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How to Get National Publicity for Your Book for Pennies | Interview with Veteran Publicist Kampi Chaleunsouk

 

If you’re looking for national publicity for your book and you think you need a million dollar budget, you’re wrong.  Watch my exclusive interview with Kampi Chaleunsouk as she discusses 3 ways you can generate publicity without spending a dime. (This was my first Google Hangout Broadcast so excuse the audio)

 

Dear Publicists | You’re Doing it All Wrong (AKA How Not to Get Publicity for Your Clients)

Dear Publicists,

I love you. I really do.  Many of you are my personal friends and colleagues but you’re doing it all wrong. Not all of you, just most of you.  Lord knows you all work your butts off and aren’t getting treated like or paid what you deserve.  But here’s the thing: I get about, on a good week, 100 press releases in my inbox a week from you and your colleagues and about a few hundred press releases on a bad week.  And guess where they go? To that magical delete button in the sky, vaporized into nothingness.

 

You’re wasting your time. I know you think you’re doing your job which you say is to increase the chances of getting your clients’ “exposure”. You think, at the very least, you’ll have something to report to them that you “pitched” them to hundreds if not thousands of journalists or bloggers, or worse yet, you put their press release on the wire where they are being “exposed” to thousands of us.  You tell them it’s a numbers game when you know deep inside, it’s not. You know it’s wrong but you still do it. That’s not publicity and you know very well, that they could pay a service a couple hundred bucks on their own and do it themselves.

What they want is 100% legitimate coverage, maybe it’s an interview or a profile or at the very least a mention in some blogger’s post.  And blasting the universe is not going to do it.

I’m going to tell you a few things that will make a big difference and some of you don’t want to hear it because:

a) You know I’m right but it’s easier to do it the same way you’ve been doing it for decades.

b) It seems like it’s going to be a lot more work and it’s easier to just tell your clients about how many thousands of journalists you pitched.

 

Here’s the deal, if you want better results, you’ve got to treat us like human beings. Not just another email on your never-ending list. Here a few quick things that will make a difference between getting coverage or not.

Email #1) Introduce yourself. No strings attached, the first time. Don’t pitch us the first time.

Email #2) Compliment us about something specific we wrote about that you liked.  Compliments can take you far. And still don’t ask us for anything. Instead, offer to be of any assistance if we ever need anything. We’ll probably say, “We’re fine. Thanks.” But we’ll appreciate the gesture.

Email #3) Comment on one of our posts to show us that you truly read it and enjoyed it.

Email #4) Ah, now you can pitch us. Don’t say “Dear Editor” or “Dear Blogger”. Use our real first name. (This is not 1955. You don’t have to call us Mr. or Ms.)  And for the love of all that is good, make sure that your pitch and our name is in the same font. We know that you’re using mail merge but let’s just pretend it’s not happening for a second.

Keep your pitch short, like a few sentences, just something to whet our appetite and make us want to know more, not the entire pitch. Sure, you can have a link to “More information” aka your favorite device, the press release. But if we see an email longer than War & Peace, we’re going to skim it or worse yet, just click delete.

Email #5) Follow up with us a few days later and then a week later. If we don’t respond after that, leave us alone. Nothing’s more irritating that a pushy publicist.

Email #6) When we agree to do an interview with your client, be on top of things. Respond to our request. Don’t say, “And who are you again? What publication do you write for?” Why are you subjecting us to your dreadful press releases every week if you don’t know who we are. I mean, hello!  If your clients knew how many interview opportunities you missed because you didn’t follow through with locking down a date time, they’d fire you yesterday.

Email #7) Tell us thank you when we finished the interview and don’t hound us every week to ask us when it will post. It’ll post when it posts. If we have done it in two weeks, then you can follow up. Wash & repeat every two weeks until it’s posts. If we haven’t then guess what? That means we’re swamped and we’ll get to it when we can.

And I beg of you. Once we post, unless something is 100% inaccurate don’t ask us to make a million changes or swap pictures of our clients or add this or add that. Be glad we posted something about your client when we could have said, “No”. And we’d much rather watch another episode of House of Cards than make more changes.

Email #8-12) Add us to your holiday “hello” list. Meaning, tell us (and not in a BCC: sent to your entire list) Merry Christmas, or Happy Thanksgiving, or Happy New Year or God-forbid, find out our birthday and wish us a Happy Birthday. And please, for the love of God, don’t pitch us at the same time.  Just treat us like a human being. Would you want to be pitched on Christmas Eve or your birthday?

Keep in touch with us. Become friends with us.  Don’t pitch us all the time. Just say, “Hello” sometimes with no strings attached. Ask us how we’re doing and if you see that our gold fish just died on our Facebook post, send your condolences.  Continue to compliment us on our work even if you’ve got nothing to pitch. And if we haven’t posted anything lately, dig through our archives and find an old blog post to compliment us about.

I know you think this will take a long time but if you pick a small pool of journalists and bloggers to focus on (instead of your list of thousands) then it only takes seconds to do and I can guarantee you’ll get better results than just blasting the universe. Besides, that’s what God made interns for.

Once again, I love you. God knows I do but I just thought I’d tell you what many bloggers and journalists say behind closed doors that they couldn’t say to your face.

Hugs,

Jeff Rivera

No Excuses | Go Out and Make that Film!

With the tremendous success of House of Cards which runs exclusively on Netflix, it raises the question, will there come a day when movie studio and television network support is no longer necessary?

Could there be a time when someone living in Smallville, Iowa could shoot a film or series, get it on Netflix on their own and through social media support create a monster hit?

Why, yes? It seems like the tools for that moment are already upon us.

I’ve been dabbling in some form of filmed entertainment since I was a child, whether it was a child actor, a casting director, a producer or a director. I’ve been planning the next phase of my career as a writer/producer but not yet. First, I need to finish this slew of novels I’m writing.  In the meantime, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research.

Many people have dreams of creating their own film or television series but have been brainwashed into thinking that they cannot because:

1) They don’t have the money to shoot it.

2) They don’t have the stars to attract viewers to it

3) They don’t have a network or studio or theatrical or television distribution

4) They don’t have a marketing budget.

 

I’d like to address all four of those excuses, because in today’s day and age, that’s all they are, excuses.

1) Funding. This is probably the biggest excuse people use when creating a block as to why they cannot go forward with their project. They imagine they need millions of dollars to compete with the Hollywood Studios. But why do you need to compete with them?  Why do you need millions of people to view your film in order to make a profit? The answer is, you don’t.  One of my favorite posts I’ve read in the last 2 years as has been Seth Godin’s 1000 true fans which was based a post called 10,000 true fans. Read it.

You can raise funding with crowdsourcing. You no longer need to have a rich Uncle Scrooge to borrow money from.  You can shoot a great quality feature film from $5,000-25,000. Yes, it’s possible. How many struggling cameramen and cinematographers are bumming around for their next gig but are loaded with their own equipment? How many student filmmakers have access to top quality film equipment at their universities. Think out of the box.  And Kickstarter is a great place to begin.

2) Okay, so now you have the money but how do you get an A-List star? Do you really need an A-list star first of all if you’re only trying to connect with your 10,000 true fans? But let’s say you do because you “envision” one of them in the lead role.  Countless times we hear about stars willing to do the right kinds of projects for practically no money or scale. But even if you think you don’t have access to those kinds of stars, there are tons of TV stars who would love to cross over. Maybe they play the brother of the star or the nosy neighbor on a mediocre hit show but they would leap at an opportunity to cross over into film. Maybe they feel trapped in their role or type cast and really want to step outside the box. What about some of those reality stars?  You’d be surprised, some of them can actually act.  Open your mind.

3) So, now you have the funding and you have a recognizable star in your film. How in the world are you supposed to get distribution?

Easy and affordable:

a) For Netflix, Hulu, DirectTV, etc. just use this.

b) For theatrical distribution, just use this.

 

4) Moving on. The last block people like to create is marketing budget. Well, guess what? How many films and TV shows bombed last year that had nearly a hundred million dollars in P&A?  And then take a look a look at these videos on Youtube, 99.9% of them had a marketing budget of zero dollars and zero cents and had more viewers than any of them combined.  No one pays attention to advertising or “impressions”, not real people.  You have to figure out a way to get people emotionally invested from the very beginning so they want the project to succeed and will naturally spread word about it.  People are looking to connect. They want to connect. And they want to help and support. They really do. Give them a reason to care.

Interview with the Nardini Sisters | Double the Authors, Double the Fun!

They say two heads are better than one. No where is that more clear than with the Nardini Sisters. Together, the two of them have concocted the perfect blend of creativity and humor in middle grade books that are sure to have your kids howling.  I had the opportunity to pin these two authors down for some questions I was dying to ask them.

For those who aren’t familiar with your books, tell us about them.

Our first book, The Underwear Dare is a funny middle grade book that centers around a bully named Eddie and a nerd named Josh. They become stepbrothers when their parents get married and must share a bedroom. When the parents decide to make the attic a new bedroom, they leave it up to the boys to decide who gets it. They both want it so they concoct a series of dares between them to see who gets the room. The dares have to been done at school. The dares are typical gross-out dares like farting and burping in class, reading a love poem to the teacher and being nice to everyone. The ultimate dare is whoever runs through the cafetorium in their underwear during lunch wins. It is a great book for reluctant readers.

The sequel is called, Zoo’d. It is Josh and Eddie again along with their group of friends. They win a contest to name the Zoo’s newest baby monkey and the prize is an overnight field trip at the Zoo. Because of circumstances unforeseen, they are left alone without chaperones. A storm at the Zoo knocks out all power and the monkey’s escape from their island. The gang goes into Jr. Zookeepers mode to wrangle all the monkey’s back to their cages but not without a lot of poo-slinging, cooties, granny panties and bubblegum!

We also have a Halloween book that is available on Kindle only. It is called Hallotween. It is 13 scary short stories for the tween crowd. Great stories for around a bonfire or for discussions in a classroom setting. We had our youngest sister and her daughter each write one of the stories for the book. Quite the family affair.

I love Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys too! What inspired you to write kids books?

Lisa– I always loved reading as a kid and I remember how some books would stick with you through childhood. I wanted to write a book that kids could relate to and remember as being fun to read, not one they were forced to read.

Gina– As a teacher, I know how hard it is to get reluctant readers esp. boys to enjoy reading. I thought if we wrote from a boy’s view about gross-out stuff like farts and burps, boys would read it. Surprising, girls like it as much as boys.

What is it like to write with your sister?

Lisa– It is very fun to bounce ideas off each other. There is a lot of laughter. We are only one year apart in age and have always been very close. Since we live in two different states, our time together is precious and we try to make the most use of it. It is easy for us to remember childhood feelings, doubts, wanting to fit in, peer pressure and how friendships were developed back then. I think this shows in our writing.

Gina-When I read some of the pages that Lisa has written, I will laugh out loud. That’s when I know we are on the right track. We brainstorm a lot of ideas over the phone. We try to attend as many writers’ conferences we can. Last year we were asked to be speakers at a conference. Nice to be on the other end! We do work very well together.

How do you collaborate and not get on each other’s nerves?

Lisa– That is a very good question. I probably get on her nerves more than she gets on mine. I don’t think we get on each other’s nerves per se, but I do know it sometimes gets hard to deal with rejection. Sometimes I will write 3 to 4 pages that Gina doesn’t like and will have to scrape it and start over. I have a harder time dealing with that than she does.

Gina-We don’t run into those kind of problems. Sometimes I have to get on Lisa about getting pages done. She is a huge procrastinator, but seems to work well under pressure. That drives me crazy at times but overall, writing with someone else takes the pressure off. You have someone to help, push, drive and appreciate what you are doing.

What’s your creative process like?

Gina-We tend to make a pretty detailed outline of each book before we start writing. Since we make that outline beforehand, we are able to write apart. I might write a couple of pages, the send it to Lisa. She will read it, change it or leave it and start the next scene. There are many times when we get writer’s block and will leave notes on the page like (can’t think of something funny here, fix it). We try to follow the rule of using at least 2 or 3 of the 5 senses on each page. We feel it captures the reader and gets them involved with the storyline. When we are able to sit down together and write, it goes much faster and is more enjoyable.

Lisa-Yes, that about sums it up except that we have different creative ways to write. Gina always writes on her computer and I use pen and paper. I have to transfer it over to the computer before I send it to Gina. That gives me another chance at a quick edit before I send it. However, we get together when it is time for our final edit after it has been sent out to 2 or 3 different editors. We do believe that part of our success is because we pay for editing. Not many self-publishers do, but we feel it a necessity.

How long does it take for you to write each book?

We would say close to a year. We usually know what kind of story we want to write, the plot, and who the characters will be. But to actually get it written takes quite a while.

What have you done to promote the books that has worked and what would you never do again?

We like to do a book giveaway through Goodreads. We use Facebook to notify our friends and family. We send press releases to our hometown newspapers and lots and lots of tweeting! Tweeting to youth services librarians, elementary teachers, mommy bloggers and fellow middle-grade authors has worked the best for us. This past summer, The Underwear Dare was on a 5th grade reading list in Brevard County, Fl. That was so exciting for us! We just recently made a book trailer for The Underwear Dare. It is on our website, www.nardinisisters.com We get a lot of traffic on our site. We also make the first two chapters of each book available for free on our site, so kids can see if it is something they would like to read. Since we made a couple of bestselling lists on Amazon, we have gotten some free marketing from Amazon that has helped. The only thing we wouldn’t do again would be to use ads on Google and Facebook. We didn’t pay a lot for them but we didn’t see any results either.

What’s next on your book writing agenda?

We just finished writing the screenplay for The Underwear Dare and are going to start the screenplay for Zoo’d this summer. We have had some interest from production companies about making it into a series or a movie. Fingers crossed!

The third book in the series is going to be Josh and Eddie and friends at summer camp. We are outlining it this month and will start writing it in April. We are very excited about it, will be a fun read for kids.

 

 

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet

Interview with Bestselling Author, Gordon Korman

Best known for 39 Clues, bestselling author Gordon Korman has been writing for over 30 years. I consider it an honor and privilege to get an opportunity to connect with such a seasoned other. But Korman doesn’t see it that way. He’s way to humble to accept such a compliment. In my interview with him, he discusses how the publishing industry has changed since he began, how he remains so prolific and what he does to keep the ideas coming.

 

For those not familiar with your work, tell us about it.
I’m probably best known as a middle-grade writer, although I’ve done quite a bit in the teen world as well. My first book was published in 1978, when I was a freshman in high school, and I’ve been at it ever since. I’ve written 79 books, most recently UNGIFTED and HIDEOUT, the latest in the middle-grade series that began with SWINDLE. I’m also one of the writers behind the multi-author series THE 39 CLUES.

You’ve been in publishing for over 30 years. What has changed for you as a writer since you first began?
It’s hard to tell, since I’d obviously be different at 49 than I was at 14 no matter which direction my life had taken. Publishing for kids has changed a lot in that time, veering away from backlist and the school market in favor of a swing-for-the-fence, bestseller-list, marketing-driven approach. But I’ve been really lucky, since my publishers have given me a lot of space and time to nurture and grow a large audience.

You’re incredibly prolific, how do you crank out so many?
I’ve done a lot of series, and the deadlines are tighter in that world. It starts with a genuine fear that you’re not going to be able to deliver – especially acute with a project like THE 39 CLUES, where other writers are actually waiting for you so they can get started on their own contributions. But that fear eventually turns into a great work ethic.

What is your creative process like?
I’ve never lost touch with my twelve-year-old sense of “What if …?” But I’ve also been lucky enough to work with amazing editors like David Levithan and Alessandra Balzer, who are constantly lobbing ideas my way. Once I’ve decided on a project, I just try to put my head down and work. Sometimes there’s a period of floundering before I figure out what my story is really about, but I always get there in the long run.

How long does it typically take you to write your stories?
On average, I’d say 4-6 months, depending on how much travel I’ve got scheduled at the time. Some projects – 39 CLUES, for example, or my next series, THE HYPNOTISTS, which hits the shelves this fall – require a lot more touring than others.

You also write short fiction. Is there a place in the world for short fiction?
All my short stories were written to appear in anthologies, so the genre isn’t something I set out to pursue for on my own. It’s too bad, but I guess the business model for short fiction isn’t as attractive as it is for novels these days.

What have you done to promote your books that has worked and what would you never do again?
We all have a love-hate relationship with promotion. For every 27 things you do to get the word out, 26 will probably have very little effect. The problem is, there’s no sure-fire way to identify that one worthwhile interview or appearance or event ahead of time. So we just say yes to most of it, cross our fingers, and hope. That said, I’m a stalwart believer in school visits. Once hooked, kids are incredibly loyal fans, and there’s no substitute for getting right down in the trenches and meeting your readers face to face.

 

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet

Interview with Jason Edwards

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An author whose famous book Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective has been created to help children get over their irrational fears, the work of Jason Edwards is archetypal. As an author, he was inspired to write this book for his daughter who suffers from severe anxiety issues. Interestingly, another work that inspired him to write this book was a story about a toilet. He created the character, Great Monster Detective, which helped his daughter surmount her fears. Numerous psychiatrists, therapists, counselors and psychologists visits also could not help his daughter but his book Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective certainly did. Jason Edwards says that he loves writing children’s books because he thinks they are more fun and is a bigger fan of popular works like Harry Potter and Spiderman comics than of classic literature like Hemmingway or Fitzgerald due to his own arrested development. In his writing process, he takes time to develop a consistent piece of work and his creative process is kind of sloppy and less disciplined.

 Tell about Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective and your other books?

Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective, the first book in my Chronicles of the Monster Detective Agency series, is the story of a smart but timid boy beset by fears that have literally come to life. Together with his best friend, he searches fruitlessly for help, until a mysterious business card appears that instructs him how to summon the Great Monster Detective, Bigelow Hawkins. With Bigelow’s help, Will must learn how to confront his monsters and reveal the secret of the dreadful HIDDEN BEAST before it’s too late…
 
 Although it comes across as a frightfully funny mix of Ghostbusters and Monsters Inc.., I actually wrote this book for use as a tool to help children overcome irrational fears.  You see, I was inspired to write this story by…a toilet.
Allow me to explain.  When my daughter was very young, she developed severe anxiety issues, most notably regarding automatic-flushing toilets.  My wife and I tried sending her to counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, psychologist, etc., to no avail.  Since we could not FIND anyone who could help, I INVENTED someone instead: the Great Monster Detective – a character who could see her fears the same way she did and help her to face them.  That seemed to help her, and it occurred to me that there must be many other children (and their parents) who faced similar issues, and might also benefit from the services of a monster detective.  That was what set me in motion to write Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective.  My hope was, and remains to this day, that by inspiring young readers to confront their fears and metaphorically modeling behaviors that can help control them, each of those readers, like Will Allen himself, might grow from a person who is cowed by fears into one who conquers them. 
At the end of Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective, Will has become so good at fighting monsters that he becomes a monster detective himself.  He then begins helping other kids conquer their monsters, which leads to the sequels, Will Allen and the Ring of Terror, Will Allen and the Hideous Shroud, and the upcoming Will Allen and the Terrible Truth (coming out later this year).  In al of these books, each monster, be it a harpy or a man-eating toilet, represents one of the typical buried fears that plague children, and in order to defeat the monsters, Will and his clients must confront those fears.  In this way, potentially traumatic issues such as losing the affection of your parents or dealing with peer pressure are addressed in non-threatening way.
 
What is it about kids books that you love so much?
What I love about kids’ books so much is the same thing I love about kids – they’re more fun!  I mean, I’ve read and enjoyed my share of science fiction, spy novels, and mysteries (I am especially partial to Michael Crichton’s work), but my favorite books remain the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series.  Maybe this is because of my own arrested development – I’d still take a book of old Spiderman comics or Calvin and Hobbes strips over Hemmingway or Fitzgerald any day.
 
What is your creative process like?
 Although I’ve always loved to tell stories, I am not one of those writers who planned from an early age on being an author, so I never went to writing classes or the like.  As such, my creative process is rather sloppier and less disciplined than the ideal.  I am driven by inspiration: the main ideas, themes, and key points for a book usually strike like a bolt of lightning, but it takes me quite a while to percolate and develop them into a coherent piece of work.  I use the computer a lot, cutting and pasting ideas to organize the key points and events in the story into their proper sequence.  Once I begin building off of that framework, I write in a very piecemeal way – each scene has a life all its own and I, being semi-schizophrenic, enter into it and let the characters speak through me.  
Needless to say, I do a LOT of rewriting.
 
What have you done to promote your books that has worked and what hasn’t?
First, a note about what hasn’t worked.  My book series is intended for the 7-13 year old reader, and as such, they are aimed at kids that usually are not yet using social media (in fact, my own 12 year old is not on Facebook, but my 17 year old is), so the website and the Facebook page I produced for the Monster Detective Agency have received scant attention.  
Overall, my most successful marketing tool has been the entertaining educational programs that I perform at schools, libraries, and bookstores. My author visits are a little different from the norm: it never appealed to me to come in to a venue and lecture kids (and I don’t think it appeals to the kids either), so I brainstormed about what kinds of activities kids would like, and about what kinds of programs my potential hosts would find appealing and valuable. It was my determination that kids wanted something FUN (brilliant, no?), while my hosts, the librarians (both school and public) wanted kids to learn research skills – the ability to find books in the library all by themselves. So I created an educational program in which children would have an exciting adventure and develop library skills without even realizing it. I created the MONSTER HUNT.  In this program, which is based upon the concepts and characters from Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective, boisterous adventurers between the ages of 7-14 hunt down and capture a lurking monster!  Kids develop research skills because they learn to use the library catalog and Dewey Decimal System to track down clues hidden in books throughout the aisles that will help them locate the monster’s secret lair.  In the end, the children share all their clues and use them to find and capture the monster, for which everyone is rewarded by being commissioned as deputy detectives in the Monster Detective Agency.
This program has proven so successful and popular that I have performed it at over a hundred schools and libraries across the country, and I have many libraries that commission me to perform for them year after year.  In the book signings that follow, I often sell more copies in a day than are purchased through my distributor in a month.
 
What advice do you have for those interested in writing for kids?
Beware!
(not of anything in particular – just maintain an overall sense of debilitating fear)
Seriously though, I am probably the last person to be giving a writer advice.  I have neither the experience nor expertise to be telling anyone what to do.
So naturally, I’ll give some anyway.
When it comes right down to it, the only advice I can give to budding authors is to LOVE YOUR STORY.
I know that sounds obvious, but hear me out.  If you are writing a book because you want to be a writer, because you want to be the next Steven King or Danielle Steele – GIVE IT UP!  (You see?  I told you I shouldn’t be giving advice!).  If you have images of fame and fortune and hobnobbing with celebrities, GIVE IT UP.
Oh, I know that successful writers will always say different – never give up, if one book is rejected just write another, keep on plugging, etc.  It’s the same as the advice people selling lottery tickets give: you’ve got to be in it to win it.
You have a better chance of being struck by lightning.
When I think of people writing with those hopes in mind, I compare them to people trying to make it in show business.  A lot of those who set out to be actors will spend much of their lives as waiters, and the odds of reaching the red carpet are similar to those of that lottery ticket.
Writing is not much different.  Don’t misunderstand me: many people are successful enough at writing to earn a decent living at it, but for me, the only reason to put yourself through the long, painful series of sacrifices, challenges, frustrations, and rejections, is because you LOVE YOUR STORY (Or love writing itself).  Love it.  Believe in it with all your heart.  Of course, what motivates any other writer could be completely different, but it was only my need to share with the world this gift, this grand inspiration, that saw me through it all.
            And ignore what you hear from self-congratulatory success stories.  Lotto winners always tell you that you can do it too.
 
 
About Author Jason Edwards
Mom’s Choice Award winning author Jason Edwards is a man of many hats, including storyteller, developer and performer of children’s programs, and an authority on children’s anxieties.   Mr. Edwards possesses a B.S. in Psychology, a M.A. in Education, and has more than 20 years of experience developing innovation ways to entertain, instruct, and inspire children.  It is a mark of his success that his books have won the Mom’s Choice Award for family-friendly media and have been endorsed by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America as a useful tool for helping children address anxiety issues.
 
Jason has performed his entertaining educational programs at over 100 schools and libraries across the nation.  His signature Monster Hunt and Destination: INSPIRATION programs, his gift for teaching and inspiring children, and his talent for illuminating anxiety issues for children and adults alike, have been featured all over the country in newspapers and on radio and TV, including The NY Daily News, WCBS TV, Talk of Connecticut Radio, and the Sirius Satellite Book Channel.  His published works have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet.

Interview with Steve LaNore

 Steve LaNore really appreciates his meteorologist background. It has given him the ability to work on books and he takes about 5 to 10 hours each day to write them. The best advice he has for any author is that they should write and not put it off for later. He says every writer has a different creative pattern and they should follow it. He also lays out his marketing efforts neatly. Some of the activities he undertakes are homeschool groups, book signing events and appearances on TV. He has also written offbeat books about Meteorological Myths and Misunderstandings and debunking weather myths which are against the popular perception but have facts that hold true according to beliefs of Steve LaNore.

1) My meteorologist background (hopefully!) provides me with immediate credibility since I have almost three decades in the field. It has also opened some doors locally; my books are offered in three local bookstores and some of the local schools are now putting them in the classroom. Book signings have been well attended overall I’m pleased with I’ve done locally so far. However, this has had little effect outside of my viewing area and that’s my next step.

2) I just have to make time. I don’t do well after work because my mind is already drained, so I try to set aside at least 5 hours or more each week in the mornings to work on books, marketing, filling orders, etc. It usually winds up being more like 10 hours a week in reality.

3) Get started. The book took me longer than it should have because I kept putting it off. I’d tell people about my idea and most of them said “that is a good idea”, but then I’d not do anything with it. One I got started then the anticipation of finishing built and drove me forward. People make time to exercise, play golf, whatever their interest, so an author should write!

4) I tend to have a roller-coaster creative pattern; I may have a burst of inspiration and work 30 hours on the book in a week, and they lay it aside for a week while my mind re-loads. Not everyone writes this way, but I don’t think a creative process is the same for every writer. You have to know who you are, BUT also have some goals. If you don’t have a goal in mind and a reasonable completion date it will never get done. Once I gave myself a deadline, I completed the book only a week late. I was happy with that.

5) I began by contacting homeschool groups on Facebook, but was warned that I was “spamming” them. That was not my intent but apparently a lot of people just bombard their prospects with ads so I had to turn away from that. I have resorted to some old-school direct contacts over the phone and e-mail too; response from these has been a little better. A lot it is grassroots; getting the book signings required individually contacting the store managers. Being on TV has helped immensely as I’m already well-known in the marketplace. Of course, I have sent numerous messages to Facebook friends; since I have over 1100 of them there has been good expose there. I also set up a website to promote the book and weather interest in general and a Facebook page for the book too.

6) I’m almost finished with a book for a more mature audience which will debunk weather myths. This will be a text-only book for young adult readers on up. It’s intended to be factual and interesting, but without the comedic aspect of the Weather Wits book. The tentative title for it is “Meteorological Myths and Misunderstandings”, but maybe that’s too wordy. What do you think? -:)

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet

Interview with Author Angela Giroux

Full-time mom of two, Angela Giroux, has always been busy with her kids. Wanting to give them the best, she creates a fantastic world for them. She writes children’s books filled with whimsical characters and narration to keep kids entertained during the bedtime story telling sessions. And rightfully, all children are also raving about her work. Now, she is no longer just another full-time  mom, busy with her kids, she’s growing her business as an author and selling books through Amazon. She has successfully launched The Funny Things I Heard At The Bus Stop volumes 1, 2 and 3.

Most of  the fans find books written by Angela Giroux to be smart, funny and exciting. Her whimsical world has cast a spell over many children. In fact, even adults find her books hilarious and delightful.

 Why kids books?

Ever since my kids were very little, I read to them and made up stories at bedtime that would have them laughing hysterically or hanging on the edge of their seats waiting for the next chapter.  This was really one of my favorite memories of them growing up (well, they’re only 12 and 10 now).  And I know that they have great memories of the stories I told.  Most of the time I would just make things up on the spot.  If they asked for a pirate story, I would just start talking about pirates.  Or for my daughter, maybe it was a fairy story.  A lot of times it was just some goofy story that I told over and over again and always changed it just a little bit each time to keep it fresh.  So storytelling has been something that I’ve always loved to do, especially for kids.  Short stories for kids just seemed like the most logical starting point for my career as an author.

What has been the response of Funny Things?

The response has been overwhelming!  When I first put out the book I didn’t know a lot about publishing on Kindle, but I did know that I could offer the book free for a day or two so people could download and read it.  When I did that and got over 5000 downloads in one day, I knew that I had something special on my hands.  Soon after, the book shot up to #1 in the kids’ short story collections category on Kindle.  The success of the first book gave me inspiration to write even more, and so I began writing volume two soon after, then a third volume.  I also had one short story that ended up being so long that it’s the only story in that book (Globlins in the Garden).  Then I combined all three volumes and Globlins into one collection. The reviews on Amazon have been very positive, which is very reassuring that I’m creating something that makes a lot of people happy.

What is your creative process like?

My creative process starts with my “writing hat”.  I bought it early on when I started writing as a way to get me into the writing mood.  Since then it’s become a habit, and I think it brings out my muses to help me think creatively.  I have an office in my house where I like to sit when writing.  Many times I’ll ask my kids for story ideas.  After all, if I’m writing a kids book, I want to write something that kids want to read, right?  So that helps.  I also just have a thousand ideas in my head waiting to come out.  A lot of times I’ll just browse the internet and look for news stories or just something that will spark a new idea that will turn into a story.  It’s a fairly flexible process overall.  Sometimes inspiration hits me out of the blue when I’m eating dinner or watching something on TV, and then I’ll have to go write it down and maybe try to develop that later.

How long does it take you to write them?

To write a story from start to finish could take from a few days to a few weeks.  Sometimes the words just flow and I can complete six or seven pages of the first go of a story in just a few hours.  Usually I’ll re-read it then and start the editing process.  The stories that have taken me weeks to complete aren’t always the longest ones either.  They’re usually the ones where the story just isn’t working for me and sometimes I’ve had to start the story over from scratch, or the finished product ends up being significantly different than what I first imagined.  Globlins took me the good part of a month to write, but it was a more involved story than the other short stories in the other books.
What have you done to promote your books that has worked?
 
I think a big part of my book’s success (talking about volume 1) has been the free days.  After the initial huge response, the book ended up being #1 in it’s category for free books.  I think that exposure really helps.  Then when it came off it’s free days and went back to being paid (it’s only $0.99 by the way) many people wanted to see what the hype was all about and bought it.  Then once it gets high up in the category rankings, it becomes a social thing.  If everybody else loves it and is buying it, then I want to read it.  Since I have published all of the Funny Things series so far, I’ve also developed a website to display all of my books and keep me connected with my audience (angelagiroux.com). 
Another really great strategy that has helped the book succeed is to get it in other formats.  Once I knew that the Kindle version was selling well, I published the book on CreateSpace, which is Amazon’s print-on-demand company.  I sell hundreds of copies of the paperback each month.  Then last month I hired a narrator to read volume one and I got it published on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible.  After only a week or so I’ve sold ten copies, which I think is awesome!  I like being able to have the books available in other formats so that people can enjoy it however they like – electronically, in print, or by audio.
 
What else do you have in store?
 
I’ve been working on some new short stories for another Funny Things I Heard at the Bus Stop volume.  But a full volume probably won’t be out until summer at least.  I’ve got another project that has been taking up more of my time lately.  It’s a novella (or maybe a novel, depending on how long it gets) about a crazy, whimsical, Dr. Seuss-like town that starts experiencing things out of the ordinary (for such an unordinary town) and a little girl is determined to solve the mystery.  It’s so much fun describing this town as I can get super creative and make up all kinds of new “things” with really funny names.  I think the Funny Things crowd will really love it.

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet

Interview with Katia Lief

The international best-selling author, Katia Lief, was once Katia Spiegelman and Kate Pepper. However, the change of name for an author never seemed to stop her readers from following her novels. Now, she has good book sales coming from all parts of the world including US, Germany, Netherlands and UK.

When it comes to marketing strategies that made her an international best-seller, Katia is unable to pin down a single one. However, she remains active and visible in the virtual world by connecting to readers and followers through social networking sites. Also, she cannot share one marketing strategy that worked absolutely well for her. However, once she pinpoints which of them worked out right, she focuses her time and energy on that single handedly and then moves on to writing more books. In addition, her thrillers also reach the readers as she continues to attend local and international book festivals, book signing events and conferences. Becoming an international best-selling author definitely requires a lot but it is always worth the effort one puts in at the end.

 What is your latest book about and how is it different than the others?

My latest novel is Vanishing Girls, the third in my Karin Schaeffer series published by HarperCollins. It’s set in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and once the mysteries peel away, it’s about human trafficking. The fourth in the series, The Money Kill, will be published in March, 2013. They’re different from my past thrillers primarily in that they’re part of a series, and the others were standalones. They’re also different in another obvious way: the series is being traditionally published, whereas, after my earlier novels went out of print with their original publisher (Penguin), I released them independently under my own imprint, Blue Table Books.

How do you keep writing with such a busy schedule?  And what is your writing schedule?

I usually write for a couple of hours in the morning, take a break (gym, errands, lunch), and then get back to work in the afternoon for two or three more hours. Now that my kids are teenagers, my writing schedule has gotten a lot more relaxed.

Do you battle with procrastination? How do you beat it?

Pracrastination isn’t a huge problem for me. Once I get started on a new novel, I find that momentum builds pretty quickly. The one distraction that can pull me under is the internet and email. I’m pretty good about disciplining myself not to waste time online when I’m supposed to be writing. As for email, I have taken to hiding my cell phone behind my computer so I don’t see the blinking light telling me that another email has landed. Out of sight, out of mind.

What did it feel like to have received those years of rejections and then suddenly be thrust on the  bestsellers list as an indie author?

Well…I’ll have to answer that question through a back door. I did endure the typical years of rejections before being published, but my first two published novels were put out by a small press. After that, I started signing with big publishers, and my books were already bestsellers before I became an indie author. Landing on the bestsellers list with my first thriller was, yes, a thrill. I’ve also been lucky to have a lot of success overseas, particularly in Germany and the UK, where I have wonderful, supportive (big, traditional) publishers. To be honest, when I independently released my out-of-print backlist, I didn’t expect much–and so was floored when the books started selling like hotcakes. My indie income has (for now) outstripped my income from traditional publishing. That was a huge surprise.

How many copies had you sold during what period of time when you were put on the bestsellers list?

I released my backlist independently in the spring of 2011, but sales didn’t really take off until I dropped my ebook prices to 99 cents. After a while, the ebooks began to really sell. So far in 2012, I’ve sold somewhere around 350,000 ebooks and a handful of PODs.

How has your life changed?

It hasn’t, except that I’m a bit less worried about money now. What does worry me is sales drying up. I have to spend more time juggling business with my writing life now, but I’ve managed.

What did you do specifically to market your books? Give us a step by step guide to your success? (Please, feel free to ramble on and on, this is where we’ll really learn)

One of my absolute favorite ways to market my books is to hire the wonderful folks over at AuthorBuzz (www.authorbuzz.com) who, for a sane price, will get the word out online in a variety of ways. I also try to stay active on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Kindleboards, Barnes & Noble Mystery Book Clubs, and anywhere else I can think of. The truth is, I have no idea what actually works. For some reason, my U.S. sales are best on B&N, despite having run more promotions on Kindle. Meanwhile, my sales are great on Kindle U.K., where I haven’t done any promotions at all. Frankly, it isn’t always clear what works and what doesn’t. My thought is just to keep trying, and then, after a while, stop trying and get busy writing the next book. I should also mention that I do a handful of local signings, and attend four or five conferences a year, including Bouchercon, Thrillerfest, BEA, the Harrogate (U.K.) Crime Writers Festival, and the Brooklyn Book Festival, where I love meeting readers face to face.

What did not work?

Again, it’s hard to say. Basically, any promotion that costs too much money or takes too much time probably isn’t worth it unless you can substantiate that it reached a lot of people and/or made a lot of sales.

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet

Interview with Author Diane deGroat

 As a writer who has been knocking out books for nearly two decades and having illustrated books for loads of authors, Diane deGroat is a seasoned and impeccable writer whose fiction books with colorful drawings and amusing characters are loved by oodles of kids. Diane has worked on 130 children’s books and she makes it a point to weave in valuable learning lessons for kids in her writings.

 Diane has written a number of children’s books and most of them are humor-centric. The Gilbert and Friends series by her is quite popular. Roses is a top seller which has sequels like Smell My Feet and Trick or Treat. She has also written a silly dog book series. Diane is now focusing on a new storyline. Here’s a brief look at what Diane deGroat does to whip out a hot selling copy each time.


  For those who aren’t familiar with your books, tell us about them?

My books can be found on my website, www.dianedegroat.com, but for an overview, I can describe my work in several venues. The Gilbert and Friends series, which I wrote and illustrated, has been around for about 17 years. Gilbert is a first grader (a ‘possum) and he deals with everyday issues that kids can relate to—friendships, insecurities, triumphs, sibling rivalry, etc. Teachers love using these books in the classroom to help facilitate discussions, and kids love reading about Gilbert themselves because of the humor. I wrote the Annie Pitts chapter books before the Gilbert books. Annie is a spunky 3rd grader who is quite full of herself. (No, it’s not about me!) I also illustrate for other authors. The latest series I illustrated about Charlie the Ranch Dog, written by blogger Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman), is probably my most popular right now. And speaking of dogs, I collaborated with photographer Shelley Rotner to produce two hilarious dog books (www.sillydogbooks.com). The last five books I’ve done have been about dogs. And I’m not even a dog person!

 I think you’ve written 400 billion books. How do you stay so prolific?

Not 400 billion! I’ve written and illustrated 24 books, but I’ve illustrated about 130 books for other authors. It’s not that I’m prolific; I’ve just been around for a long time, starting in the early ’70’s.

Did you start out wanting to write a series or did it just happen?

 The first Gilbert book was a stand-alone: Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink. It actually went through the “slush pile” at William Morrow, and a wonderful editor saw the potential in it. We worked together to make it a winner. I had already written chapter books, but was anxious to get published as a picture book author. WhenRoses became a best seller, my editor encouraged me to do a sequel, which became Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet. Once the formula and the characters were established, it was easy to continue with another eleven Gilbert picture books, four lift-the-flp books, and two I Can Read books. The series ended this year with the last Gilbert book, Gilbert and the Lost Tooth. I’m currently developing a new series with new characters. Wish me luck!

Your main characters are mostly animals. Why?

Academics who know more about this will say that children can relate more easily to animals because the characters in the book don’t look like the readers. When real people are represented, it forces kids to compare themselves to those in the pictures. With animals, it’s a level playing field. But the truth is that animals are more fun to draw!

What is the illustration and writing process like? (I wish I could draw)

I use a process that combines digital art and water color painting. There are a few URL’s available where I explain it in detail:

http://jamarattigan.livejournal.com/18265.html#cutid1

http://justonemorebook.com/2009/04/09/rock-stars-of-reading-part-4-diane-de-groat/

http://writerjenn.blogspot.com/2010/05/peek-at-creative-space-of-diane-degroat.html

I now have a Cintiq 24″ desktop digital drawing tablet that is the best thing since sliced bread! My future work may be completely digital.

You’re published by mainstream publishers but have you ever given any thought to going indie?

 I’ve been fortunate to have publishers who will pay me a decent advance, market my books, and send me royalty checks. Until recently,I have been able to focus my energy on creating books without the uncertainty of where my next paycheck will come from. But the publishing business is changing rapidly. Even well-established authors and illustrators are facing uncertainty. If I can’t sell my new series, I may have to explore other options. I’ve signed with StarWalk Kids Media (www.starwalkkids.com) to bring my out-of-print books to new e-formats, and they are considering publishing printed books as well. So that’s an indie option.

 What have you done to promote your books that has worked and what hasn’t worked?

As stated above, the publisher is usually responsible for marketing, but it’s true that they do less and less in today’s economy. At least they seek reviews and promote through ads, conferences, and catalogues. Many authors hire their own publicists, but that costs quite a bit out of pocket. Some authors are natural promoters and will tweet, podcast, have giveaways, etc. That’s not really my style. I limit my promotion to school visits, book signings, and maintaining websites for the product. I stay in the loop with Facebook friends that are in the children’s book field. With the silly dog books, Shelley and I took it upon ourselves to find niche venues in which to sell books (dog shows, etc.), but we found it takes too much time and energy marketing oneself for little return! I would rather be making books.

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet