WILL YOU BE MY GLADIATORS?

 

Friends, family, can I talk to you for a minute? I’ve got about 90 days to make my dream come true. I need your help.cropped-sherri-2.jpg

Donate, donate, donate to my campaign at gofundme.com/Sherri-winston. If you’re interested in spreading the word about diverse books, the message starts here, and here’s why.

Want to know what it’s really like to be an author? Here it is: It’s a struggle making ends meet on ‘book money.’ While the popular image of authors is of people like the fictional Richard Castle on ABC’s Castle, or the very real-life James Patterson, the truth is much less glamorous. Book advances are modest and Publishers’ budgets for marketing unknown authors is even more modest.

Still, I’m not complaining, just explaining. I love what I do. I’ve been trying to write books since I was three. Without writing, I don’t know who I am. Without reading, I never would have found myself.

OK, so I know what you’re thinking. ‘Hey, Sherri Winston, don’t go all Yoda on me.’ Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll keep this short and to the point:

President of the Whole Fifth Grade and President of the Whole Sixth Grade. New York City, February 2015.

President of the Whole Fifth Grade and President of the Whole Sixth Grade. New York City, February 2015.

Getting a good book noticed takes a lot of different forces working together, not the least of which are timing and luck. However, getting the word out about the book and making its presence known to as many people as possible is THE KEY. On ABC’s Scandal, Olivia Pope survives on grit, tenacity and sheer will. But she couldn’t get it done without her gladiators. I need you all to be my gladiators.

I’ve written a really good book that could have wide appeal to fifth, sixth and seventh graders. President of the Whole Sixth Grade ($17.99, Little, Brown) is due out in November. It is the second book in a sequence following spunky Brianna Justice as she enters middle school. It’s filled with humor, warmth and information about government without making kids feel like they are “learning something.” It features a positive African American role-model who has big dreams for the future and doesn’t plan to let anything stand in her way. It is the kind of book I wish I could have read when I was in middle school. As good as the book is, however, without a good launch, it could turn into just another good book lost among the hoards.

THE PLAN:

  • A big book party book launch in Detroit in November after the book is released.
  • School visits to two Detroit Public Schools where I will perform my classic “book talk,” motivating kids to read and discussing books and what it’s like to be an author.
  • Donate 300 copies of President of the Whole Sixth Grade to schools and students.

THE GOAL:

  • To raise enough money to travel to Detroit and distribute books AND hold a book celebration where kids get to see that reading is more than homework.
  • Use the crowdfunding program GOFUNDME.com as a way of gathering contributions that will make this goal a reality.
  • Show other authors and future authors of color that just because we may lack the traditional means of getting noticed by the mainstream, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have success.

I have until roughly the end of August to pull this together. That’s 90 days. I still need to secure a venue at which to hold the book party, make reservations, coordinate with the schools, determine what school gets books, create a tailor-made program specifically to fit the needs of the schools I’ll visit. A lot goes into a regular school visit. Something of this magnitude will take a lot of work. And as is true with everything, a good bit of cash is needed, too.beary beary good

So, Gladiators, that’s my pitch. It comes down to this: My heart is bigger than my bank account. I want to put this book into as many hands as I can–for free. I want to build enthusiasm for this book by giving it away to kids who may never have received a hard-cover book before. I want to inspire reading by creating a celebration of books with balloons and snacks and music. I want this to be an experience these kids will remember forever. Come on. You don’t have to just sit back and watch. Get on up and ‘gladiate’ your butts off.

 

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