Thursday, August 26, 2010

Talking Up The Book

This week I have been thinking about book publicity...not because I have a book coming out...although a few friends here have...(general jubilation) but because of the hype of Mockingjay on a lot of the blogs I read. 

The Hunger Games was a sleeper that woke up really quickly after it won critical acclaim. But it was already gathering a huge youth readership through word of mouth.  It is a cracking read...

A couple of days ago I was in a chain book store in the mall that likes to promote itself as the specialist book store and I witnessed two teens come up to the counter and ask for Mockingjay. The store manager was behind the counter and he didn’t know if they had the book or when they might be getting he looked up on the computer and found that the arrival date was uncertain. 

I was slightly gobsmacked and being the interested (nosy)person that I am, I got into conversation with the manager. 
Did you know how huge the arrival of the third book is in the States? Oh really I didn’t think it was that huge.(Did this guy read any industry newsletters?) Well isn’t it interesting that you are getting teens coming in to ask about the book? Yes I’m only on the front desk for a few hours a day and I’ve had four requests from Teens about the book. (well duh isn’t this telling you something?) 
So I asked how many copies of the book they had ordered? Oh 10 do you think I should order more? Yes!  

Ok anytime you have TEENS coming in to talk/ask an adult behind a counter in a BOOKSHOP about a BOOK and you have seen no publicity about the book... wouldn’t it suggest that maybe there should be some investigation...
Basic store publicity (five minutes on the store printer) a sign in the shop window...'Order your copy of Mockingjay now! The cost of a teaspoon full of ink and five minutes could result in big book sales of hardcover books, not to mention street cred with teens... (On Twitter I note today the comments that bookstores have piles of Mockingjay taller than the sales assistants...)   

So how can we effectively market our books?

Maureen Crisp has got the kiwi perspective.

I asked long time Book Publicist Kathryn Carmody a few questions about how authors can plan their publicity and promote their forthcoming book. Kathryn very kindly answered the questions and added a few more to think about.

How far in advance should you plan Book Publicity?
Generally speaking, the earlier the better. It's August now and I'm talking with bi-monthly and glossy consumer magazines about November and December titles. The sales reps are selling November titles into bookstores this month too.

What is the most effective thing the Author can do to promote their book?
When you're being interviewed for a media story, remember to request that the book's title be mentioned. It's seems an obvious thing to do but you'd be amazed how often stories run without mentioning that there's a book at all.      

Are different types of publicity more effective than others in terms of book sales?
Because publicity works by referral from sources one trusts, community networks can be every bit as helpful as, for example, an interview with a top-rating radio host. The interview that is published or broadcast nationwide will help your book reach a wider audience faster but it's not unusual for a major interview to come about because a journalist saw a story in a newsletter and decided to follow up.
Timing is a part of the answer to this question too. Media coverage can be coordinated so it coincides with a book's actual availability: its in-store date.   

What publicity tools would be useful for an author to have on hand?          
The book’s media release; an eye-catching author photo (with photographer's credit) and the book's cover image, both as 300DPI JPGs, total file size not larger than 1MG; a corded phone to improve the sound quality of your radio interviews; a website with all the usual things but also a shopping facility that points to your local bookshop and a mailing list that fans can subscribe to, for advance notice of your next book.

Kathryn is a successful freelance publicist who is in demand because of her specialist skills. She is always willing to help and advise writers. She volunteers her time and skills frequently from Spinning Gold to Storylines...and is a valuable member of the (children’s) writing community here in Wellington. (Thanks Kathryn!)
Over on Craicerplus My Amplify page I have links to articles on
Eleven Beloved Children’s Books With Seriously Dubious Lessons
Seth Godin To No Longer Publish Books Traditionally
How to submit your book to Penguin without an Agent (this is a helpful article if you want to take advantage of Penguin UK opening their email to unsolicited submissions)
13 Writing Rules To Live By- (Tahereh is a genius so say I)
12 Deep Thoughts From Chip MacGregors Mail Box
Character Names To Avoid

I’ll leave you with the book trailer for Mockingjay....


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (The Final book of the Hunger
Uploaded by expandedbooks. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Studying To Suceed

On Monday I had the good fortune to attend the LIANZA awards. 
New Zealand librarians chose the best books published for children in the past year. 
Congratulations to the winners! Among the established high profile awards given were new awards in sub categories for books published in Te Reo Maori. As more people are becoming literate in the Maori Language there is a need for books to become more sophisticated. A lot of what has been published in Maori are children’s readers and non fiction. This is now beginning to change as children fluent in te reo age. I was happy to see that a novel based around science fiction including elements of myths and world building was the inaugural winner in the young adult section of the Te Reo awards. When you can have this kind of sophisticated plot, playing with futurist ideas, you know that the Maori language is alive and flourishing.  

Dinner out after with some of the brightest talents in Children’s Writing and Illustration in this country was the icing on the cake...and the jump start to my night....(Thanks for the help and the laughter, Children’s Writers and Illustrators are the best!)

WriteOnCon  has finished and the children’s literature world is digesting the insights gained.  So if you have been studying hard after reading the SCBWI blog (which I urged you to do two weeks ago...) here is this weeks study homework.

Adventures in Publishing have gathered together a conference round up for each day of the WriteOnCon
Day One and Day Two and Day Three and boy there is some great information tucked away in here.

Miriam Forster has put the two videos by Shelli Johannes-Wells on author branding from the conference on her website so hop on over and have a look.

If you want more information on author branding, The Book Designer has a comprehensive article on the subject. Everything you wanted to know...don’t forget that author branding equals business branding.

The Great Jane has interviewed Johanna Harness about the twitter phenomenon that is the #amwriting group. This is an interesting project by an unpublished writer using social media to get known. With over 2000 people participating in the project and an Amazon store and CafePress merchandise site you have to ask yourself  is this the way of the future? (If you have a book coming out with a great theme check out your contract...if it doesn't specifically say anything about merch maybe you need to look into it...a range of interesting quotes from the books and the book cover could make a nice tee shirt (thinking a certain Shakespear sequel here))
It is an interesting interview. Being interviewed on the No Rules blog jumped her stats over 1000%

Dean Wesley Smith has written an interesting overview of what he thinks is happening in publishing. He equates publishers as huge ships that take a long time to change course. The winners are the small press and indie publishers. They can move faster and ride the wave better. Authors who have a long backlist can profit also from the e-publishing phenomenon.

On Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) There are links to articles on

Swords Dominate 2009 Fantasy Cover Art...

The Ultimate Checklist Before Submitting Your Novel.(this is brilliant!)

How To Ensure 75% of Agents Will Request Your Material.(required reading)

Dean Wesley Smith- Killing The Sacred Cows of Publishing...thought provoking article by Dean with an Agent Responding...

10 Things To Do To Become A Better Writer In 10 Days

Self Publishing? A look At Lightening Source.

Some very funny responses...give everyone donuts...yep after my day today.... to find a donut

Image is from the very funny website Better Book Titles- The Titles They Should Have Used.
Yes - It is For Frankenstein!
(check out the rest!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Being Social In The Media

This week I have been thinking about the Author and Social Media.

Publishers are seeing Social Media as a tool for marketing their Authors and Authors are being told that they have to be on Social Media. But which Social Media is best for you?

Should you Blog, Tweet or Facebook and if you do what sort of platform should you have?
Platform? I hear you squeak! 
If writing is a business (which it is) what does your business stand for? Are you a purveyor of finely crafted gentle bedtime stories for the under fives or a rip roaring paranormal farce for the fifteen plus age group. Do you write edge of your seat thrillers or explorations of the teenage psyce? Is your writing home in Non Fiction for kids or Fantasy Fair? Or are you all of these?

If you can define your platform for your readers then you have an easier time using Social Media to promote your brand of writing.

Three different ways that some Authors are using Social Media.

Sean McManus has an interesting article about using Twitter-Can you tweet your way to a bestseller?

Hire some actresses to read your book in prominent places. Ok it isn’t social media but it is social...

One of the key things about using social media is that to use it effectively you must add value.
Writing about your cat obsessively unless your writing platform is tied up to your cat in some way is not enough. However if you are a cat whisperer....and you have written a series of tween novels about the adventures of a spy who whispers to cats...then maybe you have a valid social media platform.

If you are using Social Media already and are looking for another challenge Indie reader has a great article on podcasting your book, Books for your ears. More people are turning to podcasting as a way of getting the word out there about their work.

Two links on writing to think about.

Publetariat has a great list of links to help you critique better. This is good news for me as I start to pull apart my own work before sending it to a new critique partner.

Bob Mayer has an excellent article on pitching based on your goals. Bob has written some great thrillers and teaches a popular writing course based on Special Forces goal setting. As a former Special Forces Agent he knows of what he speaks.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez was interviewed recently by bookviewcafe about where he thought digital publishing was headed. Guy is one of the founders of the Digital Book World conference and he sees the future of publishing as looking extremely bright.

So Authors...You  may as well get digital savvy because to take advantage of publishing in the future you have to be Social In The Media.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify page) there are articles on

For the closet geeks out there....How To Write Silly Science Fiction

Plot to Puctuation has a great article on What Star Wars Teaches On Character Introductions

Digital Book Covers...lets make them interactive...

What To Ask The Agent When You Get The Call...(pinup on your wall)

Adventures in Publishing are doing a great conference roundup over on their site (see my blog roll in the 
sidebar) There is a must read article on middle grade writing there with Linda Sue Park.

And now you have finally come to the end of this long celebrate here is a joke for you. put together this great video to promote their children’s author collective.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Conference Connections....

It is conference season for Children’s Writers and Illustrators. 

WriteOnCon starts next week. It’s Free and Online and close to 500 people have signed up for it. (Click on forums to sign up.)

SCBWI LA Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators  L A summer conference has just finished and they had a record breaking crowd of over 1100 attendees this year.

Alice Pope and her team blogged their way through it again this year. You need a team to blog a conference of this magnitude. Last year was the first time that they did it and it was a stupendous undertaking. This year they surpassed themselves. For us who can only dream about one day making it over there to just experience it, or in our case having to put on our own conference so we could get the opportunity to learn, upskill, and network  in our craft, the SCBWI Team Blog is the way to go.

Just a warning there is so much information about what’s new, what editors are looking for, trends, multimedia, master class information, tips, learning,....Set aside time to really study what has been posted. And it is a lot! I clicked older posts 8 times before I got to the start of the four day conference. Along the way the information coming at me was incredible.

If you are in this business you would be a fool not to check out the blog.   

Michelle from The Y A Highway blog posted her impressions as an attendee and soundbites  of what she took away from the conference. It is a great little roundup of highpoints.

A couple or three  sites caught my eye this week to share with you before I got snowed by the conference blog.

The Book Doctor has an article up on organising your days on a weekly basis. It is timely as life gets pretty busy around here and fitting in time to write and not feel guilty is very tricky. So check out the advice from The Book Doctor Team.

Pimp My Novel has reposted an article from last year about 12 easy steps to help market your new novel. This is a good wake up call from the sales director of a publishing firm. Especially lead in times...websites etc...and Book Trailers.

As an aside Christopher Cheng from Australia/New Zealand SCBWI got an award In L A last week for most helpful  Regional Advisor and he did a session on creating book trailers...yes the authors HAVE TO DO IT and his session showed how you could do it in 30 minutes. You have to read SCBWI TEAM BLOG!

As I have said in earlier posts, the futurists are predicting that publishers will only survive if they become more niche so it is useful for authors to look at this form of marketing as well. This week I have been delving into marketing books again and the new buzz word coming out is fusion marketing. Teaming up with other industries and marketing together.
Alan looks at some of these ideas and shows examples of book campaigns that are doing this.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page)

What Writers Wish They Had Known Before Pitching

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far (a satire...very funny but thought provoking too)

Open Sky Website lets Authors Sell Directly To Consumers  (On Fusion Marketing )

Writing Vs Storytelling (Nathan Bransford writes a brilliant article on looking closely at why we love or don’t 
love best sellers and what we can learn from them)

How A Sticky Note Can Change Your Life

Some Tips For Writing A Series.

And in other news
The FABO Story project is off with a hiss and a roar and we are getting some great stories from the kids. Go and check out Chapter Two and the winning kids chapter two version. Kids can join in at any time as a new chapter is posted each week. New Zealand Illustrators have joined in with a team of their own getting together to illustrate each chapter for us...

If you are dreaming of book trailers....and going global....check out how you can run a TV Ad in the States  for very little money. Is this where FABO will end up?...heheheheh If you read the SCBWI TEAM BLOG you will find out that it’s not  such a silly idea....


pic is from Christopher Cheng...his view of the 1100 attendees at SCBWI LA.
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