Friday, October 9, 2009
These Aren't My Shoes!
They are the shoes of the fabulous Shelli Johannes-Wells. And she has so kindly agreed to an interview on my blog. Please welcome her with lots of nice comments. Feel free to leave questions for her. She may stop by to answer if she has time. Shelli writes children's, tween, and young adult, and is represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media. She is also a marketing consultant for several large, well known businesses in the United States. To learn more about her, please visit her web site or her blog. 1. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I think my readers could benefit from your marketing knowledge. But first, everyone would like to know if agents really visit the blogs of potential clients. Based on your numerous interviews with agents and editors, do you think they do? If so, what do they look for? YES they do! First of all, if you go to my blog and read my weekly Monday interviews with agents and editors on marketing, you will see most of them Google writers online and expect writers to have an online presence. I also speak at many SCBWI conferences and end up hanging out with faculty. I can't tell you how many editors and agents goggle writers and scour the Internet looking for information on potential writers. I have at least 5 friends who got "found" on their blog. I think they look for voice, personality, good ideas, and optimism. They want to see if they can connect to this author and work with them. You can tell a lot about someone's personality by reading someone's blog. I think they are turned off by boring material, negativity, and detailed reports of submission rejection. 2. Okay, now on to marketing. How important is social networking to marketing? And what role does blogging play in this area? Social networking is very important. Especially online. You can control the marketing of your book, but you cannot control the PR you or your book gets. PR is free. And that word of mouth comes from readers, friends, and your professional network. Blogs are just one way to network. As you know, we bloggers find other blogs we connect with and then somehow in a strange way become friends. Sometimes, I feel like my blogger friends know me better than anyone and that they 100% support me in my writing and journey to publication. I think and hope my bloggie buddies feel the same way about me. If you do not like to blog, find another way to build a network. You can use Facebook, Myspace, Ning, Xanga, Good Reads, Shelftalker, message boards, listserve groups, Twitter, or others. There are so many ways to network, so find a couple that work for you and do them well. 3. At what point do writers need to start considering the marketing aspects of social networking? Do unpublished, unagented writers need to worry about this yet? In my professional opinion, yes! I do think it is extremely important to build those relationships way before someone is selling books. It's no fun having someone push their book on you when they don't even know your name. Social networking relationships are like any business relationship. It is better to build them over time and with authenticity. Building a network has many advantages to unpublished authors: 1) You find out about other people's agents/journey, which can help your own 2) You have time to build up a relationship without jamming your book down people's throats. 3) It helps you stay connected in this crazy journey. It's nice to find like people who experience similar struggles and achievements. Many unpublished authors seem to think they cannot do a web site before they get published. That is not true - you can! Even if you don't have books published, you can pitch them on your web site. Why not? I am agented but not yet published. You can check out my web site and see how to do it. 4. Since teenagers don't typically blog, how effective is blogging as a marketing tool for the YA author? Wait - who says teens don't blog??? According to Pew studies, in 2008, more than half (58%) of all teens maintain a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook or MySpace, 27% have an online journal or blog, and 11% maintain a personal website. Girls dominate the teen blogosphere and social networks. 66% of girls have a profile (compared with 50% of boys), and 34% of those girls (versus 20% of boys) keep an online journal or blog. A lot of teens also review books on their blogs. I follow a few, and they are amazingly knowledgeable about authors and books. Therefore, I say blogging is effective - if you do it well and often. Now are you blogging for the teen audience prior to being published? Probably not. In the beginning, your blog targets other writers, bloggers, editors and agents. But later, when you are published, that audience may change, and teens may follow. Just look at Meg Cabot's following! 5. What is the best advice you can give in regards to using social networking as a marketing tool? Do it! Online Social networking is to writers what the after hours parties and team events are to businesses. You have to network to get noticed. Your writing should always come first, but you need to get out there if you want to be out there. :) Shelli, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me. You've definitely given us all something to think about. Thanks for having me! Well, there you have it. Have a great weekend!