Catherine Linka is the author of the two book series, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and A GIRL UNDONE. Catherine was a YA book buyer for an indie bookstore for 8 years. Connect with Catherine on twitter @cblinka or FB.

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.

wiginthewindowCoverSept copy

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.


  1. Thanks for the 2-day post, Catherine! Yes, breaking through shyness is key to getting the word out about our work. A great reminder! I like the idea of doing the things that you like doing, but going out of your comfort zone can create surprisingly good results, too. Sounds like it’s best to be open and focused when marketing your book. Thanks to Kristen and Allyson for their insights, too.

    1. I enjoyed the post as well. Thank you, Kristen and Catherine! One of the things I’ve learned about going out of my comfort zone is to be prepared to fail and not take it personally or to feel like you’re a failure because one tactic failed. It can be a learning experience in so many ways–and not that you should just give up and not try that tactic again, but that you can learn from your mistakes and do it better next time. For instance, I started two blogs that failed within months before I hit on an approach that would keep my blog going for the long haul and build readers over time.

      1. Great point, Lyn. Learning how to do social media well takes trial and error. Few people succeed immediately, although their visibility may make it seem that way.

  2. Thanks, Catherine, for featuring WIG’s launch — and to you all for stopping in. I used to be very shy about the book — embarrassed, almost. Then I realized: what’s the point of writing a story to entertain others, then being embarrassed to get out there and share it? And yes, I think embracing failure as learning experiences has been the most helpful of all.

    1. No, thank YOU, Kristen. I intend to go forth and boldly embrace failure–to fail where no man has failed before!

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