Q&A with Laurel Snyder discussion

Book promotion

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message 1: by Zach (new)

Zach Fortier (zach_fortier) | 1 comments I am curious what you have found gave you the most bang for your efforts in promoting your books? Seems to me to be a very hit and miss effort by all of us. What are your thoughts?

message 2: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 22 comments Mod
Ach, it is SO hard, and this doesn't change. It's a challenge each time. Every now and then something unexpected happens (like my last book got a New York Times review, or Penny Dreadful was short-listed for the EB White Award) ) but obviously I have NO control over that.

I follow three rules:

1. I don't do things I hate to do, because we aren't good at things we hate, and it shows.

2. I try to be very available and myself in social media. Because if you're a phony people know it.

3. I try to think outside the box, do something different for each book. Because if you get too stuck on the traditional things (which you rarely have control over) you get disappointed.

In concrete terms, the best thing you can do is connect with actual kids. Last fall I skyped with 100 classrooms. I know this sounds insane, but it was AMAZING. I didn't push the books or anything. I just made myself available to teachers, and I think, in the end, that boosted sales. And in some cases it resulted in media as well. Teachers read the book and wrote study guides. Kids blogged about it. I think that building your actual community is much better in the long run that trying to promote by talking about yourself. Does that make sense? Also it's good for everyone, and it's fun.

The other thing I'll suggest it that it's always good to go beyond the bookish world. I write Jewish picture books, and the Jewish community has been AWESOME in helping spread the word. One of my books, Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher, is now in a ton of synagogue bookstores, and has even been used in religious services.

SO if you have a book with a food tie-in, try to build inroads with the food world. If there's a nature theme, talk to gardening stores, etc. You'd be surprised the places books can sell.

Is this at all helpful? Happy to answer more specific questions...

message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Einstein (rebeccaschorr) | 1 comments Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher...has even been used in religious services.

And was a HUGE hit!!!

message 4: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 22 comments Mod
Frume Sarah wrote: "Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher...has even been used in religious services.

And was a HUGE hit!!!"


message 5: by Tara (new)

Tara Hall (taralhall) | 8 comments Working in a major bookstore chain, I can tell you for certain that getting your book in the hands of booksellers is an easy way to boost your sales. Free advance or reading copies are fantastic; we do read them, and only one book per store is really needed. I recommend books constantly throughout my day, and more times than not I see them walk out the door in someone's hands. The same applies to librarians (though that won't help sales as much, I imagine). I especially love promoting authors that I know don't get as much media exposure. I maintain a "Recommended Books" shelf for teens in my store that I and other booksellers add titles to that don't get pushed on company displays. You'll find similar displays in most bookstores.

We love books, and if we love yours, we'll tell anyone that will listen about it. Customers trust our opinions, with good reason. You might not get a New York Times review, but if you win the heart of a bookseller, it's the next best thing. :)

message 6: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 22 comments Mod
ABSOLUTELY! And those relationships can be built one by one, as you'd build any friendship.

message 7: by Colby (new)

Colby Sharp | 2 comments The interactions I have seen Laurel have with individual student readers is amazing. I know nothing of book promotion, but what I do know is that I have 4th grade readers that will read anything Laurel writes.

I love that Laurel makes it about the readers. If authors do that, the sales will come naturally. I think.

message 8: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 22 comments Mod
Mr. SHarp, You are incredibly kind. And also, your readers are special kids. They've been taught to love books by someone who knows how to teach by modeling...

message 9: by Rosanne (new)

Rosanne | 4 comments Am I too late to ask a question? Because I have a whole stack of math questions here! (kidding :-D

Right on about the marketing advice, Laurel. I'd just add that it's so much more fun to do a book event with a friend. I did an amazing book thing last year about books and string musicians with Virginia Euwer Wolff, of all amazing people! And she brought her string trio and played! It was so much cooler than anything I'd ever be able to do on my own!

So here's my question. You have these wonderfully economical stories that are rich and interesting but I'd guess are under 45,000 words. So how do you manage it? Write long and cut? Are you naturally pithy?

Lots of books for kids are twice as long. Why are you choosing shorter work?

Also when are you coming to Portland so you can do a Book Fan Friday at Powells with me?

message 10: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 22 comments Mod

Lovely to meet you!

I think part of the length question is about what you read. I tend to love shorter books myself, and so that's a lot of what I read for fun. I suppose the structure (simpler in some cases) for a book like that might trickle into my own writing. Also, yes, I cut! I slash and burn. There'a marvelous quote I often repeat, “Your language becomes clear and strong not when you can no longer add, but when you can no longer take away.” [Isaac Babel] I try really hard to follow that rule, though I never get it close enough to the bone. I try harder each time, to strip away.

As for Portland, I'd LOVE to! I might be out there in September.

message 11: by Rosanne (new)

Rosanne | 4 comments If you are headed my way, get in touch. My website has a contact me button. rosanneparry.com. We don't usually do a September Book Fan Friday because it's so early in the school year, but I'd consider it if you're in town.

Great quote from Issac Babel!

message 12: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 22 comments Mod
Absolutely will do! Or we could just get a dinner?

message 13: by Rosanne (new)

Rosanne | 4 comments Perfect!

Unexpected free day today. It snowed and my school visit was cancelled. :-( Catching up on 100 other things.

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