3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketers - Martha Mihalick (Greenwillow Books)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Marvelous Marketers - Martha Mihalick (Greenwillow Books)

Random Stuff

Yes I am leaving this up for one more day by popular demand :) But I wanted to pop in and say say how sad I am about John Updike's death. He was a great author. :( *sniff

Here are a few great marketing posts I wanted to give a shout out too.

Shrinking Violets posted an interview with publicist

Becca posted a publicity contract to look through. She's got a great book coming soon :)

Writers Digest posted Marketing essentials for unpublished authors!

Martha Interview

Hi Martha. Thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me today. As you know this blog focuses on educating authors on how to best market their books. But before we get into marketing, tell me a little about yourself.

Greenwillow Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. We were founded in 1974, and our talented, wonderful authors and artists include Kevin Henkes, Lynne Rae Perkins, Peter Sis, Chris Crutcher, Ian Schoenherr, Megan Whalen Turner, Carin Berger, Diana Wynne Jones and many many many more!

We publish books for children of every age, from picture books to novels. We aim to publish books that truly speak to children and teens, that they will keep coming back to again and again. I’m the Associate Editor and have been with Greenwillow for seven years.

Let's start with Greenwillow Books. Do you and/or your Greenwillow Books have a website/blog that you use for marketing?

Yes, HarperCollins has a very thorough website, which our online marketing department manages. There are several blogs popping up all over Harper Collins that have a lot of useful information in addition to several Facebook Fan pages.

Greenwillow also has its own Facebook Fan page which I manage myself.

And I have my own personal blog, A Curiosity Shop.

In your opinion , what are the top things every author should do and must do to promote their book?

I think the most vital thing is to have a website—one that you regularly update, so that it never seems stale. Kids, teens, parents, librarians, booksellers, teachers will all google favorite authors to find out more about them!

This is particularly critical for aspiring illustrators, in my opinion. Most of my artist-hunting happens online. And “website,” can also mean blog.

It’s important that an author or artist’s online presence is one that THEY are comfortable with. This may be a regular website that they update once a month or so with news, etc. Or it may be a blog they update every day or once a week, or what-have-you.

After that, reaching out to your community and contacts and being available for appearances is great.

In your opinion, how important is social networking?

I don’t think we’ve really seen yet how much social networking impacts sales directly.

That said, though, I think they can be useful for making people aware of your books and forming a network of support. However, you should never do anything that you aren’t comfortable with, though! Twitter might not be for you, but GoodReads might be. Every author needs to see which one seems natural and fun—and doesn’t take too much time and thought away from the writing!

Another thing to keep in mind is that blogging or being active on Facebook or Twitter puts you in the public eye. ANYONE can see what you write, so don’t forget that as you post—be aware that you are presenting yourself to potential readers, critics, editors, agents, and fellow writers.

How important is technology to an author’s marketing plan?

It’s important to understand technology, and my guess that technology will grow more and more important with time. But again, not everything is right for every book and every author.

Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promote books as a group? If so, why?

It can be! Shannon Hale (Author of Princess Academy) and Libba Bray (Author of Rebel Angels) had what seemed like a successful and fun tour together last fall. Not to be a broken record, but this is another area where it’s important to consider what’s right for the book and the author. You need pairing that make sense, and pulls audiences that will appreciate both books.

When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever Google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?
ALWAYS! Whether or not they have a presence is not the deciding factor on a book or author. I decide whether or not I like a manuscript based on the manuscript itself.

But when I’m presenting a book for possible acquisition, I want to know as much about the author as I can. If they have a website or blog, then that’s another way to get to know him or her.

To finish up, I know every writer will want to know what do you, as an associate editor, look for in an author or book that you aquire?

I look for a voice that’s authentic to its age group, one that resonates. I look for a story that sticks with me, either because it makes me laugh, warms my heart, poses thought-provoking, haunting questions, or leaves me breathless. I look for characters who seem like real people to me—all of them, not just the protagonist. I look for a protagonist I think children or teens will identify with. I look for hook I know will get readers’ attention and good writing to support it. In an author, I look for someone who’s dedicated and passionate about his or her writing.

Before you leave, tell me what exciting books are you working on now at Greenwillow Books?

Well, all of our books are exciting! Every book we work on knocks our socks off, so we’re very lucky to be working with such talented creative people.

On the Greenwillow Books Summer 2009 list, I edited a fantastic, funny debut picture book called DO NOT BUILD A FRANKENSTEIN! by Neil Numberman. And a middle grade mystery that’s tons of fun called A RECIPE 4 ROBBERY by Marybeth Kelsey .

Greenwillow Books also has two amazing debut fantasies. RADIANT DARKNESS that retells the Persephone/Hades myth from Persephone’s perspective. And SILVER PHOENIX, an ancient-China inspired epic fantasy.

You’ll be able to see teasers and jackets on http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/ or on the Greenwillow fan page on Facebook.

Thank you Martha for joining us today and sharing some marketing insight.

Next week join us for advice from Best-selling author Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why)


cindy said...

wonderful interview. i'm the author of SILVER PHOENIX and i feel so fortunate to be with greenwillow books. thsnks for the mention, martha, and for the interiew, shelli!

Gretchen said...

Thanks for a fantastic interview!

Unknown said...

Fantastic interview.
Thank you both for sharing.

Casey Something said...

Great interview and information as always. Thanks Shelli and Martha!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

cindy - thx for stopping by!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Gretchen thanks for the link! :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Thanks JIll for coming! good luck on book coming.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

hey casey - how is baby :)

Christy Raedeke said...

Great interview! Love your new Marvelous Marketers series.

And thanks for making the first ever comment on my Authors Now page! That made my day :)

David Macinnis Gill said...

SOUL ENCHILADA isn't out yet, and it's already old news. *Sigh* *Deep, heavy sigh*

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Don't know why I didn't find your blog sooner. I'm here to stay.

Kristin Tubb said...

What a great interview! Thanks for sharing, Martha and Shelli! *runs off to update website...* ;-)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

hey christy - congrads on authornow post :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

David - i think soul enchilada will be great - its with Harper Teen not greenwillow right? :) Congrads!!!!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

tara - glad you found me. thx for coming!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

kristin - you're funny :)

Unknown said...

What a great interview--thanks so much for this!

Lisa Schroeder said...

I love Greenwillow books. And yay for Marybeth Kelsey, one of my favorite MG authors!! :)

David Macinnis Gill said...

Shelli--That's sweet of you to say. I was just teasing Martha. I don't really think my book has been forgotten.

C.R. Evers said...

Great interview! Thanks!


Kelly Polark said...

Fabulous interview! It is always great to hear what editors think of blogging/networking. Thank you!

Vivian Mahoney said...

Informative interview! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

beth - thx for coming!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

hi Lisa!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

CR Evers - thx for stopping by :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Kelly - thx for coming to visit. :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Vivian - thx for coming back to see me. How is your 30 days challenge going?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great insights into the publishing world. Martha sounds like an awesome editor. I love her advice on doing what you're comfortable with.

BookChook said...

Thank you, Martha and Shelli. Social networking does take time away from writing, but it's my virtual way of staving off lonely writer syndrome!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

becca - thx for coming back :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Book chook - thank you fomr visiting - hope you come back :)

Candace Ryan said...

Shelli, thanks for sharing this informative interview!

Carrie Harris said...

How have I not heard of Radiant Darkness before now? The Persephone/Hades story is so cool; this one is going on my reading list immediately!!!