3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Gail Carson Levine (bestselling author)

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.


Paul Greci said...

Great Interview. Thanks for your thoughts, Gail!

mary.anne.gruen@gmail.com said...

Thank you for the interview! I'll be sure to check out Gail's blog. "Ever" sounds like an interesting book. I checked it out on Amazon, but they only have audio and hard cover. I buy almost all my books on the Kindle. I guess I'm kind of a computer addict.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Awesome interview! Gail, I'm a big fan of Ella Enchanted, and was before Anne Hathaway became Ella. FYI, My adult brother-in-law was also a fan of the book and dragged his other adult brother along to see the movie with him when it opened in theaters. :)

Katie Anderson said...

Ooo! Gail and I would be BFFs - if she knew me, of course.

I loved this interview! I feel exactly the same :-)

Danyelle L. said...

Great interview. :) I like the postcard idea.

Patti said...

My son's reading Ella Enchanted in school right now. It's been a good lesson for him that just because you've seen the movie doesn't mean you can't read the book.

Question for teen: How important is romance when you read a YA book?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

One of the most important comments here, I think, is that the writing comes first, including the editing. It's easy to get carried away with everything else we know we must do, but if the book isn't its best, we miss the mark. *slinks back to open her manuscript*
Thanks to Gail and Shelli for a good interview.

lisa and laura said...

Very interesting to hear from Gail! I especially love the post card idea. Thanks!

Shawntelle Madison said...

Great post today! I enjoyed reading it.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great interview. I loved Ella Enchanted. I like the post card idea too. And it's refreshing to know that you can market without starting a blog right away.

Janet Johnson said...

Oh to be Gail. ;) Guess the next best thing is to follow her advice and write a great book!

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, I've met Gail in RL, and she is so so charming! Great interview Shelli! Thanks for the answers, Gail.

Jemi Fraser said...

LOVE the title & the cover of Ever - awesome :)

Great interview!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Thanks for sharing! Such a great interview. : )

Jackee said...

Great interview, thanks, ladies!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great interview, Shelli! I love Gail Carson Levine. Not only have I read her novels, I also have her non-fiction book Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly. My kids and I will do the writing exercises in there and it's great for helping me when I get stuck creatively.

Doraine said...

Good job, Shelli. I enjoyed the interview. I love Gail's books.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wonderful ... thanks for the interview!!

Rebecca Knight said...

The new book sounds really interesting! :) Also, great point about the blog link in your email--I'll have to do that.

Thanks so much, Gail & Shelli!

Daisy Whitney said...

Great interview and really useful tips!

Christina Farley said...

What a great interview! Thank you to both of you.

Linda Kage said...

Great Interview. It was nice to meet you!

Lori W. said...

Wonderful interview. I found Ella Enchanted because our librarian must love it. It's frequently facing out on a middle grade display shelf. Ever sounds interesting.