Blogger of the Week:
I discovered YA author Lisa McMann when I began following her on Twitter. But when I read her author bio on Simon & Schuster's website and discovered we share a tremendous love for peanut butter (the world's awesomest food) that made me visit her website. And read her blog. And ask her to be my Blogger of the Week. Below she talks about her books and blogging.
For anyone not familiar with your work, tell us about it.
The Wake trilogy is paranormal YA from Simon Pulse. The first book, Wake, came out last year and it's about a 17-year-old girl named Janie who gets sucked into other people's dreams, and how Janie learns to deal with her emerging powers with a little help from a mysterious, geeky-hot guy named Cabel who has creepy nightmares. Book 2, Fade, comes out February 10, and it continues the story of Janie and Cabe in their second semester of senior year.
The third book, Gone, is scheduled for spring of 2010.
When and why did you start blogging? What did you hope to accomplish?
I originally started blogging about four years ago, while I was still trying to write a novel that wasn't crap. At that time the blog's purpose was purely to entertain the small group of readers/friends I had. That blog has since disappeared, although I've kept some of the posts just in case I ever write a memoir. Heh.
My current blog began after I got my agent, Michael Bourret--a fabulous guy as you well know. This blog is purely to inform people about my books, contests, awards, etc. I still like to play and entertain, but I do that on Twitter and Facebook now, rather than on my blog.
Do contest work well for you promotion-wise? Any tips for other blogger on offering contests?
I do contests for two reasons. One, because I love to give stuff away. It's hella fun, and I feel like it's a way to say thanks to the readers who have supported me by buying Wake and making it a NYT bestseller. And two, because contests remind readers that my books exist and brings in new potential readers.
A word about promo: Back in my early days of selling real estate, my broker sent out newsletters every other month to his past clients. I suggested to him that maybe that was a waste of money--after all, who has time or inclination to read junk mail? They just throw it out. He said, "I don't care that they throw it away. The sole reason for sending newsletters to clients is for them to read my name or see my photo and remember that connection we had for a split second before they trash it. Because you never know when they're ready to buy another house. I want to make it easy for their brains to pull up my name again when it happens." That concept stuck with me.
As authors, we know we have limited time to make an impression. And promo gets old, fast. It's tiring, it's awkward--we'd rather write, not shill. There's a reason we hide out in our caves, writing, and that's because we are (typically) introverted. We don't do sales. Contests are a great way to keep the buzz going for your book without it feeling like it's in-your-face marketing.
To do a proper contest, you need to know who some of the book bloggers are. Get to know them--they rock. Many teen book bloggers do weekly roundups where they inform their readers about current contests. These bloggers are wonderful--they willingly help spread the word for you. Cynthia Leitich Smith also often posts contests on her amazing blog. Many book bloggers would love it if you send them a copy of your book. They'll review it and maybe give it away, or point people in the direction of your contest.
What other kinds of posts can visitors expect when they visit your blog?
Besides contests, I post news about my books, like any awards or nominations Wake has received (Cybils, Borders Original Voices, BN.com Best of 2008, BBYA, etc). I'll offer links to sites where readers can find widgets and screen savers and countdown clocks with a Wake theme. And I'll also post about other books I've read that have really touched me. Too, I have my Twitter widget on my blog so people can easily see what off-topic things I'm talking about elsewhere that day as well.
Could you offer any advice to authors new to the blogosphere?
- Have a theme in mind when you start your blog.
- Post on others' blogs a lot and get to know other the bloggers you enjoy reading, and those whose blogs are like yours.
- It takes time to build a readership--work diligently on that by posting about interesting topics (think about what people might google that you happen to know a lot about) every other day or a few times a week.
- Let people know on your fave message boards, your MySpace or Facebook, etc. that you are now blogging and invite them to come check out your contest. If you don't have books of your own to give away, offer somebody else's book as a prize. Or, do like Heather Brewer does for her vampire series--offer Vlad-themed hoodies. Or like A.S. King does for her awesome debut--offer very quick contests that are tons of fun and give away V.O.G.s (very odd gifts).
- Be quirky and clever and word will spread. Also, you should definitely follow my blog, not only because I have two awesome contests going on right now, but because I just started that "follow me" feature and I want more followers than Alice Pope. ;-)