Please excuse any mess around here while blog is undergoing damage repair.

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!

53 comments:

strugglingwriter said...

A great interview. Good job Susan. You asked some good questions and she gave some good answers. Now I'm worried, though, that my blog is too boring.

Natalie said...

Thanks for the interview! I'm still working on networking since I got in on the blogging game so late. Shelli's advice was excellent.

Tess said...

A great interview, I love Shelli's blog and tips and interviews.

I'd like to know more about her novel on submission...that would be interesting...

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

Great interview!

Renee Pinner said...

Susan/Shelli, thanks for the interview. Excellent information.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great interview. Thanks for the insight Shelley and Susan.

Abby said...

Great info! Thanks for sharing!!

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for the great interview, Shelli, and thanks Susan, too. I always appreciate information about the submission process.

I know getting an agent is only the first step in the road to publication, and certainly not the last, but has any part of submitting to publishing houses surprised you?

L. T. Host said...

Great interview, Susan and Shelli. I'll be linking to this on my blog today :)

Susan R. Mills said...

I apologize for the formatting of this post. I've tried to fix it at least five times, but it won't work. I hope it hasn't been difficult for you to read.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

What a great interview! Thank you, Shelli and Susan! I'll go check out Shelli's web site!

BTW, Susan, I really like "Susan R. Mills". :)

Cindy said...

Thanks for the interview! Shelli's website is amazing and it has been so helpful to me.

MG Higgins said...

Great interview! Thanks to both of you. (Don't worry about the formatting, Susan. It's not distracting.)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Lots of affirmation here for networking. I am surprised that agents and editors have time to shop the net for new voices, but I think it's great that they do!!

Jill Kemerer said...

Love those pink boots! Yes!

Thanks for the terrific interview. It affirms my belief that writers should be working on promotion while working on getting published.

Have a great weekend!

staceyjwarner said...

This is excellent...I agree with her insight on feeling her blogging friends know her better than her real friends. I feel the same and I feel much more support for my writing from my blogging community!

MUCH LOVE and GREAT POST (as always)

Angie Muresan said...

That was a great interview Susan. Networking apparently isn't just a fun way to meet new like-minded people, it can also land an agent. Those are some comfy boots, aren't they?

Corey Schwartz said...

Great interview. I already follow Shelli, (on her blog and on Twitter.) Hope I'll get to hear her at a conference one day!

Amy Tate said...

Thank you for this Susan! I've been going back and forth with creating a website. This helped me make up my mind. What a great interview!

Melanie's Randomness said...

What a great honest and informative interview! I learned alot! Thank you Shelli & Susan!!

Tamika: said...

Susan & Shellie- Thank you for this wonderfully insightful post! As an unpublished and unagented writer this comes as music to my ears. I love blogging and I hope all my bloggie friends enjoy my site as much as I enjoy theirs.

It is a relief to know that agents and publishers look at our blogs, that this could potentially have a real effect on our writing journey.

Wonderful interview!

Blessings to you...

Erica said...

Great Interview! Very helpful and informative. Thanks to you Susan and to Shelli :)

Shelli said...

Tess - My first book out is a MG paranormal about a tween angel, Gabby, who is assigned to protect her school nemesis, Angela. Problem is Angela is now dating Gabby's lifetime crush. Determined to sabatage the budding relationship, Gabby sets off a series of events that and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.

Shelli said...

Tere - The surprise to me was how long it takes to edit with an agent. I got my agent in May and am just going out on submission. Also I did not relaize agents have to do the same process to editors that we do to agents. They have to query and wait for the manuscript to be requested!

Shelli said...

yes the books are comfy.

They are brown not pink but now I want pink ones. :)

I wear these all the time!

Stephanie Faris said...

My blog was on MySpace originally...I was in the top 10 blogs every day for two years. I had some teen readers but most teens read other teens' blogs. Most teen blogs that I stumbled on over there were very obviously written only for themselves and a few friends. I'm not sure how many teens are over here on Blogger...but most of the MySpace bloggers balked at the idea of coming here to read me. They wanted to stay there.

~Ellie Kings~ said...

This interview was so insightful! I'm a baby blogger and I don't think I have it quite right yet. But I'm getting there. From Susan's comments, my blog isn't so boring, so I'm going with her expertise. Hope you don't mind Susan, but I've taken you in as my blogger mentor. :) Any advice you or Shelli can give me on how to spice up my blog would be great. Going over to Shelli's blog now... he-he-he :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Susan and Shelli fantastic interview. I needed to hear some of this. You've made me aware of some things I'm doin' right. Gosh, who'da thunk it! :)

Susan those books are MG and here's his blog address. booksandboys.blogspot.com

Janna Qualman said...

Susan, that's great news about YA and blogging!

Great interview, and I very much appreciated Shelli's answers. Adorable cowgirl boots, by the way. ;)

Karen said...

Fabulous interview!

Anyone hoping to get published in this day and age cannot scoff at the importance of self-promotion and social networking!

Belle said...

What a great interview! I've always wondered whether editors and agents check out writers' blogs and things like Twitter and Facebook.

Girl Meets Gun said...

Wow that was good information! I always wondered if important people would ever read my blog. Makes me wonder if I really wanna talk about personal issues now!

It's amazing what social networking can do for someone's career and life. Hard to believe we ever did without it. I don't know what I would do nowadays if I didn't have it. :) Everyone is so great! And honest.

Thanks Susan!

Anissa said...

Great interview! I found my way over from Shelli's blog. Can I just say I'm enamored. Writing and shoes, my two favorite things. I'll be back often. :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hi, Susan! It's good to "see" you again!

Here are your five words (or phrases) in no particular order. Also, if these don't pertain to you, feel free to change it. I tried to be random, which is harder than I thought because I hoped each one would be applicable to you!

Retreat (a place, not verb)
First Job
Favorite Word
Caffeine Fix
Travel

Girl in My Own World said...

This was an excellent post! Thanks so much Susan and Shelli! I learned alot and have alot to think about in my future in terms of my blog! This was really awesome! I am so grateful to have read this! :o)

THANKS again!!!

Anissa said...

Susan,

What are the odds is right. Goodness! And reading back over some of your posts, I see other similarities. Like you, I am a houseplant murderer. Outdoor flowers thrive, houseplants die slow, miserable deaths.

I write YA too. So pretty much, hello twin!

Laura Martone said...

As everyone else here has said, this interview is a wonderful affirmation for what I already suspected - that promotion is important before, during, and after one's book is published. Thanks, Susan, for hosting such an inspiring interview and thanks, Shelli, for your willingness to share your expertise.

P.S. Although I miss your "Lazy Writer" handle, Susan, I like the sound of Susan R. Mills. Sounds like a nice, down-to-earth author. Me likey.

Heather Sunseri said...

Great interview. It seems we must put ourselves out there whether we like it or not. I'm okay with it.

Jody Hedlund said...

What great questions! I think it emphasizes again the importance of being genuine!

Patti said...

Great interview. I received the wonderful advice to start a blog last January and I've never regretted it. I've met some great people who are in the same position as me. I can't wait until we all succeed together.

Leah Rubin said...

I loved this for all the honest and practical advice it brought out! Thanks so much for doing this.

I have a problem with people telling me that they have tried to leave comments on my blog, or to "follow", but the info doesn't stick... Any thoughts on this?

Solvang Sherrie said...

Shelli is like the marketing goddess of the literary blogosphere :D

Great interview and great information as always!

Diane said...

Great interview! I liked the connection to bloging and networked blogs and how valuable they are. I may just get a facebook account yet! :O)

Nancy said...

Terrific information from Shelli. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kelly's Ideas said...

Very good interview and I appreciate the information!
Love,
Kelly
http://www.ivebecomemymother.com

WhisperingWriter said...

Fantastic interview!! Great information :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Wonderful interview - thank you!

(and did you prepare the cornbread with your chili? *smiling*)

Shelli said...

if you want tips on blogging - go to problogger.net or mashable.com. there are so many articles online of how to run great blogs!

#167 Dad said...

Thank you for posting this informative interview!

Strange Fiction said...

Great interview Susan and Shelli. Thanks for the info!

Lori said...

What a great interview. It's always nice to see my blogging craziness so well justified.

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for answering my questions, Shelli, and for the blogging tips. I'm always on the lookout!

And thanks again, Susan.

~Tere

Lily Robinson said...

Good interview and info.