3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Dan Ehrenhaft (Friend is Not a Verb)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Dan Ehrenhaft (Friend is Not a Verb)

Today, we have Dan Ehrenhaft from Harper Collins. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan for lunch in New York for BEA and he is funny and brilliant. One of those people that you walk away from and say "wow he is so smart!" I adore him and think he's a great writer. I've also heard he is also a wonderful editor. Who could ask for more? :)

Hi Dan, first tell us about you as an author.

Besides being an editor, I am the author of way too many books for children and young adults including Dirty Laundry and The After Life. I’ve written under the pseudonym Daniel Parker and occasionally Erin Haft. My newest book, Friend is Not a Verb, has just been released by Harper Teen, for which I had a signing at BEA.

Henry "Hen" Birnbaum's life is a shambles. His girlfriend Petra both dumped him and fired him her band, PETRA. And on that same miserable rainy night Hen's sister, Sarah, mysteriously returns home after having vanished for an entire year. Worse, Sarah won't tell him where she's been and why. The solution to all of Hen's problems? Become a rock star.

You know things are bad when your dreams come with a washed-up '80s soundtrack.

I was excited to get a copy :) Now, can you tell us a little about your background in publishing and about your new job at Harper.

I started the month after I graduated from college--I knew I wanted to work in children's books, and I took the only job I could find: editing and writing cover copy for the Sweet Valley High series, and assisting in their production. The company behind Sweet Valley High, Daniel Weiss Associates, eventually became Alloy Entertainment. I worked on and off there from 1993 to 2009--at which point I joined Sourcebooks. Creating their YA imprint, Teen Fire, was by far my favorite part of the job, and watching it grow so quickly was amazing.

Just recently, I left Sourcebooks and joined the Harper staff as Director of Intellectual Property Development for the Children's department--working mostly on teen and tween fiction. (My boss, Elise Howard, was my very first boss at Daniel Weiss Associates, so I feel as if I've come full circle--it's very nice.) I am responsible for coming up with book series and properties in the emerging digital space for Harper to produce in-house. Once I pitch a project and Harper approves, I will work with the staff here to find an author and help to see the project through publication.

Sounds like a new way to go for Harper. How do you feel about book packaging in general and what will you do differently?

I know that packaging sometimes gets a bad rap--that a packaged series is somehow less real or legitimate than a work of fiction conceived entirely by an author--but some of the most amazing, compelling, and original teen and tween series have either been packaged by publishers in-house or conceived by an outside packager such as Alloy. As far as what I'll do differently goes... I'll definitely focus on bringing properties to life in a variety of media, and looking to the audience itself for guidance and inspiration.

You made a huge impact on Sourcebooks and started an online presence that grew quickly. What was your social networking strategy?

At Sourcebooks, in addition to our Ning Site and YAlitchat, they offered an “Author toolkit,” that encouraged authors to build a webpage as part of the Sourcebooks on-line presence. The marketing department also planned to send authors on extensive blog tours.

What do you think authors should focus on when promoting their books?

Connecting with their readers in any way possible is crucial. The YA authors who are the most exciting to me are those who are the most accessible to their fans: blogging, tweeting, interacting on existing social networking sites or sites of their own making.

What would you be if you were not an author or editor?

That’s easy. A musician! I play guitar in pretty much the only all-YA-author band on the planet, Tiger Beat, with Natalie Standiford, Libba Bray on vocals, and Barney Miller on drums. But if I were a full-time musician, I know I'd answer this question by saying, "What I really want to do is work in YA fiction."

Thanks Dan!
Note: You can also follow Dan on Twitter.

Thanks for having me Shelli!

For today, I'm giving away 2 of Dan's books: Tell it to Naomi and The AfterLife. Tell me, if you could be any rock star, who would it be and why?


lotusgirl said...

Great interview. It was nice to get to know Dan. I love that he wanted to work in children's books and took what he could find whether it was his ideal or not. It got him there and seems to have worked out pretty well for him.

Martina Boone said...

Great interview! I agree that YA authors are easy to access, which is awesome.

Okay, a rock star? Um... I'm going to say either sister from Heart. They have the best songs, they can sing and play guitar like no other, and they have each other :)


Christina Lee said...

Well that's easy, I'd be Stef the kick A** drummer from Kid Rock (she's my friend's sister and very talented).

A great interview with Dan, who I know of from a YALICHAT Teen Fire contest that he judged(a contest I became a finalist in--so thanks again, Dan).

I would love to win one of his books--So cool that he uses the Erin Haft psuedonym, very clever.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview Dan. It must help your writing career to also know the publishing aspect of it so well.

How do you get your teen readers to follow you on Facebook, your blog & twitter?

Stephanie Faris said...

Great interview...and his book sounds intriguing. I'm off to track it down.

Kerri Cuev said...

Hi Dan! Cool interview Shelli! I think a YA band totally rocks! The book sounds great.

Hope everyone is staying cool today. We are having what they call a scorcha here in New England.

Unknown said...

Love this post!

And a rockstar...hmmm...i think David Cook, he's amazing...lol

Mandy Porto

Emily H. said...

I don't think I would want to ever be a rock star. They have too much pressure placed on them by society.

treerose AT yahoo DOT com

~Jamie said...

It's so nice to see someone pro packaging like Alloy, etc. do... I think that they bring a different aspect into the publishing world and when they take off (ie, vampire diaries, gossip girl) then we get to see the genre open up in new and exciting ways.

Daniel is definitely a badass when it comes to the social aspect, and I love that he wants authors to get out there and DO IT!

Gail said...

Great interview! Pick a rock star..... this will show my age when you see who I consider a 'rockstar'- Billy Joel!!! Not because I want to be a guy, I just think his lyrics show character and sometimes purpose- like "We Didn't Start the Fire".

Erika Powell said...

Great interview, I am going to say Joan Jett bc that was a woman who could rock


Unknown said...

Nice interview!

If I could be any rock star, I think I would be Elvis. Just because I think he is the best rock star out there.

Riv Re said...

I saw Tiger Beat at the Sourcebooks teenfire launch. He was awesome on the guitar (especially with the violin bow.)(I call it the electric violitar)
I've never held much interest in being a rock star, but I'd love to meet Boys Like Girls.


Shoshana said...

I've been excited to read Friend is Not a Verb since I saw the title. Great interview!

bclement412 said...

Yeaaah I'm don't really want to be any rockstar, because nowadays, most of them have no idea how to sing. Me included.

Great interview!

blackdiamond508 AT aol DOT com

Jemi Fraser said...

Dan sounds like a super interesting guy! Great interview :)

If I were to be a rock star I think I'd like to be... (this is HARD) Bryan Adams. Even though he's been highly successful and worked with so many incredible people, he still seems like a normal person - someone you could be friends with.

Kelly H-Y said...

What an awesome author/editor ... so very talented! Great interview ... thanks for the helpful information!

Janet Johnson said...

Great interview! I feel like a dunce though . . . didn't know about packaged series. Learned something new. Very interesting.

Christina Farley said...

Such an interesting interview. I have actually found a number of books that were put together by packagers that I really enjoyed. Rock star? Avril Lavigne!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great interview. Dan sounds like one talented dude!

If I could be any rock star, I'd be Madonna because she is not afraid to be different/herself and she just keeps getting better with age. :)

VS Grenier said...

Great interview. I love getting to know more about editors.

As to what rock star I would be, Madonna. When I was in college and thin, people said we had a similar look, plus I love her music.

By the way, I don't think I look anything like her now or back then in the 90's, but is was nice to have people think I did. LOL

Sherrie Petersen said...

How great to learn more about Dan. I'm not even big into YA and I know his name. He's already a rock star in publishing :)

If I was going to be a rock star, I'd be Pat Benatar. That chick has pipes, she's been married forever to the same guy and she's no pop star-she totally rocks!

Unknown said...

Awesome interview! Your books sound great, Dan. And d'ya know what? I'd love to win one!

Now, if I could be a rock star... hmm, I'd be Pink. Yay! She's funny, speaks her mind, writes great songs, and she loves animals. Plus I love the colour. Oh, one more thing, she's beautiful.