Hi Kristin, thanks for joining us today.
Before we get into your marketing strategies, can you tell me a little about yourself?
Hi Shelli. My debut middle grade novel, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different (Delacorte, 2008), is an historical fiction account of the beginnings of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times called it “a real sparkler of a novel.”
I’ve also written a number of children’s activity books, many for licensed characters like Scooby-Doo, Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobbie, and the Powerpuff Girls. My stories have appeared in Spider Magazine and Highlights for Children.
And I’m currently revising my next middle grade novel, Selling Hope: Or Gaining Glorious Asylum from Mr. Halley’s Fiery Beast (Feiwel & Friends, Fall 2011). My SuperAgent is Josh Adams of Adams Literary (who, I suspect, might even wear a cape – he’s that Super). Also, I hate mice, love Project Runway, and I’m allergic to housecleaning.
Do you/your agency/your house have a website/blog? When did you start it and who manages it?
I do have a website. I launched it in 2002, when I started freelancing full time. I manage the content, but I admit that I’m not as good about updating the “Appearances” page as I should be. (More on that below…) I’m also a bit of a technophobe, so I don’t know how to do cool things like imbed my blog within the site, or put little Facebook-icon thingys on it. Anyone out there willing to share pointers on that?
I am continuously amazed at how many people contact me through my website. I’ve booked a number of author visits from the “School Visits” page, and I get a lot of readers who contact me this way. I’ve also had editors compliment me on this site, so I know for a fact that they’re out there looking up authors when they’re considering our work!
I also have a blog. I am, as I’ve said before, “a spotty blogger.” Every one of my New Year’s Resolution worksheets since 2006 has included the affirmation, “I will blog more” (along with “I will eat better” and “I will get more sleep.” Those aren’t working out so hot, either. J)
In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?
A website is a must. I’ve had readers, editors, librarians and teachers all contact me via my site. If I had to decide between paying for business cards and paying for website hosting, I’d go with the hosting, hands down. (But I have business cards, too! J )
Every children’s author should also consider doing school visits. I know these aren’t for everyone, but some of my most successful events have been school visits. Plus, I adore meeting readers! They are made of awesome!
Third, and most painfully (at least for me), you have to get out there and introduce yourself to local booksellers and librarians. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that they want to know local authors! I’m really uncomfortable walking into a bookstore and approaching the nearest clerk with, “I’ve written a book, and I’d like to talk to you about carrying it/signing your stock/hosting an event.” But I have yet to come across a bookseller/librarian who has kicked me to the curb, and I’ve met so many great champions of children’s literature this way.
In your opinion, how important is social networking?
I’m assuming you mean besides the fact that it’s the only way I talk to my friends these days? It’s very important. There is a huge writing community online these days, and many times, the only way you’ll find out about an event is through these sites. (Case in point: a last-minute party at an NYC pub during the SCBWI conference, at which I met many authors that I likely wouldn’t have met otherwise. Fun stuff!) I try to list all my booksignings through these sites, too, and I’ve seen direct results. I’ve had high school friends, college friends and others contact me and say, “I didn’t know you wrote a book! I’ll run right out and get it!” I love Facebook, and I use Twitter and Goodreads, too, but to a lesser degree. I also use JacketFlap. Friend me, y’all! J
What creative things have you done to promote a book?
I don’t know if this is “creative,” necessarily, but we just found out that Autumn will now be available for sale through the gift stores at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a longish process, and all books must be reviewed and voted on before they are stocked. So I’m excited about that!
I’ve also promoted Autumn to Gatlinburg, TN-area gift stores, heritage museums, and other Appalachia-related interests. And to again relate how important networking sites are, author Kerry Madden did a round-up of environmentally themed books for kids. Because of her efforts, Autumn was mentioned in Sierra Magazine. (Thanks again, Kerry!)
I think the main thing to remember is what niche your books fill (more specifically than “it’s for kids.”). Selling Hope is set on the vaudeville stage, so I hope to do a ton of vaudeville-related promotions for it. Book promotion can be as much fun as the writing itself, and it gets readers excited about your story. What could be better than that?