Thursday, April 30, 2009
Cindy Pon’s new book Silver Phoenix is just out. She also has a great viral marketing contest going on on her blog. Pop on over and check it out, and don’t forget to enter! (Hint: There some very cool prizes!)
Michael Grant has a newest book in his GONE series, Hunger. Michael just received a glowing endorsement from Stephen King! How cool is that? I would faint dead away should that ever happen to me. Luckily, Michael is made of much sterner stuff. (And just for the record, I have misspelled Michael every single time I've typed it today! What is up with that??)
And wrapping up this month’s showcase is Roscoe Riley Rules #5: Don't Tap Dance On Your Teacher, Katherine Applegate’s newest in her ongoing chapter book series. However, since she is an extreme introvert, I have no other news to report on her. ;-]
Violets, do keep us posted on your good news! We love to show it off when we can.
The new Shrinking Violets yahoo group is up and running! Here’s the link to join:
Shrinking Violets Yahoo Group
Come on over and join up, if you're so inclined! Like Mary said in Monday’s post, the group will be for brainstorming, looking for critique partners, moral support, whatever. A Violet collective where we can wrestle privately with some of the nuts and bolts of being a promoting writer.
(For maximum safety and comfort levels for shy violets, we’d like to keep it restricted to SVP readers, so when you click to join, let us know how you came to hear about us. In fact, maybe we should come up with a secret code word...ya think?)
And lastly, I’d like to give a big shout out to Indie Bound’s May 1st is Buy Indie Day! (Dare we hope that SVP's two previous National Indie Bookseller Months may have inspired them?)
We can’t think of a better way to launch SVP's Third Annual Indie Bookseller Month than to participate in this terrific event. Speaking of which, more on our own Indie Bookseller Celebration tomorrow.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Therefore I must beg your indulgence and post a rerun tonight. I have to say, it was a toss up between Unplugged (so timely!) Stop and Smell the Violets (turning a poor situation to one's advantage!) and Embracing Our Quirks. I picked the latter because I am ALL about quirks right now and, as artists, honoring our own inner odd duck. (Try saying that three times really fast...)
There was a very interesting article in Newsweek, You and Your Quirky Kid by Lorraine Ali. The article talked about kids who were slightly out of step with the norm, and the pressures they and their parents can find themselves under to try to bring them within “normal” ranges. It touched something inside me, probably because as an introvert, I’m used to being looked at as if slightly odd when I opt out of loud social events that 75% of the population seems to love.
Frankly, I’m a little disturbed by this push for normalcy. The most troubling issue is who gets to decide what normal is, anyway? We’ve already discussed at length here on this blog that what’s normal for an introvert is markedly different than what’s normal for an extravert. According to many un-informed extraverts, all introverts are abnormal or socially backwards. Not!
As I read the article, I shuddered to think of all the creativity in science, mathematics, art, writing, music, that would have been missed if all great, unique minds had been pressured into normalcy.
The author talks about a boy who has bonded with a tricycle rather than the other kids, or the child who’d rather spend recess talking to the hamster rather than playing dress up with the others, or, my personal favorite, the kid who preferred the plumbing pipes and pushbroom to his peers. I’m willing to bet you dollars to donuts that each of those kids is an introvert, which we all know is not abnormal behavior, but rather very normal behavior indeed, if one is an introvert. In fact, their choices didn’t seem irrational at all to me, but perfectly understandable.
The truth is, we really are all odd in our own special way, and part of our social success is dependent upon us stumbling upon others who are odd in similar or complementary ways to our own.
I was also really struck by a quote of one of the experts interviewed for the article. Mary-Dean Barrringer of the All Kinds of Minds Institute had this to say about assigning labels. "We're absolutely appalled by this diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome," says Barringer. (Asperger's is a high-functioning form of autism, marked by obsessive interests and impaired social interaction.) "These are very highly specialized minds, and to put a syndrome on it and treat it as an aberration does damage to kids and families. There are still challenges there on how to manage it, but why not call it a highly specialized mind phenomenon rather than a disorder? That label alone shapes public perception about uniqueness and quirkiness."
As an introvert, that statement really reverberated with me. It spoke to all the mislabelling of my “quiet” behavior over the years. I think we introverts need to look at new labels for ourselves. I'm thinking perhaps we exhibit The Quiet Phenomenon, rather than shyness. What do you think?
(originally posted 9/13/07)
Monday, April 20, 2009
My first independently-published book, Angelfire was released in May of 2008, and I'm very excited about it! My book was one of the ten titles selected for the 2009 high school California Collection. I work in a High School library in the LA area, which affords me a number of great contacts through my work. When my book came out, I sent an email out to the librarian listserve that I'm on. I've also made calls to many of these librarians and teachers offering to come do readings in their libraries or classrooms. I've had some good responses, and I've had some that were less than welcoming. As one who identifies with introversion, it is difficult for me to know when or IF I've gone too far in self-promotion. Is it my introversion that is telling me to back off, or is it something else?
Can you help? I want to find just the right balance, particularly since this is my workplace.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
First of all, Thalia Chaltas has created a new blog called Epiphany’s Voice. Thalia writes YA in poetry form and on her blog she’ll share the character’s voices from her novels as they develop. This is a great way to maintain a connection with readers after they’ve finished the book! She also invites others to post epiphanies from their characters, turning the blog into an online brainstorming/creativity session. And by the way, Thalia, Happy Launch Day!!
Our second example is Kay Cassidy, who came up with the absolutely brilliant idea to provide a wonderful service to librarians and in doing so, draw them to her website through The Great Scavenger Hunt Contest, which is a library outreach program for teen and youth librarians. The program is open to librarians in the U.S. and Canada, in public libraries and school libraries alike and offers year-round free programming that’ll keep readers coming back to the library for more. Over 120 YA and middle grade authors have created a 10-question scavenger hunt (i.e. super fun trivia quiz) for one or more of their books. Scavenger hunts include questions like “What was the color of Moe’s hideous car?” or “What is Gemma’s favorite comfort food?” .
Not only is it a great example of creating a cyber-niche for yourself, but a fabulous illustration of karmic marketing at work.
As Kay says,
As a YA author and proud owner of a well-worn library card, I wanted to give something back to all the librarians whose book recommendations helped me grow as a writer and fed my imagination over the years. With the economy in turmoil, funding for public libraries is taking a major hit. School libraries are struggling as well. So I set out to create a totally free program that teen and youth librarians could use to keep kids excited about reading.So if you’re still trying to come up with your own cyber niche, take a quick peek at these two newest ones for inspiration. And, if you leave a comment on Thalia's blog or Kay's blog post over at this stop on her Blog Tour, we’ll enter your name in a contest to win an ARC of Thalia’s new release, BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE. Be sure and mention in your comment that SVP sent you so we can see that you've entered the contest. And yes, if you comment on both blogs, you'll be entered twice!
And be sure and check out Kay's article, Marketing That Makes a Difference over at Writer Unboxed. It's a must read for anyone trying to develop an internet presence!
(Kay’s upcoming release, THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY, Egmont Books, isn’t out until April 2010, so check back with us then.)
Monday, April 13, 2009
" !!! " " !!! "
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I keep hearing a lot about twitter, but none of it explaining why its something I need to do. Frankly, I’m feeling waaaay overloaded on social networking sites and activities, but here is a great discussion of the ins and outs of twittering. If any of you have any experience with it, please do feel free to share it in the comments!
Also, we talk a lot here at SVP about one of the single best marketing things you can do is write a kick ass book. My personal feeling (not necessarily an SVP endorsed opinion) is that our wholly unique, personal perspective is what will help our work stand out, so imagine how thrilled I was to see that Donald Maass agrees! Definitely go read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:
Where so many manuscripts go wrong is that if they do not outright imitate, they at least do not go far enough in mining the author’s experience for what is distinctive and personal. So many manuscripts feel safe. They do not force me to see the world through a different lens. They enact the author’s concept of what their novel should feel like to read rather than what their inner storyteller urgently needs to say.
(Can you tell I've finally had a chance to catch up on my blog reading?)
And lastly, I’d like to elaborate a little bit on Mary’s shout out for bookseller profiles, especially for those of you who are fairly new to SVP.
One of the most important things you can do to begin creating a network for your books is to get acquainted with your local (or not so local) indie bookseller. However, being introverts, it can be hard to just walk in and say Hi, I want to get to know you. So we thought it would be a great chance for those of you who have yet to introduce yourselves to your local indies to have a trés legitimate excuse to go visit them—so we can feature them on SVP’s National Independent Bookseller Month!
If you’d like to see a sample of what we’ve done in the past, you can check it out here. Also, pretty much any post in our May 2008 archive will give you a good idea.
We’re also looking for nominations for our 2009 Indie Bookseller of the Year. This is a bookseller nominated by an SVP reader who exemplifies all the wonderful, personal, waaay beyond the call of duty service indie booksellers provide to us bibliophiles. Be sure and check out our previous winners, Kris Vreeland of Vromans and this year’s Alex Uhl, owner of A Whale's Tail.
For those of you who nominate a bookseller OR agree to profile a local indie, your name will be entered in a drawing for a $50 Indie Bound gift certificate! (Because we know that sometimes, stepping outside our comfort zone is NOT a decent incentive!)
Monday, April 6, 2009
(Pictured: C. Hope Clark)
My first reaction on reading Hope Clark's The Shy Writer was "She gets it. She really gets it."
Unlike the various teachers, friends, and self-appointed mentors who have urged us to "get over" being shy through the years, Hope is one of us. She knows that shyness is not a character flaw and not something we'll outgrow. She says firmly that shyness is as permanent a part of us as our original hair color. (Personally, having watched my hair fade in recent years from new-penny copper to Irish whiskey tawny, I could argue that shyness is more permanent than hair color.) She points out the strengths that come with being an introvert as well as acknowledging the challenges.
Much of the book is a collection of useful tactics for coping with the tasks that can make a shy writer want to power down her computer for good. Whether you need to make a phone call, mingle at a networking event, or make a public presentation, Hope has practical ideas for taking the edge off your anxiety. Or at least disguising it.
More important, however, is Hope's challenge to each of us to name our limitations and define our comfort zones. Recognizing that shrinking violets come in different shades of purple, she asks questions in each chapter that are designed to help a shy writer identify which anxieties she can live with and which tasks cost her more than she can afford.
In my judgment, The Shy Writer is a must read for any Violet who wants to function in the publishing world.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Robin and I want to thank our SVP reader Pamela D. Toler for volunteering to review The Shy Writer for us-- thanks much, Pam! Since Pam already had a copy of this book, we are sending her a copy Susan Shaugnnessy's wonderful book entitled Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers. I've enjoyed it, Pam, and hope you will too!
If you get a chance to follow Hope Clark's link, it will take you to her website entitled Funds for Writers which does exactly what the name purports-- links writers to numerous cash-paying grants, contests, fellowships and freelance opportunities. Hope's website has been honored for the 8th year in a row as one of 101 Top Websites for Writers by Writer's Digest.
We are looking for some SVP readers across the country to volunteer to do a spotlight of their local indie during our upcoming month long salute of Independent Booksellers that starts in just three weeks. Robin and I haven't finished hammering out the details, but at a minimum, this is an opportunity for you to meet your local bookseller if you haven't already, photograph one or more of their staff, and tell us a bit about their store. In turn, your bookseller, then, would be eligible to be in the running for the Independent Bookseller of the Year. This is one of those marvelous karmic networking opportunities that we talk about here. If you are interested, please email me at Tell me more!
Hope you all have a seriously stellar week--
Thursday, April 2, 2009
But how does one propose a workshop gig?
Well, the good news is you don’t have to get down on your knee! If you’ve been writing a while you are no doubt familiar with the big conferences in your genre. Most writers’ organizations have big annual conferences: MWA, SFWA, RWA, Novelists Inc., SCBWI. Many of these also have regions or chapters as well, and those often have chapter meetings or daylong workshops. In fact, if you’ve never given a workshop before, that can be a much more comfortable place for breaking in. Their websites often list those major conferences and some of the smaller ones as well. Check those listings for deadlines to submit, contact people, etc.
Even better, much of the contact with conference organizers takes place via email--many introverts favorite means of communication.
Once you’ve identified the conferences you’d like to target, you need to put together a workshop proposal. Think of the workshop proposal as a query letter for your workshop. You want to put your best, most professional foot forward, as well as hook your audience, in this case the conference organizers.
A conference proposal should probably include:
1) A paragraph introducing yourself and why you think your workshop would be a great fit their conference. Have you attended their conference for years now? Studied the topic ad nauseum? Conducted an online version of the workshop that was well received? Be sure and connect the dots for them as to why your topic or the angle on your topic is so perfect for their attendees.
2) A title for your workshop and a log line describing it. Just like a book, this should both be as descriptive and catchy as you can make them. It might end up being be the blurb they include in their brochure.
3) Next comes the more in depth description of what exactly you’ll be covering, who the intended audience is (beginning writers, intermediate, etc.) what tools you’ll be using. Be sure to focus on any angle that sets your workshop apart from others covering similar topics.
4) Also mention if you’ve given this exact workshop before, or whether you’ve given others on different subjects.
5) It’s never a bad idea to include some exercises and handouts you’ll be using. They can be an excellent sales tool in helping the conference organizer get a feel for the breadth and depth and angle of what you’ll be presenting to the class.
6) Include your bio as a writer, but also why you’re qualified to give this workshop.
And if the idea of giving a workshop makes you break out in a cold sweat? You have the Shrinking Violets' permission to let it go. It's not the right promotional activity for you. But don't worry--we'll keep looking until we find one that works . . .