Dec 16, 2011

Tamora Pierce has never let me down

Honestly. Not once, in 28 books, have I been disappointed or thought a plot was mediocre or disliked a character. Not once! I don't think I can say that about any other author (well, maybe my old faves Eleanor Estes and Elizabeth Enright.)

So perhaps you can tell that I've just finished Mastiff, the final book in the Beka Cooper trilogy - WOW! SO gratifying, right up until the very, very end. Of course I was smiling and crying for the last 50 pages. I just never get tired of Tortall and its people.

I've met Tamora Pierce a few times and even got to sit next to her at a publishing dinner once because none of the "big shots" at the dinner had read any of her books. I count that dinner as one of the many blessings that working in this business has given me - to actually meet and talk with someone you admire, to ask questions, to gush, is amazing.

If you're already a fan and you haven't read Mastiff, take the weekend and DO IT. If you're not a fan yet, then pick up a book and get started!

Dec 7, 2011

Making the Web Work for You

Maybe we've mentioned how much we love the folks at the Highlights Foundation? We really do, and we think the Founders Workshops they give in Honesdale, PA are a great place for learning and/or networking.

We'll be sharing insights at a Founders Workshop March 4-8, 2012, called Making the Web Work for You, along with additional faculty Lindsey Leavitt and Katie Davis and special guests Jules Danielson and Paul Crichton. This workshop promises to give you the tools you need to put your name and your stories in front of thousands of eager readers.

Highlights asked us to answer a few questions to give potential attendees an advance look...

Highlights Foundation: Why does an author who has yet published a book need to worry about self-promotion?

Bobbie Combs: Why indeed? I think the answer would depend on what your goals are as an author. If you just want to write a book for yourself and/or your family, that's fine. Then maybe you wouldn't care about promoting yourself or your book. That said, I don't think I've ever met one author who felt this way: "Oh, I'll just write this one book and then go on with my life, try something else." The authors I've met want to publish that first book, and then another, and then an award-winning one, and then a best-selling one . . . that's the way this particular dream usually goes. And if that is your dream—to be a published author, not just of one book but of a body of work—then I think you need to treat yourself and your talent as a small business. You are an entrepreneur, creating a unique idea/product to share with the world. And as with all entrepreneurs, all small businesses, your customers will usually not just stumble across your product/idea/invention as they go through their day. You need to do something to bring it to the attention of the world. Why should they choose your book over your competitor's book? Why should they want to read the story you have to tell? Is there something interesting about you that would resound with them and make them want to read your book? What do they have in common with you that would make them curious about what you have to say?

A lot of successful entrepreneurs and celebrities give interviews that reference all the years of work before they "made it." But during those years of ascension, everything they did was about branding themselves: their "look," their sound, their business strategy, so that when their big break came, they were ready. That's what I think you as an author can do while you continue to write and submit to publishers: lay the groundwork. Attend conferences and get your name out there. Blog, and comment on other blogs, to build name recognition. Build a website (or use your blog as a blog site) and share some of your writing with the world. Learn all you can about contracts, rights, agents—the equivalent of crafting your own business strategy. Do all this, and when your big break comes, everyone will see you for the professional you are.

Highlights Foundation: If you had to choose one social media outlet, which would it be and why?

Laurina Cashin: My quick answer to this question would be to choose the outlet that appeals to you most because that's the one you'll use. All factors being equal, though, I'd choose Twitter because it's versatile, and the character limit makes it quick. With links and re-tweets you get brevity AND substance; with tags you can reach more people and hopefully increase your followers. Also, you can easily turn tweets into Facebook comments, and you can tweet blog posts. See what I mean about versatile?

Dec 2, 2011

We finally watched an episode of the Simpsons

...and we laughed our heads off. It's really not our kind of show, but PW Children's Bookshelf tipped us off to this episode called The Book Job, where they (brilliantly) spoof the teen lit genre.  You can watch it on Hulu here: