Thursday, September 24, 2009

Novel 1 and Novel 2 - Things Learned

Back in January 2008, when I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was released, I was excited. Sure, scared too, but mostly excited. And so many people here in this wonderful writing community were excited for me.

YA was on the verge of exploding - in that coming year and the year after, many of YOU would have your first YA sale! The class of 2k7 was the first group to band together and see what the power of numbers could do. The class of 2k8 followed, and YA author Liz Gallagher and I were the first releases of that second class.

Excitement is a good thing when a book is released. Excitement is contagious. And excitement, not just mine, but yours, carried me far. In just short three months, over xxx copies of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME were sold. (I had a number here, then wondered if that's tacky? I'm clueless sometimes as to what is okay to say and what isn't. Please forgive me!)

Fast forward a year, to December, 2008. Out in the world, a lot is happening. The stock market has plummeted. People have lost jobs. The world's financial market is on the verge of collapse. It feels as if at any moment, the rug is going to be pulled out from under us and it's going to be one big free-fall.

And there I was, with a second novel, FAR FROM YOU, to be released amongst all of that.

I was afraid.

Afraid of what was happening out there.
Afraid my second book wouldn't be liked as much as my first.
Afraid to promote because who wants to ask people to buy a book when the world is falling apart?

It will come as no surprise that I now can say quite confidently one cannot effectively sell a book (and yes, that IS our job once the book is released) from a place of fear. Especially when there is another author around every corner who is happy, excited, supported by others, and is anything BUT afraid.

I have learned a lot over the past two years. Some of it because of what I have experienced personally and some of it from watching all of you. I believe the keys to successful promotion are as follows:

1) Write the best book you can write. It really is THE most important thing.
2) Be excited. Be proud. And don't be afraid to let that excitement and pride come through.
3) Make a plan to promote your book and work that plan hard
4) Figure out what you are best at as far as promotion and DO THAT. And do NOT kick yourself because you can't do this or that as well as Miss Marketing Guru over there. It's okay.
5) Find ways - ideas, services, articles, presentations, etc. - that reach out and help other people. Author Kate Messner and Shelli Johannes-Wells have really taught me about this one. Round-about exposure is often the best kind.
6) Band together with other authors as much as possible. There really IS power in the numbers.
7) Think outside the box. Look for new, creative ways to bring exposure to your book(s).
8) Support other authors as much as possible. Be an advocate for YA literature whenever you can.


  1. Great Post, Lisa. I'd say, do what you can afford as far as promotion. You shouldn't go broke trying to be everywhere, do everything for your novel. Web presence counts for a lot. :-)

    (Not that I know)

  2. Lisa,
    Good to know. I'm still at the write the best book/s you can (and then sell it!) stage, but I wanted to say I love how amazingly generous and supportive YA/kidlit authors are as a community (as your post amply demonstrates). Another reason I love to write in this genre!

  3. I think that social networking is key. Mari Mancusi created a myspace page for Boys that Bite before the novel came out, and added me as a friend. That's how I found out about her book, and I quickly became engrossed in the whole series. Also, I agree with a lot of what you said about authors banding together. A lot of authors I respect have recommended new novels by relatively unknown authors that I have picked up and LOVED.

  4. I think the banding together point is a great one (though sadly I'm speaking theoretically here, as my draft is still in the refining process). But if you're fighting a tough battle, you want as many people on your side as you can, right?

    Plus I'm amazed at the support YA authors give to each other. I'm not sure if it's because they're all trying to get kids to read, which is even more important than book sales, or if writing for kids just makes you a nicer person, but I love they way they cheer each other on. (Seriously, have you seen the way they all tweet about each other's projects?) It always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  5. Wonderful tips. I love the positive attitude this projects and will try to tatoo it in my brain (eew) so I can't forget.

  6. Hi :)
    Thank you for the great post Lisa.
    I discovered you & your novels via Twitter. Twitter is great for promotions because of the fantastic blog links people post there.
    I've bought more books through that online promotion than anything else.
    All the best,
    twitter: @RKCharron
    PS - Blog author interviews & book reviews are a great promotional tool.

  7. great tips - I agree :) esp #5 - that shelli girl is brilliant! ;)

  8. on a serious note - I read your book last fall and was enamored with you. It is so weird to think you are referencing me in your blog - ahhhhh it's crazy! :) I love you man!