3 S.R. Johannes: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fundraiser for fellow blogger/aspiring author, Bridget Zinn

No marketing roundup today.

Instead I am rounding up your support!

Please comment on this post in the month of May and I will donate .25 cents for each and every comment!! ( I know it may not seem like much but its all I have :)

I am participating in a fundraiser for the month of May benefiting fellow Blogger, Portland Librarian, KitLit member, and aspiring writer, Bridget Zinn.

I started following Bridget's blog last year and related to some issues she was having - eye vision problems and bouts of the flu. I emphasized b/c I was going through vertigo issues at the time.

Even though I do not know her well (you know how different these blogger relationships are :), I feel compelled to help her in any way I can. After all, mine has healed and her healing has just begun. It could have easily been reversed.

So - who is Bridget Zinn?

For those of you who don't know here are a few facts about Bridget.

Within one month -

Why am I telling you this?

Because I don't think many of us have an idea of what this process would be like. To have so many highs and lows at a young age. And not only facing a tough battle with the #1 disease in America, but also facing enormous medical bills and fear.

We all know, you can't put a price on a precious life. And Bridget has been gracious, funny, and positive through the whole process so far - making jokes and showing nothing but positivity and optimism.

The Auction

Jone MacColloch has graciously gathered some authors (including Lisa Schroeder and the beautifully-expecting, Laini Taylor) and writing professionals to run an auction in the hopes of raising money for Bridget's medical bills.

Go there in the month of may to bid on some great items from books to book critiques to a fabulous marketing piece (who do yo think that is from? Moi! ;).

What can you do?

There are many ways you can give to Bridget:

  • participate in the auction
  • donate money to her medical fund (email Jone at macrush53@yahoo.com for more information on how)
  • provide additional auction items by emailing Jone at macrush53@yahoo.com.
  • send any words of encouragement/well-wishes ( she is on facebook)
  • Spread the word - post a link to this fundraiser/auction on your blog for the month of May
  • If nothing else suits your fancy, comment on this post and I will donate .25 cents for each and every comment on this post in the month of May!!

If any of us were in this position, think of the heartfelt support - monetary as well as emotional - you would need/want but could not or would not ask for.

If you would like to send her wishes of good health, thoughts and prayers, you can visit her blog or friend her on Facebook where she and her fab new hubby, Barrett Dowell, do a great job of keeping everyone informed and up to date.

I thank you up front for anything you can contribute to Bridget and this challenging process she is embarking on.

Good luck Bridget, we are thinking of you always!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday's Wacko Watch - To Pick or Not to Pick

Marketing Muse

Check out these tips on how to market fiction!

To Pick or Not to Pick

O.K I have a bone to pick! (no this post is not about picking bones!)

Yesterday, am taking a walk with my daughter. Its gorgeous outside, my little boy is in the stroller.

Along the way, my daughter is skipping and singing.

At the end of our street, there is an apartment complex. It has windy sidewalks through it and we always go through there because it is a nicer walk than staying on the street. (Don't even get me started on the sidewalk issue here!)

As we are walking through the complex, we come to a ratty old bush. And growing in the bush, is one single pink rose. My thought goes to: it only takes one. Which seems to be my daily mantra as I sift through the query process.

My daughter is thrilled and says: "Look, mommy that's pollination!" (She loves the Bee Movie). She squeals and proceeds to tell me all about pollination and how seeds move from flower to flower.

Then she says with wide, hopeful eyes: "Can I pick it?"

I usually always say no because most of the flowers we come across are in people's yard and that would be rude, not to mention probably illegal trespassing. I certainly don't need a 5 year old fugitive.

This time, I give in and say: "Sure honey."

She squeals again and picks the long beautiful rose, which again is not from anyone's rose bush or garden. Keep in mind, this is an apartment complex with hedges around it that are in the common area.

So who would care right?


Just as her little fingers pluck the puffy, sweet smelling pink bloom, a lady screams (and I mean screams) out from across the court, "OH NO!!!"

Now, first of all I never see anyone in this apartment complex because we usually walk before people start getting home from work.

Second, we NEVER pick anything. We don't even roll over grass and we don't even try to sneak into the apartment pool.

So of course the ONE time I let my daughter sneak a sample from nature is the ONE time some crabby old lady decides to make a stand.

The lady yells at us again, "Why did you just do that? That's awful!"

My daughter's eyes grow wide, almost as if she is about to cry. She whispers, "Mommy, am I in trouble?" This is a little girl that ALWAYS follows the rules. The one who actually reminds me of the rules because I actually forget them.

I turn to the lady and say, "Hi, my daughter found this random flower and picked it from a this bush."

Lady: "Why would you do that? It wasn't yours."

Me: "Oh no. We didn't take it from anyone's garden or anything. It was just stuck in this random bush."

She shakes her long, wiry white hair and proceeds to ash her cigarette as her white cockatoo perches on her shoulder squawking "hello, how are you?" in his polite birdy manner (which was actually much more polite than the old lady)

I apologize and say, "I'm sorry, have a good day."

I walk away (OK so I Stomped away) steaming. For 1/2 the walk home, I kept telling my daughter "It's OK. We didn't do anything wrong. Some people are just grumpy. We apologized."

Was I trying to convince her or myself?

You see, I am someone who cries if the person next to me cries. I am someone whose feelings are made of some kind of really fragile stuff even though I may come across as tough. I cry at commercials, I cry in movies, I cry to songs. (Sounds like I cry all the time but I dont) I am also someone who gets stuck on certain things. Someone who gets appalled at other people's actions. Someone who feels awful and beats herself up for days if she does anything wrong or hurts anyones feelings. (obviously - b/c I am still bothered today)

But to imply I am disrespecting nature? I celebrate Earth Day. I recycle. I pick up trash when I see it. I pay money every month to plant trees to offset my family's carbon. I even give enough to offset my neighbors carbon. I never let my daughter kill bugs and teach her to respect nature. I spend some time every day appreciating this world we have. So I am slightly offended and annoyed that it was implied I disturbed something sacred.

Maybe we shouldn't have picked the flower. I get that.

So what is my beef???

1) Why did she care? Granted maybe we should not have picked it. But technically it was a weed right? I think people focus on these smallish things when there are huge things to care about. If we all focused our energy on something bigger - like war or plastic or criminals, we'd be better off than yelling at a small girl for a single flower.

2) Why did she have to yell? Didn't she see my little 5 year old cringing away in fright. Didn't she see the joy on my 5 year old daughter's face as she help the rose in her hand, proudly. Was it necessary to yell and disrespect us like she THINKS we disrepected a flower?

3) Was she really so "earth conscious" that she was bothered by the picking of a single rose that was not even hers to begin with? Or was she mad because she wanted to pick it?

I don't know but here is my take on Flower Lady?

If you are smoking and ashing on the lawn with a wild rarish bird confined as a pet that lives in your dingy little apartment whose wings you've clipped so he remains a prisoner while you make him learn dumb human phrases as he dreams of flying in blue skies......

....then my daughter can pick a flower.

Who's with me!

What do you think? Was it awful to pick the flower?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Ingrid Law (Newberry Award Winning Author of Savvy)

Hi Ingrid, Thanks for
joining us
today. Before we get started,
could you tell us a little bit
about yourself?

My first book, Savvy, was released in May, 2008, from Dial Books for Young Readers (a division of the Penguin Young Readers Group) in partnership with Walden Media. I am represented by Daniel Lazar at Writers House in New York. Savvy has earned both a Newberry Honor Award
and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor,
and has spent three weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Savvy was voted one of Publisher's Weekly's Best Books of the Year (2008) and chosen by Booklist as one of the Top 10 First Novels for Youth (2008).

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

I have a website and a blog. I use my blog more as a tool to share things with and by my readers, and less as a social networking tool, so I do not enable comments.

But one of the things I love to do most is to share drawings, videos, and stories created by young readers. I love it when kids answer the question: What’s your savvy? And do so in their own creative ways.

I started both my website and my blog several months before the book came out.Penguin Young Readers Groups has also created a terrific Savvy mini-site . This site contains a downloadable discussion guide, wallpapers, and an exclusive ‘origin story’ for the family in Savvy.

Walden Media also has a wonderful, playful site where readers can listen to the first chapter of the audio book, play games, send postcards, and find even more downloads.

In your opinion, how important is social networking ?

I think a lot might depend on one’s audience and one’s personality. For the adult and young adult markets, social networking sites may be more effective than for middle grade or picture book authors. While Savvy crosses into early YA, my main audience is 4th-6th graders.

As a parent, I did my best to keep my daughter off social networking sites when she was that age, so I didn’t really feel as though I wanted to place too much emphasis on these when it came to marketing Savvy. However, when marketing a book, even if a book is aimed at young readers, one wants to reach out to parents as well.

I'm sure that some people have made a different choice.The only social networking site that I am on is GoodReads, and I’ve been surprised at how many kids reach me through that site.

Logistically, I’ve found that managing social networking sites takes up a lot of time, and time is not something I have a lot of right now. Plus, I’ve always been a rather shy person, so social networking sites tend to push me out of my comfort zone.

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

Aside from the question of social networking sites, I think technology is becoming increasingly important in the marketing of books, especially in the face of our current economy. Author tours are expensive and many authors are turning to virtual visits as an alternative. Bloggers have turned marketing into a viral phenomenon.

And one of the biggest technological marketing successes for Savvy so far has been the week-long free e-book download offered last summer, which was a factor in propelling the book onto the New York Times Bestsellers list for the first time.

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

Try from the very start to find a balance between your focus on marketing and your focus on continued writing. It is easy to get so tied up thinking about the marketing of your first book that your next book, or your writing in general, becomes neglected.

For me, writing and marketing use two very different parts of my brain. Trying to do both in the same day is difficult for me. I set aside days where I try to do nothing but write, saving other days—perhaps those already scheduled with additional distractions—to work on marketing, or any other business aspect of being an author.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

I am very fortunate to have amazing promotional backing from both Penguin Young Readers Group and Walden Media.

Because my book encourages readers to discover what is special about themselves, asking kids and adults alike the question "What’s your savvy?" has given me the opportunity to engage everyone in the creative process that I began.

I love sharing the ideas kids send to me about what their own talents might be. This has become one of the anchors on my blog. I think that any time you can engage other people in your process and invite them to be a part of it, they will respond.

Thank you for joining us today!

Thanks Shelli!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Help me with my Short Pitch - A little Contest

When subbing you novel, I've always heard you should include a comparison for books or movies in your pitch.

I have been trying to think of mine for Grace as I send it out into the agent querying world.

I want it to be commercial enough yet unique enough. I have good things to use but they don't seem known enough.

In a nutshell - Grace Under Fire is about a small-town teen who gets caught up in a big-time drama. After her ranger father goes missing, Grace is determined to uncover the truth, convinced someone is hunting on his animal santuary. She uses her self defense moves and wilderness training to uncover a local conspiracy that threatens her family, the nature of her beloved North Carolina Mountains, and her chance at first love. (you can see the longer pitch on the side.)

So what do you think? Here are a few I have been tossing around but are they too obsure?

Grace Under Fire is a Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things for teens.

Grace Under Fire is like James Hall's Gone Wild meets Nancy Drew.

Grace Under Fire is like James Hall's Gone Wild meets Veronica Mars.

Grace Under Fire is where Carl Hiassen meets Sammy Keyes.

Grace Under Fire is where Thoreau meets Sammy Keyes (is this too cheesy)

I think I need to relate it to wilderness/nature/environment but still bring out the teen love and mystery/suspense elements.



If I pick yours, I will give you 1 free hour of marketing/brand brainstorming. I'll keep this up until my interview goes live on Monday!

Can any of you think of a nature sleuth for kids?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday's Marketing RoundUp

Here are my top marketing posts for the week!

Don't forget: Ingrid Law (Author of Newberry winning novel, Savvy) will be with us Monday as our Marvelous Marketer)

Have a good weekend!

Top 10 reasons why your Content Marketing strategy fails - Content marketing is when you create great content that attracts customers and prospects, educates them, and potentially engages them in a conversation with you. Here are the reasons that this strategy can fail.

Platform what if I'm shy? - I would guesstimate that the majority of writers consider themselves shy or introverts. How do you do a platform?

Inexpensive platform development strategies for writers - Platform development shouldn’t break the bank

The Blog Factor - Everything you need to know to start blogging - today!

Befriend Amazon for Promotion - There's a whole world of book promotion potential of Amazon that lies beneath the bookseller's surface.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Soundtrack of My Life

Marketing Muse
Here is a podcast on how to best sell your book to libraries/schools by Dana Lynn Smith (author of "Selling your book to Libraries" and the Savvy Book Marketers Guide.)

The Soundtrack of My Life

Do you ever kinda feel like your life is a movie? Sometimes I do and I think I always have. Weird huh? I remember picking out songs and putting on plays for my family about my life ( all 6 or 7 years of it!) . I would act out a montage of my life as the music played on my record player (how kewl was I?)

I even wrote songs (oi!)

Anyway, I was thinking about my soundtrack today because I wanted to add a song.

My soundtrack also seems to reflect the music of that time. Whether it be the 70s (not that I was born then gulp) the 80s or the 90s.

When I was born - my song would have had to be: We've Only Just Begun. (Caren Carpenter)

When I had my first kiss (with a boy who kissed like a snake - or maybe he was a snake - we'll never know. But I am pretty sure Kevin Bacon would have been much better!): Let's hear it for the boys!

When I dated my first Love at 15 (Did everyone love The Pirate Movie as much as me? Especially Christopher Atkins hair - wait most of you probably are too young to remember :( I had the VHS tape and the cassette!): First Love (Kristy McNichol/Christopher Atkins)

When I got my first car at 16 (who else is in the 1983 Toyota Celica Hatchback club! Or should I say C-Hell-ica Unfortunately, Danny Zuka didn't come with the car - an oil leek and a bummed radio did): Grease Lightning (Grease 1)

When I went off to school (UGA was a party school where I learned very little, but got caught doing bad things. Auburn where I got my MBA was tough - just a different kind of jungle.): Welcome to the Jungle (Guns and Roses)

When I got my first job (I was just happy to be making real money money money!): Opportunities (Pet Shop Boys)

When my first wedding was called off (This is your cue to boo and hiss! There were so many songs during this time - and the sadder the better! Alice Peacock's Some Things Get Lost but my friend and I used to sing this song when we were down - and yes I was 30 years old!): I Will Survive - but it had to be Cake's version)

My second round of single days: - Nelly Furtado's I'm Like a Bird. I parachuted out of a plane (with a hot guy I might add) to this song!

When I met my hubby - we met at the zoo but those songs seemed inappropriate so I chose our first concert together: Macy Gray's Still (though I loved the whole album). (BTW - I KNOW my hubby would agree with me on this one! right honey? ;)

When I got married (to the most amazing man!): We danced to Someone Like You - the Shawn Colvin version. But all of our wedding music was to Enya - I walked down the aisle to The Sun in the Stream

When I had my kids (Alicia Keyes' If I Ain't Got You)

So to date, that would be my soundtrack (you only get like 12 tracks right unless there is Part 2) This represents where I've been - give or take a few other songs. Maybe I'll have to have a few different soundtracks, depending on the montages - like Dawson's Creek's Soundtracks - you know a new one every year.

Sometimes a song will pop up and I'll think - that would be a great song for my soundtrack - maybe for the time I did....or the time I said that....

Come on - anyone else? Who's with me?

Anyway - the new song by Miley Cyrus (Climb) is awesome! I love it and it totally captures how I am feeling these days about this whole publishing process.

I'll keep you up to date on my revised soundtrack! ;)


I just reread this post - man I am a sick person. I need help - a soundtrack to my life - am i crazy? Oh - Wait I need a song for that? (Crazy by Gnarles Barkley!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What on Earth?

Marketing Muse - Eco-Friendly
These are the best ways to market with the earth in mind:
  • Blog/Blog Tours

  • Website

  • Twitter

  • Social networking (Facebook, Myspace)
What on Earth?

The Book Industry Study Group released a report with the Green Press Initiative last year estimating that the publishing industry “produced a carbon dioxide equivalent net emission of about 12.4 million tons in 2006, and a net emission of 8.85 pounds per book sold to consumers,” an amount that’s not unusual for manufactured products. Each year, according to the Green Press Initiative, over 30 million trees are used to make books in the United States alone, while the newspaper industry consumed 8.7 million metric tons of paper last year.

If you feel guilty about buying a book. Check out Eco-Libris . It's a new green biz that lets book readers balance out the paper used for the books they read by planting trees. You pay for trees to be planted based on the number of books you bought. They send you stickers for the books that read: "One Tree Planted for this Book." This is for those of us who have not moved to the Kindle yet ;)

We writers can be green too!

  • When drafting your work, use both sides of paper.
  • When it's ready to be trashed, recycle that paper.
  • Recycle those print cartridges.
  • Only print when you have to.
  • Instead of printing articles on line, bookmark them and keep them in a folder.
  • There are places that will refill your printer cartridges.
  • Use daylight, watt-saver bulbs in your work area.
  • Recycle the batteries for anything you use.
  • Check with your local electronics store about recycling or your local landfill or donate it.
  • Use reusable pens or pencils.
  • Donate books you have read or do not use.
  • Turn off your computer at night and unplug my equipment.
  • Be sure to read submission guidelines so you don't mail manuscripts to those who don't want them.
  • Use recycled paper.
  • Look for agents who are equery or esubmission first. (if you have a choice :)
  • Go paperless - scan all documents and store as files.
  • ProQuo is a free service that with a few clicks of your mouse, you can reduce the junk mail and paper clutter.
  • Replace paper to-do lists and notes with electronic ones.

Fav "Green" Finds for Writers

  • Buying a new computer? You can go to Energy Star and see what laptops qualify as eco-friendly and energy-efficient.

  • Sometimes I just want to write with a great pencil. I found these Smencils that smell great and are made from recycled newspaper!

  • Did you know that you could buy a laptop bag and charge your laptop? Now you do! here are some fun bags too.

  • Sweats (or as I like to call it - activewear) -am I the only one who writes in these items? (Sorry honey!) Comfort is key....

  • Am I the only one who writes in slippers (fall/winter) and "stop global warming" flip flops (spring/summer). Check out these fashionable ones. They are eco-friendly - so now you have an excuse to!

  • What writer does not use a coffee mug? here are some cute ones that are eco-friendly with eco-messages. We writers love our messages :)

  • I love taking notebooks with me in case I get a brilliant idea. I love these recycled paper notebooks.

That's it!

Happy Earth day!

I'm Just Saying...

Marketing Muse - Tips for Blog Tours

  • While you ultimately want to increase your book sales, the purpose of a blog tour is to generate buzz about your book.
  • Don’t just announce your tour on your personal blog, announce it in your newsletters, in press releases, and through traditional media outlets like radio interviews.
  • While it can be rather costly to send out review copies of your books to every blogger in the blogosphere, especially if you’re not sure how popular a blog is, you can offer to hold a book drawing for every blogger who participates in your blog tour and then give away one to five books to whosoever name you pull out of a hat—at the end of the blog tour.
  • Ask if the blog host will post a link to the sales page of your book whether it’s on Amazon.com or another affiliated program.
  • Be sure to target blogs with target audiences that match your book’s target audience.
I'm just Sayin'.....

Why do people put pictures of themselves not wearing a shirt up on Facebook? And if I know them, do I still have to friend them? Isn't it bad enough I have to reunite with high school memories? do I really need to view your 40 year old pecs?

If we can make strides forward in technology and space and medicine, can we not get rid of Miss USA pageants? Are they still in fashion? Does anyone watch them anymore? The answers are the same "I want world peace." Great thanks for sharing.

Why do people keep their old clothes, thinking it will come back in style again "someday"? When it does, won't they be either too old to wear it anyway? Not to mention, I'm pretty sure the "style" will be redesigned in some chic new fashionable way. I think it's safe to say those parachute pants won't be coming back in style for a while and if they do, hopefully they will be upgraded! Maybe more pockets?

On twitter, I do NOT want to know when you are going to the bathroom. Trust me, you can leave that part out!! I won't mind missing a few minutes (maybe 10 depending...) of your time.

If a martian landed on our plant with their fast UFOs and invisible lights and telepathic abilities, do we really think they need to probe us for our radios, reproduction ability, and crummy computers? If they can make a cool, fast, ultra-UFO, I'm have confidence that they can probably find ways to reproduce and make more things than any Radio Shack. I'm sure something exists, but I think the "encounters" we hear about are a bit odd. Even for a martian.

How come when Madonna falls off a horse and busts her tush, she gets to cry "Paparazzi!". But when I fall down (which I tend to do often), I'm just a klutz. Can I try that next time? Maybe the horse didn't want his picture taken? Maybe it wasn't about Madonna! (what?!)

How can Justin Timberlake yell at MTV, asking them to play more videos than reality shows, but now he just signed on for a reality show with them?

Do we need to know when Brangelina breathes? Cant we give them some space. I don't think its headlines news that they took the kids grocery shopping (stay tuned for a list of what they bought) Priorities people!

Do we really need a picture book by Mario Lopez. Isnt it depressing enough to try hard to get published than to have Slater blow by you? *sigh*

I felt compelled to voice atrocities! ;)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Anastasia Goodstein, editor-in-chief of Ypulse

Hi Anastasia. First, I am sure our
readers would like to know all about
YPulse and how it got started.

Ypulse is a media platform for youth media and marketing professionals. We publish a blog, Ypulse.com; a newsletter, the Ypulse Daily Update; as well as several conferences each year, the Ypulse Mashup events. We are coming up on our 5th anniversary.
I started Ypulse.com in May of 2004 and am the editor-in-chief. I also provide editorial direction on all Ypulse Mashups as well as creative direction for the overall Ypulse brand.

Ypulse.com reaches a highly influential audience of agency, brand and media executives as well as social marketers trying to reach our youth (tweens, teens and early twentysomethings). With a unique blend of readers and conference attendees, we all get a rare opportunity to learn from academics and youth advocates who are working with youth on a daily basis. This benefits many different sectors including authors, corporations, and non-profits.

I am very excited because Ypulse is also named one of the top 100 marketing blogs on Ad Age’s Power 150 List. We have been featured in several leading publications including USA Today, Business Week, Forbes, and Fast Company.

I started my career in the non-profit youth media space at Teen Voices. I have worked in media for the past 15 years and have helped many launch youth oriented web and television properties for brands like Oxygen, AOL and Current TV. I have won awards for my blog and know a lot about our tweens, teens and early twentysomethings.

My first book about teens and technology called Totally Wired: What Teens & Tweens Are Really Doing Online was published by St. Martin's Press.

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

My top 3:

1) Know your audience...and where they hang out online. Book promotion can be very time consuming, so if you aren't a full-time author, you need to figure out who will buy your book and be strategic about where you spend time promoting online and what you do to promote (blog, create videos, Twitter, etc.) It's impossible to be everywhere and impractical to create/maintain every kind of "social media" out there. Pick and choose the right sites and the right content for your audience.

2) Unless you are a big name, skip the bookstore tour. Pick a cool indie bookseller in your hometown and have a nice launch event there (inviting all your friends and family). Other than that, unless you're a well known name, don't waste time at bookstore events where 2-5 people will show up, often "regulars" who go to all the events and never buy your book! Obviously if you have large contact networks in certain cities, and know YOU can turn out a bigger audience, then do it. But if you're relying on the bookstore to pack them in, forget it. Instead do events that make sense. If your book is for teens, reach out to YA librarians who are passionate about this audience and usually know how to fill a room.

3) If you have the discipline to post at least 2-3 times a week, use a blog to build an audience for your book before it comes out. Get people excited, let them get to know you, build an email list and most importantly elevate your search results -- the more you post and tag your blog posts the more people find you and your content and ultimately your book.

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

Social networking is as important or useful as your network is. If you only have 20 friends on Facebook and they're mostly your real life friends and family, and you blanket them with book promotion status updates and links....well, I'm sure they'll put up with it being your friends and family, but if you have a couple hundred friends, colleagues (past and present), your reaching a much larger radius of people. Still there's a lot of noise on big social networking sites, and I'm not convinced they will make you a best seller.

That said, it's worth creating a group or a page on Facebook, and if your book is for teens, make sure you have one on MySpace, too (and hire a teen with lots of friends to help promote it on both MySpace and Facebook through their networks). I think sites like GoodReads are even better because people are there to find out about new books and are more likely to buy them. Twitter takes time to cultivate real followers and effort to be part of the Twitterverse -- not just promoting yourself but participating in the larger conversations to build trust and credibility and/or being witty/clever in 140 characters or less. If you have the time/bandwidth, it can be very valuable. Just as with my bookstore analogy, I think it depends on how well known you are -- with social networks and Twitter, how big your networks are to begin with as far as what kind of impact you'll have right away vs. building up your networks in the course of promoting your book.

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

One thing we as writers know how to do that other folks trying to market products sometimes don't is WRITING. Blogs and other websites LOVE good, free content. Guest post, offer to write newsletter articles, etc. and make sure your book is mentioned and/or integrated in some way (include the cover!). Work with your publicist to be able to do book giveaways combined with Q&As for blogs. We run them all the time on Ypulse.

Readers love getting free books, bloggers love having stuff to give away to loyal readers and you get great publicity. If you're publicist will mail the books out (so the blog doesn't have to) even better. And if you have a YA title, reach out to high school newspapers for reviews. Teens also love getting free books, and believe it or not they still read their high school newspapers. Teens also love contests....So think "free" (i.e. getting free books to influencer teens) and contests. I would also suggest hooking up with folks like Not Your Mother's Book Club, Readergirlz and the folks at YALSA. All do a great job promoting YA titles to teens.

As the author of Totally Wired: What Teens & Tweens Are Really Doing Online, did you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random? If not, why? Would you like to?

I definitely had a plan and ideas about where to try and target my efforts, but as a first time author I also learned a lot of lessons the hard way. I sat in empty bookstores and libraries where I assumed they would promote me instead of me promoting me. I was invited to speak at a PTA meeting, and once I saw how successful that was for reaching my audience, I began suggesting it to parents who would reach out to me. I did countless blog interviews, podcast interviews, guest posts, newsletter articles, etc.

What helped me the most was having an established blog and readership going in -- that's why you see bloggers get book deals. My readers bought 6K copies of my book the first month. I spend the next 8 months selling around 4K more copies little by little. Because Ypulse has five years worth of posts online, I have very good search results around anything teen or tween or Gen Y related.

I did get publicity through my publicist that was directly related to the book, but I continue to get publicity (two years later) from reporters finding me via search. I did lots of radio/talk/NPR, tons of newspaper stuff and local and national TV. Still my national TV appearances were very short and usually just a quick expert comment in response to some incident that would happen involving teens and tech -- yes, they would show the book cover, and it's great, but it's not like an in-studio segment on the Today Show or a longer appearance on Oprah. And even if you're lucky enough for that to happen, there's just no guarantee it will move hundreds of books.

What has also helped me was having a great agent at a large agency (ICM). When ICM made a deal with the American Program Bureau (a large speakers bureau) to represent its authors, I suddenly had a lecture agent and began getting paid speaking engagements around the book (I still get them). Very often our speaker's contract mandates that they have a book sale/signing as part of the engagement. So the book keeps going...even after I've officially stopped promoting it.

No matter how well your book sells, just remember, having a book and being a published author is still a huge calling card, credential, credibility builder, even in this "totally wired" world.

Just getting published is a huge accomplishment. :)

Thank you for taking the time to join us today.

Thank you Shelli!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Marketing Round-Up and other stuff

First Things First

1) TGIF Its been a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOG week here. As you may have noticed (because I know you wait with baited breath for my blog to have a new entry :) I have not been blogging as much lately. Well there is a reason (excuse) for that. Actually there are many but here are my top 3. (not including lazy, distracted, getting my toes done, cleaning, complaining, subbing and more)

1) last week was spring break (get this my kids were out from Friday April 3rd, through Monday the 13th! why do breaks seem to be getting longer and longer. It was a long week with a 2 year old and 5 year old. Both of which were sick at different times. My house became a prison!

2) I was working diligently on my final edits. I'd set a date of Easter and By George (who is that anyway??? does anyone know George??) I was going to make it. Come hell or high water.(Cliche alert)

3) This week my kids were home sick. What you say? yes. That means the Spring break from hell was extended all week long. Thank the Lord for moms because mine is here today. There is a God!

Needless to say I am stir crazy! Had to go out last night and get a mani/pedi just to relax. Oh yeah, and I had them throw in extra massages on feet and shoulders. And can I just say I got all of that for 65$!? Is that awesome or what. AAHHHHHHH (Thanks honey:)

2) Woot Woot! I want to congratulate Vicki and Casey on winning the Marketing contest. I look forward to working with you. I've decided the next comment contest will be in July. So get your comments ready! The rules will change a bit but the prize will still be great! (Think Tony the Tiger Great.)

3) Aw shucks, You shouldn't have! I want to humbly thank Kimberly Derting for the Fabulous Blog award and shout out. In case you guys haven't heard, she got a great book deal for her first book, BodyFinder, which I think is coming out First Quarter 2010 (correct me if I'm wrong Kim, I know the date has shifted! :) I am going to award the Fabulous Blog Award to the top 5 funniest blogs ever! Stay Tuned!

4) Amazon Update - Well as you probably have guessed I did not make the semi-finals. To be honest, I am actually relieved. the version I entered was my old version and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my newer one better. It was a great experience and I am honored (blah blah blah) just to be in the top 500 (top 5%) out of 10,000. So onward and upward.

5) The Girl's on Fi-ah!. And last, but not least, I wanted to congratulate my friend and hilarious blogger Lindsey Leavitt for getting yet another book contract. That's right she just sold one more, in addition to her Princess for Hire Trilogy. Now she is in the hole for 4 books in 3 years. 2 of which come out in Winter 2010. Rock on Linds, yous on Fi-ah!!!!

Don't forget Marketing Monday - Now here for the exciting stuff, since I'm sure no one could really care for my rants. This week our Marvelous Marketer is Anastasia Goodstein. If you don't recognize the name, she is the creator, owner, driving force, brilliant mind behind Ypulse which tracks youth trends. She knows everything kids want, need and even some things they don't even know yet. So come back Monday! You don't want to miss it!

Friday's Marketing Round-Up

Dos and Donts of Book Trailers - Author MBA blog is down but they have some great past articles n marketing. Here is one I like about how to make dazzling book trailers.

Planning Your Publicity - We often forget that for most media, planning for lead times are crucial. Lead times can vary from a day to six months depending on the media you’re pitching. So be sure to plan way ahead.

Marketing That Makes A Difference - An interview on marketing with Kay Cassidy, a 2008 Golden Heart winner, author of The Cinderella Society (Egmont 2010), and former leadership development specialist.

Hate Twitter. Save Your Brand. Even if you do not want to Tweet, here are some reasons on why you should save your brand name anyway.

How to promote your book (author Richard Roach) Suspense author discuss his techniques.

45 Tips from Oldest Book Promoter - Planned Television Arts, the nation’s largest and oldest book promoter, celebrated their 45th anniversary last month. Here are 45 free tips on what authors need to know about getting published, promoted, and distributed.

Why authors should do a Blog Tour. This is older but we haven't touched on it so I thought I would post it anyway. The simplest description for my idea of a virtual blog tour is: a cyber “tour” which includes various blogs, websites, radio shows, newsletters, etc.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Your dream can come true!

First Business of the day:

The Random Drawing Winner of the Comment Your Butt Off Contest is.......

Casey McCormick - Literary rambles!

Congrads! You can email me offline to discuss your "Sur-Prize."

Your dream can come true!

Some of us when we started this dream of ours - to be a published author - may have had doubts, may have been laughed at, may have even been brushed aside.

After seeing this, I truly believe that dreams can happen. And they can happen to anyone. At anytime.

If you have ever given my blog 5 minutes of your time, I ask for it now. If you want to groan, laugh, and even cry, take a few moments and watch this video. It will lift your heart, your hopes, and help you fight for this dream of yours.

I chose this longer version b/c I think the transformation in people, i attitudes, and in spirit is touching. I've watched so many times and still get tears in my eyes.

It will inspire you to never give up on your dream no matter what anyone, any agent, any author, or any editor ever tells you.

It is your dream and you have the right to spend the rest of your life seeking it!

I promise you this video is worth a quick break in your day.

If only to feed your soul after that last rejection, the last review, or your moved publication date.
This gives true meaning to the phrase: NEVER judge a book by its cover! And NEVER give up on your dreams.

So here's to you Susan Boyle!!! May you shine like the new star you are. And may you change perceptions around the world. That no one is what they seem.

Let me know what you think! (They won't let me post the video anymore!)


Monday, April 13, 2009

Marvelous Marketer - Ruta Rimas (Assistant Editor, Balzer + Bray)

Hi Ruta. Before we begin, can you tell me a little bit about yourself. What are you looking to acquire? what are you working on?

My name is Ruta Rimas, an assistant at HarperCollins Children’s Books newest (and Greatest! Most Fun! Most Best!) imprint, Balzer + Bray, founded in May 2008 by two of the most respected and most extraordinary editors around—Donna Bray and Alessandra Balzer (whose titles have now appropriately changed from editor to Publisher).

I’ve been at Harper for almost two years, beginning first with the general Children’s department, and then with B+B since its inception. I am actively looking to acquire across the spectrum of Children’s Literature for B+B—picture books, middle grade, and YA (though I do tend to shy away from Chapter Books. It’s just not my style).

My tastes align with B+B’s—fresh, funky, different. Ideally a nice blend of commercial and literary. To give you a taste of what I mean, we’ll be publishing folks like Mo Willems, Doreen Cronin, Jerry Spinelli, Laura Numeroff, Candace Bushnell, and Avi in future seasons, and are most certainly looking for authors who have that caliber of innovation and talent, whether he/she is an established author or a newbie.

As of right now, we are finalizing our materials for the launch list of B+B (Fall 2009). The list not only includes bestsellers and award winners like Gordon Korman and Patty McCormick, but three debut authors as well.

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

The most important thing an author can do is TALK about his/her book. Spread the word! Whereas tours cannot be guaranteed, especially in this economic climate, there are ways that an author can build buzz.

1.) UTILIZE THE INTERNET. Blog. Get on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. Create and maintain a website. In summary: Make yourself accessible to your readers.

2.) An author can introduce herself to her local bookstore book buyers (note: when introducing oneself, please begin with that fact that you are published by a reputable house, and are indeed not self-published. Book buyers are absolutely inundated with self-published writers. Get your credentials in the open first).

3.) Plan to meet with and brainstorm with our editor/marketing team/publicist.

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

Any type of promotion is good, really. So if there are authors who are willing to go on tour to promo books—excellent! Harper is actually sending out several of our YA authors on a SUPERNATURAL SUMMER tour. I love it! http://www.supernaturalsummer.com/ For publishers, obviously grouping up is a good business practice encouraged because it is a good way to promo multiple authors at one time. And, barring any personality conflicts, a grouped tour is a terrific idea and really beneficial for authors.

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

Stay involved. Ask your editor questions. Get to know the marketing team at your publisher. And don’t be afraid to be creative!

When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever Google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?

I certainly Google prospective authors, more so for a complete picture of the person than for knowing if they have a web presence or platform (note: authors, take down any embarrassing pictures of yourself that you do not want editors/agents/READERS to see).

But really, I just Google people out of curiosity. On that note, feel free to google me. You’ll find some awesome articles I wrote back in the day for a journalism class (by awesome, I mean MORTIFYING!), some volleyball stats (from high school, AND college), and some SCBWI conference links.

Obviously, if I find that the author has a strong presence on the Internet that is applicable to his/her writing, it gives me another item to add to my bag of “Why We Want To Publish This Author.”

Thank you Ruta for joining us today!

Thank you Shelli!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunny Sunday: Rebirth - The Joy of Starting Over

Here's my Sunny Sunday kickoff to Monday's Project Perk.

(don't forget to check out Suzanne Young's blog and Robin Mellom's blog for more "perky" posts on Monday!)

Today, my thoughts are around rebirth. Rightly so.

I have been working through suggested edits that totally changed my book's direction. When I first got the feedback, I was petrified to go back to the drawing board and changes some key things in my book.

But I realize that writers don't need to be afraid of starting over. It is not the death of a book or your writing, it is a rebirth. Something new out of something old.

Sometimes a rebirth is necessary.

A renewal of hope.

So with that in mind, here is a poem I found about that summed it up for me:

"Starting Over" by Denis Martindale:

OK, why don't you start again?
Just give it one more go!
What happened was beyond your ken,
Perhaps you'll never know!

But try to make it work out right!
And fix things if you can...
You'll suss it soon with some insight
And then fulfil your plan...

When things go bad, when things go wrong,
You've got to end the doubt!B
e resolute! Be firm! Be strong!
And sort the problem out!

Adapt, update and pray like mad!
Then strive for all you're worth!'
Cos when it's done, you'll feel so glad
Your joy will fill the Earth!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round Up (Belated)

Sorry for not posting this yesterday. A bad bug is visting our family, one person at a time so we have all been down for the count this week.

PR Tips from Debut author, Saundra Mitchell - Sometimes we manage to scare ourselves into inactivity because of an excess of information. Saundra gives us five things anybody can do.

Arts and Crafts of Self promotion - We can all raise the visibility of our books, and raising visibility is what marketing is.

Interview with Christina Katz - Author discusses her book, Get Known Before the Book Deal

Book Promotion tips from author, Marc Acito - Acito shares his advice to authors about promoting their books.

The New rules of Branding - A brand is a promise; a collective of perceptions.

Don't forget to come back and see who our Marvelous Marketer is on Monday. WE will also announce the random drawing winner for the Comment your Butt off Contest!

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Room with a view - LA Bound!

Marketing Muse - All Hands on Deck
Have you heard of "Tweet Deck"? It is an application that makesit easy to follow people on twitter. I love it. It organizes your tweets and if you want - you can put a tone so you know when a tweet comes in. INstead of going to twitter - you just view your Tweet Deck and can see everything from tweets, replies, to direct messages. Try it!

LA Bound

I've made the leap!

I am definitely going to LA this year for the SCBWI Summer Conference. I wanted to go last year but hemmed and hawed so I've already booked my hotel room at the conference rate. Room with a View!

And I found a great deal on Air Tran for about 300$ RT. What?!

Now I am just anxiously awaiting the schedule. I am up for a speaker role in LA, but not sure if it will pan out. We will see. Waiting to hear from Liz on that front. I'm already scheduled to speak at MidSouth this fall. Carolinas asked but it is the same weekend so I think I'll be doing that one in 2010.

Only bummer about the LA trip is that I have to take the red eye back on Sunday night. So I will miss Monday. Poop! Of course - my daughter's school starts early this year. And her first day in Big Girl Kindergarten is that same Monday. I cannot - will not - miss that.

So I'll be going in on Thursday morning to pal around and will have to jet out on the 10 pm Sunday - arriving at 5am Monday (please don't let it be late or cancelled!)

I'm feeling it this year. I am ready to put the investment into going. I am so excited and cant wait to meet some blogger friends. I know Suzanne Young is going as well as some others.

Who else is going? Leave me a comment and let me know. Maybe we can all have a meeting place. I feel like I know some of you so well. Its like Internet dating right. It'll be weird :)

Anyone looking for a roomy? I'm not sure yet if I am going to stay alone or with a roomy. Can't decide!

Doesn't matter. I have a room with a view and hope in my heart.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

And the Winner is.....

The "Comment Your Butt" off contest was a huge success!

The final numbers were posted last week: (March 1st - March 31st)
3,148 unique visitors
81 commenters
52 Blog followers (hopefully you wont leave me now :)
86 Twitter followers

The winner who commented the most over the month of March is...


Congratulations "A" - please contact me by email for your free web site design.

I will hold the random drawing this week (it will take some time to put all the names in a hat. Remember= you get an entry for every point you got during the month.

I will announce the random drawing winner next Monday!

We will have another contest in the summer - with different rules, different prizes, and hopefully different players.

Thanks again to all who participated!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Marvelous Marketer - Ron Hogan (Galley Cat)

Hi Ron, before we get started, please tell me
a little about yourself and how you got to
Galley Cat.

Hi Shelli. Thanks for having me. I've been doing websites about books and writers since 1995, when I posted my first author interview to Beatrice. I'd switched Beatrice over to a blog format at the end of 2003 and it promptly gained a whole new audience--but I was pretty much riffing on anything publishing-related, including a fair
amount of industry talk.

Then in the summer of 2005, MediaBistro invited me to take over GalleyCat and write exclusively about the industry side of publishing as opposed to the usual "book blog," which skews more towards the literary side of things.

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

For me, it's not so much a matter of "you must use THESE tools to promote your book." It's about having the passion to share your story with the rest of the world, and recognizing that you can't just expect people to stumble onto your book, or count on somebody else to do the marketing for you. If you believe in your story enough to spend all that time crafting it, you should be willing to put the time and effort into persuading people it has something to say to them. How you do that is a matter of identifying your comfort zones and working right up to their edges.

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

Social networking can be a very effective tool for convincing potential readers that you are an interesting person who has something meaningful to say. The important thing is that you're there to be social, not just to wave your book in people's faces and ask/tell them to buy it. Get people to like YOU, and then they'll become curious about your book.

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

For the most part, bookselling is not a zero-sum game. Yes, when you look at an individual bookstore visit, it CAN be a matter of buying THIS book and not THAT book, but let's take the long view and think of ALL the bookstore visits that a dedicated reader will make over the course of a year. From that perspective, buying John Doe's books whenever they come out doesn't preclude a fan from buying Richard Roe's books, too. So if John and Richard are in the same field, it makes complete sense for them to encourage their fans to read each other's work. This isn't a race; not only can there be multiple winners, they don't need anybody else to "lose" in order to win.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

When my book, The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane, came out in 2005, I created my own website for the book and did a slew of interviews with film-related blogs. I also played an active role in arranging the bookstore events; one of the most important things I did was to recruit other people who'd written film books to do those events with me. Not only did it increase the size of the audience, it made the events themselves a lot more fun, as we were able to get some real conversations going.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today!

Thank you Shelli!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round-Up

Here is the weekly round up of articles that focus on author marketing or publicity. have a great weekend!

7 Ways to build your Author Brand - addresses the "how" of building your author brand online.

What is a Publicist worth? Answers the questions How much does a publicist really cost? And how much should one cost?

Book Marketing 101 - Here are a few basic principles based on publishing experience. These are generalizations and there are definitely exceptions to every rule. But these probably apply 95% of the time.

Marketing Yourself through Workshops - how does one propose a workshop gig?

Social Networking ROI (Return on Investment) How can spending 15 minutes a day, or several hours, bring more leads or more sales.

Come back Monday for our Marvelous Marketer, Ron Hogan from Galley Cat (at Media Bistro)!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Writers Anonymous: A 3 Step Program

Marketing Muse
I thought this study was interesting.
Social Media Marketing: Time Trap or Opportunity Magnet?
New Study Reveals the Answers
To read about the study: http://tinyurl.com/c4ggux
To download the free PDF report: http://tinyurl.com/dcz4ep

Writers Anonymous: A 3 Step Program (by Quentin Huff)
I came across this poem and fell in love with it. I am sure we can all relate. Happy Poetry Month!

[Step One: Resentment]
Hi, My name is Quentin.
I'm a write-a-holic.
I can't control it,
can't curb the urge to write.
I need help.
I want my life back.

[Step Two: Commitment]
I write poems on fast food napkins,
with toothpicks, using ketchup for ink.
I jot ideas for poems
on my arms and legs. When I run out of space,
I use my shoes.
I make motions
similar to Michael Jackson's moonwalk
when I need to erase.

I make up stories
while making love to my wife.
She left me.
Who needs her?
She was suffocating my creativity.

I await submission replies
like an addict, hands trembling,
head shaking in disbelief.
Not another bout with rejection!
I'm manic depressive.
I'm happy to be here.
No I'm not.

I live for revision.
Instead of sex, I have poems.
I eat feedback.

[Step 3: Contentment]
As a recovering write-a-holic,
admitting my problem
has provided a much needed catharsis.
Joining this nurturing group has
taught me to reconcile my past and move forward.

(Excuse me,
but are you going to throw away that paper cup?
That's good paper!)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

We have to trust the Process

Contest Update
As you can imagine - I have had tons of emails. The winners will be announced next week once I get time to log all the comments and do a drawing.

Here are the final numbers (March 1st - March 31st)

  • 3,148 unique visitors
  • 81 commenters
  • 52 Blog followers (hopefully you wont leave me now :)
  • 86 Twitter followers

Hopefully you sent me emails with all your Extra bonus points b/c it affects how many times you name goes in the hat for the random drawing. :)

I really enjoyed meeting everyone and hope you continue to visit!

I will run various contests periodically.

Also - the Amazon contest is open until April 15th. We are ranked based on downloads so if you get a chance to download my chapters (top right corner), you can always read them later and do not have to comment.

We have to trust the process

I wanted to talk a bit about my revision process with Grace Under Fire.

I've been writing Grace for 2 years now. I started when I was prego with my little boy so it took me a while. (My next book will not take that long.)

I have had a couple Agents come back and tell me the book and characters and voice were fab, but the plot needed work. The suggestions that came to me were extensive. I basically had to replot my entire book and eliminate the story as it was. I wasn't sure at the time if this would work not to mention it was extremely overwhelming.

I pondered on whether to do these changes b/c 1) I have a few more fulls out to some hand-selected agents, 2) it would take a long time, 3) i kinda liked the story/plot, 4) It altered one of my characters. After all, there was no promise, no guarantee. Just a "maybe. If you do this, MAYBE we'll look again."

But in the end, I figured, why not? It was a shot and even though there is no guarantee, I had nothing to lose. 1) If the changes worked and the agents loved them, then Great! 2) If the changes worked but agents hated it - at least my book was better for submission. 3) If I hated the changes, I still had the previous version.

The only I had to lose was my time and my ego.

I mention this because I just finished those revisions and am getting ready to resubmit in the next week or so.

My book is so much better., I learned more about my characters then I knew before. I also learned a lot about myself. I learned how to put the doubt aside, how to replot but find relevant ways to keep things if they worked. I learned I am open to this process as a journey.

Now I will say, that I had already been chewing on some of the changes when the agents emailed me some ideas for revision. So the suggestions resonated with me. If they hadn't resonated and my gut didn't wonder if she was right, I would not have done them.

So here's to revisions:

  • let go of your ego - this process is not personal though it feels like it sometimes
  • keep an open mind - look past what is hard and look for what is right
  • follow your gut/heart - it is never wrong.
  • let go of any attachment to the outcome - it stops you from creating
  • try to step out of your box- who knows where you will end up

Most of all, we have to trust this crazy process and know/hope we will end up where we are supposed to. Wherever that may be.