Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Series on the business of publishing

One of our esteemed chapter colleagues, Stasia Ward Kehoe, is running a blog series on children's book marketing:

Here are links to her first two posts:

The Business of Children's Books No. 1
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.

The Business of Children's Publishing No. 2: As a children’s book writer or a MG or YA novelist, you have probably offered to visit your child’s school or told your local librarian you’d be happy to stop by and read your story. Visiting schools and libraries is a logical way to reach out to your readership. Such appearances often translate into book sales. Many authors report that, after a school visit, local bookstores sell out of their titles. Most authors and illustrators charge honoraria making appearances financially feasible and worth the missed writing or work hours. Connecting with audiences in person can help authors better understand their readership, and also improve their speaking resumes (book publishers truly appreciate authors who get out into the world to represent their books), possibly generating opportunities for conference and larger platform appearances. (Also look below for a note to not-yet-published writers.)

What’s the catch? Unless you are a NYT-bestselling author or have thousands of Facebook friends and blog/twitter (blitter?) followers, moving from a few local stops to making school and library visits a functional part of your marketing and maybe even an income-generating element of your career as an author can take some thought and hard work. You must understand that, just as you struggle to position your book alongside thousands of others shelved at B&N, you must figure out how you fit in (and stand out) as a speaker about books and writing. To quote the very-long Broadway musical, GYPSY, “you gotta have a gimmick.”

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