3 S.R. Johannes: May 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round Up (5/29)

Note: If anyone out there is going to LA and plays acoustic guitar (and can learn something quickly) can you contact me offline - I have an idea!

Here are my fav posts on marketing your books:

A Book's Production Process - Learn how books are put together from cover to copy. (

Though this is not traditional marketing, I like this article because it gives you an idea of what goes into the book cover and book copy. As we all know that is what sells our book so I thought it was an interesting article for this week's roundup.

7 mistakes publisher's make when creating a book - Did you know 75% of booksellers say that the cover is the most important element of the book. No wonder we get nervous! John Kremer lists things you should avoid in a book cover. (This is for all those agent and editor lurkers - you know who you are ;)

Jacket Copy sells books - As authors you usually get a chance to see and possibly review your jacket copy. KNow what to look for!

Is marketing an art or a science? Seth thinks it's both. (So do I!)

When giving away free ebooks makes sense. Alot of authors give away free ebkkos to drive up their sales. Find out when that rerally works and when it doesn't.

Combine Virtual Tours with Live Tours - Authors can combine online book touring with live book touring and still reap the benefits of never having to leave their house, not to mention how much money it saves all the way around.

Have a great weekend! ;)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

So what's new you ask?????

O.K I can't hold it in any longer.

Without going into any details, I have something to share.....

Just a little news... (why do you think I have been so quiet the last 2 weeks!!)


You sure?...

I have an agent!

A fabulous, amazing, top, wonderful, lovely, brilliant agent with an amazing agency.


I can't say WHO or HOW or WHAT yet but I just had to share the news. I need to wait until it the formal agreement is accepted on both sides. Hopefully I can tell the whole story next week ;)

But it's official, I have an agent.

I will say that over the last 2 weeks (like all of a sudden out of the blue) , I got amazing, wonderful offers from some brilliant agents. Yesterday, I finally chose one...after many sleepless nights, 12,000 "Oh My Gods", 5,000 "Holy Shits!" (yikes sorry for the explicative) , 6,000 pinches to myself , 50 phone calls to family & friends (twice!), and 9,000 tears of joy.

Oh My God!

Holy Shit! (oops I did it again - damn you Britney Spears!)



Can you believe it?

I have an agent.


I'll share more next week.


Oh yeah, did I mention I have an agent?

O.K. I'm going to go cry again now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Alan Gratz

Hi Alan! Thanks for joining us today.
Before we get into marketing, can you tell me a little about yourself.

My first published novel, Samurai Shortstop was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Readers the year it came out. I followed that up with two contemporary YA murder mysteries based on Shakespeare plays: Something Rotten (based on Hamlet) and Something Wicked (based on Macbeth). My latest book--which just came out March 5th!--is a middle-grade novel called The Brooklyn Nine, and is the story of nine "innings," nine generations, of an American family and their connections to baseball from the 1840s to the present.

Do you/your agency/your house have a website/blog?

I have both a web site and a blog. My web site (features more information about me and my
work. My blog is called "Gratz Industries," and I share it with my wife, Wendi. On the blog, we
generally post about our attempts at living creative, productive lives. I designed and manage my own web site, and my wife and I both write, edit, and design the blog.

I've had the web site longer than I've been a published author. It began it as a way to feature the manuscripts I was trying to sell. I doubt it was very successful in that regard. I was under no delusions that editors were going to *chance* upon my web site and e-mail me with six-figure offers (or six thousand dollar offers, for that matter) but I saw it as a step toward presenting myself professionally. What I hoped was that if an editor got a manuscript of mine across her desk and decided to Google me, she would find a well-designed, informative site that would give her an idea of what to expect from me if she bought my book.

The last book I promoted on my site this way was Samurai Shortstop, which became my first sale. After I sold Samurai, I immediately transitioned the site from one that discussed many projects to one that focused on my forthcoming work. I really went to town on that site--this was my first book!--with elaborate web buttons made out of mon, Japanese family crests, and features like pictures of the actual school I had written about, and a recipe for miso soup. Once I began selling other books, of course, I had to decide: a separate web site fr every book, or one that featured them all? One that featured them all was the way to go, of course, so the Samurai Shortstop site was subsumed into the larger one and I just made the pages from the previous site part of the Samurai portal.

That transition was time-consuming, and forced a complete overhaul of the site. If I had it to do all over again, I wish I would have planned for selling more books from the outset, and designed an initial site that could be easily augmented as new books were added. I have that now, but it could have saved myself a lot of nights at the computer if I had made the original site focus on me, not a single book.

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

Whew. That's tough. The top three things? I think maybe the way I'll answer this is to break it down into three main groups you have to appeal to for your book to be successful. As a children's author, teachers and librarians are a tremendously important group of people to know, and cultivating those connections is vital. You can do that by attending conferences like IRA and ALA, and by visiting individual schools.

I've also done direct postcard mailings to YA librarians in public libraries across the country. It's hard to know how much that helped, but it certainly couldn't have hurt anything except my wallet--and it wasn't really that expensive.

Next up are the booksellers. One motivated, enthusiastic bookseller can "handsell" the Dickens out of your book--that is, talk it up and put it in the hands of likely readers. To get to know booksellers, regional trade shows like SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) and
national trade shows like BEA are great ways to meet many people at once, but getting there can be costly if your publisher doesn't bring you--and they bring only the biggest authors. A more tedious and time consuming process--though perhaps even more effective than the trade
shows--is simply *visiting* as many bookstores as you can and introducing yourself to their children's buyer or manager. I'm mainly talking about the independents, of course. You can make great connections with some managers at the big box stores of course--I had a great connection with the woman who ran the children's department at the Alpharetta, GA, Barnes & Noble, for example--but that one connection is not going to get you into all B&Ns, and you'll find that many big box store managers aren't as involved in handselling.

Indies NEED to handsell to survive, and they love getting to know authors so they can
say something personal and meaningful when recommending their books. Drop in on bookstores wherever you go. Better yet, call ahead, tell them you'll be in the area (when you can), and ask if they'd like you to do a stock signing. This is where you don't do a publicized reading/signing,
but instead pop in to meet the booksellers and sign whatever books of yours they have. The booksellers come away knowing an author and his work, and you leave knowing your books are going to be faced out with "AUTOGRAPHED BY THE AUTHOR" stickers on them and handsold to kids and their parents.

And let's not forget the kids, of course, the audience you're writing for. This is the toughest group of all to reach. School visits can build fans by the hundreds, but are few and far between--particularly as schools have to tighten their financial belts. To reach a broader geographical audience, you can turn to social networking sites and make yourself available. But beware: kids can smell "fake" a mile away. They don't want to visit a promotional site. They want to get to know *you.* That's a difficult thing to understand about this kind of marketing, and
a level of familiarity that some people are uncomfortable with.

In your opinion, how important is social networking?

I'm beginning to think this vital. When MySpace became all the rage, I built a MySpace site for myself, but mostly as a link to my other existing sites--my web site and my blog. I was already blogging on my own blog and updating my web site--why update a *third* personal page as
well? And MySpace seemed overrun *already* with people "friending" others not to really be friends, but to network to sell their own books. It began to feel as though everyone with a book to sell was just friending each other.

But I'm becoming a real fan of Facebook and Twitter. Both allow me to send quick, almost real-time updates about what I'm doing, reading, writing, or thinking. Again, this is a level of transparency that some may be uncomfortable with, but the power of these tools became obvious the moment I tweeted about a recent post on my blog and doubled my hits.

Twitter and Facebook allow people to "follow" you without having to go visit your web site or blog every day. And while we wish 500 people WOULD check out our web sites every day, they just aren't going to do that--but they WILL read the one or two Facebook comments we post every day. Am I selling my book on Facebook and Twitter? Not overtly, no. (Unless
it's the day my book releases--in which case I feel I have license to crow.) What I'm selling is *me,* the author. I hope that if people like me, they'll support me by going out and buying my books.

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 a LOT about marketing before my book was published.

In fact, the day I got the call from my publisher saying they wanted to buy Samurai Shortstop, my wife and I sat down to brainstorm all the ways we could sell it. We created a marketing plan that set deadlines for 12 months, 9 months, 6 months, and 3 months prior to pub day, and that encompassed things like: revamping my web site, creating postcards for direct mailings to booksellers and librarians, and press kits that we sent to all kinds of media, from geographic media (hometown papers) to media we thought would be interested in a book about Japanese baseball (towns with Japanese major league players; in-flight magazines for airlines with service to Japan).

The results for so much of what we did are hard to quantify. Samurai Shortstop sold out its first print run in the first six months, and went on to get some great reviews and recognition. How much of that was because it was a good book with a good hook, and how much of it was my
promotional efforts? It's almost impossible to know. Perhaps good publicity requires both, in the end--something to ring the bell that announces your book is on shelves, and then something good on the shelf to back up the bell-ringing. :-)

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

It's said that the greatest challenge facing most authors today is obscurity. We do everything we can to write the best books we can, but we could write the next great American novel and it wouldn't matter if no one knew it existed. I think what we have to do is begin, as authors,
to see the dissemination of our work--in any format, for any price, including free!--as a means to an end, and that end is *notoriety.*

One of my favorite authors, Cory Doctorow, offers up copies of every one of his published novels and short stories one his web site as FREE downloads while his books are still for sale on bookstore shelves. His works are downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and yet his latest book still made the New York Times Bestseller List. His argument--and one that I'm coming around to more and more--is that he would rather have 100,000 people in his tent, no matter what they paid to get in, rather than 5,000 he knows bought a ticket. I think it's a great point.

To that end, I petitioned my publisher to post Something Rotten, my first Horatio Wilkes mystery, for free, in its entirety, online for a month. It got hundreds of reads and, I hope, brought more fans into my tent right when the second book in the series, Something Wicked, was hitting shelves. My real regret is that you couldn't download the book; you could only read it online. Ideally, it would have been available free and clear, to be downloaded to any eReader. Maybe next time.

Publishers are understandably leery of giving away for *free* something they're trying to sell.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

Besides offering up Something Rotten for free online, perhaps the most creative attempt at marketing I did was try to do a book signing at a minor league baseball stadium. The experiment, alas, was a failure. I sold very few books, despite the efforts of a strong independent bookseller, and visible placement at the ballpark. Ultimately, I just don't think too many people came to the stadium that day to buy a book--they came to watch a game, have a hot dog, maybe buy a foam finger. We got a few interested parties, but not enough to make it worthwhile.

The best part, for me at least, was that they let me throw out the first pitch. :-)

Thank you Alan for sharing some of your tricks of the trade!

Thanks Shelli!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Week of 5/22 - Friday's Marketing Round Up!

Hey peeps -

So sorry the posts have been a bit lacking. A lot is going on! ;)

Here are my favs for the week and there were a lot of good ones!

Also - don't forget to comment for charity! The comments made up until May 31st will count towards bridget's medical fund :)

Top Marketing Posts

Blog Tours vs Live Tours - Both are good but do not schedule them at the same time.

10 Social Media People You need to Follow on Twitter - Follow these experts in social media for free advice. (BTW I agree!)

List of Twitter Tools for Promotion - Twitter applications and tools that can help you promotion your book.

What do you need to take on a Book Tour? True but somewhat funny list of essentials for any traveling author.

Can authors reach out with a blog? Learn about finding an audience and having the audience find you.

Twitter Scorecards for Publishers - find out which publishers have moved to Twitter.

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

HindSight is 20/20 Unless Your Near-sited Like Me

I am procrastinating finishing my last few chapters on my tween paranormal book (which BTW I am loving right now and having so much fun with.)

To me, the hardest time about writing is the beginning. I get great ideas - its just starting them.

I love the moment when you are ALMOST done with a book and it is just pouring out of you. So fast that you almost cant type coherently.

Then my fingers started to cramp.

Damn fingers!

I was sitting here writing (well technically typing) when my hands started to cramp which made me stop for a break which made me start thinking - man I wish i would have learned to type better which led me to this post.

HindSight is 20/20

And in hindsight, these are all the things I wish I had never done:

  1. cheat in my typing class. Don't get me wrong I am a fast pecker (wait that doesn't sound good does it?). I am a fast typer with about 5 fingers - 3 on my right hand and 2 on my left (wait thumbs count as fingers - right?). I wonder if I'd done typing class the right way would I be typing faster? Which makes me wonder if I'd be writing faster? Which makes me wonder if I'd crank out books faster? At the very least, I am pretty sure I would have avoided the "claw-hands" on the keyboard.
  2. complained about my weight before kids ( I'll throw in another one here - never yo-yo dieted). I have been on a diet for the last 6 weeks, have lost 14 lbs and have 8 to go just to get back to my pre-baby weight (notice i said weight! not shape!) And do you know what? The pre-baby weight is what I used to complain about and call fat. Now, it's the weight I (and my tightish clothes) only dream about. I'm talking if I could just get back into my pair of Skinny-Fat jeans, I'd be happy. The skinny-skinny jeans are a joke at this point. I didn't really start this diet (or now way of eating) to lose weight (though I should have), I started it b/c of the 6 month vertigo thing, thinking maybe if I detox I'll feel better. And it worked! But I had to drop everything - caffeine, dairy, sugar and complex carbs ( I sound so healthy right?), but the drop in weight has been great. Why did I ever complain about where I was - it's crazy cuz I now I realized I looked damn good :)

  3. left journalism school to become a business major. I don't think there is much I need to explain on this one - its obvious right? I am so much more happier now writing in jeans and flip flops than I was in my expensive executive suits. But more than anything, I could really use that MFA (instead of my MBA) about now. To think I was only 3 letters (C, D, and E) away from my path! So close!

  4. took out a 20 year graduate school loan! yes that's right, this is my last year for those who just grabbed a calculator and tried to figure out my age *sigh*. In graduate school, I had the option of 10, 15 or 20 years. I chose 20 to keep my payments down and of course (just like my parents said -you were right dad!!) I never paid more than I had to in any month. Now 20 years later and probably 100,000$ instead of 20,000$, I can see the end. Only 3,000$. AH! Well at least it will be gone before I turn 40 in 2 years.

  5. went out of state for my college degrees. Auburn's grad program (though I loved my time there - War Eagle!) was 4 times as expensive as UGA's. See #4 for further explanation of why this is a regret.

  6. bought our expensive car. We bought a BMW before I quit my high-paying, high-fluting executive job. Every month when I write the car payment, I cringe. Why I thought expensive cars were so cool and necessary, is beyond me. Now I just want to get rid of it but of course in this economy - what crazy person is buying a BMR. And those that are, surely don't want my cheerio-infested, grimy handled one. I look forward to the days of old cars, lots of miles, and low payments. Though now my hubby drives it and I have my jeep Commander. The BMW just wasn't me :) You cant be a starving writer and ride around in a BMW. It doesn't fit the image.

  7. was late on paying my bills on time. Yes, in this economy on only one salary, credit is key to low interest and loan offers when needed. Now, I am good at paying bills but I wasn't always. Now, I have BillPay at BofA (love it!). And my late-late payments were years ago, but unfortunately still within the dread 7 year window. *sigh*. I just could not remember to pay bills when I was in college, traveling on my job and especially when I was prego - sorry honey but still i did it like 90% of the time. But it doesn't matter - one or two kill you.

That's it for now - my claw hands are back. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Laurie Faria Stolarz (Author of Deadly Little Secrets)

Hi Laurie, thank so much for joining us today!

Thanks so much for asking me to participate.

Before we get started, can you tell more about yourself?

I am the author of the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series, which has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide. The series is comprised of Blue is for Nightmares, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets, Red is for Remembrance, and the forthcoming Black is for Beginnings (all published by Llewellyn Publications/Flux).

My titles have been part of the Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers list, the Top Ten Teen Pick list, and YALSA’s Popular Paperback list, all through the American Library Association.

I am also the author of Bleed and Project 17 (Hyperion), my most recent release is Deadly Little Secret, the first book in the TOUCH series (Hyperion).

BTW, I love the Flux series! Sounds like you are busy. Do you have a blog or web site? And if so, who manages it?

I have a blog, which I manage. It was designed by Chloe Weil. Major updates are done by Little Willow at Rock the Rock Web Design. I started my website back when my first book was published, in 2003, and find it an essential part of my marketing.

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

1. Have a professional-looking website that readers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, people in the media, etc., etc. can access to find out more about you and your work.

2. Make yourself accessible via e-mail. Have this information available on your website. People will start to e-mail you about your work. Keep their e-mail addresses, add them to a database, and use them later to alert potential buyers about future work, contests, signings, and events.

3. Have postcards made up. Leave them everywhere. Write notes on them, give them to teachers, booksellers, librarians, potential readers. Whenever I’m in the area of a bookstore, I’ll stop in to sign stock. If they don’t have my books, I’ll ask to speak to the event coordinator or buyer. If he or she isn’t there, I’ll write him/her a little note on my postcard, asking them to consider carrying my book and offering to stop by again to sign that stock if/when it comes in.

How important do you think social networking is in the Children's Market?

I think it’s definitely beneficial. It’s good to know who your fellow writers are. You can learn a lot from connecting with them and establishing ties and friendships. You can help each other out, make recommendations, form critique groups, etc., etc.

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

I think it’s so helpful if you’re tech saavy. You can create postcards, bookmarks, design your own site and update it, make bookplates, podcasts, book trailers, slick posters, etc. You can save a lot of money if you are and like being techie.

Did you think about marketing before your book was published? Did you start prior to getting an agent or selling your book?

Yes, definitely. I was a marketing major in college, so I was ready to help promote my first book. I started marketing the book before it actually came out.

I had my website ready, as well as a professional author photo, and I’d made up a list of contacts (people who might be interested in my book, i.e. booksellers, teachers, librarians, members of the media, old friends, new friends, specialty stores that might sell my book, etc.).

I designed my own postcards (500 of them to start) and sent them to all these people/places. When I eventually ran out of this batch, I ordered more. My first novel has now sold close to 200K copies.

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

Definitely, especially if you share the same audience. The other author(s) has the opportunity to share his or her work with your fans/friends/family/contacts and vice versa.

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

Be creative and have fun with marketing. There are lots of similar contests out there. Originality can go a long way and get you even more buzz. Also, be good to your fans. Always answer e-mail. I get between 75-100 fan-emails per week and I answer every one.

Do you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random and spontaneous?

I guess I have an informal plan. The postcards are made up. I'll mail out at least 750 of them to fans, bookstores, libraries, specialty shops, schools, media contacts, etc. I also plan my rounds to bookstores to sign stock and arrange signings at bookstores. I visit schools. I also have book trailers made up for my work. I update my site with each book. And, I send out a newsletter alerting fans about my upcoming projects, signings, and events. I also blog a lot more around the time a book comes out, and I do blog tours.

If you like, you can check out some of my book trailers here:
Deadly Little Secret (A Touch Novel)
Project 17
Blue is for Nightmares

Sounds like you do a lot.Any last words?

Just that marketing possibilities are endless, and connecting with others is so easy now with the accessibility of our online resources.

I say why not use all your resources?

Thanks for joining us today, Laurie!

Thanks Shelli!

My own personal side note: I have a poem I wrote about the book that was chosen to be in the Deluxe Edition of Blue is for Nightmares. How cool is that! :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday's Marketing RoundUp

Here are this week's top marketing posts:

Publishing and Social networking - Can you be friends with an agent or editor? Find out!

6 Ways Authors can use Facebook to promote their books? Many Facebook users never venture beyond their profile, but there are several other ways to gain visibility on Facebook.

Creating media kits - Effective media kits are something that you must help to create. A book publicist may take the lead depending on your contract, but you should take an active part.

How to be your own Marketing/PR consultant. You can become your own PR consultant without spending mega-bucks to get the job done. (My hubby is killing me for this one since I'm kinda shooting myself in the foot here :)

8 ways to use Blogging as a Social Marketing tool - Dana Lynn Smith is the author of a new book, The Savvy Book Marketer’s Guide to Successful Social Marketing.

PW tells us why we should tweet - Listen up editors, publishers and authors at PW's advice on the benefits of twitter.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kidlitosphere - Community for bloggers

Have you guys heard of Kidlitosphere? It is a community of bloggers that act as a support system for BLOGGERS in the KidLitosphere. KidLit bloggers are authors, librarians, reviewers, moms and dads, teachers, and more.

They also have an annual conference - this year's is in Washington DC in October.

Here is the group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kidlitosphere/ The listserve discusses more about blogging and not so much about kid literature. But for you avid bloggers - its a way to meet other bloggers.

here is the web site where you can learn about events (local and annual) - http://www.kidlitosphere.org/KidLitosphere_Central/Welcome.html

Join us!

Monday, May 11, 2009

You like me you really like me!

Marketing Muse - Grow Your Blog

1) Ask for feedback in polls, comments, questions - If you have any feedback for me on what you would like to see more or less of, please let me know in the comments.

2) Track your metrics - see what posts get the most hits and adjust accordingly. Look at referring sites, keywords, and best posts.

3) Be accessible. - respond to questions/comments and acknowledge your readers.

You like me you really like me!

Aw Shucks!

When I started this blog late last year - I had no idea in less than 6 months I would be welcoming over 12,000 visitors! Thank you all for coming and more importantly coming back! :) I hope I am adding value to a community of writers that I adore. If you come back, join my Peeps to get my updates :)

One Lovely Blog Award!

Kim Kasch over at A Writers Blog gave me the One Lovely Blog award.

First - I love the word Lovely. Its' such a sweet award, don't you think?

The Lovely Rules

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to 5 or more other bloggers that you've newly discovered.

3) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are My Lovelies -

I wanted to pick a few that are courageous, giving, and humble.

1) Jessica Dehart - Keeping It Real (not only has she founded/and run a foundation (A Brilliant Life) for all kids in her spare time, but she also blogs about how each of us can learn to lead a brilliant life. Something I know we all want to do.

2) Bridgit's Zinn's blog - As most of you know, Bridget is battling stage 4 cancer. She is doing it with such grace, strength and humor. She blogs about the funny side, the struggles, and the pain (if there is one) on her blog in between treatments.

3) Miss Snark's First Victim. For giving authors the chance to enter contests and get in front of Agents. her monthly Secret Agent contest rocks!

4) The Five Randoms - They are running Hook Contests for authors to get an agent's attention. Anytime bloggers are trying to help others get noticed if generous and thoughtful. They deserve a shot out.

5) Casey McCormick - because she started doing Agent Spotlight where she does a ton of research on a specific agent every week. This is awesome if you happen to be looking at one of the agent's she spotlights because she has done all the research for you and put it in one place!

6) Purple Clover - Because I think its great that she interviews "aspiring writers". Most only interview authors with books coming out. I think this is sweet!

Marvelous Marketer - Jenn Stark(Branding Expert/Know Your Brand)

Guys - ask your questions, Jenn will be stopping by today periodically to answer them! :)

Hi Jenn, before we pick your brain on marketing, can you tell me a little about yourself?

After more than 16 years in corporate America, most recently as a vice president of media and communications, I am now working full time as a writer and branding consultant including the Know Your Brand Class that many new and publishers authors take.

I am also an aspiring romance author as well, writing dark, romantic urban fantasy. In 2007, I won the Golden Heart award for best paranormal romance manuscript.

Do you have a website/blog? If so, when did you start it and who manages it?

I have two sites. My fiction site is http://www.jennstark.com/, managed by Bemis Promotions. My branding site is http://www.knowyourbrand.com/, managed by Glass Slipper Web Design.

I started the branding site in 2006, and my other site launched in January of 2009, though I have had it since 2005 in various iterations.

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

I consider a website absolutely essential—it provides reader access to an author both before and after the sale of the book, and gives a “complete” reader experience. I am a huge fan of guest blogging as well, and I do recommend book signings if you can do it in a group and make it an event! In addition, look for the niche marketing angles for your book—what group of “fanatical advocates” can you develop for your story to help get the buzz out for you?

In your opinion, how important is social networking?

This is becoming more and more important, particularly for authors targeting tech-savvy readers—such as Young Adult writers. For most authors, having a site and maybe one or two social networking pages is sufficient to help build buzz, but if you’re a YA author, I absolutely would make online marketing a critical part of your promotional efforts. That said, be sure to keep a solid balance for yourself. If you find that you’re spending more time tweeting than you do writing, step AWAY from the internet.

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

Regardless of whether you’re targeting readers in their teens or eighties, building and maintaining a solid online presence is critical for authors today. Remember that it isn’t just readers who are looking for you online. Media representatives, publishing professionals, publicity firms, reviewers, librarians, booksellers—they all have a reason to check your site for information about you and your books. So keep your site as up to date as possible, manage your online promotion in a timely manner, and respond to any contacts you receive online to keep the digital conversation going.

What can you do before you are published to begin your marketing/branding?

Many things.

You can create pitch materials for it by identifying the high concept, writing a concise blurb, and (hopefully!) an engaging query letter.

I would encourage any actively-submitting writer to take a similar approach to their work. In today’s market, it’s more important than ever to present yourself as a marketing partner with your editor or agent—not just the supplier of the product.

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

Why?YES! First, there is safety in numbers J. In all seriousness, readers are more likely to approach a writers group vs. a single, lonely writer at a table – and if you are having FUN with your writing group, then it creates a no-stress, engaging atmosphere for others to approach you. Whether you are teaming up with authors who write books similar to yours (i.e. all romantic suspense or all historical or all funny/light in tone) or with simply a fun group that offers “something for everyone”, group promo is often the way to go, especially for newer authors.

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

Whew! I could fill up pages on this one, but I’ll just keep it to this: Before you promote your work, develop your "Writing Brand" and slogan. You can check out some articles on branding on my web site. Slogans are optional, but they are a lot of fun, so it might be to your advantage to have one for your work. Be able to answer the question “What is it that you write?”

Knowing succinctly WHO you are as a writer and WHAT you write may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many writers stumble over this question before they take the time to really identify their Writing Brand.

My class, "Know Your Brand" takes authors through the branding process.

How can writers brand themselves if they write in more than one genre?

This is a HUGE concern among writers, whether they are new writers who have yet to be published (and who may be marketing books in multiple genres) or established authors looking to branch out into new fields.

The answer all depends on your unique situation—authors have successfully marketed multiple genres with one Brand (Christina Dodd), or marketed multiple genres using two separate pen names, but with heavy cross promotion (J.D. Robb and Nora Roberts, Kinley Macgregor and Sherilynn Kenyon), or had a more distinct separation (J.R. Ward and Jessica Bird).

Writers with this question should consider what the carryover potential is for their existing audience to enjoy their new work, as well as the confusion factor in introducing a new Brand to an existing audience. If you are just starting out, I would recommend against

Branding yourself as a multiple-genre writer under the same name – it’s too difficult for your readership to get a “fix” on who you really are.

Won’t establishing a brand limit me from writing something completely different?

In a word… Yes! Particularly in the short term. But that could be a good thing. Take Nike® for example. When Nike first got started, all they were known for was outstanding running shoes, sold to fanatical runners. They OWNED that market, and then, later they expanded to other fitness equipment, clothing and accessories. Now you can put a Nike swish on a headband and suddenly it turns you into a fitness guru, but it took quite a bit of time for the Nike Brand to extend out naturally to all things fitness. And note, they kept the emphasis on fitness. There is no Nike brand carpet cleaner. Or Nike brand nail polish. So even this mega-Brand’s expansion has kept the focus fairly specific.

So it should be with your writing. If you Brand yourself as a writer of spooky gothic romance, then I know what it is you write. Clearly and concisely. If you want to write light, funny contemporary stories later, then you have the issue of multi-genre branding, covered above (and in this specific case, you could use two pen names and two different Brands for your very different styles of writing).

This doesn’t mean you can’t WRITE something completely different. It simply means that for a given specific pen name, you have a clearly defined Brand—and you extend that Brand only where and when it makes sense!

A Brand is a marketing tool, like any other—it’s intended to help you make the most of your writing, by helping you present yourself effectively in person or online. By taking the time to develop the best Brand for your work, you’ll ensure that your Brand can do its best work for your fiction writing career.

Thank you for joining us today!

Thanks Shelli!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunny Sunday - Find out if you are really a Mom?

You Know Your a Mom When...
  • You can no longer wear black, for fear of massive spit up marks
  • You sing “Dora Dora Dora the Explorer” in the shower.
  • You believe that macaroni and cheese should become it’s own food group.
  • Play dates have taken over your life!
  • You sing to the Elmo CD that is playing on your radio long after you’ve dropped your children off at daycare.
  • You can’t wait to hug your own kids after you see something troubling on the news.
  • You lick your finger to wipe the face of a child AND suddenly stop when you realize that child ISN’T YOURS!
  • You can reach into your purse and pull out a crayon, a matchbox car and a dirty sock.
  • You have no issues sniffing another person’s butt for a poopie diaper.
  • A night on the town means taking the kids out past 6 pm.
  • A packet of crisps (chips), and a chocolate bar is considered a hearty breakfast.
  • At a party, you ask where “the potty” is.
  • "Whine” is no longer simply red or white.
  • When people ask you what you do, you tell them you are a “pediatric logistics specialist”!
  • Sleeping in means… sleeping IN the middle of three little bodies!!!
  • You count the sprinkles on each kid's cupcake to make sure they're equal.
  • You find yourself cutting your husbands' sandwiches into cute shapes.
  • You can't bear to give away baby clothes - it's so final.
  • You hear your mother's voice coming out of your mouth when you say, "NOT in your good clothes!"
  • You stop criticizing the way your mother raised you.
  • You say at least once a day, "I'm not cut out for this job", but you know you wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
  • and lastly, you know you are a mom because you hear the word 1,000 times a day and you still love it!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday's Marketing RoundUp

Here are my top marketing posts for the week! have a great weekend!

Mackenzie Blue - When HarperCollins publishes the first Mackenzie Blue novel on May 5, author and Buzz Marketing Group founder Tina Wells hoped the book will be only one of many ways that tween girls will engage with the title character—a 12-year-old student and aspiring pop star.

Marketing Tip Madness - Here are 50 marketing tips for authors – some free, some cheap, and some even not so cheap.

Free ebook giveaway marketing tactic - The arrival of The Sorceress, third book in Michael Scott’s bestselling Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel fantasy series, kicked off last weekend with RHCB’s first-ever PDF/e-book giveaway.

Are you ready if the Media calls? Are you prepared for the media to call you? If you’re not, you should be. Most authors go about their routine of sending press releases, e-mailing pitches or mailing books, but they’re unprepared for the caller that says, “Yes, I’d like to interview you for a story I’m doing.

Personal branding - Beyond your resume. Creating yourself as a brand. Also references Tim Peters - Your brand called you. You are a brand and you are in charge of your brand.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: I need help!

Marketing Muse: Its a Librarians World

Did you know you can purchase lists of all mailing addresses and contacts to Librarians in the US? Go to http://www.librarymarketinglist.com/ Depending on your book/genre, it may be worth the investment.

Tuesday's Teaser

OK so I always see great posting about all of your new books and love reading them. I have never put my writing out there. I guess because I feel kinda vulnerable.

Am I crazy?

I mean what if you all hate it but don't want to tell me? What if you love it but hate to comment so all the comments are negative? What if the people who will love it dont' come today?

But I need help. So I have to just put it out there.

Past or Present, that is the question.

Do you like the book in present or past tense better? Or does it even matter? Before I ever query my book, I need to know. But I can't decide and have had different people pick each way.

OK so here goes (thanks in advance for your time in reading this.)

Be honest....

But be gentle :)

Gabby is a tween angel assigned to protect her high school rival, Angela. What’s worse, Angela is now dating Gabby’s pre-Transfer boyfriend. Soon, Gabby is put on probation by her Sky Agent for the three offenses: popping Angela's Wonder Bra, conducting an onion breath spell on Angela's first date with Michael, and influencing Angela to buy a pair of jeans that make her butt look big. But when Gabby continues her pranks and refuses to give up her mortal life, she sets off a series of “death changing” events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.

Present Tense (chapter 1/Copyright 2008)

Like all my birthday parties, my funeral is just plain boring. Nothing different. Nothing exciting.
Not exactly the final act I hoped for. Then again, I never expected this day to happen so soon.

First off, I hate elevator music, AKA crap tunes. I much prefer something a bit angrier. I’m also majorly bummed that my mom chose the hideous white pants that made my butt look as big as Texas. But then again, it didn’t really matter anymore. Except that now, I’m stuck with these pants for eternity. Lucky for me, white is cool where I’m going.

I balance on the open lid of my casket and watch all the tear-streaked strangers stream by my mortal form. The guest list freaks me out more than the music. I’m not only shocked at who has come, but how many. I am more popular dead, than alive. Who knew?

The strange, acne-infested kid from my Drama Class strolls up and starts to whimper. Weird. The kid never gave me the time of day so how can he be disturbed by my death? He’s probably hoping our Drama teacher notices and offers a lead role in the upcoming school play?

Ms. Cross, my World Religion teacher, comes up and whispers her respects. I betcha she feels guilty for giving me a D on my last test. Someday real soon, I’d probably be able to teach her a thing or two about “life after death”. That would definitely spice up her syllabus.

The snaking line parts and my mom stumbles through the sea of black polyester. She slumps over my mahogany box and sobs. Pain screams through my chest, forcing me to double-over. I remember what I learned in my Orientation Class. A downside of being a Bright is that we experience the pain of our loved ones, only 1,000 times more. Sometimes my mom’s agony gets so bad, it paralyzes me.

Now I know why every Brights hates it when a loved one mourns. Because we suffer too.

I clutch my chest and wait for the tide of agony to pass. Deep inside, I have a deep urge to cry with her. I’ve heard most Brights think their inability to cry is a total perk. But not me. I always loved a good cry. Not the whimpery kind. I’m talking about the all-out blubbering, snotty, suck-in-your-breath kind. The kind that - somehow – always makes you feel better.

Now, I’d give anything to have one last wail session.

One more thing I’m sure I’ll miss up here.

PAST Tense: (Just an exerpt of Chapter 1 so you can compare)

Like all my birthday parties, my funeral was just plain boring.
Not exactly what I expected as my final act.

First off, I hated the elevator music, AKA crap tunes. I much preferred something a bit angrier, like Muse. I was also majorly bummed that my mother choosing the hideous white pants that made my butt look as big as Texas. But then again, it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it? Except that I’m stuck with those pants for eternity. Lucky for me, white was in fashion where I was going.

I perched on the lid of my casket and observed all the tear-streaked strangers streaming by my mortal form. More than anything, the guest list totally freaked me out. Not only was I baffled by the people who showed up, but surprised by the sheer number, more than in my whole crummy town.

An acne-infested kid from my Drama Class strolled by and started to whimper. As I recall, the kid had never given me the time of day. Was he really that disturbed by my death? Or was he just hoping our Drama teacher would finally notice him and offer him a lead role in the school play?

Ms. Cross, my World Religion teacher, strolled by and whispered her respects. I bet she felt guilty for giving me a D on my last test. Now I betcha I could teach her a thing or two about “life after death”.

A few minutes later, the snaking line parted. My mom’s wilted body stumbled towards the front. She slumped over my mahogany box and sobbed. Pain screamed through my chest, forcing me to double-over. One downside of being a Bright was that you actually experienced the pain of your loved ones. Only 1,000 times more. Sometimes the agony was so bad, it paralyzed me.

The reason why Brights hated it when a loved one mourned. Because we suffered more.

I clutched my chest and waited for the tide of agony to pass. Deep inside, I felt an urge to cry with her. Some Brights thought their inability to cry was a total perk. Not me. I’d give anything to have one last wail session. I’m not talking about the whimpering kind, but the all-out blubbering, snotty kind. The kind that - somehow - always made you feel better.

Just one more thing I would miss up here.

What do you think? Past or present?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Abigail Samoun (Editor, Tricycle Press)

Hi Abigail. Thanks for joining us today.

Before we get pick your brain on marketing, tell me a little about yourself.

Tricycle Press is the children’s imprint of Ten Speed Press which began in Berkeley in the early 1970’s. After over 30 years as an independent publisher, we were just bought by Random House/Crown Books in February.

Ten Speed is known for its quirky, offbeat books like ‘Why Cats Paint’ and ‘The White-Trash Cookbook,’ but also for its business books (‘What Color is Your Parachute?’) and its high-end James Beard Award-winning cookbooks (Charlie Trotter, Hungry Planet, the Moosewood Cookbook). Tricycle’s list shares some of Ten Speed’s offbeat quality with board books such as the ‘My First Book of Sushi’ and ‘Urban Babies Wear Black.’ We’ve also done groundbreaking books like ‘King & King,’ about same-sex marriage, and ‘Mama’s Milk,’ promoting breast-feeding.

We have a whole list of character education books such as ‘Hey, Little Ant,’ which has kids think about the moral issues surrounding the question of squishing or not squishing an ant, and the picture books by anti-bullying expert, Trudy Ludwig. Our list ranges from photographic board books, to humorous read-alouds, to literary young adult novels. It’s an eclectic list and what all the books have in common is their high-quality and broad appeal to a trade audience. Our motto is ‘Books to Make Kids Think.’

As far as for me, I've been an editor at Tricycle Press since 2000 and focus on books, picturebooks, middle-grade, and early young-adult novels. These include the SCBWI Golden Kite winner GEORGE HOGGLESBERRY: GRADE SCHOOL ALIEN and the New York Public Library Ezra Jack Keats awardwinner, YESTERDAY I HAD THE BLUES.

I also edited the middle grade series Edgar & Ellen which has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide and launched a cartoon series on Nickelodeon.

There is more information on Abigail in her interview on Cynsations.

Do you or your publishing house have a website/blog? If so, when did you start it and who manages it?

TenSpeed has had a website since I came to the company in 2000. We have some individual contractors who help us with it but it’s managed overall by one of our marketing people.

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

First I would have to say websites.

For writers, websites are a very good idea, but if an author feels overwhelmed by the idea, a Word Press or Blogger blog can work almost as well. If I’m interested in an author, I’ll often Google them to find out a little more about them. A blog gives me a good sense of their writing style, what they’ve been up to, what they might do to promote their book, and their interests.

For illustrators, a website is crucial. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to come across a book with amazing illustrations and then Google the illustrator only to find out they have absolutely to web presence. Most of my illustration searches are done online. Even if I get a postcard or tear sheet from an illustrator, I’ll always go online to see more of their work. Make it as easy as possible for an editor to find you: the best web address is one that’s simply your first and last name .com (or, alternatively, first and last name + illustration + .com). Be sure to include lots of samples (twenty or more is ideal).

Secondly, it would be platform.

Someone who has already made a name for themselves among teachers and librarians is gold to your publisher. We love illustrators and authors who do school visits. A few of our authors make a good living doing school visits. School visits and attending trade shows like ALA, TLA, and IRA is great, but also consider less obvious methods such as writing an article for a trade journal (i.e., ‘Teaching Tolerance,’ ‘School Library Journal’), writing a teachers’ guide for your book and offering it through your website or blog, or putting a video up on teachertube.com---give teachers and librarians free content to use and they’ll remember you.

The third thing is to focus on targeting specialty markets.

As trade book sales drop, the special markets are becoming more important to publishers. Most publishers will have someone on their sales team that deals with special market sales. Help them out by thinking of places to sell your book besides bookstores and schools/libraries. There are tons of places that sell books that aren’t bookstores: baby shops, gift shops, stationers, museum stores, tourist shops. chains like the Discovery Store, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, ...the list goes on. Come up with your own list of special markets to explore and work with the sales people at your publishers’ to get the book into those places. If you have any contacts that might help your publishers’ sales team---i.e., your sister-in-law knows the buyer at Anthropologie---share them.

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

I love Facebook because it’s a way to stay in touch with people I’ve worked with or met at conferences in a casual, less time-intensive way than email. Remember, though, that it’s still a professional relationship---it’s okay to be playful, but not okay to barrage editors or agents with lots of requests for quizzes and such.

I personally prefer Facebook to MySpace for professional contacts because it doesn’t have that teen vibe MySpace has and or as many obnoxious ads. The “status” bar on Facebook is great for letting people know about conferences you’re attending, awards you’ve won, exciting news about your book.

Jacketflap.com is my second favorite social networking site because it’s specifically dedicated to children’s book people. I just found a terrific children’s book designer through that site.

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 didn’t used to but now I do more and more. It’s especially helpful when I’m trying to convince my publisher why we need to take on a given book---it’s a big plus for the project if I can tell my publisher that the book has an “active author.” Having a web presence is a big part of this.

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

At Tricycle, we’ll rarely sponsor a book tour. We’ll help schedule book signings and events, but the travel and lodging costs are almost always up to the author. We also expect authors to put together their own websites or blogs.

We expect authors to do a lot to promote their books. Its a partnership.

Thank you Abigail for being here!

Thanks Shelli!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunny Sunday: The Perfect Journey

Another kickoff into Monday's Perk Project! (check out Suzanne Young's blog and Robin Mellom's blog for more perky posts tomorrow!)

We all want the perfect scenario when we write a book

write a book
in 3 months
submit to agents
all want fulls
get many offers
choose our #1 agent
submit to houses
with no revisions
book goes to auction
publishers fight over our book
finally get a 6 figure
and a series
with movie coming out
packed book signings
bestselling, award winning author
on Oprah
and all the kids think we're cool.

Wait, am I the only one?

Some of you may have seen this already video, but I thought it was perfect for my post today.

Don't we all see the book process like this?

But we all know this is a long shot.

It is a dream

But we go for the dream because it makes living so much better.

In reality, we all know that writing is a tough process. That publishing is an uphill battle.

But isn't it better than giving up?

I think we write better and are happier writers if we stay focused on enjoying the writing process. The joy of typing and hearing the keys of our computer clicking. The joy of getting into the book and feeling your heart channel something bigger. The feeling of finishing. The anticipation of submitting. The joy of getting requests and even personal rejections.

This bizarre thing we have all chosen is so worth the climb. (can you tell the Miley Cyrus song is still on the brain?)

The climb to possibility. The climb away from a lesser self.

The ascending passion in our hearts.

And as we hike up this mountain, we need to remember to smell the flowers, enjoy our surroundings, make friends, breathe, and appreciate the fact that we have found our passion.

And someday, when we reach the top - after struggling over rough terrain and through crappy weather - we may realize the view is just as beautiful from below and above - its just different.

Writing is not easy and the journey can be hard and frustrating and sometimes feel completely impossible.

But I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Would you?