3 S.R. Johannes: May 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Marketing Round Up (5/21)

I'm headed to BEA on Monday!

I can't wait and my time there will benefit all my blogging buddies too because when I get back - we'l have giveaways galore. If you want the minute by minute scoop - you can follow me on twitter. I'll get the scoop and bring it to you :) I also plan to try and blog about each event-filled day.

Getting ready for the Pitch Contest

Came across a few articles to help prepare you for the pitch contest.

How to write a one sentence pitch or one paragraph pitch

The importance of a pitch

Here are my favs for the week:

Why I dumped MySpace - As much as I don't like the site, I had several qualms about deleting that account.

Public speaking for introverts
- How can introverts get into the zone more quickly when giving a talk?

10 Magic questions to Hook the Media - The next time a journalist is interviewing you, or a blogger is interested in an idea you’re pitching, ask this question: “Do you need other sources?

To blog or not to blog - I’m intrigued by people who blog. Who are they? What makes what they have to say so important that other people return to their blogs over and over again? More importantly, what part, if any, do blogs play in book sales for an author?

Are you blogging too much? Social media advice from an author.

Tips for Domain Transfers - Here are some tips based on my personal experience with domain transfers. Whether you transfer or not, be sure your domain is set to auto-renew and that your credit card information is accurate.

How do I make my blog posts popular? First of all your article will not go popular automatically once you submit it on Digg.com.

The Real Secret to Twitter - The thing is, you can buy followers (no, I’m not kidding) sort of like buying mailing lists. How effective is buying followers?

The new Like vs the old Fan in Facebook - Last week, Facebook changed their Fan Page setting from becoming a Fan of the Page to choosing to Like the Page. Why?

Facebook - an intregal part of marketing
- Facebook, specifically, and social networking, in general, have become integral components of book promotion campaigns. Publishers tell all their authors to build up their base of friends, fans, and followers,

Body Finder Giveaway Do-over!

The winner of the Body finder book and swag never contacted me!

So I drew another name....

Suzette Saxton - you won!!!!

If you don't mind - sloppy seconds :) then email me to claim your prize at sjohannes@bilaninc.com

Roundup coming later today!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What makes a Winner?

Thanks for sharing your stories!

They were hilarious....

The winner of their very own Glass Slipper is


Congrads email me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com and I will get you in touch with Kay!

What makes a Winner?

I was on a kidlitchat the other night and something someone said really struck a chord with me.

The topic was - "what makes a book a winner?"

People were saying voice, plot, hook, characters, setting etc.

Then someone chimed in with, "You have a winner, when you get an offer."

If we were in a room, the room would have gone silent. At least 10 seconds went by where not one comment came through the chat. As if tweetdeck had crashed....again!

Now, my initial reaction was "you got that right!" I mean, if an agent doesn't offer representation or if an editor doesn't buy a book - than obviously the book is not a winner, right? That's how most of us feel right? Am I alone?

But then, surprisingly, an editor chimed in first and said, "So if an editor doesn't buy your book, then you don't think your books a winner anymore?"

I don't know why but that comment made me sit up in bed. (yes I am a lazy chatter! I lay down and chat while watching tv.)

I thought about it more. All night in fact.

I started thinking about a book I put down a year ago. A book close to my heart. A book I love. A book that I really thought was a winner.

I put that book aside to focus on my tween angel story because I felt it was more marketable.

Now that the book is off my plate, I've been contemplating what book to focus on next. I went through my idea document and picked a couple. Started a couple. And for some reason, during this time, I didn't really think about the book I love. That book was somehow and for some reason - still on the back burner. Why was I not focusing on Grace? After all, I had several agent offers of rep on Grace. Grace was developed - flaws and all. Grace had evolved so much. Grace got me my agent.

Had I given up on it? Had I given up on a winner?

This morning, as I was doing the dishes, I started to cry. (yes I am emotional that way. And it wasn't over the crusted overnight dishes.) Over the crusted spaghetti and old oatmeal, 'it hit me.

Over the last year, I've lost my way a little.

You see once you get an agent, you no longer write for yourself. And I can imagine that only gets harder and harder as you move through the process. Get an editor, deal with marketing, sell to stores. Now your agent needs to love the book as much as you. You are a team. Their reputation is on the line as well as your career. When an agent takes you on - they are stamping their name on you professionally. I don't care what anyone says, your agent must like your work

Somewhere along the way, I started writing for my agent, for editors, for submission, for everyone else's revision ideas.

Until this morning. This morning I made a decision. I'm going back to my book and see where it leads me. IT may need some work, but it may not. Who knows.

But I'll never know if I don't try.

And now, I can breathe again.

I'm back to writing for me again.

Where I love to be. Where I need to be. Where my agent wants me to be.

And where my heart is.

So what do yo think? Do you ever find yourself writing for someone else? And why?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Official Cinderella Society Blog Tour Giveaway!

Kay Cassidy loved all your comments so much on her interview last week that she offered us The Cinderella Society Giveaway.

The Cinderella Society
Sixteen-year-old Jess Parker survives by staying invisible. After nine schools in ten years, she's come to terms with life as a perpetual new girl, neither popular nor outcast. At Mt. Sterling High, Jess gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join The Cinderella Society, a secret club of the most popular girls in school, where makeovers are the first order of official business. But there's more to being a Cindy than just reinventing yourself from the outside, a concept lost on Jess as she dives tiara-first into creating a hot new look.

With a date with her popular crush and a chance to finally fit in, Jess's life seems to be a perfect fairy tale. That is until the Wickeds--led by Jess's archenemy--begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers her new sisterhood is about much more than who rules Mt. Sterling High School. It's a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys need Jess on special assignment. But when the mission threatens to destroy her new dream life, Jess is forced to choose between this dream realized and honoring the Sisterhood. What's a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn't want to wear it anymore?

What do you win?

A glass slipper! Now, I ask you, who doesn't want their own glass slipper? Isn't it adorable! Wonder who can squeeze their foot into this?

How do you win?

All you have to do is be a Follower of my blog and leave a comment answering this question by tonight midnight PST:

What is the craziest thing you have ever done to fit in?

Winner will be announced tomorrow! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Sara Lewis Holmes (Operation Yes)

Hi Sara, thanks for stopping by. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi Shelli, I'm the author of two middle grade novels, LETTERS FROM RAPUNZEL, which is about a real girl who writes letters as if she were Rapunzel locked in a tower, and OPERATION YES, which was released last fall from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic.

OPERATION YES has little green army men on the cover, and yes, it's about military families, but it was also recently named as one of Booklist's Top Ten Arts Books for 2009. I'm tickled that I managed to write a book about two important influences in my life: being part of an Air Force family and my secret history as a high school theater geek.

A lot of authors do blogs but your blog seems to focuses more on Poetry, which is a great blog niche. Was that a conscious decision or did it just evolve?

I jumped into the blog world on a Poetry Friday with a post called Enter (in which I confessed to my fear of that awful exam word: "begin.") Poetry continues to be one of my favorite ways to enter into and connect with the larger online community. Anyone can play! Poetry is a language; when we speak it, it's hard to stay solitary.

On a related note, I was surprised to learn that my Poetry Friday posts helped confirm my editor's interest in acquiring Operation Yes---even though the book is not poetry. She wrote about the decision process at Scholastic's On Our Minds blog; it's a fantastic window into how editors might look at an author's online presence.

Speaking of online, a coupe months ago, you and your editor, Cheryl Klein, did a live twitter chat together. How did you come up with the idea ?

Cheryl was active on Twitter before I was. She inspired me to open an account and try the crazy thing, and then to go one step further and attempt a chat in real time. Both of us thought the improvisational theater angle of Operation Yes was a great fit for the medium---emphasizing the creative back-and-forth of a live, on-going conversation with audience participation.

Of course, once I agree to chat, I had to learn how to do it! I listened in on several Twitter conversations, then begged Gregory Pincus for help. He made me wise to hashtags and the TweetChat application and Twitter transcripts and generally how not to mess it up. Thank you, Greg!

After the chat, I used some of the material to write several more blog posts, on The Emotional Argument for the Arts in Schools and Spine and Form in Structuring a Novel.

One thing I tend to forget about marketing/publicity efforts: there's ALWAYS follow-up. Sometimes, you create your own, as in those subsequent blog posts and in archiving the Twitter Chat transcript and in hosting a book give-away. Sometimes, if your marketing is successful, there are external responses: emails to answer, and offers to visit a school or teach a class, or even interviews (like this one!) So budget time for follow up; don't be surprised by the amount of "afterwards" to a marketing effort.

Cheryl interviewed here about marketing and is very active in social networking with her blog and Twitter. How important do you think it is to have an editor/agent that is actively involved in social networking? Does it help your book marketing?

Cheryl's blog is her personality in digital form: passionate, well-spoken, and packed with an inordinate amount of practical and inspiring advice for writers. She has a huge following, both at Brooklyn Arden and on Twitter, so that exposure naturally spills over to the books she edits, like my Operation Yes.

Her post on writing the flap copy for Operation Yes, for instance, was terrifically informative in its own right, but in reading it, a person would also get a clear picture of my book and why they might want to read it. I think the combination of a peek into publishing's inner secrets matched organically with a specific writer's work is marketing magic. The how and the why and the what of a book combine to tell the story of why you should care. That's marketing to me.

In addition to the chat and Skype tours, what are a few creative things you have done to market your books?

Do push-ups count? I do them at signings and school visits. Not just because I can :) but because I love reading the scene in Operation Yes when Miss Loupe surprises her class by getting down and "giving them ten."

I also built a website dedicated to Operation Yes and held a jody call contest for the book launch. That was awesome, especially when one teacher told me you could hear her class out in the hallway, practicing the jody call she wrote!

In addition, I hired a teacher (and former military kid), Natalie Lorenzi, to write a book guide for me. She included improv theater activities for every chapter, which is incredibly fun. I offer it as a free download at my blog and website.

As an author, what book publicity advice can you offer for upcoming authors?

First? Listen to your publishing house's marketing geniuses. They do know what they're doing, and they work best when kept in the loop. (Thank you, Becky at Scholastic, for everything you do and the enthusiasm and grace with which you do it.)

Second, turn the question of marketing around. Ask not what the world can do for your book, but what your book can do for the world. (Apologies to President Kennedy.) I'm impressed by authors who tie their book launches to the larger community. See Mitali Perkins "Celebrating Girl Power" posts for the paperback release of The Secret Keeper for a great example.

I would add that it's enlightening to discover what makes your own heart pause and take a second look at an ad, a book cover, a blog post, a Twitter chat, or an interview. People ignore marketing campaigns every single day. Paying attention is the exception, so if you're engaged by someone's book promotion, ask yourself why. Plan and improvise from there.

Thanks Sara!

Thanks Shelli!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Give a Book, Help A School (Nashville)

Last week Kingston Springs Elementary School experienced a flash flood and six feet of water submerged their entire school. There was a crew there today even as we wrote working to clean up and salvage items that were not damaged. Unfortunately, the news from that crew has been grim - due to the contaminated flood water there will not be much saved. Sue's library, for all intents and purposes, did lose the entire collection of books. Due to the damage, Kingston Springs Elementary School will not be re-opening until next year.

Their library had 8500 books and most were destroyed by the water. The only books they have left are the 200 or so that children had checked out over the weekend.

They need books! If you have a couple copies of your own books lying around, or have some gently used books, they can use them. Even duplicates can be used in classrooms.

The Cheatham County Board of Education is taking monetary donations and supply donations. If you wish to make a monetary donation please mail checks to:

Cheatham County Board of Education
102 Elizabeth St.
Ashland City, TN 37015

The checks need to be made payable to Kingston Springs Elementary School and please indicate on the memo line where the donation should be applied (i.e. library, etc)

Donations of books or supplies can be mailed or brought to the following location:

Kingston Springs Elementary Donation Room 23
c/o Harpeth Middle School
170 Harpeth View Trail
Kingston Springs, TN 37082

I will be getting books together to donate to the school. So I'm accept donations and take yours as well :)

Thanks :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Friday Round Up

June is a powerful month here - Mark your calendars.

Awesome ARC Giveaways - June 1 - June 4: As you all know I'm lucky enough to be going to BEA. That's right - that means ARCS galore. I'm going to sharing the ARC Love and giving away some ARCS of hot books not out yet.

New agent, Brianne Ogden from Martin Literary Management is having a query pitch contest on my blog. Details and date to be announced.

Also agent, Mary Kole with Andrea Brown Literary Agency will be stopping by for an interview and a giving away a query critique!

There are a couple other surprise events so stay tuned!

Here are my favs for the week:

Questions to ask your publicist
- Many authors are choosing to hire a book publicist to help connect with readers and potential audience members. Before you hire a publicist, it is important to ask a few basic questions.

Effective vs Efficient -
If you want an easier way to memorize the difference, remember this sentence: “Being effective is about doing the right things, while being efficient is about doing the things in the right manner.

Internet Marketing is driving me crazy - Tips on how to not go crazy when marketing online.

Kathleen Duey takes center stage - Kathleen, author of Skin Hunger, leaves most of us gasping at her drive and full frontal embrace of social media.

Fiction writer's topics for blogging
- Fiction writers often struggle with what to write about at their blogs. Help is on the way. Here are 19 topics to get you started.

How to retweet effectively
- You may have no real concept of retweeting (commonly seen as RT) or what that can mean for your success and fun on Twitter.

Have you seen any great marketing articles. If so leave the link here and Ill add it.

Have a great weekend.

Any fun plans?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Aprilynne Pike (Bestselling author of Wings)

Aprilynne Pike has been spinning faerie stories since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. Over time, she completed three novels and queried countless agents, seeking representation for her writing

Soon, Jodi Reamer agreed to represent Aprilynne's work. When interest failed to manifest, Aprilynne started her fourth book--her first attempt at Young Adult fiction--and completed it just a few weeks before giving birth to her third child. Discouraged that, after years of work, she had yet to achieve publication, one November morning in 2007 Aprilynne convinced herself that she was pursuing a foolish dream. Neither she nor her husband were sure how they could afford to pay for his final year of law school and keep their children fed. So Aprilynne resolved to teach childbirth classes again, this time for a fee, and actively seek doula clients in order to make ends meet. This would leave very little time for writing, but she decided it had become an unrealistic and impractical pursuit and the time had come to let it go.

That same day, indeed that same hour, as Aprilynne was sorting through her doula kit and childbirth education literature, the phone rang. It was Jodi; Aprilynne's Young Adult manuscript had interest. Within days it was acquired in a pre-empt by Tara Weikum under the HarperTeen imprint. After so much effort honing her craft and paying her dues, Aprilynne finally achieved her dream. Wings debuted at #1 on the NYT bestselling list.

Hi April, thanks for joining me today!

Thanks for having me Shelli. :)

Congrads on your success and the release of your new book, Spells. Can you tell us about it?

Spells is the continuation of Laurel's adventures from Wings! Laurel is summoned to the Academy of Avalon to learn how to be a Fall faerie in the summer between her sophomore and junior years. While there, she learns more about both Avalon, and her old friend, Tamani. However, when she comes back, she must use all her skills to protect her family and friends when an old threat rises up and the possibility of a new one looms.

In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book? (web sites, blogs, tours etc)

Have a blog! I love my blog and I think it is a great way for readers to get a little peek into my life!

Get to know the staff at your local bookstore. Chain or Indie, I guarantee these people have access to resources you don't even know exist!

Do everything your publicist asks you to. Your publicist is on your side! If you are hard to work with, they won't go out of their way for you, and trust me, you want them to!

I know you do a lot of group signings with Harper. Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promote books as a group? Why?

I LOVE group events! Power in numbers!! It also takes a lot of pressure of you for bookstore events in particular. A bookstore will think an even with fifty people in attendance is successful regardless of how many authors it took to get them there. And trust me, it's really hard to get them there all by yourself!

On top of that, the camaraderie is priceless! Writing can be a lonely occupation, but email buddies make everything better!

Tell us about the summer Supernatural Tour. Who organized it and how did it work?

Harper Collins organizes the Supernatural Tour and chooses who participates. Then one person is selected as the spokesperson (It was Kelley Armstrong last year) and they get the ball rolling introducing us, etc. and then act as mediator as we take questions. I like it because with so many authors, there are always plenty of audience questions and we don't have to fill time with things like reading (often boring) or trying to pitch our books (embarrassing!) It was the highlight of my year last year and I am SO looking forward to doing both the US and Canadian Supernatural Summer events this year!

I am to because I know you are coming to Atlanta! :) If you could go back a couple years ago before you were published, are there thing you wish you would have done to market yourself? Any lessons learned?

I would have joined Twitter earlier!! Not necessarily for marketing purposes, but because I think it's really fun! I also would have used it to Twitter tour locations more. Even on a publisher sponsored tour, you still have to mostly bring in your own audience.

Thanks April!

Thank for having me Shelli! :)

For more, visit April at her website, twitter, Facebook, or blog.

Monday, May 10, 2010

MommyFail or Mommysuccess?

Update: I've donated a marketing pkg that includes a consultation plus a piece of swag (book marker, postcard etc). The proceeds go to the Do It Write For Nashville that benefits the Nashville flood victims.

If the bid gets to 300$, I'll add in custom twitter background. And if it gets to 500$, I'll add in a custom biz card design.

Also - check out my interview about how marketing helped me in the publishing business over at Writer Musing. Thanks Tabitha!

I have never been someone who thought I would be great at being a mom. And since I've had kids, I'm sure other would say my #mommyfails are off the charts.

1) Patience of a Saint? #mommyfail! I have no patience. I'm the person who pops the toast early.

2) Craft Mom? #mommyfail! I am soooooooo not crafty. To me, using a crayon is an art. This includes sewing buttons, hemming, making American Girl clothes. Nuttin honey!

3) Kids are the center of my world? #mommyfail! Yes, I can be a bit self-centered. It's just now, it's with a kid. I go to story time at B&N so I can look at books in the kid section while my kids listen to other people read. I'm still working on it.

4) Mommy Speak? #mommyfail! I don't enjoy talking about my kids all day, every day. Really I don't. And, when I go out with my friends, I don't want to hear about their friends kids even more. I dont' want to compare nap schedules, poop routines, and discipline techniques from Supernanny.

5) Mommy and Me? #mommyfail! I do not attend these classes. One because on a grammar level - its just plain wrong. Two - I do not like to sing in large groups. Three, they lie - it is not just Mommy and me - its 20 other mommies and their 20 kids. I prefer to conduct my own classes at home. Cheaper and quieter. I heard once that the class should be changed to: "Scared Sh*tless women who have kids and are going out of their freaking' minds so they need to get out of the house before they go certifiably nuts" class. Wait, maybe that's too long for a brochure.

7) Mommy clothes? #mommyfail! I've never bought into mommy jeans, mommy hair cuts, and mommy stores. Excuse me but I don't want to LOOK like I haven't had sex in a couple months. Whether I have or not.

8) Hot mamma? #mommyfail! I'd like to think I've "still got it" and maybe to my husband I still do. But at for drinks, going to concerts, I realize the phrases like MILF and "hot mama," do not apply to me. Being a mommy is only sexy to us and our husbands. And that might only be b/c we take care of their kids so they pretend we're as hot as we used to be.

Now don't go calling DFAX.

I feed my kids. Even if it is from a microwave.

I pack their lunch. Even if it is a lunchable.

I read them books. Even if it is the same one every night.

I bathe them. Even if it is every OTHER night.

I sacrifice writing, sleep, and exercise to make sure they are happy. Even though I may grumble about it sometimes.

But I love my kids more than my life. I mean, I've given it up, haven't I? ;)

Besides, if any of you tried to harm them, I would personally gouge your heart out with my son's Elmo knife and serve it on my daughter's Dora plate.

See? I'm a good mommy.

Who says these things are all #mommyfails??

So #mommyfail or not.

I have realized I cannot let others tells me what a #mommysuccess looks like.

Except my kids :)

What about you? Any #mommyfails you want to come clean on? Go ahead, set yourself free!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Marketing Round Up (5/6)

Here are my favs for the week:

Hilary Wagner talks about The Art of Blogging - Being an active blogger, Hilary noticed lately that many writers seem to feel bogged down by their blog. They were so excited to start their blog, eager to show themselves off to the world, only to find it’s become an anchor around their neck. Here are some tips on how to get back on the blog.

WIBIJ - Some writers have found a way to make a great game out of a blog. WIBIJ is designed to be a resource first and a game second. These writers want to spread the love and let you to know about the best blogs out there.

What? Me Market? Adventures of a First Time Author - Part 1 and Part 2. Short story writer Robin Black shares how she managed to get an agent and secure a deal for her collection of short stories, which as many of us know, "do not sell" — and then how she approached marketing.

Avoid managing multiple identities online - Here's how to handle the question of pen names and maintaining different identities if you write different genres.

Best Tweets of the week in the Industry

Get your own domain name - Many people still ask why , so let’s talk about the three main reasons why having and hosting your own domain is important.

Title Z - A key strategy in any marketing program is to know your competition and successful authors will research competitors before investing time in writing, editing, re-writing, and publishing. How many others have written on the same topic? Ask Title Z.

Road Rash - Lessons learned about Radio Interviews - If you’re a bit of geek, radio interviews are exciting! You get to visit the studio and see all the equipment. Or, even if you’re just interviewed by phone, you get to overhear all the “backstage” chatter. Here’s what to do to make your radio interviews increase your book sales.

Do The Write Thing For Nashville - Don't forget to bid and help Nashville Flood victims!! There are some GREAT auction items including my marketing package :)

Anyone doing anything exciting this weekend? Tell me so I can live vicariously through you! :)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Time to Give Back!

1) Body Finder Contest Winner

The Winner of the Body Finder swag and signed book is.....

Denise Madness

Denise, please email me your address by sat am or I'll need to choose another name :)


2) Do The Right Thing For Nashville.
My blogger buddies: Amanda Morgan, Myra McEntire, and Victoria Schwab have started Do The Write Thing For Nashville with the hopes of raising money for Nashville Flood Victiom.

This group is currently throwing an auction and all the money goes to Metro Nashville Response Fun. You can still donate items or go to bid on items for a good cause.

I have donated a marketing package so go over and bid on it or many items they have received from editors, agents, and authors.

As you know Nashville was tore up this last week by a sudden dump of 14 inches of rain. Its an interior Katrina situation. People without homes, fatalities, families tore apart, and homes gone.

3) A Mom's Tragedy.
I heard a story about about Sherry Quall, a mom in Nashville who lost her husband and daughter within a matter of seconds. The flood just swept them out of their yard. The husband risked his life to save his kids. He saved the son, but wasn't able to save his daughter - or himself. They both lost their lives. Sherry has her son, but she lost her family and her home in a matter of minutes. Everything.

Guys, can you imagine losing your child, husband and home? It broke my heart. I found out there is a fund set up at First Bank in Linden. The public can mail donations to:

First Bank/The Bobby Qualls Fund
120 West Main Street
Linden, TN 37096

4) Glee. Oh Glee. I was a bit disappointed with Glee this week. And that is hard for me to say because I LOVE GLEE. But I felt this week they took it too far. I feel like the episode made fun of bullying and cyberbullying which I do not find funny. With everything going on in the US with these two topics, I think it was irresponsible to make light of either one. Kids are committing suicide over bullying and cyberbullying. We should bring attention to it - not make fun of it. Needless to say, I was disappointed. If you want to get more involved, Carrie Jones (author of Need) and Megan Kelly Hall (author of Sisters of Misery) have started a YA Authors against Bullying

So if you have anything to give, give back something to one of these organizations for a good cause. And count your blessings.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Marvelous Marketer:Kay Cassidy (The Cinderella Society)

Hi Kay, thanks for stopping by today.

Hi Shelli, thanks for having me!

Before we get started, tell me about yourself and your new book, The Cinderella Society.

Well, for starters… unlike some writers, I wasn’t born with a pencil in my hand. Aside from a brief attack of the writing bug, I didn’t really start writing until after I graduated and jumped into the world of grown-ups. I did my time as a good little Corporate girl, got married, got my MBA…but eventually, I got sick of reading business books and needed something to shake things up. One quick trip to my local library, and I was hooked on fiction again. I’d forgotten how much fun reading books without bar charts could be!

I decided it was way more entertaining to relive my teenage years by writing fiction that I wish was based on my real life. Lucky for me, the hubster is very supportive and sent me on my merry way to pursue the writing life.

My book, The Cinderella Society, is about an outsider who gets tapped to join a secret society of good populars dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. It's about girl empowerment: getting comfortable in your own skin and being true to who you are. It also deals with the effects of girl bullies and what unconditional friendship really means. And, of course, there are cute guys and lots of kissing. Romance rocks. :-)

What more could a girl ask for in a book! In addition to writing awesome books, I know you give back to the writing and reading community a lot. Can you talk more about your Great Scavenger Hunt ContestTM and how it has helped you build a network?

The Great Scavenger Hunt ContestTM is a national reading program for kids and teens. I founded the program in April 2009, so I just celebrated the 1-year anniversary last month. Time has flown by!

Kids ages 8-19 can choose from more than 300 participating YA and middle grades titles. They simply read the book, answer a fun 10-question trivia challenge about it, and turn the challenge into a participating librarian for entry into the monthly contest. Every month, one lucky reader wins a $50 gift card to the bookstore of his or her choice AND the reader's host librarian wins a prize tote filled with Hunt books to expand the library's collection.

I didn't create the program for the purpose of creating a network. I created it because I wanted to give back – to librarians who work so hard to engage kids in reading and to kids and teens who are bombarded with 100 things they could be doing other than reading. I'm a big believer in paying it forward, and that's what The Hunt is for me. It's my way of giving back and encouraging kids to become lifelong readers.

That said, the networking was a natural outgrowth of my work in the program. With more 200 participating YA and middle grades authors, I've met so many people I might never have crossed paths with otherwise. And there are 550+ librarians who know me (and now my book). The Hunt librarians are such a fabulous group – passionate about finding ways to keep kids coming back to the library and getting them excited about books while they're there. It's been wonderful getting to know them over the last year.

Sometimes helping others is the best way to build long lasting relationships. You seem to help out a lot. I know last year, you and a few authors started Living Your FiveTM. Why and what are your plans for it?

Living Your FiveTM is about choosing the five ways you want to make a difference in the world and then living your life according to those priorities. I created the concept in 2008 as a way to keep myself focused on what matters most when life gets crazy. It worked so well for me that I invited Alyson Noel and Tera Lynn Childs to join me on the adventure and create an inspirational web project where we share our progress on living our Fives.

We encourage everyone to climb aboard and share their own Fives on their blogs too! All the details can be found at my web site including how to become an Honorary Fiver. The more, the merrier!

I'm proud to say, I'm already an honorary member! :) Besides, giving back, can you share a few other things you’ve done in marketing The Cinderella Society?

To celebrate my debut with the Hunt librarians, I'm hosting a Cinderella Society pizza party. Hunt librarians entered to win a pizza party for 20 (plus cool TCS swag bags). If the winner is close enough geographically, I'll be there in person to hang out over pizza. If not, I'll be there via Skype (while having pizza of my own). That was a hit with the librarians.

My Team Cindy also hosted a Twitter launch party on The Cinderella Society's debut day. I let them run with it, and they decided to make it seven hours long! :-) We did giveaways every half hour for special launch party swag bags I put together plus I gave away mini glass slipper as periodic gifts and a TCS girl power gift basket as a grand prize. All of the discussion was about TCS topics: girl power, romance, friendship, bullies, makeovers… even tweeting a picture of your shoes! Everyone had a blast, including me. I was completely exhausted by the end, but it's something I'll always remember. (Oh, and Twitter locked me out twice during the night for exceeding the maximum number of tweets – I didn't even know there was a max!) LOL

That's a lot of tweeting! :) In addition to Twitter and special projects, what marketing advice do you have for authors? Especially around building up a following on their sites as you have done.

I know a lot of people think you have to have a web site and blog, but I disagree. Social networking is swiftly overtaking blogs in terms of where people spend their free time. And until you're published, there's really not that much on a web site that people will be scrambling to learn about you because they often don't know about you yet.

My philosophy is this… most people just don't have time to read tons of lengthy blog posts with the glut of blogs already out there. That's why I think social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are great because you get quick hit updates about what's new. My suggestion is to find a social networking platform you enjoy and begin by connecting with like-minded people. If you're on Twitter, join in a conversation about a favorite book of yours. If you're on Facebook, fan some groups that are for things you care about. Spam never works – social networking is all about making genuine connections. If you relax and let it develop naturally, you'll be much happier (and better connected) in the long run. :-)

Thanks Kay!

Thanks Shelli!

You can also follow Kay on Twitter, her blog, and Facebook.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Spreading Awesome about The Body Finder!

Leave a comment on this post telling me what ability you'd love to have if you could. (you must be a follower to win!) At midnight Monday (PST), I will do a random drawing. If you sign up for my new book marketing newsletter! or already did (on the left hand side) - let me know and I'll add your name in the hat an extra time!

And the prize?
You will get a free Body Finder package that includes a tote bag (filled with swag) and a signed book of The Body Finder (Just to be clear - it is signed by Kimberly not me :)

Elana Johnson pulled together some authors to talk about their favorite book recently read.

I chose Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder. Seriously, go buy it!!!

A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers. Now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him. Jay reluctantly agrees to help. As she falls intensely in love for the first time, Violet gets closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

O.K. so this book is the kind of book that keeps you up late - even when you know your kids will be up at dawn - reading. I read this book in 2 days because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. Every minute of sleep I lost was sooooo worth it. If you like James Patterson and paranormal stuff, you will love this because it mixes the two nicely. In addition, the way she writers in third person feels so personal and intimate - attributes I attached more to first person than third.

I met Kimberly last year at SCBWI LA. We were blogger buddies and had never met in person. We exchanged emails and took a chance on rooming which I think was not in character for either of us. I mean she LOOKED normal enough, right? :) (I think we both secretly prayed when we showed up, the other was not going to be a 300 lb man with hair on his back who favored tighty whities. :)

Kimberly and I immediately hit it off and I am totally confident we will be forever friends. (This is where you say - awwwwwwww!)

For those who get skittish about meeting your blogger buddies - just know that sometimes you might meet a soul mate and lifelong friend. (just be wise and always meet in a public place:)

If you are cool, you will follow her at her blog, on FB, and on twitter! :)

Here are a few fun and informative questions I threw at her:

What is the hardest part about being a published author?

For me, the hardest part about being an author is finding enough time to do everything. What most people probably don’t realize (including me until I was published) is how time consuming the non-writer side of things can be. Don’t get wrong, I love the interviews, Facebooking, blogging, etc., but sometimes I need to remember that my actual job is…oh yeah, being a writer!!! *runs to check Twitter for the 50th time today*

What is the easiest part about being published?

Definitely my commute! I love that I can just roll out of bed and start writing. Well, I mean after I make breakfast and get two kids off to school. And pick up the house, of course. And after I run all my errands and pay the bills so the lights stay on. And, oh, I need to figure out dinner plans for tonight, and I can’t forget to get the youngest off the bus…again (thank God for my neighbors)! Wait, what was the question…???

What do you wish you knew about writing and publishing before you got an agent and book contract?

I may be naive but I never realized that publishers will sometimes delay book release dates. Harper delayed the release of The Body Finder by six months, and at the time I thought it was the end of the world! Now, when I look back, I’m so SO happy they did it. Harper did an amazing job creating buzz for my book during those extra six months which I think made a huge difference! It also gave me a chance to really, really get prepared. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t cry when I first found out the delay.

If you could chose your destiny – what would it be?

Ok, so THAT is the by far the hardest question I’ve ever been asked! Thanks a lot, Shellie, I thought we were friends!!! Geez, we even shared a bed once! Disclaimer: Shellie and I were roommates at the SCBWI and it was either make a pregnant Lindsey Leavitt sleep on the floor or share a bed. We shared the bed. You’re welcome, Lindsey!

Let’s see, if I could choose my destiny? Is happiness a destiny? I know, it’s cheesy, but that’s all I really want from both my personal and professional lives. I feel very fortunate to have a supportive family, a job that I love, and a bunch of really great friends, so what more could a girl want?

Or maybe to write a book as popular as Harry Potter or Twilight. Either destiny works for me! :)

What do you think? Do you have any questions for Kimberly about the publishing business/process? She'll give you the inside scoop so leave them here and be entered into the drawing.

Also, if you want to read about another great book, check out Angie's Smibert's thoughts on M.T. Andersen's Feed. Or you can check out the full list of AWESOME books on her blog.