I know how hard it is to promote a novel if you're not one of those "squeal factor" authors whose new release goes viral on pub date. That's why, wearing my Readergirlz Diva hat, I'm asking you to blast me with titles that may be off the radar but glitter with the possibility of word-of-mouth magic.
I'm talking books like Kashmira Sheth's amazing Keeping Corner, which got four starred reviews -- PW, Kirkus, SLJ, and Booklist -- but somehow missed the buzz during awards season.
Got another title like that? Bring it.
- Hit List or Hot List: How Teens Read Now, presented by Rosemary Chance and Teri Lesesne
- Inside the Authors’ Studios: Award Winners Right Out of the Gate, presented by Lisa Wemett and Olivia Durant
- Never Enough Nonfiction, presented by Pam Spencer Holley
- Listening to Literature, presented by Sharon Grover and Francisca Goldsmith
- Just Keepin’ It Real: Teens Reading Out of the Mainstream, presented by Rollie Welch
- Reading: It’s Not Just about Books Anymore, presented by Linda Braun
- Thrilling Young Adults: How to Keep the Attention of Today’s Teens, presented by Amy Alessio
- Quickest of YALSA’s Quick Picks, presented by Diana Tixier Herald and Diane P. Monnier
- Zine-a-Paloosa 2008: Teens and Zines!, presented by Julie Bartel
- Explaining and Exploring Fandom, Fan Life, and Participatory Culture, presented by Liz Burns
- Beyond the Rainbow Canon: Books for LGBT Teens, presented by Angie Miraflor and Daisy Porter
- Books between Cultures, presented by Mitali Perkins (me!)
- Connections: YA Literature and Curriculum, presented by Jane P. Fenn
- Teen Readers' Advisory: How Research Informs Practice, presented by Jessica E. Moyer
Be teachable. A conversation isn’t about one person sharing knowledge and information with another. That’s better known as a lecture (or so I've been told). Listen to teens, allowing them and others to inform your opinions.
Be honorable. It’s okay to take issue with a candidate’s positions, but disparaging his or her character is a definite turnoff to teens and twenty-somethings. To everyone, in fact.
Be flexible. Your candidate isn’t Jesus. Teens appreciate hearing how we disagree with the person we support. Give them the grace to do the same, and don't take differing opinions personally. Endorsing your candidate's opponent doesn't mean a young person is repudiating your authority. Although it might.
Be controversial. Surprise and provoke them once in a while by saying something radical, starting with “I totally disagree with _____” or “I 100% agree that ____.”
Be passionate. Caring deeply about an election is contagious. Young people who watch us thinking deeply and talking freely about our opinions will be more likely to do the same. And they’ll be more likely to vote now and in the future if they remember us faithfully trekking to the ballot box during primaries and elections.
Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) is the author of two novels about a candidate’s daughter, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover and First Daughter: White House Rules (Dutton). Her main character, Sameera Righton, described by Publishers Weekly as “an intelligent, witty and prepossessed heroine," is keeping track of the hype around the REAL First Kid wannabes at www.sparrowblog.com. To learn more about the novels, visit firstdaughterbooks.com.
If "every childhood lasts a lifetime," as they say, so does the undoubted influence of picture books, and the world views they convey, in children's lives. Translating stories into a language that needs no introduction to children, even when the subject matter is complex, children's book illustrators communicate with their audience in a very unique way: being the language of imagination, the art of illustration lends itself perfectly to direct communication, without cultural or language barriers.The premier place on the web about Pacific Rim and South Asian books for young readers (honored by the ALA as a Great Website), PaperTigers has also started an exciting new book club:
The Tiger's Bookshelf: It's a blog–it's a book group– it's a new meeting ground for readers who love children's books and who enjoy chatting about what they read! It's a place to find out what other people are reading and to make recommendations of your own. It's also the most convenient and the most all-encompassing book group that you will ever be part of. Join people of all ages and from all parts of the globe to read - and talk about - the monthly "Tiger's Choice" at times that are convenient to you, when you choose. Come one, come all!
I so admire author Justina Chen Headley's efforts to engage this generation. She's traveling with Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Teter to inspire girls to community service through the Girl Overboard Challenge Grants:
Burton Snowboards and Girl Overboard author Justina Chen Headley, in partnership with Youth Venture, are co-sponsoring the Go Overboard Challenge Grant to find the best youth-led ideas to change the world.
Commit to a cause you're already passionate about -- whether it's saving the environment, ending world hunger, or protecting endangered species. Olympic Gold medalist Hannah Teter, with the help of Green Mountain Sugar House, bottles Vermont-grown maple syrup-Hannah's Gold to earn money for AIDS orphans in Africa. Justina co-founded readergirlz -- an online book community -- to promote teen girl literacy. And Syrah in Girl Overboard spearheaded a huge snowboarding event to raise awareness for cancer. So think about a problem and figure out a solution!
Then tell us how you, your club, your team, or your entire school will Go Overboard. The best ideas will win one of the many Go Overboard Challenge Grants of up to $1,000 each. So get ready to change the world with your plans.BTW, Justina's YA novel Girl Overboard is a premiere Junior Guild selection!
Today the Globe contacted me about the possibility of mentioning the First Daughter books on their lit page -- all thanks to a local independent bookstore with a great reputation. I'll keep you posted, don't worry. :)
FIRST DAUGHTER: WHITE HOUSE RULES
by Mitali Perkins, ages 11-up, Fiction, Dutton Books
Sequel to First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover
In what Booklist calls two “smart and funny” novels, sixteen-year-old Sameera, also known as Sparrow, hits the campaign trail with her father and moves into the White House. Publishers Weekly describes her as an “intelligent, witty and prepossessed heroine,” and says readers will “enjoy this peek at the behind-the-scenes finessing that goes on in modern politics.”
Readers can go to sparrowblog
BOSTON SUPER BOOK LAUNCH PARTY!
If you’re in the Boston area, Wellesley Booksmith invites you to a book launch party at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 3rd. Yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday (Go Pats!) but you’ll be home in plenty of time to watch the game -- and be geared up for Tsunami Tuesday, when Massachusetts voters head to the primaries along with voters in 23 other states.
At the party, you’ll get the skinny on the REAL candidates’ kids, play fun trivia games, win prizes, and find out more about election ’08. Come discover how a fictional First Daughter wannabe handles the fun, glitz, and challenges of life in the political limelight. Visit Wellesley Booksmith for more information and RSVP to mitaliperk - at - yahoo - dot - com or in the comments.
82 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
- Create a web page for your book to grab potential readers.
- Syndicate your blog(s) at Feedburner (bloggers should do this, too).
- Invest in an ad via Google Adwords (see mine below) and on Facebook -- make sure you pick keywords carefully.
- Use AddThis to put social networking buttons at the bottom of every post.
- Generate a Facebook Page for the novel.
- Create a widget at Springwidgets to display your blog on your MySpace page, the sidebar of other blogs (note my sparrowblog content to the right) and/or on your website.
- Import your blog(s) into Amazon.com so that the content shows up for all your titles.
- Create a widget featuring your book(s) at Adaptive Blue for your sidebars -- see mine as an example to the right.
- Set up Google Blog Alerts with keywords related to your novel and write a two-sentence blurb that you can cut, paste, and personalize on a blog post dealing with those keywords, like I did over at the Los Angeles Times and at MSNBC.
- Make a book trailer (see mine below) using Animoto, Jumpcut, Quicktime Pro, or Apple iMovie and upload it to YouTube, Google Video, Facebook, and MySpace TV.
Book Teaser / First Daughter White House Rules
This award is moderated by the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table (SSRT), and I'm wondering why it seems to have been overlooked in ALA's award announcements.
Oh, well. Amelia rocks! And I'm wearing a comfy pair of bloomers right now, my blogging outfit of choice.
"I'm delighted to see that today's authors, at long last, are writing out of a sense of freedom, that they’re doing exactly as they please. They can live in India and write about Bulgaria. They can write about their own world, and which Bob Dylan and jazz are just as prominent as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Bollywood songs. All these things form a part of our lives, so why should we allow ourselves to be forced into a corset by telling only certain stories? India has more than one story."
To underline the irony that defines the writer's life, yesterday I got "the letter" from Little Brown telling me that they're not going to print any more copies of The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen. A remainder notice has a different kind of sting than a rejection, and it sends me running to World Cat so I can remember that young readers can still meet Sunita in libraries. Now I have to decide how many books I want to rescue from the pit at seventy pennies a copy. Any suggestions?
Tomorrow I meet with a publicist to discuss the launch of First Daughter: White House Rules, releasing in nine days. It's the first time I'm investing in one of my titles with some cash for promotion. As an archetypical zero-gen immigrant, I usually I prefer to spend time instead of money by making trailers and blogging in my character's name. But as this is an election year, I feel I must give Sparrow her chance to be encountered in tweendom. I'll keep you informed.
Maybe it's a fascination with transformational, "extreme makeover" moments, when a life morphs instantly from daily grind into whirlwind glam. Or maybe it's just that "we like to watch," as Chauncey Gardener (Peter Sellers) told Eve Rand (Shirley Maclaine) in the 1970s classic flick Being There.
While we're waiting for Laura Amy Schlitz to give us the juicy, here's what happened to Cynthia Kadohata, Susan Patron, Lynne Rae Perkins, and Linda Sue Park on wintry Monday mornings in recent years.
Yesterday was report card day. Her email winged into my box, making my pulse quicken like it did in eighth grade when that Irish redhead walked to my desk for the first time. "So not to keep you in suspense," she wrote. "I like it!"
I shouted and squeezed the nearest son, the one studying the Middle Ages. He nodded and smiled and focused on his flash cards; he's been through this before.
I've written several books now, and still the process is no less agonizing. So to any writers and the writer wannabes visiting the Fire Escape on this cold and rainy Massachusetts Poetry Friday, I give you Marge Piercy's poem about true talent:
For the young who want to
BY MARGE PIERCY
Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting ...
Read the rest here.
The article highlights a plus in joining this industry: "... Creatively and emotionally, the chance to work on something that's personal without the presence of a massive corporation is special," said David Weiss, a writer of Shrek 2. But he and his colleagues are also realistic about the downside: "I don't think anyone thinks they're going to make a lot of money on it."
Welcome to our world.
Here's the first take, with my own voice doing the audio. Our high school's drama star (who's my bud) has agreed to record the final narration. I'd love some feedback from my Fire Escape visitors as I move to a more polished version.
Photo Credits (Courtesy of Creative Commons):
DSC00622 by JohnEdwards2008
Ben and Matt Romney at the Caucus by talkradionews
Governor Huckabee's New Hampshire Tour by VictoryNH
Chelsea Clinton in the Audience by Why Tuesday?
Black and White House by Scott Ableman
The White House by Scott Ableman
Beth10 by cwalker71
Big Bubba by ReelLady
New Laptop by Arbron
Burqa a Meta by FotoRita
Flickr Friends by Meer
Bollywood Couple by Photos4Dreams
Music Credits (Courtesy of CNET):
Star-Spangled Banner by GTX
Dance Vibrations by Elpis
The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek ...
Read the rest here.
From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995)
But then I took a closer look at what Lorie Ann, Janet, Dia, and Justina were asking: they wanted me to be the one to book the authors featured in the 4,500-member (and growing) forum. Basically, that means promoting other writers so that teens can connect with great novels. After a year of moaning about publicity (or lack thereof), this felt like my answer -- instead of spinning wheels in time-consuming efforts to brand myself, I could foster the love of books in general (not just my own) and join a team dedicated to literacy, girls, and stories.
Okay, my skeptical friends, you might think, "Right, Mitali. This is all about getting yourself and your books more out there." Yes, there is an element of self-promotion involved; I've usually gained secondary rewards when I make decisions in line with my primary statement of purpose. And, as my mother always reminds me, as long as my priorities are in the right order there's nothing wrong with a win-win situation. I highly recommend going away for an overnight (if possible -- take an hour in a coffee shop if that's all you've got) and coming up with a vocational manifesta of your own even if you're not a writer. Or a diva.
Our new ambassador demonstrates yet again how the circumstances of childhood can shape a satisfying vocation: Jon had five brothers and a father who loved to teach. Sounds like it took the Ambassador a while to follow his bliss, as he went to military school and studied to be a doctor first before getting his MFA from Columbia University. "I write books because I love to make kids laugh," he says. What a wonderful mission statement. Here's the full announcement in the Post.
January 1, 2008
An Open Letter to Readergirlz Around the World
When we started readergirlz way back in March on National Women’s History Month, skeptics wondered: in today’s world of IM, TIVO, and Guitar Hero, is reading even relevant to teen girls?
Well, if readergirlz is any proof, any indication, any sign of hope…YES, teen girls (and guys) are reading. Passionately. Deeply. And in droves. Let us tell you this. Not only are teens reading, they are also connecting books to their own lives. They are giving back based on what they’ve read. They are creating community. Just witness this: in ten short months, some 4,500 girls (and counting) have signed up for readergirlz. Girls around the world—from Kuwait to Kansas City—have flocked to readergirlz to chat with each other…and stellar authors, including all the ones who participated in our unprecedented 31 Flavorite Authors for Teens. These girls have cracked us up with their witticisms. They’ve humbled us with their support and insight. And they completely stoked us with their passionate love affair with story and words.
That’s good news because more than ever our world needs teens—our changemakers of today and tomorrow—to be avid readers. When you think about it, critical thinking is a direct offshoot of critical reading. Filtering out insignificant details to distill the main issue is nothing but literary analysis. More than that, reading teaches us to forge hand-in-hand through difficult times with our characters, not to avoid tough situations. Reading teaches us to dwell with our thoughts, to contemplate—not just to chunk up our time with disjointed and frenetic multitasking. Reading wakes us up to the world with all of its problems and possibilities. And reading teaches us to hope. A community of critical readers, deep thinkers, and engaged global citizens is what readergirlz hopes to create for teens in today’s world.
Don’t listen to us. Listen to what the teens themselves are saying about reading at readergirlz in particular: “Kids need this. There aren’t that many places where teens and adults get to discuss some of the very real issues of growing up in our society.” And this: “You guys are the main reason I even check my MySpace everyday because I can’t WAIT to see what new topics we have. You guys make me feel so awesome about being who I am.”
And now we give you the Readergirlz Manifesta 2008. This is what we stand for. This is what we believe. This is what we promise teen girls.
Readergirlz is committed to creating groundbreaking programs that make teen reading seriously fun. If you thought 31 Flavorite Authors for Teens was Big and Bold, just wait until you see what we’ve got planned for April, 2008.
Readergirlz is about celebrating excellent YA novels that feature strong girls with the guts to dream—and putting teen readers in direct contact with the author. You aren’t going to believe our 2008 line-up, including (drum roll, please) the brilliant Nikki Grimes (February, 2008), spectacular Sarah Dessen (March, 2008), and incandescent Shannon Hale (May, 2008).
Readergirlz is about reaching out to others based on what you've read. So continue to see how readergirlz ties every single book we feature with a community service project. And have we mentioned April, 2008?
And most of all, readergirlz continues to be about inspiring girls to make history of their own!
New Girlz on the Block
To help us in 2008, we are increasing the readergirlz ranks.
Please help us welcome our newest readergirlz diva: the critically-acclaimed YA novelist Mitali Perkins (Monsoon Summer, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, and the forthcoming First Daughter: White House Rules). You may know Mitali through her popular blog (www.mitaliblog.com/) that reviews novels with intelligence and passion, focusing on multicultural titles. We are so thrilled and honored to have Mitali join us.
In addition to our brilliant postergirlz—our advisory council of major children’s lit bloggers—we have created a second group to help us run readergirlz. Please welcome our go2girlz, made up of three exceptional writers—Holly Cupala (winner of a 2006 SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant), Sara Easterly (SCBWI co-regional advisor and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award winner for her debut children’s title, Lights, Camera & Fashion!) and Martha Brockenborough (hilarious Cinemama columnist on MSN, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and author of the forthcoming Things that Make us [SIC]). For more information, please see their websites: www.hollycupala.com; www.saraeasterly.com, and www.marthabee.com. Our fabulous go2girlz will guarantee that readergirlz continues to rock and roll for you.
Thanks for making our 2007 a veritable pageturner. We hope 2008 will be revelatory. Revolutionary. And wholly revolving around words. So to the girl who wrote us on the last night of 31 Flavorites, “You're bringing me Stephenie Meyer tonight. Do you have any idea at all of how much I love you people? Monuments shall be erected in your honor!"—we say this: just you wait for 2008. (No monuments necessary. Just more books.)
To gutsy girls worldwide,
~the readergirlz co-founders~
Justina Chen Headley, Girl Overboard
Lorie Ann Grover, On Pointe
Dia Calhoun, Avielle of Rhia
Janet Lee Carey, Dragon’s Keep
2007 Fiction Picture Books Finalists
by Adam Rex
Harcourt Children's Books
Buy From Amazon | Buy from BookSense
Pssst! is a funny, light-hearted fantasy that uses snappy text and surreal post-modern oil-and-acrylic illustrations to tell the tale of a girl who visits a zoo with crafty animals who all want something from her. This results in a surprise ending and one of the year's most unforgettable illustrated double-page spreads. -- Cheryl Rainfield
A sleepless girl creates a playful monster to keep her company one evening with surprising results. Kantorovitz's oil paint and pastel illustrations, made to look like crayon drawings, capture the immediacy and creative range of a child's imagination. -- Annie Teich, Crazy for Kids' Books
A sassy, young farm girl, living with her Big Mama, transforms herself from chicken-chaser extraordinaire to fender-of-the-fowl in this spirited read-aloud, whose energetic mixed-media collage illustrations provide much for observant eyes to take in.
-- Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
In this engaging poem of a picture book with spare text and shimmering earth-tone paintings, David Ezra Stein captures the wonder of the changing seasons as seen through the perspective of a wide-eyed bear. -- Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Two girls in a refugee camp in Pakistan share a pair of sandals that begins a friendship in this poignant story of courage. When hope of a better life comes for one girl, they must both find a way to still share their sandals and their hearts. -- Marcie Flinchum Atkins, World of Words
In this sequel to Knuffle Bunny, the photography, the cartooning, and the drama is all kicked up a notch as Trixie and her dad have to set things right in the early morning hours. Fantastic in its capture of subtleties of expression, the dynamics of families, and the mind of a child. -- Pamela Coughlan, MotherReader
Oliver Jeffers has crafted a visually-stunning, humorous story about a young boy who loves books so much he eats them -- until he discovers that the greatest power comes from reading them. Jeffers' innovative illustrations, cleverly superimposed on pages from various books, merge with an inviting storyline that continues right into the book's back cover. -- Cheryl Rainfield