Posts Tagged ‘publicity’

Crash Course

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The other day on the phone, my mom asked me what it’s like to be a published writer. My reply was, “It feels like I’m taking a crash course in everything!”

I wasn’t referring to the actual writing of the book, the submitting to agents, or the revision and editing process. Instead, my proverbial crash course covers everything surrounding the promotion process – and most of its lessons have to do with technology. First there was the setting up of my author website, which I happily farmed out to the talented Barrett Dowell. Then there was the creation of a book trailer, which was handled with grace and flair by Megan Bostic of Angsty Girl Video.

But some stuff, I’ve simply had to do myself. In the past year, I’ve mastered (well, to some degree, at least) blogging and using Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, and Twitter. I’ve set up a Facebook Author Page, organized online events and giveaways, and learned the difference between low- and high-resolution photos.

For a child of the sixties like me, none of this was easy. I look around me and see younger people who seem to have technological know-how imprinted in their DNA. These are the people who laugh when I say I’m struggling to import a YouTube video into my blog. If they only knew!

What’s my next challenge? Creating a Powerpoint presentation for an upcoming high school visit. I know, I know. Powerpoint is a snap; even elementary school kids can put together a slide show in a matter of half an hour. But for us old folks who weren’t raised on technology, this is complicated stuff.

There’s something to be said for having to learn a boatload of new skills in a very short time. I’ve had to set my fears aside and simply plunge ahead. And there’s a kind of satisfaction in knowing that I can post to my blog, update my Facebook status, and check my Amazon sales figures now without batting an eyelash. But I’m looking forward to the day when my crash course is complete, and I can go back to doing what I do best: writing books.

Have you had to take a crash course in anything lately?


5 Tips for Surviving Your Book Release

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Release week is over, FLYAWAY has made it’s way into the world, and I’m still alive to tell you about it. I’d seen so many author friends dissolve into bundles of stress as their books launched, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. Now, I’m not saying that dealing with the daily bursting email inbox and the endless to-do lists was a walk in the park, but I do think I came up with a few strategies to help minimize the stress.

1. Organize. As soon as I signed my contract, I bought myself a binder and dedicated it to book promotion. I divided it into sections labeled “Launch Party,” “Events,” “Swag,” “Blog Tour,” and so on. Then any notes, contact numbers, URLs or email addresses I wanted to keep track of went in the binder. As release time got closer, these notes included deadlines for things such as conference proposals and blog tour posts.

2. Prioritize. When there are tons of demands coming at you at once, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important. So each week, I created a to-do list which prioritized the most important tasks. Blog post due Monday morning? That went to the top of the list. Organizing an author event for next spring? That went closer to the bottom. This master weekly list became the basis for my daily to-do list. I found that it was important to stay flexible and be open to shifting items around as new opportunities came up.

3. Focus. Once I determined which task on my list was most urgent to tackle, I went into high-focus mode. I tried to give my full attention to the task at hand and not get distracted by fretting over the things I wasn’t doing.

4. Delegate. As in, “Could you please run these giveaway prizes to the post office for me, honey?”

5. Celebrate. I found that the biggest challenge was to actually enjoy my launch time – and I know from talking to other authors that this is common. Here you are, accomplishing a major life goal, and all you can think about is whether you should have gone with the larger size bookmark or spent more money on your trailer. Or worse, you constantly compare the buzz your book is getting to the publicity and reviews being garnered by other authors. Perhaps the most important thing you can to do make sure you survive your book release is to pour yourself a glass of wine, pat yourself on the back, and say, “I did it! I’m the author of a published book!”

For some practical book promotion ideas, check out Lisa Schroeder’s book promotion timeline for YA and MG authors¬†and Saundra Mitchell’s Bossy Self-Marketing Timeline.

How did you manage to survive your book release?

The Inside Story

Friday, October 28th, 2011

I feel lucky to live in Seattle for many reasons, not the least of which is our fabulous local SCBWI chapter. SCBWI WA not only welcomes newcomers to the children’s writing world, it also works hard to serve the needs of its published members through events like The Inside Story.

The Inside Story is a twice-yearly gathering to celebrate members’ new releases – which, this time, included FLYAWAY! Local booksellers and reviewers are invited, and each author gets two minutes to tell the “inside story” behind their release. The idea is not just to summarize the book, since the attendees receive a brochure with a short summary of each title, but to give the audience information about some aspect of the book that only the author could tell them.

Authors approached the task in a variety of ways. Some, like Wendy Wahman, author of A CAT LIKE THAT, took us behind the scenes in the editing process. Others. like Louise Speigler, author of LOCK AND KEY, told us about their research methods.

I chose to talk about the conversation I had with a therapist who works with families and teens which provided the initial inspiration for my book. In the conversation, he remarked that he’d seen many cases where kids who had been abandoned, neglected, and even abused still remained fiercely loyal to their parents and made all kinds of excuses for their behavior. As I told the crowd at The Inside Story, the comment stuck with me, and that kind of unconditional loyalty became the core of Stevie, the main character in FLYAWAY.

Me, telling the story behind FLYAWAY

If you had only two minutes to tell the Inside Story behind your book, what would you talk about?

Three months to FLYAWAY!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

It just hit me the other day that three months from now, FLYAWAY will hit bookstore shelves.

Three months may seem like a long time, but when you compare it to the year and a half it’s been since my agent made the sale, not to mention the 10 years of submitting novels and being rejected before this one sold, three months is a nanosecond.

Up to this point, I’ve kept a pretty low profile. But in the next three months, you’re going to be seeing more of me and hearing more about FLYAWAY. Here’s what I have planned:


I’ll be doing a giveaway on Goodreads. Enter to win an ARC of FLYAWAY!


Time to set up a Facebook author page. I hope you’ll stop by and “like” me.


This month is the biggie. I’ll kick it off by sharing the fantastic FLYAWAY trailer, created by Megan Bostic of Angsty Girl Video. Then comes the launch party on Dec. 14th at 7 p.m. at the fabulous Secret Garden Books in Seattle. You’re all invited! On Dec. 19, the weeklong FLYAWAY blog tour kicks off with an interview of Stevie, the main character, at Reading Angel.

And of course I’m working behind the scenes to set up interviews, guest blog posts, and even podcasts around the time of my release. So I hope you’ll follow my progress online and in person – your support means everything to me!

Chirp (or tweet) if you’re excited about the release of FLYAWAY!






Speed dating at KidLit.Con

Monday, September 19th, 2011

I can’t think of anything more terrifying than speed dating – a hair-raising process in which you have a few short minutes to make a connection with a potential romantic partner. But the modified version of speed dating which I participated in as part of the KidLit.Con Conference Meet and Greet this Friday was actually fun, and not terrifying at all.

Here’s how it worked: My local Western Washington chapter of SCBWI engineered an event where member authors with recently released or soon-to-be releasing books each had 90 seconds to “pitch” their book to the attending bloggers and fellow authors. The organizer, my friend and colleague Martha Brockenbrough, emphasized finding a hook – whether it be an element of the story itself, a tidbit about how we came up with the idea, or an unusual anecdote about the writing process. One by one we came to the front of the room and, after being introduced by Martha, launched into our presentations.

How did mine go? Well, I was hoping to be able to include a video so you could see for yourself, but technology is not always my friend. So I’ll just tell you that I got laughs in the right places (I opened by saying, “I’m here to talk to you about worms”) and applause at the end. And afterward, I got to snack on great food and chat with fabulous writers such as Christina Wilsdon, Holly Cupala, Emily Whitman, and even Scott Westerfeld. I even got an offer to do a podcast interview! So all in all, I’d say the evening was a success.