3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer - Ruta Rimas (Assistant Editor, Balzer + Bray)

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!


Tabitha said...

Great interview, and great info! Thanks!

Kimbra Kasch said...

Thanks for this info. It's fun to read.

Carrie Harris said...

I love the group tour idea! This is the first I've heard of Supernatural Summer, and now I'm trying to find a way to work it into my schedule. :)

Unknown said...

Hey there! Did you get from this interview that she is taking unsolicited manuscripts?

Haven't blogged in two weeks. Need some inspiration to get moving again :).

Kristi Valiant said...

Thanks for a great interview. I especially enjoyed hearing about Ruta's tastes; Mo Willems and Doreen Cronin are two of my favorite PB writers.

Stephanie J. Blake said...

Cool. Thanks.

Kelly Polark said...

Excellent interview! What is her submissions policy?

Cathy C. Hall said...

Woopsies! I may have a few pictures to chase after :-) (Good tips,as always, Shelli and Ruta!)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great article! It's always nice to hear from the people who actually do the book buying.

Ruta Rimas said...

Hi all, thank you for your comments. And thanks Shelli for interviewing me!

I'd like to address the submission policy questions.

At this time, B+B follows Harpercollins house rules, and that is, due to the (incredibly) high volume of submissions we receive, we cannot accept unsolicited manuscripts...

(cue groans!)

BUT! If you catch one of us at an SCBWI conference (and ALL of us at B+B attend these regularly), we generally open the submissions to conference attendees. Just be sure to keep an ear listening for the conference policy.

Have a great night, and keep writing!

Casey Something said...

Another fabulous interview!

I love the idea of group tours. I hope I have the opportunity to do a few when/if I become published.

Thank you for sharing your time and advice, Ruta.

RainbowsWithinReach said...

Much food for thought.

Chomping with abandon.

Christy Raedeke said...

I love that she admits to google-ing authors - we writers definitely do our share of googling of editors and agents! I could be a professional online stalker at this point.

Great interview, it's nice to get a feel for this editor.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

I just met you, Ruta, at the NM Handsprings conference this weekend - and you were awesome!!! (I spoke to you at the end and we talked about the incomparable Tracey and Josh Adams Literary team, of which I am SO blessed to be a part of!)

Can't wait for B&B's debut list this fall!!! Very fun to find this interview about you, mere days before you boarded a plane to come to us in the high desert . . . good luck to you!

Unknown said...

I'm looking forward to hearing and meeting you at the Writer's Day conference in San Gabriel, CA on April 10th. Will you be possibly accepting unsolicited manuscripts from attendees that day?