NOTES FROM NOVEMBER 10, 2016 CANSCAIP MEETING
SPEAKERS: Joyce Grant and Angela Misri
PRESIDENT: Sharon Jennings
RECORDING SECRETARY: Bev Katz Rosenbaum
Sharon welcomed a full house and riffed on the fact that her presidency was an uncontested election.
Several first-time attendees introduced themselves, including Kim McDougall (Kim Chatel for YA), Andrea Curtis and Claudia White.
MEMBER ANNOUNCEMENTS AND NEW CREATIONS
Helaine Becker has three new books. Monster Science, which answers the question, if monsters were real, how would they work? Don’t Stress: How to Handle Life’s Little Problems, for adults as well as kids. Deck the Halls, Helaine’s third holiday-themed book, illustrated by Werner Zimmerman. Helaine will present writing children’s non-fiction at PYI, and the following week, she’ll be doing a CCBC workshop.
Gillian O’Reilly presented a new edition of The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places (Annick Press), which she wrote with Cora Lee. With new illustrations from the funny and talented Nova Scotian illustrator Lil Crump, updated information and lots of info-graphics, the new book is a fresh and improved version.
Patricia Faithfull reported that her middle grade novel The Tale of the Last Souris Dynasty got her an offer of representation by the Stimola Literary Studio, which represents Suzanne Collins! Talia, a five-week old mouse, discovers she’s the rightful heir to the Mousterian throne. That makes her number one on the hit list of the ruthless dictator Lothair. Talia must overthrow the despot to save herself, her siblings, and the Mousterian way of life. But how does a young mouse who hasn’t even studied civics overthrow a cold-blooded tyrant?
First time meeting attendee Kim Chatel introduced her new picture book, Twice Thrice, published by Missouri-based Guardian Angel Publishing.
Jo Ellen Bogart announced that her picture book, The White Cat and the Monk, illustrated by Sydney Smith, was named by The New York Times as one of the year’s best illustrated books. Sharon mentioned that both designer (Michael Solomon) and illustrator will appear at CANSCAIP’s upcoming PYI conference.
Sharon Jennings gave details about the Tom Schlesinger workshop, “The Heroine’s Journey: Writing Powerful Female-Driven Films and Television Shows” on Nov 26 and 27 in Toronto. $425. (eventbrite.com)
Sharon also noted that many CANSCAIP members were nominated for awards at the upcoming CCBC TD Awards gala. Gisela Sherman, a past president of CANSCAIP, has been nominated for Geoffrey Bilson Award, and was invited to stand up and take a bow!
Administrative Director Helena Aalto gave an update on the upcoming PYI conference on November 19. Registration is up from last year, with 161 people registered at that point for the in-person conference, and 25 for the virtual conference. During lunch at PYI, Groundwood publisher Sheila Barry will present Sydney Smith, Teresa Toten, and Kenneth Oppel with IBBY awards. Helena reminded us that CANSCAIP, run mostly by volunteers, is not government funded, and that we earn our operating revenue through membership and conference fees.
Vice-President Jennifer Maruno introduced the evening’s speakers, Joyce Grant and Angela Misri.
Angela Misri is the author of the Portia Adams adventure series, published by Fierce Ink Press. Angela spent fourteen years at the CBC and now teaches digital journalism at Ryerson. Joyce Grant is the author of the Gabby picture book series (Fitzhenry & Whiteside), and Tagged Out, a middle-grade sports novel (Lorimer). Joyce runs a website that helps teachers explain news to children, and is the former co-owner of an ad agency. Joyce is on the PYI committee and will be moderating PYI’s Breaking In panel and, along with Angela, offering one-on-one website assessments. Together, Joyce and Angela run the plotgoesviral.com, a site that helps people figure out how to sell their books online.
A basic marketing fundamental, the pair said, is to know your audience. Precisely who are you appealing to when you’re trying to get people to events, engage with fans, or sell your books? For example, younger children cannot get themselves to events, so you need to connect to your readers’ parents.
Writers absolutely need to have a social presence. Agents, publishers and editors look for you online. When you send a query, if they’re interested, they Google you. They do not want to be caught unawares about what they might find.
Angela advised Googling your name and book often to find out what people see and how hard it is to find stuff about you when they look for you. She also suggested Googling these things on someone else’s computer for a fair assessment, because your own search history will have an impact.
The pair noted that you should know what your website looks like on a phone as well as on a computer. You want your viewers to see your content the way you want them to.
On both a phone and a computer, your sell buttons and important information should be at the top right. This may not currently be the case on your phone – it may be dropped to the bottom. You will want to correct this.
They ordered members not to be shy about the buy-my-book thing. You want to make it easy for readers to buy and contact you.
Angela said if you are blogging on your site, you should do it often or have an ‘evergreened’ site (keep it the same all the time). A good blogging guideline when you start out is twice a week. The more you blog, the more your following will grow, but don’t grow it if you don’t want to feed it.
When creating a marketing campaign, said Joyce, you need to think about three things: What is my product? What is my audience? What do I want people to do? (This is your call to action). Your product might be your book, your audience might be parents of picture book readers, and you want them to buy your book.
She suggested creating a marketing calendar with dates and a list of all the platforms you’re on and what you want to do re: the above at various junctures. If your publisher is doing some marketing – giving away books on Goodreads, for example – work their activities into your marketing calendar. (You will post about the publisher’s giveaway on the various social media platforms before the giveaway takes place.)
You can use your blog as a jumping off point for your other social media, and simply use the content from your blog posts so you don’t have to keep coming up with new material. Blog about events, your book research or process, others in your writing community.
On Twitter, say three things about yourself (e.g. I write books, eat chocolate, and drink coffee) and tweet about those three things a lot.
Joyce said writers overthink things and suggested releasing yourself from perfection. She advised writing social media posts simply, clearly, and with brevity.
She said you don’t require blog posts of 500 words, and that all posts should probably be shorter than you think.
And again, target your material. You can have a mix of content on your website, clearly differentiated by tabs for different people—readers, librarians, etcetera.
Angela pointed out that young adults don’t read websites; they are more likely to read tweets.
Joyce said it’s okay to do similar stuff on various platforms; you can’t assume people will be following you on all the platforms, or seeing all your posts on any one platform.
And tailor your post to the platform. You would post only the highlight(s) of a longer blog post on Facebook, for example, with your graphic.
You can send the same post to the various platforms, but it’s advisable to adjust your posts for the individual platforms.
Canva.com (mostly free) is recommended image-building software. Joyce showed us the graphic she will be using for her PYI Breaking In session, which included her author photo, another image, and words. You can save your created graphic a bunch of different ways and can use it electronically as well as for brochures, posters, etc.
Hootsuite is a timesaving tool with a dashboard that helps you manage Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You can schedule your posts on the various platforms.
Tweetdeck is similar.
Dropial controls only Twitter. It’s free up to 50 tweets. It lets out tweets a drop at a time on a schedule. This is useful because nobody’s looking at Twitter all the time. People miss a lot of your tweets because they have lots of other followers.
Nobody likes somebody who is constantly just hawking books.
Try to figure out why certain posts do better (e.g. what’s liked, commented on, retweeted) by looking at the times of day they were posted, etcetera.
Experiment with different hashtags. But always use less than four.
Take advantage of author pages on the electronic platforms as well as those offered by your writing organizations (CANSCAIP, CCBC, The Writers’ Union), booksellers like Amazon, and review sites like Goodreads.
On her various pages, Angela always sends authors to her website so they have a choice of where to buy her books.
An author page on Facebook is particularly recommended so you don’t have to engage with followers as you do on your personal page.
If your books are on Goodreads, talk to a librarian there about creating an author page for you.
Your publisher can start an author page for you on Goodreads, but make sure to get the key so you have control over it.
If you ever want to post a link to Amazon, link to your author page, which features all your books, not just to one book’s Amazon page. That way, readers may buy more than one book.
Don’t take a selfie as an author photo; use a real picture.
It’s okay to have different voices on the various platforms.
If you are a journalist or editor as well as an author, it’s a good idea to have separate websites or one website with different tabs/pages.
You can lead your publishers in terms of graphics, publicity, etc. Let them know what you’re doing. When you do more, they do more.
Joyce and Angela recommended Tumblr and Wordpress for building easy websites.
Lynda.com is a great resource featuring videos that teach you things. YouTube is great for tutorials as well.
Re: online advertising, Facebook ads work. They are cheap and targeted (a very good thing!) but still reach loads of people. Angela used an FB ad to advertise a signing event in Waterloo, targeting people in Waterloo interested in YA books and who had bought books before. The ad brought many people to her event.
With FB ad graphics, there are rules about the number of words. You can Google, How to make a Facebook ad, or go on YouTube.
Make short videos to promote your book. (Hold your phone sideways so no black bars, and no longer than a couple minutes.) Put them on YouTube.
More from Joyce and Angela on theplotgoesviral.com, which features free videos re: digital marketing for authors, and the slide presentation they used for this CANSCAIP presentation is there as well. https://theplotgoesviral.com/