Today I begin my series of musings on trade book marketing. I have worked in children’s publishing for over fifteen years, first as an educational marketing associate at Random House, and then as a freelance writer and marketing professional for Tor Books, Dorling Kindersley, HarperCollins, Rodale Press, Penguin and Simon & Schuster. In addition to having penned jacket copy, press releases, event kits, reading guides, curriculum guides, and newsletters, I am the author of thirteen nonfiction books for Rosen Publishing. The observations I will share here come both from my own experience and from discussions with many authors, illustrators and publishing professionals.
I plan to blog about business on Fridays, but was delayed this week by my annual, post-Thanksgiving celebration on the ski hill. I made it down a blue run on my inaugural ski day this year! It is a fitting moment to begin this series because I see many parallels between the journeys of skier and writer.
Think of it this way: You’ve decided to become a writer, perhaps after another career and some soul-searching, perhaps because of the many great kids’ books that informed your childhood. You are at the bottom of the mountain, looking up. You gear up, take some lessons, fall down a few times in search of your balance—your voice. Slowly, you conquer some fears. You choose a challenging run and get on the lift, ride up enjoying the spectacular views AND wondering what the heck you are doing trying to climb so high. You reach the top: book written and sold. Now you’ve got to get down without falling.
The trip down is the one you take getting your mountain-top masterpiece into the hands of readers. It can be slippery. The economic “conditions of the trail” are beyond your control. Much of the rest is marketing. Here your courage and energy help determine whether you reach the base on your proverbial bottom or glide into the lodge, the NYT-best-selling winner of…another scary uphill ride and the chance to tell and sell another story (also known as a writing career).
Okay, the metaphor is getting a bit overdrawn but it holds an important truth. Book publication, like reaching the top of a mountain, is not just a culmination but the beginning of another, equally important journey. And, without further ski metaphors, this is will be the focus here.
Here are a few of issues I plan to discuss (but please leave a comment to let me know if you have other questions you would like addressed): BECOMING A GREAT SCHOOL & LIBRARY PRESENTER (IS THIS THE ROAD FOR ME?); WHAT IS MY TARGET AGE/GRADE LEVEL FOR PRESENTATIONS?; HOW TO GET SCHOOL BOOKINGS (AND WHY); SETTING YOUR APPEARANCE PRICE; PUTTING APPEARANCE PLANS IN WRITING; VIRTUAL VERSUS BRICK-AND-MORTAR VISITS; USING YOUR BLOG AND/OR WEBSITE TO INCREASE APPEARANCE REQUESTS; WHAT TO DO WHEN HOSTS OR AUDIENCES ARE UNDERPREPARED; COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR PUBLISHER TO ENHANCE EDUCATIONAL APPEARANCE EFFORTS; WHAT IF I HATE MARKETING MY BOOK?; THE QUESTION OF READER CONTESTS & CRITIQUING STUDENT WRITING. I will also cover some before-the-book-sale topics for pre-published writers and those moving into new genres in weeks to come.
This post is already too long (my secretary had a big Thanksgiving dinner and is still too tired to edit) so I will leave with one parting suggestion for writers of all levels. Try to think of your writing life as a celebration of the craft of writing, the pleasure of being in a community of writers, and the thrill of SHARING your work (even if that means a bit of selling and money talk) so that kids and adults who find your stories can join in this great celebration.