Tag Archives: book promotiion

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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Promotion Post-Mortem

THE WICKED AND THE JUST came out two weeks ago tomorrow.  I was planning to post about how I went about promoting it, what exactly I did, what worked and what didn’t. . .

. . . until I realized I didn’t really know what worked and what didn’t.  Sure, I did a bunch of interviews and guest posts.  I held a giveaway (which ends tomorrow, if you’re interested).  I went on a blog tour and my fabulous agency siblings threw me a weeklong party.

But I have no way of quantifying outcomes.  I can’t know which of the specific promotional things I did resulted (or will result) in people buying the book.  I won’t have any concrete sales numbers for months, and things like Amazon rank are an arbitrary measure that only tells you one thing, and not the thing I’m interested in.

So this isn’t a post about all the ways you can do promotion.  Plenty of really smart people can tell you that.

What I found most interesting about the promotion I did for W/J was how it changed my sense of control over the whole debut process.

I have a wonderful publicist at Harcourt.  She is diligent, tireless, and a joy to work with, but 98% of what she does on my behalf happens in a black box.  Publishers tend to hold these cards close to the vest and I’m okay with that.  I fed her information about what I was doing, but it went into the black box and I have no idea what became of it.

Internal decisions about W/J like catalog placement, ARC distribution, outreach, sales backing – those got made at such a stratospheric level that I had (and still have) only an intellectual understanding of those outcomes.  There was no way I could do anything about those.

But what I could do was buy 500 postcards, write messages by hand, and mail them to every public library and indie bookstore in my state.  What I could do was band together with other local kidlit writers and arrange book tours.  What I could do was get on Twitter and just chat with bloggers, librarians and readers about anything from cats to kids to the weather.

There’s already a lot of letting go during the debut process.  Promotion is one way a writer can get back some sense of control, that you’re actually steering this little boat and not drifting with the tide.*  That sense of authority builds confidence, and confidence will let you relax a little.  And when you relax, even a little, it’ll be that much easier to enjoy the whole crazymaking ride.

* This is not to say you should go overboard and do too much.  Just enough to wrestle back control of the tiller.  I will now retire this metaphor, as it’s getting tiresome.

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