As you may know, our teen panel starts in Feb. They will be talking abut books, what they like, what attracks them to covers, how they hear about books, etc.
If you have any questions for our teen panel on marketing, please leave them in the comments or email me by the end of the week.
This is your chance to get in the minds of teens and find out how to target them directly.
Marvelous Marketer: Gail Carson Levine (Bestselling author, Ella Enchanted)
Hi Gail. Thank you so much for joining us. Can you share a little with us on your latest project, how you got started, and your journey to publication?
Hi Shelli. Thanks for having me today.
My latest book is Ever, a young-adult fantasy set in ancient Mesopotamia, which got its start after I read the bible for the first time and became interested in the troubling story of Jeptha and his daughter. My story spun off the biblical one. It doesn’t have its own website. My general website, which is maintained by HarperCollins and I also have a blog.
You are a blogger, did that have anything to do with your success? Or how do you utilize your blog in a marketing way?
I recently started blogging in May, ’09, and I was originally published in 1997. However, I started the blog with the hopes of bringing more people to my books, which are listed on the site. I also use the blog for event announcements.
In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?
- Write the best book you can. Then revise it. Then take your editor’s suggestions VERY seriously. Never disregard an edit unless you have a really good reason.
- Join the Society of Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating, which will help you with promotion strategies and much more. It is a fabulous organization to get involved with.
- If you’re comfortable with public speaking, let your publicist know, and say that you’d like any opportunities that come along to speak at conferences about your books. But do NOT bug your publicist or expect a lot of support for a first book.
What creative things have you done to promote a book?
I always send postcards out especially to family and friends by snail mail when I have a new book coming out. Ask your editor if the house would be willing to print cards as part of its publicity. The cost is pretty low, so sometimes your editor may say yes, or be willing to share costs.
Otherwise you do it on your own. I find that people like hearing about my success and start thinking about my books when it’s time for special occasions - like birthday and holidays. I never send postcards or market in any other way to writer friends, except for the writers who read my blog, and even then the marketing is peripheral.
Oh, yes, and I also include an automatic link to my blog at the bottom of my emails.
How has your view on marketing and publicity changed as you have moved throughout your career?
For my first book, which was Ella Enchanted, HarperCollins made “shelf talkers.” These are manila thickness, and they fold over a bookstore bookshelf, so that even if the book is shelved spine out, the buyer’s attention is drawn to it. HarperCollins also included Ella in an ad in book trade journals along with several other new books. And the publisher asked for blurbs for the book jacket. This was extraordinary for a first book. I was very lucky.
Everything changed after Ella won the Newbery honor. Since then, I’ve been sent on book tours for my books, with solo ads taken out for them. Nowadays, the publisher sounds most of the available bells and whistles. But this isn’t the case for most authors unless a book wins an important award and sales are excellent. Writers shouldn’t expect this treatment or be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. As I’m sure you know, these days there are more and more opportunities for authors to do a lot of promotion on their own.
To me, publicity takes second place compared to writing, always has, always will, I hope. My readers (and sometimes their parents) are my market. I’d rather think of them as readers and consider what will please them and me, more than think of them as a market.
Thanks for joining us today, Gail!