3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Laini Taylor (Author of Dreamdark series)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Laini Taylor (Author of Dreamdark series)

Send thoughts of love to Bridget Zinn today!
Pls send some extra prayers tonight.

Marvelous Marketer: Laini Taylor
(Author of Dreamdark Series)

Laini, thank you so much for joining us today. Before we get into marketing, can you tell me a little about yourself?

Hi Shelli! I write middle-grade and YA fantasy. My middle-grade series, Dreamdark, is published by Putnam. The first book, Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer came out in 07, and the sequel, Dreamdark: Silksinger, will be published in September 09.

My first YA will follow shortly in October. It’s called Lips Touch, and is published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic.

I’m so excited about this year!!!

(Shelli's peanut gallery: Laini is also a wonderful artist and is responsible for the Laini Ladies Collection of which I own also every one :) My fav is the Writing Muse!)

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

I have a website and blog that I started in 2006 and still manage myself.

(Shelli's peanut gallery: Laini is being very modest - her blog is very popular and she just posted her 500th post :)

I don’t know html, but my husband (illustrator Jim DiBartolo) found some great software (Freeway Express) that enables non-programmers to design their own websites using Photoshop. It has some drawbacks, but I like being able to update it myself—which I need to do soon!

In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book? (web sites, blogs, tours etc)

Um, I personally don't think I'm a brilliant self-promoter. But I love blogging because it’s a community; my blog isn’t all about my books and trying to sell them. Blatant self-promotion blogs are pretty boring, and instantly recognizable as such.

As for three things, I would say:
1. Getting your books or ARCs out to good book review sites/blogs.
2. Having a website—though the trick is to get people to your site.
3. Speaking at events and conferences, to teachers, librarians, and other writers. School visits are great too.

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

I’ve found these things to be a great way to network with other writers, but I wouldn’t say that I’ve really used them for direct promotion.

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

Well, there isn’t much face to face promotion that authors can do on their own. Besides, many of us want to write books and may not be comfortable really putting ourselves forward (I am very shy about looking for my book or my art in stores).

However, the online aspect is something we can control, and even the more timid personalities need not be terrified. I think today’s authors have a tremendous advantage that the online book world exists. Before, there were mainly just print reviews? And those are so hard to come by.

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 thought about marketing in a “I-hope-my-publisher-will-do-it” way; I didn’t do anything at all on my own. Fortunately, through blogging (which I started shortly after selling my first book, long before it came out), I lucked into some getting some interview requests and articles that helped spread the word about my book, and I started to become familiar with many review sites.
I also went to the first Kidlit Bloggers Conference, right after my book came out, and then I co-organized the second one. This was a great way to network with other writers and reviewers. (The third one is going to be in D.C. - in October - and should be great fun!)

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

I’ve read some good group blogs. It seems like a good way to maintain constant, interesting content that will keep a variety of readers coming back. I have some friends in debut author groups who help each other self-promote, and I imagine there can be some strength in numbers. Thought I have not done it myself.

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

Do more than I did!

I didn’t even try to do a local launch party at a bookstore when Blackbringer came out. Though I know those tend to be about friends and family, it’s still a way of marking the birth of something incredibly important. Since I didn’t do anything, the utter ordinariness of my book birthday was a little depressing!

I would say definitely make an effort to connect with the online book community. If you want to get reviewed by other bloggers, know their sites, leave them comments, and be respectful. Don’t just suddenly appear, ask for a review, and disappear. Being a part of the community is rewarding far beyond garnering reviews, and you never know what might come of the connections you make.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

When my very first book was coming out—The Drowned, a graphic novel from Image Comics— Jim Di Bartolo (my husband/illustrator) and I made cool review packets that included the book, a parchment scroll, a crow feather, and a rusty key. These got really nice attention at the places we sent them.

(Shelli peanut gallery: Jim will also be joining as a Marvelous Marketer in April/May!)

For Lips Touch, I’d really like to make up a small limited edition book on the “story behind the book” which will include some of the art that didn’t make it in the final, as well as a very early version of one of the stories.

I also did a drawing on my blog where readers could *win* an early draft of Silksinger. The catch was: they had to give me feedback for the next draft! (So really, it was work for them, and they were awesome!)

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

So far, I would say very random.

Fortunately, my editor at Putnam, Tim Travaglini, has been a star when it comes to getting my book into as many hands as he possibly can. Since the sales/marketing folks at Penguin Young Readers have so many titles on their plate, it’s great to have an editor who really goes the extra mile for you.

To be honest, marketing is not my favorite thing. Well, the blogging part of it is great. Everything else causes me some anxiety!

I am thinking now about what I can do for my books this year! Of course, I’d like to just focus on writing the next one, but I really want to give my books every chance to find readers.

Thank you so much for sharing your tips with us. Good luck with your book or should I say BOOKS coming out this year!

Comment Contest Update
Some rule clarifications...... BTW I LOVE all my new blogger buddies!!
  • The point of this contest is to get you to comment and find other bloggers to visit.
  • You can comment on past posts.
  • Remember to email me if you do any of the extra credit ;) I dont have time to go out and look :( wish i did.
  • You guys are determined visitors :) Please don't split up your comments so that you post a fraction of comment every minute in a row.
  • The comment HAS to be relevant to the post commented on.
  • No advertising or political statements! Those comments will not be published or counted!


Carrie Harris said...

Laini is way too modest! She's got an amazing online presence. I went to her site early on when I was trying to decide if and how to blog, and I learned a LOT. So thanks to Laini and to Shelli for giving us a peek into her head.

I gave away tons of Laini's Ladies for Christmas. They're so cute!

King of my Throne said...

OMG!!! I LOVE YOUR LADIES! I received one for a gift from one of my sisters! Have it hanging in my kitchen window. It's surrounded by my children's art work. The title is or quote is “Children need two things Roots and Wings.” LOVE it!!

King of my Throne said...

Serendipity in all its meaning! Thank you for interviewing the wonderful Laini Taylor on this Blog. I plan on reading her books! Anyone cable of such super cool art work has to be a great writer… Soon to be a great fan I’m sure.

King of my Throne said...

Ok... I can't read or visit on anymore blogs... Have to get pany hose for a wedding. YUCK!!!! Don't own any!!!! Double YUCK!!!But I will be back in the blog soooooon! You don't have me beat yet Miss A!

Irene Latham said...

Thanks, Shelli for more info about the multi-talented Laini! Is there a link you can share for the KidLit Blogger Conference?

Anonymous said...

First, I love the pink hair. Second, I did not know about her or her books but I will seek them out now. So, successful marketing!

Anonymous said...

Her artwork looks so cool! I want to see what the muse looks like!

Anonymous said...

I'm always fascinated by writers who also draw/illustrate. How come they got 2 muses and I only got one? ;o)

Kimbra Kasch said...

Laini is so nice too. I went to the blogging conference she organized and learned so much about how to do podcasts, vlogs, and blogging. That's what got me going.

Plus she's from Portland!!!

Anonymous said...

I know this is a marketing blog but part of me also wants to know these artists work on the craft of writing as well. Even say--since many of us are in the thick of it--what they've learned from the revisions process...

Anonymous said...

I wonder what these review sites are that she keeps talking about...

Tabitha said...

Great interview! I'm learning so much here! :)

And you've got a great site. I'm glad I found out about your commenting contest, which brought me here. Now, it's not about winning the contest. It's about reading your blog. :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh, what a great interview. I was glad to hear that she is shy because I am too.

And I am very thankful to have the internet for that time when my first book comes out.

I learned a lot and I would love to go to that conference. Shelli, did she happen to give a site where you can go and register? Thanks!

Tina Anderson said...

Shelli thanks for this interview. Laini is great. I checked out her website and blog which are awesome and helped me in understand a little more about what I should be looking at including in my own. Great information about connecting to the online book community now as a pre-published author. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how she got her blog to be so popular. What's the secret?

Hardygirl said...

Great interview and great advice from a brilliant lady!


King of my Throne said...

At Laini Taylors' Laini's Ladies Can purchase a bunch of birthday and christmas shopping for all my sisters or Me ME Me MEEEEE.

King of my Throne said...

Wonder how many people are going to e-mail Lanini Taylor and ask for the laini card to be mailed to them. I know I am! I found it at her web site under News. Cool!

King of my Throne said...

I don't think I've met anyone who can pull off the hip bright color she has. She has managed it!

a brilliant blog said...

great interview. Love her honesty.

Robin Constantine said...

What an interesting interview. Very informative. I'll be on the lookout for Laini's new books!

Laini Taylor said...

Thanks again, Shelli!! And thanks to all those who commented above :-)

Kelly Polark said...

Wow! What creativity! Between the MG,YA and Laini's Ladies, Laini has quite the diverse talent! Thanks for the interview!

Vivian Mahoney said...

Laini is incredibly gifted (FANTASTIC writer and artist) and generous with helping other writers. Her Ladies make memorable gifts and, hey, so does Blackbringer! And I love how her blog is filled with positive goodness. Can you tell I'm a total fan?

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Number two on Laini's list of top 3 promo things to do is "Having a website—though the trick is to get people to your site." So what's the trick? I certainly haven't figured it out! Either way, her website is gorgeous. Me want some of her ladies...

holly cupala said...

I'm catching up on all of your recent posts and loving them, Shelli! Thanks for this great Laini interview. It goes without saying that I'm a big fan and am always inspired by her. I love that we encourage each other as a community.

Laini, you must have a launch party for Silksinger! I would come! And bring a carload of Seattle fans. ;)

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Laini is aweome... and her book ROCKS!
so happy to see her here,

Unknown said...

OMG! I had no idea she did Lanie's Ladies...I LOVE THOSE THINGS! My local bookstore sells them (although not all of them, grrr).

Unknown said...

Very informative interview Shelli!


Jules at 7-Imp said...

Yay, Laini! (Yes, she's being wonderfully modest.)

Suzanne Young said...

Yay, I second Holly's suggestion! Party!

Laini is terribly inspiring, without even trying! She's tops. Tip top.

Great interview!

King of my Throne said...

You really need to check out Laini Taylor's web page and blog. She seems so nice... grateful for her blog on determination verses confidence!
I added her to my blog list and did my first...Yes my first blog back.
Sorry! Shelli you were my First. Honored I'm sure!

Carrie Harris said...

I can't come to an in person launch party, but I'll be at a virtual one with (virtual) bells on!

Anonymous said...

Love the book
Love the hair
And must get me a Laini Lady. So cute!

Robyn Campbell said...

Shelli, I have to take my son to Chapel Hill hospital for an MRI and I won't even have time to check on any blogs the rest of today. Take care, and happy writing. Does this count as a post? If not, that's cool too! :)

Anonymous said...

Social networking tools have been sort of a point of stress with me lately. How much time should I devote to them? I mean, I enjoy them, but at the expense of writing more? I've enjoyed reading several of the interviews where your questions have touched on that aspect.

Also, yay graphic novelists!

Casey Something said...

Great interview! Very inspiring. And I love the ladies!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

carrie and king - love laini ladies too

irene and robyn yahoo has a group you can sign up for and here is their web site. Im totally going this year - it is in DC (on my side of the pond) http://www.kidlitosphere.org/KidLitosphere_Central/Welcome.html -

a - you prob have more muses - you definately have the commenting muse :)

kim - im planning on going this year.

casey, suzanne, besty- thx for buzzing by again ;) love u blogger buddies!

holly - good to seeyou back!!! Ill totally go to portland - lots of brilliance in portland ;)

laini - you rock sassy frass! ;)

aw thanks tabitha - ditto!

tina, hardy girl, brilliant blog - thx for coming ;)

Robin, kelly, lee, and vivian - thx for coming back to see me :)

lindsey - where have you been girl? ;)

robyn - so weird I posted about an MRI today and yes of course your post counts silly!

chandler - its always a balance huh?

Anonymous said...

Shelli, re: your comment above, yeah, but I think i have a commenting obsession rather than a commenting muse (hmmm...perhaps its the same thing). Should mention though that I'd NEVER before commented on a blog (well maybe once on a good friend's blog). So this is really stretching for me! Can't you hear my old bones a-poppin'?

Unknown said...

I just reread this interview. Noticing now the pink hair on this author. Did she inspire you to go red?

I think a good question to ask these authors is How do they get people to their blog? Is it an obvioius answer? Visit other blogs and comment or is there a trick?