1. What are you doing to promote Sheep Goat and the Creaking Gate?
I’m having two launches, one in Adelaide on 16 August with Judith Rossell who is the very talented illustrator of Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate. It will be launched by Julie Wells, President of CBCA (South Australia). The second launch is on 4 October at Collingwood Children’s Farm, Abbotsford in Melbourne. Special guests will be Sally the matriarch goat, and the delightfully named Coffee Table, a sheep and Brigid, one of the Farm’s people, will talk about sheep, goats and the Farm before officially launching Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate.
Other promotion will be ongoing, like visiting bookshops, talking to teachers and librarians and visiting schools. I’ve developed a number of activities based around Sheep, Goat. Although it’s a fictional story, I’ve been boning up on the similarities and differences between sheep and goats. I’d not really understood just how similar they were! I do teachers notes which are available on the Windy Hollow website. And of course there is online promotion, like via my website, blog, Facebook and of course blog tours!
2. Why is it important for an author to promote her own books? Isn’t that the publisher’s job?
Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate is published by Windy Hollow Books, a small Melbourne-based publisher. There is no publicity department. Windy Hollow send out review copies to a number of reviewers, distribute the book, enter it in CBCA Awards, feature it on their website http://www.windyhollowbooks.com.au/ but they have little other capacity for promotion. Bigger companies may have publicity departments, but they also have more books to promote. I work with Windy Hollow in promotion where the opportunities arise, and otherwise it’s up to me!
3. When planning promotion activities, do you consider how these activities will promote your other books, too? Or do you focus on one at a time?
That’s a really tricky question! When I do an author visit, I take along all my books. I’ll display them all and talk about some of them in more detail. I usually have an activity or a theme for the visit though and that’s generally related to my latest release book. When I’m doing a workshop, I’m aware that I’m promoting me as writer/workshop leader rather than any particular title. I guess that means that I’m hoping that by promoting my name, I’ll be promoting all my books. If I’m at a festival or an event like the CBCA Book Fair, then I’ll take along a selection of books to talk about.
4. What’s been your most successful promotional strategy so far – and why?
I’m not sure I really know how to answer that. If I measure in direct sales, then the launches of my books have been the most successful strategies so far. The launch of Ebi’s Boat was part of the CBCA Book Fair and I was able to include activities beforehand to increase awareness of the launch. ‘A Nest for Kora’ was launched at the Williamstown Literary Festival with the assistance of the Hobsons Bay Library. In both cases, linking with a festival helped with advertising and added to attendances. But if the measure of success is in engaging with audiences, then going into schools is the winner. I love going into schools. Often they’ll say they don’t know my work, but once I start showing them titles, children are always saying ‘Oh, yes, I know that book!’ etc. I can’t measure how much impact that has on sales immediately, but I hope it contributes to recognition of my name and therefore my work.
5. Anything that hasn’t worked for you?
There was a memorable bookstore visit but I’d rather not talk too much about that! The bookshop publicised the event, the posters were there but sigh, it was just the wrong, wrong day.
6. What advice would you give to an unpublished author about promotion?
I don’t know about giving advice. Everyone’s experience is different.
But I guess it’s important to understand that achieving publication is just the first step along the road to success. To me it was as if publication was the top of the hillclimb, until I crested that peak.
Then I discovered that there was another hill to climb, that was promoting the book. I guess another thing to understand is that everyone has their own comfort zone when it comes to promotion. There are many forms of promotion and people will be comfortable with different promotional activities. I was part of a panel discussion at a recent festival, where we discussed promotion. Some people use props, some usecostumes. Others use powerpoint presentations and so on. I guess the point is, everyone is different and has to find their own way to promote.
Thanks a bunch Sally.
And thank YOU Claire. It’s been a pleasure to have you here.
Sheep Goat and the Creaking Gate is available to purchase online from Sheep Goat and the Creaking Gate, and in all good bookstores. If it isn’t in stock, ask them to order it in.
You can follow the rest of Claire’s tour at the following stops:
Monday 17August: Dee White http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.com/
Tuesday 18 August: Rebecca Newman http://www.soupblog.wordpress.com/
Wednesday 19 August: Mabel Kaplan: http://belka37.blogspot.com/
Thursday 20 August: Sandy Fussell: http://www.sandyfussell.blogspot.com/
Friday 21 August Dale: Harcombe http://orangedale.livejournal.com/
Saturday 22 August: Sally Murphy http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com/
Sunday 23 August: Robyn Opie http://robynopie.blogspot.com/
Monday 24 August: Sally Odgers: http://spinningearls.blogspot.com/