Like most authors, I try hard to help promote and publicize my books. But after two YA novels, I've found myself at a bit of a loss when it comes to promoting my first middle grade novel. The approaches that worked in YA—social media, blog tours, etc.—aren’t much use when it comes to, say, 10-year-old boys. They’re not on Twitter, and the cops tell me I have to stop hanging around schoolyards.
Since it’s my first middle grade, I assumed it was just that I didn’t know what I was doing. Throughout me life, that has been a pretty safe assumption. So I asked around. I live in NYC, I know a lot of authors, SCBWI was in town . . . The result: If anyone knows, they ain’t sayin’. I heard a lot of “No idea,” “I wish I knew,” and “I was about to ask you!”
There were some long-term strategies thrown in: “Do more school visits,” “Go to conventions,” and “Hang around schoolyards.” But none of those are much help in the, let’s see, two days until Plunked officially comes out. Here’s a look at some of the extreme, questionable, and extremely questionable things I’ve tried in the mean time:
1) An animated book trailer (it will surprise no one when I say I made this myself).
2) Here’s Plunky! Say ‘ello to my little friend (the star of my latest blog post):
3) Two words: stress balls. (I'll just pause while we all come up with our own jokes here.... Moving on!) I am seriously considering getting a whole mess of these squeezable mini baseballs made up with the title of my book on the side. I doubt it’s cost-effective (they’re about a buck each), but they might help. And I could definitely use the stress relief.
4) And, as the final act of a desperate man, I even joined Goodreads. I was definitely hesitant—rumor has it the place is littered with the hollowed-out husks of formerly happy authors—but it was necessary in order to list the book for a giveaway. I heard someone tell this other person that they heard from a third person that it might be a good way to promote your book. The conditional tense remains in effect [Update: Or does it? Check out what Yat-Yee has to say in the comments...], but I'll say this for Goodreads: They hide their husks well. My giveaway is up and running, and I'm "14% done" with the new Howard Cosell biography.
5) Which is not to say I have no answers. I do have one reliable, time-tested way of dealing with launch week . . .
Well, maybe not time-tested so much as cask-aged, but still. Cheers, gentle reader. I will not ask you to buy my book—well, I won’t beg—but if you could raise a glass to its success (or untimely demise) this week, I’d appreciate it.