Thursday, February 28, 2008

Marketing Tasks: Five to Six Months Out - Putting Your Words to Work For You

We haven’t talked about our marketing calendar countdown in a bit and I can feel that clock ticking. There are a few other marketing strategies to consider employing, but they need to be addressed a good five to six months out, so I want to talk about them before too much time gets by. Especially since this marketing angle is particularly well suited to introverts: magazine articles.

Magazine articles based on some element or angle from your book can be a fabulous way to generate interest in the topic and get the word out about your book to a very specifically targeted audience. But since most magazines, especially print magazines, have a huge lead time, time is of the essence.

For example, for Mary’s book, THE ONE ABOUT A KID, she could have written an article highlighting the Challenged Athletes Foundation and pitched that to any one of a number of children’s magazines or even with that particular topic, mainstream women’s or consumer magazines. With Donna Gephart’s book, if she’d wanted to she could have written a short non-fiction article explaining the election cycle process for a kid’s magazine, which would have been a great way to get her name and book title out there in front of the reading public. It has the added benefit of requiring no face-to-face time, and usually has a high built in interest factor for you since you were passionate enough about the subject to write a book on it. Plus chances are you’ve already done most of the research.

When WEREWOLF RISING came out, I had always meant to do this but got swamped with other things at the time. I could easily have written a couple of articles using my research material. Maybe one on the social structure of wolf packs or the origin of the myths of werewolves.

This doesn’t work with all books or all subject matters. Some clearly lend themselves better to these sorts of articles. For example, I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think of a magazine angle for TEN LUCKY THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME. The only things I could come up with were a short article on the effects and chances of truly being hit by lightening—which might be interesting for kids but Mary’s book doesn’t really deal all that much with the topic. Or perhaps, since her book is about friendship and she has great credentials due to being a coach and her prior vocational experience, an article about the ins and outs and dynamics of friendships and how to navigate that. Social tips for girls who aren’t particularly skilled or experienced in navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of friendship. That sort of thing.

Sometimes, especially with certain subjects (wolves, Egyptology, psychological issues) well-established print magazines might prefer someone with serious subject credentials. However, the good news is that there are hundreds of e-zines on the web and they are always looking for material. Plus, if they deal with a subject you touch on in your novel, you are targeting an audience with a built in interest factor. Depending on the age and readership of the magazine, these articles can run from the very short (250 words) to full length (2,000 words.) The other good news is that having an upcoming book release does give you some writing credentials when approaching the magazine.

So go forth and do what you do best: write!

Until next week!

Monday, February 25, 2008

On Tooting your Horn

This falls under the heading of self-care for introverts. As in, I am needing some bad! I've had a blast these last few weeks with school visits, book signing, speaking at conferences, traveling, working, and writing. I am hugely grateful for each opportunity and all the great people I've met. This is what pro-motion looks like. Selling your next book one relationship at a time.

Each event generates a flurry of emails from kids or students, which I love, but it is depleting. I have one more school visit next week, and then I am signing off for a bit. Going to say no (Introversion 101) to a couple of new event requests. Time to refuel. I don't have a single, solitary toot left in me right now. Maybe one pathetic raspberry, but that's about it.

This week is going to be about napping, journaling, restorative yoga, an artist date or two, and I want to catch a few of the great movies that were awarded last night at the Oscars.

And then there is one of my favorite renewing activities-- tooting my horn about someone else!

Which brings us to National Independent Bookseller's Appreciation Month which is coming in May. Robin and I have begun making plans! For those of you that have been visiting us for a while, you will remember that last May, we dedicated the month to honoring our Indies. (For our new friends, check out some of the fun we had at this link.) We are going to do the same this year, only we'd like to expand the scope and reach. We are hoping to get into the Chase Book of Days so that May will be officially designated for Indie appreciation nation-wide and forevermore. They truly deserve that. Indies are to the book world what introverts are to the human race-- don't you think?

And, we absolutely can't make this happen without you. Yep, you. Will you help? It can be something as simple as visiting your Indie in May and thanking them for their great work. Or, you may want to do something a bit grander. Maybe sponsor a weekly book drawing of local authors? Or, run an add in a local paper thanking them for their work. Perhaps you will be inspired to bake the staff some cupcakes or muffins. Right now, we really could use some of your brainpower. What ideas might you have for actively supporting and expressing your appreciation?

Robin and I sent an email out to about eight of our favorite booksellers and asked them to give us some feedback about some of our ideas. If you have a connection with your local Indie, would you gather some intelligence for us from them as well?

Thanks, everyone. This is our opportunity to give something back to them. Let's put a strong think tank together on this, shall we?

And speaking of horn tooting, it's Monday and that's the day we love to celebrate milestones around here. Anyone have anything they'd like to share? Could be a milestone of any size from finishing a challenging scene to winning the National Book Award. We're open. :-) All entries will be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Donna Gephart's As if Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President, which we blogged about last Thursday.

Hope you all have a renewing kind of week--

Mary Hershey

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SVP Spotlight On...Donna Gephart

One of the things Mary and I have wanted to do with the Shrinking Violet Blog was use it to highlight new, emerging violet authors and their books, and we're very excited to introduce one to you this week.

Ms. Donna Gephart's first book will be published this month with Delacorte Press. And check out how timely her title is: As if Being 12¾ Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President!

(I also think she's giving Mary a run for her money in the category of Longest Titles Ever!)

In her blog today, she has some very helpful thoughts on Book Promotion 101, straight from the trenches. Check it out!

And congratulations, Donna! And thanks for sharing your thoughts with our SVP readers.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sarah Vowell, Violet Superhero

There are at least eight excellent reasons that I think you should take the nine minutes it will take to watch this video of Sarah Vowell, who is the voice for the superhero Violet from The Incredibles.

1. Sarah Vowell is a big introvert.

2. Sarah Vowell is so cool you won't hardly be able to stand it.

3. Sarah Vowell is extremely funny.

4. Sarah Vowell says things like "... I'm better with dead people."

5. Like Nancy Pearl, she has her own Action Figure-- two actually, and one of them is INVISIBLE.

6. Sarah Vowell makes Abraham Lincoln seem kinda, well, you know, hot.

7. As part of my book launch plan I'm starting some school visits and the first one is tomorrow and I'm speaking to two Assemblies with 160 kids each and I'm in dire need of some serious superhero mojo. (And I seem to have misplaced my punctuation she says gasping!)

8. Could there be a better name for a superhero than Violet?

What do you think, friends? Does she make the cut our Shrinking Violet Hall of Fame?

Click here for Sarah's video!

Wish me luck tomorrow--
Mary Hershey

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Catch All

Skating in here by the skin of my teeth. (And thank gawd I live in the pacific time zone!)

I've had a very crazy, extroverted week, so I'm just going to point your attention to a couple of items of interest I bumped into this week.

Since one of the aims of book promotion is to acheive high enough sales numbers that one can (presumably) generate a living wage, I thought science fiction writer John Scalzi's article on the down and dirty of writing income was very interesting and informative.

Also, believing that knowledge is power, I find this survey of advances that the romance industry pays, very interesting as well. I wish someone would do this for children's publishing. Anyone up for a project!

And lastly, lest you think I've completely gone over to the dark side of publishing (ie: money, money, money) here is a link to m0re of Josephine Damian's conversation with Donald Maass.

Until next week!

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Cool Introverts: Nancy Pearl

While I'm waiting to have a phone conference with my editor to talk about marketing issues, I thought we could take a brief break from the book lauching biz so that I could tell you what a complete thrill it was for me this weekend to hear Nancy Pearl, Librarian Extraordinaire speak. Omigod. She is amazing! A bonafide rock star in sensible shoes.

And, as you can see, she has her OWN shushing Action Figure. The deluxe edition figure even comes with a book cart. If I ever have my own Mary Hershey action figure, it will be shushing, too.

It's not too big a stretch to imagine that a librarian is an introvert. I could have probably pegged that even before hearing her speak. But, she is such an extraordinary example of someone that is SO introverted and SO in the public eye. In 1998, she developed the program "If All of Seattle Read the Same Book," which has spread all over the country. She is a regular commentator about books on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and NPR affiliate stations in Seattle and Tulsa. In 2004, she became the 50th winner of the Women’s National Book Association Award for her stellar contribution to the world of books.

She is the author of Book Lust, More Book Lust , and Book Crush, which are compilations of book reviews from all genres. Book Crush is for children's books. She credits a teen for that wonderful title.

During her talk, she told a very funny story about a breakfast event she had to attend, and how she dreaded it for days. She couldn't imagine she would have anything to say to anyone at her assigned table. Can you imagine? She-who-has-read-every-book-ever-written and remembers it with a savante-like ability! She ended up sitting with three men with a collective linguistic reciprocity score of minus three. Her desperate attempts to carry on a conversation with them had us howling. Part of the problem, Nancy shared, was that one of the men was very tanned and had shiny loafers with tassles. I so get that! Tassled footwear just puts me under the table, too!

She also can't abide the phone, channels another person entirely when public speaking, and prefers reading to most all life activities. I'm resting my case here. Nancy Pearl moves right into our Shrinking Violet Hall of Fame. Love her!

1. Research postcard and bookmark vendors
2. Brainstorm tie-ins for giveaways at book signings
Later, friends!
Mary Hershey

Thursday, February 7, 2008


So here’s some information on Advanced Reader Copies, like we promised.

ARCs, sometimes also called bound galleys, are a hugely important marketing tool often used by your publisher. They have a threefold purpose.

1. They are sent to review publications
2. They are used to sell your book to key accounts and bookstores
3. Buzz Building

Most mainstream review publications need to receive their review copies four to six months ahead of publication date of your book. For children’s books, these publications might include, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Bookist, VOYA, Kliatt, Kirkus, the Bulletin, etc. Also, any consumer magazines your publicist feels might make a good match would get a review copy of the book at this time. Magazines have a long lead time in putting together their monthly content and printing—thus the six months ahead of pub date guideline.

Some reviewers have fairly concrete specifications that need to be followed before they’ll consider reviewing. For example, PW won’t read the ARC if it’s not sent early enough or if only one copy is sent.

When the publishers sales reps go to sell your book to key accounts, again, usually four to six months out, they give them an ARC. They know that the best sales tool is an awesomely written book. Two months or so before publication date is another key time for ARCs as this is usually when your book is available for advance orders and the ARC is used to generate those.

This is when the publisher decides to give ARCs away in droves, certain that if people would just read this book, they will connect with it. This could entail sending ARCs to industry bloggers, high traffic reader sights, librarian blogs or sites, or handing them away at ALA or other industry conferences.

But what if your publisher is small or regional or for some other reason doesn’t do ARCs or bound galleys?

Well, that can be a huge problem. As you can tell from the above, ARCs are a huge weapon in the marketing arsenal. I would even go so far as to consider negotiating this into my contract if I had any doubt that they would be sending ARCs, because frankly, I don’t know how else they could effectively sell a book without them.

However, if for whatever reason your publisher isn’t doing them, you can do them yourself. You probably won’t be able to achieve the same numbers that a publisher could generate, but you don’t have to settle for none.

You can make your own. The simplest way is to photocopy your galley pages, comb bind them, and cover them with a color copy of your book cover.

Perhaps the harder part is to know where to send them. One source I recommend is a book by Dan Poynter called The Self Publishing Manual. It's considered the bible for those who self-ublish, and as such covers all the promotional aspects that a publisher would be expected to cover. He has an extensive list of review sources in there. Many libraries would have this book since it's been in print for a very long time.

And here a couple of other links I found on ARC's. (There's not too much out there!)

If people have more specific questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments!

Monday, February 4, 2008

And Awwwaaaay I Go!

Ever feel like you've lost control of your life- your schedule- your plans? Oh, moi? Gee, never. But I 'know' this children's author who is experiencing something like this. It's a lot like getting your arm wrenched out of its socket by a thundering bull or an exceptionally fast little white dog. All you can do is HOLD ON. The crashing from letting go would be worse!

Or, at least that is what I imagine it feels like to her. :-] Okay, fine, it's me, and my month hit the ground at warp speed. I have way more events and deadlines than any one violet should have to endure. Lots of people+lots of events are to introverts what Kryptonite is to Superman.

I'm going to make sure that I get lots of down time in my special ice fortress-- or bakery. The latter works very well for me. Give me a latte hot as lava and a chocolate chip scone, and my battery starts humming again. (Not just from the joe-- really.)

And for the day's major gaffe, in editing my new Facebook profile, per my Marketing Plan, I accidentally fired off a request to (nearly) everyone in the northern hemisphere asking them to be my "Friend". The long list included the mayor of Santa Barbara, nearly every student I've ever had, some very high-profile editors and authors, and Robin's son in college. It was truly an introvert's nightmare.

I know I'll be laughing about it later in the week.

But I do want to speed by and deliver the ** NEWS ** that having counted all the entries for the Ms. Viola Makeover Contest, it is confirmed. The new look for Ms. Viola wins-- but only by a hair. Whew! It was close, a real dead heat. Thanks for all your entries, everyone!

Melissa Camara Wilkins' entry was randomly selected, and she will be receiving a copy of the Plug Your Book by Steve Weber. Many congrats, Melissa! Will you email me off-line and send me your address so that I can get it shipped to you? Click here to email me.

We haven't done a Milestone Monday for some time. Do any of you have any news, breakthroughs, incremental victories that you would like to post? We would love to hear from you.

Homework for This Week:

1. Update my mailing and email list. I taught two workshop classes over the weekend, and I'm doing a presentation at the Women's Literary Festival in Santa Barbara this weekend. I've circulated an email list in the class on Saturday and I'll do it again this coming weekend. Those names will all be added to my notifications lists. When it is time for postcards to go out in late May or June, I don't want to have to be scrambling to get my list updated. And, when I do my school visits this months, I'll make sure I get teachers' contact info as well.

2. Invite Shrinking Violets to be my Friends. A-hem. Any of you on Facebook?


Mary Hershey