Category Archives: Promotion

Swirling the Drain…

Last month, I had an idea for today’s post. It wasn’t a bad idea, and one I might use eventually, but when it came time to actually DO something about it (it involved other people), an uneasy feeling came over me. That little voice saying, “Are you crazy? One more project to coordinate?” Let me set the scene…

I had just finished a round of revisions for my novel. CHECK.

I finally got a messy first draft on a new picture book story down on paper that I’d been thinking about for two months. CHECK.

I had to start seriously thinking about a promotional plan for my upcoming books. CHE–. UH-Oh.

This was me…

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Book promotion???

Starting a new project that involved multiple people just wasn’t going to happen. The fact is, I feel like I’m swirling the drain every time I think about book promotion. Which seems silly. I’ve launched books before. I’m done blog tours and had signings. I’m not new to this. BUT…the last time I launched a new book was in 2008. It feels like I’m learning it all over again! Couple that with the facts that 1) I start teaching another online course in January, and 2) I have one book coming out on Jan. 31 and another on March 15, well…there you go! My brain is swirling.

One of the things I’ve come to learn about myself through the years is that when I begin to feel a sense of panic my best remedy is to act, which usually involves planning (at least that way I feel like I’m moving forward—even if I don’t know where I’m going). Maybe it’s because writing (even list-making) is a comfortable place for me but regardless, it always helps. So, I did a little research and found three resources for helping me get started with planning some promotional activities.

First, I recalled from years past that authors Mary Hershey and Robin LaFevers  had a fabulous blog about marketing for introverts, Shrinking Violets Promotions. I admire these two generous ladies for their writing but also because their blog is loaded with all kinds of great ideas. Because I’m an introvert, their blog speaks to me and provides me with some great advice.

Second, I came across an article on Author Unlimited called “50 Ways to Promote Your Book.” It also has many ideas (50 + more! For both adult and children’s market authors). This helped stop my brain from swirling and got it focused on some real action—things I could implement!

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Third, and best of all (because like a fabulous dessert, I save the best for last), I did some research and have initiated a conversation with Curious City,  a children’s book marketing agency. Kirsten Cappy is the heart of Curious City and a promotional dynamo. One of the things that appeals to me is that Kirsten can tailor-make a marketing plan that meets the needs of the individual author. So, for someone like me (remember, I’m an introvert!), this is very, very appealing. Just like a fabulous dessert (except Kirsten doesn’t make my mouth water!).

So, if you’re in that place where you’re starting to think about book promotion (post-deal but prior-to-launch), give these sites a look. I hope they help you on your own promotional journey!

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PierceHeadshotUCLA (2)About Terry Pierce…

Terry writes picture books, easy readers and board books and is whittling away at a middle-grade adventure novel. She lives in the California desert but avoids the summer heat by retreating to Mammoth Lakes every summer to hike, bike, write and dip her head in high mountain sky. She’s a Vermont College of Fine Arts graduate and teaches online children’s writing courses for UCLA Extension (go Bruins!).

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Book Promotion, Panic, Promotion

Uncharted Space

If you missed Donna’s eye-opening blog post last week about her To Do List sixteen days before her book launches, check it out here. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my own pre-pub-date To Do List. Even though my own book doesn’t launch until December 1st, it feels like the date is approaching at high speed. Maximum warp, in fact. In the back of my head, I can hear Captain Jean-Luc Picard exhorting me to “Engage!”

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I might not be helming the Enterprise into deep space, but I am trying to steer my book into readers’ hands. So I’m taking his directive to heart, figuring out how to engage potential readers of my book after (and even before) it releases. Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing:

 

  • Researching printers for business cards, postcards, bookmarks, and other paper swag. This involves making dozens of seemingly monumental decisions. Matte or glossy paper? (Tip: choose at least one matte side if you want to write on it later.) Square or rounded corners? (Rounded. So I can’t poke myself in the eye with it.) Stickers or bookplates or magnets? (Um, maybe.) Where is a replicator when I need one?

 

  • Setting up my SCBWI Book Blast page. This is a promotional event that will be run by SCBWI from October 10 – November 18, 2016. The templates provided made setting up my page so easy, I didn’t feel like I needed an android to help me.

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  • Teaching myself how to use iMovie. Okay, maybe I didn’t really teach myself. I watched a couple of great YouTube tutorials and then dived in. There was a lot of trial and error. The Undo button was my BFF. But over the course of a week, I was able to put together a simple book trailer. It’s not the holodeck, but I’m pretty proud of it.

 

  • Taking advantage of events organized by others, such as Trick or Reaters, a spook-tacular program to “make Halloween a day to discover stories and literature.” Run by Curious City and sponsored by EMLA, this event is less frightening than a Ferengi and way more cool.

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I’m trying to heed the advice to only do as much promotion and marketing as I’m comfortable with, but it’s hard. I want so badly for my book to engage readers and it’s easy to feel like I’m not doing enough. I want to have an event kit and a teacher’s guide, but I know those things are beyond my current abilities. I’ve decided to delegate those pieces to other, more qualified people, and I trust them to “make it so.” Despite that, I’m filled with a nagging sense that there is still so much left to do. As a debut author, I often feel like I’m steering through uncharted space, never sure what is beyond the next bend (wormhole?), not confident that I can make it. But, as Capt. Picard said:

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Andrea Wang

Andrea Wang’s debut picture book, THE NIAN MONSTER (Albert Whitman, December 2016), is a Chinese New Year folktale retelling set in modern-day Shanghai. She has also written seven nonfiction books for the educational market.

Andrea spent most of her first grade year reading under the teacher’s desk, barricaded by tall stacks of books. Now she sits at her desk, but she’s still happiest surrounded by piles of books. Andrea is a former environmental consultant who helped clean up hazardous waste sites. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and a plump dumpling of a rescue dog. She loves trying new foods and named her dog Mochi, after one of her favorite desserts.

You can find Andrea online at her website, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

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Filed under Book Promotion, Promotion

Here Comes The Pitch!

Today more than ever authors are like small business owners, needing to pitch and sell their products. I can easily talk about someone else’s book, but it’s hard for me to talk about my own. I can share my good news with friends and family, but when it comes to selling my work to strangers, I feel uncomfortable and a little shy.

Mochi Queen and book 2 of the Jasmine Toguchi series will be coming out in May of next year. It kind of feels like it’s too early to start talking about my books, so I haven’t had much practice. A few months ago, at a friend’s book launch I was caught unprepared. The friend introduced me to a family member and told him that I had a children’s book coming out. The family member kindly asked me what my book was about. I froze. Then, I babbled incoherently. Epic fail.

For years I’ve kept a reading list, writing up every book I read with a short synopsis. When I read 75 – 100 books a year, it’s hard to remember what every single book is about, especially after a year or more has passed. I’ve had good practice summarizing a book into a paragraph, but not a lot of practice winnowing book summaries down to a succinct 1 – 2 sentence pitch. So, last year, I made myself write up 1 – 2 sentence pitches of every book I read and I posted them on my reading blog. A couple of examples:

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – Housebound teen “bubble girl” falls in love with neighbor boy.

Princess Juniper of the Hourglass by Ammi-Joan Paquette – On her 13th nameday, Princess Juniper asks her father for her own (small) kingdom of kids to rule for practice.

This was very good practice. But writing a pitch, even my own, was not too difficult. I am a writer. Talking about my book is so much harder. Plus, just reciting my written pitch to someone felt rehearsed and stiff.

The next step was practicing talking about Mochi Queen to my friends and family. The more I practiced, the more comfortable I became. But, would I be able to talk about my book to a stranger?

The test came sooner than I expected.

A few weeks ago I was at an independent bookstore. A bookseller approached me and asked if she could help me with anything. I told her I was just checking out the new chapter books. She told me she wanted to expand the section and find new and exciting chapter books to add to the shelves. I hesitated. Normally, I would just smile and nod and say nothing. But, it was as if the Universe was giving me an opportunity.

I took a deep breath for courage and told her, somewhat hesitantly, that I had a chapter book series coming out next year. She asked me what it was about. And it rolled right off my tongue – “Mochi Queen is about a third grade Japanese-American girl named Jasmine who lives in Los Angeles. She wants to take part in a Japanese tradition of making mochi.” Pause. “Do you know what mochi is?” She shook her head. “It’s a sweet Japanese dessert. Jasmine not only wants to make mochi with her family, even though she’s too young, but she wants to do the boy job instead of the one reserved for the girls in her family. And there will be three more books about Jasmine.” Whew. Right, not exactly 1 – 2 sentences, but it felt natural, like I was having a conversation, rather than trying to “sell” my work.

The bookseller reacted with enthusiasm. She told me to have my publicist contact the store when the books were closer to coming out and they would love to have an author event and arrange school visits. She was excited about a new chapter book series and said she was on the look-out for more diversity. YAY!

The lesson here? It’s never too early to practice your pitch. Even if you don’t have a book coming out soon, an editor, an agent, a colleague might ask, “What’s your book about?” And won’t you be happy when you’re able to answer? You can do it! Practice makes “perfect”!

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Debbi Michiko Florence writes full time in her cozy studio, The Word Nest. Her favorite writing companions are her dog, Trixie, and her two ducks, Darcy and Lizzy.

The first two books of her debut chapter book series Jasmine Toguchi will be coming out from Farrar Straus Giroux in Spring 2017, with two more books to follow. She is also the author of two nonfiction children’s books and an upcoming early reader chapter book series, Dorothy & Toto (Picture Window Books/Oct. 2016).

You can visit her online on her web site and her reading blog. She’s also on Twitter.

 

 

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Filed under Advice, Promotion

Bedtime for EMUs

Today’s the day we wrap up the launch of Luke Reynolds’ picture book debut, BEDTIME BLASTOFF! One might even say we are tucking it into bed.

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So to tuck in Luke’s launch, fellow EMUs are sharing their favorite bedtime routines.

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Sarvinder Naberhaus: My favorite bedtime routine was with my very young son. Every night I picked him up, and we went around the room and said “goodnight” to all the items in the room — goodnight to characters within frames… “Goodnight” to all the things he loved most. Then I said goodnight to him, the one thing I loved most.

Elly Swartz: The bedtime routines when my boys were young were some of my favorites and they varied depending on who tucked them in. If it was Mom, it always included a book. I read to them. They read to me. Or both. Then I sang them a song. No need to dwell on that. Needless to say love can only take a tune so far. When the boys realized what the songs were supposed to sound like, that part of the routine ended. If Dad tucked them in, the routine always included an amazing tale he (or they) created. But, whether it was Mom or Dad, it always ended with a goodnight kiss.

Andrea Wang: When my sons were very small, we always said the familiar, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” just before turning out the light. Often, we would substitute another creature for the bedbugs. As they got older, the phrase grew longer. We added “Good night, I love you” in Chinese and English. Then, one of the kids wanted us to add an instruction to “stay away from” whatever thing he found distasteful that day. At one point, he insisted on adding one new horrible item to the list each night (sock lint, skunks, smelly feet, etc.), and we would have to remember them all and recite them back. This took a long time (perhaps his ulterior motive?) and required too many brain cells, so it was quickly shortened to “stay away from ALL stinky things,” which effectively covered all circumstances. I love how the original verse grew and morphed into something wholly unique.

Mylisa Larsen: My children’s favorite bedtime routine was something that was completely counterproductive. My husband would pretend to turn into this bedtime monster and the kids would all run screaming up the stairs while he chased them, growling and pretending to grab at their ankles. This would, it’s true, get them into their rooms but in such a revved up, lets-play-some-more state that we’d spend the next 30 minutes getting people down from light fixtures and trying to keep them from jumping on their beds. Weirdly, none of my children have ever been scared of the monster under the bed or in the closet thing. Apparently, it never occurred to them that such a monster could be anything but fun.

Hayley Barrett: When our kids were little, my husband used to tuck them in and tell them what to dream about. They’d close their eyes and he’d choose a special adventure for each of them, whether it was flying in a rocketship or swimming with dolphins. It helped them happily drift into dreamland.

Janet Fox: When I was little, my mom used to sing to me, while holding me in her lap in the rocking chair. Typical, right? But she didn’t sing the usual kiddie songs. She sang the popular songs of the 1920s and 1930s, popular when she was little. Which meant I heard odd things like “Has Anyone Hear Seen Kelly?” and “She’s Dead In The Coach Ahead.” Now, you’d think my mom was strange, but she was the most middle-of-the-road mother ever. And I still love those songs. They still put me to sleep. Plus – they told stories. Maybe that explains why I love storytelling.

Debbi Michiko Florence: My bedtime routine when I was in elementary school was to arrange my 20+ stuffed animals around me in bed. Each stuffed animal had a name of course, and they “protected me” from whatever scary things lurked in the dark. (Closet door had to be closed!) I had so many stuffed animals that I could hardly move, but it was the only way I could fall asleep. (Secret confession, when my husband is away on business, my dog and two teddy bears sleep with me.)

Katie Slivensky: Here’s my cat’s bedtime routine.

Step 1: Get up from evening nap. Stretch.

Step 2: Find resident human. Stare at her until she notices.

Step 3: Meow at human, who has clearly not realized it is 9:30pm and therefore time for bed.

Step 4: Storm the apartment. Human is being ignorant. Slam cupboard doors. Rip up toilet paper. Jump on laptop.

Step 5: Human is yelling! Perhaps she has realized what time it is, and is expressing shock that she could have missed bed time so severely. Stare hopefully.

Step 6: Fall into despair. Human is never going to bed. Yowl loudly. Scratch at the walls.

Step 7: Give up. Collapse in defeat in hallway. Keep an eye on human.

Step 8: Human is getting up! Human is brushing her teeth! Make sure to lay on her feet and meow every four seconds, so she does not forget about bedtime again.

Step 9: Watch human crawl into bed. Refuse to join her for at least five minutes, or risk looking desperate.

Step 10: Success. Human is now convinced you want nothing to do with her. Jump on her just as she’s drifting off. Settle into position. Use claws liberally. Enjoy sleep until the generous hour of 3 am.
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Filed under Book Launch, Celebrations, Happiness, Launch, Picture books, Promotion, Uncategorized

Welcome to the World, Penny & Jelly: A Talk with Illustrator Thyra Heder!

Happy Launch Week, Penny & Jelly!!

 

I have always been fascinated by art and artists. People who can draw are, to me, the world’s greatest geniuses! Art (particularly painting) was one of my first loves. Sadly, I have no talent for drawing at all. For example, this was my attempt to draw an alien rock monster:   AlienSee what I mean?   At least I have the good fortune of getting to converse with many people who can turn paper and lines and shapes and colors into something amazing. When we started planning the launch party for Maria Gianferrari’s delightful Penny & Jelly, I jumped at the chance to interview illustrator Thyra Heder.

 

Tell us a bit about how you began your career as an artist, and found your way to illustrating picture books. While I was in college, my sister needed storyboards for a short film she was making. I thought I had read enough comics as aJelly_sketches kid that I could do it, and I was sort of right. I was not great, but my drawings looked proficient enough to get another job from that production. By word of mouth, I started storyboarding other films, tv shows, and ad campaigns. Storyboarding lead to other design and illustration work, which forced me to scramble and teach myself styles, mediums and explore aesthetics. So I guess that’s how I learned my skill…though I must admit I’m still teaching myself.     PennyJelly_sketch3I got into picture books because I’ve always loved them and collected them and one day I had an idea for one. After finding an agent who would take me on and revising my book for what felt like eons I got a book deal. That book, Fraidyzoo, gave my drawings exposure that could lead to other book opportunities like Penny and Jelly. I think the reason I finally took the leap into pursuing picture books was that I was aching to make things that people actually saw. Also I’ve always felt there is nothing more special than a moment reading a book to a kid, and I wanted to be a part of that.

 

What did you love most about Penny and Jelly? I loved that she allowed me to draw action, and I loved the chance to draw a relationship between a girl and her dog. I’ve got 0209_PennyandJellyStyleboardmy own dog, Toby, in the studio with me everyday, so I was excited to draw Jelly in his many states. My favorite thing about painting her is that I find myself making her expressions.

 

Where can readers see more about you on-line? Are you working on any new projects? Well I just finished Penny and Jelly 2 which was fun to paint (proofs look great!) and I’ve got my 2nd book that I wrote and illustrated coming out in October called The Bear Report. I’m also working on a screenplay with a friend for an animation at the moment so that will be filling my brain for the rest of the summer! I’ve got a non picture book drawing blog: uniqueyounork.tumblr.com and my website: thyraheder.com. thumbs_layered_1217_06-70219Spreadwalkhome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a copy of this heartwarming book. You can purchase it for yourself and everyone you know by going to Penny & Jelly’s website and choosing the buying link that’s best for you!  A second winner will receive some Penny & Jelly swag!    ____________________________________________________

Susan Vaught Susan Vaught is the author of many books for young adults, such as TRIGGER, BIG FAT MANIFESTO, and FREAKS LIKE US. Her debut novel for middle-grade readers, FOOTER DAVIS PROBABLY IS CRAZY, published by Simon & Schuster, hit the shelves in March, 2015. Please visit Susan at her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

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Filed under Blogging, Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Creativity, Illustrators, Interviews, Promotion

A (Not Terribly Original) Writer’s Top 10

Top TenAs my launch date comes hurtling toward me, I’ve been trying to sum up ALL the FEELINGS, struggling to think of something new or meaningful to say. Here’s what I came up with instead, in honor of David Letterman’s recent retirement:

THE TOP 10 NOT TERRIBLY ORIGINAL THINGS I’VE LEARNED AS A SOON-TO-BE-PUBLISHED AUTHOR

10. Writing is difficult and emotionally draining and often takes way longer than it should. What do you mean my plot has to make sense?!?

9. Writing is EVERYTHING because you are creating living, breathing beings with the power of your brain and fingers. And those beings can actually change someone else’s life. That’s huge.

8. Social media is apparently a big deal. It makes my head feel like it’s going to explode, but I’ve been trying anyway because it’s a BIG DEAL. (Here I am on my web site, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and now Instagram. Arrrgggh.) But the writing should always, always come first.

7. There are long periods of time in which you just have to wait, graciously, and try to be productive while you’re waiting. Sometimes you will throw things or throw tantrums and hopefully you will keep it within the walls of your own home so that only your family will know for sure that you’ve totally lost it.

6. You will cry. You will be disappointed sometimes. Sometimes there will be wonderful surprises, like amazing friends who are supportive and who totally get you.

5. You will form this tough, thick core of inner strength and resolve that will surprise you and the people who know you. You’ll learn to take risks in your writing and in other areas of your life.

4. It never really gets easier. Just different.

3. You will stress out about a thousand separate things that do not matter. STOP IT! (Yeah, I know, I can’t stop either.)

2. When someone tells you they liked your book, your insides will glow and you will smile a lot. It’s a really, really good feeling.

1. Don’t try to be anybody else but you. There is greatness inside you, but it won’t look the same as someone else’s, because it’s not supposed to.

 

Oh! And if you happen to live somewhere in northern Utah (or if you’re a fan of driving long distances), I would LOVE to see you on June 16 , 7 pm at the Provo Library for the official MOTHMAN’S CURSE launch event, part of the Author Link series! Check it out here.

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ChristineHayesauthorpicChristine Hayes writes spooky stories for middle grade readers. Her debut novel, MOTHMAN’S CURSE, is due out June 16, 2015 with Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Find her on Twitter: @christinenhayes or at christinehayesbooks.com.

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Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, craft~writing, Happiness, Launch, Promotion, Thankfulness

Quit the Chicken Job, You Must

KFC BucketWhen I was 16 I got my first job with my first real paycheck, working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I only lasted for five months. It wasn’t the low pay or the terrible hours that drove me to quit, or even the fact that I came home every night smelling like poultry.

It was the sensory overload that did me in.

More than once, when a line of hungry, impatient people snaked all the way out the door, I ended up in the back room, crying and flustered. It was just too much. Looking back, I realize I took the job way too seriously. I wanted everyone to be happy, wanted to do a good job. But it was just chicken. I wish I could go back and give 16-year-old me a hug and tell her that: “Girl, it’s just chicken.” I’d still encourage her to quit, though. To have enough confidence in herself and her skills to go find something better. Calmer. More in line with her interests and talents.

Fast forward twenty-something years, and I’m actually doing what I love! The book debut looms just three short months away. And I’m back in panic mode. Am I establishing an online presence? Am I doing enough to prepare, to network, to suddenly become outgoing and eloquent? Will any of it make any difference in the long run? It’s that queue of impatient customers all over again, all clamoring for their bucket of chicken.

I’m the first to admit that social media often sends me into a spiral of anxiety. I’m not witty or interesting or invested enough to keep up. Some days I try. Many days I don’t. Sometimes just having unanswered email feels like an unbearable source of noise and clutter. It can even dictate whether or not I have a productive writing day. I’ve read lots of articles about how much authors should be doing to promote themselves online.  They range from do everything to do only the things you feel comfortable with. Our very own Megan Morrison wrote a wonderful, sensible post along those lines here.

YodaBut what about the days when I DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH ANY OF IT?!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: that’s okay too.

You might be familiar with Yoda’s famous line from The Empire Strikes Back: “Do, or do not. There is no try.” An inspiring quote for most any situation, right? But at the risk of alienating my fellow Star Wars fans, I’d like to propose an alternate philosophy when it comes to book promotion and social media: “Do, or do not. Or try, if you want. But if it stresses you out, or interferes with your writing, then don’t worry about it.

I will say that I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter. I think I’ve been signed up for almost two years now. Needless to say, it’s very, very, verrrrrry slooooow going for me. But that’s the pace I’m comfortable with, and I have noticed my brain gradually absorbing bits and pieces—enough to keep me from giving up. So I will continue to try.

I totally think Yoda would get on board with that.

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ChristineHayesauthorpicChristine Hayes writes spooky stories for middle grade readers. Her debut novel, MOTHMAN’S CURSE, is due out June 16, 2015 with Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Follow her on Twitter: @christinenhayes.

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Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anxiety, Book Promotion, Panic, Promotion, Social Media, Time Management, Writing, Writing and Life

What Would Garrison Griswold Do?

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If you’re coming back to hear my big plan, scroll down to the end for the update! 

I’ve been in the midst of making promotional plans for Book Scavenger. I’ve sought out advice from other authors on what they recommend and don’t recommend for your debut book, and the only bit of advice that everyone seems to agree on is this: The best thing you can do to promote your first book is write your next book.

Okay, cool, I’m doing that! I have two more books scheduled to come out in 2016 and 2017, and I’m currently working on both simultaneously. One is in the outline/first draft stage, and the other is nearing the end of its second revision. (I feel like those last two sentences make me sound very organized in my writing process. I am not. I wrote “working on two books simultaneously” but really it feels more like spinning in circles while juggling cats.)

But still, even if everyone agrees the best thing you can do is write the next book, I can’t do nothing for my debut. If for no other reason than I’m excited about it! I want people to hear about it. So many people have had a hand in shaping the book–early readers and critique partners, teachers, my agent, my editor, the art director, production editor, copyeditor . . . And the illustrations! Sarah Watt’s work is so freakin’ cool and takes the book to a whole other level. The book that will be in bookstores and libraries has been a team effort, and I’m proud of it. Even if readers hate it, I want Book Scavenger to have a fighting chance of surviving in the retail world, and that won’t happen if readers don’t hear about it in the first place.

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Illustration by Sarah Watts

So I wanted to do something fun to celebrate Book Scavenger and spread the word about its existence. What to do, what to do? That’s where Garrison Griswold comes in.

Garrison Griswold is a central character in Book Scavenger. He’s this larger than life, eccentric book publisher who’s a huge game and puzzle fanatic. He thrives on thinking up elaborate games and making them happen–something that has earned him the reputation of being “the Willy Wonka of book publishing.” A reputation, by the way, that he loves to play up. Book Scavenger is one of his game creations. It’s a website and a real world book hunting game where players hide used books in public places and then upload clues to the website for other book scavengers to solve in order to seek out the books. (Kind of a mashup of Book Crossing, Geocaching, and Little Free Libraries, with a dash of influence from video games I played as a kid.)

I wanted to do something in the spirit of Garrison Griswold, but I couldn’t go all out Garrison Griswold because that guy has resources that I do not. (He rented out the San Francisco Giants stadium in order to break the Guinness World Record for largest group Bingo game, for example. I can’t do that.)

But I did come up with something that’s big, by my standards at least, and fortunately my publisher was on board. I hope it will be fun and will make Mr. Griswold proud. I’ll be putting this plan into action on Wednesday and will update here with a link to the info, but for now here’s a teaser video (which offers a clue–something I know Mr. G would approve of):

UPDATE: So I mentioned I have something fun in the works . . . 

I am excited to share the new website for my book series, designed by the awesome Jenny Medford of Websy Daisy. To celebrate this, I’m giving away 50 advance copies of Book Scavenger–yes, 50!–with the hope that the recipients will help launch a book hunting game in the spirit of the one in my novel. Read the post on BookScavenger.com to find out all the details!

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jenn.bertman-2002139Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is the author of the forthcoming middle-grade mystery, Book Scavenger (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt/Macmillan, 2015). Book Scavenger launches a contemporary mystery series that involves cipher-cracking, book-hunting, and a search for treasure through the streets of San Francisco. Jennifer earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, CA, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

You can find Jennifer online at http://writerjenn.blogspot.com where she runs an interview series with children’s book authors and illustrators called “Creative Spaces.”

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Filed under ARCs, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Dreams Come True, Illustrators, Promotion, Writing and Life

The Despair-Free Guide to Planning Your Book Launch

So you’ve written a book, and the launch of your darling debut approacheth with increasing speed. Congratulations! And welcome to hell.

If you’re like me, you innocently went searching for helpful self-marketing checklists and guides that might assist you in preparing for the big day. And then you skimmed through those checklists and choked. I’m supposed to do what now? In how long? With whose cash and time and energy? After that, you sent off a panicky, tearful e-mail to your friend and fellow author Laurie Thompson, who herself recently launched her own spectacular debut, and who promptly met you at Panera for a three-hour, no-frills, no-lies marketing session.

I’m going to pass along the fruits of our conversation, because in three hours, Laurie turned me from a hyperventilating asylum candidate into a serene debut author with a reasonable to-do list. And maybe you, like me, are mortal and get tired. Maybe you have another career. Maybe you have kids. Maybe marketing your book cannot be your full-time, or even your part-time job. And maybe the idea of going into the world and promoting yourself makes you want to die a little. So maybe you need a little soothing, a la Laurie. Here it is.

Prepare – But Don’t Despair.

You don’t have to do everything.

You don’t even have to sell your book. To anyone. As an author, your job is to write a book. Once the book is released, your job is to write another one. Your secondary job is to raise visibility, which means letting people know your book exists. You’re probably already doing that in lots and lots of ways.

When you see a list of things you could be doing, think of them as exactly that. Things you could be doing. Not things you should be doing. Pick out the ones that make sense to you and that you feel capable of tackling. Do those.

Laurie and I went through her super-maxi-extreme-ultra checklist of doom, and together we identified some things that I want to keep on my personal, sane-person list, such as:

  • Create the story around your book – your one-or-two-sentence Why – and be ready to share it. This isn’t an elevator pitch; it’s an answer to the question “Why did you write this?” or “What was your inspiration for this book?” or “What does this book mean to you?” It’s the story behind your story, and it will provide your publisher’s publicity department, as well as librarians, teachers, and booksellers, with a handy hook for generating interest in your book.
  • Make postcards and bookmarks, because they’re useful for all sorts of things. Send them to stores and libraries, or drop some off at local places. (Honestly, the mailing-list thing? I dread it. Researching to build the lists and finding the time to write hundreds of notes and print labels and apply postage… That’s all extremely daunting to me, so it’s one of those things that I’m going to do as I can, when I can. A few notes a week. I’ll target the stores I care about, and the libraries within driving distance that I might actually be able to visit.) Remember, once your book is out, it’ll be out for a while. Not everyone has to buy it on the actual launch date.
  • Make some fun swag for giveaways and launch events, if you’re doing those things. People like free stuff. Keep it cheap and thematic. Tap into your circle of talented friends and family. My brother knows how to make chainmail, so he’s creating some really neat giveaway bookmarks for me. People also like food, so cupcakes will make them happy, but swag is nice because it might rattle around in a purse or a coat pocket for a while and remind people of you.
  • Do you have an online presence? Good for you. Social media can be overwhelming, but again, you don’t have to do everything. Pick one or two things and manage them as you will. Maybe a blog and a Twitter feed. Maybe a Facebook page and your web site. Maybe just one of those things. Update at your own speed. Yes, it’s fun to be able to find authors online and see cool new fresh content on their super nifty pages, but you know what? An author’s lack of (or lackluster) media presence has never yet stopped me from buying a book I’ve heard great things about.
  • Shake your trees. Even if they are small trees and seem insignificant and not terribly fruity, go ahead and give them a shake. Your experiences and connections matter. Make a list of anyone in your life, past or present, who might support you (e.g. send a postcard to the current librarian of your old elementary school and tell them Hi, I used to go there, and I would be so thrilled to think of my book sitting on the very same shelves where I used to hide from all the other kids and cry my way through recess… Or maybe don’t do that, because that’s oversharing).
  • Make a little press kit that’s easy to give people. Quick and dirty. Your bio, your book synopsis, your contact info (and your agent’s). Get fancy with it, if you want. Or don’t.
  • Do the things you’re good at, in which you can take pleasure, and in which your genuine joy and excitement about your book will shine through. People don’t like pushy, saccharine nonsense; but they will like you. So do what’s authentic for you. I personally love using iMovie, so I had fun making my book trailer. And I love my students, so my “launch party” will actually be a library event, held within walking distance of my school, so that all my kids (who are middle-schoolers and can’t drive) can be there.

And then, once you’ve figured out the few things that matter most to you, let the rest of it go.

Now, it’s true that most publishers do expect varying amounts of self-promotion from their authors, so certain responsibilities may be handed to you, and as a professional, you’ll have to sort that out. Stuff will come up that you need to do. Stuff will fall into your lap that you ought to try to say yes to, for the sake of visibility. And some stuff – maybe even some really neat-o stuff – will come your way, if your book gets a lick of positive attention from the right source, so have your ducks in a row. All I’m saying is that if you don’t suddenly transform into a highly experienced publicist and throw over the rest of your life in order to haunt Twitter for the next six months, that’s okay.

Because you know what? The bottom line here – and it’s not exactly cheerful, but I think it’s freeing – is this: No matter how hard you throw yourself at self-marketing and promotion, it’s very hard to tell which of the checklist items will actually translate into sales. Even if you do ALL THE THINGS, you should prepare yourself for the fact that, after your launch, there may be very little fanfare. Just do what feels right. Do what you can. And make sure to enjoy it, because this is your baby, and you earned this joy. Don’t let some well-meant but soul-sucking checklist take this moment away from you.

Finally, remember that while the launch date feels enormous, it’s actually only a big deal to you and your loved ones. It’s a big splash followed by a long, leisurely, less attention-getting swim. Books take a long time to grow into their full, true readership, and that part can’t be forced (if it could, then every giant advance that a publisher gambles on would turn out to be a bestseller success). Your authentic audience will build organically over a long period of time as readers pass your book from hand to hand and give it the ultimate praise: “You have to read this.”

And then maybe, just maybe, they’ll search for you on Twitter. And maybe, if you feel like it, you’ll be there waiting.

 

This post was made possible by the gifted and generous Laurie Thompson.

 

HiRes_Morrison_6861_cropMegan Morrison is the author of GROUNDED: A TALE OF RAPUNZEL, due out April 28, 2015 from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic. GROUNDED is the first book in the Tyme Series, co-created with Ruth Virkus. You can follow Megan on her blog at makingtyme.blogspot.com or on Twitter at @megtyme. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

 

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Filed under Advice, Anti-Advice, Book Promotion, Launch, Panic, Promotion, Time Management

What to Expect When You’re Expecting… A Book

“Your book is getting published! You must be SO excited!” a friend gushes over lunch.

And I am excited. Really excited. And nervous. And apprehensive. And bored. I remember feeling a lot like this about twenty years ago. Right after I found out that I was pregnant.

"It's REALLY happening!"

“It’s REALLY happening!”

I think this whole book publishing event is a lot like being pregnant. At first, you’re over-the-moon elated, but you can’t tell anyone. What if something happens? What if it’s all a dream?

Then when you finally tell people, there’s a lot of celebrating.
“Congratulations!”
“When is it coming out?”
“I can’t wait to see it!”
And the ones you know who are whispering behind your back: “It’s about time! I thought for a while she… couldn’t…”

"It's FINALLY happening for her!"

“It’s FINALLY happening for her!”



You wonder. What will the cover look like? Will kids like it? I hope the reviewers don’t pan it. Or ignore it. Will they see just how special—how precious— it is? Oh, I hope it’s one of the popular ones.

You plan, knowing you can never plan enough. The publication date seems SO far away! Is it too early to start planning the coming-out party? The checklists are endless, but instead of painting the nursery, finding a crib, and buying tiny socks and onesies, your checklists say:
 Call bookstores
 Order bookmarks
 Write press release
 Design temporary tattoos to give out at launch parties.

And you wait. As I recall, there was an awful lot of waiting when I was pregnant. Waiting to feel that first fluttery kick, waiting until that “baby bump” started showing. Waiting in doctors’ offices, for test results, for The Day to finally arrive. And even when The Day arrives, there is still a lot of waiting to be done. I got The Call a year and a half ago, and I still have a trimest…errr… three months to go before delivery. Of my books, I mean.

Not that there hasn’t been the occasional flurry of activity. Like those bursts of energy in pregnancy, the periods of quiet waiting have been suddenly interrupted by an out-of-the-blue email from my editor. Please fill out this survey. Here are some revision notes for you to go through. We need a high-resolution photo for your flap. These emails, like the occasional baby kick, remind me that things are progressing, even though I can’t see them.

Things are happening behind the scenes!

Things are happening behind the scenes!


Soon, I know, The Day will arrive, and I will cradle… HOLD! I mean hold a brand new book in my arms, knowing that the whole experience has been worth the wondering, the effort, and the wait.

It’s truly a labor of love.

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Filed under Advice, Anxiety, Celebrations, Dreams Come True, Happiness, Patience, Promotion, Time Management, Uncategorized, waiting, Writing and Life