Monday, February 08, 2010

I Did Think About A Little Video Something

For a while now I've been thinking about adding some kind of little video bit to my website. I wanted something witty, something that didn't take itself too seriously, something like Mark Peter Hughes has done. I thought it would be something unique and up-to-date to add to my website, but at the same time something that I could do once and be finished.

I never pursued this idea because I was afraid my computer guy would snap if I brought it up. And now Mark Peter Hughes has done it, so I can't do it without looking far less unique and cutting edge than I was hoping for. So that's kind of a load off my mind.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Why I Might In The Future And, Once More, Why I'm Not Now

Yes, yes. I'm about to whine about marketing again.

By way of Jill Corcoran Books, I found Lisa Schroeder's blog post on Twitter From One Author's Point Of View. She gives compelling reasons to jump on the Twitter train and, maybe, when I find myself with a new book contract and a new book, I'll get on board.

But, as I'm sure I've said here before, the time issue is a big one for me. I've had problems for several years with distraction, which has often burned up my writing time. I'm just getting that under control now, but a big part of the reason I'm finally getting it under control is due to the fact that because of family commitments I'm now down to working only three days a week. Notice I didn't say I'm down to writing three days a week. I've got three days a week to write, deal with business correspondence, prepare for any appearances that come up, maintain the website, blog, keep up with listservs, and keep up with what's happening at other blogs.

Does anyone else notice how writing gets buried in that list?

While I accept that Twitter is the cutting edge marketing tool for writers right now, keep in mind that the same was true for websites thirteen or fourteen years ago. Then came weblogs. Listservs were talked up to writers as a way to meet the right people. What I'm getting at here is, Twitter isn't going to be the end. Once I add Twitter to the mix, I'll be maintaining a website, a blog, staying up with the blogosphere, keeping up with listservs, and Twittering. Then it will be time to get started on something else.

If you noticed the dates on the blog posts I linked to above, you saw that I'm close to a month behind in my reading of blogs in my agent/editor category.

I did get some good work done this morning. Now I am off to do some business and then some early work/research for a new project.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Perhaps This Is Why We're Not Seeing More Science Fiction

Earlier this month, Tanita said at Finding Wonderland that real science fiction is getting harder to find in YA. That was her experience after serving on the fantasy and science fiction panel for the Cybils. I served on that panel four (?) years ago and found the same thing to be true at that time in both YA and middle grade.

This past year while I've been doing agent research, I've found that quite a few of them aren't looking for science fiction. They don't say why, and it isn't necessary for them to do so. I, however, will be happy to speculate.

1. Perhaps they are already representing authors with science fiction material to sell and feel there is only so much of the stuff they can find a home for. This would make sense. However, since we're not seeing much science fiction being published, it seems unlikely that they already have their plates full of scifi that they're placing.

2. Perhaps they don't believe they can sell science fiction, so it would be foolhardy to accept new authors with scifi books to market. This would also make sense.

3. Perhaps they just don't like the genre, and not everyone can sell things they don't like. This is certainly understandable. I can think of several types of books I'd hate to have to promote to absolutely anyone, forget about editors.

Whatever the reason, agents are among the literary gatekeepers who control what is published. If they aren't interested in a genre, how is it going to get out into the marketplace?

Of course, all it's going to take is for one unknown writer to do for science fiction what Harry Potter did for fantasy and Twilight did for vampire romances and we'll be swimming in the stuff.

NOTE: I am not really Tanita's best friend. I've just been mentioning her a lot lately. I will go on to someone else soon.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crap Blurbs?

I live in fear that one day I will have an agent or editor who will insist that I grovel for blurbs for an upcoming book. And what hope will I have of getting any after I've bashed them for years here at Original Content? Plus, will anyone buy a book written by a total hypocrite? (Not to be confused with a partial hypocrite.)

Nonetheless, lads and lasses, I feel compelled to direct your attention to What's the Point of Blurbs in The Guardian because the author, Daniel Kalder, describes himself as "a connoisseur of the crap blurb." He also asks " many readers reject a book because they loathe the authority endorsing it in a blurb?"

A penetrating question.

Now, I hate to think of myself as "loathing" anyone (though I really like the word), but, yes, I have rejected books with blurbs by authors whose work I don't care for on the theory that if I didn't like her own writing, I probably won't like any writing that she thinks is good. I also tend to avoid books with blurbs by blurbers who might be described as promiscuous--meaning you see their blurbs on covers all over the bookstore. Come on. Did they really like all those books? Did they really read them all? And, if so, have they ever read a book they didn't like?

I'm in for a really awkward time when I'm ordered to find blurbs. But I burned my bridges behind me blurbwise years ago.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And Now For A Bit On Author Websites

When the hell that is this Christmas season is over, I plan to do an update of the ol' website. No big changes, just bringing things up to date. Once again, it is time.

What luck. Cynsations has a post up on author websites, in which she interviews someone who designs them for children's and YA authors. Among the things Lisa Firke has to say: "...a site shouldn't be too fancy for its own good... Think of it this way: as a writer you work hard to make your meanings clear and valuable. Your website should reflect the same kind of care."

Yes, yes, yes, a hundred times, YESSS! I can't tell you how many times I have been to an author website full of bells and whistles that I left immediately because it took so long to load. I'm too old to waste precious time waiting for a website to load. In fact, it doesn't matter how young you are. Almost everyone has more important things to do. If there are any clear and valuable meanings at those places, we don't see them. And what about those homepages that have the links hidden in all kinds of arty crap, and viewers are expected to guess where they are? What do the authors and designers think we're there for? To play on-line arcade games? Pas moi, that's for sure.

I'm a little overwrought today. After writing that last paragraph, I'm feeling somewhat better. I'll have to see if there's something else I can jump on.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Demise Of The Book Tour Isn't Exactly New News

Author Book Tour Turns Endangered Species reports on something I believe I've been hearing about for a while. It does cover some new material relating to "new models" of book promotion--authors appearing at corporate offices, for instance.

Found by way of Arts Journal.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kids Understand Blurbs

Oz and Ends has a post up regarding a child's response to book blurbs. I will say nothing more.


Friday, November 13, 2009


Last night I was reading Straight Talk on Tough Times For Writers at Mitali's Fire Escape. (I'm not really stalking Mitali. I'm just catching up on my author blog reading; Concord posts will always catch my eye, and this year the same is true for posts on agents.) That post led me to this one at Pub Rants (which I would have read eventually because I read Pub Rants, but I'm behind on reading my agent and editor blogs, too). All bad news, my little lads and lasses, that is definitely affecting me.

Then this morning I received an e-mail announcement regarding the new issue of Narrative. They're headlining a piece about Robert Olen Butler writing forty-four stories, five novels, and (if you read the actual article) a dozen full-length plays that were never published. You have to sign up to read the material, but the article is short. I'm afraid it's a lot of the usual stuff about writing from the place where you dream, the unconscious, and what all. I am of the gritting your teeth and willing your work into existence school that Butler isn't so fond of.

Perhaps this explains why Robert Olen Butler is Robert Olen Butler, and I am Gail Gauthier. You might notice that we've both had books translated into Japanese, however. I'm Butleresque in that way.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yeah, I'll Get Right On That

I have hundreds of blog posts to read at my blog reader, but instead I just read another New Yorker article I found through the child_lit listserv. Subject: Our Marketing Plan by Ellis Weiner is hysterical.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Christmas In Prehistoric Times

I'm sure I've mentioned before that a lot of book trailers leave me cold. However, this one for Tyrannoclaus by Janet Lawler with illustrations by John Shroades should draw a few readers in.

It's really very simple--just a voice over reading the text with stills of the illustrations to look at. No hype. No sales schtick. Just a taste of a clever concept and lovely illustrations.

I'll remember this book.

Oh, look! Janet Lawler will be at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair this year! So will I.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yes, About That Book Advance

Back in April, an essayist for The New York Times claimed that 7 out of 10 titles do not earn back their advance. I believe, people, that that is seventy percent. How do publishers stay in business?

Coincidentally (or not, since the above link came from the same blog) I was just reading at Pimp My Novel that new romance writers might expect an advance in the area of $3,000. A debut writer of women's fiction might expect to see $5,000 to $7,500. An advance for historical fiction might be the same. Up to $8,000 for a children's book, depending on what you're writing.

And then, if that New York Times essay quoted above is accurate, most of those writers still won't sell enough books to repay those advances.

Mull that over.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Didn't Something Similar Happen In This Country With The Last Harry Potter?

I believe I recall reading of booksellers concerned about losing money on the last Harry Potter book because of situations like the one described in Dan Brown is going to be the ruin of us all.

Link from ArtsJournal.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Mixed Bag Of Book Trailers

I've been known to voice reservations about book trailers. (I seem to voice reservations about most things.) I've also read that publishing people wonder if they sell books.

I find a lot of book trailers a bit amateurish and...sloooooow. Often times I could read a couple of paragraphs and get some real info on a book in the time it takes to get through some of these things that don't do much more than try to create atmosphere. I don't have time for atmosphere! Life is short, people!

Last month (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm always behind.) The Spectacle ran a post on book trailers that included three examples. I liked The Adoration of Jenna Fox very much, but I don't know if that trailer would have hooked me. It's an example of what I meant by slow. I doubt I would have sat through it if I hadn't already read the book. The Nightmare Academy trailer seemed generic to me. It seemed as if it was just promoting another scary story.

The trailer for Shiver, though--How beautiful. It didn't really tell me much, but it's so stunning that I watched it a couple of times, and I went to the author's website to see what was going on with that story. And now I am interested, and I do want to get hold of that book.

So while the trailer doesn't communicate a whole lot (which I think a trailer really ought to do), it still worked because it is, as Parker Peevyhouse said at The Spectacle, a work of art. Not many people are going to be able to pull that off, but Maggie Stiefvater who wrote Shiver and made her own trailer, did.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More About One Of My Least Favorite Things

I've been going on about my reservations about book blurbs for years. Nonetheless, I was interested in The Fine Art of Getting Blurbs because I've met the guest blogger, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, and because she mentions something I've only heard about recently--that bookstore buyers care about blurbs.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is Social Networking Replacing Anything Or Just Doing Its Own Thing?

Becky Levine had an interesting post at her blog a couple of weeks ago on whether or not Facebook and Twitter will replace author websites and blogs. What was particularly interesting was that some of her commenters didn't seem that enthused for seeing that happen.

I am all about communication. Social networking sites like Facebook may be fine for socializing, but I don't see the kind of quick communication happening on Facebook pages that happens on a well-done website. When I want information on authors new to me, I want to immediately find links that will take me to a page describing their work, a link to a page describing their background, and a link to a page describing their appearances. I want neat, orderly information that I can get to quickly. If I don't find it, I leave.

Look at the difference between Meg Cabot's Facebook page and her website. Now, maybe if I signed up for Facebook, I could get more content about her. But I don't have to do anything to get a whole lot of content from her website. If I am a brand new Cabot reader who has been living in a cave for the last decade, I can find out about her books, I can read her bio, I can see what's new in her work life, and I can find out how to buy her books. If the information isn't actually on the homepage, a link is there that will take me to what I want to know. Her website can grab me and pull me in with facts, facts, facts.

I think part of the reason people want to move away from websites is that for most of us websites are difficult to create and maintain. You may need a computer guy to do it for you. Money will often change hands. Blogs are much easier. Companies provide a sort of template and usually don't even charge for it. But I've said it before and I'll say it again--blogs are not websites! They serve a different function! They are about personality. Websites are about information.

From what I understand, Facebook is pretty easy to use, too. But it still seems to serve a different function. It's called a social networking site. Social. Websites, on the other hand, are informational.

Twitter appears to try to merge the personality of a blog with the social networking of something like Facebook. That's fine if you like that sort of thing, but does Twitter offer the information traditionally found at websites? Can a reader of a 140 character tweet immediately find information about authors' books? If not, then Twitter isn't replacing websites. I can see why writers might like it because if you do have a following, you can remind them you exist all day long. But that means its function is different from a website's function.

Different is totally fine. Different doesn't mean replace, though.

Besides, some people think Twitter is for old people. I don't know why. Maybe the theory is the elderly have attention spans that will only hold up for 140 characters.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Well, This Is A Revelation

I have only the vaguest idea what happens to my books after I've proofread the galleys. Here is an explanation of what my publisher's sales people do with them.

Interesting point--As a reader, I am not a fan of blurbs. As a general rule, I find that they have little or no relation to anything in the book, and they seem to me to just be an opportunity for the blurber to get some free marketing on the cover of the blurbee's book. However, this account makes it sound as if bookstore buyers may care about them.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Two Levels Of Marketing

The Excelsior File has a post on the way the Horrid Henry books are marketed to boys. I had never heard of this series, but a lot of other people have. Check out the list of blog reviews at the end of Fuse #8's review.

A couple of us were just talking about book marketing folks embracing blogs in the comments to yesterday's post. Which is quite different from the kind of marketing David Elzey is talking about, by the way.

Someone could create two different marketing case studies on this one book.


Monday, June 15, 2009

My Bad Marketing Karma

Just two months ago I spent several days starting another blog over at Amazon. I found it rather time consuming, but I did it, and the new little blog appeared at four of my book pages.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a notice from Amazon saying that it had some new author page service that would house blogs. Go sign up. So I did and moved the new blog over there. Which is where it sits--on my new author page where no one sees it. It no longer appears on my book pages.

This is the story of my marketing life.

Training Report: I believe I've finished the essay I've been working on. I haven't been moving ahead with the 365 Story Project because I realized last week, after doing maybe 120 story segments that I needed story arcs for each of the characters. Or many of them, anyway. I did get started on that today, though.


Friday, May 15, 2009

As Usual, I Am Overwhelmed

Elizabeth Bluemle meant this post on marketing for publishers. But because I've read so much about authors getting out there and selling books, selling themselves, selling, selling, SELLING, I found myself getting palpitations long before I got to the end.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Latest Marketing Ploy

It took me two or three days to do it, but I've managed to start a blog at Amazon that will appear at the Amazon pages for my four in-print books. I could just link this blog over there, but I do sometimes get all ranty or serious over here or talk at length about other authors' work and that hardly seems like good marketing now, does it? So I'm going to periodically do something lighter while at the same time more promotional over at Amazon.

What exactly that will be I'm not sure.

Training Report: Thank goodness I did that Amazon marketing bit because otherwise I didn't do well today. (Mainly because of a six-mile hike that I'll talk about tomorrow.) I did spend some time going over the order of half the February segments of the 365 Story Project, and I did a rewrite of one segment. I really shouldn't be doing that until next winter, but I have a hard time pretending I don't know that that kind of thing needs to be done. It hangs over my head like church on Sunday.


Monday, March 02, 2009

The Low-down on ARCs

Liz Burns has a Shelf Space/Foreward piece on ARCS. I quote:

"Fantasy author Sarah Prineas illustrates how the difference between an ARC can be more than a misspelled word: "the ARC quite often is an earlier iteration of the book, so might contain a lot of sentence level and continuity errors and infelicities of prose that will be caught in a later copy edit. Another difference is that if a book has internal illustrations, these will often be either missing from the ARC or present only as rough sketches.""

This, people, is why librarians absolutely should not shelve ARCs in their collections. If the book is in ARC form, it's not done!

Liz will have more to say on this subject next week.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Where Do Brands Come From?

Yesterday I found (and read) Advertisements For Yourself by Jill Priluck through Blog of a Bookslut. It deals with the subject of whether or not authors can and should become brands. Then this morning I got on the treadmill and what did I find on the bookrack but last fall's SCBWI Bulletin, which I'd been pretending wasn't there while I read other stuff. It included an article called BRANDING--To Be Part of the Herd? by Tim Myers.

So, I've been thinking about branding these last twenty-four hours.

I started reading about branding probably last year. Usually I would see it in relation to bestselling authors. The idea was that they had become "brand names" in the sense that they had a large following of readers who were such fans that they would buy anything the authors wrote just because they wrote it. These buyers associated the authors' names with a certain type of writing that they liked, just as other buyers associate names with a certain type of detergent or food they like.

Thus, if you can somehow make yourself a brand name, you'll then have a following that supports your new books. But how can an author do that?

Priluck says, "Traditional branding—a mix of ads, media appearances, and book tours-is dying." But when discussing James Patterson, whose name frequently comes up in book branding articles, she says of his books that they are "practically encoded with unifying, Patterson DNA—from the title to the packaging to the hook and hanging cliffhanger." Isn't that something totally different from advertising?

Is branding something that has to be in the writing, which can then be advertised?

Myers in his Bulletin article suggests that branding is simply a distinctive style that makes someone recognizable, giving Tomie de Paola and Bob Dylan as examples. Branding, therefore, could occur naturally for such people. And once it did, it could then be marketed.

I wonder if today's brand writers aren't similar to your old-time cult writers, who had small followings that could be counted on to buy books and turn out for readings. A brand writer's fan base is a lot larger and has more money, of course. And is more mainstream. And a brand writer gets a lot more publicity. And while cult fans probably enjoyed their status as the lonely few who understood their favorite authors, brand fans may enjoy being part of a large, excited group turning out on publication day.

But except for all that, they're kind of related.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Kids Heart Authors Day

I've been doing some promotional work for Kids Heart Authors Day here.

Kids Heart has a real promotional person, and don't think it wasn't terrific to just send her a list of publications in my state and let her deal with them. I could get used to that.

This week Computer Guy made a lovely flyer that described both Kids Heart Authors Day and my particular store appearance. I've been sending it to area schools as well as to some librarian connections. This was actually more fun then I've found doing this kind of thing to be in the past, probably because I actually know some of the people I've been contacting. Plus, because I was doing this by e-mail, two people responded positively within minutes.

It sort of made me feel as if I were gambling and had just won a couple of hands. Let's play some more! Who else can I send this thing to?

I'm going to be one of five authors and illustrators appearing at Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut on Valentine's Day. One of the librarians who got back to me today said that this particular bookstore is a "huge supporter of libraries."

A very nice reputation to have.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The More Things Change, They More They Stay The Same

"Back in the mid-19th century, literary magazines promoted themselves by putting the nastiest reviews they could get on their covers. Both the targets' friends and their enemies rushed to buy them, to pore over every word in Village saloons and coffeehouses. A century later, there was Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman battling it out on Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson. Now that the novel is, in Strauss's words, "a much diminished thing," the Internet might just have to take up this promotional slack."

Ah, those were the days.

That's probably my favorite paragraph in Bloggers Vs. an Author: No One Wins , by Kevin Baker, in The Village Voice. The article describes the "Net reaction" to author Darin Strauss's description of his experience on a 22-city book tour, which he, himself, blogged about.

People really don't like to hear writers say anything negative about the writing life. A few years ago, a young woman wrote an anonymous article in Salon about her disappointment because her very well-received book didn't sell better than it did. She took a bit of a beating on the Internet, too.

I think many people, whether they hope to become writers themselves or not, have a fantasy about writers--a fantasy that involves fame and fortune. They just do not want to hear that the general public barely knows who the vast majority of writers are and that most writers can't support themselves with their writing, forget about taking care of a family. Those are facts of life, but to voice them is viewed as complaining because, damn it, J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer are rich and famous so why don't you other writers stop whining?

While reading how Strauss found himself getting drawn into a pissing match with other bloggers, I kept thinking about all the advice that moms have been giving out for centuries. Mainly, "Ignore them, and they'll go away."

They may have been on to something.

On the other hand, as the article's author suggested in the paragraph quoted above, these days an Internet pissing match may pass for book promotion.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Possible Christmas Present

Last week we were talking about Christmas purchases of overlooked books published pre-2008. Yesterday I bought three of the books I mentioned and added a fourth. This book wasn't overlooked when it was published in 2006, but, boy, are its handlers making things difficult for it now.

Back when this clever combination historical novel, scifi time traveler story, and English procedural mystery by Linda Buckley-Archer was originally published in hardcover, it was called Gideon the Cutpurse with a marvelous two-piece cover. I'm sure there's a technical term to describe it, but the best I can say is that the top, hard cover had a jagged hole with an eye on the page beneath so that it appeared that someone was looking through a hole in a board. The title and cover were both very striking.

Unfortunately, the character Gideon the Cutpurse wasn't the protagonist. He was also an adult. He was also a nice guy, but not particularly charismatic, which is what you want in an adult character in a children's book if you're going to name the thing for him. And while I loved the cover, I can't recall any scene in the book that it illustrated. It may not have had anything to do with anything.

So I can see why the publishing powers behind this first in a trilogy thought it might be a good idea to make some changes with the paperback.

However, they changed the name to the generic and forgettable The Time Travelers: Book One In The Gideon Trilogy. And the cover...seriously underwhelming. Okay, now we know there are kids in the book, which we didn't before. Still, it just looks like another time traveling story for kids, while before it looked like something special, though probably no one knew what.

This paperback also carries a blurb: "For kids who love Harry Potter." What? I guess if you take the attitude that Harry Potter is fantasy and if you think that The Gideon Trilogy is fantasy instead of science fiction and if you believe that all fantasy is alike, then maybe...No. No. It just doesn't work. And it does such a disservice to this novel. Harry Potter fans are going to feel misled and people who've had all they can take of Harry are going to avoid The Time Travelers unnecessarily.

Now, note that they're calling this series The Gideon Trilogy. I'm guessing that's to maintain some kind of connection to the original title of the original book. However, Gideon isn't even mentioned in the publisher's description of the second book, The Time Thief. (Which, by the way, has just come out in paper.) Does he have a big enough part in the books to warrant having the series named for him? (I plan to keep reading them, so I'll let you know. Get back to ya on that.)

The first book definitely was good. The second has been nominated for a Carnegie Medal. It would be a shame if this series gets lost in the confusion of name and cover changes and over-the-top blurbs.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Oh, No. More On-line Marketing Opportunities

I've been seeing references to Goodreads for a while now. And I've been ignoring them because, you know, I may be at the absolute limit of my Internetability. But Growing Great Writers From the Ground Up says authors can use it for market research and sort of advertise yourself.

GoodReads sounds like some website I joined a few years ago where you were supposed to keep track of all the books you owned or read or something. I don't know what happened to that.

Then WordCount offers advice on how writers can use LinkedIn. Now, I'd actually been wondering about that, because we know a young man who found a marvelous job through contacts he made on LinkedIn. Of course, he had to move to the other side of the country, but, still, I was impressed.

Linkes from Becky Levine.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reading About Marketing Depletes My Energy

I've been feeling much more on top of things since I've moved to Google Reader and can categorize my blogs. I read one category of blogs one day, another category another...You get the system.

Nonetheless, I did fall behind recently, and I just spent a nice chunk of time wading through the category I call "Editors and Agents." My Editors and Agents category has only three blogs in it, and still by the time I finished reading all the back posts about selling yourself to an agent--searching for agents, what agents are looking for in first chapters, cover letters, and on and on and on I felt my blood slowing in my veins.

Pub Rants linked to a post in Ally's Diary in which author Ally Carter talks about being asked The Wrong Questions at a couple of writers' conferences she attended this summer. It seems to me that a lot of the questions she was asked related, one way or another,!

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Facebook--Another Marketing Tool Or A Quick Way To Make A Fool Of Myself?

Getting back to my day out with the writers, which I found so incredibly stimulating:

I got into a brief discussion of Facebook with a writer who had just joined a month or so back. She said she was connecting with librarians. I wondered if joining Facebook wouldn't be an easier marketing effort than, say, driving around the state to visit booksellers who might not be that eager to see me. I was concerned about having to maintain another site, since I'm already blogging nearly daily and updating a website every few months, but she said I could just flip my blog posts over there. So I thought about it.

I've had two reservations about Facebook in the past:

1. I first heard about writers joining Facebook a few years back. Some close to middle-aged women YA writers were joining Facebook to try to connect with their teen readers. I found that mildly disturbing. You know, adults going where the kids to young figuring out you're old enough to be their mother and telling you to get lost...

In the intervening years, adults have been moving into Facebook in significant numbers (or so I understand), so I don't feel that kind of concern anymore. As my friend said (and I call her a friend because she said that if I join Facebook I can invite her to be a friend) on Saturday, she's connecting with other adults, not kids.

2. I don't like the way any of those social networking pages look. I'm all about communication. And I want quick communication. I don't even like those high-class websites with arty intros that take a long time to load. I don't have time to sit around waiting for that garbage. I want to see author websites with a coherent homepage that tells me who the author is right away and then clearly directs me directly to specific categories of information.

I don't see that happening at the social networking sites I've visited. I find them incredibly chaotic. I want to know what authors have written, when the next book is coming out, what led them to write what they wrote, how they got where they are. I find the social network sites' user interface, as my computer guy would call it, disorderly. What does the term "Posted Items" mean? And "The Wall?" What's that supposed to be?

Forgive me for being misanthropic but, quite honestly, I don't care who their friends are!

So, as you can probably tell, the beginning of this week, I was still on the fence about joining Facebook. Then I stumbled upon Old People Facebook Disasters at Salon, and the contest was over.

I'm not saying I'll never join FaceBook. But I'm definitely not joining it right now.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Marketing Gamble

A few of us were talking at Saturday's NESCBWI Salon about how putting together some materials to give to independent booksellers and driving around to visit them is risky and not just because many of us are writers because we aren't outgoing enough to be salespeople.

Independent booksellers are hugely important. Many of us see our books in independent bookstores far more frequently then we see them in the chains. But any marketing effort--and visiting booksellers is just one of them--is gambling with time because the time you use to market is time you could have been using to write the next book. Under the best of circumstances, it's very difficult to tell if you're getting much of a response to an individual marketing effort, so you always wonder--what is the best use of Wednesday?

Then on top of that, there's the nothing sells books business we keep hearing, which tends to make me feel that I might as well just go hiking on Wednesday.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Trying Another Field Trip

You may recall that back in July I went to a sci fi conference and left after three hours because that was all the intellectual stimulation I could take. Within days of coming home, days, I'd signed up for another event. Tomorrow's the big day.

The beauty of this thing tomorrow is that it only lasts three hours. Which, you will recall from having read the preceding paragraph, may be all I can take of being with other people.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

And You Thought Things Were Bad On Wall Street

If you have some extra time and are feeling masochistic, you might enjoy reading The End by Boris Kachka in New York Magazine. You won't find a lot of what Kachka has to say big news if you've been reading other publishing articles for the last four or five years. He's just pulled everything together in one spot. He has a lot of people information, though. He is, after all, writing for New York Magazine, and New York City is where a lot of the publishers are.

Some bits that caught my eye:

1. Nothing sells books anymore. Kachka says, "Traditional marketing is useless" and quotes an agent (a "powerful" one, too!) as stating, "Media doesn’t matter, reviews don’t matter, blurbs don’t matter." I have been seeing this kind of thing in articles over the past year or so. Peter Miller from Bloomsbury told Kachka that book trailers are "all the rage right now, but I would love to see an example of one video that really did generate a lot of sales." I wonder about that, myself, especially since a lot of book trailers are pretty awful.

2. Borders "is on death watch." I knew the chain was having trouble, but I wasn't aware things were that bad. (Hmmm. Am I evil to speculate about the kind of going- out-of-business sale it could have?) This is bad news for sales because Borders is still big, and it can still promote and sell a lot of specific titles. Plus, if it goes under, that cuts down still more on the number of bookselling outlets.

When I heard last summer that Borders was suffering and looking for a buyer, I wondered if the loss of that chain might mean a mini-resurgence in independent bookstores. After all, the big chains destroyed the indies. If the big chains (or at least one of them) disappear, won't that leave a vacuum that indies can fill?

I know. I'm not factoring in Amazon.

3. Kachka calls "co-op"--publishers paying for book placement in big bookstores--payola. (I'm just repeating what I read.) But evidently it's not frowned upon with books the way it is with music. Though, since we've already all agreed that nothing sells books, anyway, I don't know that co-op does much good. I guess I don't have to feel badly that no one has plunked down money for my books to be stacked at the front of a store because no one would buy them, anyway. (Though, to be honest, I think The Hero of Ticonderoga may have been placed in a nice cardboard case of some kind with some other books for a while. I don't know how that came about. I didn't ask any questions.)

4. If I understand the whole publishing situation that Kachka (and others before him) have described, a big, massive bestseller can carry a publishing company. For a while. That's why they're willing to pay enormous advances, advances that are too big for some of us to comprehend, for books both by established and new authors that they think have the potential to sell big. (Does anyone else think this sounds a lot like gambling?) But sometimes publishers are wrong.

Publishers losing money is bad. Very, very bad.

5. Kachka suggests that the book industry may have to change dramatically, moving away from relying on bestsellers, for instance. Book publishing may look very different in the future.

Personally, I can tolerate change. The wait to get there might drive me crazy, though.

The link to New York Magazine came from Blog of a Bookslut.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Both Encouraging And Mysterious

I often feel a sense of desperation among writers who are trying to give their newly published books the best possible marketing push. The How-To Information that's spun-out all over the place insists we need to promote, promote, promote, but it never mentions that bookstore contacts may refuse to call back, that regional publishers may bump your interview down to a local publication because "He said that if he covered every author who contacted him, he'd be publishing a book review," or that at many literary festivals the hand full of bestselling authors in attendance get ninety percent of the crowd while everyone else could have stayed home and cleaned or taken a nap.

So these posts at Pub Rants and author Ally Carter's blog on how Carter's book, I'd Tell You That I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You made the New York Times bestseller list two years after it was published were encouraging, even though they can only offer theories about how it happened.

Note in particular Pub Rants' point about the book receiving "few to almost no reviews." The book's "success was not review-driven."

Also note Carter's point that the book didn't hit the list because of self promotion. "All this time I was home...writing."


Friday, September 12, 2008

Errors In High Places

I've been hearing a lot of talk the last six months about the number of copyediting errors that are turning up in published books. Some folks (myself included) believe we're seeing an increase in the number of errors that are appearing in books from well-regarded publishers.

Kirus Reviews recently carried an essay at its website called Reader Beware in which the author, Vicky Lewis, writes about "one of the best young-adult books of the year", which was denied a starred review because of the excessive number of copyediting errors that ended up in the published edition.

This essay was a hot topic at one of my listservs last week and came up at a second one more recently. I find the whole issue more interesting given that people within the kidlitosphere had already been talking about copyediting problems.

The loss of a starred review may not mean a whole lot if this book truly is one of the best young adult books of the year, as Lewis contends. Presumably it will get plenty of attention, anyway. For mid-level authors like myself, the loss of a starred review can be a very big deal. My own publisher purchases advertising for books that receive two starred reviews, or, at least, that has been my experience. So a modest book that had a chance for two starred reviews and lost one would miss out on support from the publisher and additional sales.

Don't take this as criticism of Kirkus. If anything, I think this is an indication of how bad the editing situation has become.

You should, of course, ignore any copyediting errors in the preceding post.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Has Everyone Already Read It?

I've been reading about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins since early this year. Someone mentioned it recently in the comments to one of my posts, and it's been talked about the last couple of days at one of my listservs.

The book doesn't come out until a little later this month, but I've read so much for so long from so many people who have already read it that I have to wonder if there's anyone left who hasn't read it? Besides me, of course.


Monday, August 04, 2008

We Were Just Talking About This

Mitali Perkins brought up blurbing at her blog last week and now Salon has an article on the same subject.

I may have mentioned before that no one at my publishing house has ever said a word to me about blurbs for my books. This may be that I'm so far down the food chain it doesn't matter. I wasn't even aware that authors had to look for their own blurbs until I heard writers talking about it on-line. I don't think I even wondered about why other authors' books had blurbs and mine didn't. Though, I hope that at some point I would have just as proof that I wasn't braindead.

I don't think I have to worry too much about my publisher asking me to look for blurbers at this point because of all the negative things I've said about blurbs here at Original Content. Plus, there's a possibility that I may have ticked off a lot of people here and so would be wasting my time asking for blurbs, anyway. So I'm hoping I'm safe from the whole blurb issue.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gone In Seventy-two Hours--An Author's Point Of View

Have you heard about the concerns regarding, a new business, I guess, that will organize blog tours for authors? (Though I'm having trouble finding real information about fees.) From what I can make out from the website, KidsBookBuzz gets paid a fee, and the bloggers it organizes receive free books.

One of the worries voiced regarding this set up is that the bloggers are, in a sense, getting paid to review, that author/publishers are buying reviews. I think a bigger concern is that bloggers aren't getting paid to review. The administrator gets a fee, but the bloggers get only the same book print reviewers receive. Print reviewers are paid--by the journals they work for, not the author/publisher of the book they're reviewing. So while there is definitely the appearance of buying reviews with KidsBookBuzz, the actual reviewer won't be receiving any cold, hard cash. I respect the entrepreneurial spirit, but something doesn't seem quite right here.

That's no skin off my back, though, is it?

No, I have a totally different concern. The KidsBookBuzz website says, "There is another kind of blog tour–the kind we do here–where we have fifty or more bloggers all linking to the same book for two or three days in a row...
This kind of saturation creates a different kind of buzz than the leisurely blog tour where you visit one blog a day. It’s like the difference between several weeks of light rains in the morning and one day of hurricane rains. Which one do you notice? We need the constant light rain, and we’d notice if we didn’t get it, but the hurricane often receives more attention on the evening news."

It's that three-day saturation business that bothers me because I feel book publishing is already way too much like opening weekend for movies. Realistically speaking, a new book has a limited window for getting attention, just a couple of months before publication date and maybe a month or two after. I've read articles in which publicists have advised authors who were looking for attention for a book that came out a few months earlier to give it up and get started on another project. Publishers are worrying about the next catalog. In July reviewers are thinking about books that are coming out in the fall. For spring authors, it is over.

The print journals have to run after the next new thing because that's their mandate. They are supposed to provide information for their readers on what's coming up.

But the blogosphere was a wild frontier where books from last spring, from last year, or from any time in the past were discussed. Readers were reminded of books they'd forgotten or never even heard of. Here in the blogosphere you never knew what you were going to find, but you knew you'd find something besides what everyone else was talking about.

These three-day blog blitzes will make the blogosphere just like the carbon-based world where everyone runs after the next new thing. Only a print journal hangs around for a month. The blog tours will be gone in 72 hours, and everyone will be on to something else. Three-day blog tours will actually speed up the process of being promoted and then forgotten about.

This is not a good thing for writers. I want people to be discussing my books for seven days, not three. To be perfectly honest, I want people to be discussing my books for seven weeks, seven months, seven years. But I'm very much afraid that if these three-day publicity blitzes take off, we'll all be seeing tinier and tinier openings for promotion.

And, believe me, the openings are already tiny enough.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blogs And Writers

I just stumbled upon a couple of blog posts that discuss blogging and writers.

Colleen at Chasing Ray has a post up called Which Blogs Matter? on the subject of authors seeking out blog reviewers.

Editorial Ass has a question and answer post called Author Blogging, which is about authors blogging themselves.

I will add a point here that will be a sort of link between these two posts: Once you are a blogging author and part of the blogging lit community, Editorial Ass suggests, it becomes very difficult to approach bloggers to review your books, as Colleen at Chasing Ray suggests, because you know everybody. It's too much like asking the guy down the street or the woman in the cubicle next to you at work to put in a good word with you somewhere. The people being asked feel they can't say no, even if they want to, because they know you. Or else they feel they have to say no, even if they don't want to, because they know you. And how much good will the good word do you when the person receiving it knows the person giving it travels in the same circles with you?

It's sort of like finding out that that person you were getting on with like gangbusters at a conference and e-mailing with afterward is the children's editor for a review journal. You get all excited because you know this editor and she seems to like you. Then you realize "@#!!. Now she can never review anything I write because we know each other."

Really, it gets to the point where you begin to feel that networking is actually counterproductive and why don't you just lie on the couch and watch HGTV in your spare time?

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

All Things Bologna

In our extended family, we have people trying to get started on careers, to stay in their new careers, to hunt for first homes, and to stay afloat in construction- related professions. So here at Chez Gauthier we do think quite a bit about what's going on in the economy and, I'm sad to say, how it impacts us and not just all those people we read about in the press.

So when I read the first line in Wrapping Up Bologna, about the Bologna Children's Book Fair, I thought, Doesn't this sound as if it could be a good thing for people like me? The article starts out, "The state of the U.S. economy hung over this year’s Bologna Fair, as American publishers found the market tough for buying, but great for selling." In a related article, also in Publisher's Weekly, an American publisher said, "For selling books, I say ‘Thank you, George Bush’ every day. But I would not want to be a European rights director selling to the U.S. right now."

What's going on, as I understand it, is that American rights for European books are pricie for us to buy now, but American rights are cheap for Europeans to buy. Our stuff is selling, but we're not buying as much as we used to.

I know that in the greater scheme of things, the world of literature suffers. Yes, I do want to be exposed to books from all over the world. But in terms of Gail, an American writer who needs to sell books, doesn't this mean that 1. Foreign rights to my most recent books have a better chance of selling? (It has been a few years since anyone has snapped up rights to my books, and I do have a new one coming out this year.) 2. Fewer foreign books coming into the U.S. market means less competition for buyers and readers here in this country? (Though, come on, we're still talking mind-boggling numbers of American books being published. I don't seriously expect to see any jumps in my sales because fewer European books are being translated into English and sold here. I'm just looking for a silver lining. For somebody. Anybody, but particularly for me.)

Well, I only took one baby economics class when I was in college, and I don't remember it having anything to do specifically with publishing.

Other Bologna news:

Horror may be the new fantasy.

There's supposed to be a lot of interest in books about humor with boy characters, which, you know, just happens to be my stock-in-trade.

Evidently in France publishers are being overwhelmed with electronic submissions.

And get this--Eddie Gamarra, who is with a management/production company was quoted as saying, "Some authors report that editors pressure them to tone down the prominence of adult characters in children’s lit. Hollywood needs castable roles for bankable actors. There are very few bankable child stars. This issue was another big point of conversation as book folks ask me to explain what the heck Hollywood is looking for and why."

This is so creepy. Editors of children's books are supposed to pressure their authors to tone down adult characters because they are writing...stay with me here...children's books. What is going to happen to children's literature if books are written not for kid readers but for Hollywood producers who are looking for adult characters in order to cast adult actors? Come on, just write a screenplay in the first place.

Though, this might explain why we got an inquiry from a production company about Saving the Planet & Stuff just on the basis of the Kirkus Review's review. That book did have a couple of great adult characters. Though, perhaps, not great enough, since no sale was made.

Well, I've never been all that interested in the Bologna Children's Book Fair. But after reading these two articles, I'll be paying more attention in the future.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Way Things Are

As part of The Big Clean and a study month that I haven't quite named yet (the two events are sort of overlapping), I am trying to go through all the back messages in my listservs. I just found an e-mail at Adbooks with a link to Waiting for It, an essay that explains why there's such a long wait between a manuscript's acceptance and its publication as a book. In a word, it's all about marketing.

Waiting for It spells out what I think can only be described as the struggle to sell a book. It also explains what traditional publishers do for authors, or try to do for them.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Announcing The Hannah And Brandon Stories' Home On The Web

Last week we launched The Hannah and Brandon Stories mini-site and did a little shakedown. It's now ready for you.

I wanted a site specifically for The Hannah and Brandon Stories because it's a series, even if there are only two books in it right now. Well, only one book, because the second one won't be published until summer. I felt Hannah and Brandon needed a little different kind of promotional effort.

Plus, I wanted to try to create a brand for the books. We never actually named the series anything. One book is called A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat and the other A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers. (That link is new, too, by the way.) But how would someone talk about the books together? My editor and I sometimes called them the girl/boy books. That was lacking something, so I gave them their own name.

I didn't want to just throw out an entirely new website onto the Internet because I try to avoid clutter. Making this site part of my main site is an attempt to remain organized. So my homepage directs readers to two different ways to read about the books--the original, more traditional material at my main site and a fun take-off of book marketing at the Hannah and Brandon Stories mini-site.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Competition

Years ago I was told by more experienced writers not to bother sending any kind of publicity mailings to booksellers because they're overwhelmed with marketing materials. They have too much to contend with and any kind of postcard or brochure I would send them would hardly be noticed.

In case I didn't believe it, Alison Morris at Shelftalker posted photos of just the arcs/galleys her bookstore has received for books coming out in the months March through August of this year.

Remember, the new Hannah and Brandon book comes out in July.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Singing His Praises

I'm very happy with my computer guy this week. We're working on a mini-site within my website forThe Hannah and Brandon Stories. Computer Guy is picking up and running with all my ideas. He's improving on my ideas. He even likes my ideas.

The next volume of Hannah and Brandon Stories comes out in July. I suspect marketing people would say, therefore, that I'm late getting this website going. I try not to let things like my own ineptitude get me down.

No, if I want to get down, I'm going to do it over things like a website I found called Juvenile Series and Sequels. The number of series and sequels is far, far beyond my wildest imaginings. It sort of makes whether or not I'm late with my website a moot point because the chances of all of us getting attention for our books is pretty remote.

But my computer guy might get some for me. Not that I want to make him feel pressured or anything.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Patterson Does YA

The New York Times article, An Author Looks Beyond Age Limits, about James Patterson's attention to his YA sales, is interesting for a number of reasons.

Patterson really keeps an eye on his sales numbers. (I'd rather not know about mine, in large part because they don't come anywhere near his.) He's concerned that his YA books don't sell as well as his adult books do and worries that placement in the back of bookstores with the other kids' books could be keeping buyers from finding them. So his publisher is asking booksellers to commit to keeping his YA titles at the front of the store for the same length of time as his adult titles. YA titles should be treated as well as adult titles. Yeah, it's too bad all books can't get this kind of treatment, but that's life, as Mom used to say.

Patterson is interested in attracting female buyers for his YA books, as in mothers. He wants to encourage parents to buy books for their kids as long as they're in the bookstore, anyway. While some might charge that he wants to get parents to buy his books, I'm hoping that if he trains them to buy for their kids whenever they go into bookstores, the resulting sales could help all of us. (Patterson can't have a new YA book in the store all the time, after all. Oh. Wait. Maybe he can.)

YA titles are becoming popular with adult readers. So Patterson's latest book has a cover designed to attract adults as well as kids. I've heard of other books that were published in two editions, one for adults and one for kids, in order to cast a nice big net. Patterson's publisher is trying to be more efficient.

Patterson's Maximum Ride series has an "uncredited co-writer." (Gabrielle Charbonnet) It's too bad she's uncredited, but I respect that Patterson brought in help instead of taking the attitude that just anyone can knock off a YA book.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Our Lives On The D-List

While I was on vacation last week, I caught an episode of My Life On The D-List. (That link didn't go to a site with Kathy Griffin doing standup when I plugged it in here. If it does now, I deny all responsibility.)

Watching The D-List made me think of my trip to the Twilight Zone Convention last year. The TZ Convention was similar to a literary festival, and the life Kathy Griffin projects on The D-List is similar to life for a lot of us kidlit writers.

Maybe I'm just self-centered, and everything reminds me of my own life.

But, think about it. In last week's episode, Kathy was going to London where she was going to do a stand-up routine, and she was trying to promote it. Sort of the way we writers try to promote an appearance at a bookstore, see? Or even a new book. Or an old book. Or even just our names. Evidently Kathy has a following in the U.S., and she was trying to promote herself to the same group in London. That's similar to how we kidlit writers try to promote ourselves to librarians. Wait. No. We should be trying to attract reading teachers. No, no, no. Booksellers! We've got to make sure the booksellers know who we are!

Kathy and her posse were always looking for ways to get her some publicity. Writers do the same thing. Should I contact bloggers? Make a trailer? Submit workshop ideas to conferences? Mail postcards to schools? Throw myself a book launch party? What should I do, what will I do, to get a little higher up on the literary hierarchy?

Man, I so related to that show.

This is good place to mention that the September issue of School Library Journal has an article called Rules of the Game: Focus on Middle School that includes Happy Kid!. And the print issue uses the cover!

Imagine Kathy Griffin and me jumping up and down.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why I'll Never Go Far

I just can't stay on task with promotion. It's not just that I'm not that great at forcing myself out there. Almost everyone has trouble with that. No, I can't seem to make any kind of organized marketing effort. If I get some promotional ideas, I don't move on them fast enough or never bother carrying through with them at all. If I do carry through, I forget about them afterward.

A case in point: While looking up another author, I just now stumbled upon an interview with myself at Young Adult (& Kids) Books Central. I remember answering these questions now but I'd forgotten about the whole thing up until about ten minutes ago. I probably forgot about the interview as soon as I'd submitted the answers.

And, yes, I forget about short story submissions after I make them, too.

Really, it's a miracle that I've gotten as far as I have.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Maybe I'm Just Easily Annoyed

I sometimes feel as if I'm missing the boat and being a bit of a wet blanket because I'm not a Harry Potter fan. Really, I wish I could be part of the whole experience. I don't think J.K. Rowling is a bad writer, and her work has brought a lot of attention to children's writing, which is good.

But it really ticks me off when she starts teasing between books. The-guess-who-I'm-killing-off-this-time? schtick was pulled out before the last three new books for what purpose other than keeping the fans riled and interested? And now she's toying with readers by suggesting she might write another book about Harry Potter's world.

This kind of thing isn't about writing. It's about marketing. While I know writers need to do it (this is what this blog is about, after all), traditionally a writer markets her writing. She doesn't manipulate her readers. There's something distasteful about the way she twists the process, as if she's using her readers instead of writing for them.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Or You Could Wait For The Movie

Mark Peter Hughes has his Lemonade Mouth Across America blog up. Look what those maniacs did to their minivan. On Tuesday afternoon, NPR is going to be running another one of his commentaries on All Things Considered. I'm sure I'll miss it, so I'll try to catch it later at the NPR website.

Here is my book promotion plan for this summer. I'm going to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for one weekend next month to celebrate a family event. If I stumble upon any bookstores, I'll go in to see if they have any of my books. Then I'll offer to sign their copies.

Yeah, I'll let you know how that goes.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When Radio Stations Do This Isn't It Called Payola?

The Hidden Price of a Christmas Bestseller lays out the fees involved in getting books promoted in English bookstores. Similar set-ups exist here in the States. In fact, this practice is supposed to be one of the reasons publishers are taking out fewer ads in U.S. newspaper book review supplements, which is said to be one of the reasons those supplements are folding. Publishers are shifting their advertising money to paying to have books promoted in bookstores instead of taking out traditional advertisements.

I think this isn't considered a questionable practice because the publishing industry has accepted it. Bookstore chains probably have employees whose entire job is to sell window and table space to publishers. Publishers probably have employees whose entire job is to buy window and table space from bookstores. Heck, both groups probably have entire departments to handle this stuff.

My guess is that if both buyer and seller agree that something is an acceptable business practice, it's an acceptable business practice.


Friday, June 15, 2007

So Now We Will Consider Book Videos

Once a Novel Idea, Now a Must in the L.A. Times states, "No one makes definitive claims that videos increase sales, but publishers and booksellers agree they can help," which sounds a little contradictory to me.

I'm loving this idea, though. Think about it--authors singing, dancing, bumping and grinding in skimpy clothes. Walking down mean streets looking p.o.ed. Videos may not move books, but they could be seriously entertaining.

Ah, thank you artsJournal.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Do Bouncing, Floating, Skinny Little Banner Ads Sell Books?

Maybe not.

Whenever I went to Fuse's new home*, I tried to swat the ad like a fly with my cursor. I wondered if it was one of those games they used to include with educational software for kids--you study your spelling words for a while and then you get something to shoot at.

And yet, a lot of people are talking about it. Though, in my case, I don't actually know what "it" is because I never actually got what the ad was about.

*I had to link to Fuse's old home because her new one appears to be out of order tonight. What could that be about? Gee, Fuse, you haven't even been there a week. I hadn't even had time to mention the new place in my blog. You haven't brought the whole thing down, have you?


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And What About Book Trailers? Do They Sell Books?

When I first heard about book trailers a couple of years ago, I got quite excited because what reader wouldn't be excited about seeing a book trailer? I've even thought, briefly--very briefly--about finding out how I could have one done for one of my books. Then I read Mitali Perkins' blog post about working on a trailer for her new book, First Daughter.

I started thinking that maybe I should give this a shot. After all, I've got a computer guy, and except for trying to figure out whether I should get a new hard drive or limp along with the one I have, what's he got to do? Surely, he'd love to make a book trailer. He's a computer guy.

But then I started wondering--What do you do with these things once you've got them? Who sees them? Do they make a difference to anyone? I've seen a few really long trailers, and, having the attention span of a gnat, I couldn't sit all the way through them. I certainly don't want to do that to any viewers. That can't be good.

My favorite...moving?...visual for a book is from Kenneth Oppel's Airborn site. It's short and intense. Is it a book trailer? Or, as Computer Guy believes, just a bit of business at a website? What's the difference?

Of course, I saw that piece for the first time after I'd read, and liked, the book. I don't know if it would have encouraged me to read the book if I'd gone to the site first.

So, to make a long story short, I'm now mulling over whether or not creating a book trailer would be a good use of my (and my computer guy's) time. Discuss among yourselves and comment if you have any thoughts on the subject.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Will You Read Moby Dick Because Alton Brown Is?

The issue of how to get book titles out in front of the public was of interest to me even before all the excitement over the demise of the book review section. Even with the newspaper book reviews that were recently dumped there were nowhere near enough review spots for all the books that are published each year, forget about reminding people about the books that came out three years ago that they still haven't read.

But I'm into history, and for me that means that I can accept that things change. Other ways of talking about books are evolving even as we speak.

I have a family member who is a big Alton Brown fan. While said family member was at AB's website, he noticed a page called What I'm Reading. As you might expect, a couple of the books are about food, but AB is also reading Moby Dick (seafood!) and Watchmen.

I found this interesting. Is this a way for entertainers and other people who the public enjoy following to share their interest in books? Will their fans care enough to check out their reading material?

I know some will blow off this sort of thing as being celebrity-based and thus shallow. But a lot of TV viewers feel close to the personalities they watch regularly, especially the ones who, like Alton Brown, appear as themselves. How is this exchange of book info substantially different from talking about books with friends?

Well, except that the friendship is one-sided, of course.

The publishing industry isn't in such good shape that anyone can give these kinds of recommendations a cold-shoulder. Read faster, Alton! Read some kids' books!


Another Example Of My Marketing Ineptitude

As if you need one.

Liz B. mentioned Meg Cabot's Pants on Fire Tour this morning. This reminds me that Cabot will be at R. J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut tomorrow at two o'clock, by the way.

What am I doing to support my new book, A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat? I'm giving away books on publication day, June 21st. My plan was to mention the giveaway every Thursday to build up to the big day.

That was all I had to do.

Needless to say, yesterday I forgot. I was all excited about someone else's book and forgot about mine.

So, anyway, the giveaway is five weeks from yesterday.

I swear, last night I was reading the list of upcoming author events in the local newspaper and thought I felt what might have been the beginning of a panic attack coming on. It passed very rapidly, though.

I don't actually panic much. If I did, maybe I'd do more.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This Kind Of Thing Depresses Me

I should probably be reading more articles like this one describing how Jackie Davies did this great job at a bookstore promoting her new book The Lemonade War. You'd think this kind of thing would inspire me, wouldn't you? Oh, no. Not at all. I'm just left trying to repress the memories of many of my own book signings.

Actually, I was recently contacted by a bookstore (can't tell you how seldom that happens here) and asked if I'd do an appearance with Davies and another author. I had to pass because we'd already committed to going to a wedding that day. After reading this article I'm glad because all I bring to book signings is a pen, and how lame would that be compared to a lemonade stand and chocolate chip cookies?

Sigh. I'm doing a couple of readings at a middle school tomorrow night. I was thinking of looking in the office for my business cards tomorrow. You know, so I won't be totally empty-handed.


Friday, April 27, 2007

A Modest Proposal

artsJournal indicates that there is lots and lots and lots of concern regarding the loss of book supplements in newspapers. Newspapers are cutting these sections of their newspapers (and eliminating book editor positions) to save money. Readership is supposed to be going down due to the quick availability of news on-line and at all news cable stations. In addition, publishers aren't supporting such supplements with ads, instead using their marketing money to pay to have their books displayed at chain bookstores (among other things).

Remember, the number crunchers say that somewhere in the area of 150,000 to 175,000 books are published each year. Even if each book were reviewed and marketed properly, how could the average reader have time to even know of the existence of all those titles, let alone read them? What is the likelihood that readers will ever be able to connect with books that are perfect for them?

Now realize that there's not enough marketing money in the world to market them all perfectly. It is physically impossible for all books to be reviewed and becoming more impossible as publications cut back on their review space.

Think of a funnel with the fat part being all this year's books and the narrow part being review space and the white space beneath the funnel being the public. Now you can get some idea why people are concerned about this.

Here at Chez Gauthier, we have noticed that a great deal of the national news in our local big city paper is day old. It's stuff we read the day before on-line. Word for word because the paper is just printing news service stories.

Not a lot of reason for us to keep up our subscription. As I said earlier, evidently others feel the same way.

What might keep me interested in reading a daily paper? Well, expanded local news, of course, which we can't get on-line. And then how about expanded features? More arts coverage both national and local. More coverage of what's going on at museums, clubs, theaters, and...publishing. More coverage of local authors, local literary awards, author appearances at schools.

Am I the only person who would read more of this stuff? To me, this is the kind of material I can't get on the Internet. Why not give me that in the newspaper instead of cutting it out to give me more wire stories that I've already read?


Monday, April 23, 2007

This Time Last Year

Louise Doughty has a nice little column on the publishing experience. Though I have to say I've never had a publisher send me flowers, I've never had a book party, and I don't get much in the way of really good interviews in the papers. And as I was reading this thing, I kept thinking that Doughty had lucked out majorly with this column. As she was lamenting the lack of attention for her new paperback release, she was giving it a nice little shot of press.

I had a book come out last May and another is coming out this June. I've been thinking about the difference between last spring and this spring.

Last spring I made, what was for me, a major marketing effort. I thought I had a really good hook for publicity, and I spent a great deal of time working on a press release and sending press packages to area newspapers, my alumni magazines, and even a couple of radio stations. I arranged for a store appearance in my hometown, though my contact at the bookstore made it clear that this was really against his better judgment because people don't come to see children's authors. Then I sent press packages to the newspapers up there.

For all my effort, only one area newspaper was interested in me and the resulting article was so poorly written I was embarrassed to show it to anyone. In Vermont I got nothing but tiny mentions in "Calendar" sections of newspapers. I am no longer a hometown girl.

Late in the summer or early fall, I found that my alumni magazine did give me a nice little review and the local NPR affiliate gave me a mention during a book review show, for which I am very grateful.

On the other hand, the bookstores around here wanted nothing to do with me. I was clearly being given the brush-off by a couple of places I called several times and sent arcs. Ten years ago when I was a new writer without an ALA Notable Book and foreign editions to my credit I could get into a few bookstores. I couldn't make much in the way of sales there, but they would have me. Not any more.

This year I sent out a few arcs, contacted an alumni magazine, and at some point I'm supposed to have an essay published in an on-line publication, which should get my name in front of new people. But instead of making calls and mailing packages to people who have no interest in receiving them, I'm working on a new book.

My self-esteem is a little healthier this year than last.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Literary Fight!

The end of last month Meg Rosoff got a nice little pissing match going over at The Guardian's Books Blog. Do these kinds of things happen over here between writers and general readership?

In Selling Yourself As A Writer Rosoff wrote a "how-to" list for writers based on what she learned during her years working in advertising. One reader, in particular, took offense because "Marketing is important" was placed at the top of the list. The fight was on, with Rosoff, herself, getting a couple of pops in.

At one point she said, "Stop reading the blog. It'll improve both our lives." I have to agree with the reader who didn't find that response terribly profound.

Well, she did call the post Selling Yourself As A Writer. What did readers expect to find there? It's not like she suggested that writers plan to spend their advance on promotion, hire private P.R. people, or send gifts to their publishers' marketing staff, all of which I've heard elsewhere.

Thanks to not your mother's book club for the link.

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