Tag Archives: teen readers

Scattergun Promotions (Guest Blog with Bev. Cooke)

…Not the best choice

Everybody tells you to promote – you have to get your name out there, make sure the entire world knows who you are, that you’ve got zillions of followers on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook and a Klout number in the high 80s.

If you’re not careful, you can spend all your time promoting and have nothing to show for it, including new and better writing. What most experts propose is a “scattergun” approach: throw a lot of stuff around all over the place and you’re bound to hit something. But is that the best way to get your name out there? Probably not, especially when you’re writing for kids.

You have to be careful about how and where and what you promote. Targeting carefully, planning ahead and looking to the long term are probably better strategies than simply putting yourself all over the place.

Ask yourself why you write, and why you write for kids. Lots of money and fame? Your books in print for generations? Awards and recognition for your quality? Movie and TV deals? All of those are legitimate goals, but each of them needs a specific marketing strategy. Take some time and define what success means to you. Once you know that, you’re in a much better position to adjust your promotion to fit your writing goals.

For whom do you write? There’s a big difference between writing board books for toddlers, picture books for kindergarteners and novels for young adults. Your readers are the people you promote to. If you write young adults, why aren’t you on teen sites, teen forums and teen places on the net? Do you do volunteer work with teens? Why not? If you’re writing picture books and books for younger kids, then why aren’t you on parenting sites, writing for parenting and grandparenting magazines, hooking up with parenting groups and grandparenting groups? And why aren’t you, whichever group you write for, hooking up with librarians, schools and bookstore owners? Promoting to other writers can help you broaden your audience reach, as they promote you to their readers, but promoting only to other writers is a bad mistake.

A lot of marketing strategies are designed for and by extroverts – people who love people and can talk easily and well with strangers about just about anything. Their twitter posts are always funny, pointed and brilliant. Status updates are layered, elegant and erudite. They stand in front of a room full of kids wearing silly costumes, make a fool out of themselves and love every minute of it. Introverts can’t do that.

One thing that comes through clearly whether you’re in person or on the web is how relaxed and genuine you are when you’re talking to strangers, acting a role you may not be used to or taking risks with your personality type. If you’re not the kind of person who can wear a lamp shade and do the fandango on the dining room table while sober, chances are you’re not going to be able to don a costume, act silly and make a fool out of yourself to promote your book. So don’t try. Find ways that let you be you when you promote your book and yourself. It’s the same on the web. If you have a knack for coming up with pithy phrases, great puns or plays on words and fantastic one liners, then twitter is probably a good venue. If not, don’t go there.

If all you’re doing is following the advice of experts without thinking about who you are, what you want to accomplish with promotion and how long it’s going to take you to reach your writing goals, then you’re not doing yourself any favours, and you may even be doing yourself harm. In all the frenzy of getting your name and your books out there, you’re forgetting why you’re promoting. As a writer friend of mine pointed out: we are writers. If we don’t deliver the content after all the hype, no amount of promotion or marketing is going to sustain us for the long term.

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Meet our guest:

Bev. Cooke is a young adult writer and writing coach whose books appeal to both teens and adults. Her marketing strategies are tailored for her audiences – writers, teens and adults. She’s published “Feral” from Orca Book Publishers, about street life seen through a cat’s eyes, “Royal Monastic” the first book length biography of Princess Ileana of Romania, and Keeper of the Light, an historical fiction for midgrade and young adults about an early Christian saint, both published by Conciliar Press. Bev and her family converted to the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith in 2003, and she’s been active in that writing and religious world ever since. She blogs at Bevnal Abbey Scriptorium http://bevnalabbeyscriptorium.wordpress.com/ and is on Facebook at Bev. Cooke, writer.


Don’t be dissin’ Ellen (Hopkins)

Ellen Hopkins is the latest victim in the fight to protect the young from reality. You can read the beginning of this dreadful saga at Ms. Hopkins’ blog, Censorship Bites.  In a follow up post to her original, she made a request that people might contact Mr. Sconzo. I did just thats. I then decided to write my own post on this, but then I saw how many others had done that and decided to post the letter I sent Mr. Sconzo instead. So below is my response to this insanity.

Mr. Sconzo, 

My name is Karen Syed and I am the president of Echelon Press Publishing based in Laurel, MD. It has recently been brought to my attention as well as the attention of the industry that you played a key role in having Ellen Hopkins removed from the appearance roster of the Teen Lit Fest. How sad I find this. 

While I do not live in your area, I do not have children in your school, and I will not be attending the Lit Fest, I still feel it important that you know the possible impact your actions may have on the lives of many young readers. We live in such a peculiar society. We complain incessantly about the decreasing test scores, the rise of adult illiteracy, and the overall rise in crimes and suicides being committed by young adults. Why do you think this is? Young adults are talked down to, they are sheltered from anything that might actually help them make important decisions in their lives, and they are discouraged from thinking for themselves. 

One important factor is the lack of intelligent reading materials available to engage young readers and make them want to increase their skills and allow them to become intelligent and productive adults. 

Then, there is the overwhelming amount of gratuitous violence made available in the media outlets (videos, video games, even music). By disengaging young people from the opportunity to meet and be inspired by an author of Ms. Hopkins’ caliber, you have made it even more probable that they will spend the time—which might be better spent at the Lit Fest meeting Ms. Hopkins—at home glued to a televisions with a movie or a video game teaching them how to kill more effectively. 

Ms. Hopkins has become an extremely sought after author with regard to speaking to and communicating with young readers. The potential positive influence a woman of this character could have on young people is invaluable to society as a whole. Ms. Hopkins takes the time to explore issues that many think are taboo for young readers. She does not glorify these issues, she puts them into perspective and allows the readers to embrace the positive potential of making better decisions. Her works are not dark and morbid, they enlighten, and more than anything they engage young readers. Isn’t this what we want for our future generations? To be engaged enough to care about something other than violence. 

I have had the honor of being a co-presenter at an event with Ms. Hopkins that took place at a high school. She is not only intelligent, she is committed to the idea that her books help young readers while entertaining them. She is exactly what an event like the Lit Fest deserves to have. She is exactly who the attendees of the Lit Fest deserve to come in contact with. 

It is a shame that you have chosen to censor her and her works on behalf of those you claim to be committed to. You have, in turn, probably done more harm than Ms. Hopkins and her work ever could and you have infringed on the rights of those young readers who would have benefitted from knowing her. 

I sincerely hope that in the future you will actually consider the needs of your charges as opposed to the importance of your own personal opinions. 

Karen Syed, President, Echelon Press LLC
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