3 S.R. Johannes: January 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fabulous Follower Fiesta/Marvelous Marketer: Daisy Whitney

Fabulous Follower Fiesta!

So I made 500 followers over the weekend so this week is a celebration of all of you.

Every day this week, I am doing a drawing from "my posse" for two prize packages. This is just to thank my followers for wasting time and reading my blog. You don't have to do anything to win except be a follower (yes you can sign up now and be considered for the next day's drawing) and the person who wins can only win once. If you comment, I'll add your name to the hat an extra time.

Here are today's winners:

My 500th Follower - Michelle Zink gets a small special gift. Since she gets all the free books she wants and wanted to give back her gift for one of you, I got her a 10$ iTunes card because I know from reading her blog she LOVES LOVES LOVES Music. (Michelle - it was always my plan to give my 500th follower something so it was only fair. Please email me your email and I'll send you your iTunes certificate :) Thanks for taking a chance :)

My first follower - To kick off my Fiesta, I decided to reward one of my first 50 followers for believing in me. The winner of a 20$ B&N gift certificate is Casey McCormick (at Literary Rambles). For those of you who have not had the luck of stumbling on her blog, Casey does weekly Agent spotlights that tell you everything about an agent. I'm talking down to their favorite color. So check her out - you will be happy you did. A Special Thanks to Casey and all my early followers for signing up in the very beginning. (Casey, please email me your address)

Marvelous Marketer: Daisy Whitney (Social Media Guru)

Daisy Whitney
is not only adorable and funny (seriously I want to be her friend) but she is a reporter, a Tenner/teen author (her book, The Mockingbirds, will be published by Little, Brown in Fall 2010), a social media guru, producer, on-air correspondent, and a serious vlogger. (Is anyone else jealous now? or feeling a tad inadequate? :)

I asked Daisy to stop by and explain to us "novice vloggers"(who are really just afraid of bad hair days, nasally voices, and the camera's added 10 lbs) why authors should use online videos. Here's her response:

I asked Daisy to give us a couple of great examples of when online videos that are done well and really work.

"Hi Shelli, there are a number of ways authors can produce and make online videos. Some like John Green do so on an ongoing basis. Jon, along with his brother Hank, has become quite popular on YouTube as Brotherhood 2.0/Vlogbrothers. In fact, his videos have done so well he's inspired a whole community of self-declared "Nerdfighters" who are working to reduce "world suck" every day. I urge all writers to check out his vlogs because they are informal, but professional, funny, intelligent and pure Jon! A good takeaway from his videos is be sure to do something that fits your own brand.

Then there's YA author Jackson Pearce. She started making YouTube videos before her first novel As You Wish was published last summer. Her second novel, the Sisters Red, comes out this summer. Her videos are fun and whimsical and she does a good job connecting them to writing without making them all about her books! That's key - you want to find a mix. While videos can help promote your books, you don't want them to feel like constant commercials. Jackson also has developed an online following in advance of release via her videos.

Those two are good examples of ongoing work done by authors who video blog. I also liked Libba Bray's ridiculously silly promotional video for Going Bovine. Rather than a traditional book trailer, she donned a cow suit and wandered around New York City singing bizarre songs, interacting with people and basically practicing absurdities -- all fitting the novel itself!"

Thanks Daisy! :)

Be sure to check out Daisy's informative blog, her upcoming book, and her NewMediaMinute series

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Fabulous Follower Fiesta begins....

I made it to 500 Followers!!!!!

OMG right?

And Michelle Zink (author of Prophecy of Sisters!! OMG right!?) was my 500th follower. That magic number gets a special prize that will be announced Monday.

Starting Monday, each day I will conducting a Fabulous Follower Fiesta drawing to celebrate meeting so many wonderful people over this last year.

This contest is for my blogger followers only (listed on left hand side). Unfortunately this probably does not include my FB networked blog followers or my RSS followers. Those are tracked in several different places and are too hard to keep up with :(

On Friday, I will do a drawing for the Grand Puba Prize, which is also a surprise.

So please make sure you are an official follower on the side so I can count you in :)

Also - if you comment on the daily post, I'll throw your name in the hat an extra time. It will be a random drawing that my daughter will choose out of a hat.

Trust me - I have a lot of books to give away: Marketing books, New Hardcovers, Writing craft books, Maybe even an ARC or 2.

All are new! Not used!

Thank you so much for your support!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday's Marketing Round Up

Sorry I have been sorta MIA this week. I've definitely missed you guys. My son had throat surgery last Friday and it's been a long, hard week. *sigh*

I am almost at 500 followers and a big surprise comes when I hit 500. a prize only for followers so jump aboard.

Also in Feb - I start some new posts on marketing and some special events and contests.

This includes things like Melissa Marr stopping by to discuss her Smart Chicks tour. Elizabeth Bird helping us decide the best way to market to librarians and a Teen Panel answering questions on how to best reach teens.

Oh yeah - and Feb 15th kicks off the super duper contest Elana and I are doing together. Prizes include query critiques, marketing surprises, and a query/3 chapter read and critique from my agent, Alyssa Henkin at Trident Media. (who rocks BTW!)

Outside all that fun, here are my marketing favs for the week:

You're Selling Yourself - Here we are, throwing our words out into the blogosphere. You read my blog. I read yours. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? The Truth: as an author (pre-published or published) you're selling yourself.

Skyping with 6th Graders - Kate Messner loves the way Skype allows her to have time for a virtual author visit with kids halfway across the country before she makes dinner?

On Writing, Marketing and Being who you are.
It takes courage to be who you are. Michelle Zink spent months trying to emulate other authors in their online approach. But the truth is, none of that was really her.

Add the word "free to your Marketing Dictionary - So, how can you make money by giving away your ebook for free? Here are some interesting action plans.

Are book trailers silly? - Are book trailers a silly waste of time for those who want to promote books?

How to launch a viral marketing campaign - But the good news is that social media is increasingly becoming an effective marketing tool that is accessible to everyone.

Nancy Ancowitz 0n marketing for introverts - >She believes there are ways we can learn to promote ourselves that aren’t as excruciating as we initially believe them to be.

How to piss off your Twitter followers - Your Twitter followers really do matter. They’ve invested themselves into mini-relationships with you on that platform. Here are some of the easiest ways you can piss off your Twitter followers.

Brown Faces don't sell books? - Go on over and cast your vote at Mitali's blog. Do white kids really avoid books with brown, black, or Asian faces on the cover?

10 traits of a great cover - A blogger is not afraid to admit that she judges a book by its cover and reveals the top 10 things she looks for in a book cover. Do you agree?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Writing under a pseudonym

Today, we are going to learn a little about using pseudonyms in your writing and marketing.

What is a pseudonym?

A pseudonym is a fictitious name used by a person to hide an individual's real identity. Also called a "pen name", pseudonyms may be used if a writer's real name is likely to be confused with another writer or individual or is determined to be unsuitable. It is very common with actors as well as authors. Authors who write in fiction and non-fiction, or in different genres, may use pen names to avoid confusing their readers allowing them the creative freedom to explore different genres.

Using a pen name provides a degree of anonymity. which provides you freedom to write and speak freely "from the heart."

Why should you write under a pseudonym?

  • you don't like your name
  • you want something easier to remember
  • you want to keep your anonymity
  • you want to write in different genres and don't want to confuse readers
  • you want to be mysterious
  • you don't want people to know if you are writing about them
  • you want to hide your gender
  • you don't want your "day job" to find out
  • you write for different publications across the publishing field
  • you have the same name as a famous author or person

Some famous writer pseudonyms

  • Samuel Clemens' writing under the pen name Mark Twain.
  • Meg Cabot has written under the name Meggin Cabot, as well as the pseudonyms Patricia Cabot and Jenny Carroll.
  • Lemony Snicket is the legal pen name of Daniel Handler.
  • Jane Austin used the pseudonym "A Lady" as the author of her first novel Sense and Sensibility.
  • Joanne Kathleen Rowling is known as JK Rowling
  • Richard Bachman is the pen name of Stephen King.

Here's what Jill Myles, author of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi, says about why she uses a pseudonym for her writing.

Why did you decide to write under a pseudonym? How did you come up with your name?

There were a variety of reasons why I decided to write under a pseudonym, and I had to weigh the pros and cons. The major pro, in my mind, was the anonymity it offers. I'm not ashamed to write romance - the opposite, actually! - but in this day and age when your personal information can be found online by anyone that has your phone number, I'm very protective of my real identity. Plus, I work for an extremely conservative financial company in my day job, and having to explain/defend why I write 'dirty vampire romances' is not a conversation I wanted to have every day.

As for my name, I picked Jill Myles because it was short and punchy and relatively easy to remember. No mystery, I'm afraid. :)

What are the challenges of having a pseudonym?

I think one of the challenges is that relatives, family and friends have a harder time understanding why I wrote under a pseudonym! I've had instances when my real name got out and I had to go back and clean up posts and such, or have conversations with a few people as to why I'm de-friending them or deleting things they wrote. It's not that I'm mad! It's that I'm trying to be protective and consistent.

How does marketing differ if you publish under a pseudonym?

There are really no pros or cons to marketing via a pseudonym. You are just using it in exchange of your real name. I think if you had more than one name at the same time, it might be beneficial, but if you just have the one, it's the same as marketing under your real name (readers don't know the difference).

Check out Jill Myles writing and blog at www.jillmyles.com. Today is the last day to enter the Agent Holly Root contest. If you stop by and comment at any of the blogs (1 entry per comment!), her agent, the incredible Holly Root - will be giving away a free Query Critique. Jill will be announcing the winner onWednesday, January 27th .

This contest is open to all writers - adult writers as well as children book writers - because Jill's awesome agent is Holly Root at Waxman Literary and literary agent to adult AND children's book writers.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Cheryl Klein (Senior Editor, Arthur Levine Books)

Hi Cheryl. Thank you so much for stopping by. Can you tell everyone a little about yourself and your publishing career?

Shelli, thanks for inviting me to be interviewed on Market My Words!

I’m a senior editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, where I started my career as Arthur’s editorial assistant in 2000. We publish hardcover literary fiction and nonfiction for readers from picture book age through YA. I’ve worked on everything from translations of Swedish picture books to the last three books of the Harry Potter series to American debut novels—an endlessly fascinating mix that I really enjoy.

In 2009, two of the books I edited won ALA awards: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce won the William Morris Award for a YA Debut Novel, and Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, by Nahoko Uehashi and translated by Cathy Hirano, took the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translation.

In 2005, I rejuvenated my blog and then joined Twitter midway through last year. Both of those feature a miscellany of my personal and professional interests—movie reviews, interviews with my authors, videos I like, advice on submissions, you name it. My dedicated editorial website includes many of my past talks for SCBWI conferences. Arthur A. Levine Books has an imprint website and we Twitter our news at @AALBooks.

I am an avid reader of your blog due to how much craft and promotion advice you give to writers. In your opinion, what are a few things authors can do to promote their book?

I think every author should have a website, to provide a space for readers, teachers, and librarians who love their book to find out more about the book and contact the author. Websites are even more of a must for illustrators; when I receive a striking sample from an artist or see a picture book I like, then I often want to check out the illustrator’s website to see what other work s/he’s done.

Authors/illustrators should also collect and keep the e-mail addresses and/or postal addresses of everyone with whom they come in contact in relation to their book – people who write them fan mail, independent booksellers who feature it in their newsletters, kids who send them questions for their school reports, even blog reviewers who say one nice thing in an otherwise negative review. Then, when the author has a new book available, s/he should coordinate with the publisher to send out an e-mail blast or postcards and let those people know the book is out there.

Finally, authors should always be on the lookout for niche markets and publications to which their book might appeal. Because Elizabeth C. Bunce’s A Curse Dark as Gold was a Rumplestiltskin retelling set in a woolen mill, Elizabeth and I worked with her excellent publicist on a special mailing to fairy-tale and needlecraft publications, letting them know the book was available and highlighting the ways it might speak to their readers. While any efforts like this should always be coordinated with the publishing house, they can be very useful in breaking a book out in specialized and nontraditional publicity markets.

After that . . . honestly, I feel there are very few “musts” for every author, as everything greatly depends upon the author’s strengths and interests. If an author is temperamentally or socially inclined to blog or Twitter, then it’s wonderful to have them out there, participating in the conversation. But authors who aren’t so inclined certainly don't have to, as it can easily sound forced and fake and end up being a turnoff to the very readers we’re trying to attract.

I know you are heavily involved in the conversation online about writing and publishing. Why do you think being online and social networking is so important?

I think social networking platforms can be very useful, but they’re not essential. If you’re a social person with a decent number of friends and connections (even just old acquaintances from high school), and you can use those networks to inform your connections of your new book, then they’re fantastic. . . . Friends on Facebook from my high school class have told me they’re planning to buy my book, and most of them aren’t even interested in writing for children! But again, if you aren’t inclined to be on or not actively participating in such a network, then it probably isn’t going to be very useful to you in book promotion.

You and Arthur Levine appear to be involved in your author's publicity (He even dyed his beard pink for Laini Taylor's award event! :) How do you help your authors and what do you expect them to do on their own?

Arthur A. Levine Books has consistently gone the extra mile for its authors. When we publish an international book, we often reach out to the consulate from the author’s home country to see if they might collaborate with us on promoting the book here; these efforts have resulted in an exhibition at the New York Public Library featuring the art from our Swedish book The Red Bird, and ALA appearances from several Dutch and Flemish authors, among other things. My blog frequently features Q&As with authors or behind-the-scenes essays about the books I edit.

This last fall, my author Sara Lewis Holmes and I did a shared chat on Twitter about her book Operation Yes; you can see the transcript and I hope to do more of those in the future.

Scholastic has a terrific marketing and publicity department that enthusiastically supports all of our books and authors. We hope an author will set up a website for their book; will be available for school visits and media, as appropriate; and will give us a good list of contacts, as mentioned above. (Some media outlets and booksellers may be more appropriate for us to contact; some might be better for the author to contact.)

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?

Yes, absolutely! I’m always interested to see where an author’s name turns up, what those reveal about his or her background or interests, and how his or her personality comes through in writing not for official publication. I wrote about how this influenced my decision to acquire Sara Lewis Holmes', Operation Yes.

For those interested in submitting to me, my interests and submissions guidelines are available at my website.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Round Up

First Things First

Whoa! I am almost to 500 followers, And you know what that means. A big surprise! Thank you so much for all your support - I love reading your blogs too!

Also don"t forget the BIG...HUGE...Blog contest coming Feb 15th. agent critiques and marketing prizes. Be sure you are a follower and keep checking back for more details.

Ash Elizabeth gave me The Lovely Blog award. Thank you so much! I'd like to award it to Danyelle. Her blog has so much heart and I love how touching her posts are.

Rebecca Knight gave me the Silver Lining Award. Such a sweet award! I am going to award this to 5 of my Delurkers/new followers/new BFFs who have been great commenters:

Alissa at Slightly More than Dirt
V.S. (Victoria S.)
Patti Nielson
Catherine Denton - Winged Writer
Kristi at Sisters in Scribe

Marketing Round Up

My favs for the week:

Kidlitosphere Immersion Week Are you a children's book author, illustrator or reviewer? Interested in social media but don't know where to start? Find out how you can participate in the social media for the children's book world in this week-long online workshop!

Lessons learned at a book launch - Irene Latham, author of Leaving Gee's Bend, discusses the do and don'ts of book launches.

Make time to promote your book - As a book author, how much time should you devote to promoting your book and yourself each week?

How to make a book trailer - Book trailers are all the rage these days, but it can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to have one professionally made. Most writers are also applicable to creating an effective video.

An interview with Jen Nadol's The Mark's cover designer - Danielle Delaney, who designed not one, but two beautiful covers for The Mark, graciously agreed to answer a bunch of my questions about her work

Hooks that snag great book deals
- Be sure to sell your book with your hook - those critical initial sentences of a query letter or book proposal — are the first and most important words that agents and editors read.

Authors need to act like entrepreneurs - The majority of authors are unsuccessful because they fail to realize that their book is a product and that authorship is a business.

Book Alert - Self Promotion for Introverts by Nancy Ancowitz. Offers a solid dose of practical advice - alongside humorous anecdotes - for introverts to assert themselves by using their inherent tendencies in the most effective ways.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PSA: Plastic surgery can help your writing

Oh Heidi, Heidi, Heidi. :( Why oh why did you butcher yourself??? You were so beautiful and real. And the real you is better than a different you.

There is nothing for me to say except - this ones for you (and your larger than life "girls").

But somehow, in seeing Heidi's recent plastic surgery results inspired this post.

She made me think about how plastic surgery might be able to help my writing.

So here it is....my public service announcement to writers.

Top 10 ways we might be able to use plastic surgery to improve our writing. (A stretch I know, but bare with me. :)

10. It helps to slim down - I just had to cut 15,000 words on my book and it was a very rewarding process. Its amazing how lean your book can get if you nip and tuck.

9. Bigger is not always better. Sometimes saying what you need to say in 70,000 words is more powerful than 120,000. Sometimes the small meaningful word makes more of an impact than a thesaurus's alternative.

8. Sometimes you gotta suck it up. This business is tough. The key to succeeding (besides writing well) is pushing forward. No matter how hard it is. That may take nights, tears, and all the energy I have but when push comes to shove I suck it up and keep moving on.

7. Change your shape. Don't be scared to start over. To take some off here and add some there. You never know where you will end up or what shape your book can take.

6. Plump it up - add volume to your characters as much as you add to the story. Characters must be allowed to grow in ways you may not have expected.

5. Get rid of the wrinkles. Revising is key to getting rid of the wrinkles in your book. You have to be willing to go over and over the same lines to be sure they are essential to the beauty of the story.

4. Know what's fake and what isn't. Its important that your voice and story is authentic. Don't try to make it like someone else. You need to do your story your own way. No one way works for everyone. We are all different.

3. Know when to stop. Sometimes you can tweek to death. Its important to know how to recognize when our book feels done or when to get feedback. You can work your work to death.

2. Open your eyes - Immerse yourself in the business. Read and learn about your craft. Always work on your craft. You can always get better if you stay open to learning.

1. It lifts you higher. There is no feeling like sitting down, getting an idea, and have it pour out of you onto the pages. There is no feeling better than printing out your manuscript and know how much you have created. And there is no felling better than someone loving your work.

So appreciate who you are as a writer.

Being yourself is better than looking like someone else.

Guest Post: Michelle Zink shares her Teen Data

Michelle lives in New York and has always been fascinated with ancient myths and legends. Her debut novel, Prophecy of the Sisters, has received rave reviews and is a teen favorite. Her second book, Guardian of Gates comes out in August 2010.

On her blog, she interviews teens weekly to get more information on why they read what they read and what books appeal to them the most. You can also follow her on twitter or fan page.

You can also check out her trailer, the fabulous Vania (owner of VLC Productions and blogger on Reverie Book Reviews. Vania's other recent trailers include Kimberly Derting's Body Finder and Beautiful Creatures.)

Here is a post from Michelle Zink about the teen data she's collected while on her book tours:


So, here’s the thing about being on tour for two weeks. You kind of lose track of how many people you’ve talked to and met along the way. Most days, I had two school visits – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – and an evening bookstore event. But a school visit doesn’t necessarily mean one group of kids. Sometimes, I’d give 3-5 back-to-back presentations with 100+ kids in each group.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I spoke to an average of 100 kids a day for 13 days (I think this is probably close to accurate).

That means I spoke to 1300 kids ages 12-18 in less than two weeks.

That is A LOT of kids!

But I loved every minute. I love talking to kids and teens because they tend to be so enthusiastic, so open-minded, so curious and passionate. And as I wrote in my previous post, it was really fun for me to engage in my signature, two-way Q&A. It was fascinating to watch them become excited and passionate about books and to realize that I cared what THEY thought.

I’m going to share my informal findings here, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well – as a reader, writer, blogger, or reviewer.

Following are some of the questions I most frequently ask...

1. When you go into a store to browse, what are the main things that make you decide to pick it up and take a closer look?

What I expected to hear; cover

What I heard; cover. Without fail, most young readers cited the cover as THE most important part of their decision to pick up a book in a bookstore and then take a closer look and/or consider buying it. Other popular answers were reading the jacket copy or summary on the back, the title, reading the first page, and opening to a random part of the book to read a couple of pages. What I DIDN’T hear also surprised me. In all the schools I visited, I probably only had one reader say they noticed or cared if other authors had blurbed a book. Personally, I think this is probably based at least partially on WHO’S blurbing. I mean, if you have a JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, or Neil Gaiman blurb, I’m thinking you’re better off than having a blurb by, say, ME! Just sayin’!

2. When you go into a bookstore knowing what you’re going to buy, what are the main things that have gotten you there intent on buying THAT book?

What I expected to hear; blog buzz and/or media coverage, ads, etc.

What I heard; The main reasons for PLANNING to buy a book were cited as a friend’s recommendation, seeing the book advertised somewhere (magazine, teen website, etc.), or having it be part of a series they’ve already enjoyed. Again, I was surprised not to hear more about blog buzz, but I’m beginning to realize that’s because the online reading, blogging, writing, and reviewing community feels like a bit of a fishbowl these days. It’s easy to attach tremendous importance to every blog review, every comment, every Follower, but the reality is that the average teen doesn’t even know blogs exist. And those that do only take passing notice, i.e. “I know they’re out there, but I don’t go to them or pay attention to what they say.”. This is good and bad. As I’ve said, I LOVE connecting with bloggers. They’re some of the most ardent readers around, and it’s just plain fun to talk about books, compare notes on what we’re reading, etc. It would be nice to think that, even though many of the bloggers I talk to online feel like real friends, some of that will spill over into the general reading community. Then again, it makes it easier to bear the occasional negative review, snarky comment, or clique (of which I am typically on the outside). Other writers have commented to me since my last post on this topic that they were incredibly relieved to hear it, because sometimes it just feels like your whole writing life is riding on a handful of blogs. These writers have said that it’s really nice to know that there’s a WHOLE lot more to a “successful” book than that. So now I’m curious! What do you guys think? Do you think it’s important to bring the “everyday” reader into the blogging community?

3. When you buy a book, does it matter if it’s paperback or hardcover?

What I expected to hear? that teens prefer paperbacks because they’re cheaper.

What I heard; 80% of teens PREFER hardcover!! This SHOCKED me! Now I feel naive, because of course, most teens either have parents buying their books OR they spend their own cash – all of which is, essentially, disposable income. Teens said they preferred hardcover because they felt like “they would last longer” and/or they were “nicer”. The rare teen who said they preferred paperback said they were “easier to carry in my backpack” and, yes, very occasionally “they’re cheaper.”

4. Do you prefer series books or stand-alone books?

What I expected to hear; I wasn’t sure! I’d been hearing some stuff in the blogosphere about readers being tired of series, but I LOVE reading AND writing them, so I just wasn’t sure what I’d hear…

What I heard; SERIES! Overwhelmingly. Teens said they get attached to characters and storylines and they don’t want to say goodbye after just one book. They also said they figured, “If I liked one book in a series, I’ll probably like the rest,” which prompted me to ask, “So if you read book one in a series and you enjoy it, is it pretty much guaranteed you’re going to read the next one regardless of what you might hear about it, good or bad?” To which they ALL responded, “Yes!”

5. What do you think we have too much of in the YA genre?

What I expected to hear; vampires. Or girl books.

What I heard; SHOCKER ALERT!!! The answer, most often from girls, was ROMANCE! And I was like, “WTF?” Because, seriously, THAT’S WHAT IS SELLING, people! But many, many girls said they’re becoming tired of books that center around an all-consuming romance. They said that they like having SOME romance in books, but they’re getting bored with having that be ALL a book’s about. They want MORE. Weird, huh?

6. What do we need MORE of in the YA genre?

What I expected to hear; was totally unsure!

What I heard; books for boys, comedy(!), again (back to the theme from above) more “mysteries or thrillers without having it all be romance.”

7. What ruins a book for you?

What I expected to hear? a “slow” book or one without enough action.

What I heard; “books that always have a happy ending.” This kind of surprised me! But A LOT of teens said that they don’t like it when everything turns out perfectly in every book. They seem to understand that life doesn’t work this way most of the time, and while they want to escape into another story, they also seem to want stories, characters, and endings that are at least somewhat reflective of the lives they live. I was also surprised at how many teens (guys included!) said they hate most of the stereotyping of school cliques or characters. They seems to agree that in general, kids aren’t as mean as they’re made out to be in books. And the lines aren’t as clearly delineated as you might think. In other words, a Cheerleader can be nice AND smart. Not only that, she might very well be friends with someone who’s a Geek or a Skater or a Goth. Along the same lines, they said they didn’t like it when characters were portrayed as being perfect and having everything. I thought this was very insightful, actually. They said that even if someone’s gorgeous or popular, he/she has problems, too, just like everyone else.

All in all, the teens I spoke with proved what I’ve known all along; they’re insightful, interesting, intelligent, complex people. They asked savvy questions about the business end of publishing (how do you get an agent? can you take your book to another publisher if you don’t like the cover?) and were incredibly interested in the writing process (how do you come up with ideas for your books? what do you do if you get writer’s block?). They were respectful (mostly! and when they weren’t, I shut them down. Having teenagers around all the time has many benefits!), funny, charming, and heartbreakingly sincere.

They gave me hope for the future of reading and writing and reminded me why it’s a privilege to do what we do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Gail Carson Levine (bestselling author)

Questions for Teens

As you may know, our teen panel starts in Feb. They will be talking abut books, what they like, what attracks them to covers, how they hear about books, etc.

If you have any questions for our teen panel on marketing, please leave them in the comments or email me by the end of the week.

This is your chance to get in the minds of teens and find out how to target them directly.

Marvelous Marketer: Gail Carson Levine
(Bestselling author, Ella Enchanted)

Hi Gail. Thank you so much for joining us. Can you share a little with us on your latest project, how you got started, and your journey to publication?

Hi Shelli. Thanks for having me today.

My latest book is Ever, a young-adult fantasy set in ancient Mesopotamia, which got its start after I read the bible for the first time and became interested in the troubling story of Jeptha and his daughter. My story spun off the biblical one. It doesn’t have its own website. My general website, which is maintained by HarperCollins and I also have a blog.

You are a blogger, did that have anything to do with your success? Or how do you utilize your blog in a marketing way?

I recently started blogging in May, ’09, and I was originally published in 1997. However, I started the blog with the hopes of bringing more people to my books, which are listed on the site. I also use the blog for event announcements.

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

  • Write the best book you can. Then revise it. Then take your editor’s suggestions VERY seriously. Never disregard an edit unless you have a really good reason.
  • If you’re comfortable with public speaking, let your publicist know, and say that you’d like any opportunities that come along to speak at conferences about your books. But do NOT bug your publicist or expect a lot of support for a first book.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

I always send postcards out especially to family and friends by snail mail when I have a new book coming out. Ask your editor if the house would be willing to print cards as part of its publicity. The cost is pretty low, so sometimes your editor may say yes, or be willing to share costs.

Otherwise you do it on your own. I find that people like hearing about my success and start thinking about my books when it’s time for special occasions - like birthday and holidays. I never send postcards or market in any other way to writer friends, except for the writers who read my blog, and even then the marketing is peripheral.

Oh, yes, and I also include an automatic link to my blog at the bottom of my emails.

How has your view on marketing and publicity changed as you have moved throughout your career?

For my first book, which was Ella Enchanted, HarperCollins made “shelf talkers.” These are manila thickness, and they fold over a bookstore bookshelf, so that even if the book is shelved spine out, the buyer’s attention is drawn to it. HarperCollins also included Ella in an ad in book trade journals along with several other new books. And the publisher asked for blurbs for the book jacket. This was extraordinary for a first book. I was very lucky.

Everything changed after Ella won the Newbery honor. Since then, I’ve been sent on book tours for my books, with solo ads taken out for them. Nowadays, the publisher sounds most of the available bells and whistles. But this isn’t the case for most authors unless a book wins an important award and sales are excellent. Writers shouldn’t expect this treatment or be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. As I’m sure you know, these days there are more and more opportunities for authors to do a lot of promotion on their own.

To me, publicity takes second place compared to writing, always has, always will, I hope. My readers (and sometimes their parents) are my market. I’d rather think of them as readers and consider what will please them and me, more than think of them as a market.

Thanks for joining us today, Gail!

Thanks Shelli.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday's Marketing Round up (1/15)

Couple Reminders

We have some exciting stuff starting up in February. Not only will Marketing Mondays be more topic specific (twitter, blog tours, etc). But we will be having a few special events:

1) Teen panels discussing how to best market to teens.
2) Smart Chick Kick it Tour gals (Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong and Alyson Noel) stop by to discuss their combined tour.
3) Many marketing experts stopping by: Daisy Whitney (New Media Guru), Carolyn Howard-Johnson (Frugal Book Promoter), The Amanda Project, and Elizabeth Bird (NYPL).

Also a SECRET CONTEST will be announced in Feb. I can't say too much yet, but I'll mention a couple clues to get you interested. Query expert, Elana Johnson, a week of Marketing Gurus, free agent query critiques, a HUGE Prize from my agent, Alyssa Henkin (for unagented authors) and Massive Marketing Prize (for agented/published writers.)

Of course you will have to be a follower of my blog and Elana's to win.

The next steps will be announced later. :) It will be fun and you will win a lot of cool stuff.

Marketing Roundup

Here are my favs for this week - it was a busy week in Marketing.

Daisy's Digital Do's and Don'ts - LILA interviews Daisy Whitney and picks her brilliant brain on the best way to do Vlogs. (BTW follow LILA - they will make you laugh!)

Twitter from an author's perspective - Lisa Schroeder, author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me, just released her third book and discusses how Twitter has helped her market her books.

Market Yourself. Or Not. Elana Roth's reiteration of today's conventional wisdom about Internet marketing and becoming an influencer.

Free advice on Publicity for your Novels - Having a personal publicist won't necessarily make the difficulty go away.

You're not spending a lot of money marketing
- If you’re willing to put the time in yourself, you can do almost all of your book marketing for free.

Market Yourself, Market Your books - If you have not already ventured onto online reading communities and other sites that can help authors spread their work, there is no better time than now!

How to find your Audience - Here's how readers find you and how you can find them. Part 2 continues the discussion with advice form authors.

Discussion of Sell Through - Sell-through is something that most first-time authors don’t know much about. It's not always about the sales numbers.

Reaching Your Target Audience Online - Greg Pincus wants you to think strategically about who you’re going to reach online and how you’re going to do it.

Marketing Lessons I learned in Kindergarten - We can do more by working together than working alone. When we interact publicly, or with the public, we need to be nice.

Broaden your concept of conferences - Almost every industry--even every sub industry--has a conference each year. Your job is to find the one that attracts people who would be interested in your book.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Making Connections vs Selling Yourself

The Delurker Winner

The winner for commenting on the DELURKER post is........

ALISSA - you won!

email me your address!

Connections vs Selling

I know marketing can be overwhelming.

How do I know? Hmmmmmmm

Because people email me telling me! :)

"I'm scared."
"I don't know how."
"I just want to write."

I get it. It's hard to do marketing as a writer.

I know - you're a writer. You just want to write. You don't want to "sell yourself."

So then don't!

Building a network takes the selling out of your marketing.

This is the reason why you start NETWORKING waaaaaaaaaay before you need to sell anything. Way before you need anything.

Here is the bottom line.

You build your network way in advance of any book contract and you do it for the purpose of making genuine connections. To help people. To reach out and touch someone. (not literally of course - that would be illegal! :)

This way - over time - you build honest and authentic relationships over time. So when your book comes out or if you need something. You are no longer asking a stranger. You are asking your network.

That means you don't have to sell anything, you just have to ask for support. There is a difference.

Jill Lublin, one of the authors of Guerilla Publicity, advises her clients, “Start publicity way before you need it.”

According to Mashable.com article "Social Networking Matters", "Networking is not only about the ability to connect to people – it is also about the ability to use those connections. We call it a “two-way-street” – networking is not something you do by yourself, you always need your counterparty to be in there with you, to want to help you and assist your advancement. You only achieve this willingness by doing something in return, or even before you ever ask for anything. This is true networking – there are no shortcuts, you need to invest time and effort in order to reap the benefits of the connections you have made."

Put the system in place so when you need the word of mouth, when you need the publicity, when you need the buzz, it is organic because you have built relationships on trust. You did not build them because you needed something.

Do you have to do all social networking all?

Of course not.

But you must have a web presence and you must do at least one form of online networking.

Do you have to blog, tweet, FB, ning, lit chats, after party lit chats, email, interview blah blah blah?


But you have to do something and it HAS to be online. Because that is where everyone is nowadays. Online. So to lose that opportunity just isn't business smart.

Pick one or two and do them really really well. Not half ass. But well.

The important thing is to do something that you are excited about. Have fun with it.

So here is my brilliant advice:
  • If you don't know how, learn it
  • If you do something crappy, do it better
  • If you hate doing marketing, don't do it if you don't care about selling books
  • If you think your publisher will do it for you, you're wrong and in la la land
  • If you think you don't need marketing b/c your book is great all on its own, wake up
  • If you don't have time, turn off the tv and make some
  • If you have a question, ask me. :)
Do you have any questions about social networking??

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The WTF Blanket takes on the Bluggie

For those who love the new Bluggie video.

When snuggie meets bling!

Here's the new WTF Blanket!!

I love the Snuggie but this is too funny! Watch at your own risk!!! (There are a few bad words! :(

Monday, January 11, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Aimee Friedman (editor/bestselling author)

First Things First

I did a random drawing on the people who gave me feedback on my blog in last week's post. The winner is.....

Elana J!

You won a free copy of Christina Katz's book "Get Known before the Book Deal". Please email me your address and I will mail it out to you :)


Leave me your questions!

I have an interview coming up with Elizabeth Bird from School Library Journal Fuse 8 to discuss marketing to librarians. She is the children's librarian at the Children's Center at 42nd Street of the New York Public Library system. Please include any questions you have in the comments or email me offline.

Marvelous Marketer: Aimee Friedman

Hi Aimee! Thanks for coming here to answer a few questions. First, tell me a little about yourself.

I am the author of seven books for young adults. My first novel, SOUTH BEACH, a New York Times bestseller, came out in 2005, and my latest novel, SEA CHANGE, was released in the summer of 2009. My primary publisher is Point/Scholastic though I do have one book--A NOVEL IDEA--with SimonPulse at Simon & Schuster. I am also a children's book editor at Scholastic, a job I still love to this day!

I started my author website over 2 years ago and I've gotten lots of great feedback and lots of traffic since its inception. Please visit me--and write me! I love to get email from readers, and I try to respond as quickly as I can.

I have a blog but I don't blog nearly as much as I'd like (it's hard when juggling two full-time jobs), but I do spend a lot of time on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (more on this below).

Scholastic has a blog that you can also follow on Facebook or Twitter. The imprint at which I publish, Point, also has a great website. You can check it out for book recommendations, author bios, links, giveaways, and more! You can also follow it on Twitter.

Wow, it must be very hard juggling being an editor and author. I can barely be an author. In your expert opinion, what are the top three things every author should and must do to promote their book?

A website is the a great basic place to start-- I think it's important for authors to have a home online where they can be found and contacted. Plus, a website can be relatively inexpensive and easy to set up and manage.

If social networking is your thing, Facebook and Twitter and the like are free, tons of fun, and a fantastic way to reach out and find fans, fellow authors, librarians, book-sellers, you name it. Blogging and being in touch with bloggers can be useful too--there's a whole, passionate community of literary bloggers out there who have a lot of reach and influence.

If social networking ISN'T your thing, there are lots of other options, too: saving the email and mailing addresses of your fans and sending out regular blasts and newsletters, etc. (Or sending these addresses to your publisher and asking them to send out email blasts).

Personally, I am a big proponent of social networking for authors! When I first joined MySpace, I got my very first bookstore event out of it! A bookseller who was a fan of my books found me on MySpace, and through that connection I ended up doing a reading. That would have never happened otherwise! Facebook and Twitter are great spaces in which to announce giveaways, appearances, pub dates, post reviews, and just generally get buzz going. It's important, though, to work in tandem with your editor/publicist on the timing of these kinds of things so that you're not posting covers or excerpts too early or too late.

I also love GoodReads since it's just about the good stuff: BOOKS. :) It's always fascinating for me as an author to read my reviews, and I love seeing what my friends are reading and what people are excited about.

I'm with you on the social networking thing. I love it. Since you seem to have a huge online presence, do you google authors when evaluating whether to take on a book?

I generally do--I feel like Googling has become almost a kind of reflex at this point--or maybe that's just me! :) It's mainly for me to get a sense of what this author is like beyond their work: if they've published previously, if they blog, etc.

What I find online, however, almost never influences whether or not I acquire the project. When it comes to that, it is 100% about the writing, about the story. An author can have a fabulous web presence, and a huge devoted blog following, but if the manuscript doesn't hold up, I'm probably not going to be able to acquire it.

Likewise, if an author doesn't have a web presence at all but the manuscript is whiz-bang fantastic, then it's a no-brainer. A web presence can ALWAYS come later.

As an editor, what marketing things do you automatically expect an author to do on their own?

It is always wise for an author to continually loop their publicist in about any promotions, giveaways, interviews, etc. they may be doing--just to be sure everything is kosher and nobody is working at cross-purposes. Communication is key! A great way for an author to start the process is to compile a list of all your ideas for promotions, as well as a list of any contacts you might have (alumni magazines, bloggers or journalists, etc.) and share this list with your editor, who can then check in with marketing and publicity and go from there!

And as an author, besides what you've listed above, what creative things have you done to promote your own books?

I've held signed galley giveaways on MySpace and Facebook (my publisher will provide the galleys to, say, the first 10 people to email in). I've sent out email blasts about upcoming events and publication dates, and I'm vigilant about posting reviews and book news on my social networking sites.

And of course in the end there's nothing quite like good old-fashioned word-of-mouth buzz: if someone I know has a teenage relative or friend, I'll be sure to pass my card or website to them and encourage the teen reader to check out my books! You never know where your next fan might crop up.

Thank you Aimee for stopping by!

Thanks Shelli!

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Call to My Lovely Lurkers

I see you!

I know you are out there. I can see when you stop by and then disappear into the blogosphere. Such a shame because I am a TOTAL sucker for new blogs and love to check other blogs out.

The top 10 reasons why you love to lurk (and my response):

10) You are lazy (So get in bed and comment then.)
9) You have carpal tunnel (I say no pain no gain!)
8) You are shy. (why do we all blog? Can you say introverts!)
7) You have nothing to say (great, b/c bloggers talk about nothing so you'll fit in just fine! Besides we're not looking for Oscar speeches here people!)
6) You are a spy. (If so, you better find out more about statcounter)
5) You always wanted to be a spy (me too! But I can't see you anyway.)
4) Your name is Tom (get it...peeping?)
3) You can't find the "post comment" button (I creatively call mine - shout outs)
2) You are just sooooooo busy (aren't we all?)
1) I'm not as funny as I think I am (I know hard to believe)

Well, Mother Reader and Lee Wind have come up with a way to get you lurkers out of the blogger closet.

The 2010 Comment Challenge to get you Starting Today (Friday, January 8), and running through Thursday, January 28, 2010. The goal is to comment on at least five kidlitosphere blogs a day. Keep track of your numbers, and report in on Fridays with Mother Reader or Lee.

A prize package will be involved, drawing from among the bloggers who reach the 100 Comment Mark (five comments a day for twenty-one days with one day free of comment charge).I hear some random door prizes might be available just for trying.

Every comment doesn’t have to be insightful and intellectual (trust me - my posts aren't!) It can be hard to think of something to say. But we don't care - just say "hi!" We die-hard bloggers love to meet new people. Also, when you make yourself heard, other bloggers may check out your blog. Can’t hurt your stats. Plus, you’ve made that blogger’s day a little bit brighter. Maybe you’ll make a new BFF — Blog Friend Forever.

I know, the whole thing sounds awesome. Ready to join us? Then sign up. And tell all your friends, because that’s kind of, like, the point.

To kick it off, whoever comments on this announcement will get thrown into (not literally) a drawing for an author marketing book! BTW - the only rule I have is only Followers can win. I reward my delurkers. :) Plus that means I can at least keep up with you after you go silent again in 21 days!!! :)

So talk away!

I look forward to meeting you all and making some new friends.

Friday Marketing Round Up

So we are all stuck home on a snow day. They cancelled school last night as soon as one flake fell. We've declared it movie day. Lazy I know but what else can you do with a 2 year old and 5 year old.

Exciting changes

Thank you so, so much for all your feedback! It was so helpful. To answer you back, here are a few changes that will begin to happen on my blog starting in Feb.

1) I am going to start adding back in the daily Marketing Muse. Even if I have a personal post. I used to do this and it sounds like from the feedback it was helpful.

2) I will have special days where I answer marketing questions commenters post.

3) I will do a blog a week that dives into various marketing topics. But I will need your help on identifying the topics important to you. Please leave me comments on some marketing or publicity topics you are interested in hearing more about.

4) I've got some special events scheduled with Melissa Marr, The Amanda Project, and Becca Fitzgerald so we can see what they've done to be so successful.

5) I'm going to keep the Friday Marketing Round Ups. But may choose them based on marketing topics.

6) I'm going to shake things up on the Marketing Mondays so stay tuned. It will probably include some SKYPE interviews, twitter chats, as well as some Vlogs on various marketing topics.

7) To reward you guys for hanging out with me, I will start offering monthly contests to my followers - that will include some type of marketing package that could be a random drawing for an ARC, a marketing resource, a free consultation, or maybe even some type of marketing collateral like template for Twitter, Blogs, or business cards. Stay Tuned. It will be on the last week of every month.

8) Lastly, I'm thinking of creating some type of marketing book that can help authors walk through the steps of starting their own marketing plan, platform, and reach teen audiences. Please take my poll on the side and let me know what you think.

Round Up

Covers: The good, the bad, and the ugly
- When it comes to cover art, people are shockingly opinionated. Maybe you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can still judge the cover.

Platform Resolutions for 2010
- Advice on how to slowly and steadily establish a lasting platform.

30 tips for Blog Tour hosts - You can be a Virtual host. Here are some tips on how to host a blog tour successfully.

A look ahead - Anticipating and predicting what's ahead in the world of teen marketing.

A Writers Calling Card - A writer needs to have a good business card to present at networking events and conferences. This editor keeps all the cards that meet these requirements.

What's publicity and marketing anyway? A (very simplified) definition of what book publicity and marketing actually is.

How to work with your publicist. How can you as an author work effectively with your publicist instead of shooting yourself in the foot.

I am always open to suggestions so please send them to me as they come to you!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What's Your opinion?

For 2010, I want to be sure my blog is really helping people. Therefore I'd like to get feedback from all my followers on how I can improve it for you.

  • Do you like the weekly Marketing interviews?
  • Do you like the Friday weekly Roundups?
  • Do you have any suggestions of topics you'd like me to cover?
  • Do you like the balance of personal blogs vs marketing blogs?
  • Do you have any requests for certain interviewees you'd like to hear from?
  • What other questions do you have about marketing?
  • What marketing topics would you like to know more about?
I'm going to start giving some more giveaways. The first one being - as soon as I hit 500 followers, I will giveaway a huge basket of marketing goodies. :)

Please leave me a comment and let me know as I revamp for the new year. I'm open to new ideas and suggestions.

If you leave a comment today by midnight PT, I'll put you in a drawing for a secret marketing surprize!

Thanks again for following!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Nathan Bransford (Literary Agent)

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome back to the Monday Marvelous Marketer Series. The series will evolve with some new features this year. To provide your input, please take my poll on the side and give me your ideas on what you would like to see in the series this year.

We start the year off with the one and only Nathan Bransford. I'm sure we all follow his famous blog as he steers us through the publishing world. Today, he's here to share some of his Marketing knowledge.

Hi Nathan, thanks for joining us. As if you are not busy enough! Pretend that some people here don't know who you are and tell us about yourself.

Hi Shelli.

Curtis Brown Ltd.
is a New York-based agency that has been representing authors since 1914, and over the years has represented an incredible array of legendary/bestselling authors. I was fortunate to have joined Curtis Brown out of college in 2002 as an assistant in the San Francisco office. I had grown up in a small town in Northern California (my parents are farmers), and living in San Francisco and working in publishing was a dream. I’ve been with Curtis Brown ever since, including a few years in the New York office, before I returned to San Francisco and began building my list in earnest.

I also recently wrote a middle grade novel called JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, which will be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2011.

Nathan also runs a very popular blog - if you have not checked it out yet. It is a valuable resource! You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. It's OK he likes to be cyberstalked! ;)

Congrads on your book deal. Give me a corn dog and space any day! Thinking with both an author hat and agent hat, what do you think are the top 3 things authors should do to promote their book?

I actually only have one thing on the must do list, and that’s to have some sort of Google-able, professional web presence, whether it’s a blog, website, Facebook page… anything that is there on the Internet so that someone in publishing who hears about your work or is looking to contact you can do so easily.

Beyond that, I actually think the best marketing strategy is to recognize your strengths as a potential marketer and to spend your time where it would be best utilized. For instance, some people are really good at pounding the pavement and talking up bookstore owners and arranging appearances and signings. Some people are more introverted and would rather blog and build up their online presence. Others are very plugged in with the media and can utilize those connections to get attention for their book project.

There are many, many ways to promote a book. While I would encourage all authors to do everything they can to promote their work, I think it’s best when authors devote their time and energy where it would be most effective.

Well, you are definitely a great role model when it comes to a cool web presence (aka cool new site) and an extensive platform (aka over 1 million visitors last year). In your mind, what are the major marketing mistakes you see authors make?

  • Failing to have a professional web presence – in this day and age it’s essential
  • Forgetting the importance of always conducting oneself professionally online and in person. The Internet is always watching.
  • Feeling like they have to blog or be on Facebook or do this or that just because they think it’s what’s expected. For example, if you don’t have a passion/talent for blogging it doesn’t really pay to blog just for the sake of blogging: a little-trafficked site isn’t going to sell books. Devote your energy to endeavors that will pay off.
As an agent, when evaluating whether to take on an author or book, I'm assuming you Google them. What do you look for?

I definitely Google authors to see what their web presence looks like, though I wouldn’t say it’s something that’s terribly important to me.

Having a great book is the most important thing, and a web presence can be developed down the line.

But I do like to get a sense of who I might be working with. That’s why it’s so important to have a very professional online presence and to be mindful of the way you “look” on the Internet – I don’t mean physical appearance, but rather the character of your web presence. Is it professional? Does it present the picture of someone who would be easy to work with? Etc. etc.

How have things changed with agencies promoting their author books? What things do agents/literary agencies do to help promote their author's books?

Traditionally it wasn’t really the agent’s job to promote books, but I think that may be changing somewhat with the times.

Personally I promote my clients’ books on my blog and through my personal online network, and I’m always looking for new ways to effectively market my clients’ works.

And actually, speaking of which, this week I’m having an exciting blog contest for Jennifer Hubbard’s incredible debut YA novel THE SECRET YEAR (Viking), so please stop on by!

Can't wait to see what the contest is for Jennifer! As an agent, what are you looking for in 2010?

I’m always on the lookout for fresh voices and compelling plots. I represent a little everything, so when in doubt please feel free to query me.

Thank you for taking time to stop by!

Thanks Shelli!