3 S.R. Johannes: February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sensational Saturday Thoughts over Coffee

Marketing Muse

Define your Author Brand vs your Book Brand. Remember they are different things even though they link together. If you are pre-published start thinking about your author brand now!

Sensational Saturday

1. I love book writing conferences - I am at SCBWI Southern Breeze Conference. I spoke last night - glad it is over to I can enjoy the day. I love being in a room with writers. I soak up the energy.

2. Psssst _ I hear there is a great contest going on called Comment Your Butt Off and you win a free web site. Come back tomorrow and start talking to me. Since when can you enter a contest when all you have to do is talk.

3. I love my boots. I just woke up for the conference and realized I do not have my fav boots with me. Ok people,. I love my boots and the great thing is I have had them for about 3 years and got them at Target for 14.99$. What? I wear them everywhere - if you ever winder if you see me out and if you should say hi. look for my boots :) They are a dead give away.

4) I love my friends - having a blast with jessica, katie and betsy. We are having a spend the night party at Jessica. She gave us these cute pillow cases caled Bee Well Wishes. I post the link later - they are cute pillow cases for people who are sick.

5) Coffee is my lifeline. Short and simple!

Gotta go - battery low. more later

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Comment Your Butt Off" Contest! Free Web site ($1,000)

Updates in red!

Marketing Muse: Know your Brand
Here is a great class (Know Your Brand) Jenn Stark teaches if/when you want to learn how to brand yourself. Jenn Stark will be one of our Marketing interviewees coming soon. To find out more about your personal brand - this article talks about on how to begin your personal brand.

Comment Your Butt Off Contest!
(I'm so excited this idea went over so well. I am excited to meet all you new blogger buddies out there and help one of you get a fab web site going :) I have put my answers to your questions/UPDATES in RED below)

Recently I hit my 5,000th unique visitor in 4 months. (this is still crazyiness to me :)

Now, I was thinking. Why do I only get about 10-15 comments on average a day but about 100 people come a day? And how do I get people to comment? How do I make more blogger friends and find new blogs to follow (like I need any more!?

So i thought I would run a contest.

Yes another contest - but it is not just any contest!

This one is for you! Not only to get you to come out of the "blogger closet", practice commenting, and introduce yourself to the blogger world. (BTW commenting on blogs is a form of marketing - its getting your name out ;)

This contest is also a way for me to help someone start their own marketing.

You see - I like to help people and I this is the only thing I really can offer to my fellow writers/blog readers.

So - this is a fun contest!

One worth $1,000 to you. And all I have to give to you is my time and energy (which is very valuable to me :)

In the month of March - I am running a "Blog Commenting" contest where you can earn points points for connecting with me.

What is the prize you say? Drum Roll Please!!!!!!

The prize is......

You can choose from the following 3 prizes if you win:

1) DESIGN a 5 page web site for you on Godaddy - FOR FREE! That is about a $1,000 value. Check out the one I just did for Katie Anderson (over at Plot This) - she won it in a conference raffle.

Note: You will have to pay for the Godaddy account with a Web site tonight. You will have to pick and register your domain on Godaddy yourself. You have to populate the pages yourself. This means we will set up the pages and customize the design.


2) Branding package - includes double-sided biz card and standard stationary design


3) 5 hrs of Marketing consultation (phone or in person)

1) You CAN enter if you are a writer/illustrator (published or pre-published - this means you are writing and not yet published :). So even if you have a draft. All writers are eligible!)
2) You CAN enter if you are directly connected to book publishing (editor/agent - maybe you have an author that needs a web site!)
3) You CAN be self published.
4) You CANNOT be a freelance. You must be associated with publishing books directly. Not just editing them on the side or doing copywriting on the side.
5) ONLY Comments made DURING MARCH are eligible. Not before or after that. I will go by the date/time stamp on my blogger comment page.

Process (I will be tracking all this on a spreadsheet)
1) Starting on March 1st, I will begin counting comments. (Comments can be on ANY post on my site. I just will only track the ones made from March 1st thru March 31)
2) At the end of the month (March 31st at midnight.) - I will count all the points for for each person.
3) The person who has the most points wins.
4) If there is a tie in total points - I will put those names into a hat and draw the winner.

How do you get points, you ask?


  • 1 point per comment. If you want to do 25 comments a day - go for it! (I probably odn't need to say this but vulgar or mean comments don't count. And obviously, they cannot be anonymous. I will still be monitoring and approving the comments.;)

Feeling Crazy Bonus Points

  • 2 points if you follow my blog
    2 points if you follow me on Twitter
    2 points if you friend me on facebook
  • 5 extra points - if you add me to your blog roll (you must email me and let me know) (If you already have me on your blog roll - email me after March 1st and tell me. I just have to be on your blog roll during that time period. I dont have to be added during that time)
  • 5 extra points - if you post about my contest (you must email me and let me know) - The post can be now but I will only count if the post is up during the month of March. Again it all comes down to the march dates.

(And if you are really feeling crazy and wacky - I'll even give out an extra 25 extra points if you get agents/editors to visit me and comment but they'd have to tell me you sent them :) Ha Ha!

For example - IF X comments everyday in March - X will have 31 points. If X then adds me to her blog roll and post about my contest - X will get an extra 10 points = 41 points.

BTW - this weekend, if you are close to Atlanta, come and join us for our Springmingle. I am speaking Friday night on Marketing - Don't be afraid of the M Word and have offered a free 5 page web site for their random drawing at the conference. You can go to the web site for more details and conference information.

If this contest is successful - maybe I will do this contest quarterly!

So Starting March 1st - Comment Your Butt Off! (No this is not the new weight loss craze :) I am not guaranteeing any inches off your glutes. Just a web site or marketing option. Ha! Good question though!

Who knows - You may get a free custom-designed web site ! :) that you can populate easily. What do you have to lose besides your anonymity.

Worth $1,000! (yes - this is what I would charge if I was doing a basic design template on a web site (with copy is much more). For those who asked - I give 20% off to all writers/authors on my marketing prizes and 30% off to SCBWI members :)

Good luck! ;)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Marvelous Marketer - Elizabeth Dulemba (Illustrator/Author)

Elizabeth Dulemba - Illustrator/Author

Hi Elizabeth. Thank you for joining me today. before we get into marketing, tell me a little about yourself.

Hi Shelli - thanks for hosting me on Market My Words! I am an illustrator first with several award-winning picture books including Paco and the Giant Chile Plant (Raven Tree Press, 2008) and the ParentSmart KidHappy™ series (Free Spirit Publishing). I've also illustrated educational books for Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin, Scholastic, and McGraw-Hill, and did the cover of the December Highlights Magazine for which I just won the SCBWI 2008 Magazine Merit Award!

Forthcoming books include two more from the ParentSmart KidHappy™ series and The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia (Sterling 2010). Best of all, my first picture book as author/illustrator comes out this Fall - Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón (Raven Tree Press). As if this wasn't enough, my first novel is being shopped by my agent while I work on my second. I also teach "Creating Picture Books" at the John C. Campbell Folk School and speak at conferences, schools and festivals regularly.

*whew* I've been a busy girl.I'm agented by the awesome Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates - love her! With all this focus on creating books for children, you can probably guess most of my friends are in the biz too. Our lunches keep me sane and I love meeting up with friends from far away at out of town events. My awesome hubbie, Stan, is incredibly supportive, and my three fuzzies (2 dogs and a cat) are good cuddlers. (One of my dogs, Bernie, makes star appearances in all my books.) I'm working my bum off right now, but I'm also having a blast.

I know you used to be a graphic designer but I'll askt the question anyway :) Do you have a website/blog? When did you start it and who manages it?

I've had a website for years now and blog regularly where I offer a free coloring page every week. These days I think authors, and especially illustrators, must have a website. With my graphic design background I was lucky enough to know how to create my own, but there are inexpensive/easy alternatives to building a website too.

A lot of people have found my article, "Build an Easy Website (Using a Blog)" helpful

I know you do tons for your own marketing. I seem to see you everywhere! In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should andmust do to promote their book?

Marketing, networking and public speaking are three necessary parts of being a successful children's book creator. Ironically, people usually don't consider they'll have to do these things when they're trying to break into this business. A website is no longer optional, and a regularly updated website (like a blog) is ideal. The main thing is to build relationships with your readers and buzz around your name so people will say "Oh, I've heard of her," when your next book comes out. It's the old "see it seven times" rule of advertising. People generally don't notice an ad until they've seen it at least seven times. In other words, the more you and your name are out there, the more likely your work will stick in people's minds.

In your opinion, how important is social networking? Not including dinner and drinks :)

All forms of social networking fit into the larger picture of getting yourself out there. The more people can interact with you, the more they'll feel a kinship or loyalty to you, which of course spills over into book sales. But you can't be disingenuous about it - it's not about inundating people with ads. It's about building real relationships and giving back as much as you can. Give people good reasons to want to support you.

How important is technology to an author's marketing plan?These days the technology side of marketing is integral and growing. Nobody is really sure what it's going to mean to the book business, they just know it's coming - with blogs, book trailers, e-readers, etc. Our business is evolving into a much more technologically driven medium. The more in tune with that you can be, the more likely you are to succeed. Do your research. Subscribe to Publisher's Lunch, PW, SCBWI, etc. Stay educated about how things are moving forward so that you can position yourself to take advantage and be ahead of the curve. It will also be more attractive to publishers as they're looking for the next best way technology can help as well.
Did you think about marketing before your book was published? Did you start prior to getting an agent or selling your book?

If so, when andwhat did you do?I was in graphic design for 15 years before getting into illustrating children's books, so it's part of how my brain works. I had my website up and was already blogging long before my first book came out. It's like a pyramid - it takes time to build a following and the sooner you start, the better. Part of the reason to start early is so you can grow comfortable with digital medium and learn to create content that draws readers. I also started collecting information on reviewers, librarians, booksellers, etc. I have over 1,000 publishing-related contacts in my address book and they come in handy. I don't send out my promotional materials to a purchased list, I send them to a very targeted list of people I've collected from my research. It makes my promotional materials more effective and actually ends up being cheaper. It's all about that relationship-building thing I was talking about.

Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promotebooks as a group? Why?

Definitely! Several voices in unison will always have more strength than one. And I'm a firm believer in that we help ourselves most when we lift others up with us in our efforts. It's not about one person's career - it's about creating a passion for books and reading in society. Together, we have a better chance of creating passionate readers. And of course, when that happens book sales increase for everybody, and we make our society stronger too - bonus!

What other advice do you have for authors/writers regardingmarketing?

Expect that marketing will be a large chunk of what you do every day. I spend about 30-40% of my day on marketing. (My hubbie would claim more than that.) That includes blogging, reading blogs, social networking, mailers, etc. It all builds people's awareness of you and your work and is seldom wasted energy. Of course, you have to have the good works to back up your marketing, so writing and illustrating books readers will love should always remain the highest priority.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

Probably the smartest thing I ever did was to create my Coloring Page Tuesdays . My stats went through the roof when I started creating them, and now that the collection has grown rather large (I've been doing this over a year) I have people referencing images on a regular basis (thousands every week).

I'm also asking them to sign up for my newsletter where I announce my latest book news - it all draws attention to my books!I always have my radar up for marketing opportunities. You'd be surprised how often they come up (such as your invitation for this interview) - be ready to take advantage.

Thanks for joining us today and sharing your marketing strategies.

Shelli, thanks again for interviewing me and for all the free advice you offer to book creators on your blog. It's enormously helpful! :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Its a word, its a domain....its Mega Byte Man!

Marketing Muse - Plan it in small chunks!
Each Monday morning (or Sunday evening, or whenever you do your weekly planning) write down 5 marketing activities you will accomplish during the coming week. Break each down into quick-to-do tasks and larger tasks. Then schedule them into your week — and do them.

MegaByte Man (AKA Hubby)

Wow - hubby to the rescue. I knew it was more than just his great looks, sweet disposition, calming attitude, father-of-the-year, joke-wheeling, foot-rubbin, argument-diffusing , leftover-eatin', neurotic lady-lover, early-riser ways, sexy british accent ways. Now I can add one more thing to the long list of reasons why I love my hubby: his soft ways with a hard drive.

I knew there was a reason I put up with his towel-throwin', old-hankerchief-in-the-laundry, toilet- flushing-avoider irritants.

Because I have my own Super Hero!

And he saved the day.....again...as the computer saga continues......

After my computer (AKA Lucifer) kicked the bucket, my hubby spent hours Friday night and early Sat morning performing "mouse-to-mouse" resuscitation. The final TOCD (time of cyber-death) was officially logged as 9:07 am Saturday morning. Hubby worked hard and did not give up until we witnessed the hard drive make a loud "booming/popping" sound followed by the sweet smell of burnt metal.

Followed by my daughter's insightful proclamation: "Mommy! Your computer just blew up into 1,000 pieces!"

But does hubby give up?

No - he spends more hours do anything he can to finally grab my documents off the computer - how? I have no clue and personally don't care.

The results? The "Newberry-Worthy" chapter has been retrieved.

So, still kicking and screaming at Luciufer, he drags me to Best Buys to invest in another "pain in the butt". Of course, this was after I checked to be 100% sure Mercury is NOT in retrograde this time. (For those who are not familiar with this planetary concept - when Mercury is in retrograde, anything electrical breaks down. Phones, computers, cars, ipods, kindles - anything. So if you buy an electrical piece during a Mercury retrograde - you are completely hosed. And, I am now a true believer.

I strolled through the computer aisles feeling old/ancient. I haven't looked at computers in years. And though they are smaller and thinner, all I can say is - I want XP!!!! Not windows vista and not a MAC, ugh! I throw another tantrum after exploring Vista only to realize its all different from what I am used to. I stomp out of the store without a computer, even more bitter (if that is possible) about being abandoned by Lucifer.

I flet codependent upon something that was not good for me. Something that cased me pain.

Felt kinda like I was in high school again - when I truly believed a BAD DATE to prom was better than NO DATE at all.

So once again - my date has decided to ditch me at the last minute just before the big dance. Me left with the overly large carnation corsage that my DAD bought me. Still standin gin the big blue dress with hoop skirt sagging underneath.

Left alone.

When I get home from Best Buys. I pout for a couple more hours as my initial bitterness transforms into a seriously bad mood.

At one point when my 5 year old daughter was picking at me, I bark - "If I were you I would not mess with Mommy today, my computer died."

I see my hubby in the background motion her over to safety. But not before she says "Was it living?"

Ha - my point exactly! No it was not living - it just here taking up space with a ultimate goal of ruining my life. Dead yet pretending to be alive the whole time just waiting for the right moment to hurt me.

The zombie of computers.

As I stew and stew, I suddenly realize that even though I got back my documents, all of my email folders are gone. The archive was missing and my inbox eliminated. Now I am someone that keeps all of emails. Not only for business but for personal. Like agent emails! (yes even Agent 001's fantastic email :( Things I may never use again, I still store. After all - you never know.

A hoarders last words.

So all my emails from years back - clients, friends, jokes, agents - all gone! What? Panic sets in and I finally break down and cry at the magnitude of Lucifer leaving me high and dry. I guess he got the last word.

So I am screwed right?


Hubby (AKA Mega Byte Man) flies to the rescue! He spends the day working on my laptop and finally calls in his trusty sidekick team - the Geek Squad from Best Buys. Together they a way to get onto my dead hard drive and download all my email folders.

Now who has the last word!

Damage has been 90% contained.

There is a cyber god after all.

My utter bitterness morphs into gratitude. I guess things could be worse. Right?

Today, I wake up and decide that Munster (my 10 year old IBM computer) will have to do for now. My hubby sets him up as the stand-in date. The backup - the best friend.

Why? because I refuse to spend money on a laptop because I have too. I refuse to let Lucifer break me down and control my computer-life any longer. I will get a partner when I am ready.

So good ole - Munster is back on the scene. Though he is still grumbling about coming out of his long overdue retirement, he is up to the task. Munster was always reliable in the old days and stood by me.

So for those of you asking - Why didn't she just get a new computer ? (PS Hubby agrees with you.) - I will gladly answer....

1) because I am stubborn. And though it is painful for others when I get this stubborn, that stubborness is what pushes me through this crazy publishing process. Because when I get a no, I seek a yes even harder.
2) I refuse to be forced into doing something. And yes I even have to prove Lucifer - a inanimate computer - wrong. he is not going to tell me what to do or manipulate me . I certainly don't want to be forced by Lucifer into getting a computer that I don't really want because it is on sale. I want to get what I want the next time I succumb to a cyber-relationship. I dont want to be forced to choose the one on sale or the one that is too big b/c I can't justify a bigger expense.
3) But most of all - it is because I said I wouldn't. And I am someone who sticks to my word no matter what it costs me. No matter how I suffer. I told myself and my hubby I would wait to get a new computer when I had agent/contract. Until I was officially industry-validated. That I would not spend hard-earned cash until I worked hard to earn it.

The next time I buy a computer - it will be on my cyber-terms.

I want to get a computer and start something new. To have a clean slate in a new chapter in my life.

So for now, Munster it is.

And, if an agent is out there contemplating picking me up and feels sorry for my computer drama.

Do it for Munster - he deserves to rest in peace.

Unlike Lucifer who in forever happy in cyber-hell!

So thanks to my Mega Byte Man:

  • For fighting for me and my little chapter.
  • For wrestling with a computer on his sunny saturday.
  • For listening to me rant and rave about how the Cyber-God is not fair.
  • For putting up with my cyber bad mood.
  • For offering to buy me a new computer when money is tight.
  • For listening to me ponder whether this computer crash is a sign of something.
  • For helping me see that the world has not ended.
  • But most of all - for believing still - that my writing is worthy!

Here's to my superman!

Friday, February 20, 2009

To my computer - may you rest in cyber-hell!

Marketing Muse: You won't get a following without following up!

If you decide to do a mailing to librarians or bookstores or schools, BE SURE you follow up about a week after you mail it. Many people may think it is junk mail. Authors make the mistake of waiting for people to contact them. You need to be proactive. It takes 5 times making contact before you can get in the door - remember that. Follow up! Mailing, email, phone call.

Dearest Computer

It is time we say goodbye.

You have given me nothing but trouble since the day I got you. Although I do want you to know it was not exactly your fault. After all, I was the royal fool who bought you during a Mercury retrograde - something a Virgo should NEVER do and something I will never do again.

Because of that mistake, I have tried so hard to compromise b/c I felt responsible for your psycho ways. I feel I have tried my best to nurse you back to health, only to watch you wither away. I have tried to believe in you and your ability. I have even held others (ie HUBBY) at bay even though they wanted to toss you to the cyber-wolves. Why? Because we started this journey of writing together and I wanted to have you with me when we made it all the way. Even if I had to drag/throw/beat/push you with me. And though your chronic illness was frustrating, I know you tried your best in the midst of universal and planetary conflicts.

We started this journey together about 6 years ago. Since then, you have allowed me to cry on you, eat on you, spill drinks on you, beat you, drop you, sit on you, and unknowingly infest you with nasty viruses. And you never complained... at least not openly. I know now that you have been working in apassive/aggressive nature to seek your silent revenge.

We have definitely had our shares of ups and downs. We have written 2 1/2 novels together and a several picture books. We have received our shares of rejections over the years. We have traveled the world together. You were even in the hospital with me when I had my two babies, and generously allowed me to see those family members overseas. But please remember, you have been in the hospital on many occassions and when I could have thrown in the towel and was told to put you down out of mercy to your cybersoul, I spent money to revive you and successfully bring you back from the cyber-beyond.

I guess you finally saw the light.

But now as your angry black screen stares back at me with a fatal system error, I cant help but be majorly peeved that we ended on such a bad note. If you had just given me the chance to back up my newest chapter (which was Newberry-worthy if I do say so myself), I could have sent you into the cyber-beyond with nothing but peace and love. We could have parted knowing we silently loved each other even though our relationship was a rocky blend of love and hate.

Now I am left bitter and frustrating, mulling over all the times you have done nothing but irritate me and hold me back from surfing faster, typing better, and progressing further.

You have abandoned me when I needed you most. I have major rewrites for an agent, I had a fab chapter for my new book all done. Now I have no form of cyber-communication except my 10 year old PC (who I named Munster) that surfs the net at a mere page every 15 minutes, who is not compatible with a mouse leaving me with a little ball to annoyingly maneuver, and that reminds every moment of the ancient processor threatening to croak.

In addition, you have also left me with a moral dilemma.

You see, I promised myself I would NOT spend any more money (especially on a computer) until I got an agent for my book. Though you and I both know, as much as I have argued with your wacky ways, I needed you and without you, I am lost.

So today I am saddened that we did not finish this journey together. Mano-a-mano.

Therefore, though you got on my last cyber-nerve, I will miss the feel of your keys, your cheery pink cover, and the perfectly organized desktop we worked on together over the years. I will miss my folder heirarchy and my favorite web sites stored.

I admit I will not miss the crazy noises, the blue and black screens, how your letter S and A - for some reason - needed to be pounded instead of tapped just to get a letter. I will not miss your blatant insubordination nor the multiple, spontaneous vacations/smoke breaks you took whenever you pleased. I will not miss the permanently smudged screen from children poking you and I will not miss your multiple personalities.

However, in your last moments as you leave this earth, I do want to apologize for beating on you as I have because I now realized violence is never the answer.

So good luck to you and may you rest in cyber-hell.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A chance in hell is better than no chance at all!

I am contemplating heavy revisions suggested by a couple of AWESOME AGENTs - And if I do them and I MIGHT be able to resubmit.

Sound simple?

It is.

All I would have to do is......pretty much change the WHOLE plot? No problem.

I actually agreed with most of the comments and had been contemplating the exact changes for several weeks now. So this may be a confirmation of where I need to go.

No matter what the edits are or where I go from here. I am thrilled. For the first time, I feel like a couple agents are getting me, my writing, and connecting to my character. What an awesome feeling!

One actually said, "my writing was nuanced, subtle, character-driven and heart wrenching."

Another said, "they loved my voice".

I've read the comments like 1,000 times, you would think they were starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly.

Wow, could agents really think that about my writing? I've been smiling ever since.

I thought I would be stressed out but I'm actually kind of excited to see where the story takes me. Don't get me wrong, I love my book, but a part of me is interested to see if it could be even better. Besides, who cares. I have a shot! A chance, though a small chance, at someone awesome and I'm going to go for it! If I do the changes, whether the agents say yes or no - a chance in hell is better than no chance at all. right?

I think I am ready to give up control on my book and trust the process.

So I may be back to the "plotting board".

I've got some great ideas and I know if I embark on this process - it will challenge me and my writing. But for those who know me, know I LOVE a challenge. I actually prefer to travel the hard route. It's much more of a journey and it makes the reward so much better to know you've gone to hell and back and stuck with it. I think going through this process could teach me a lot about myself and about my writing.

So I'm thinking...bring it on!

Don't get me wrong, I wish one o fthem would have taken me before the edits but at least I get another shot. If just one is willing to take a chance on me - why shouldn't I take a chance on them? I think it goes both ways. So maybe I'll try to prove myself and know as long as I do my best, no matter what happens, I'm still another step forward.

In this economy I don't think agents can afford to take writers on unless they are 90% happy with the book. I also think agents see revising as a skill totally separate from writing. So this may be a new skill for me to learn. I think agents need to know that you can write and revise. Because revision is part of the process - no matter how big or small.

And you know what? If I do embark on these changes - I have no attachments to the outcome. Of course I would LOVE an agent to pick me up b/c out of all the rejections, only a couple seem to get my writing. I still have a couple of fulls out now so we'll see. These were my top agents, so I'm happy with where I am so far.

But what if another one comes back and says they love it as is? I may just take some time to really think about the book and what I feel it should be. And if someone comes back, I'll just go from there. I don't think its fair to be doing edits for more than one agent - to me or the agent.

But I am just holding onto the fact that it is a step forward. I have come so far. To have top agents send me a long personal letter with recommendations on edits offering to rereview? OMG kill me now because I could really die happy today.

Kinda sad that I am doing a happy dance at "almost yes". Can you imagine what I will do WHEN I get a yes from someone and then sell my book? I don't think my heart can take it. :)

So I guess its true, God can only give me what I can handle. :)

Wish me luck!

Back to work - happily!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Shrinking Violet Promotions (Robin LaFevers)

Marvelous Marketer: Shrinking Violets (Robin)

Hi Robin, Thanks for joining us. Before we get started, tell me a little about yourself.

I am the author of eight books for young readers. My most recent book, Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris, (Houghton Mifflin, 2008) was featured on The Today Show’s Holiday 2008 List and appeared on the Winter 2008-2009 Kid's Indie Next List.

My next book, Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist (Houghton Mifflin) will be released in Fall of 2009.

Do you/your agency/your house have a website/blog? When did you start it and who manages it?

I actually have two websites and three blogs—yes, that is probably overkill and one of them suffers because of it. My author website was designed and built by Vivian Lund and is perfectly suited to my five earlier books.

However, when my writing switched tones and direction, it no longer fit quite as well so I had her build a "book based website for THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS. We used the artwork from the books to create a very unified look. The other thing I really like about the Theodosia website is that it is built on a Wordpress blog platform, so it is really easy for me to go in and make changes, updates, add pages, etc. myself.

With my author based website, that is not the case so it doesn’t get updated nearly as often as it should. I consider my author blog as sort of an update page for my website. Unfortunately, I didn’t launch my author website until my second book, but that was almost six years ago and I don’t think the web had become quite the marketing force and presence it is now. Now I would definitely have my website up and running by the time my book came out.

Lastly, I jointly run a blog called Shrinking Violet Promotions, which is a blog devoted to the idea of helping introverted authors cope with the extroverted task of marketing their work.

In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?

The top three things would be to:
1. Have a website
2. Find a way to build a second, social network on the web, whether through a social networking site or a unique blog, and
3. Really, write the absolutely best book you can.

The thing is, if you write a book that shines, your publisher will get behind it in a big way, and they can do far, far more for your book than you can in terms of getting the word out there. So while it sounds kind of trite to say “write an amazing book,” there is a whole heap of truth in there. Take an extra year, a few more workshops, really wrestle with the craft and voice until it shines.

In your opinion, how important is social networking?

Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and GoodReads can make sense in some cases. Especially MySpace and Facebook. Twitter is fun, but I’m not sure I get how it can help you with the task of marketing, and sites like GoodReads strike me as a bit of a field mind for an author.

It seems to me that you’d have to take your author hat off and really interact on that site as more of a reader, but I may be wrong. It also depends on the age of your readers. My readers are mostly under 13, the age required to log onto any of those sites, so I haven’t participated in them nearly as much as some.

It makes much more sense for a YA or adult author, although I know that bookstores and librarians and reading groups have their own MySpace pages now, so it could be a good method of interacting with them. Basically, you have to choose where you’re going to put your energy, so if those sites make sense for your reading audience, great, if not, ignore them in good conscience.

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

I think technology is an author’s new best friend, frankly. There are just so many ways to reach out to your readers using technology, it puts so many great options at your fingertips, and at minimal cost. Blogs, podcasts, book trailers, videocasts, video conferencing, social networks, reading sites, there are just so many ways to get involved! Honestly, they can form the bulk of an author’s marketing plan.

Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promote books as a group? Why?

I think it can be hugely beneficial for authors to team up and promote their books together. The most obvious example is the aspect of shared work and rewards. With Shrinking Violet Promotions, Mary Hershey and I take turns posting the material and bounce ideas off each other. While we are both introverts, we also have very different approaches to things and that brings a richness and depth to the joint blog that would be lacking if just one of us was doing it. Mary and I also tend to do joint book signings whenever possible because we find it is much less intimidating for people to approach the two of us, rather than just one of us. Somehow, having two authors sitting there interacting with each other is more socially inviting than having a single author alone at a table, waiting for readers to come along.

Do you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random? If not, why? Would you like to?

I do tend to have marketing plans for my books. I find this helps me stay focused and stay on top of the time line for certain marketing tasks (especially since so many of them have to be done so far out). It’s usually a combination wish list of all the things I’d like to do and a To Do list with all the things I absolutely will do. Although I have to confess it is a lot like a synopsis in that what actually happens doesn’t always stick closely to the original version.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

Probably the most creative thing I’ve done to promote a book is the extensive Theodosia character blog I did. When I first started it ( Jan of 2007) it hadn’t really been done much before and it was a fun way to begin a teaser stream for the upcoming book, then after book one came out to try to stay connected to the readers until book two came out I’m afraid it may have lost some of it’s efficacy by now however, as it sometimes devolves into a chat room for a few girls, but it was very effective, especially in the beginning.

Thank you for joining us today and sharing some of your marketing strategies!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Things I love to Hate

Everything is so mushy out there today. I realized that as much as I love some things, I really despise others. And I'm not ashamed to say I love to hate those things. Just to be different, here's a list:

  • peas (any kind)

  • cooked carrots (I like raw ones)

  • broccoli on my pizza

  • pineapple

  • boogers

  • war

  • dirty diapers

  • western movies

  • racism

  • cockroaches

  • indifference

  • conformity

  • the smell of gasoline

  • the word - moist (yuk even writing it makes me cringe)

  • snorts

  • liver (not the organ, just the food)

  • puddles (of anything)

  • touching bathroom stall doors

  • commercials (unless it the SuperBowl)

  • drama (unless its YA of course)

  • people in character suits

  • humidity (mostly b/c of my hair)

  • smell of trash

  • hearing someone gag

  • waking up to a dirty kitchen

  • touching old food

  • fighting

  • driving a stick shift on hills

  • seeing blood (as long as its in my body its ok)

  • mold in the shower (not that I have any!)

  • old soggy soap with a hair on it

  • scratchy towels

  • combs (its a danger to my natural curly hair)

  • bad coffee (Yes, I am a coffee snob)

  • touching other people's feet (Sorry honey!)

  • getting up early (before 8)

  • when I'm out of creamer

  • talking to utility companies on the phone

  • junk mail

  • negativity

  • people who take themselves WAY TO SERIOUSLY

  • greedy companies

  • alligators (they freak me out!)

  • bread crust

  • the water that first comes out of ketchup bottles (YUK!)

  • crust on a milk jug

  • people who carry on a really long inappropriate convo on their cell phone in Starbucks. I'm talking like non-stop

  • cracked heels

  • cellulite (not that I have any!)

  • ear hair

  • people who pick up the phone to sat they are busy

  • stepping in dog poo or gum

  • finding tissues in the dryer (means someone blew their nose and my clothes were washed in it)

  • littering

  • smell of cooked beef, fish or eggs

  • wilted lettuce

  • slow computers

  • chain letters

  • running up hills

  • poppyseeds

  • blackheads

  • lists

  • a long bad joke

  • people who talk about themselves

  • politicial rhetoric

  • when it rains hard while I'm driving on the highway

  • airport or hospital food

  • reading about tragedies (unless its Shakespeare)

  • traffic (unless its blog traffic! Then I say, Jam on!)

  • long toenails
  • round-abouts (who goes first?!)

How about you? What grosses you out?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Search Engine Optimization 101/Friday Five

Day 5: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 101

So you have a web site now. That's great as long as people can find it and come to it.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is when you improve the volume and quality of traffic through various search engines.

So how do you do that?

1) Pick a good domain and design it simple - try not to use too much flash. Any words in flash do not come up in searches.

2) Register your site with search engines/directories. For example, the 3 main ones are:

3) Use good Key Words - make a short list of 1 or 2 key word phrases for each page of the site you want to optimize. Here is an article that explains this in more detail. Try not to be too generic - like don't pick writer or author. Try to make it easy for those looking for you to find you by selecting keyword phrases they will most likely think of and most probably use when searching for whatever you offer.

4) Meta-tags - Every web site has html - even the godaddy ones. You can view them easily. There are several "tags" that go into the HTML code for a page of a website. These tags are placed between the and . The most important tags are: The title tag and the "description" meta tag. The "keyword" meta tag used to be important but is basically useless now.

5) Use Keywords in your text.

6) Get others to Link to you!

Other articles to Help:

Friday Five - 5 Reasons I love V-Day

1) Feeling Good- I am finally feeling better after 4 months of Vertigo. I still am only about 90% but I don't feel dizzy anymore. I may even try to go back to yoga this weekend. I have not been to Bikram in 4 months and my ass shows it! Did you knwo you can burn between 600-900 calories in 1.5 hrs of Bikram. You should try it!

2) La Familia - I love an excuse to show the love to those I love most. I got my hubby a climbing card and my kids little gifts for the morning. Without them, theer would be a hole in my heart.

3) Treats - This morning I treated myself to a sour cream blueberry cake donut from krisy Kreme. YUMMY! I got 5 more for Vday breakfast tomorrow. Only 4 in my family - who do you think will get the extra one?? Hmmmmm.

4) Learn something new - Do you even know why we celebrate Vday - besides Hallraks consipracy of course. Here is a site by the History Channel that tells you. Its fun! Who knew? I just thought it was about chocolate and kisses ;) Thanks St Valentine for a LOVEly day.

5) I love Quizzes - For those who knowI love quizzes, I found a fun Vday one called Dating through the Ages. You can take a quiz in different decades to see if you would have been a great date in that historic time. (BTW - I think I was a bit permiscous in the 1890s Yikes!)

For those who love my blog, I love you - here's a shout out to you!

For those in the world who have nothing else better to do than gripe, hate, bitch, gossip, put down, complain, or be negative - keep in mind what you focus on just gets bigger. So I ask you - Where is the Love?

Don't forget - we have Robin from Shrinking Violets joing us on Monday as a Marvelous Marketer!

Have a LOVEly Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I need a Bounty Quicker Picker Upper

I don't really know why I am feeling so down today.
  • Maybe its b/c I'm frustrated with this crazy publishing world
  • Maybe its b/c of all the cuts the cuts at Harper Collins
  • Maybe its because I will miss Bowen Press
  • Maybe its b/c I watched Pursuit of Happyness
  • Maybe its b/c my vertigo is back
  • Maybe its b/c I feel like I am moving through quick sand with my writing
  • Maybe its b/c of the economy
  • Maybe its b/c I saw Caylee Grandpa crying on TV
  • Maybe its b/c I watched a lady beg Obama for help b/c she was homeless
  • Maybe its b/c I don't understand how a Lady could want 8 more kids when she is not taking care of the first 6.
  • Maybe its b/c Jeremy Lusk (American motocross racer) died tragically after a jump gone wrong at the age of 24.
  • Maybe its b/c stamps are going up again 2 cents.
  • Maybe its b/c of the tragic fires in Australia.
  • Maybe its b/c my dog is getting old.
  • Maybe its b/c I watched people get cut on American Idol and their dream crushed.
  • Maybe its b/c of the guy who died in jail days before they reversed his sentence and declared him innocent.
  • Maybe its b/c Im sick and watching too much depressing TV.
  • Maybe I'm just sapped and am tired of fighting so hard for something that seems impossible.
  • Maybe its b/c I hurt when others hurt.
  • Maybe its just b/c sometimes things dont seem to get better in this crazy world.
  • Maybe its b/c I want so much for an agent/editor to believe in me and my writing.
  • Maybe its b/c I'm obsessing.
  • Maybe its just me.
  • Maybe its just in the air.
  • Maybe it's just today.

In any case, all I can do is be grateful, keep moving forward, and try to look on the Bright Side of Life.

Ok I'm done whining. I need a pick-me-up. (If I felt better, a good dirty martini might do the trick :)

Instead, I remembered this....

WARNING: Slightly Inappropriate material ahead!

(PS: This song is NOT a religious statement.)

(PSS: Go back now especially if you don't like Monty Python's or the movie Life of Brian)

(PSSS: Last chance to bail on this post!)

OK I feel better now :)


Monday, February 09, 2009

Think Back Tuesday (Ah The 80s!)

Marketing Smarketing: Just Do it (Thanks Nike!)

No Marketing Tip today.
Tip? - Just do it. :)
To be honest, I'm just tired of talking about it today. I am on 3 jobs right now that are about 90 hrs of work with 12 hrs of child care (and that does not include my writing) :) Ill start my 30 days of marketing back up tomorrow.

Think Back Tuesday

With the whole Facebook thing, I've been forced to see photos of my old self and reconnect with people from the past - some I cared about, some I did not really know, and....others.

It has also brought back some memories that I have not thought about in years about my life in the 80s.

My Style
  • Hershey Kiss Lip Gloss and Lip Smackers - I loved these! Especially the ones that came out at Christmas in the Candy Cane tube.
  • Mood lipstick was huge! After you applied the green lipstick - it turned pink! Go figure.
  • Mousse and Perms - Unfortunately I bought into this even though my hair was (and still is) naturally curly. If I had my yesteryear hair today, I'm pretty sure I'd be stopped by Homeland Security for harboring a possible weapon.
  • "Rooster Bangs", Mullets, and Side ponytails - yeah baby!
  • Head bands! How else do you hold back the big hair?
  • Apollonia's eye makeup from the movie Prince - I called in Rainbow eyes.
  • Fake moles - yes I did this. When I stopped doing it, I think I just told people I had it removed :)

My Fashion

  • Leg Warmers - Thanks Jennifer Beal! Ah, so many colors, so little time. Weird how no one had cold legs until the 80s.
  • White Keds - These looked even better with multi-layered colored socks. I'd change these up with some Vans or Chucks.
  • Stirrup pants - just in case I wanted to ride a horse after school - I was prepared.
  • O-Rings (Jelly Bracelets) - the pretty colored neon plastic bracelets . I say, the more the better.
  • Parachute pants - I needed all those pockets, don't care what anyone says. I had a red pair and a black pair! I was Double-Kool.
  • Swatch Watch - Not just one... but three or four. Imagine one arm filled with Jelly bracelets and the other covered in Swatch Watches (so why was I always late for school)
  • High Waisted Trousers - I think they made my legs look long - which I needed.
  • Shoulder pads - b/c the look of a football player was what I wanted.
  • Black Lace fingerless gloves - I was a Material Girl in a Material world. What better material than lace.
  • Jelly shoes - b/c they were so comfortable - NOT!
  • Acid wash jeans - I would feel safe saying that these should not make a come back. Oh, I just had a frighteningly vivid Punky-Brewster flashback.
  • “Pegged” cuffs - Don't laugh. I was actually voted: "Most likely to Peg" in school (fold and tuck)

My Fun

  • Atari Pac Man and Super Mario Brothers - Rock on! I flipped Pac Man like a zillion times.
  • Breakdancing - uh, not that I would know.
  • Rubix Cube - I used to impress my family with my RC skills. Little did they know that I simply removed the stickers and replaced them with all the colors together. Ha!
  • Cabbage Patch dolls - my parents would not get me a REAL one so my mom had one made?? I was the laughing stock at school. *sniff*. I still get sad feelings when I walk down the cabbage patch aisle at Target. There are some wounds that will never heal.
  • Friendship Pins - The more the better. I accepted them from anyone, even if it was from someone who hated me. The FP slut.
  • Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, Madonna, A-Ha, Pet Shop Boys - need I say more?
  • Roller skating at Sparkles - I had my own skates - white with green sparkly laces. Oh yeah, I actually broke my wrist showing off for a cute speed-skater. Just can't be cool.
  • Ouiji Boards - man this was fun at slumber parties :)
  • Slip and Slides - lesson? only do it in a one-piece bathing suit.
  • Aerobics/Jazzercise - remember Jamie Lee Curtis in "Perfect" with JOhn Travola!
  • Dungeons and Dragons - even then I was always on the computer - it was just a mainframe that's all.

My Slang

  • "do the wild thing"
  • "Fer sure dude!"
  • "Gag me"
  • Geez, don't have a cow?
  • Let's "party harty"
  • "Eat my shorts"
  • "Totally awesome" (crap i think I still say this *sigh*)

Events I remember

  • Challenger explosion
  • blizzard in Georgia
  • Just say no!
  • Bomb disaster drills
  • Getting suspended for having one beer while I cheered at a football game (3 others were with me so at least I didn't drink alone - right?)
  • CB breaking my heart
  • Wrecking my parents Jaguar - twice.
  • Meeting at the DQ!
  • My first car.
If you don't remember if you grew up in the 80s, here are some reminders:
  • You know what "Willis was talkin' 'bout?"
  • You think Atari was a state of the art computer.
  • You still wonder why Smurfette was the ONLY female Smurf.
  • You know the deep meaning of "Wax on, Wax off."
  • You know who Mr. T is.
  • You still have old cassettes.
  • You still feel wary about the water because of that damn movie - Jaws.
  • You practice moves from the Thriller video.
  • You thought we'd be living on the moon in the year 2000.
  • You had a light saber because the force was with you.
  • You wore biker shorts under skirts.
  • You still call motorcycle cops - Ponch
  • You still use your Snoopy Sno-cone Machine.
  • You consider the "Jo vs. Blair" conflict a major one of our century.
  • You saw the New Kids on the Block in concert when they opened for Tiffany.
  • You get in and out of your car through the windows.
  • Sometimes you just want to "shout, shout, let it all out."
  • You use your Speak and Spell to phone home.
  • You know the original members of Menudo.
  • You still feel St. Elmo's fire burning' in you.
  • If someone says, "Who are you gonna call?"- you yell "Ghostbusters."
  • You wished your number was 8675309
So please if you are old enough to have memories of the 80s - drop me a comment and tell me what you remember. Let me know I am not the oldest one here?

Marvelous Marketer - Krista Marino (Sr. Editor/Delacorte Press)

Marvelous Marketers: Krista Marino, Senior Editor
Delacorte Press (Random House Kids)

Hi Krista! Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to be with us today. Before we get into your marketing advice, can you tell me a little about yourself and publishing house.

I am a Senior Editor at Delacorte Press—an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Delacorte publishes middle grade and young adult fiction, so I’m only looking to acquire books that fall into those categories. The genres I work on are far-ranging, though. Lately I’ve been acquiring darker projects. I think it’s a reflection on where our world is today. Teenagers just aren’t really looking to read light, happy books--and I guess I’m not, either. One of my upcoming books perfectly encapsulates this world anxiety. THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan is a story about hope set in a post-apocalyptic world.

In your opinion, how important is social networking? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads etc.

At Random House we’ve found that this is a HUGE part of an author’s success. You can quietly build a solid fan base by keeping (and maintaining regularly) a blog and website. And the more authors you connect with, the better your networking tools become. You can follow Random House . Facebook seems to be the social networking site of choice these days, but a personal blog could be even more useful in creating a feeling of intimacy with your readership.

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

Because teens are on the internet more and more, we’ve really turned our marketing focus toward this venue. I think it’s very important you are out there—that you have a presence—on the internet.

Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promote books as a group? Why?

Yes. It’s very beneficial. And the more authors you have out there talking your books up the better. Any champion you can get with a venue that reaches the public is useful. The internet seems to be the most cost-effective venue out there these days and there are several groups that are taking advantage of this, organizing online, and pooling money for group marketing projects.

What things do you expect an author to do on their own?

We expect an author to do anything they can to support their book. These days, a website is a basic necessity. Then you can build up from there to Facebook and Myspace and other online communities. Not only for marketing, but for building connections within the industry. Librarians, teachers, other authors—the more people you know, and the more friendly you are, the better off you’ll be. Many of my authors have parlayed their relationships into blurbs for their debut novels. That’s something that goes far.

Thank you again for sharing your marketing advice!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Surprising Snipits!

Surprising Snipits!

Did Starbucks really lose a taste test - so we all are just under a brand spell?

Did Democrats and Republicans really work together to trim down the stimulus plan or am I getting excited too early in the game? PS Why was all this crap in the STIMULUS package anyway?

Snakes are not bad enough. Now I have to worry about a reptile that is one ton?

Does anyone really care that Michael Phelps toked on a dubie? Give the guys a break!

Did a former Klan leader really apologize to blacks for his attacks and views? There is hope for the world.

The guy who painted the Obama Hope poster is arrested? Do we not have anything better to focus on than a getting a guy who painted Hope? This poster has been out for months now? Don't we have bigger fish to fry (cliche alert!)

Christian Bale's Fbombs - 36 in 4 minutes. Does he get to be logged in Guinness World Book of Records? He must be so proud. Maybe I will try and beat him.

This is just sad. Some people get lost in our justice system.

Jennifer Anniston got a gray hair? There is a god! :) Maybe her boobs will sag now too.

I'm sure everyone knows not to eat too much pizza right? Did Papa J really need a news conference to tell us this?

Time's take on 25 things Meme cracks me up! But do we really need to analyze it?

If I did a detox for 30 days on my email - I think my computer and sanity would explode. How about you?

Yeah - now we can all be trekies. A watch phone? cool

Friday, February 06, 2009

Poetry Friday: Ode to Librarians

Special announcement:
Eternal Grand Prize Giveaway Package: in celebration of the Feb. 10 release of Eternal (Candlewick), author Cynthia Leitich Smith is giving away several prize packages, some including signed copies of the novel, tie-in T-shirts, finger puppets, stickers, guardian-angel tokens, and more! See details here.

Marketing Muse
Create an online Media Kit
An online media kit makes it easy for anyone to access information about you for interviews, articles, or reviews. Every published author should have a place on ther web site where people can download information. Include your photo, pic of your book, any reviews, links to interviews or podcasts, book exerpts or summaries, and bios.

Ode to Librarians
As some of you know, Feburary is Library Lover's Month. I remember going to the library when I was little=. In my small town of Vero Beach, Fla we did not have any book stores. I remember how much I loved the smell of old books.

Here is a poem I came across that touched me. hope you enjoy it and thanks to all the librarians for their dedication to reading.

Ode to Librarians by Hans Ostrom

Imagine you can consider all ideas
And images represented by all words
And numbers in all libraries worldwide.
Open the book of this consideration.
Touch the paper. See the illustration
Of you, reading, when you were ten
In your local library. Turn
Several pages. Now read how you
And that other person ignited romance
In, of all places, the stacks, third floor,
In quite a different library. Snowflakes
Brushed against dark glass as you two
Stood between PQ and PR.
Now go to the index. Find “possibility.”

Look up from the book. The librarian
Who looks away was watching you.
She knows how to phrase the question
You want answered.

Librarians know where wisdom’s stored.
They catalogue the countless forms
Of silence and tell people what they
Didn’t know they wanted to know.
They treat the mentally fractured

As if they’re whole, the dull as if they’re
Sharp, Winter as if it’s Summer.

A band of sunlight angles through high
Windows, brightens shoes of a librarian,
Who knows the patron in the gray enormous
Coat will steal a book about sex or wiccans.

She knows some Christians will steal books
Deemed Satanic, ignoring a commandment
And the homeless person sleeping in a chair.
She knows some atheists treat Library as
Church, so when she moves into shadows,
She does so quietly. She worries for books.

For the librarian knows books are easily burned,
Recycled, or digitized, reduced to oxygen, carbon,
Silicon, and such basic elements as hate and
Budgetary cuts. She wishes presidents of
The United States would consult librarians
Before going to war. It would save so much time,

So many lives. She knows exactly which references
Know how badly any war will go and how soon
Citizens come to loathe their leaders. She knows
How to find stories about all the libraries
Wiped out by war. She knows patrons who’ve
Been harmed by war. Sometimes they set off alarms.

Someone asks her, “Can you help me find out
If I’m related to Napoleon? ” Yes, ” she answers,
“Come with me, please.”

All libraries may now gather inside invisible
Electrons. After closing time, books in Sweden
Send emails to maps in Chile. A librarian in Topeka

Posts a reply to one in Tokyo, adding to a blue thread
Wrapped around the globe.

As sincerely as librarians worry for books, for shelves,
For catalogues, buildings, and best practices,
So should we worry for librarians, for images and ideas.
At a table in a library, a circle of light
Lies on a book. The hand not writing turns
The page, and something important happens.

Remember to come back Monday for our Marvelous Marketer -
Krista Marino - Editor at Delacorte!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Day 4: EZ Web sites/One Word Only

Creating EZ Web Sites

Ok so lets dive into building a web site as your first step to an online presence. I personally think Godaddy is the easiest to use. As marketing person, if a small business comes to me with limited funds and wants to manage their own content but have someone set it up, I always go to Godaddy first. Some people may disagree, but this is my experience.

Godaddy now has a feature called WebSite Tonight. It provides templates for you to choose from - probably about 100. And it allows you to enter content in a window that is similar to blogger windows or Word. You can get a 5 page web site for under 20$ a month.

First let me say as a marketing business owner - I always think you can do greater things with a company like mine. But if you don't have the money - and web sites can cost anywhere from 1,000 - 6,000, Godaddy is a good place for you to start on your own. If you do want to invest, you can call me - I offer 30% off to authors :) (shameless plug huh?)

First Steps:

1) Buy your author domain. I suggest your name unless you have a huge series like Stepahnie Meyer . Even then I would suggest a name domain and a series domain. For example: Since I am doing a knitting mystery I may use shellijohannes.com as y author but since my knitting series is called "Knit me baby one more time" I may also get Knitme.com. You can search and buy your domains right on Godaddy.

2) Hosting and a web site tonight feature - Go daddy will host your web site for you. ON the web site tonight account - you will need to choose from 5 pages, 20 pages or unlimited. I would do unlimited just because it is only a few dollars more a month and you will have no constraints as to your page numbers.

3) Take the tutorials Godaddy offers to learn the basics. They also have a Help line that is very good. They have great customer service and will help you over the phone. You will feel better about playing around if you do this.

4) Choose your design template - you can look through each one and see how it is structured. This is where a graphic designer can come in handy - because they can manipulate the files to be more "you specific". The templates are pretty constraining in color, buttons, look, etc.

5) Main topics to cover include: Do not have more than 6 or 7 main pages - menu items. Home, Books (you can separate into mg/ya and PB if you do both), Author Bio, Blog (and link to your blog), Resources, Other pages could include - Events/Media Kit/Ect - whatever you need now. If you are pre-published - I would link to your favorite authors/resources

4) Don't be afraid to mess up. You can always fix it. After any change - you don't have to publish it to the web. Just preview it. Work in preview mode until you feel good enough to launch your site.


One Word Only

This will be hard for us MG/YA authors but give it a try.:) USING ONLY ONE WORD. Not as easy as you might think!

  • Where is your cell phone? Purse
  • Describe your significant other? Amazing
  • Hair color? Brown
  • Your mother? Giving
  • Your father? A. Funny
  • Your favorite thing? Family
  • Your dream last night? Driving
  • Your favorite drink? Martini
  • Your dream/goal? Published
  • What room are you in? Office
  • Your hobby? Reading
  • Your fear? Failure
  • Where do want to be in 6 Yrs? Healthy
  • Where were you last night? Home
  • Something that you aren't? Patient
  • Muffins Flavor? Blueberry
  • Wish list item? Computer
  • What are you wearing? Jeans
  • Your pets? Dog
  • Friends? Blessing
  • Your life? Content
  • Your mood? Persistent
  • Missing someone? Beth
  • Drinking? A. Coffee
  • Something you're not wearing? Jewelry
  • Your favorite store? Target
  • Your favorite color? Green
  • When is the last time you cried? Rejection
  • Favorite place to eat? Mexican
  • Favorite place to be at right now? Beach

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Special Edition: The Cynsational Cynthia Leitich Smith

Marvelous Marketer: Cynthia Leitich Smith

(Author of Eternal and Tantalize)

Hi Cynthia. Thank you for joining us today. Before we get into marketing, tell me a little about yourself.

I’m the author of three contemporary Native American children’s books— Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), and Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002)—as well as two humorous picture books - Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) and Holler Loudly (Dutton, TBA) and numerous short stories.

However, I’m best known for my young adult Gothic fantasies — Tantalize
(Candlewick, 2007), Eternal which hits stores next week (Candlewick, 2009), and Blessed (Candlewick, TBA). I also have a graphic novel adaptation of Tantalize under contract.

Beyond that, I’m agented by the brilliant and gracious Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown in New York, and I’m a member of the distinguished faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

More personally, I count myself lucky to be part of sunny Austin, Texas’s booming youth writing community. I live near downtown with my husband and sometimes co-author Greg and our four dedicated writer cats.

Tell me a little more about Eternal. I know it is releasing next week! Congratulations!

In alternating points of view, Miranda and Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous and darkly hilarious love story for the ages.
With diabolical wit, the author of Tantalize revisits a deliciously dark world where vampires vie with angels — and girls just want to have fangs. Eternal is set in the same universe as Tantalize , so you can look forward to a more direct re-entry into the Dracul tradition--and more global insights into its vampyric society. To find out more, you can check out the reader's guide on my web site .or read an interview posted at Not Your Mother's Book Club.

Can't wait. Now let's get into Marketing. Do you have a website/blog? When did you start it and who manages it?

I have a main web site features links to my Cynsations and Spookycyn blogs (which I started in November 2004). My site launched in 1998. Last year, it attracted more than 2 million unique visitors. Its focus is not only my own work, but also children’s-YA adult literature as a whole, including resources for writers and related to publishing.

In your opinion, how important is social networking? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads)

For outreach to teen readers, it’s a great idea because the Internet is so much a part of their lives. My one caution is to keep in mind that you’re joining a community of thoughtful readers, not simply advertising at them. Think of it more as a way to make a meaningful contribution to the conversation of books and to encourage reading.

Did you think about marketing before your book was published? Did you start prior to getting an agent or selling your book? If so, when and what did you do?

I have undergraduate degrees in news/editorial and public relations, so my academic and young professional background had already prepared me to dive in.

But no, I didn’t worry about that aspect of the book until the manuscript was under contract and the book in production.

My first sale was Jingle Dancer, a children’s picture book. At the time, it was unusual to find a contemporary Native girl and community featured in youth literature. My publisher, HarperCollins, handled the big stuff—the catalog, major reviewers, teacher/librarian conferences, etc. So I focused on niche marketing, getting the word out to the Native community and our friends. I sent copies to Native media and museum gift stores and those with an interest in Native and/or girl-powered stories. I also wrote a few articles about contemporary Native themes that appeared in institutional market magazines, and before long, that led to speaking opportunities.

My approach has also been big picture. I care about my books, and I make every effort to champion them. But kids need to read a lot of books. Since Jingle Dancer was published, I’ve made an ongoing effort to raise awareness of multicultural children’s literature.

More recently, with my YA Gothic fantasies, I’ve made an extra effort to feature author interviews with folks whose work will appeal to my own YA readers. If time allows, I also book talk related new releases when I speak to, say, public library groups. I hand out bibliographies and keep a Web page celebrating such books regularly updated.

Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promote books as a group? Why?

It depends on the group. On one hand, cross-promotional efforts can create a sense of community between the authors and allow for a trade off of skills that’s beneficial to all. Multiple voices may be able to attract more attention than one. On the other, it’s important that everyone be on the same page in terms of expectations—the most important of which being public behavior. If you brand yourself together, for better and worse, what reflects on one to some degree reflects on all.

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

When I started, author Jane Kurtz gave me the best advice I’ve ever heard. She said to do at least one thing a week, no matter how small, in support of your books. It could be something small like a blog post or stopping to say hi to a newly hired librarian. Or something huge, like throwing a launch party with a couple of hundred guests.

Consistency is more important than an all-out blitz. Sure, you’ll probably want to shout it from the rooftops when you finally hold that new novel in your hands. But in the long run, it’s more important to look for regular ways to highlight it as long as it’s in print.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

Probably my most successful, out-of-the box thing was the giveaways of the Sanguini’s T-shirts (Sanguini’s is the fictional vampire restaurant in Tantalize). They were designed by graphic designer/artist Gene Brenek and tie in beautifully to the book. The YAs and YA librarians loved them. I sent them out with bat finger puppets from Folkmanis, which were equally popular.

Thank you for sharing your marketing strategies with us. We wish you the best with your new book.

Remember to join us Monday for Krista Marino (Editor, Delacorte)