Hi Kay, thanks for stopping by today.
Hi Shelli, thanks for having me!
Before we get started, tell me about yourself and your new book, The Cinderella Society.
Well, for starters… unlike some writers, I wasn’t born with a pencil in my hand. Aside from a brief attack of the writing bug, I didn’t really start writing until after I graduated and jumped into the world of grown-ups. I did my time as a good little Corporate girl, got married, got my MBA…but eventually, I got sick of reading business books and needed something to shake things up. One quick trip to my local library, and I was hooked on fiction again. I’d forgotten how much fun reading books without bar charts could be!
I decided it was way more entertaining to relive my teenage years by writing fiction that I wish was based on my real life. Lucky for me, the hubster is very supportive and sent me on my merry way to pursue the writing life.
My book, The Cinderella Society, is about an outsider who gets tapped to join a secret society of good populars dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. It's about girl empowerment: getting comfortable in your own skin and being true to who you are. It also deals with the effects of girl bullies and what unconditional friendship really means. And, of course, there are cute guys and lots of kissing. Romance rocks. :-)
What more could a girl ask for in a book! In addition to writing awesome books, I know you give back to the writing and reading community a lot. Can you talk more about your Great Scavenger Hunt ContestTM and how it has helped you build a network?
The Great Scavenger Hunt ContestTM is a national reading program for kids and teens. I founded the program in April 2009, so I just celebrated the 1-year anniversary last month. Time has flown by!
Kids ages 8-19 can choose from more than 300 participating YA and middle grades titles. They simply read the book, answer a fun 10-question trivia challenge about it, and turn the challenge into a participating librarian for entry into the monthly contest. Every month, one lucky reader wins a $50 gift card to the bookstore of his or her choice AND the reader's host librarian wins a prize tote filled with Hunt books to expand the library's collection.
I didn't create the program for the purpose of creating a network. I created it because I wanted to give back – to librarians who work so hard to engage kids in reading and to kids and teens who are bombarded with 100 things they could be doing other than reading. I'm a big believer in paying it forward, and that's what The Hunt is for me. It's my way of giving back and encouraging kids to become lifelong readers.
That said, the networking was a natural outgrowth of my work in the program. With more 200 participating YA and middle grades authors, I've met so many people I might never have crossed paths with otherwise. And there are 550+ librarians who know me (and now my book). The Hunt librarians are such a fabulous group – passionate about finding ways to keep kids coming back to the library and getting them excited about books while they're there. It's been wonderful getting to know them over the last year.
Sometimes helping others is the best way to build long lasting relationships. You seem to help out a lot. I know last year, you and a few authors started Living Your FiveTM. Why and what are your plans for it?
Living Your FiveTM is about choosing the five ways you want to make a difference in the world and then living your life according to those priorities. I created the concept in 2008 as a way to keep myself focused on what matters most when life gets crazy. It worked so well for me that I invited Alyson Noel and Tera Lynn Childs to join me on the adventure and create an inspirational web project where we share our progress on living our Fives.
We encourage everyone to climb aboard and share their own Fives on their blogs too! All the details can be found at my web site including how to become an Honorary Fiver. The more, the merrier!
I'm proud to say, I'm already an honorary member! :) Besides, giving back, can you share a few other things you’ve done in marketing The Cinderella Society?
To celebrate my debut with the Hunt librarians, I'm hosting a Cinderella Society pizza party. Hunt librarians entered to win a pizza party for 20 (plus cool TCS swag bags). If the winner is close enough geographically, I'll be there in person to hang out over pizza. If not, I'll be there via Skype (while having pizza of my own). That was a hit with the librarians.
My Team Cindy also hosted a Twitter launch party on The Cinderella Society's debut day. I let them run with it, and they decided to make it seven hours long! :-) We did giveaways every half hour for special launch party swag bags I put together plus I gave away mini glass slipper as periodic gifts and a TCS girl power gift basket as a grand prize. All of the discussion was about TCS topics: girl power, romance, friendship, bullies, makeovers… even tweeting a picture of your shoes! Everyone had a blast, including me. I was completely exhausted by the end, but it's something I'll always remember. (Oh, and Twitter locked me out twice during the night for exceeding the maximum number of tweets – I didn't even know there was a max!) LOL
That's a lot of tweeting! :) In addition to Twitter and special projects, what marketing advice do you have for authors? Especially around building up a following on their sites as you have done.
I know a lot of people think you have to have a web site and blog, but I disagree. Social networking is swiftly overtaking blogs in terms of where people spend their free time. And until you're published, there's really not that much on a web site that people will be scrambling to learn about you because they often don't know about you yet.
My philosophy is this… most people just don't have time to read tons of lengthy blog posts with the glut of blogs already out there. That's why I think social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are great because you get quick hit updates about what's new. My suggestion is to find a social networking platform you enjoy and begin by connecting with like-minded people. If you're on Twitter, join in a conversation about a favorite book of yours. If you're on Facebook, fan some groups that are for things you care about. Spam never works – social networking is all about making genuine connections. If you relax and let it develop naturally, you'll be much happier (and better connected) in the long run. :-)
You can also follow Kay on Twitter, her blog, and Facebook.