Monday, January 26, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Great Interview about Promotion

As I mentioned in my last post on book promotion, there is a lot to think about when it comes to getting attention for your book and building a loyal audience.  Sara Dobie from Sylvan Dell popped by Stephanie Ruble's blog yesterday to share her wisdom about promoting your book.  Many of us had a chance to post questions ahead of time, and big nods to Marissa Doyle, Maggie Stiefvater, Dawn Metcalf, Sookie06, and Carrie Harris for some excellent questions.  

You can click on the title of this post to visit Stephanie's blog, and I can tell you, I'm printing it out for posterity.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More about the Future of Publishing.

Back in December, I blogged about the gloom and doom that seemed to be stalking many of my writer and illustrator friends. I said that publishing is not dying, but it is evolving—and I still believe that. Check out this article in TIME and see what Lev Grossman had to say about the matter today. I would love to hear your comments/predictions. 

And check out Stephen Roxburgh's new venture, Namelos.  A fascinating approach to launching new authors and streamlining the publisher's experience.  What do you think?  Do you think that children's publishing will take a different direction than adult publishing? What does this cultural and technological (not to mention economic) shift mean for writers and readers? Are you ready for what's coming next?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thinking About Promotion

As a writer, I've tried to dedicate a lot of time to honing my craft, but soon I will be a published writer, and I will have to think about promoting my work as well. To be honest, it's a bit daunting. I know that the publisher has a marketing department that may or may not do a lot to promote your book, but every author I've talked to has emphasized how much the writer needs to contribute to promotion as well. Afterall, this is your brain child.  Your baby.  So I've scoured the net looking for advice and interesting ideas. One of the first hits on the ol' Google bar came up with a Wordpress index of blogs on the subject. Lots of personal accounts of what worked for people, either self-published or otherwise. Looking through post titles, I saw some patterns developing, so here's a brief checkist:

  • Book Trailers:  Caroline Rance asks the question Do I need a book trailer? on her blog, and it brought a variety of responses.  Karen Harrington discussed the advantages of a book trailer to communicate some things that just can't happen on the jacket flap.  But Bella Stander asks the questions that concern me most—where are these book trailers going to be shown besides online?  And is that enough to have any impact on book sales?  Sure, occasionally you see book trailers for Robert Parker's latest or maybe Nora Robb's on television, but most of us won't have that kind of budget.   

  • Book Signings:  This one is pretty much a no-brainer.  I mean haven't we all daydreamed about that awesome book signing where hundreds of people are willing to stand in line to have you sign their copy?  Ah...yes.

  • Virtual Book Tours:  I go straight to the virtual tour, once again, because most of us are not as likely to get the Carrie Bradshaw treatment our first time out.  I've had several writer friends post things on their FaceBook or MySpace pages and circulate it widely.  Okay...I can do that.  What else can you do?  This site is pretty cool.  You get yourself listed as a writer in the area where you live, but also you can advertise your real-time schedule of signings and events.  But what exactly happens in a virtual book tour?  From what I can gather, online chats at various websites, guest blogs, and blog interviews can get you moving around the web quite nicely.  Okay...I'll put it out there now...I'm available!

  • Join Forces with Other Writers:  Most of you may already be familiar with the class of 2k7,  class of 2k8 and class of 2k9 writers who work collaboratively to promote their books online, at conferences, and at book festivals.  What an awesome idea!  They support each other through their blogs and group presentations, author panels, group advertising.  Brilliant!  And that's another thing I love about the kidlit world.  Writers genuinely celebrate the craft and the people who make it.   It's a community.

  • School Visits:  I'm still working out how to conduct a school visit, but I have some ideas.  I'm a teacher, so I can handle that...right?  Right!  The thing I love about school visits is that they put you right there with your audience.  Face to face with the people you are writing for.  And they generate a little revenue as as well as attention for your book.  But I have to say, I LOVE the class of 2k9's Author's To Go idea.  There are many schools that simply cannot afford to pay an author for a visit, and while many of us probably would do it for free, it's a dangerous precedent to set when you want to make a living.  So the 2k9 group has set up a sort of virtual school visit opportunity.  I LOVE this idea.  Way to go, writers!

  • Websites:  This is the big one.  I'm definitely going to build a website, but I have yet to work out all the logistics.  What should you have on your website and what overall look is appropriate?  My friends at Author2Author have been thinking about this as well.  What does make a good author website?  I'll be working on this question...hard.  I know that once your name starts working its way out there, you will get googled and certain expectations must be met.  How interactive should your site be?  What is the personality of your site?  Should you tie it specifically to that first book or try to portray yourself as an author in general?  I can tell you this...mine has got to have atmosphere.  Spooky atmosphere.  

Now there are all kinds of interesting things you can try to promote your book, including postcards, giveaways, bookmarks, temporary tattoos...  But I think one of the coolest media tricks I've come across is Scholastic's multi-media plan for Patrick Carmen's SKELETON CREEK.  Now that's some website action!

For the introverted authors looking for promotion ideas, check out the Shrinking Violet Promotions blog.  And I can't wait for Stephanie Ruble's guest blogger Sara Dobie (from Sylvan Dell) to share her insights on book promotion.  Head on over and post your question now.   The interview will be posted in a few weeks.

Well, that's a lot to think about...and I don't even have the book deal yet!  But promotion is part of being a writer, at least if you are planning on being a published writer.  And I definitely plan on that.  Yes, the marketing department will have a strategy (with any luck, a great strategy) for your book.  But this is your baby.  No matter how many friends she has, she's still going to have those lonely days when she's not getting enough attention.  And who is she going to call?  You. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Realistic Writing Goals

Someone on my favorite discussion board just announced her book deal, heralding the fact that not only will she finally be published, but she made her goal of being published in her 20's. While I wish her the most sincere congratulations, I must admit that I bristled at that last bit. No offense, kiddo, but when you parade your youth out there with your writing success for a bunch of old ladies like me, it dampens our impulse to rejoice and send you hearty congratulations. Now in all fairness to this writer, she says she has been working towards this for 9 years, which is perfectly in line with the average experience. And certainly, there are plenty of young, talented writers being published every day.

I realize that my own insecurities come into play here, not to mention my own regrets. Sure, when I was in junior and senior high school, I daydreamed about becoming a writer. Then, as it so often does, life got in the way. I decided to teach, which I dearly loved and don't regret a moment of it. But as an English teacher with 135-150 students at a time, writing was pretty much out of the question, accept during summer holidays. But summers just lacked momentum (yeah I'll write an entire, flawless novel in 2 months...and do all the legwork to get it published!). And for the first 3 years after my son was born, I continued to teach...absolutely no chance of finding time—or energy—to write. So it wasn't until my daughter was born, and I officially became a SAHM in her late thirties, that I started to build that dream.

Now there's that other peske part of the fantasy...write a book and get published instantly. that covered! Eight years later I'm standing on the brink, ready for that book deal (and it is coming...any day now). Yes, I'll admit it...I won't be in my twenties...I'll be in my forties. And you know what? That's really okay. My goal was to write good books. I'm not sure if I would have done that in my idealist twenties, or even my distracted thirties.

I guess my writing goals have evolved over the years. The timeline has become meaningless. The craft, the drive of the narrative, the details of the business itself—all of this has become the force behind my writing. There are still plenty of distractions that make it difficult to write: waiting to sell this blasted house while my husband lives and works 5 states away, trying to help my children cope with eternally temporary separation, organizing a large writer's conference...plenty to keep my busy.

I don't begrudge anyone their goals. Just pardon me if I wince a little. Do I regret not really writing in my twenty's? Sometimes. But then, I don't think I would have written the book I just wrote. So I guess for me the real distinction is in having written a good book, and I hope I've done that. So, I'll not regret the fact that I didn't manage to break the age barrier. Besides...that's been done already.