Sunday, April 29, 2012

To Market, To Market!

Returned home (to sleep out, under a massive storm, with the girl scouts) from a wonderful master-class yesterday hosted by the local chapter of SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators): Susan Raab, of Raab Associates. Her company specializes in marketing writers and creators of children's and teen products. Susan spoke, rapidly, in 90 minute segments, and I believe if we had a week to spend together she could have filled it with useful and interesting advice and context for us.

I'm writing an article for Children's Writer's Newsletter featuring services like this, and Ms Raab graciously allowed me to begin an interview with her which we will complete by phone. I'm amazed at how indefatigable she seems!

Before I went, I thought of myself as a basic-intermediate level self-promoter (I don't just mean random bragging, at which I am an expert). I think I did fall in that place on the scales Susan laid out to help determine the cost/benefit ratios (costs including time) of the types of promotional activities to engage in. But, as I hoped I would, I came away with a lot of insights and ideas!

You can have your own pocket consultant with Ms Raab's book: An Author's Guide to Children's Book Promotion. I'll let you know when the CWN article comes out, probably in the fall.

Here, though, is the starting point to get you going: YOU are the brand. Not your book, not your latest genre (necessarily), but YOU. So, what do you have to offer the market?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Writing Life

I often feel selfish when I'm at the computer--something I already use excessively for my job--and am writing at home. I shush the kids, and decline invitations to make cupcakes with them. I leave to go to writing groups on school nights. I leave for longer periods to go on fabulous writing retreats with various colleagues. I have frequently questioned the parental economics of this. Sometimes I feel guilty, other times defiant, and still other times just lost in a piece of writing and indifferent to the environment.

But this week the conversation at our house shifted from the usual ("but why won't you come and do X with us?"; "have you written that story I wanted you to yet?") to something new ("I want to write a story on the computer like you"; "I want to start a writing group").

I was quite happy to finish up my story and open a new file so my daughter could get typing. She managed two paragraphs, and kept having insights through to bedtime. She couldn't get to sleep with the excitement of planning a writing group at school. In order to get that started, we talked through possible objections her teacher might have (available time during the school day, equal access to everyone who wanted to join). Daughter made extensive notes about things a writing group at school could accomplish. And then we ALL had to get up 30 minutes earlier, and do everying in our morning routine 30 minutes ahead, in order to get to school the minute it opened and talk it over with her teacher.

By the time we finished proposing what Daughter had in mind, her lovely teacher had already begun to think of ways to implement the idea: perhaps when they each finished their research paragraphs they could go to the back room and begin if they wanted to? And later that day, several did. Daughter came home and told us that several kids in her class had decided to do a collective story, beginning with some illustrations "to get character ideas down."

I have done a couple of writer sessions at school in my Son's class, and even met one on one with students from his class to work on story maps during school time, at his teacher's request. But with my Daughter's newfound interest in wanting to be a writer herself, I'm enjoying a new sensation along with my writing time: lack of guilt.

It's early days, but I like Daughter's decision: if she can't get me away from the computer, she might as well join me here. She also suggested that she and her brother blog their travels later this year when we go overseas. We already set up the site. It looks like a fun way to write, to journal their trip for archival purposes, and also for them to stay in touch with their friends and classmates for the six months they will be gallivanting about. I see tussles over computer access in my future, but I'm okay with that.