Monday, January 25, 2016

All About You

After a very snowy weekend, I'm back to work and finishing up my last round of strategy session calls this week!  A big thing that I've been talking to my authors about is promotion for their books.  I created an awesome online forum for all my clients to use to talk about things they've done, experiences with their publisher, and questions they have relating to publicity/marketing, and I'm very excited about it!

Since it's been such a hot topic, I figured I would go over some of the heavy hitters that I've been reiterating to everyone:

1. Make an author page!  This is one of the most basic parts of promoting yourself, but an additional thing to think about is creating a website that reflects your author brand, whether that is a paranormal thriller writer or a goofy MG writer.  For unpublished authors, I don't suggest talking about books that haven't found a publisher yet, so instead, having a blog and writing about things related to the kind of writing you do and posting book reviews in your genre might be a better option.

2. Join communities related to your genre!  This means if you're a romance writer, join your local chapter of RWA and get involved commenting and participating on romance websites, etc.  Creating meaningful relationships in your community is important, because it helps build your platform and gives you a network to get the word out when its time to promote your book.  In the same vein, be active on social media.

3. Make your dream list!  Think about all the publicity/marketing ideas you want to have done for your book, from pie-in-the-sky ideas like having a book review in O Magazine to hosting a giveaway on Netgalley.  Look at authors you like or authors who are successful and see the kind of promotion they do to get interesting ideas.  Share the list with your publisher or agent when its time and see what they can help you do, and where you need to take over.  Because of the state of the industry today, a lot of promotion can fall on the author's shoulders, so be ready to do some things yourself.

4. Play to your strengths!  One of my authors is an amazing blogger and is able to create content that gets her 60+ comments a post.  Another one of my authors does awesome school/library visits.  Another is great at interviews.  If you have things you're better at than others, focus on those things!  Don't force yourself to be on Twitter if you hate it, because it will show.  I, for instance, should never depend on Instagram to reach people, because I am a stock-photo whore who never takes her own pictures.  Also think about where you're going to find your audience: if you write picture books, is tweeting the best idea or should you focus on booking school/library visits and trying to land a piece in Highlights?

It's never too soon to start thinking about how you want to promote yourself and your book, since what you end up doing will determine your visibility and how effectively you can build your audience.

Also, thanks, Diane, for using #IHAVEAQUESTION!  She wanted to know, "Is it okay to re-query agents about the same book if it has been a year and you have revised your story?"  

Despicable Me Minion - You have a question? I have an answer!

It is definitely okay to re-query an agent if you have made substantive changes to your story.  I'm always happy to look at something again, and most other agents are, too.  I would mention in the query that you talked to them about the project before, but have ended up making revisions based on feedback, etc.  I hope that helps!

If you have a question that you'd like me to answer in my next post, just post the question with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION in the comments section here, and I'll pick one to answer next week!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Query Critique

It's time for the first query critique of 2016!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)

If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  And don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Happy (Belated) Pub Day!

Brianna DuMont is owning 2016.  She has a very exciting two-book deal with National Geographic, and the second book in her Changed History series,FANTASTIC FUGITIVES, published last week on January 5 and was the #1 New Release in Amazon's Children's General Social Science Books.  FUGITIVES is also an Illinois Reads pick, which is amazing!!! Check out her interview below and be sure to pick up a copy!  You can also read Brianna's interview for the first book in the series, FAMOUS PHONIES :) 

Tell us a little bit about FUGITIVES!

Fugitives follows the fast-paced lives of twelve rebels who changed history. I am super proud to include an equal number of women and men who stood up for their beliefs (whether that was money as in John Dillinger's case, or equal rights in Nelson Mandela's). It's so much fun to write about the rule-breakers in history; the monk who took on the Catholic Church and started the Reformation; the queen who stood up to the Roman Empire; the female WWII spy who the Gestapo insisted, " the most dangerous spy. We must find and destroy her." Getting to write snarky jokes about famous people is just a bonus. 

Things have definitely snowballed for you since FAMOUS PHONIES (the first book in your series) was published.  Can you talk to us about what you did to promote your book and how the press, etc. you received helped make this series so popular?

I pounded the pavement, digitally speaking. I contacted bloggers, was active on my own blog, and didn't say no to any event. Of course, having Scholastic pick me up helped with visibility. But then I used that to continue putting myself and Phonies out there. I also joined SCBWI and went to every event in the Chicago area to meet up with other local authors. It's important to support each other. 

What do you think is the most important things for a series author to do that authors with standalone books don't have to worry about as much?

It's hard to focus on the previous book while you're working on the next one, so I'd say that's an extremely difficult thing to juggle. You're so excited for the research and people and concept of your newest book that you forget to promote your first one. You've got to switch gears between the books, even though it's all the same series. I'd be at a book signing for Children's Book Week and totally immersed in Fugitives even though it was Phonies I was signing. It's a nice problem to have, though! 

Any advice for authors that you'd like to share?

Don't give up for anything. Practically speaking, read at least one grammar/writing book a year, and find an honest critique group to get involved with--listen to thoughtful feedback and take criticisms to heart. They only help you grow as a writer. 

Thanks, Brianna!  And, everyone, don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Goals

Now that we've rung in 2016, I looking forward to the year ahead and thinking about what I want to accomplish!  I've put together a list of what I want and here it is!

1. 12 deals
2. More foreign deals
3. Attract more readers to my blog
4. Spend more time with my husband and parents (although that may be tough given #1-3)

Also, to help with your New Year's goal, here is are the areas of my list that I am looking to build this year:

1. Narrative non-fiction
2. Romance
3. Women's fiction/commercial fiction
4. MG stories with great, high-concept hooks
5. Spooky YA with compelling relationships

And for my authors, we're going to be talking about your goals very soon.  It's time for annual strategy sessions, which are scheduled phone calls I do at the start of every year to catch up with my clients and discuss what they want to achieve and the steps we need to take.  I love doing them and am looking forward to lots more lists to come!