3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Kristin Tubb (Author, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Kristin Tubb (Author, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different)

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?


Tess said...

Great interview. I love middle grade and will have to check this novel out, thanks :)

Kristin Tubb said...

Thanks, Tess! I love middle grade, too! So much fun to read characters who love to explore and ask questions about the world, like middle graders do. :-)

cameron said...

As usual, great interview Shelli. I write MG so I am very impressed and will buy this novel.

Kristin, my novel for middle graders is also set in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's different though. An adventure story and I have wondered how to get the gift shops to carry it. Now I at least have an idea. Thanks for being so helpful. :)

C.R. Evers said...

Asheville is only about 4 hours from where I live. I'd love to read a historical about the area! I'll have to check it out.

Great interview!


Janet O'Connor said...

Thank you for this interesting interview, Shelli. Kristin seems to know her audience well. She seems to be having fun with her writing.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Love this interview, Shelli. Good point about niche marketing, too.

Kristin Tubb said...

Hi, Cameron! Oh, I love the Blue Ridge Highway - gorgeous! I'd imagine a book set in that area would be a nice addition to the gift shops along that route! (And their websites see a lot of traffic, too, from what I understand!) Thanks for visiting!

Hi, Christy! Asheville may be the coolest city I've ever visited - love it! :-) Thanks for the nice note.


Kristin Tubb said...

Hi, Janet! Thanks for the comment! I *do* have a a ton of fun writing. I've never been the "tortured artist" type! ;-)

Hi, Sherrie! Thanks for stopping by! :-)


Christina Farley said...

Great points. I think networking is so important too. Interesting about the website. I have one but I need to do something more with it.

Danyelle said...

Great information, as always. I really appreciate all the time and effort that goes into these interviews. :D

Kelly H-Y said...

She sounds fantastic! Great interview!

Kristin Tubb said...

Hi, Christina! Thanks for commenting. My website traffic amazes me, really. I use networking sites so much that I feel amazed when people find me "the old-fashioned way" - via a website! :-)

Hi, Danyelle! Shelli's blog is great, isn't it? Wonderful resource! Thanks as always, Shelli! :-)

Hi, Kelly! Um...my mother would agree with you? :-) *blushes* Thanks for stopping by!


etta wilson said...

Hi, Kristin—

Such a good overall marketing approach! I'm eager to read "Autumn".


chandlermariecraig said...

Great interview. I love hearing how authors have really focused their approach beyond just marketing to children. You've got some great ideas and have obviously formed valuable relationships online!

Kristin Tubb said...

Hi, Etta! Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your nice words!

Hi, Chandler/Marie/Craig! The marketing aspect has been a blast (time-consuming, yes, but fun!). And the online part of it has been wonderful! Thanks for the comment.


adrienne said...

Great interview - interesting idea about finding the right niche.

Kristin Tubb said...

Hello, Adrienne! Finding the right niche is so important. In my neck of the woods, it's fairly easy to find people who love the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And they get so excited when they hear there's a children's book about it! Finding the best way to get in touch with them has been my biggest challenge. (The classic marketing dilemma - message AND medium!) :-) Thanks for the comment!