Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Literary Rambles

April 23, 2012

I was so delighted to see that Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre received some well-deserved recognition for their fabulous blog, Literary Rambles. It made theWriter’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers in the May/June issue.  They came in at #13 under “Everything Agents.”   In addition to spot-lighting agents, they also profile writers.  So this is a great place to get more information on new releases.

Promoting the Backlist

July 1, 2011

Peachtree Publishers does such a lovely job of promoting the books on their backlist.  My friend Sondy was at ALA and took a picture of SUSPECT being promoted even though it came out last fall. She also found SAVING THE GRIFFIN face out. It does have an extremely tempting cover.

Judging Books by Their Covers

March 19, 2011

That Cover Girl is one blogger who’s willing to judge a book by its cover.  Or maybe it’s closer to say that she’s judging the covers of various YA books.   In any case, she recently interviewed Peachtree’s Mo Withee about her THIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT cover.  At a point later in the interview, Mo mentions that she really loves the SUSPECT cover for its fun simplicity.  Well, so do I!  

So if you’ve ever wondered about the process behind designing and selecting covers,  you might consider clicking through That Cover Girl’s extremely informative and opinionated blog.

Some Advice for Those in NaNoWriMo

November 6, 2010

Let me start with a disclaimer.  I tried NaNoWri National Novel Writing Month once about six years ago.  I wound up stopping about halfway through with a tangled mess.  It taught me that I really have to have one scene written up to the level of a semi-polished draft before moving on.  But it was the eighth novel that I both started and finished.   So it’s not entirely surprising that I have some writing habits that I couldn’t overcome.   

But the goal for all writers once they finish a manuscript is to sell it.  My essay called Prospecting for Gold Nuggets gives some reasons why it’s important to think about a book’s premise early.

Fifteen Rejections

August 31, 2010

There are plenty of legendary stories about how many times Dr. Suess’s MULBERRY STREET and Madeleine L’Engle’s WRINKLE IN TIME were rejected.  (Both were around forty!)  Such tales tend to give hope to struggling writers everywhere.  My friend Jeanie Ransom had a rather epic number of submissions for her divorce book, I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.  But she believed strongly in her story despite the rejections.  Magination Press eventually had the wisdom to pick it up.  This picture book has been selling well ever since and is found in may recommended lists like the one in DIVORCE FOR DUMMIES.   

So the fifteen or so rejections that I received on SUSPECT between 1999 and 2001 does seem quite small by comparison.  But I did hit every publisher in the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market that listed mysteries as one of the genres that they were interested in looking at.  When I reached the end of this list, it was time to tuck the manuscript into the desk drawer for at least a little while.  I was busy writing on the manuscripts that would eventually turn into SAVING THE GRIFFIN and DEFENDING IRENE.  But I didn’t give up entirely on the project. 

In 2004, I saw an opportunity to submit to a specific editor at a “closed” house, one that usually only took agented manuscripts. I did a few light revisions and updates to reflect some changes in technology and then prepared a query letter.  Then I sent the package out. After reading the query letter and the first fifty pages, my targeted editor agreed to look at the project.  In the end, she declined with a few kind words about my project.   But the experience actually gave me confidence that I did have something interesting going with SUSPECT.  This woman had edited more than one Edgar-award winning project.  She must have seen something there or she wouldn’t have devoted several precious hours to reading and considering my book.

Novelists learn things with every book they write.  Between 1999 and  2005, I had finished four new manuscripts.  So I was ready to make more changes to my book when I saw another opportunity.

Twinkle, Twinkle. Buy Me Now!

August 17, 2010

I attended an SCBWI France retreat with Candlewick Editor Mary Lee Donovan about six years ago.  For part of her talk, she discussed the process of coming up with the right covers for books.  When they work, they have a sort of innate sparkle that says, “Twinkle, twinkle. Buy me now!”   I can’t remember whether she came up with this line or if she just  picked it up somewhere.  But some book covers do have that quality. 

The people who did the cover and book design of SUSPECT at Peachtree might have achieved this for SUSPECT.  Of course, I’m the biased, proud author….

But I do love the attention to detail complete with the black end paper. And then there are echoes of the cover scattered over the dust jacket.  The skull appears on the front flap.  The question mark wraps itself around my author photo.  The rose also reappears on the back of the book with a scrap of text from the book. 

When to Follow-up with Agents and Editors

August 9, 2010

One things writers struggle with is when to follow up with an agent or editor after that person has requested a manuscript.   I’m going to share a few general recommendations.  Keep in mind that I’m the type who tends to err on the conservative side of this. I don’t want professionals in the publishing world to think that I’m a needy pest.  I’m very fortunate to be represented by the fabulous Erin Murphy right now, so I don’t have to deal with follow-ups in the book market, but I still have to do some occasional checks on magazine pieces. 

If someone tells you that they have a response time of three months, tack on an additional two to four weeks before you try to make contact. Unexpected things can come up whether it’s negotiating contracts or putting a fall list to bed.  But let’s say that someone has indicated that she plans to get back to you in a few days.  Then it would be perfectly acceptable to email back in a week with a short, businesslike check.

If someone has reached out to you with email, you may email back.  Otherwise, go the snail-mail route.

There are exceptions to this rule.  If you have had a change in contact information like phone number, email address, or regular address, it is wise to send an update. 

A good friend of mine did this recently.   An editor had been considering a manuscript for at least three months.  That used to be the industry standard.  It just happened that she was changing email addresses.  The editor had initiatied the email exchange, so my friend carefully crafted a seven-line email.  She inquired after the status of her project, shared the change of email, and shared a few very funny details about the current project that she’s working on.  The editor wrote back with an update on the project under consideration and invited my friend to send the other project along when it’s ready to show.

A Very Short Summary

July 29, 2010

All writers have a difficult time trying to summarize their books in a single sentence.  Writing short and interesting summaries is also a challenge of the marketing departments.  They prepare different ones for different markets.  This week, I received a Google Alert that directed me to the Publisher’s Weekly’s list of children’s books coming out this fall.  The entry for SUSPECT read as follows:

Jen attempts to solve a mystery from the past involving her mother’s disappearance.

That actually sums things up rather well.  If I were allowed a few more words, I’d probably add the following to give a hint of the setting. 

While working at her grandmother’s Victorian bed and breakfast, Jen attempts to solve a mystery from the past involving her mother’s disappearance.

Preparing Summaries

July 15, 2010

One of the challenges of promoting a book is figuring out how to descrbe it for various venues.  Peachtree was responsible for the following summary for the Library of Congress listing: 

As the family gathers at her grandmother’s bed-and-breakfast for a murder mystery weekend, seventeen-year-old Jen confronts her ambivalent feelings about her mother, who disappeared fourteen years earlier, and about the possibility that she might be dead.
I thought about using that for the description for the SCBWI Michigan website.  But after looking at some of the other entries, I saw that I could put in just a bit more flavor.  Instead of starting from scratch, I went to the flap copy of my novel.  Once again, this was generated by Peachtree.  Clearly that was too long.  But I saw some things that I could use.  I won’t type all of that in here since it’s actually quite close to the product description on Amazon.  You could read that here if you like, so you can see how I condensed it.

Jen is scheduled to spend the summer helping Grandma Kay run a Victorian bed and breakfast. But Grandma Kay’s plans include a lot more than housekeeping. She intends to solve a real mystery from the past: the disappearance of Jen’s mother. During the build-up to an elaborate, role-playing Murder Mystery Weekend, Jen’s worst suspicions are aroused. Could a member of her own family be responsible?