3 S.R. Johannes: May 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marketing lessons with Terra Elan McVoy (author of The Summer of Firsts and Lasts)

Terra Elan McVoy is the author of three
outstanding books: Pure, After the Kiss, and her new release, The Summer of Firsts and Lasts.

Not only is her writing so flavorful, but her covers are totally delicious.

Today, she stops by to share some marketing lessons she has learned after publishing three books.

Summer of Firsts and Lasts is about t

hree sisters. One life-changing summer.

Calla loves summer because summer means Duncan. They’ve been best friends for years, but Calla has never worked up the nerve to tell him how she really feels. This summer, the summer before college, is Calla’s last chance.

Violet isn’t much of a rule breaker in real life. But this isn’t real life, this is summer, and Violet is determined to make the most of it. Besides, a little sneaking out never hurt anyone. And sneaking out with James is 100% worth the risk … even though James is completely off-limits.

Daisy has never been the sister that boys notice, but when sparks fly with Joel at the first bonfire of summer, it seems so easy and right. So why is being his girlfriend so complicated?


In a nutshell, - what is your publishing story? How did you get published?

As you probably know, the journey to publication is different for everybody. Mine was a little long and winding, in that I really have been writing for most of my life, and studied it seriously in high school, college, and even in grad school. I didn’t get interested in YA until I was working as an editorial assistant in New York, however (that’s where the idea for Pure came from). Because I was in publishing and new a lot of editors, I talked to them about my idea (about a girl trying to manage both high school and being a person of faith); their responses encouraged me to keep working on the manuscript. When I moved to Atlanta, I stopped working on it for other things, but a year later, an editor remembered my idea and approached me about it. I slaved over the outline and the pitch, and she took it in to acquisitions, and they signed me up! The short version sounds so easy! But really it was almost two decades in the making.

What do you think are the 3 main things that work well in marketing your books?

I’m actually kind of terrible at marketing. Simple word of mouth has been such a huge boon for me, really. So writing the best book I could possibly write has been one “marketing” tactic that I’ve really aimed for; if it’s not good, after all, people won’t pass it along. Having relationships (genuine, organic ones) with other writer friends has also been a big help; meeting other authors, interviewing them on my blog, going to their events—just building a community of good writers around me has been really fun for me. Beyond that, the basics of blogging and tweeting and F’booking and doing events has also been a part!

What is the biggest mistake you made with your marketing?

Like I said, I didn't do much marketing. So THAT for me is the biggest mistake. I think I could have done more to try to help my publisher out in the beginning, and wish I could continue to do more. Coming up with smart ways to do that—things that will be effective and not too much of a time suck—is always really tough.

What is something creative you have done to market your newest book?

To celebrate the release last week of The Summer of Firsts

and Lasts, my friends at Little Shop of Stories threw a truly awesome Camp Extravaganza party for me since my character as actually at

summer camp. We had ice cream (all three flavors on the book cover, or course), camp crafts & games, plus a fantastic talent show that included some of the members

of the girls book group I lead, the local improv troupe, D.U.C.K Improv, plus my friend, Vincenzo Tortorici and my own husband’s

fabulous magic trick! (I read as part of the talent show too.)

It was terribly fun and fabulous (especially having made Camp Callanwolde t-shirts beforehand). All in all, a terrific weekend! You can see pictures of the event at my web site.

What are the 3 main lessons you learned between marketing book 1 and book 3? What do you do differently for this book that you didn't do before?

The main thing is that you really do have to DO it. You have to get out there and get involved in the conversations, let people know who you are and what you’re doing. It’s tricky, for me, to do that and not seem too pushy, but not doing it at all is a big mistake.

The important thing is to find a way that is really authentic to you. Since I love talking to kids about writing I have really tried to reach out more to schools and do more workshops; but for some other writer that might not be as comfortable.

I love talking to bloggers and other writers, and that’s been useful for me, so I try to do more of that. I wasn’t Tweeting before at all, but now I’ve found a way to do it that fits. That’s what the learning process between Pure and The Summer of Firsts and Lasts has been—finding ways to be “out there” that are still comfortable and genuine.

What do you think are the 3 most important things any writer can do to write the best book they can write?

One big important thing is to not be focused on the outcome. Worrying about “will this sell” and all of that really takes away from the writing, which demands a LOT of concentration and time. Reading everything you can possibly read in the same genre –finding what’s already out there and identifying what you like and don’t—is also a huge help. Taking your time also matters a lot: taking time with characters, with developing the world, with examining all your sentences, with revising and revising . . . writing a masterpiece is not short work!

What is your favorite word and why?

What a great question to end with. I love “crepuscular,” because it is just such a fun word to say, but also because it describes that twilight time of day when the sky is half blues and half peaches: warm and cool at the same time. It’s a lovely word—a transitional word—and I just always feel this delightful peace and calm when I say it. It evokes the thing it means, at least to me!

You can follow or learn more about Terra at her blog, twitter or Facebook.

In other news, check out more Bookanista posts today!

Elana Johnson marvels at Moonglass

Christine Fonseca raves about It’s Raining Cupcakes

LiLa Roecker and Carrie Harris have a passion for Possession

Beth Revis admires the audiobook of Anansi Boys

Carolina Valdez Miller is giddy over Moonglass – with giveaway

Megan Miranda swoons over Strings Attached

Shana Silver delves into Divergent

Sarah Frances Hardy gabs about Gossip from the Girls Room

Matt Blackstone is tantalized by Bad Taste in Boys

Stasia Ward Kehoe glories in a guestanista review of The Rendering

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bookanista Buzz

Congrads to fellow Bookanista Veronica Roth who debuted at #6 on the bestseller list! Well deserved!!!!

Here is other Bookanista Buzz-

Elana Johnson turns you on to Divergent

LiLa Roecker is ensnared by Tighter

Christine Fonseca gets giddy about Moonglass – with giveaway

Shannon Messenger is mesmerized by Imaginary Girls – with giveaway

Kirsten Hubbard has double the love for Rival and Moonglass

Carolina Valdez Miller vaunts Divergent – with giveaway

Megan Miranda devours Bad Taste in Boys

Bethany Wiggins and Shana Silver share their passion for Possession

Gretchen McNeil rocks out with The Anti-Prom

Carrie Harris reads along Blood Red Road

Stasia Ward Kehoe shines a spotlight on Dramarama

Myra McEntire announces the Bookanistas Give Back Run For Your Life contest winners!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Marketing NF vs Fiction – Where the Similarities End




Thanks, Shelli, for hosting this leg of the tour. Shelli asked me to talk about marketing my books. In particular, she asked what the differences were between marketing nonfiction books for a small niche and the type of marketing needed for fiction.

Whew! What a great question.

For me, the principals of marketing are the same, whether you are marketing a small educational title to a specific niche, a children’s nonfiction advice book, or even a mainstream trade novel. These principles include:

· Know Your Market: Regardless of whether you are marketing a novel for teens of a nonfiction book for educators, you MUST know your market. Not only who may read your book, but the specifics about what your particular audience may be looking for from your book. Wonder the bookstores, picture exactly where your book fits on the shelf. Ask your specific audience what they are hungry for – what kinds of things are possibly missing from the market right now.

In addition to knowing your primary market, know your secondary and tertiary markets as well. While these are certainly easier to identify in nonfiction, they exist in fiction as well. With YA for example, your primary market may be Teens, with a secondary market of adults interested in YA novels, and a tertiary market of both teachers who teach stories like yours, and writers who write similar genres.

· Treat Marketing As A Business: The publishing industry has changed substantially, whether we want it to have changed or not. Being a career author means more than just writing stories and having your agent and publisher do the majority of the business side of things. You must take an active role in building a platform and marketing the book.

Authors of Nonfiction genres are typically used to this. Fiction authors are learning – quickly.It is important with this business model change to treat the business aspects of writing as that – a BUSINESS. This means developing a strategic plan to both build platform and market the book. Set goals – monthly and more long term. Figure out how you want to proceed with your career – how you will connect with your readers.

Yes, if you are a fiction author with a larger publisher behind you, much of this planning will be done by others. But I feel strongly that you must take ownership for this as well. After all – it is YOUR career.

· Focus on Connections: Marketing your work is NOT about selling in the more derogatory, used salesman sense of the word. It is, however, about making connections to your readership. Find ways to bring content of value to your readers and they will thank you for it. Not only that, but they will come back over and over to see what else you have to say. If you only focus on sales, you will not only miss vital opportunities to develop relationships with your readers, but you will typically come off as disingenuous – something guaranteed to drive away your readers.

These principles are vital to marketing any book – fiction or nonfiction; widely distributed or sold on a small scale. While the principles are the same, some of the nuances of these principles are unique.

With my nonfiction books, for example, connecting with readers has proven most successful using a combination of virtual chats (twitter, secondlife, online forums) and real life events (conferences and book chats). Book signing are not generally effective as most of my readers do not come to them. Panel discussions would be effective, I believe. But the niche these books serve have not used such events widely, so finding venues is difficult.

With fiction, connecting with readers takes on a whole different meaning. Panel discussions, live events and virtual Q&A’s are very effective ways to connect with readers. Offering exclusive content is another fantastic way to bring value and connect to fiction readers – things like exclusive short shorts stemming from the characters of the book, or bookish swag that brings fresh content to readers (the postcards from Cassandra Clare are a great example of this).

Connecting with fiction readers can also mean using media in unique ways – more unique than is typically appropriate from some NF genres. Beth Revis’ interactive blueprint of the ship from Across the Universe, Ric Riordan’s 39 Clues online material, and Gossip Girls use of virtual worlds frequented by teens to market the series are prime examples of finding unique ways to connect with readers. Annotated picture books are another example of bringing exclusive content to readers.

Overall, marketing fiction can be a bigger challenge to the author. It can be difficult to set yourself apart from every other author in a way that positions you well in the market place. Challenging yes, but not impossible.

For me, the key is to start with the end product – the book. Make it the very best product you can. Then follow the principles listed above, applied to your specific market. Be creative. Find new ways to bring fresh, value-added content to your readers. And treat it all as a business – your business.

Christine Fonseca


Opening the door to new worlds

New Release:
  • Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students (October 1, 2010, Prufrock Press)
Upcoming Release:
  • 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids (May 1, 2011, Prufrock Press)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bookanistas: The Royal Treatment

Winner of Moonglass is Jenna Wallace!
email me your address at sjohannes@bilaninc.com.

Okay so I've gone a little overboard on the book recs this week but it was a stellar week and I like to support authors on their release days esp. when I've read the books and
liked them!

And I will say, I do not recommend a book I don't love. And trust me, the Bookanistas get tons of books so the ones we stand behind are the ones we like. We do not push books just because we might
know the author.

Now for The Royal Treatment!

Have you guys read Princess For Hire by Lindsey Leavitt. It truly is Meg Cabot meets magic. The Royal Treatment is the sequel. Now I adore this series for middle graders/tweens. It's cute and clever. Well, and let's face it - it also has glitter, princesses, and bubbles in it. Who could ask for more?

Except... Lindsey gives soooo much more in this series.

Her downright hilarious humor. Now, I happen to know her very well and let me
say she is just as funny if

not funnier in person. Maybe almost as funny as me ;) (Can't you tell how happy we are by our cheeky grins :) Okay enough about Linds and I - now back to the book.

In The Royal Treatment, Desi Bascomb’s job as a princess substitute has gotten a whole lot more glamorous now that she’s advanced to Level 2 within the Facade Agency. Magical make-up, roller-skating celebrities, and the chance to see Prince Karl again are just some of the major perks. Not to mention, she’s landed the role of Fairy Queen in her school’s production of Midsummer’s Night Dream (opposite her best friend’s crush. Which is a little weird, but at least he wears a donkey head during their kissing scene). Life should be perfect, but Desi can’t seem to shake the feeling that there is more going on with the agency’s magic than she’s told. Like why is this mind-bending power exclusive to royals? Is it possible that there could be a bigger way to make an impact in both parts of her life?

Lindsey (who is also the author of Sean Griswold's Head - also another great book) makes Desi so believable. She's so awkward (Desi that is :) and honest. She's nosy, headstrong, and totally wigs out when she panics. Love her.

Meredith - Desi's agent, reminds me of a female NIGEL in Devil wears Prada. She's funny and tough.

The ending made me laugh out loud . The book leaves you knowing more great stuff is coming. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Who is your favorite princess and why? Comment and I have a The Royal Treatment giveaway for you! :)

Check out more Bookanista reviews:

  • Elana Johnson hosts a blog tour stop for 101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS with a giveaway

  • Shannon Messenger adores THE DAY BEFORE plus a giveaway

  • Beth Revis shares some SOLSTICE cover love

  • Shana Silver shows her desire for DEMONGLASS


  • Lisa and Laura Roecker and Stasia Ward Kehoe marvel over MOONGLASS

  • Megan Miranda and Veronica Rossi delve into DIVERGENT

  • Carolina Valdez Miller is passionate about POSSESSION and gives away an ARC

  • Sarah Frances Hardy wants to be just LIKE MANDARIN

  • Wednesday, May 04, 2011

    Happy Release Day - Moonglass

    "The Story Book" winners: Joy D Fanning and Vidisha!!

    "Divergent" winner: Caitlin Vincent!

    email me your address at sjohannes@bilaninc.com

    Now, for Moonglass by Jessi Kirby.

    When Anna was little, she and her mother used to search for sea glass, but since they looked at night, they called it moonglass. Now, ten years after her mother's mysterious death, her father is working as head lifeguard on the same beach where her mother grew up and her parents first met and fell in love.

    Reluctant to get close to anyone (including her father) and not pleased about having to start at a new school, Anna begins to spend more time alone, running the length of the beach and wondering about who her mother really was. After meeting a lifeguard named Tyler, she slowly lets her guard down and together they start exploring the abandoned houses that dot the beach.

    But when learning more about her mother's past leads to a painful discovery, Anna must reconcile her desire for solitude with ultimately accepting the love of her family and friends.

    10 Reasons why I love this book:

    1) Love the cover. Its even more beautiful in person. (oh and the guy's behind is cute :)

    2) It's a great summer book! And if you go to the beach - it's even better!

    3) It'll make you cry. The story hit me right in the heart.

    4) It will make you want to hunt for sea glass next time you walk a sandy beach.

    5) Um, Jessi is adorable.

    6) It's a contemporary!!! Yes has some mermaid mythology and of course, a sweet romance with Tyler.

    7) The setting is amazing

    8) Sarah Dessen loved it! (This should have been #1)

    9) Anna the main character was so real. How many times when we were teens did we all walk back and froth n front of the lifeguards to try and get their attention ;)

    10) The writing was wonderful.

    Giveaway! Comment - Tell me about a memorable time you went to the beach as a teen. I have a book to giveaway! :)