3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Tammi Sauer (Author, Chicken Dance)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Tammi Sauer (Author, Chicken Dance)

Hi Tammi. Thanks for stopping by today! We appreciate you taking time out of your Chicken Dancing. :) Before we dive into your marketing advice, can you tell us a little about yourself?

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.

The second website is a site devoted to Chicken Dance. Dan Santat, the book’s illustrator, did a remarkable job putting it together. I sometimes come up with content for that site, but Dan holds the well-deserved title Webmaster. He merits a crown. And maybe a cape.

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 offers a goldmine of suggestions that can help the shyest of authors navigate their way into well-maybe-I-can-do-that promotion.

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 and greatly value these social networks. I’m involved in these networks not because I feel I need to be a Super Serious Promoter but because I enjoy connecting with other readers and writers. Being a children’s book writer can, at times, get a little lonely. It’s wonderful to have these online water coolers. Have I sold copies of my books because of social networking? Yes--and I am grateful for it!--but that is icing. Interacting with others who 'get it'? That’s the cake.

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!


Gregory K. said...

I can vouch for the chicken hat!

The chicken dancing is such a fun way to promote the book - it's fun for everyone to do, doesn't feel like selling, and once you've danced like a chicken, how are you going to forget this specific book? Good stuff.

Thanks for sharing, Tammi, and thanks for interviewing, Shelli!

cynthea said...

Amen, Tammi. Selling books is the icing, hanging out? --totally the cake!

Bawk on, girl!

Carrie Harris said...

Thanks for another wonderful interview, you two!

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Her joy in her work shines through! I love the chicken dance lessons. Brilliant. Thanks for showing us there's no end to the creative ways to market our books.

Lazy Writer said...

Great interview. I love these interviews; they are packed full of great advice.

PJ Hoover said...

Awesome advice! I love it all. And I just saw Tammi two days ago :)

Diana Paz said...

Love it! Every interview brings something new to think about. I loved her readreadreadreadread part!

Kelly said...

Fun ideas! Great interview.

ElanaJ said...

Wow, so many great tips and new blogs and things to follow. Thanks!

Patricia Cruzan said...

Thanks, Tammi for your advice. I appreciate the time you spend on the interviews, Shelli.

Crystal said...

Wonderful interview, Shelli! And thanks to Tammi, of course, for sharing her thoughts on promotion and her latest PB. Very informative . . . great job, guys!

kathrynjankowski said...

Wonderful interview, Shelli.
I"m curious about websites, though. Do you think writers should have one before they've finished a book? Thanks.

taralazar said...

Tammi is my barnyard idol.

Danyelle said...

Wonderful interview and some awesome ideas. Thanks to the both of you!

Jessie Oliveros said...

I saw you are from Victoria Kansas on your website. The very old chapel at the edge of town? My great-grandpa. Anyway, thanks for all the great advice, and for the other internet networking ideas.

Kim Kasch said...

Thanks for all the helpful info you post here and all the hard work you put into this. I'm hoping it will be soooo helpful to me one day. I've got my fingers X'd :)

BronzeWord said...

Thank you for a great article and especially all the great links. I"m still going through all of them. lol
Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord Latino Authors
I'll be twitting this article.

Rita said...

Tammi's having fun while she's doing everything. That's her real secret. You can tell she's having fun doing this interview, chicken dancing, whatever!

Thanks for letting us listen in!