When Randi Zuckerberg decided to become a writer, she didn’t shy away from the challenge. She signed to do not one but two books with HarperCollins—Dot, a picture book for children with illustrations by Joe Berger, and Dot Complicated, a nonfiction book for adults. Both are set for a November 5 release.
“It’s like I decided to run a marathon before I ran my first 10k,” Zuckerberg says. She didn’t plan on being a debut author twice over, at least not at first.
“After I left Facebook, I did a lot of public speaking,” Zuckerberg notes. “What really fascinated me was how people would ask me personal questions about how technology was affecting their lives. Why won’t their kids friend them on Facebook? How do you get your husband to stop texting at the table? It made me realize there isn’t a Dear Abby for how technology is changing every aspect of our lives.”
Many of the questions people asked Zuckerberg were really about the role of technology in their kids’ lives. “Parents are wondering how much screen time they should give their children and how to monitor it,” she says. “They want to know when to give them an iPad and an iPhone. I realized it was a topic not only relevant to kids, but it should be the topic of a book for kids, too.”
Zuckerberg’s picture book tells the story of Dot, a little girl learning how to divide her time between technology and the exciting world outside her house.
She compared writing her picture book to composing a tweet. “You have to be able to say a lot in very few words. It’s kind of like Twitter, where you only have 140 characters. The children’s book forced me to be really disciplined. My hope is that people will give it as a gift to their kids for graduations, kind of like they give Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”
On the promotion front, Zuckerberg plans to capitalize on her extensive social media connections, Facebook included. She is well connected there; former marketing director (she left August 2011) and sister of Mark Zuckerberg, cofounder and CEO. She has a companion Web site for her books called dotcomplicated that is up and running, but she’s doing plenty of television and magazine interviews, too—Zuckerberg arrived Thursday at BEA fresh off an appearance on the Today show. Covers for both books are featured at the Harper booth (2038) as well as postcard giveaways.
As for what’s next? “If you had asked me a year ago, I never thought I’d be a children’s book author,” Zuckerberg says. “But I want to keep bringing Dot to life. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can do another one. Dot could get her first cellphone, for example. There are so many lessons Dot could teach kids about technology.”