3 S.R. Johannes: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Marvelous Marketers: The Smart Chick Tour Gang

Contest winners - I am still in the process of mailing out all the prizes. Bear with me. If you havent gotten yours yet, it is coming! :)

Today we have a special treat. Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, and Alyson Noel are here to talk a little about marketing and their upcoming Smart Chicks Kick it tour (10 authors/8 cities).

First, can each of you tell us a little about your author career.

MM - I taught university lit for a while. In 2003, I switched to part-time teaching and allowed myself 3 years to try writing. In 2004, I wrote the short story that evolved into my first published novel (WICKED LOVELY) in 2005. I wasn't very optimistic - there was no major paranormal YA market yet. (not even Twilight) In 2006, I had just decided to go back to fulltime teaching when WL sold. Harper bought WL and the yet-to-be-written INK in a 3-book deal. Right now, I'm writing the 5th WL novel.

KA - My first adult book (Bitten/Otherworld series) came out in 2001. Book 11 (Waking the Witch) will be released in August. I also have a crime series with 2 books so far. For this tour, though, the focus is my young adult paranormal trilogy. The third book in the Darkest Power series (The Reckoning) comes out in April. Right now I'm editing the first book in the next YA trilogy.

AN - I’m the author of 12 novels for adults and teens, including the bestselling THE IMMORTALS series, and its soon to be released spin-off series, beginning with RADIANCE on 08.31.10. In a nutshell, I talked about writing for years, taking a writing class here and there where I worked on the same short story for about fifteen years. Then when 9/11 hit I was working as a flight attendant in NYC and figured it was as good a time to go after my dream. I expanded the same short story into a novel, and as soon as I typed “The End” I sent it off to a whole slew of publishers, (mistakenly thinking I didn’t need an agent –I can’t even begin to stress how very wrong that is!), and getting a slew of rejections for my efforts. So I took more classes, one of which led me to my then agent, who urged me to revise before he sent it out on submission. Ultimately selling what became my debut novel, FAKING 19, in a two-book deal to St. Martin’s Press, and I’ve been writing for them ever since. Today, I’m busy working on Untitled Immortals #5 (and yes, I’m also working on a better title for it!), and the second book in the spin-off series, as well as a new, exciting, super-sekrit project I’m hoping to reveal very soon . . .

What three things do you feel ever author needs to do to promote their book?

MM - I don't think there is a set list of such things. Each author & each book is individual, so it's really about what works for that author/book. I love Twitter, conferences, & blogging, but some authors love school visits, MySpace, & bookmarks. Others might prefer Skype visits. It's about what is best for YOU, not a "one size fits all" plan.

KA - I think there's only one thing EVERY author needs. A website. Beyond that, authors should be aware of all the various ways they can promote their books, try as many as they can, and stick with the ones they find both effective and enjoyable. For example, I don't blog; Twitter works much better for me. But I'd never say authors must use Twitter, because if they don't like it, their discomfort with the medium will show and leave a negative impression.

AN- While I still think it’s important, I also still believe that you should do only what you enjoy and what you’re comfortable with, saving most of your energy for writing the next book because that’s all your readers truly want from you anyway.
Though I will say that the number one, absolute, must have is a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just a nice, easy to navigate place to showcase you and your books. (Alyson's Twitter, Alyson's Blog)

I know you run contests – how do you feel this helps to connect to readers and promote your book?

MM -
I run contests because I like giving away books. Most of the contests are to win books I've enjoyed and think my readers will enjoy. As to giving away my books, I try to give away a few when I get copies because 1) I don't need them all and 2) it's fun. I wish I could tell you I thought it was a clever marketing idea, but it's really just a matter of enjoying sharing.

KA - I use contests in a number of ways. A fan art contest gives me art I can put on my site as extra content for readers. A fan-made trailer contest puts promotional videos on YouTube. Running a contest along with an announcement makes it feel less like "tooting my own horn" (eg. "It's my book's 10th week on the NYT list and I'm celebrating with a contest!") Likewise, contests are a way to gently remind readers of a release (e.g. giving away a book a day in the week leading up to a release) Most often, though, I just run them to say "Thanks for being a reader."

AN-I don’t run many contests anymore because with a deadline schedule like mine I don’t have the time. IN the past, they’ve turned out to be pretty popular . . . which makes me think I should consider starting up again!

What was the goal of starting the Smart Chicks Kick It tour? How did you come up with the authors that would attend?

MM - I'd done a few co-author events with Kelley and other authors, and at them, I'd had a great time. Then, in 2009, Harper set up a group tour. It was fun, but with a publisher driven group tour, the authors are all from ONE house. I talk to my readers a lot, and they aren't buying/reading from just one house. So, I started talking to authors to see if we could set up our own series of events with authors from various houses. Kelley and I started trying to come up with YA that our readers were reading or might like. We sent out a few invitations, including one to Alyson, and it just grew. Of course, it may be a fiasco, but we thought it might be fun to try.

KA - For me, the goal is to create exactly the sort of tour I want to be on. Publishers do a fantastic job, but there are always things I'd do differently. This is my chance to try them. As for choosing authors, when it comes to YA, I'm still a relative newbie. So I let Melissa's experience guide the choices, simply suggesting authors whose work I liked. That's one of the goals of the tour--introducing our readers to our favourite YA authors. Of course, there are many YA authors I like who aren't on the tour (or it would be huge!) but it's a good start.

AN-This was purely the genius of Ms. Melissa Marr and Ms. Kelley Armstrong. I am just thrilled to be along for the ride, so I will turn this one over to them!

What other creative marketing have you or your house done for any of your books?

MM -
I'm not sure if it's creative, but I've done temporary tattoos, reminder bands, USB drives with deleted scenes and "extras" pre-loaded. With my publisher's support, I've done book trailers (with the fab Circle of Seven folks; my publisher uploads my playlists onto iTunes. Right now, I'm writing a series of short stories in the WL world that are being made available through retail outlets. The first is free online and as an "extra" in the paperback of FRAGILE ETERNITY in March. I went to Harper and proposed it last summer, and they've supported the idea.

KA - I've run a couple of "release promos," where readers send me the receipt in the first few weeks after a release, and they get something for it (from books to shirts to bookmark sets) I design swag both for giveaways and my CafePress store. My favourite kind of marketing, though, is writing free stories for my readers. Since 2003, I've done an annual e-serial. I solicit ideas from readers, post a poll with ideas I like, then write a novella on their top pick, posting a chapter a month etc. In 2009 and 2010, collections of those stories from my adult series came out in book form, with all my proceeds going to charity (which gave me another promotional push--it's easy to publicize a charitable endeavour!)

AN-The coolest thing my publisher ever did was The Immortals Series website. It’s completely amazing—I was gobsmacked when I first saw it—the graphics are beautiful, and it’s a fun place for readers to visit. They also made some incredibly cool ads that they’ve run on Facebook and other sites, and as for me, well, I’m not sure how “creative” it is but I always make the usual bookmarks, bookplates, trailers, and such.

What do you want authors to know about marketing and publicity?

MM - That it shouldn't be a stressful thing. If it's fun to do, give it a go, but don't let the marketing stuff get in the way (if possible!). It's the writing that matters most. Some authors do no PR/marketing, and they function just fine. There are things I don't do because they're more stress than they're worth for me. Know yourself. Know your strengths. Don't let the not-writing part of this job consume you.

KK - First, it's a necessary part of being an author. I think authors need to know that before they sell. Otherwise, it comes as a huge shock, as it did to me. However, as important as self-promotion is, it should never interfere with the main job of an author: to tell the best story possible. You need a good product to sell. You don't want to reach a point where your promotional efforts for the current release take precedence over writing or editing your next one. The book must come first.
AN - That you should concentrate only on what you enjoy and what you’re comfortable with, and to not worry about what everyone else is doing, or getting from their publisher that you’re not. Put the majority of your efforts into writing your next book—I truly believe it’s the absolute best thing you can do to market yourself. It keeps your readers happy, helps keep your backlist in stock, and helps build your name more than any ad, trailer, or bookmark ever could!

Thank you so much for stopping by today!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Heads up - Social Media GIveaway!

Remember Greg Pincus from the vlog last week talking about Twitter?

Well he just spilled the beans that over at The Happy Accident, he's giving away a free social media consultation (to celebrate his fourth blogoversary at GottaBook).

The details are here!

To enter to win, you have to recommend a blog in the comments, and there's a great list building there already. That alone is worth checking out!

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shrinking Violet INterview (part 2)

I'm popping back in to thank Shrinking Violets Promotion for asking me to do a guest marketing post.

In case you missed it -

Last week in Part 1, they covered the first two stages of marketing.
1) Prior to getting an agent/publication AND
2) Agented/Before deal.

This week in Part 2 , they covered the next 2 stages.
3) After deal/Before publication AND
4) After published

Have a great week! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Last chance to ask our Teen Panel questions?

(Yes I know I said I was going to unplug but I'm back for just a second! I swear! :)

As some of you know - a teen panel is standing by to answer any and all of our questions regarding the books they read? What covers do they love and why? where do they hear about books? Etc.

This is your last chance to find out what you want to know from teens about the books they choose to read and why?

Leave me your questions in the comments!

Next month, our "Teen Panel" will give us the Scoop!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mardi Gras Wrap up/Grand prize Winners

Thanks to Elana Johnson for throwing this CRAZ-EE PAR-TEE with me!

After the hectic last few weeks preparing for the party, I've decided to not blog this week and focus on my new book. I also want to try and visit some of my new followers during my breaks and we all know how long that takes!

To all my lovely new followers: thank you and don't give up on me just b/c I'm out this week. I will be back on my regular blogging schedule next Monday.

To those who dont know, I give a 30 day money back guarantee. If I don't make you laugh at least three times, go "hmmmm" at least twice, and think "I feel the same way" at least once, you have my permission to UNFOLLOW me :)

Don't forget: Next Monday's Marvelous Marketers are Alyson Noel, Melissa Marr, and Kelley Armstrong talking about how they've been setting up their new group book tour that starts this summer.

Mardi Gras Update

Wow last week was fun. Right? I think I still have a blog-over from the Marketing Mardi Gras. I met so many great people. Had some really great comments. And most of all, I got to giveaway a bunch of prizes that made people happy.

Al those books will go out by the end of this week (including the ones from the Fabulous 500 Follower Week.)

Now to the part you all have been waiting for....

Grand Prize Winner #1 (unagented). Wins 3 writing craft books and most importantly, a query/3 chapters critique from my agent, Alyssa Henkin at Trident Media Group is...


Grand prize Winner #2 - (Agented/published) - wins Guerrilla Marketing for Writers, a free two hour consultation with me on marketing, and design on one piece of collateral (bookmarker, business card ext). The winner is...

COREY SCHWARTZ (Thing 1 and Thing 2)!

Winners please email me with your address and for next steps at sjohannes@bilaninc.com! :)

Hope to see you all back here on Monday and congrads to the winners!!

See you next Monday!

(FYI - all drawings last week were done by assigning each entry a number or numbers for the Scavenger Hunt. They were assigned as the entries came in and I used a random number generator to choose.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mardi Gras Friday- Enter the Scavenger Hunt for Grand Prizes

Mardi Gras Updates

Thanks to everyone who participated and took time to follow my blog and comment. I hope you got alot out of the posts.

The winner for the last Daily Prize Random Drawing is...

Beth Revis! (Go follow her blog, it is a great one!)

Congrads Beth! Not only do you get Lee's ebbok on blogging, but you also win a stack of books: ttly by Lauren Myracle (PB), Princess in Training by Meg Cabot (HB), and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (HB).

Congrads and please email me your address!

Fabulous Follower prize

The winner of the Random Drawing from all my Followers is....

Susan Fields

Congratulations! You win a query critique with Jennifer Laughren at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!!! You also win 2 books by the bestselling author Aimee Friedman - French Kiss (PB) and a signed Hardback of Sea Change!

Susan, send me your email and I will hook you up with Jennifer! I will also need your address for the books. Thank you for Following me! :)

Scavenger Hunt for Grand Prize Drawing

Last chance to win a query/critique and free marketing.

Question of the week: What is my main piece of advice for this week? (Hint: It is not too late to enter. You can go back and write down all 4 clues from the posts Monday - Thursday. It's not a hard question - trust me!)

To enter, you MUST fill in the form below. NOTE: Only those who completely fill in the form will be entered into the Grand prize Drawing - one for Agented Authors and one for Unagented Authors.

You have to enter by tonight at 3amET/12PT. That means you have some time to complete your extra points for extra chances.

It is on the honor system, I am not going to check up on you.

Grand prize 1 - (Unagented includes) A query/3 chapter critique with my agent Alyssa Henkin at Trident Media Group. In addition a few books on writing craft.

Grand Prize 2 - (Agented/Published) - A 2 hour free marketing session with me, One free piece of marketing (Bookmarker/postcard/business card), and Guerilla Marketing for Writers.

Winner announced on Monday!

Good luck!!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mardi Gras Thurs/Effective Social Media with Gurus

Mardi Gras Update

The winner of Wednesday's Daily Prize Drawing......

KELLY Polark!!!!!!!!!

I'm so happy for you. Send me your email and I will put you in touch with Marietta for your query or 1 chapter critique as well as a 30 minute phone call!!!!

To others, don't get discouraged! We have 2 more agent critiques to giveaway by the end of the week. Just be sure to Follow and Comment.

Important Reminders:
  • Follow Elana and me by 12PST/3 ET time tonight and automatically be entered into the Follower Drawing which will include a query critique from the amazing (and hilarious) Jennifer Laughren at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
  • Comment today for a chance to win the last Daily Prize listed below.
  • Today is the last clue for the Scavenger Hunt. Go back and make sure you have collected all four clues (one in each post this week) and come back tomorrow to fill out the Grand Prize Drawing Form. Winners will be announced Monday.
  • You can still get extra points for the Grand prize Drawing. Click here to see what you can do.
  • The Grand PUBA prizes which include an Agented package that includes free marketing and an Unagented package that includes a query/3 chapter critique by my agent, Alyssa Henkin/Trident Media.

Effective Social Media - Blogging and Tweeting the Right way!

Today, I wanted to get you some information on Bogging and Tweeting (Twitter).

The last Daily Prize Drawing will be tonight. It will be a copy of Lee's ebook on The Zen of Blogging and a copy of the book Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz. So be sure to Follow and Comment today!

Now presenting......

Lee Wind, avid blogger and author of the ebook The Zen of Blogging.

Today, he tells us the top 3 reasons why blogging is awesome for authors. (To purchase a copy of Lee's ebook, go to his site.) You can also follow him on Twitter.

Also presenting...

Greg Pincus, Social Media Guru who speaks at conference as well as runs several great blogs. His writing blog, GottaBook and his social media blog, The Happy Accident. You can also follow him on Twitter for some great social media advice.

Today, he tells us about the Golden Rules of Twitter.

Hope that was helpful!

Thanks to Lee and Greg for taking the time to do the Vlogs!

Clue #4 is the word "Now."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras Wed!/Marketing to Indie Bookstores

Mardi Gras Updates

The winner of Tuesday's Daily Prize Drawing is ...

Kristi from Sisters in Scribe

You win a free package of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's ebooks: The Frugal Editor and The Frugal Promoter.

Please email me your email address so I can hook you up with Carolyn. Congratulations and thanks so much for following me and participating this week!
For rules and schedule, go here.

Marketing to Indies (Marietta Zacker
, Nancy Gallt Literary Agent and Indie Bookstore Owner)

Don't forget to Follow me and comment on this post for a chance to win today's Daily Prize! Today's prize includes a query OR/one chapter critique from Marietta along with a follow up phone call to discuss!!! Good luck!

Hi Marietta. Thanks for celebrating Mardi Gras with us this week!

Hi Shelli, thanks so much for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit about myself while adding to the conversation about marketing and children’s books.

FYI: Marietta is pronounced (Ma-Ree-Eh-Tuh). If you are really good, you can roll the "R". She loves that!!! :)

Before we get into the good stuff, tell me about yourself, your bookstore, and your agency.

I am an agent with the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency and own an independent children’s bookstore, Sparkhouse, nestled inside a toy store. Without a doubt – and I imagine, not surprisingly – my work in one informs my work in the other.

At the agency, Nancy and I work collaboratively in every aspect of our work, from reading manuscripts to negotiating contracts to guiding our clients. Nancy opened the agency 10 years ago and I joined her in 2008. We are proud to represent some of the most amazing writers and illustrators in the industry – both published and yet-to-be published.

At the bookstore, they call me the Book Curator (we firmly believe that every book is a work of art) – I select the books that we carry and work with the community to make sure that they are exposed to books that will make children and young adults lifelong readers. That work, along with my previous experiences in the publishing and book industry, fuels what I do at the agency, working hands-on with authors, illustrators, editors and fellow publishing professionals.

I don't see how you balance it all! Put on your Indie hat for a second and tell me, as a bookstore owner, what are the most effective ways an author can contact/or market to an indie bookstore?

• If you have an Indie bookstore nearby, get to know them well. Ask the children’s book buyer if they would review a copy in the hopes that they can recommend it for the Indie Next List or feature it on their website or newsletter (and if the book buyer is also the bookstore owner and therefore, busy beyond belief, ask if anyone else on staff can do it!). In the Indie world, we talk quite a bit amongst ourselves and collaborate often, so a recommendation from a fellow Indie bookstore goes a long, long way.

• If you are willing to do events, (book signings, school visits, video conferences, etc.), ask them if they can connect you with the local school or community organizations with whom they will certainly have ties.

• If electronic or postal communications (as opposed to face to face) are your strongest tools (or possibly only tools, depending on where you live), be creative with the e-mail or letter you send to indie bookstore owners. Just telling them that your book was recently published doesn’t help – we are just as bombarded as everyone else in the book industry. And if you can, send them a galley or book (or at least an excerpt) – it’s always the writing or the illustrations that get us!

• Regardless of whether you are marketing to a bookstore or not… I would strongly recommend developing an online presence – whether on your own or with some help – and ensure that it accurately reflects who you are. You don’t need to have an account set up on every networking site on the web. Simply ask yourself what would make the most sense for you and then do that in a way that highlights your uniqueness.

• It makes sense to connect with the publicity department at your publishing house and alongside them, find ways that you can creatively market yourself. They are an ideal and logical ally.

• Regardless of who you are presenting yourself to, always do so professionally and after doing a bit of homework (Sound familiar? Hmmm, query letter anyone?).

What are a few tips on how to run an effective book signing? What do you think an author should do to ensure its success?

During the planning stage, ask if they can arrange a school visit that same day (even if when you start, you can afford to do so free of charge or for a nominal fee). A child’s interest in and enthusiasm for your book will more than likely mean a larger turnout at the store. Also ask if the bookstore can partner with the local public library (the bedrock of many communities) or local restaurant (food at en event always helps), as it is invaluable to reach out to different constituents of the community. Think of creative ways to tie the bookstore’s community to your book and make those suggestions. And as I mentioned before, make sure to tap your publisher’s publicity department.

(Clue #3 is the word "Marketing".)

For the actual event, make sure you know what is expected of you and if you are scheduled to talk, make sure you have a good plan for the talk or discussion and that you are well-rehearsed. Make sure that someone from the store will be by your side – they should lead the nuts and bolts of the event while you focus on talking about your book. If you are in a community where you have any kind of roots, make sure you personally invite everyone you know and ask each of them to bring a few people.

I believe we, as authors and lovers of books, should be sure we are supporting our local Indie bookstores. How can we, as authors, help/support bookstore owners more?
  • Become part of the IndieBound community and always, always use the IndieBound logo on your website and marketing pieces.
  • Of course, also become an IndieBound affiliate so people can buy your book through an independent bookstore.
  • And needless to say, patronize independent bookstores – it’s the only way to ensure indie bookstores continue to serve our communities in ways no one else can.

Let's switch our focus. Put on your agent hat and tell me how you and your literary agency support your authors' books once they are on the shelf?

I throw a party for them every day! :) We love to talk to our authors and illustrators about different ways to connect to their readership and to the community at large. We ask our authors and illustrators to continue to be students of the industry alongside us.

Most importantly though, we support them as they continue to create new characters and devise new stories as their growth as writers and illustrators will only strengthen the work already on the shelf. Their job is to write and illustrate and we encourage them to continue to do so.

As an agent, what are you looking for in a writer/manuscript?

Work that moves me – whether through words, illustrations or both. I look for manuscripts and illustrations that speak to the rich, complex, diverse world we live in and hope to work with people that are just as passionate as I am about the vital function children’s books serve in our society.

Thanks for stopping by, Marietta!

My best to you Shelli and everyone in the blogging world! :)

Also, you can follow Marietta on Twitter @AgentZacker. and on Linked In at "Marietta Zacker". She reserves her Facebook page for personal use only, so don't try to Friend her :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras Tuesday! How to do Frugal Promotion!

Mardi Gras Updates

The winner of Monday's Daily Prize drawing is ...

Jemi Fraser!

You win a LOT of Meg Cabot books (3 Hardbacks and 1 Paperback): Sweet Sixteen Princess, Pants on Fire, How to be Popular, and The Boy Next Door.

Please email me your address. Congratulations and thanks so much for following me and participating.

Reminders on how to Enter
There are 3 different ways to win! You must Follow me and Elana (who is also giving away agent critiques!)to be eligible for any prizes
  1. Daily prizes - Comment on each daily post (random drawing, awarded daily)
  2. Follow Prize - Follow me by Thursday night 12 PST (random drawing, awarded Friday)
  3. Two Grand Prizes (1 agented, 1 unagented): Answer Scavenger Hunt question on FRiday and Fill in Friday's form.
  4. You can get extra entries by doing these things.
  5. For rules and schedule, go here.
  6. You do not need to email me or comment and include all the links you are doing for extra points. Be sure to come back on Friday and fill out the mandatory form to be included in the Grand Prize Drawings. BTW - This is on the honor system.
  7. These prizes are for agented authors AND unagented. You both can win!
Note: To all winners of this week's contest as well as The Fabulous Follower Contest held last week. All prizes will be mailed out by the end of NEXT week.

Frugal Marketing for Authors (Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter)

  • A big prize will be awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower): A copy of her two ebooks: The Frugal Editor and The Frugal Promoter. You must comment by 12 midnight PST/3am EST.
  • Clue #2 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post

Hi Carolyn! Thanks for joining our Mardi Gras Party this week. Tell me about yourself and your books.

I'm really a fiction writer and poet at heart, but I started writing my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers because I wanted other writers to avoid the same potholes I fell into.

I run The Frugal blog that provides tips on how to do your marketing frugally as well as a Sharing Writers blog that was named one of "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites".

I am also the author of The Frugal Promoter (How to do what your publisher wont), The Frugal Editor, and my new book, A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions just hit stores in paperback.

THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER tells authors how to do what their publishers can’t or won’t and why authors can do their own promotion better than a PR professional. It gives authors hundreds of nearly free promotion ideas; they may then pick and choose those that fit their pocketbooks and their personalities.

Can you fill us in on your top 5 practical tips on how authors (nonfiction and fiction) can best market their books without spending a great deal of money?

That's easy. Online. Online. Online. Online. And #5 is publicity. Publicity is what you get free from newspaper editors (primarily) when they need material for current events or feature stories. It is not...ahem! PAID advertising.

What made you decide to advocate “do-it-yourself marketing and promotion”? Why do you feel it is important?

I mentioned those potholes. I fell into them in spite of marketing and journalism backgrounds. That is, I knew what editors want, what they need. All that stuff. What I didn't understand were the kinks, creases and folds of book marketing. The biggest, ugliest wrinkle was that publishers don't do it for us authors anymore.

How can an author successfully manage time for both creative writing and marketing? What is your advice on how they can do a little marketing a day to save time for writing?

Do a little at a time. Small doses. But keep at it. Publicity and promotion build. Persistence is a magic word.

If you were only allowed to give one piece of advice to a writer about marketing or promotion, what would it be?

Persistence. Oh, you want another one?

Don't listen to all the stuff other authors tell you about book promotion on the Web. Well, OK. Listen. But evaluate the source. What do they know about marketing? Is what they're repeating hearsay or from practical experience? How might they have misinterpreted their experience?

I'll give you an example. Many authors are mad as h--- at Amazon and will have nothing to do with them. Consider this. Amazon provides lots of opportunities for writers. Be mad at them. But if you want your book to be taken seriously, it had better be on Amazon. By the way, there is a chapter in The Frugal Book Promoter on using Amazon to your advantage. Some say it is easily worth the price of the book.

Here's another one.

You'd better know enough about editing, format and the pet peeves of gatekeepers that you can do a great query letter, one that won't tick off an agent, publisher or, host or editor. You'll learn how straight from the mouths of helpful agents in The Frugal Editor.

(Clue #2 - the word is "Your")

What advice do you have for authors doing their own marketing and having a tough time during the low points?

Quit thinking of marketing as selling books. Marketing is about building your career. Don't judge the success of a promotion on how many books you sell. Promotion is cumulative. People don't buy much that they haven't seen or been introduced to about seven times.

Thanks for joining us today!

Thanks Shelli!

Don't forget to comment on today's post to be entered into Tuesday's Daily Drawing!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras Monday! Marketing to Librarians

Marketing Mardi Gras Giveaway Week!

Hot Update: Jennifer Laughran from Andrea Brown Literary Agency (who rocks BTW!) has also generously offered a query critique as a prize (along with Alyssa Henkin and Marietta Zacker)! Woot Woot! You can follow her on twitter as well.

It's finally here - a week of giveways and marketing advice for all my wonderful followers. Come join the fun for a crazy amount of free (priceless you might say) giveaways.

To enter:

1) You must be a follower of my blog and Elana Johnson's blog to win any giveaways. Remember: You must enter Elan'as contest separately from mine.

2) For Daily Prizes, you must comment on each daily post to be entered into the drawing.

3) Everyday there will be one CLUE hidden in the post that will be needed for Friday's Scavenger Hunt Question. Write it down!

4) Friday's Follower Prize - There will be a random drawing on Friday. You only need to follow the two blogs mentioned above to be entered. :)

4) Grand Prizes - one for agented authors and one for unagented authors. To enter, on Friday you must fill in the complete form to be eligible to win.

Note: For additional information and how to score extra points, see Fridays post. Keep in mind, I am going on the honor system so if you tell me you posted, I believe you. You do not need to show "proof of post" unless you want to.

Marketing To Librarians - Elizabeth Bird (Librarian at New York Public Library/Fuse 8 blog/author)

Note: Remember to write down clue #1 and comment to be entered into Monday's drawing for a stack of books!

Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for being our first to kick off Marketing Mardi Gras. Tell us about yourself and experience as the librarian of one of the most fabulous libraries in the U.S.A.

Well, after I got my library degree I pretty much immediately started working for New York Public Library. I began at a library in Greenwich Village called the Jefferson Market Branch. They have a marvelous children's collection. A year later I applied for an opening in the Central Children's Room. Originally we were across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. Now we've picked ourselves up and moved to our new location on 42nd and 5th. I am pleased to now be working in the main branch of NYPL, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, where the original children's room was housed from 1911 to 1970. We are now just down the hall from where we started!

My experience as a children's librarian in New York has been fascinating. New York branches tend to be small and very centered on the neighborhoods they cater to. We've 86 locations in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. So basically, New York is all about connecting to different people in different areas with the best books, materials, and online resources that meet their needs. As for my current fabulous branch, I've a little book that I keep on the front desk that I make every author and illustrator who walks through the front door sign. We get literary scholars, teachers, educators, parents, other librarians, tourists, and kids galore at my site. Couldn't be a cooler job in the world, so say I.

As for me, I'm a writer with two picture books coming out with Greenwillow (A Giant Dance Party ) and an adult non-fiction title I'm writing with two other bloggers: Peter Sieruta of Collecting Children's Books and Jules Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast that we sold to Candlewick (WILD THINGS!: The True, Untold Stories Behind the Most Beloved Children's Books and their Creators.)

I also blog on the School Library Journal website at A Fuse #8 Production. In addition, I review for Kirkus , have reviewed in the past for The New York Times , and write the occasional article for Horn Book . I am also the author of the ALA Editions title Children's Literature Gems: Choosing and Using Them in Your Library Career.

Goodness! I had no idea how busy you were. You are a truly the Renaissance "Book" Woman. :) As a librarian, can you tell us what you feel are the three most effective ways an author can contact/or market to a library?

First off, the author should find out who does the purchasing for the library. If you're dealing with a big system like NYPL it may be a single materials specialist. Find any children's librarian working at a branch and ask who does the purchasing. Then get their contact information. If you are dealing with a smaller system, it may well be that the children's librarian you're speaking to is the person who does the buying.

Now when you meet a children's librarian, even if they're not the one who buys the books, they can usually at least make suggestions to the materials specialist in some way. (CLUE#1- the word is "Start") Here are three things you can do:

  1. Coming in person is actually far more effective than just calling or emailing. If the librarian is fielding lots of authors they're going to be more inclined to discount someone they can't see. Get their contact information, if you can. Then you can follow up with additional thoughts or, if you have another book, other titles. When you come in, mention that you're an author and you have a book. Talk it over with the librarian. Find out what kinds of books they lack and find out if there is a need for your title. Strike up a conversation but don't immediately push them to purchase. Have a copy on hand for them to look through, and keep. If you've gotten professional reviews as well, be sure to mention that. A positive review from Booklist or School Library Journal is worth far more to a librarian than just your word
  2. In lieu of a copy, have promotional materials. Some systems don't care to receive bookmarks, while others are ravenous for them. And not all promotional materials are created equal. One of the most effective we ever received came from Ruth McNally Barshaw. They were heat sensitive blue pencils. When you held them your fingertips turned them white. The effect lasted about a week, but we've been using those pencils ever since. And every time we use them we think of her books too.
  3. If you are able, create a program that kids can do along with your book. A lot of systems are very careful about who they allow to perform for their kids, but others like it when local authors read their books or field questions. Find out if the library will allow you to sell your books at such programs too. Not all systems allow that (ours doesn't) but some will be less strict.

Great advice! It's always interesting to me that even though we put so much time into social networking, at the end of the day, the face-to-face are still very important. As a librarian – what are the 3 things an author should NOT do when marketing to a library?

  1. Ah! Well, don't walk in without doing your research. As I say, find out who does the buying. You don't want to corner a page with the sole job of shelving books and sell the book to them. They might be interested, but it won't do you much good in the long run.
  2. Don't be pushy. That's fairly obvious, but it's best if you don't try to get an answer out of the librarian then and there about whether or not they'll buy your book. A lot of time library systems have a process in place where multiple readers look at a book to approve it before purchasing.
  3. Don't be discouraged if they tell you no to your face. In these tight times a lot of library systems are buying from folks like Baker & Taylor and they simply can't purchase your book from you unless it's offered through that kind of system. Take heart. Not all rejections are created equal.

I think its safe to say, most authors are used to the word no. :) But it doesn't get any easier! What are a few tips on how to run an effective book signing? What do you think an author should do to ensure its success?

We don't do many signings in my own library, but my mother worked in an independent bookstore for many years so there are a couple things I know. First off, don't worry if nobody shows up. Every author, no matter how huge, has at some point stared at a room full of empty seats. Or, almost worse, a single parent with a squirmy toddler. In the event that people do show up, be gracious. Be friendly. Be willing to talk to crazy people (there's usually at least one). And if you get an enormous crowd and you worry about your signing hand, make sure you get the kids first, the adults second.

Elizabeth, thank you for taking the time to give us some insight!

Thanks Shelli. This was fun to do!

Come back tomorrow for another chance to win a prize as well as a marketing Double Header: Lee Wind on The Zen of Blogging and Greg Pincus on Social Networking!

In Other News: Be sure to also stop by Shrinking Violet Promotions. This is a longer two part post that will discuss in more depth on how each author can identify the stages of their career and what marketing can be done in each phase. Last week, Beth Revis interviewed me for a few highlights on a similar topic. ;)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let's get this Par-Tee Started! BYOB!

It's almost here!

Marketing Mardi Gras starts Monday, Feb 15th.

To celebrate, I'll have awesome guests, marketing advice, daily prizes and a scavenger hunt for a two Grand prizes.

First - you MUST be a Follower of my blog and Elana Johnson's blog to win ANY of the prizes listed below. Loyal peeps get rewarded :)

Note: Elana is also running a fabulous contest next week for agent critiques and her fabulous ebook so you have nothing to lose by following us.

We gain you as a friend, you gain some cool free gifts :) (Plus we're fun!)

Three kinds of prizes are available for you to win:

1) Daily Prizes
Every day, I will do a prize drawing from the Followers/Friends who comment on that day's post.

In addition to the daily prize, a daily clue will be provided in the post that relates to the Friday's Scavenger Hunt Question.

Monday: Marketing to librarians (Elizabeth Bird, Librarian NYPL/Fuse 8)
  • Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower) - free books
  • Clue #1 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post
Tuesday: Frugal Marketing for Authors (Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of Frugal Marketing)
  • Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower): Free ebook of Frugal Marketing
  • Clue #4 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post
Wednesday: Marketing to Indie bookstores (Marietta Zacker, Literary agent/NYC Indie book Owner)
  • Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower): A query/1st chapter critique by Marietta Zacker at Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. She will critique your query or first chapter and give you a follow up 30 minute phone conversation!!!!!!
  • Clue #3 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post
Thursday: Double Header! The Zen of Blogging (Lee Wind, author of ebook The Zen of Blogging) and Greg Pincus on Social Networking
  • Prize awarded to a post commenter (you must also be a follower): - A free copy of Lee's ebook The Zen of Blogging
  • Clue #2 for the Marketing Scavenger Hunt will be hidden in the post

2) Friday's Followers Prizes
All you have to do is be a Follower by 12:00 AM (midnight) EST on Thursday night (Feb 18). I will do a random drawing from the Follower list on the left hand side for some great prizes. This will be announced on the following Monday.

2nd Prize:

3) Scavenger Hunt Grand Prizes
To enter, on Friday you will need to fill out the form completely. You will be asked to put in the Scavenger Hunt answer, tally any extra points, and tell me whether you are agented or not. Winners will be announced on the following Monday.

Point System - Your name will be automatically be entered into the drawing one time just for trying. If you get it right, you will get 2 points.

Extra Points: (You will get your name put in the drawing for each additional point.)
+1 Tweeted the contest
+2 Follow me on Twitter
+1 Facebooked the contest
+2 Friend me on Facebook
+2 Add me to your blogroll
+5 Blogged about the contest
+2 for following Elana's blog

+1 for following my blog

Grand Prize Package #1 - The Unagented Writer Package is for those who currently DO NOT have an agent and want one. This includes:
  • A lot of books on writing and querying
  • A query/ 3 Chapter Critique by my awesome agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group!!!!!!!
Grand Prize Package #2 - The Agented Writer Package is for those who do not want an agent, have an agent, are on submission, have a book deal, or are published. This includes:
  • A lot of marketing books
  • Free 2 hour consultation with me on marketing you and your book
  • One free marketing item - design of a business card, bookmarker, postcard etc
***NOTE: Elana is also running a Great contest this week. We're offering extra entries for each other, but if you're interested in winning the prizes in her contest, you MUST ENTER HER CONTEST in addition to mine. She's having some great query critique prizes.

In other words, if you enter here, you are NOT entered there. They are two separate contests that we're promoting together. Does that make sense? If not, shoot me an email: sjohannes@bilaninc.com. Or you can leave any questions in the comments and I will clarify!

So go ahead and follow me today. The Par-Tee starts Monday!

Be there or be square!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mardi Gras 411/Elana Johnson on Querying

411 on Marketing Mardi Gras

As you know, next week (Feb 15 - Feb 19) is my Marketing Mardi Gras Party. The party will last all week long and include many special guests, daily prizes, a Marketing Scavenger Hunt, and 2 Grand Prizes awarded at the end of the week.
1) A Marketing Package for agented authors
2) My Agent's Critique Package (Alyssa Henkin at Trident Media group) for unagented authors.

Sound fun or what!?

Now, Elana Johnson (The Query Master) and I are throwing this PAR-Tee together. She will be having tons of prizes as well including additional agent query critiques.

The thing is to enter this Mardi Gras Party - you really need to follow us BOTH.

So go ahead and sign up for both blogs today and get a head start.

What do you have to lose? We give great advice, we are fun, and we give 30 day guarantees if you don't laugh at least once. Plus let's face it - the prizes are awesome! (if i do say so myself :)

All details on the party will be announced TOMORROW so come back!


Today, Elana stopped by today to tell us the Five Things To Avoid When Querying
(On her blog today she asked me about how to balance Social networking with Writing. GO check it out!)

Querying can be a long and tiring process. Writing a query letter can feel the same way. And since your letter is what you use to query, here are a few hints for what to avoid when getting ready to enter the query trenches.

1. Querying too early. Write your query letter. Revise it a few times. Post it for others to review. Rewrite it a few more times. This same advice should be applied to your manuscript. Write it. Revise a few times. Give it to some trusted readers. Rewrite some more. Don’t query until both your letter and your MS have gone through this process.

2. Sending mass queries. You need to personalize. Research each agent. QueryTracker.net has all the pertinent links you need for every reputable agent. And stats for how long they take to respond, how often they request, etc. Make sure you spell the agent’s name right. Be sure they’d be a good match for your work. Mass querying is bad for everyone.

3. Gushing. The query letter is a business letter. Treat it as such. It’s okay to say you read something on their blog/twitter/website that made you think they’d be a good match for your book. Don’t gush about how amazingly awesome they are or that you like their cat or whatever. That just screams “stalker!” and that’s not really how you want to start your professional relationship.

4. Blathering on and on. We all want to make ourselves personable. But as I said before, the query letter is a business letter. State your business and be done. They don’t need to know how many kids you have or anything like that. They want to know if you can craft a concise summary of your book. Because usually, that means you know how to use words well, and your MS won’t be stuffed with useless words. If your query is, agents likely think your MS is too.

5. Sending repeatedly. Follow the rules. If an agency says a “no” from one is a “no” from all, don’t try someone else at the agency. Don’t send your query letter to the same agent over and over again. If they say no, they mean it.

Get that query polished to a high shine, coat your nerves in steel and sit back and wait for the requests to come rolling in!

See you back here tomorrow for the Pre-Party!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

2010 SCBWI New York Notes from across the Net

Hi guys.

I've been perusing and reading some great notes from the NYC conference. I thought I would lists out a summary of what I have found. Some of this is on the SCBWI Team Blog, but a lot of these I found on Twitter/ random blogs.

Jane Yolen

Write Up My Life

Berrie Green

Libba Bray

Beware of the Hot Pterodactyl

Story Makers

Libba Bray on Writing

Writing as an Extreme Sport

Libba Bray on Writing as a Sport

Jim Benton - Illustrator

Compulsive Creator

Viral Marketing/Promotion - Jennifer Bailey, Blogger & Graphic Designer

Jenn Bailey on Promotion

Viral Marketing

TV and New Media - Eddie Gamarra Agent, The Gotham Group

Your book as a Movie

Picture Books - Allyn Johnston, Vice President & Publisher, Beach Lane Books

Real Deal about Picture Books

Writing Fantasy - Arianne Lewin Editor, Disney/Hyperion

Writing Fantasy

Arianne Lewin on Fantasy

Literary Novels -
Alvina Ling Senior Editor, Little Brown

SCBWI Aving Ling

Visual StoryTelling - Laurent Linn Art Director, S&S Books for Young Readers

SCBWI Laurent Linn

NonFiction -
Brenda Murray Editor, Scholastic

Brenda on NonFiction

Contracts - Edward Necarsulmer Agent, McIntosh and Otis

Exciting world of Contracts

Writing For teens - Ben Schrank Publisher, Razorbill

Writing for Teens

Ben Schrank on writing

Series Fiction - Francesco Sedita,
VP & Publisher, Grosset & Dunlap

Miscellaneous sessions: Intensives, Q&A Panel, Signings

Post intensives and Q&A

Networking NIght

Conference summary

Autograph Party

Agents on the Market

Other sessions

Sheldon Fogelman Agency

What's selling

General Round UPs


Winter Conference


Round UP

SCBWI Conference 2010

Conference High Points

Surviving NYC Weekend

Publishing tips from NYC

Conference Wisdom

Part 1 - Friday
Part 2 - Saturday
Part 3 - Saturday
Part 4 - Sunday

Hope this helps!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Mandy Hubbard (author of Prada and Prejudice)

Hi Mandy, thanks for joining us this week! Tell us a little about yourself and your books.

My book on shelves, PRADA AND PREJUDICE, is about a fifteen year old girl who trips in her Prada heels, hits her head, and wakes up in 1815. I have four other books in the pipeline, most notably my August 2010 release, YOU WISH, about a girl whose every birthday wish from the last fifteen years came true-- starting with a life-sized MY LITTLE PONY.

I got started like most do-- querying. I landed an agent in 2006, but it took two years (and nine drafts) for Prada & Prejudice to sell. It's a rather long story, but if you'd like to read about it, I recapped it here, on my blog.

Selling my debut novel (as part of a two book deal) was sort of like breaking through a logjam, and I've sold three other books since. (including a book about Nascar, Driven (June 2010, Harlequin); You Wish (August 2010, Razorbill) and Shattered (Written as Amanda Grace, Flux, 2011)

Blogging has been really amazing for me, but at first, it had nothing to do with marketing. I met my critique partner(s) through livejournal, and I really don't think I ever could have been published without them. I used livejournal as a way to socialize with other writers and document my journey.

I do get a lot of traffic to my blog these days, most notably to the "road to publication" tagged posts. After my book deal, I went back and unlocked the entries dealing with rejection. The ones where I whined and moped that it would never happen. I was hoping that other writers who were struggling with rejection would recognize that we all felt like that at one point, and perseverance is what it takes to get beyond it.

You are very active in the social networking community. How do you use the various channels to get the word out about your book?

I think it's important not to be obnoxious when you're on the social networking platforms. If you be yourself and try to make genuine connections and friendships, you create a far more lasting impression than if you friend everyone with a message about your novel and where they can buy it. I talk to people every day on Twitter and Facebook, but I do it because I enjoy connecting with writers.

I do think it's important to use your real name (or pen name, if you have one) consistently, rather than goofy nicknames that change between the social networks. If your livejournal name is WRITERMAMA45 and your twitter name is Janey Smith, I probably won't even realize you're the same person.

I also make a point to keep my book cover in my avatar or user picture. My book cover is my brand, and people are more likely to remember the image than the title.

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

A) You absolutely must be google-able. I can't tell you how many opportunities I've had because people were able to find my website or Facebook and send me a message. One of the countries that bought foreign rights contacted me directly, and I was able to forward that to my publisher. I've also set up library visits and talks with writer's groups after someone contacted me. I've discovered my book is in a grocery store chain in California.

In other words: be available for opportunities to strike. If they can't find you, they'll find someone else. If you can't afford a website, use a customizable blog. An example of someone who does this well is Suzanne Young

B) Interviews. I must have done at least thirty or forty by now. But they are free, except for your time, and it gets your book out there.

C) Write another book. All the work in the world isn't going to mean a thing if you don't have another book coming out. This might not seem like a "marketing" type tip, but it truly is--if you want a career, you need more than one book on shelves. Unless you're Jay Asher. Then you can bask in the glory of your awesomeness. (Although, for the record, pretty sure he's writing another book too.... So what are you waiting for?)

You have done some very creative things in terms of marketing. Can you tell us more about the STUPID PRADA SUMMER VAN TOUR?

The Van Tour started as a joke during a chat room conversation. Rhonda Stapleton (author of Stupid Cupid) and Saundra Mitchell (Shadowland Summer) and I were talking about selling our books at truck stops. Truly, it's a stroke of marketing genius, right? Someone needs to provide books to truckers. It ended up spinning into this epic joke about us driving a van across the country, selling our books. Saundra is a graphic design goddess and created funny photoshopped pictures of us. Then we kind of fed off each other and tried to make each tour post more ridiculous than the last.

In planning the tour, we came up with the stops by looking at list of silly tourist attractions (like the giant cow or huge ball of twine) and funny town names (Half.com, Oregon). It was really fun, and we're talking about doing a "world" tour in 2010, for our sophomore releases!

It was funny how many people still thought the tour was real, even though all of our photos of the events were stick figure drawings and we talked about going to a rave with George Washington or doing our signing in the crown of The Statue of Liberty. I even posted a picture of Little Miss Sunshine stealing our van and the guy from fight club. HA.

But yes, basically, we each picked three locations and blogged once per week (My day was Wednesday) an the "tour" lasted three weeks that way, revolving between our blogs. It was a really fun, goofy way to entertain people and talk about our books.

(If you want, you can read the tour recaps).

I was actually one of the people who thought you guys really rented a van! (ha!) After promoting Prada, what would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned about marketing since you began this journey?

This is going to sound vaguely Sesame Street, but I feel like the best thing I've done is just be accessible and helpful to people. I genuinely love this industry and want to see people succeed, and I like answering questions and encouraging people. It seems, in return, people buy my book and talk about it, and I really, truly appreciate that.

Thanks Mandy!

Thanks Shelli