Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Three for Tuesday: Copy Edits, Marketing Books, and Other stuff

And the top three for today:

1. Waiting for copy edits to come back to me from FINDING PARIS (spring 2015, Balzer and Bray).  I am both excited and nervous about this. If you're not a writer, let me explain that up until a project goes to CE, it's been just you and your editor (and earlier, your agent and before that your critique partners/beta readers). But after a while, they know your story. You know your story. And now comes this person who's going to do a thorough cold read, which means they haven't been reading various incarnations for the past year or 2. Your copy editor will (hopefully) catch inconsistencies and errors and will also give that fresh pair of eyes that we all need before book becomes 'official' manuscript and then galley.

And so I'm waiting. Particularly because PARIS is a complex project with a lot of emotional twists and turns and secrets and dark stuff. 

Let me interject here that the dog is sitting at my feet whining through her big basset nose because she wants my toast. She is not going to get my toast, in case you were wondering. Nose whining is a high-pitched sound, by the way.

2. So it's a given by now that I'm reading book after book of OUTLANDER. But I am also currently reading THE INTERESTINGS by Meg Wolitzer, which I am liking very much. And a slim volume of Kurt Vonnegut's graduation speeches, which are mostly fascinating, although oddly, not always. 

3. Also thinking about marketing today. The publishing kind, not groceries. As my agent just observed, John Green is a marketing genius. But so is the team that supports him, with their clear attention to making the stars align (pun intended) for FIOS, a book that I adore mightily. It has been a prodigious campaign. As has the marketing campaign for another book I admire hugely, WE WERE LIARS, by the delightful and generous Emily Lockhart-- to whom I shall always be grateful because she loved and blurbed SWEET DEAD LIFE. The promotion for LIARS has been quite clever, with the focus being on not revealing the ending (because really, you can't with this book) and emphasizing the idea of  liars and unreliable narrators and basically putting out the tease of the mystery in all these well-plotted ways for months and months before it hit the shelves on 5/13. Of course the best type of publicity is still word of mouth, but campaigns the size and breadth of these pretty much insure that word of mouth is going to happen and won't just be something that miraculously occurs. 

Even on my smaller potatoes level, I know that the unexpectedly continual word of mouth for DREAMING ANASTASIA back in 2009 was certainly to some extent miraculous, but to an even larger extent, the work of my publicist at the time. I was his first YA book and he wanted to show that he could take an unknown high school teacher and make her book sell. Which he truly did and for which I am forever grateful. (yes, I worked very hard on marketing and still do. But he focused that work and partnered with me to make sure what I did made a difference.)

Let me interject here that one clear component for me has always been the two-pronged effects of the wonderful bloggers who support me and my books and the amazing and tireless indie booksellers who hand sell my titles. I owe them a million sparkly things. And I make my appreciation and adoration known to them regularly. Like now! :)

And then there are those--including some very successful self-pubbed authors, particularly those who write romance-- who manage those prodigious and highly successful marketing campaigns on their own.  

The truth of course is that there is very little authors can actually control in making a book successful. We can write the best book possible. We can make ourselves accessible. But for the most part, we cannot control the cover, or store placement or co-op money or whether we're going to be a lead title or whether we will be widely stocked or even where. We can simply keep writing better and better books.

So if you're reading this, your question is: What book marketing campaigns have stood out to you and why? What, beyond word of mouth, makes you take a second glance at  book and pick it up? 

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