Monday, November 24, 2008

A Hodgepodge

So, we have some contest wins to announce today! Yeay! Thank you to everyone who participated and entered. It was great fun to see what type all your blogs were!

I also think it was extremely interesting to see how many of us introverted, intuitive types' blogs were actually either extroverted and/or informational. I think it's a great lesson in learning how to present oneself, and presenting oneself on a blog is such a low risk way to try out a public persona. It would also be smart to apply this lesson to any public appearances that might come your way: you have an established professional personality on your blog--consider starting from that seed and using it to develop your "presentation personality."

And now for the important stuff. The first winner, of the "Guess Who Robin's Writing Buddy Is" contest is Becky Levine, for correctly guessing Mary. Becky, if you contact us offlist, we'll get your prize in the mail to you.

The second winner is Kim Baker, who correctly identified the dedication in Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris. Congratulations, Kim! If you too will email us with your address, we'll get that out to you.

And lastly, the winner of our "Tell Us Your Blog Type" drawing is ::drumroll please::

Feywriter! Fey, you get to choose between a signed copy of Mary's newest book, a query letter makeover, or a critique of the first 10 pages of your manuscript. Email us and let us know which prize you'd like!

Well that was fun. And now, since this is a marketing blog, I do have one marketing item I'd like to discuss today. When I was at a conference a short while back, a published author was talking about promotion, and she mentioned something I'd never heard before and I was wondering if anyone else had heard about it. This author said that her publisher, a genre, mass market publisher, awarded promo items based on how many names were on her mailing list. (Please note, I'm pulling these numbers out of my ear because I can't find the notes I took--and yes, I will clean off my desk just as soon as I meet my deadline!)

So if she had acquired 5,000 names, they'd pay for bookmarks. If she'd acquired 10,000 names, they'd print postcards for her. If she had 20,000 names, they'd create a professional movie trailer for her newest release, and so on. Have you heard of that before? Do any of your publishers play that way?

And lastly, Mary and I will be taking this Thursday off to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. We wish every single one of you a marvelous, gratitude-filled, stuffed-to-the-gills holiday with your loved ones. We want you to know that we are infinitely grateful to each of you who spend time here at SVP, and how deeply we cherish this community of introverts.


Mary and Robin

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Myers Briggs Test--For Your BLOG!

As you know, we here at SVP are very attached to the Myers Briggs personality indicator test. So how happy was I to find a Myers Briggs test for one's BLOG! You can find it here.

From their FAQs:

How does it work?
For a long period of time, we have been training our system to recognize texts that characterize the different types. The system, typealyzer, can now by itself find features that distinguishes one type from another. When all features, words and sentences, are combined typealyzer is able to guess which type its is most likely to be written by using statistical analysis.
So of course, I had to run all the blogs I read through the typealyzer.

Oddly enough, SVP comes out as ISTP, even though Mary and I are both INFJs. However, our purpose on this blog is to give concrete, practical information so that makes sense. (Well, except for the race car and firefighter part.)

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generelly prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

My personal blog also comes out as an ISTP.

OTOH, Mary's personal blog, is typed as THE PERFORMER, which pretty much nails her (which anyone who has ever seen her house can attest to.)

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

So, what's YOUR blog type? We'll enter everyone who posts their blog type in the comments in a drawing! The winner can choose between a signed copy of Mary's most awesome book, 10 LUCKY THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME SINCE I NEARLY GOT HIT BY LIGHTENING, OR a critique of the 1st ten pages of a mss, OR a query letter makeover. Winner's choice!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Launching Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris!

Dear Friends,

At the risk of her turning a scorching violet, please join me in congratulating Robin as Houghton Mifflin releases the second in the already-madly-successful series, with Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris. Robin's first Theo book, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, garnered her two starred reviews, and Booklist nailed it with "A sure hit with the Harry Potter fans!" That is so the kind of thing a girl likes to hear (le swoon)! School Library Journal called Theo a "combination of Nancy Drew and Indiana Jones."   It was also a Junior Literary Guild Pick and a BookSense (now Indie Bound) Summer Pick.

From the new release's bookflap: Theodosia Throckmorton is in a fix. Allowed to attend a reception given by one of the directors of her parents' museum, she stumbles across Mr. Tetley of the British Museum—in most unusual circumstances! Since Theo has last seen him in a showdown in an ancient Egyptian tomb, his reappearance could mean only one thing: the Serpents of Chaos are back. Once again Theodosia will have to take on secret societies, evil curses, and dark magic too sinister to imagine, especially if it falls into the wrong hands. Blocked at every turn, Theodosia will have to rely on her own skill and cunning—along with a little help from the most unexpected places. 

The art is stunning. Illustrator Yoko Tanaka is a wonder. The cover screams Pick.Me.Up.Now! Which is exactly what I did when I was at LAX recently, and saw it in their bookstore. I was so excited I had to immediately take a picture of it with my yell phone, and email it to Robin. It thrilled me LOT.  She's the first airport author I've ever known.  One for my bucket list!

Robin will be doing her inaugural signing this Sunday, November 23rd from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at our local favorite Indie, Chaucer's Books in Santa Barbara. I will be signing my newish release from Wendy Lamb Books alongside her, as well as making up stuff to embarrass her with customers. She's resigned herself to it by now. :-]

Contest Alert! I will send a signed copy of Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris and a stick-on Egyptian tattoo to the first person who can tell me who Robin dedicated her book to.   If you are the winner, and you'd like this book for your local school or library, I am happy to send it to them directly.  But feel free to keep it for your private collection.  :>

Happy Launching to Theo and Robin!  Here is to a long, happy life together!  Mazel tov, girls--

Mary Hershey

P.S. In addition to the real pleasure of cheering for my writing buddy here, I'm also demonstrating one of the basic tenets of our SVP practice-- Turn Thy Spotlight Upon Others.

P.P.S.  No introverts were harmed in the making of this post-- but they did squirm a bit. =-]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buddying Up

Buddy Up for Safety.

It’s one of the first lessons we learn in kindergarten, or earlier; that life is safer with a buddy, there is protection in numbers.

Except, when you’re an introvert, numbers don’t feel safe, especially numbers of people. But we’re here to tell you—to encourage you—to seriously consider having a writing buddy with whom to share your writing journey. There are oh-so-many reasons, reasons above and beyond the benefits to be found in partnering up for marketing purposes.

See, as introverts, we tend to go inward and shun crowds or large groups. Many of us are not comfortable joining groups or organizations and the idea of sharing in front of a group of people is enough to make us stay home and lock the door.

But here’s the thing; even introverts—especially introverts—will need support on this writing journey. Someone to share in the ups and downs, to act as a sounding board, to bounce ideas off of, to give you a gentle nudge out of your comfort zone when it’s required.

What to Look for In a Writing Buddy:
~A fellow writer – this is essential so they will understand at a gut level just what your ups and downs will entail.
~Someone who will celebrate your success with as much enthusiasm and joy as if it were their own
~Someone who will gnash their teeth and rail at the publishing gods at your stumbling blocks and failures as if they were their own
~Someone who gets your writing, who understands your voice and themes and chosen subject matter and can help you make your work the best it can be, as opposed to a watered down version of their style.
~Someone with a generous spirit and open heart who wants you to succeed as much—if not more—than you do.
~Someone who will play midwife to your books when needed.
~Someone who will thwack you gently on the head and say, “get over it,” when needed.
~A fellow introvert or, at the very least, an extrovert who “gets’ and understands introverts needs

My personal opinion is that introverts need a writing buddy more than extroverts do. Extroverts have lots of people they enjoy being around, and just the act of being around them fills them up. But as introverts, we tend to go inward, especially when struggling, and those are the times it can be most beneficial to have a little outside support and guidance. But we all know a group is absolutely out, which is why it is so important to have that one person that quiet little soul mate with which to share our trials and tribulations—hopefully mostly tribulations.

My writing buddy and I have been together for over twelve years now, supported each other through the birth (and death) of countless books, published and unpublished. My writing journey would have been sterile indeed, without this person at my side.

In fact, in celebration of writing buddies, the first person to guess my writing buddy will win a copy of Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris! Here’s a hint: They’ve published three books, all of them middle grade fiction, they are an introvert, with a wicked funny sense of humor. This person also has a strong sense of fashion and the most meticulously groomed eyebrows on the planet.

Monday, November 10, 2008

On Fast Turtles and Friendly Introverts

Since coming out as an unabashed introvert, I've fielded a raised eyebrow or two by a few people that know me socially from writing conferences. They seem surprised by this. “But you're so friendly!" Or, “Geez, you don't seem one bit shy!" And I must admit that when I first met Robin in an Adult Ed class, she didn't seem like an introvert to me. I was guessing she was a major E. She was talkative, friendly and even raised her hand in class the very first night! I was impressed.

Some introverts can be quiet, reticent, withdrawn, and some introverts may be talkative, outgoing and the first to cut up at a party. Or, one may be all those things! Just as I feel certain that there are extroverts who enjoy solitude and silent contemplation. We can be very "bi".

Intros and extros are functional, adaptive beings. Jungian type is a preference that shows itself early on, like right-handedness or left-handedness. But, it doesn't mean that we are completely limited to one style or the other. If I broke my right hand, you can bet dollars to doughuts I'd teach my left hand how to open a diet coke and work my eyeliIner pencil. (Though I might look scary for a while, and trust you all would be too polite to mention it.)

In a social setting, I may be Miss Chatty Pants USA. And, I won't be faking! I like people and I'm curious about them. I enjoy asking questions-- I'm a writer! That said, if I wore a visible battery charge device, at a large gathering you could watch my meter go from five bars to one to “Battery Low” to “Danger! Code Blue!” Much like Cinderella, I need to be home by midnight, or I will end up on the dance floor in the fetal position sucking the toe of my glass slipper.

The true test of introversion is-- what? C'mon, everybody, now! It is in how one gathers their energy. When spent, how do you charge back up? Do you go inside of yourself, or do you look to others to plug in? And this isn't something you can easily observe in others with just casual contact. You have to get to know them.

So, can turtles ride skateboards? You bet! Now and then it feels good to get out there and stick your neck out. But, when we've sailed some rail and blown our wad, for us, at the end of the day-- it feels best to just find a quiet corner and tuck in for a spell.

Your shy and friendly friend,

Mary Hershey

Originally posted April 2007

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Marketing Equation

Einstein did it for relativity, I don't see why we can't do it for book marketing and promotion.

I attended a seminar once a long time ago in a life far removed from here, and the speaker said something that I thought was profound. He said, Algebra is life.

Now, before all you non-math people groan and click away, let me explain.

In Algebra, we balance equations and solve for the unknown, which is pretty much what we do in life. Figure out what we know, what we don’t know, and try to chart a successful course between the two so that our life balances out.

I thought it would be entertaining interesting to apply that the same equation principle to marketing. Sounds fairly simple, right?

marketing + promotion = sales (m+p=S)

Except, as any marketing department can tell you, it’s not that simple. Oftentimes

marketing + promotion ≠ sales. (m+p≠S)

You need a really great book too. So maybe this is more accurate:

(great book) (marketing +promotion) = sales (gb)(m+p)=S

If you’re lucky, your publisher will be so wildly behind your book that they will do a significant amount of marketing and promotion for it.

(great book)(marketing + promotion)3 = SALES!! (gb)(m+p)3=S

Or perhaps your book will generate a lot of buzz on its own through word of mouth. In that case, the marketing and promotional efforts have only to build on that, rather that cut a path to your book in the first place. However, the truth is, in today’s market, you probably need a little bit of everything to be successful so my guess is the correct equation is this:

(marketing + promotion) (great book)buzz= Sales (m+p)(gb)buzz=S

Bottom line: Look at the equation. Isolate the variables. Select what you can control and work on that.

Moral of the story? Publishing makes math look like a cake-walk.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Introvert Abuse and Marketing Avoidance Profile

I was having this hideously godawful nightmare the other night that I was at a coaching retreat with a bunch of people I'd never met.  There were ten of us in a fairly small room.  It was time for the first activity of the day, and I was tensing up for the proverbial "icebreaker" activity that was certain to follow.  Our retreat leaders flips a switch on her Bose and Abba's Dancing Queen blasts into the room.  "Everyone up!" she cried.  "Dance!"  I was completely horrified!   Now?  With all these people I don't know?  

And then things got much, much worse.  I realized I was AWAKE!  It wasn't a nightmare at all. . . (pausing now while you all shriek)

So I danced, because NOT dancing would only make me stand out more, and people would be looking, and some extravert would try to pull me up for a friendly twirl or two. I tried to look as if I often danced with small crowds of people in brightly lit rooms before lunch, and tried not to glare at our retreat leader, who I happen to adore. But this was S-O going on her post-retreat evaluation.  Two other introverts started easing back into my corner and we flashed each other a WTH?? eyeball text message.  

Eleven hours later the song finally ended. Gleefully charged, the extraverts were chummying up together, and the introverts were sporting near migraines.  Said retreat leader seemed very pleased that we were all "loosened up" and could get to work.  Loosened up?  Are you out of your mind, woman?  Do you know how long it will take me to decompress from your opening torture routine?

Which brings me right smack to book sales and promotion.  (Sound of Robin sighing in relief that this truly isn't all completely ran-dom!) As I sat there doodling and decompressing for the first hour of the retreat, I thought about how my aversion to dancing-on-demand just about perfectly sums up my entire Marketing Avoidance Profile (MAP).  I'm sending this right over to my publicity person at Random House.  You might want to get to work on yours.

When scheduling promotional events and activities for the above-named author, please bear in mind the following:

::: No loud music or bright lights.  Prefers a quiet Goodyear blimp with book title emblazed across.

::: Introvert to extravert ratio > 1:3 preferred.   If possible, please screen all event attendees and staff. Anyone that talks more than three minutes without stopping needs a timeout. 

::: Author unable to perform most bodily functions upon demand.  Includes smiling, dancing, speaking up or loosening up.  

::: Author unable do the any of the following while chatting with teachers, students, booksellers, or librarians:  Eat corn on the cob, spinach, sushi, fondue, use chopsticks or the latrine.

::: Crowds in small places tolerated for 60 minutes max.  Quickly prepare exits at 61 minutes and beyond.

::: No Abba.  Ever.  No kidding.

Mary Hershey
Executive Director
Writers Against Introvert Abuse