I did an interview for the new issue of Publisher’s Weekly. Rad article. Here’s a sample.
“I had initially intended to give the book away to friends for the holidays, but the first printing sold out in a week and I didn’t have any left to give away,” says Clayton, who notes that social media and online word-of-mouth was largely responsible for the success of An Awesome Book!, of which he sold more than 50,000 copies in a year and a half. He also spread news of the book through appearances at schools, colleges, and bookstores, and was approached by AmazonEncore, which in 2010 published Clayton’s second book, An Awesome Book of Thanks! as its first-ever children’s picture book.
Clayton’s good fortune continued at the 2011 London Book Fair, where a U.K. colleague of HarperCollins Children’s Books executives Susan Katz and Kate Jackson showed them the video for An Awesome Book! They immediately conveyed their enthusiasm to v-p and publishing director Emily Brenner, who in turn contacted Clayton’s agent, Richard Abate of 3 Arts Entertainment.
When Abate brought Clayton to HarperCollins’s Manhattan offices, staffers’ interest was further piqued. “We’d gathered about 10 of us—sales, marketing, and editorial teams—to meet him,” recalls Brenner. “The second he walked in, he hugged each one of us, and we all said, ‘This is our guy.’ Not only does he get the rhyming right in his books, which is one of the hardest things to do, but he fills a page with an amazing amount to look at, so that you stand back and say, ‘Wow!’ ” HarperCollins signed Clayton for a three-book deal and issued An Awesome Book! last April. An Awesome Book of Love! will be released in January 2013 with an announced first printing of 100,000 copies. Clayton also has an illustrated poetry collection, Make Magic! Do Good! due from Candlewick in November, and has recently sold a book to Penguin.
The author describes himself as “psyched” to have the opportunity “to work with these publishers whose books I grew up reading. When my first book took off,” he says, “I was interviewed by people who seemed to be saying, ‘You showed them.’ But I was never the guy who set out to say ‘Screw you’ by self-publishing. I always wanted to work with these people who publish very cool books, and now I’m really happy to be doing that.”
I was in this meeting and got a hug and it was delightful. I wish more authors gave hugs!