Yesterday, I described how Kristen Kittscher launched her debut middle grade mystery THE WIG IN THE WINDOW. Today, I’ll share a little of what I took away from our discussion.
Kristen urged me that when it came time to debut to “do the things you like doing and focus on those.” She also cautioned that while I might feel I have to do a book trailer or a blog, “if you’re doing the same things that everyone else is doing, they aren’t going to stand out.”
Now that she’s been through the debut experience, she has a better understanding of how to reach her market. “I thought that as a middle grade author, I needed to do the same things that YA authors were doing. If I had to do it all over again, I’d pay more attention to what authors were doing for books like mine.”
She recommends that you invite everyone you know to your book launch, seconding what my friend Allyson Valentine Schrier said. Allyson’s book, HOW NOT TO FIND A BOYFRIEND launched this summer, and her Penguin sales rep was blown away by the crowd. I asked Allyson what she did to attract them and she said,
I invited people from all walks of life using evite. Thus, I had people like my accountant attend, my old babysitter, a bunch of folks from the Altzheimers Association. I think it is worthwhile to invite people from all walks of life because you will be surprised to find that many of the outliers show up.
Kristen was astounded by how many of her former middle school students, some of them now adults, were in the audience. To be honest, her experience and Allyson’s have given me the courage to add people to my invite list who I might have felt too self-conscious or shy to include otherwise.
Kristen also encourages writers to say yes, if someone offers to use their connections to help you reach decision makers– even if it’s a long-shot. A politico friend in DC offered to get the book to the Obamas. Nothing came of it, but Kristen tried. And her mother’s cousin, Pete the Produce Man on the Today Show? Kristen’s ready to remind him that she will stop by any time and talk about beets. (Read the book and you’ll understand.)
And don’t be shy about suggesting marketing or promotional ideas to your publisher. “I try to be mildly annoying about it, but pleasant,” Kristen said. Publishers are squeezed for time, she says, so think of things you’d like to do, but don’t be sad if they don’t happen.
One thing she’ll definitely keep doing is supporting indie bookstores and other writers. “Indie bookstores have true grassroots power and can make a real difference in a book’s success.”
Many thanks to Kristen Kittscher, debut author of THE WIG IN THE WINDOW, available through indie bookstores and online.