Thursday, July 31, 2014

COSCBWI Meeting July 2014: Book Promotion 101

This month's COSCBWI Writer Meeting featured YA author, Jody Casella.  Casella's debut novel, Thin Space, came out in 2013, but it was many years in the making.  During those years, she attended workshops, honed her craft, practiced writing query letters, and learned the many (many) skills it takes to get published.  But she also discovered the importance of self-promotion, from pre-publication to the book launch and beyond.

Casella shared her wealth of self-promotion advice with the group.  While many writers and illustrators don't think promotion is important until a book is ready to come out, Casella argued that it is never too early to start promoting yourself and your work.  If you don't like tooting your own horn, you will need to become comfortable doing so in order to champion your book and win over your audience.  And the best time to practice is now before you're in the spotlight!

Long before you snag your first book deal, Casella said that it's wise to start planting the seeds of promotion.  One way to do so is by creating an address list of everyone you know who might ultimately be interested in your work or career.  This could be family, neighbors, long-lost high school friends, and even your postman and dog groomer.  While these people probably won't set up a blog tour for you when your book launches, they may buy a copy or pass along your info to someone else.  You never know what small ripples may lead to, like a new connection with a librarian or teacher, or someone who knows J. K. Rowling!

Casella also stressed the importance of online social media for self-promotion. There are countless ways to get involved online, including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.  Blogs and websites are popular, too.  Becoming active online has many benefits.  It can connect you to other writers and illustrators, and give your work more exposure.  It can also help you build your audience gradually, so when your book comes out, you'll already have people eager to read it.  Nowadays, most editors and agents expect you to have a professional online presence (even if it's just a small one), and they will Google you.  When they find your name associated with a budding blog or active Twitter account, they'll be impressed that you're already taking strides to become involved in the online community. 

Casella cautioned about becoming overwhelmed by social media, though.  Don't feel like you need to be involved in everything, but pick one or two sites to try out.  Don't expect a billion followers in your first week, and test the waters slowly.  Hanging back and observing can help you understand the social etiquette for a site, as well as let you practice with the technology.  (And wouldn't you rather make a silly mistake now than during the week of your book launch?)  Once you feel comfortable with a site, stay active on it.  An agent doesn't want to find that your blog hasn't had a new post since 2011.  Lastly, remember to post carefully.  Anything you say or do on social media could come back to haunt you, so be kind, be considerate, and don't say anything that would make your mother cringe.

If you follow this advice and do the best you can, you'll be a self-promotion pro by the time your book is published!  (And if you want more writing tips and wisdom from Casella, be sure to check out her blog at

You can find out more about COSCBWI at  Be sure to "like" the group on Facebook, too!  I hope to see you at the August meeting!

Note: Cover image for Thin Space is from

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