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5 things I’ve Learned About DIY Book Marketing

By The Writing Life, Trailers, writing advice
One of the biggest misconceptions I once had as an author was that most of my book promotion would be handled by someone else. What I’ve learned over the years is that some part of the task of marketing my work will fall on me, regardless of where I am in my career. This has been especially true during the Covid pandemic when we’ve all had to pivot to the virtual space. How do we promote interest in our books now? How do we continue to create community with our readers long distance? And how can we do it without feeling like we've become sales people? My assistant, Kerri Poore, and I have been giving this a lot of thought. We’ve been working together since 2019, when she helped oversee the redesign of this website. And this summer, we decided together to take a closer look at social media connections, specifically at Instagram. Working in the do-it-yourself design site Canva, Kerri has designed a few fun items that support my new IGTV series, One-Minute Writing Tips, that many of you have been enjoying. (Check it out for your own practice or your students’ work.) She also created little homemade micro ads for Merci Suárez Can’t Dance. None of this is Madison-Avenue ready, but I think that’s the point. We wanted to create good looking materials that really do come from us and that don't feel overly processed. So what have we learned? Here are five things we thought we should...
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An author’s guide to DIY teacher materials for your books

By Discussion materials, Teachers' Guide, Trailers
Having a beautiful new book in the world is only part of the job of connecting with readers. Another important way to connect is by making it easy for teachers and librarians to use your work as part of their classroom or independent reading programs. But what does that look like if you’re making these materials yourself? And what are the most popular types of materials that teachers are looking for? Car template for Tia Isa Wants a Car To find out, I spoke to Kathleen O’Rourke, Executive Director of Educational Sales and Marketing at Candlewick Press. She confirmed what I’ve learned over the last ten years. “Teachers have limited time to teach all that is required... so providing them with materials that are simple, accessible, and effective are your best bet." Top three picks Discussion Guide for Yaqui Delgado  1. A discussion guide:  Not every title on a publisher’s list will get a discussion guide designed in-house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t design one yourself using the principles your publisher uses. “A good discussion guide can be used to start a class discussion, assign written responses, or encourage a librarian to use your title with a book group,” says O’Rourke.  “[You want] thoughtful discussion questions that a teacher can either provide the students before they read the book to help guide their reading or that can be used after the book has been read to help the students think critically about the story." When I’ve designed my own...
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A Playlist for Burn Baby Burn!

By The Writing Life, Trailers

It’s snowing outside and freezing here in Virginia. So here’s something that can get you up and moving inside. Every decade has music that defines it. The 1970s was disco, punk, and the early work rock legends. I loved it all, to be honest. Copyright laws keep me from posting clips of all the songs mentioned in the novel, but here’s a slideshow of the albums and artists that made their way into Burn Baby Burn. Whether you loved the dancing queens or said that “disco sucks,”  there’s something to dance to here. Enjoy! [wpvideo w24gOLkT]

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Stars & Thoughts: On the New Trailer for Burn Baby Burn

By The Writing Life, Trailers

After months of some serious anxiety over my upcoming novel, I’ve been getting some good news about Burn Baby Burn, which is due in bookstores on March 8.  Book Riot gave it a nice shout out last month, and it was listed as an anticipated 2016 title on the Barnes & Noble Teen blog by my pals at We Need Diverse Books. It’s also been named a Junior Library Guild selection and has earned a starred review on Kirkus. Today, Shelf Awareness premiered the trailer. In case you aren’t subscribed to the industry newsletter, here it is below. Please feel free to share the trailer if you like what you see. I finally hired a professional to handle the production this time around. Why? You’ve seen my past trailers:  super basic via i-movie or keynote and Quicktime.  I started making trailers a few years ago thanks to SCBWI’s Chris Cheng who gave a terrific workshop on how to make DIY ads for your books. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed doing them, but the truth is that they’re a stretch for a novice like me. When you’re a rookie, it shows. (No need to spare my feelings. I know.) Rich Bailey of Shooting Richard produced the Burn Baby Burn trailer – which is to say he had to deal with a very persnickety author offering ideas and opinions. (Poor guy.) To keep costs down, I came to him with the basic storyboard concept and text. He made the magic. Here below is a Q & A…

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A book birthday – and time to remember las abuelas who inspired the story

By Appearances, picture books, Trailers

Today is the book birthday for Mango, Abuela and Me – my second picture book, so sweetly illustrated by the talented Angela Dominguez.  So far, so good. It has earned very nice reviews and mentions, including stars in Booklist and PW. Plus, I got word last week that it has gone into its first reprinting, so I’m thrilled, to say the least. This time around, I’m delaying the launch a couple of weeks until Sunday, September 13, 2015, 1 PM – 3 PM. That’s when my pal, Gigi Amateau (Two for Joy) and I will do a joint book event at bbgb in Carytown to celebrate our new books and, even more important, National Grandparents Day. According to USA Today, more than 4.9 million kids in America are being raised by their grandparents, a number that basically doubled since 2000. That wasn’t exactly the case for Gigi and me, but our grandmothers helped raise us just the same, and we love them for it. Our own grandmothers are gone, but Grammy, Abuela Bena and Abuela Fefa continue to make impact on us as women, mothers, and authors. Benita Metauten was my mother’s mother. She had an eighth grade education and rolled cigars for a living in her family’s small enterprise. She would eventually marry a bicycle salesman, have four children, and find herself in the US. When she arrived from Cuba in 1968 –her nerves in tatters – I wasn’t sure I’d like her. The worried look on her face and the…

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Trailer for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

By The Writing Life, Trailers

It’s Unity Day at pacer.org’s National Bullying Prevention Center.  I didn’t buy my orange t-shirt, but I did finish the trailer for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, my upcoming YA novel that’s about this very topic. I shot the footage in Queens a couple of months ago when I was home for a visit. Brought back a lot of memories. (Some that made me shudder.) [wpvideo jfB70Xin]

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