend. Since I was going to Florida to see her for her birthday, I thought it would be great to schedule a book reading and signing. However I wanted to make sure my mom was okay with it, as my main reason I was seeing her was to help her celebrate.
Well, not only did my mother encourage me to schedule the event, she invited several extended family members as well as some of her friends whom she knew had small children, who, in turn invited their friends who brought along small children. Thanks to my mom and the advertising done by the book store, I had a nice little crowd.
After the reading, Q&A and book signing, I was happy to make new friends and delighted to reconnect with family I hadn’t seen in a long while. As a beautiful bonus, all of the store’s copies of my book sold out!
As I look forward to more reading and signing events, including booking some author visits to schools in the Fall, my gratitude for the support of family and friends and my appreciation for this milestone in my writing career deepens; it is a gift that keeps on giving and thanks to Cardinal Rule Press, I can share it with the world.
Donn Swaby is a native of Queens, New York and a multi-genre artist with credits as a professional stage, film and television actor, musician, and writer of picture books, middle grade novels, stage plays, screenplays, television drama series, feature length articles, interviews, restaurant and music reviews, published in huffingtonpost.com, meltmagazineforwomen.com and entertainementvoice.com. A passionate lover of Nature and loves hiking wherever there are trails and mountains.