Have you ever given out books for Halloween?
You’re probably thinking – TRICK!
Well, think again fellow bibliophile.
Halloween is so much fun in my neighborhood.
Houses are ablaze with orange lights.
Ghosts, ghouls and even a dead-pirate ship litter the lawns.
Pumpkins are everywhere, and my scarecrow has now made it through three rain storms.
Last year I heard about this idea called All Hallow’s Read.
People gave out books for Halloween to try and create a culture of reading.
I got on Twitter and found three or four other folks who had heard about it and planned to do it.
We made a pact, and I was amazed at the reaction.
Let me start by saying I did not replace candy with books.
Sugar-laden bags of yummies accompanied every book so as not to incite riots, toilet paper launches or eggs on my windows.
Overwhelmingly, my trick-or-treaters were delightfully surprised by the book in addition to the candy.
When one little boy, probably around 7 or 8, exclaimed in excitement, “Hey a book!” and gleefully showed it to his father, I knew I had scored.
When the father smiled at me and said, “Thank you,” in the way only parents with small children full of sugar would, I knew All Hallow’s Read was a hit.
The memory of those two has stayed with me throughout the year and inspired me to continue the tradition.
The practicality of finding books for Halloween without breaking the bank was pretty easy.
I stake out flea markets, bookstores, libraries and garage sales for books in good shape.
I don’t spend more than one dollar on a used, paperback children’s book.
There are even stacks of free books at some locations.
We generally get fifty trick-or-treaters so $30 works fine.
What about older kids?
What my tween tells me is that kids as old as thirteen or fourteen are still trick-or-treating, and I do recall maybe a dozen in this age range last year.
That being the case, I keep on hand a few Young Adult paperbacks also, just in case.
So what type of books should you hand out?
With it being Halloween, an age-appropriate scary book is ideal.
But I gave out whatever I could find last year that was fun and wouldn’t tick off the parents.
No need to have junior up all night freaking out that sparkly vampires or snake-talking wizards will fly them away on an owl.
How did all this get started?
Neil Gaiman, you know the author of Coraline and a million other scary books, is the inventor of the idea.
About three years ago, he was flying on an airplane dismayed at the lack of traditions involving books.
The only one he could even think of was Spain’s World Book Day.
Since he was a week or so away from Halloween, he jogged his brain a little bit and came up with All Hallow’s Read.
How does this have to do with helping authors market?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
No matter your genre, you can give away books.
With those books, you can add bookmarks or candy or other swag you have lying around.
But simply being an author who gives away books for Halloween solidifies your rep around town.
OF COURSE the author gives away books.