I’m the author of the picture books Cowboy Camp and Chicken Dance as well as the forthcoming titles Mostly Monsterly, Mr. Duck Means Business, Princess-in-Training, and Oh, Nuts! There are two additional titles I’d love to add to the list, but I’m still waiting to sign The Official Paperwork.
Although I thoroughly enjoy what I do, I never planned on being a children’s book writer. I had always assumed I’d grow up to be a third grade teacher, but two sentences from my favorite college professor at Kansas State University—Dr. Marjorie Hancock--changed my life: “Tammi, you have a gift with words. You should pursue publication.” Knowing she believed in me made me believe in myself. Marge, one of the chickens in Chicken Dance, is named in her honor.
I this it's amazing how some of us writers never actually set out to be a writer. We just followed a whim and a passion. How have you gotten yourself out into the writing world?
Online presence has been important. I have two websites and a blog.
The first website is my author site. This site is managed by me which consequently means it’s very basic.
I also maintain a blog pretty regularly.
I can see you think having an online presence is a good thing :). Given that, what three marketing channels - would you say - are most important to an author or illustrator?
1. A web presence is crucial. At the very minimum authors should have a website. It’s an easy way to let people know who you are, what you write, and how to contact you.
2. The idea of promotions shouldn’t make people want to curl up under their desks with a Dr. Pepper and some frozen Milky Ways. Even the most introverted authors can find ways to promote that fit within their comfort zone. Shrinking Violets
3. Don’t evolve into such a shameless self-promoter that you turn people off. Yes, it’s great to get the word out. Yes, it’s exciting to share your news/joy/every-written-word with the world. But do it in doses people can swallow.
How do you feel about social networking as part of a marketing plan?
I'm on Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, Kidlit Book Trailers, and the Verla Kay Blueboards
Besides being online as well as involved in social networking, what other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?
Strive to do something unique. Put a new spin on what others are doing. Make yourself stand out.
Keep your online content fresh. Give your readers a reason to go back to your website, Facebook Fan Page, etc. An easy-to-do example: add a What’s New? section to your website and regularly update it.
What creative things have you done to promote Chicken Dance?
Let’s see…I’ve been known to wear a chicken hat on occasion.
The Chicken Dance website offers freebies, dance lessons, and much, much more. The dance lessons portion is one of my favorites. Dan came up with the idea to post brief videos of us teaching new moves. Currently, Dan’s move “The Bellyache” is available. Every so often, we’ll be adding a new move to keep our readers (and dancers!) coming back for more.
Dan and I have a Chicken Dance Video Contest that offers faaaaabulous prizes. The link to the page and the commercial.
We also have a Chicken Dance Fan Page on Facebook that offers occasional contests, fun videos, and an "On the Road with Elvis Poultry" photo album.
In addition to my own Twitter account, I twitter from the perspective of Elvis Poultry. Always wanted to know about the life and times of a rock and roll rooster? What does he read? What does he eat? What goes on behind the scenes of the Final Doodle Doo Tour? Then follow Elvis Poultry. It’ll have you all shook up.
Did you market yourself to agents/editors before you got published?
I didn’t market myself to agents/editors before I got published. I was so new, it never occurred to me to try. Instead, I studied the craft. I readreadreadreadread. I wrote a really awful manuscript about a grandma and banana bread. But I pushed myself to get better. And better.
I joined SCBWI and attended conferences. I researched publishing houses. I researched agents. And I tried to find the perfect matches for me and for my work. Eventually, those efforts paid off. Not only am I working with some wonderful houses--Sterling, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt, and Bloomsbury--but I have the amazing Laura Rennert for an agent.
Thanks for sharing your marketing advice with us today!
Thanks for having me, Shelli. Thanks, too, for this wonderful site. I've learned so much from my pit stops at Market My Words!