3 S.R. Johannes: Monday's Marvelous Marketer - Lisa Schroeder

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday's Marvelous Marketer - Lisa Schroeder

Marketing interview with Lisa Schroeder
Hi. Lisa Thank you for joining us and welcome to Market My Words. You are our first author. Before we get into marketing, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm an author with two young adult books out now, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and my newest novel, FAR FROM YOU. I'm currently working on a third one that's under contract as well as revising a mid-grade novel I recently sold.

Along with writing, I also work a day job at a hospital, plus I'm a wife, a mother, and the official dog-walker of the family.

It's amazing to me how people have full family and work lives yet still find time for writing. I can't wait to hear how you find more time to market your books. I notice you have a website as well as a well-followed blog, when did you start those channels and do you manage them?

My web site is http://www.lisaschroederbooks.com/. I've had a web site for four years or so now, with the current one in place for two years. My web designer, Barb Jaleroro, manages it for me. I pay her a yearly maintenance fee and then I just send her updates every month of things to add or change. I'll have three new books coming out next year, all different age groups, so in the fall, I'll probably be redoing the site with different aged readers in mind.

Looks like you started your blog before you got an agent or published? why and how did it help you?
At the time, I started the blog because I could see that LiveJournal was a great place to connect with other writers. I had recently dropped out of a formal critique group and was lonely. And by that I mean, I mostly wanted to chit chat about the publishing world and the ups and downs of being an author.

I have met so many great people and made friends because of blogging. I mean, I really do consider them my friends. I've been fortunate to meet some of them in real life, and it's so great. Being around other authors inspires me. Seeing other people work hard at their craft, it makes me want to work hard too. So yeah, it's helped me in a lot of ways, really.

How do you use your blog and web site for marketing?

It's never been about "promotion" for me there. Sure, I talk about my books, but I talk about other things too. Now, with two books out and more on the way, I do link to my blog from my website, so if "fans" want to follow my blog, they can. If I think too much about how I should use my blog for promotional purposes, I kind of freeze up and don't know what to say.

My web site is the place where readers can go to find out what books are out, what books are coming out, see all the covers, read the blurbs, that kind of thing. With three new books coming out in 2010, all for different ages, I'm going to have my designer revamp it this summer. It's also the place where people can go to find out about school visits or other author visits, and information about me as an author. My favorite part of my web site, though, is the Contact Me page. I've received so many great letters from teens over the past year, letting me know how much they liked my book(s). That alone makes the web site worth the cost and the time to maintain it!

I've notice from your blog, you have done other promotional items like postcards, school visits, speaking engagements etc? How did you know where to begin? how did you find the contacts? And, how did you find the time?
I wanted some postcards to send out when I wanted to announce an event, or to just have in my purse to hand people if it came up that I was an author. I also had bookmarks made, and I make sure any time I do a mailing for a contest or any correspondence that's book related that I put some bookmarks in there. My hope is that people will pass them out to other people if they get more than they really need.

As far as school visits and speaking engagements, I have done one visit with a school, for an 8th grade writing retreat, and that came about because someone I know referred my name on to the teacher, and the teacher contacted me. That's why it's so important, as hard as it is sometimes, to make sure you let people know what you do! I had my boss send out a link to everyone in our department when there was a newspaper article done about me and my debut novel last year. I wanted people to know. And that e-mail resulted in a lady forwarding my name on to a teacher, because she knew they were doing this writing retreat.

As far as other speaking engagements, I did some presentations with members of the Class of 2k8, at a booksellers convention and a librarians conference. It's important to find out dates for those kind of events far in advance, and then find out when proposals for presentations are due and submit something! I think anything like that is VERY beneficial, and I hope some of my classmates and I stay in touch so we can continue to work together to do that kind of thing.

It's good to always update web sites and blogs. In addition in your opinion, how important is social networking? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads etc.

Yes, an on-line presence is really important, especially for young adult authors because teens are so plugged in these days. I understand that not everyone has the time to do everything. So, I suggest picking one or two places you feel comfortable with, and be consistent with them.

A year ago, I would have said MySpace is an excellent place to be as a young adult author, and a great place to find teens and libraries and book stores. It feels differently to me today, like Facebook is the place to be. But I find it harder on Facebook to connect with people I don't know and get the word out about my books. On MySpace, I had no problems sending friend requests to teens I found on other author's pages and suggesting we be friends because we seem to like the same kind of books. But Facebook is more personal, and I think why people like it more, so I don't seek out people like I did on MySpace.

I suppose, however, the most important thing is to be there, so if people are looking for you, they can find you.

Goodreads is a great place to connect with people who like to read, but you have to be okay with reading bad reviews about your books, because you will get them.

In addition to social networking online, how do you feel about teaming up with other authors to cross-promote books as a group?

I feel it's very beneficial if a few authors come together and each use their talents and their networking ability to take the group further than you could have taken yourself on your own.
I was a member of the class of 2k8 and it was extremely valuable because we teamed up to get a lot of stuff accomplished. There was a group of people who designed a book discussion guide for all of us to fill out. There was another group that got us all organized for our book trailers, and sent us the necessary materials for that. There was a group that managed the blog, so we'd have fresh, exciting content every week. And much more! The group got noticed in a way that I wouldn't have on my own.

What other creative things have you done to promote a book?
To celebrate the release of FAR FROM YOU, I asked two teen bloggers to help me with a contest. I wanted to do something really fun, so we all did a vlog and read from the book. The two teens were so eager to help when I asked them. And the videos, oh my gosh, they went way above and beyond and said such kind, wonderful things about the book, which I didn't ask them to do. When I asked them to help me a record a video, I specifically said all they had to do was read from the book, which saved them in case they read the book and decided they didn't like it that much and didn't really want to promote it. Fortunately, they did like it and were happy to share their feelings with their blog readers. There is a great community of teens out there reviewing books and reading books and telling each other about books. I just adore them.

What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?

My first piece of advice is to not worry TOO much about marketing. You could spend all day and all night doing marketing stuff and still have more you could do. So, I say pick a few things you enjoy and that you're good at, and don't feel bad that you aren't doing more. The thing about books for kids and teens is that there isn't that sink or swim thing in the first month like there is in the adult market. Good books get passed from teen to teen, teacher to teen, librarian to teen, and so on, and that can take some time. Focus on writing great books that are going to touch people in a special way, because that's what gets people talking. And nothing sells books like word of mouth sells books!
Thank you Lisa. I appreciate you stopping by. Good luck on your new book and those to come!


Katie Anderson said...

Ooo! I have to come back and read this when I have more time! I LOVED her first book - I think I even cried at the end. (I'm a sap) and I just ordered the second from Amazon.

BE back later :-)

Candace Ryan said...

Thanks, Shelli, for starting this.

I appreciated Lisa's advice to narrow the focus on several things one is good at and enjoys when marketing one's books.

Corey Schwartz said...

Nice job, Shelli! I got your tag, but I was away all weekend at my in-laws who drove me CRAZY so I haven't gotten to it yet.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks for this in-depth interview. Like Candace said, it is really a good idea to focus on a few things that you enjoy doing. And I agree, you can spend all of your time just working on marketing...and as a writer, who wants to do that? Thanks, Carol

Anonymous said...

Oh, nice interview! I'll be watching this blog for more great marketing ideas. :-)

justJoan said...

Great interview and marketing tips. Thanks for doing this.


Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Katie - come back as often as you want :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

candace - thx for coming. its better to do 3 things great and 10 things crappy :) Not profound but true.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

corey - theer is no deadline - dont stress about it :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

carol - thx for coming by!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

lisa - love having you!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

justjoan - thx for coming!

Casey Something said...

Fabulous interview Shelli! I can't wait for the next one. And thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to share your thoughts on marketing.

Kristin Tubb said...

Thanks, Lisa! I HEART YOU is an amazing book! We appreciate you sharing your marketing tips!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Casey - she was great - I didnt do a thing :)

sruble said...

Great interview! Thanks!

Carrie Harris said...

These are some great workable ideas. And if Lisa can do them with her busy schedule, it gives me motivation to get my butt in gear too!

So thanks to the both of you!

Anonymous said...

The getting the teen bloggers to do a vlog is genius; I would be so intimidated thought. I wouldn't even know where to begin. But Lisa's interview really shows how far to take it...