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Whether you are trying to get an agent, a publisher or an article published, the key to a successful writing career is writing to sell. You want to sell your novel, memoir or article and you don’t have a lot of space or time in which to do that. You have to grab your readers from the opening page, even still, the opening paragraph. This same practice holds true when pitching yourself to media outlets. You want as much exposure as you can get, thereby guaranteeing that your media presence is significant and consistent enough to warrant attention from book buyers. When publicizing your book you need to think outside of the book review pages and see if you can generate interest in areas that either pertain to your background, the subject matter of your book, or both. When doing this you need to sell yourself and your idea to editors and producers in the shortest amount of time. You need to hook on to something relevant in the current news media cycle and explain why you would make the perfect expert to weigh in on that particular topic. Here are some tips for generating a strong approach when contacting media.
Know your facts. Start your research early and be consistent. Look for key facts that relate to the subject you are pitching. Editors and producers want to know about recent studies. If you have written a novel that deals with eating disorders, they don’t want to know about your character’s journey (yet), they want to know that 1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder (according to the National Institute of Mental Health).
The more the merrier. Give editors and producers plenty of material to work with. The more ideas you can generate, the easier their job is to assign a story or pursue a lead. Each idea should be topical, interesting and current. Stay on top of the news and keep those ideas coming.
Have an opinion. Be vocal about issues that relate to your story. Whether or not your opinion is the popular one, it will get people talking. Speak out and speak often. Raise questions, interact with your readers and bring these ideas into the public forum.
Find trends. Don’t panic if you see that another author has written a book with similar themes. Use this as a sign that society is gravitating towards the subject matter you have already explored. Join together and pitch trend pieces to magazines and newspapers. There is a reason that your story is playing out in different venues, there is a social outcry for it and you and your fellow authors are there to fill that need.
Think like a journalist. You want your story to sell so make sure it’s timely and appropriate. Know the outlets you are pitching. Whether they are print, radio, television or online, familiarize yourself with their content and do a little research to locate the correct editor.
Rick Moody addresses an interesting topic on Big Think with a very compelling (and some may say controversial) argument. He states that the “superficial, not revised, carelessness” about writing straight on the screen without significant editing makes blogging a detriment to a literary writer’s work. He believes that the writers who are pressured in the direction of publishing online are not able to put out the quality work that comes from “patient revision.” I am paraphrasing a bit what Moody describes as the abbreviated attention spans that online content tends to generate, but his point is an interesting one.
To quote from Moody’s latest release, THE FOUR FINGERS OF DEATH, his character, Montese Crandell, is conducting an author signing at an “old-fashioned used-media outlet” because of the advice of his wife “who’d spend her remaining time on earth counseling me on just how to boost my product.” There is something very accurate of the advice given to Crandell by his wife, because when it comes to publicizing your work, it is no longer about the art and craft that went into writing the book, it is about selling a product. Moody is right in saying that the internet and all of the available stories, videos and news items have led to “abbreviated attention spans” and authors are fighting for the attention of the elusive reader (and book buyer) so that they can continue the art and craft of writing a book, and get paid well for it. This is why we, as publicists, say that you really do have to wear two hats (the artist’s hat and the business hat) when it comes to being a writer. But should author’s blog?
I have spoken with author’s who feel that by blogging they are giving away their work for free. But at the same time, without giving potential readers something to grab hold of and get interested in, they may never discover you in the first place. It is imperative that as an author, you maximize your exposure and pull readers in. Blogs have proven to be an excellent way to gain attention and interact with readers. This is not to say that you shouldn’t edit what you put out there, because just as easily as your work can turn a reader on, if done haphazardly and without thought, it can turn your reader off and therefore defeat the purpose entirely.
Jonathan Franzen echoes this argument in the much publicized TIME Magazine article.
Reading in its quietness and sustained concentration is the opposite of busyness. ‘We are so distracted and engulfed by the technologies we’ve created, and by the constant barrage of so-called information that comes our way, that more than ever to immerse yourself in an involving book seems socially useful,’ Franzen says. ‘The place of stillness that you have to go to write, but also to read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world.’
So the moral of the story, and the advice we give to authors, is BLOG…but blog responsibly and edit, edit, edit.
It has been 12 years but Dennis Lehane is returning to his most popular characters for his new novel, Moonlight Mile, which is going to be released on November 2nd.
Itâ€™s a sequel to Gone Baby, Gone and it takes place in 1997, where the once missing Amanda McCready is now sixteen and a straight A student, who wants to leave her irresponsible mother and Dorchester neighborhood, but then she goes missing againâ€¦
Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston suburb in 1997. Desperate pleas for help from the childâ€™s aunt led savvy, tough-nosed investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girlâ€”only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.
Now Amanda is 16â€”and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amandaâ€™s aunt is once more knocking at Patrick Kenzieâ€™s door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking,Â bright young woman who hasnâ€™t been seen in two weeks.
Haunted by the past, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most, following a 12-year trail of secrets and lies down the darkest alleys of Bostonâ€™s gritty, blue-collar streets. Assuring themselves that this time will be different, they vow to make good on their promise to find Amanda and see that she is safe. But their determination to do the right thing holds dark implications Kenzie and Gennaro arenâ€™t prepared for . . . consequences that could cost them not only Amandaâ€™s life, but their own.
Is there such a thing as too many bookstores? Apparently, for the residents of Westhampton Beach, NY, the answer is yes. TodayÂ The New York Times profiles the battle between two independent bookstores and the animosity that is running rampant in this small town. This all comes on the heels of a recent New York Magazine article about the rise of the independent bookstore. According to the NYTimes article, Books & Books opened its doors in July and have received a less than stellar welcoming (reportedly older women have marched into the store to yell at employees and they have even faced vandalism). Â The problem is, Books & Books is around the corner from The Open Book and is taking away business. But isn’t the beauty of independent bookstores that no two look or feel the same? Every independent bookstore has its’ own character and charm with varying approaches to reaching out to readers. Independent bookstores provide people with a sense of community, access to book clubs, author signings, and frequent staff picks. With so many people up in arms over the rise of the big box bookstore and the Amazon epidemic not to mention the strain that e-book devices are putting on printed matter, can we really start complaining about too many independent bookstores? Do we want to dissuade independent’s from opening their doors?
According to Pimp My Novel, e-books may take the place of the mass market title. As Eric explains, mass market books sell because they are cheap and portable…the very reason e-books are becoming popular. And with the prices steadily declining on e-books as the number of available titles increase, the e-book could turn the mass market paperback into a relic from the past.
According to MediaBistroâ€™sÂ GalleyCat,Â Jonathan Franzen has become the first living novelist to grace the cover ofÂ Time magazine in ten years. NovelistÂ Stephen Kingwas the last writer to hold to coveted spot, back in 2000.
Hereâ€™sÂ an excerpt: â€śFranzen is a member of another perennially threatened species, the American literary novelist. But heâ€™s not as cool about it as the otters. Heâ€™s uneasy. Heâ€™s a physically solid guy, 6 ft. 2 in., with significant shoulders, but his posture is not so much hunched as flinched. At 50 (he turns 51 on Aug. 17), Franzen is pleasantly boyish-looking, with permanently tousled hair.â€ť
A complete list of all the authors that starred in Time cover stories follows below. The online edition ofÂ Lev Grossmanâ€™s cover story about Franzen is abridged. The online article explains: â€śThis is an abridged version of an article that appears in the August 23, 2010, print and iPad editions of TIME magazine.â€ť
Here is a list of authorâ€™s who have graced the TIME magazine cover.
Virginia Woolf (1937)
William Faulkner (1939)
Robert Frost (1950)
James Baldwin (1963)
John Updike (1968)
Norman Mailer (1973)
Alexander Solzhentisyn (1974)
John Le Carre (1977)
Michael Crighton (1995)
Toni Morrison (1998)
Stephen King (2000)
Jonathan Franzen (2010)
At Kelley & Hall we have been actively reaching out to bloggers over the past few years. Once again, we want to make it even easier for bloggers to get involved. Let us know if you are interested in hosting any of our authors on your blog and we will gladly send you a copy of their book, information on the author and a detailed media questionnaire to use on your site. We can also arrange to have you interview the author directly. Â In some cases, we can send you multiple copies for giveaways or help arrange special contests.
If you are interested in reviewing one of our authors books on your site or would like to be part of a virtual book tour, please drop us a note at jocelyn (at) kelleyandhall (dot) com.
Fascinating article by Jeffrey Trachtenberg in today’s Wall Street Journal on the changing face of publishing and one Cinderella story.
Writer Karen McQuestion spent nearly a decade trying without success to persuade a New York publisher to print one of her books. In July, the 49-year-old mother of three decided to publish it herself, online. Eleven months later, Ms. McQuestion has sold 36,000 e-books through Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle e-bookstore and has a film option with a Hollywood producer. In August, Amazon will publish a paperback version of her first novel, “A Scattered Life.”
…but you can’t make him drink. I was just reading agent and writer, Nathan Bransford’s blog, and he makes an interesting and often widely overlooked point. No one person, publisher, or business can turn any book into a blockbuster success. No one in this industry has the power to turn any book into a bestseller. Yes, publishing houses can make business deals with bookstores and have their “BIG” books placed in prime, front-of-store, realty. They can have cut-out, life size displays and ads in every paper and magazine from here to Timbuktu. But if the book doesn’t build the ever elusive “word of mouth” or “buzz” that we so frequently hear about, it is not going to move off those carefully picked shelves. And what builds that buzz? Strong, compelling, well-written work that connects with readers. Because guess what? Readers talk! As Bransford says, “Lots of books get marketing dollars. Not all books become TWILIGHT or THE DA VINCI CODE or THE HELP or HARRY POTTER.” What Bransford doesn’t mention in his piece is that sometimes great books don’t get any help out of the gate and the author has a long, hard road of spreading the word about a book they believe in. It took years before Jenna Blum’s THOSE WHO SAVE US to get the recognition it deserved. It wasn’t until it was out in paperback, years after its initial launch, that it made it onto The New York Times Bestseller List. This is why publicity is so important in the world of publishing. It can’t make a bad book a bestseller, but it can help an overlooked book rise up and shine.
In this week’s issue of Newsweek, the prolific author and Newsweek columnist, Anna Quindlen, weighs in on the future of reading. She makes one of the strongest, and most eloquent, points I have heard when debating the future of the hardbound book vs. electronic readers.
The invention of television led to predictions about the demise of radio. The making of movies was to be the death knell of live theater; recorded music, the end of concerts. All these forms still exist- sometimes overshadowed by their siblings but not smothered by them. And despite the direst predictions, reading continues to be part of the life of the mind, even as computers replace pencils, and books fly into handhelds as well as onto store shelves. Anton Chekhov, meet Steve Jobs.
Anna Quindlen’s sixth novel, Every Last One, will be released on April 13th in hardcover, digital and audio editions. Also, I read this article in the hard copy version of Newsweek when it landed on my desk this morning. Anna Quindlen’s article was referenced on the cover. Would I have discovered it in Newsweek’s online version? Who knows.
Social media and networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, etc., are excellent ways to build your network of readers, friends and fans. They provide a wide-reaching online community and allow you to disseminate information constantly. In a matter of moments you can alert thousands of people to the release of your novel, provide a link to an article you have written or ask a pressing question. These sites are important to building name recognition and increasing your exposure. The major flaw in this great design is that it can suck away your precious time and for writers, time is your greatest asset. With publishers wanting at least a book a year from their authors, it is imperative that you put all of your available time into your writing. Here are some tips to managing your activity on social networking sites.
1.) Organize. Set aside a specific time to check and update sites like Facebook and Twitter. Give yourself a half hour in the morning and a half hour at night. That way you can still interact with friends without becoming a slave to your status updates.
2.) Separate. Have a separate email address reserved specifically for social networking sites. We are emailed constantly throughout the day when friends contact us through Facebook. If someone comments on our status update, we get an email. If one of our friends updates their GoodReads page, we get an email. All of these emails can be enticing but also very distracting. You can also adjust your settings so that you don’t receive an email for every Facebook/Twitter/GoodReads message sent or comment posted.
3.) Balance. For every Facebook interaction you have over the course of the day, try to make a real connection outside of the social networking sites.
4.) Avoid Games. Admittedly, those Facebook games are fun and entertaining, but they can suck up your time faster than you can spell SCRABBLE.
5.) Be unavailable. Set your Facebook status to unavailable. If a friend wants to get in touch with you, let them email you. This will allow you to set aside the time to get in touch with your friend. If a friend sends you an instant message through Facebook, it is hard to tell them you’re busy when to them you appear to be “playing” on Facebook.
These new networking sites are providing us with an abundance of publicity opportunities, but there is always a down side. By managing your time appropriately you can take advantage of what these sites offer without giving up all of your available time and energy.
The writer Allison Winn Scotch recently posed the question What’s your opinion on book review blogs?Â Do you think people read them?Â Do you expect that they’ll become an influential force in the publishing world?Â Do you as an author consider them valuable?
It is an interesting and consistently asked question in today’s changing media. One of the reasons that the book sections of newspapers are shrinking is because in today’s social networking world people are more interested in a dialogue than a one-sided summary or narrative about a particular book. They want a more visceral, personal reaction with questions and an open forum for responses. People want to know how a particular book will impact their life, what questions it will pose and how others are reacting to it. I think book bloggers become, essentially, an extension of your “friends” and you want to know what they are reading, which authors are on their radar and what they like and dislike. Ultimately we all make our own decisions, but online blogs and book-related websites provide readers with an instant outlet to express their opinions and reactions to books that strike a chord.
While speaking last week at the Mystery Writers of America meeting, we were asked a very interesting and popular question. Do book trailers work? Are they worth the time and effort and do they result in more attention, increase in sales and brand recognition? Â I think if you are going to take the time and effort (and cost) to make a book trailer, you have to create something that people will talk about and pass along to friends and family. It has to deliver a message, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, romance or mystery, there has to be a driving force that makes people want to spend the 2 minutes or 7 minutes watching this video at their computer. Kelly Corrigan is a great example of an author who used the message behind her book to create a trailer that not only allows the viewer to get a quick glimpse of what is offered between the pages of her memoir, but also something that would strike a chord and leave a lasting impression. Below are two examples of Kelly’s book videos. One is a trailer and one is a recording of a speech she gave interspersed with images. Ask yourself, does this make me want to buy her book? If the answer is yes, as I’m sure it will be, then the trailer has done its job. A trailer of static images with text scrolling across may not be worth the time and money, but something that can create a viral buzz and have people talking is worth it.
Last night Kelley & Hall was invited to speak to a wonderful group of writers from the Mystery Writers of America’s New England chapter. This group of insightful Â and talented authors had great questions and an eager curiosity to learn as much as they could about the skills and tactics employed when trying to secure publicity. Many of the questions revolved around both an online presence and the social networking outlet of Facebook. The conversation flew by and at the end there were still so many things I wanted to say about the importance of promoting your work to the best of your ability. I would love to open up this blog as a forum for aspiring and published authors to ask questions. Let this blog be the “Dear Abby” of book publicity. Email me directly at jocelyn (at) kelleyandhall (dot) com and we can address your questions right here on this blog. With the constantly changing face of publishing and media and the new opportunities developing at every turn, now is the best time to fully understand how to take complete advantage of these opportunities and let them work for you.
According to The Huffington Post reports are coming out that Google and HTC have been working on a touch-screen tablet for over a year and a half. While word is scant, analysts believe the tablet could hit the market around the same time as the Apple tablet.
The iSlate (the reported name of the Apple Tablet) is said to be launching on January 26, 2010.
Nina Sankovitch, the woman behind Read All Day has some pertinent advice for all of us. READ MORE! It is a great resolution to add to your list or dare to have it be the only item on your list. Either way, it is a positive change we can all make in our daily lives. Sankovitch points out in her Huffington Post essay that if we spent less time on Facebook and Twitter, we could devote more time to reading.
“Reading is a vacation and an education,” says Sankovitch, and honestly, how many things can that be said about?
Harlequin, the romance publisher famous for starting the careers of such household names as Nora Roberts and Tess Gerritsen, has teamed up with Author Solutions to create a self-publishing imprint. Harlequin Horizons, the new author subsidized imprint is one of the first in what could be a trend of major publishing houses seeking alternative methods for turning a profit. These new imprints would offer print on demand printing, typesetting, jacket design and basic levels of editing for a fee.
While I’m sure there are many authors who will jump at the chance of having their books printed with an imprint that is closely related to a major publishing house, there are both advantages and disadvantages to going the self-publishing route. The success stories of self-published authors may push many aspiring novelists to take this route, however, it is a very difficult and time-consuming journey. It is a journey that needs to be planned out fully and properly executed in order to give yourself a chance at mainstream potential (hiring an editor for a thorough, complex editing of manuscript, a publicist to help in media placement and review coverage, and acquiring distribution).
We will have to wait and see if more publishing houses follow suit and what kind of attention this results in for the writers involved.
A few weeks back Arianna Huffington over at The Huffington Post announced the launch of their book club. Their first selection was IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore. I think the subtitle of this book really says it all and it is fascinating that this was selected to be the inaugural book club selection for a website.
They are having their first *live* discussion about the book today at 3pm (EST). Check it outhere.
When people think about publicity, they think about getting into the big publications and the major outlets; People Magazine, USAToday, The Today Show, Vogue, to name a few. What many authors don’t realize is that it is just as important, if not more, to build a strong online presence. This has lasting power. The more people start “buzzing” about you, your book and your expertise online, the more opportunities you are giving the “BIG” media to come and find you! ..Or at least have your publicist lead them to you.
For example, one of our authors, Megan Kelley Hall, has been traveling around (virtually, of course) to various blogs and websites talking about the role bullying has played in her YA novels, SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER. Both of her books are fiction, what is notoriously the hardest to promote because most news and entertainment outlets want a great non-fiction topic to build a show or article around. What we did with Hall was determine the best, most news-worthy angle that her stories provided. Because both of her books deal with the idea of mean girls, bullying and hazing (topics she researched painstakingly during the writing process) we used her expertise to build a “hook.” The result was that with every online outlet Hall wrote or was interviewed for, it always came back to bullying and the central theme of her novels.
When we were pitching Hall to the major outlets, one of my contacts over at Teen Vogue mentioned that she was working on a piece on bullying but that they typically didn’t cover fiction. Through our previous efforts with platform-building on websites and blogs, I was able to direct this editor to numerous sites where Hall has talked about the research behind the bullying aspect of her novels. Hall had set herself up as an expert and was therefore able to use the previously acquired online coverage to leverage a fantastic appearance in the cover story for the December/January issue of Teen Vogue.
Another example of how small things can lead to BIG exposure.
It has been quite a year in publishing! E-books seem to be the talk of the industry but we have yet to really see a tremendous change in the power struggle between the real and the virtual. As Don Draper in Mad Men said, “I have a lot bricks, but I can’t quite see a building yet.”
This year has seen the demise of some great magazines and newspapers and more and more attention is going to online ventures and blogs. Self-publishing is getting mainstream attention and publishing houses are seeing some major restructuring.
All in all it has been a year of change, growth and invention. We are looking forward to the new year with hope and anticipation for what’s to come!
We hope you will join us on this journey in 2010 through the ever-changing world of media, publishing and literature. There are some great new voices on our horizon and we are looking forward to bringing them into your world!
Happy Holidays from all of us Kelley & Hall and have a safe and happy New Year!
On December 26th, Amazon announced that, for the first time ever, they had sold Â more ebooks than physical books on Christmas Day. In an interview, Jeff Bezos was quoted as saying that he believes that the print book will eventually disappear.
Amazon also announced that the Kindle has become the most gifted item in Amazon’s history. What do you think? Do you think physical books will disappear?