3 S.R. Johannes: November 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Interview with Senior Editor at Dial: Liz Waniewski

The winner of the Oracle books is:

Jaime (who is a guy BTW :)
email your address to me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com.


Today, Liz Waniewski (Senior Editor, Dial) stopped by to answer some questions. I met her when we were on faculty together at SCBWI Carolinas and adored her.

Hi Liz, thanks for stopping by. Can you tell us about yourself as an editor?

I’m a Senior Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, and have been working here for nine years. I edit everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels. The books I edit are character driven with distinct voices and points of view. Some of the books I’ve worked on recently are LADYBUG GIRL AT THE BEACH by David Soman and Jacky Davis, SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher, FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Antony John, and FANTASY BASEBALL by Alan Gratz.

How does Dial support their authors in their marketing efforts? What do you feel is most important in promoting books?

Dial is part of Penguin Young Readers Group, so our authors have the support of Penguin Young Readers marketing behind them when promoting their books.

We offer many different kinds of support, depending on the author and the book project, from sending out review copies and press releases to the major book reviewers, magazines, and newspapers, to linking your author website to the Penguin website, to Penguin’s tweets and Facebook updates about new and upcoming books or author events, to our info packet about how to do effective online marketing, to much more.

One of the most important things in promoting books is an author who is willing to be a self-promoter. There is nothing as effective as an author who has contact with his/her fans, whether in person or online.

During the publishing process, what is the most exciting part of acquiring a book? What is the hardest part about wanting a book?

The most exciting part about acquiring a book for me is beginning an editorial relationship with an author. I sign up a book because I believe it has a ton of potential to make a difference to the kids who will read it, and I hope that the author has written it with a similar thought. It is exciting to be able to help an author get their work out into the world for kids to read and enjoy.

The hardest part about wanting a book is knowing that if other editors want it too, I might not get it. When I’m trying to sign up a book, it is because I love it. It is hard to let something you love go to another editor!

What is Dial looking for?

Dial is looking for books that walk that fine line of being literary and commercial, though if I had to choose one, I’d say we fall on the literary side of that line. We’re looking for excellent writing, fresh voices, interesting points of view, and stories that take us to places we’ve never been before with characters who jump off the page and drive that story forward.

Any questions for Liz?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bookanistas - The Oracle of Dating Dynamic Duo Giveaway

COMMENT on the interview today and win a copy of both books!

(If I get more than 100 comments, I'll throw a second surprise giveaway for commenters. Don't forget - only followers are eligible. See, I don't ask 4 much :)

Today, I interviewed Allison van Diepen, author of The Oracle of Dating and the sequel The Oracle of Rebounds. (Harlequin Teen) as well as several other books.

Oracle of Dating is a fun, engaging, and witty book for teens(like all Harlequin books coming out!). A great easy read for the beach or rainy day that you pass along to your friends and giggle about later. It has friendship, boys, and nuggets of teen relationship advice that I wish I had back in high school. It's also up to date with references to Facebook, blogging and Paypal, among other things.

For five bucks, the Oracle of Dating will tell you:
* How to flirt
* If that cute guy you're crushing on likes you, too
* Whether your new romance will last through lunch period
* And much more

No one at Kayla's school knows she's the famous Oracle of Dating—the anonymous queen of dating advice. She doesn't even have a boyfriend. Two relationship disasters were enough to make Kayla focus on everyone else's love life. But then her advice backfires on her own best friend. And Kayla starts to seriously obsess about Jared Stewart—the very cute, very mysterious new guy in school. Suddenly, the teen queen of advice needs her own oracle of dating—and she knows just where to find one….

The sequel, Oracle of Rebounds picks up where the first one left off.

As the "oracle of dating," Kayla is supposed to have all the answers about love and relationships. She's supposed to have the perfect relationship. But now that Jared is "taking a step back," Kayla feels like a total fraud.So the expert on dating starts taking her own rebound advice—and some from her friends—and stops moping around.

But when controversy erupts about the Oracle's advice, Kayla is sent reeling once again. Will anything work out for her this year? Yet when her friends start seriously needing the Oracle, Kayla begins to focus on what really matters.

Here's the interview with Allison:

Hi Allison, thanks for coming by with gifts :) First, tell us about yourself.

I’m a YA author from Ottawa, Canada, and I currently have five teen novels in bookstores. I’m also a high school teacher, and my first two books, Street Pharm and Snitch, were inspired by my experiences teaching at an inner-city school in Brooklyn. My next book, Raven, was a paranormal, and my two most recent books, The Oracle of Dating and The Oracle Rebounds, are light, fun teen romances which came out this year from Harlequin Teen. I love writing YA, and as you can see, my books are very different from one another. I follow my inspiration wherever it takes me.

How did you come up with the idea for The Oracle?

It was one of my sister’s friends who first called me The Oracle of Dating. I was about twelve, and my sister and her friends were fifteen. I became their dating guru. Over the years, as I’ve dated and observed others dating, I’ve seen distinct patterns, and have always wanted to write about them. A lot of the outrageous stories in the books are real experiences that have happened to me or people I’ve known.

It's amazing how much teen books come from our real lives. Can you talk a little about your journey to publication?I started writing when I was a teen. Once I became a high school teacher and wrote my first YA book, I bought a copy of The Writer’s Market Guide to Literary Agents, submitted query letters to five agents, and two requested to see the manuscript. A few months later, I signed on with an agent; he said it was my “unique voice” that attracted him to my writing, and he gave me some useful feedback on my manuscript. About a year later, he sold my first book,

I love that you did it the old fashion way from slush pile to publication! Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
In Jo Beverley’s words, I like to “fly into the mist”. I start with something that intrigues me – it may be an exciting scene that’s playing in my head, or a mysterious, sexy character. If the writing is flowing well, I know that I’m onto something. If it keeps feeling right, I keep going. Along the way, I stop and do some planning – for instance, I’ll make a few notes on what the next sequence of scenes should be, or on a few important plot points. I don’t like to plan a book in too much detail before I start writing it. For me, too much planning ahead spoils some of the fun.

What ways do you market your book as an author? What has worked well? What have you learned along the way?

I have a decent Internet presence, I think; I’m on Facebook and have a website. I have a blog, devoted to the Oracle series. I’ve bought ads on various sites which have directed people to my website. I’ve done guest-blogging and interviews on local TV, visited schools and spoken at conferences. What has worked well? I have no idea. It’s an endless topic of conversation among my writer friends. You can invest thousands of dollars in advertising, or exhaust yourself visiting bookstores, going to conferences etc. and see little change in your sales.

The best marketing is word of mouth, and that’s not something you can predict. If your book resonates with readers, over time it will catch on, and your books will stay in print. An author doesn’t always know right away if that will happen. I certainly didn’t know that my first two books, Street Pharm (2006) and Snitch (2007), would still be in print today. I have the teens to thank for that, and their teachers and librarians. What I’ve learned is that the more time I spend writing instead of trying to spread the word about my books, the happier I am. This business is so unpredictable. I always remind myself to focus on the parts of it that bring me joy – writing, and corresponding with my readers.

What are you most afraid of? and why?
Any author fears their work not being sought after anymore. Most writers with long-term careers have had times when their books sold well and when they didn’t. Since I plan to keep writing for years to come, I hope I will always find interested publishers and readers. It’s important for a writer who wants longevity not to be afraid to switch things up a little – to write in different genres, for different age groups, or even under a different name. I don’t know what I’ll be writing ten or twenty years from now…and I’m happy with that.

Thanks Allison!

Don't forget to comment for the duet of Oracle books!

Check out these other Bookanista posts today!

Lisa and Laura Roecker and Myra McEntire spreads some love for SELLING HOPE
Elana Johnson is nuts about NIGHTSHADE
Christine Fonseca swoons over SIREN
Shannon Messenger marvels over MUSEUM OF THIEVES (plus she's having another epic giveaway).
Carolina Valdez Miller is struck by SHIP BREAKER.
Megan Miranda is in love with I AM THE MESSENGER

If you have a book, you would like the Bookanistas to consider, feel free to email me offline.