How do you promote your book? Part 2 of an interview with non-fiction author, Julie Wise

Today, motivational coach Julie Wise explains how she’s been promoting her new book, Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease.

Motivational coach and mentor, Julie Wise

The effervescent Julie Wise

Julie, can you tell me why you created a blog as well as a website?
My website is designed to promote my coaching business. It does include a link to my book blog and a button for purchasing my book, but it also provides information on workshops I offer and other products I’ve created. I set up the blog to focus on the book. It’s much more than a blog; it has information on book reviews, events like my book signings, television and radio interviews, links to all the sites I ‘visited’ during my virtual book tour and so on. I post a new blog for that site every Monday and Thursday. I wanted a site that I could update regularly so I could keep people posted on the latest happenings with the book.

On television, your visual image is very important … Your message is almost secondary.

You’ve been travelling and appearing on talk shows on television and radio to promote your book. Did a publicist help you with this media coverage? Has it been a worthwhile experience?
My publicist set up the majority of the media appearances. She is based in the United States and has connections across the country so working with her was a very worthwhile experience. She was able to book a number of television interviews, advise me on what to wear, help me organise media releases and talking points for interviews. Some of the radio interviews I set up myself. The more exposure you have, the more you are seen as an expert in your field and the more likely people are to want your book.

Could you give readers any advice on media appearances?
Be well prepared! For television appearances, you generally have about 3 minutes for an interview (and that includes questions from the interviewer). So you need to know your material, focus on getting your main points across, and be animated at the same time. Being on television is quite a different experience from radio.

On television, your visual image is very important – what you wear (not busy or distracting colours or patterns), your hair and makeup, your mannerisms (how you sit, your gestures or facial expressions). Your message is almost secondary.

On the radio, all people hear is your voice and your message, so it’s important to speak calmly and not rush, focus on getting your points across, and sound friendly and happy.

Always think of the interviewer as your best friend, smile as you speak, and focus your attention directly at him or her (ignoring anything else that’s going on in the studio).

You recently completed a virtual book tour. Can you explain what this is and how you set up the interviews?
The virtual book tour was set up through my social media consultant. It’s a series of blog sites that feature either written interviews or guest blogs and book reviews.

On set dates, I went to specific blog sites, checked for comments under the blog interview or review of my book, and responded to the comments. It’s a way of doing a book “tour” without leaving home! And it provides an author with good internet exposure through the various blog sites.

Tell me about the Dream BIGGER Reinvention Challenge. Why did you decide on a contest?
When I first began working with my Dream BIGGER team (publicist, social media consultant and website designer), we discussed ways to promote the book on a large scale. One of the ideas was to create a 60-day online contest. The Dream BIGGER Reinvention Challenge was the result.

Over a period of 2 months, people could enter their dream and others could go to the pages and vote on the dreams that inspired them most. We wanted this to inspire the general public to dream bigger with their lives and consider new possibilities, especially during the challenges of recession.

It was a great success with nearly 900 visits and over 2700 page views from 20 different countries in just 60 days. The grand prize winner is currently receiving coaching, publicity and social media support on making her dream a reality.

I never could have envisioned all that’s occurred in the past year as a result of this book … So take a deep breath, and let the ride begin!

Which online communities could you recommend for writers to promote themselves and their books?
I’ve found that many of the social media sites are excellent sources for marketing and networking. LinkedIn has a Books and Writers Group, for example. I also use Twitter and Facebook for general marketing. Authorsden, Goodreads, Stumbleupon are a few that come to mind. BookCrossing is a wonderful way to send your book out into the world and watch as it travels. Amazon has a new page for authors to promote themselves, plus you can create a list that includes your book through Listmania. It’s also very beneficial to ask reviewers to post their reviews on Amazon.

Did you develop special workshops to introduce people to you and your book?
Yes, and that’s part of the focus for the coming year – giving workshops, talks, developing a teleseminar and podcasts … There are always more ways to generate interest and create a greater following.

Is there anything you would do differently with your next book in terms of promotions?
I think I’d recognise that it’s a more involved and intense process than I’d originally hoped! I’d try to be more relaxed and accepting of the time involved and take more time to truly appreciate and celebrate each milestone rather than be focused on what remains to be done.

I would definitely hire a support team again. It’s more effective and efficient (and sane!) than trying to do it alone. The great advantage to a second book is that you can build on the connections you’ve already made the first time around.

Would you say you’ve made a conscious effort to develop your brand? Or is this something that’s evolved?
I tried to develop it consciously, but I think it’s been evolving as well. It’s important to be open to the way you, your book, and your life are shifting and changing and work with the flow rather than against it.

What next? Do you have plans for other writing projects?
I did start back into writing the book on Ireland that I was working on when Dream BIGGER came along. But a few weeks ago, I became bored with that story, so it’s on hold for now. I think my focus for the next six months is on developing some other products. I believe there is another book gestating at the moment, but it hasn’t revealed itself to me yet.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you started your publishing project, what advice would you give yourself?
Dream bigger, Julie! You see, I had a different ‘plan’ for my life and my writing, and what happened with this book is a perfect example of what the book is all about. I never could have envisioned all that’s occurred in the past year as a result of this book. There’s often a bigger plan for our lives than we can possibly imagine. So take a deep breath, and let the ride begin!

Where can people buy the book?
Dream BIGGER is available online through Amazon. In the United States, it’s also available online through Borders and Barnes and Noble. In Canada, online through Chapters.

Julie, thank you for sharing your story!

About the book

When life’s challenges get you down, and you feel like giving up on your heartfelt desires, it’s not time to quit. It’s time to dream even bigger! Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease is filled with inspiring true stories, simple tools and exercises, and plenty of motivation. Learn how to re-chart your course and bring more joy and ease into your life as you pursue your dreams.

About Julie

Julie Wise is a motivational coach and mentor who helps people navigate change in their lives and achieve their dreams. She encourages people around the world to look beyond their current circumstances and envision a brighter future. Julie currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. When she’s not coaching clients, she can be found dancing flamenco or exploring a windswept beach somewhere …

Weblinks
Julie’s website:
http://www.juliewiseconsulting.com/

Julie’s blog:
http://www.wise1coaching.wordpress.com/

The ‘Dream BIGGER’ contest:
http://www.dreambiggercontest.com/

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Life as a writer: Part 2 of an interview with Amber Averay

In the second part of my interview with author Amber Averay, Amber talks about her writing life.

Amber, are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you organise your writing time?
Through necessity I’m definitely a part-time writer at this stage. I’d like to be able one day to be a professional full-time author, but right now it’s a case of writing when work and family commitments allow.

Someone described me as a … writer of fairy tales for adults …

Unfortunately I don’t have an organised diary when it comes to writing. When the mood takes me, I get on the computer or whip out paper and pen and begin. However I never try to force a chapter out. When I’m motivated I can write up to twenty pages a day; when I’m not, I find it hard to even scratch out a paragraph.

I have found, though, that if I’m enjoying what I’m working on I’m rarely lost for motivation!

How does your own background inform your writing?
I’ve grown up with books; my mother read to me almost from being a newborn, I’ve been told. As soon as I could read I was never without my nose in a book, mainly Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse, or E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. I have always loved fantasy, or the sweet and strange.

As a child,  my choice of television shows and movies included He-Man and She-Ra, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth and Krull, to name a few.

As a child when I would go out farming with my father, I would pretend that I was an explorer discovering new worlds and would race around, dodging monsters and flying beasts and chatting to new friends that were visible only to me.

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as an author? What is it that differentiates you from other authors?
Someone described me as a unique writer of fairy tales for adults, which I think is nice as it’s not something often heard today. And as for what it is that differentiates me, I am really not sure. Perhaps it is that I have only one novel published at this time, but I write to please myself and try not to use creatures or genres currently popular in the mainstream.

Are there any ‘how-to’ writing books, workshops or online communities that you could recommend to other writers?
Having never used a ‘how-to’ guide or attended a workshop of any kind, I am truly not qualified to suggest such things to other writers. I would recommend however that they join their local Writer’s Centre as they have invaluable information for budding authors.

Goodreads is a fantastic source of support and encouragement from people who have managed to get published and can give advice, or who are still struggling but can share their experiences.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
Be patient! I had been warned it would be a month before I heard back from the publisher (which turned out to be a short week) but it felt like forever.

The worry, the concern, the certainty that I would be knocked back made me irritable, and each morning when I checked my inbox I grew ever more sure that my manuscript would not be accepted.

Patience is not something I’m known for, and it is the one thing I would advise myself to have if it were possible for me to travel back to that moment. I’m sure such advice would have made life for my family so much easier!

Enchantment’s Deception — on the back cover

Sigrid is a young witchwoman of Zircondia, rebel and outcast. She ‘views’ the bloodthirsty alien wars blasting the skies of a neighbouring world, and her desire to learn the truth behind the beloved Tale of the Banished Trolls leaves her sister cold with terror.

Yet her actions reveal aliens and trolls’ stories to be incontrovertibly entwined, as is her own mother’s involvement in the wars of the former and the banishment of the latter …

About Amber Averay
I am the fifth child of six, and aunt to five nieces and one nephew. I have two great-nephews, and a forest of family rather than merely a tree.

From the age of two I would go out farming with my father, and thought I was the most important person in the world because of it. School readily knocked such ideas out of me, and I took to reading and writing to distract me from the misery that school places on most children.

After completing Year 12 I did work experience at the local Magistrate’s Court, had a twelve month Clerical Traineeship with the S.A. Government, worked for some years as a temp (where the jobs were varied and entirely dissimilar to each other), then began working for Angus and Robertson, where I remain today.

Writing has always been my passion, and since the publication of my debut novel my coworkers at the Munno Para store have been incredibly supportive and helpful. They recommend Deception to customers, have handed out fliers, bookmarks, posters, and are encouraging the other stores in the company chain to join them in promoting my book.

Between them and my amazingly generous and helpful family, I consider myself a very lucky woman.

Weblinks
You can buy Amber’s book from a few online bookstores:

Amazon

Booktopia

Strategic Marketing and Publishing

Angus and Robertson

Borders Australia

Enchantment’s Deception can also be ordered through Angus and Robertson stores.

How do you promote your book? Part 2 of an interview with Andee Jones

Andee Jones' book, Kissing Frogs

Andee's book, Kissing Frogs

Today, non-fiction author Andee Jones explains how she promotes her work. She also talks about life as a writer.

What’s happened in the past with publicity and promotions for your book? Have you had assistance from your publishers or have you organised everything?
I’ve done the lion’s share of publicity work. Publishers are up to their necks getting new books out, and they don’t have the time required to properly market a book by lesser known authors.

I’ve had the luxury of being able to spend eight months pitching for gigs, and it’s paid off — 25 to date.

Tell me about your online strategy. Why did you choose to do a blog on MySpace?
The MySpace page is essentially a free webpage to which I can refer media and other interested bods.

What’s worked well and what’s not worked with your book promotions?
What’s worked best for me is to list all possible gigs — radio and TV interviews, print media mentions and reviews, live talks, festival appearances and live readings.

I write a targeted letter to each media person, get their name right, thank them for their entertaining program, include a hook/idea that fits their program focus, and do a follow-up call after a week or so.

The scattergun approach of generic media release mail-outs resulted in fewer than 1 in 100 successes.

Do you plan on trying any other promotions?
I’ll try anything that’s promising. Unfortunately, like it or not, promoting one’s book is media-tart-land. I try to keep a watch on any media stuff that’s connected to the ideas in my book — tenuous or otherwise.

How do you structure the days that you write? Do you have any methods to keep you motivated?
As an older writer, I have the luxury of not having to do anything full-time, and I have no structure to speak of. Perhaps it’s an infantile reaction against my academic training.

I go by the principle ‘start and continue’. I start anywhere that has energy, and the writing grows organically. I keep soliciting reader feedback, just so I don’t go off into la-la land, as happened with my first book, which never was and never will be published.

If I’m stuck, I do something else for a while. For example, the book I’m currently writing is half-way there, but I needed a break. So I started thinking about cover designs, blurbs, etc. That interval has given me the motivation to press on.

How has your background shaped your writing?
For 50 years (school+ academia), it mostly got in the way. However, once I found my voice, my background has become the biggest shaping factor.

As a working class girl, I soaked up the double-whammy socio-political message that I had nothing worth saying. Now at least (as the saying goes) ‘I’ve got nothing to say, and I’m saying it!’

What is it that differentiates you from other writers? What is your ‘author brand’?
As a psychologist and writer, I like looking at things from both sides of the couch. This is my niche.

I’m also a seasoned client of therapy, and the book I’m working on now is called Barking Mad: Too much therapy is never enough. It’s a memoir about trying to get a grip, losing it, trying, losing … and so on throughout forty years of therapy, a dozen therapists, and a ton of trouble.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
Feel the fear and do it anyway, that is, before you send the m/s to publishers, ask a bunch of articulate readers what they think of it. Would they want to read it? If not, why not?

Nothing more useful than constructively critical feedback from people who know what they’re talking about … as long as you retain the casting vote.

Kissing Frogs — the back cover in brief

Kissing Frogs is a tragi-comic memoir of four years of dating and relating by a psychologist who at fifty-something went looking for love.

AMI4U? Contemplating internet dating? Fantasising about what you’d find? Fretting about kissing frogs?

Entertaining and earthy, Kissing Frogs brings a light touch to some pressing questions about love.

What the critics say about Kissing Frogs

AMUSING, WRY, BEAUTIFULLY written, and thoroughly engaging from the get-go, Kissing Frogs is frank, disarming and heartfelt, dizzying at times, with elements of a good thriller … Oh and a lot of fun — Psychotherapy in Australia, May 2010

A GREAT READ — lively combination of entertaining descriptions and thoughtful insights ― Social Commentator, Hugh Mackay

FASCINATING, AWESOMELY HONEST account ― Richard Stubbs, ABC Radio 774

I LOVE IT! intensely personal style, dry and self deprecatory, earthy and immediate, very beguiling ― Psychiatrist & bestselling author, Julian Short

Andee’s bio
Andee Jones is a Melbourne-based psychologist, author and former academic. Kissing Frogs is her first memoir.

AFI-award winner Annie Byron’s one-woman show based on the book will premiere in 2011. Andee is currently working on a second memoir, Barking Mad: Too much therapy is never enough.

Weblinks:
Click here to visit Andee’s blog.

Kissing Frogs on the Finch Publishing catalogue.

About Finch Publishing.

How do you promote your work? Part 2 of an interview with rhyming poet, Jackie Hosking

Today, I talk to poet Jackie Hosking about the ways she promotes herself and her work.

Poet, Jackie Hosking

Rhyming poet & Pass It On editor, Jackie Hosking

Jackie, do you have an agent?

No I don’t have an agent but then again I haven’t really looked for one. I actually enjoy the submission process, though I imagine that an agent would be extremely useful if you found yourself strapped for time. As I tend to write short and sweet, my time is not as scarce as it might be for others.

Have you spoken on radio?

Yes I have – I did an interview with Elaine Harris (ABC Tasmania) a few years ago and a local Melbourne radio station.

Have you performed your poetry in public?

I’ve done a few public readings of my poetry and as far as I’m aware, they went pretty well. I get very nervous at the prospect of reading my work aloud in public but once I get started you can’t stop me.

Have you spoken to school groups?

I have spoken at small local primary schools, usually because I’ve been invited – I don’t tend to seek out this type of work but am happy to do it if asked. My talks so far have been about the art of rhyme and rhythm where we use a rhyming dictionary. I’ve also taught children how to write limericks.

My poetry has been described as old fashioned but not outdated – I like that description.

Do you market yourself to teachers, librarians or any other groups?

This is my next big challenge. I’ve not taken this road yet I think because my internal editor is being too strict. I’ve started to look at designing some workshops but the perfectionist in me is being very restrictive. I need to put it in a box and leave it outside for a while.

Tell me about your online strategy. How did you decide what components to use?

I used to have a website though GeoCities but they closed down this year so now I use a WordPress blog. For me it’s all about networking, getting your name out there and connecting with like minded people. I think of the ones you’ve mentioned above, I use Facebook the most. I only really tweet once a week to let people know that I’m editing the next issue of PIO. Facebook is a bit more casual and very friendly. It is full of useful information and allows you to befriend people in the industry that you may not be able to otherwise. Like all online sites though you have to be careful what you choose to share – once you’ve hit the send button it’s out there for a long time.

These things can also be big time thieves if you’re not disciplined – I like to have them buzzing in the background as I work because being a writer can be a very lonely profession and they remind you that you’re not the only one staring at a computer screen.

I use the internet to promote the newsletter, to ask for news, to find things of interest, to search for artists to profile, to research – the list goes on and on.

Do you target different audiences with each of the online channels?

No not really. The children’s writing/illustrating industry is mostly where I spend my time and my blogs reflect this. The wordpress blog gives information about PASS IT ON, my writing and my rhyming manuscript editing service. The versatility blog gives examples of my poetry and the CBI blog showcases children’s illustrators. Facebook covers everyone, while Linkedin acts as more of an online CV.

What method have you found to be most effective in promoting yourself as a writer?

Well I guess having a list of publications is helpful – I have a page on my blog that shows where I have been published and the type of writing that I write for both children and adults. When I get an acceptance I like to share it with my colleagues – it’s always nice to have your work validated. And like I said earlier, if I’m asked to give a talk or something similar, I usually do.

I get very nervous at the prospect of reading my work aloud in public but once I get started you can’t stop me.

Are you a full-time writer? How do you structure the days that you write?

I think most writers are full time, in that they are constantly thinking of things to write about. My days however are pretty unstructured except when I’m editing the newsletter. Entering competitions is a good way to keep me writing or editing things I have already written. I definitely have a one track mind – if I have to do the accounts for hubby’s business then I can’t work on my writing. I’m very black and white – all or nothing.

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as a writer?

I am a rhyming poet. My poetry has been described as old fashioned but not outdated – I like that description.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Knowledge is power. This advice will save you lots of time and money. Be sure that you send your work to the right people. Be informed.

Thank you, Jackie!

Bio

Jackie has been writing for children for about 5 years. She likes to write in rhyme and runs a manuscript editing service where she helps others to  write in rhyme. She is also the editor/publisher of PASS IT ON, a networking newsletter for anyone interested or involved with the children’s writing/illustrating industry. PASS IT ON has been in circulation for over 6 years.

Links

For information about Pass It On and Jackie’s Rhyming Manuscript Editing Service, click here.

VersaTility – Rhyme & Rhythm: Jackie’s blog about poetry for children (including samples of Jackie’s work).

Children’s Book Illustrators – A Showcase. This blog showcases the work of children’s illustrators who have appeared in Pass It On.

This weekend, I’ll be posting a list of resources for beginning writers. The list was compiled by Jackie with the assistance of Pass It On subscribers.

How do you promote your books? Pt 3 of an interview with YA & children’s author, George Ivanoff

Yesterday, I dropped by at George’s book signing in Ringwood. It was lovely to meet him, and sales were going well. George had a great display of posters with the Gamers’ Quest cover, a laptop showing the book trailer, and some freebies: bookmarks and stickers.

Today, in part 3 of my interview with George, I ask him more about his book promotion plans, especially his online strategy. George also talks about his life as a writer.

Cover for Gamers' Quest

The cover for George's new book

Will you sell or promote your book outside of bookstores?

I’m happy to promote where ever I can. I’ve done talks and signings at science fiction conventions and at the Melbourne Science Fiction Club. Recently I did a reading as part of the children’s program at the Bright ‘n’ Sandy Food and Wine Festival. So if there’s anyone out there reading this, who would like to book me for a festival or school or library or whatever… drop me an email!

Are there plans to sell your books overseas?

My publisher has the book with an overseas rights agent. So it’s a matter of wait and see. If there are any o/s publishers reading this who would like to bid huge sums of money for the right to publish Gamers’ Quest in their country, please contact Ford Street. 

How did you decide on the elements of your online strategy?

It was a matter of doing whatever I could do myself and whatever I could get other people to do for free. Back when I had a real job, I used to work in web development, so I was able to put the website together myself. Unfortunately my skills in that area are sadly out-of-date — so the website is put together in rather old-fashioned way. But it works!

The Gamers’ Quest theme music was composed and performed by my brother-in-law Marc Valko, member of the Melbourne band Thrashing Zombies.

I was going to do the book trailer myself, using my very limited knowledge of the web animation program Flash. My first attempt was pretty crappy. Then my friend, H Gibbens, stepped in and saved the day. He’s a CG animator…  click here to check out his website.

I wanted a book trailer because I wanted to pursue as many promotional avenues as possible. And I like watching book trailers… so I assumed there must be other potential readers out there who also like watching book trailers.

The book trailer was entirely conceived and made by H Gibbens. He read the book, then came up with a script and story board. I was happy to leave it in his hands. He thinks in a very visual way and I trusted his judgment.

How did you decide what content to put on your website?

I just asked myself what sort of info I’d want from a website about a book I was interested in… and that’s what I put up. Then my publisher suggested I should include some short stories. That was a great idea. I loved the opportunity to revisit some of the characters from the novel.

The website is mostly aimed at potential readers — kids and teens — hence the colour and movement and sound. Time was pressing, so I didn’t end up doing any research other than testing the site out on some kids I knew and then modifying it accordingly.

How are you integrating your online promotions with your ‘real world’ promotions?

All the bookmarks include the website address. Every time I do an interview or write a guest blog, I mention the website. And on the website, I announcement any upcoming events and signings, as well as quoting a whole bunch of reviews.

Do you market yourself to teachers, librarians or any other groups?

Not as much as I should be. It all comes down to a matter of time. I’m trying to promote while also writing and taking care of my two kids (I’m a stay-at-home-Dad). But I do send out promotional material to schools, especially those in an area I’m about to do a signing in. And my publisher has sent out a huge amount of material to libraries all over the country.

Did you write the teachers’ notes for Gamers’ Quest?

Yes. I’ve done quite a few writing workshops in schools, which has given me a bit of an insight into the way a book can be used in classroom discussions. I applied this when writing the notes.

Are you a full-time writer? How do you structure the days that you write? 

I’m a stay-at-home-Dad, so I write around the schedules of my children. My eldest daughter is at school, but my youngest is still at home. So, apart from the one day a week she goes to childcare, when I have the whole day to write, I write during her nap times, in the evenings and on weekends. Sleep? Who needs sleep?

How does your background inform your writing?

In every way possible! How can you write and not be informed by your background. My opinions creep through, even when writing fiction. My likes. My dislikes. Certain characters are inspired by people I’ve met and certain plotlines are inspired by events from my own life. My very first book, a collection of short stories about high school, Life, Death and Detention, was heavily inspired by my school experiences.

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as an author? What is it that differentiates you from other authors?

I’m not sure I have a ‘brand’ as such. Writing for the education market means that I write a huge variety of stuff in differing styles. With my trade writing, I hope what manages to come through is a certain off-beat sense of humour… particularly in terms of character. Edgar the dragon, for example, from Gamers’ Quest. He’s old, grumpy and sarcastic, and married to an enormous, human-looking woman named Vera, who has a liking for interior decorating and floral patterns.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Two main bits of advice:

1. Be prepared for rejection! There will be a lot of it.

2. When you do finally get a book published, be prepared to promote it. When my first book was published I naively thought that was it — I went back to my computer and went on with my writing. Meanwhile, the book went on to get a couple of good reviews but languish, unread, on bookshop shelves. I stupidly though the publisher would do all the promotion. Experience has taught me that I need to get out there and promote. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing with Gamers’ Quest.

George Ivanoff, thank you!

George’s bio

George Ivanoff is an author and stay-at-home Dad residing in Melbourne. He has written over 40 books for children and teenagers. His latest novel, Gamers’ Quest, is currently in bookstores. Two of his books (Life, Death and Detention and Real Sci-Fi) have been on the booklist for the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge since its inception in 2005.

George has also had stories published in numerous magazines and anthologies, most recently in Short and Scary and Belong. Check out George’s website at: www.georgeivanoff.com.au

How did you get published? Pt 2 of an interview with children’s author, Fiona Trembath

This is part 2 of an interview with Australian children’s author,  Fiona Trembath. See my previous post for part 1.

Fiona Trembath's book, 'Crackpot'

Fiona's first book, 'Crackpot'

Fiona, how did you manage to get media coverage for your book? 

Yes. I employed a publicist (Alan Davidson), and he was able to get me a lot of media coverage. I’ve been on ABC Radio National, ABC Launceston, Hobart, WA, Newcastle, and Melbourne (Richard Stubbs’ program), plus a few local and community radio stations. I also appeared on Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s show and had a feature article about me in the Herald-Sun newspaper.

I employed a publicist because I hate ringing and asking things like ‘Can I please be on your program?’ Or ‘You simply MUST publish my book, because…’  etc.  That sort of thing. Part of me says ‘Why would anyone be interested in you?’ 

And yes, it’s been very worthwhile having a publicist – I can’t sing Alan’s praises highly enough. I’m now a regular guest on ABC Radio’s ‘Overnights’ program, thanks to him.  

Did you do anything to build your profile as a writer prior to getting published?

I did a lot of ground-work before I officially ‘launched’ my book to the media, like getting snappy business cards printed, and having a website professionally designed, as well as a few profile photos. (I treat the business of writing as a business.)

Will you sell or promote your book through any non-mainstream outlets?

Whoever wants it, can have it!  Whenever I visit a rural town, I always drop in to the local bookstore, introduce myself and leave a copy of my book and business card.  You never know your luck in a small city…

Do you or publisher have any plans to sell your books overseas. If so, how?

Not yet. However, I did have some representation at the Bologna Book Fair recently. I live in hope. 

How did you decide what content to put on your website?

Good question. I wanted the website to be a reflection of both me and may book, so it took quite a few drafts from the designer before I felt they nailed it.  Then I started writing.  I also had some one-on-one lessons with the designers so I could upload and manage my own content.  

With the website, I wanted to appeal to both young readers and the buyers of my book, which is kind of a ‘ nine-to-ninety’ demographic.

Apart from your website, do you have a strategy for promoting the book online? Will you do a blog specifically for the book?

Yes, I have a few other blogs, but nothing specifically to do with children’s writing.  I’m so strapped for time in writing adjunct material for my book to go into primary schools, as well as the day-to-day chaos of my life, that I barely have time to eat, let alone construct another blog and add to it religiously. I think I’m a bit of an Annie Proulx – she didn’t start ‘seriously writing’ until her kids left home.  My youngest three children are 15, so I’ve got a few years left before I reach and maintain my maximum writerly output! 

How do you promote yourself to schools? What do you offer?

This year’s plan is to visit to schools in rural Victoria. I’m hoping to offer something different to primary schools in two ways: 1)  exploring ‘positive’ character traits in Crackpot, and teaching  teachers and students how to identify and expand their own strengths, and 2) as a past children’s performer, I’ll then get the children working on their own performance  … And I’m going to do this the old fashioned way: snail mail!

Did you write the teachers’ guide for your book?

I wrote it, but also had a student teacher, Nevenka Elvin,  study my book and write a research assignment on it, which gave me some great ideas. I also enlisted a colleague and Primary School teacher, Carole Poustie, for tips and guidance. 

You are appearing at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne. What are you planning to do for your ‘15 minutes of fame’? 

I’ll probably burst a few bubbles when I talk about the 10 year journey it’s taken for my 22,000 word junior fiction novel to be published… But I also want to talk about the up-side, and the sense of achievement and fulfillment I’ve received at the end – and a lot of the time during – the past ten years. 

How does your background inform your writing?

We can’t but help put a little bit (or a lot, in some cases) of who we are into what we write. My background is comedy coupled with chaos: nine children (six of them stepchildren), two businesses, a large house on five acres… I’ve had some pretty tough times in my life, as well as some pretty damn fine ones as well; there are many times I laughed when I should have cried, and vice versa. I suppose this makes ‘Crackpot’ a fitting title for my book! I also have very vivid memories of my time as a young child in Central Victoria, in a place called Dingee, and given Crackpot is set in a fictitious rural town, that part of my background, you could say, has also greatly informed my writing. 

You were a teacher at Box Hill TAFE. Did this influence you as a writer? 

I was a teacher for ten years at Box Hill TAFE – teaching Editing and Writing for Children – up until 2009, when I decided to pull back and devote more time to my own writing. So I’m now unofficially ‘retired’ from teaching. However, I absolutely loved teaching with a passion. My students over the years taught me a lot; I loved their enthusiasm, their envelope-pushing, their passion for writing and reading, as well as their openness and vulnerability. I think teaching influenced me as a story-teller: a good teacher needs to hold the attention of their audience (students), no matter what the subject matter. Humour helps, too, as does compassion.  These two qualities – I just realised! – are the two of the main themes within Crackpot.

Are you a full-time writer? How do you structure the days that you write? 

I’d like to say I’m a full-time writer, but I’m also a mother, an editor, a ghost writer, a company director and a manager. That’s a lot of eggs. I also need absolute quiet and non-interruption when I write, which is hard to find, and a big ask. So to get big chunks of writing done I often escape to our B & B in Hepburn Springs, where I go into serious lock-down writing mode.  (It’s bliss.)

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as an author? What is it that differentiates you from other authors?

I have absolutely no idea! I do know I absolutely love being up front, entertaining audiences (especially children) and talking about my passions (positive education and parenting). I also love to have a good laugh.  I’m not sure if that differentiates me from other authors or not. 

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Judith Rodriguez was right: ‘It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, Fiona.’  In other words, don’t celebrate until it’s signed, sealed and delivered. 

Fiona Trembath, thank you.

No no no! Thank YOU!

Fiona’s novel Crackpot is the first of three books. She is currently working on the second and third books in the series: Dingbat and Nutcase.  She is also writing a memoir, which she started in 1994. 

You can hear Fiona speak at the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne on the 26th of May at 6.45pm.

Click here to visit Fiona’s website.

For tomorrow, I’ve got a special mystery guest blogger. She’s a well-known Australian author, and has generously agreed to share her hints for promoting yourself as an emerging writer.

How did you get published? Pt 2 of an interview with Australian children’s author, Marianne Musgrove

This is part 2 of an interview with Adelaide-based author, Marianne Musgrove. Marianne’s work is published with Random House Australia.

Marianne, does your background as a hospital social worker and social policy writer inform your writing?

Most definitely. I’m interested in issues that affect children and these were brought to my attention in my work as a social worker. That said, for me, the story is paramount. I set out to tell a good story and if children learn something along the way, all the better, but it’s not my primary goal. Kids can always tell when an adult is preaching at them.

Marianne's latest book

My background has certainly informed the kind of stories I write, whether it’s coping with worries in “The Worry Tree” or dealing with a grandfather with dementia in “Don’t Breathe a Word”.

Was it your idea or your publisher’s to submit The Worry Tree for the Family Therapists Award?

Generally speaking, the publisher is the one who submits books for awards although some awards allow the author to submit their work too.

Tell me about how The Worry Tree came to be translated into German and Bahasa.

Every year, there are several bookfairs around the world, eg, in Bologna, Frankfurt and Taipei. Publishers and agents go along to try and get each other to buy the rights to their titles. In this way, my other books were signed and will also be translated into Hebrew, Italian, Korean and Chinese.

I notice Henry Holt (an imprint of US Macmillan) are publishing The Worry Tree and Lucy the Good. How did that come about? 

Random House Australia has an agent who operates in the US (sounds like a spy operation!). She pitched “The Worry Tree” to Henry Holt who signed it and printed an Americanised edition, only making minor changes, eg, ‘favourite’ became ‘favorite’. As for “Lucy the Good”, Holt wanted to make some changes to the plot so I rewrote it for the American market, a very common practice.

Did you set up your website or did your publisher help you with this?

I paid someone to do it. (I’m a bit of a Luddite, I’m afraid!) I had to negotiate with my publisher to use the text (you can download the first chapter of all my books) and graphics as I do not own the copyright to these.

How did you decide what content to put on your website?

I looked up many children’s authors’ websites and wrote a list of what I liked best. Then I looked at my budget and scaled back my grand plans. (Alas, the interactive worry tree will have to wait …) My main specifications were that it had to be funny, entertaining, useful and hopefully encourage people to keep buying my books.

Who is the main audience for your website?

Children, teachers, parents/guardians and aspiring children’s authors.

Did you have input into the teachers’ notes for Don’t Breathe a Word?

I didn’t write the first draft but I did have input after that. The notes were written specifically for a company called Australian Standing Orders aka ASO (a division of Scholastic Australia). At the time, I hadn’t heard of Australian Standing Orders so when I was told ASO were buying my book, I couldn’t understand why the Australian Symphony Orchestra would want so many copies!

Have you spoken to children in schools?

I’ve conducted a few school visits (mostly in Adelaide), generally for Years 3-5. I try to keep things interactive as there’s nothing worse than a grown-up standing up the front droning on for forty minutes. Amongst other things, we make a living Worry Tree and I teach everyone “The Irritating Song” which goes down well with the kids, though less so with the teachers 😉

I also promote my books at festivals and fairs.

Do you market yourself to teachers and librarians? If so, how?

My website and word of mouth. I’m fairly busy writing but if a local school contacts me, I generally accept as I really enjoy the contact with the students.

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as an author? What is it that differentiates you from other children’s book authors?

In a nutshell, I write funny books that help children. It’s strange to think of a person being a brand but, in this day and age, it’s how things are marketed. When I set up my website, I thought about calling it http://www.worrytree.com.au but was advised against this as my ‘brand’ is my name, not the title of my first book. As I was going to write more books, I went with http://www.mariannemusgrove.com.au instead.

I do write under a pen name. (I chose ‘Musgrove’ from the novel Persuasion.) I didn’t want my real name to become a brand.

Have you given up your ‘day job’ to write full-time?

I do write full time.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Get a manuscript assessment done first before sending it off to a publisher. Also, I’d tell myself to be patient.

Marianne, thank you.

Biography

Marianne Musgrove wrote her first full-length novel at the age of eleven: a romantic thriller featuring her unfortunate classmates. Although the unpublished manuscript met with only localised acclaim, she never gave up her dream of becoming an author. Marianne’s first children’s novel, THE WORRY TREE, is the winner of the Australian Family Therapists Award for Children’s Literature 2008 and has been shortlisted for three other awards. Her latest novel, DON’T BREATHE A WORD, is a 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia notable book. She is also the author of LUCY THE GOOD and the soon-to-be-released LUCY THE LIE DETECTOR.

Click here for Marianne’s website.