3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Abigail Samoun (Editor, Tricycle Press)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Abigail Samoun (Editor, Tricycle Press)

Hi Abigail. Thanks for joining us today.

Before we get pick your brain on marketing, tell me a little about yourself.

Tricycle Press is the children’s imprint of Ten Speed Press which began in Berkeley in the early 1970’s. After over 30 years as an independent publisher, we were just bought by Random House/Crown Books in February.

Ten Speed is known for its quirky, offbeat books like ‘Why Cats Paint’ and ‘The White-Trash Cookbook,’ but also for its business books (‘What Color is Your Parachute?’) and its high-end James Beard Award-winning cookbooks (Charlie Trotter, Hungry Planet, the Moosewood Cookbook). Tricycle’s list shares some of Ten Speed’s offbeat quality with board books such as the ‘My First Book of Sushi’ and ‘Urban Babies Wear Black.’ We’ve also done groundbreaking books like ‘King & King,’ about same-sex marriage, and ‘Mama’s Milk,’ promoting breast-feeding.

We have a whole list of character education books such as ‘Hey, Little Ant,’ which has kids think about the moral issues surrounding the question of squishing or not squishing an ant, and the picture books by anti-bullying expert, Trudy Ludwig. Our list ranges from photographic board books, to humorous read-alouds, to literary young adult novels. It’s an eclectic list and what all the books have in common is their high-quality and broad appeal to a trade audience. Our motto is ‘Books to Make Kids Think.’

As far as for me, I've been an editor at Tricycle Press since 2000 and focus on books, picturebooks, middle-grade, and early young-adult novels. These include the SCBWI Golden Kite winner GEORGE HOGGLESBERRY: GRADE SCHOOL ALIEN and the New York Public Library Ezra Jack Keats awardwinner, YESTERDAY I HAD THE BLUES.

I also edited the middle grade series Edgar & Ellen which has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide and launched a cartoon series on Nickelodeon.

There is more information on Abigail in her interview on Cynsations.

Do you or your publishing house have a website/blog? If so, when did you start it and who manages it?

TenSpeed has had a website since I came to the company in 2000. We have some individual contractors who help us with it but it’s managed overall by one of our marketing people.

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

First I would have to say websites.

For writers, websites are a very good idea, but if an author feels overwhelmed by the idea, a Word Press or Blogger blog can work almost as well. If I’m interested in an author, I’ll often Google them to find out a little more about them. A blog gives me a good sense of their writing style, what they’ve been up to, what they might do to promote their book, and their interests.

For illustrators, a website is crucial. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to come across a book with amazing illustrations and then Google the illustrator only to find out they have absolutely to web presence. Most of my illustration searches are done online. Even if I get a postcard or tear sheet from an illustrator, I’ll always go online to see more of their work. Make it as easy as possible for an editor to find you: the best web address is one that’s simply your first and last name .com (or, alternatively, first and last name + illustration + .com). Be sure to include lots of samples (twenty or more is ideal).

Secondly, it would be platform.

Someone who has already made a name for themselves among teachers and librarians is gold to your publisher. We love illustrators and authors who do school visits. A few of our authors make a good living doing school visits. School visits and attending trade shows like ALA, TLA, and IRA is great, but also consider less obvious methods such as writing an article for a trade journal (i.e., ‘Teaching Tolerance,’ ‘School Library Journal’), writing a teachers’ guide for your book and offering it through your website or blog, or putting a video up on teachertube.com---give teachers and librarians free content to use and they’ll remember you.

The third thing is to focus on targeting specialty markets.

As trade book sales drop, the special markets are becoming more important to publishers. Most publishers will have someone on their sales team that deals with special market sales. Help them out by thinking of places to sell your book besides bookstores and schools/libraries. There are tons of places that sell books that aren’t bookstores: baby shops, gift shops, stationers, museum stores, tourist shops. chains like the Discovery Store, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, ...the list goes on. Come up with your own list of special markets to explore and work with the sales people at your publishers’ to get the book into those places. If you have any contacts that might help your publishers’ sales team---i.e., your sister-in-law knows the buyer at Anthropologie---share them.

In your opinion, how important is social networking? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads.

I love Facebook because it’s a way to stay in touch with people I’ve worked with or met at conferences in a casual, less time-intensive way than email. Remember, though, that it’s still a professional relationship---it’s okay to be playful, but not okay to barrage editors or agents with lots of requests for quizzes and such.

I personally prefer Facebook to MySpace for professional contacts because it doesn’t have that teen vibe MySpace has and or as many obnoxious ads. The “status” bar on Facebook is great for letting people know about conferences you’re attending, awards you’ve won, exciting news about your book.

Jacketflap.com is my second favorite social networking site because it’s specifically dedicated to children’s book people. I just found a terrific children’s book designer through that site.

When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever Google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?

I didn’t used to but now I do more and more. It’s especially helpful when I’m trying to convince my publisher why we need to take on a given book---it’s a big plus for the project if I can tell my publisher that the book has an “active author.” Having a web presence is a big part of this.

What marketing do you expect an author to do on their own?

At Tricycle, we’ll rarely sponsor a book tour. We’ll help schedule book signings and events, but the travel and lodging costs are almost always up to the author. We also expect authors to put together their own websites or blogs.

We expect authors to do a lot to promote their books. Its a partnership.

Thank you Abigail for being here!

Thanks Shelli!


Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

She was delightful at the conference! And I learned something new--I've never heard of teachertube.com but what a great idea for a book that has curriculum connections! As always, thanks for posting these wonderful interviews.

Irene Latham said...

Thanks Shelli and Abigail! I love the teachertube tip. I didn't even know such a thing existed. But of course SHELLI knows. :)

Windsong said...

Wonderful information! Thanks for sharing. :D

Kelly said...

Oh, I love Tricycle Press's whimsical books!
Great interview!

C.R. Evers said...

Another great interview! I love hearing opinions from the insiders!

Casey said...

Great interview! Thank you for sharing with us, Abigail. We really do appreciate it.

Thanks Shelli!

Betsy said...

Thanks Shelli and Abigail! Great info!

Never heard of jacketflap.

Suzanne Young said...

You continue to score amazing interviews. Keep it up.

Annette Gulati said...

Thanks for the great interview!

Lady Glamis said...

Awesome interview! I love knowing about the partnership of the publisher and the writer. Thank you for sharing this!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Great info. It's good to know that the work I've done on my website and blog might pay off some day :^)

bettina said...

Hey Abi! I finally Got my copy of The Day We Danced In Our Underpants. I LOVE IT!

Corey Schwartz said...

Good to know they like "Books that make kids think." I have a few of those! :)

e said...

Great interview Shelli!
Wonderfully helpful!

a brilliant blog said...

great interview.
Abigail is great and real.