Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Marketing Questions

BookEnds Literary posted some of the questions they see publishers ask new clients to answer when they sign a book. When I first saw this, I thought, neat. It didn't apply to me, right? I'm not published yet--and if when I do get published, I'll worry about it then. But--the kinds of questions this asks is stuff I should know before and as I am writing, and would help me stay focused. So here it is--the BookEnds questions, followed by my own answers.

  • What are the main points about you and/or the book that should be emphasized to the media? My book: A contemporary fantasy for the tween age group about a girl who isn't sure about whether doing the right thing is worth it when she gets a chance to have everything she's ever wanted. About me: A high school teacher with experience in the age range, a Masters degree in literature, and Nationally Board Certified.
  • Who do you think will buy your book (i.e., your market)? Tween girls--although I do hope to have some crossover with tween boys with a strong male secondary character.
  • If you could construct an interview for yourself, what questions would you want to be asked? Can you come up with about 5 to 10 questions and answers for this self-interview? 1) How did your career as a teacher influence your book? --Several of the characters in the novel are based on actual students I have had--and the teacher is based on myself! Although I'm not an imprisoned witch, I do have an unconventional way of teaching, and much of Ms. Wendt's attitude is my own. 2) What would you say to kids who read your book and would like to become writers themselves? --First, live life. Given the choice to close yourself up in a room and write or experience something new, go with the new experience. Once you've done new things and really explored the world around you, then you are ready to write. 3) In your story, the characters travel to the remote Mediterranean island of Malta. Have you ever been there, and what was it like? --I traveled to Malta my sophomore year of college. It was a wonderful experience. That was the first time I'd ever traveled internationally (excluding Mexico), and it really was like stepping into an entirely different world. Since then, I've gone to 6 other countries, but Malta was my first, and my most magical. I tried to accurately show the landscape of some of my favorite places in Malta: Hagar Qim archeology dig, Valletta, and the medieval-esque streets of the Silent City. And while the Torri might not really be entryways into ancient alchemical forests, Malta's a place of mystery and magic unlike any other I've been to. can't think of any more questions! This section is getting long--I'm moving on.
  • Are there any anniversaries, occasions or events upcoming to which we might tie the publicity for your book? As the book takes place at the beginning of the school year, I think marketing it late August/early September would be best, to coincide with that time.
  • Is there any competition for your book? How are the other books alike? How are they dissimilar? I think that while there are many MG fantasies on the market (in fact, much of the MG market is fantasy), my book is different because: 1) it's not the children who are magical; 2) there is a slightly edgier/darker tone to the magic; 3) there are consequences to the magic. The closest book currently on market is the YA novel by Justine Larbalestier, Magic or Madness, where the magical characters have dark consequences for using or not using their magic.
  • What was your inspiration for the book? There were several. Part of my reason in writing this novel is to be different. I wanted a book with magic--that was always my favorite kind of book to read or write--but I didn't want magic to solve all the problems. Actually, I wanted magic to be a bit of the problem itself. And I thought the idea of having the kid find out she is magical was a bit overdone--or at least, I couldn't think of a way to do that in a unique way. So I gave the magic to the teacher, not the kids. And I also wanted to show a hard decision for the main character. I didn't want things to be black and white. I didn't want the villain to be black or white, either--I wanted to give him motivation and logic behind his evil-ness that some people--including the main character--could actually sympathize with. And finally, I wanted to use an obscure myth as background for the book. I was looking for new creatures to write about--not just dragons and unicorns again--and wanted something that really hadn't been written about before. I found the chimera, which, of course, led to Bellerophon, the hero who fought him, and Belle Ravenna was born.
  • Who are your favorite authors? CS Lewis, Patricia Wrede, Robin McKinley, JK Rowling
  • Tell us anything about you as a working writer that you think might be interesting or unusual. I wrote my first novel in college because I was bored with my professors' lectures. Even now, I always write best when I'm somewhere where I'm bored. I pretend to take notes, but I'm really plotting!
  • What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading your book? I hope they think about how there are shades of gray in our decisions, and that often, people are not all good or bad, but have reasons for doing what they do, even if it seems wrong. Also, a large part of my book is about accepting yourself for who you are, and not letting others--even yourself--look down upon you, while at the same time not striving and changing yourself to be different from who you really are.
Was this helpful? For me, it was. I not only envisioned new things about my writing, but I can see how doing something like this would help in starting a new WIP--it may help keep me focused on the main points.

What about you? If you were to answer these questions, what would you say? Share in the comments--or if you post about it on your blog, share a link so we can all see!


PJ Hoover said...

Great questions and answers! And I think boys will definitely like your book, too!

lotusgirl said...

Thanks for sharing these. I'll have to blog about it when I have a good chunk of time. I still haven't even gotten to my wed. book review this week and wed. is about over so I better get crackin' on that.

I love your answers. I look forward to getting to read your book sometime. I enjoyed the Magic or Madness series. Your favorite authors are some of my favorite authors too.

I especially love how you plot while pretending to take notes. Very sly!

Christina Farley said...

I loved this! Very intresting

Unknown said...

Thanks PJ and Chris!

Lois--My professors always thought that I was such a good student...and later, when I started a career, whenever I am in meetings, it looks like I am taking notes. Little do they know... :)

Keri Mikulski said...

Great questions. I'm saving these for the sequel to SCREWBALL. Thanks. :)

Adrienne said...

Thanks for sharing this. What a great exercise. I liked your interview Q & A's, especially the first!

Vivian Mahoney said...

Great answers! Of course, I'm now curious about your teaching style. Your students must love you!

Unknown said...

Keri--Good idea! Adrienne-- Thanks :) Vivian--I would really like to give some of my students a copy of my book, but I am afraid that they would recognize themselves as the students! I hope the kids like me--I am pretty unconventional (what a nice, nonspecific word!) but also pretty tough. :)

Angela said...

Beth -
Great information.

I LOVE Malta too!