Marissa, as the first Apocalypsie to debut in 2012 with the well-publicized release of CINDER, you are the GPS guidance system for the Apocalypsies and Lucky 13s whose engines are started but haven’t yet seen the road. Maybe you can give us some directions. I’d like to ask you about the promotional process leading up to and following release.First of all, how long before the January 3 release of CINDER did promotion start for you? What kinds of activities were you asked to do in advance? I feel like I’ve been promoting since even before the book deal! I’ve had my blog for years and I also had a writing-based newsletter on my old web site (to be reinstated once marissameyer.com is up and running). As for CINDER-specific promotion, I did lots and lots of blog interviews and guest blog posts, amped up my social network presence on Twitter and Facebook, did a month-long blog feature all about book promotion in hopes of generating more traffic there, and ordered Cinder swag all a couple months prior to the release. I joined Skype an Author Network, sent ARCs and postcards to my local libraries, helped plan my book launch party, and hosted some giveaways on my blog and Goodreads. I also worked with my publisher to create promo videos for ads on Shelf Awareness and School Library Journal and provided a lot of content (such as character and setting descriptions) for the making of the book trailer. Whew! Your blog tour schedule looks both impressive and grueling. How did you set up so many guest spots and how on earth did you produce so much content on so many topics? Did you get a head start?
The blog tour was mostly set up through my publisher—one of their social media gurus has a lot of connections in the blogging world, so she reached out to her own contacts. I did have a couple requests myself (friend bloggers and also some sci-fi blogs that I’m a fan of), and they all got to be included as well.
I started brainstorming blog posts about two months in advance of the tour, as it was important to me to have a variety of posts that covered everything from my agent query letter to inspiration photos to wacky vlogs. Once I started focusing on writing the posts, it took about a week to get through them all, and I think I had all but three posts completed before the tour even started. I knew that I did NOT want to be writing blog posts while I was on tour, so it worked out well getting them all done so early!
Your road trip also looks impressive and grueling. How did you and your marketing team choose the places to go? How much of your life did you have to put on hold while you were traveling? What kinds of expenses were covered by your publisher versus you?
The book tour was a lot of fun, but you’re right—it was also very grueling! I was definitely getting travel weary toward the end of it, although I was lucky that I got to take a couple breaks in between stops to come home and relax before hitting the road again.
How my publisher chose the locations is still rather a mystery to me, other than I know my publicist has a relationship with booksellers and knows what stores put on great events. I also think a couple of the stores may have requested to be a part of the tour.
My publisher covered all of my travel expenses—flights, media escorts, hotels, and food—while we covered my husband’s expenses, so he could travel with me. It was really awesome having him there and I know his presence helped keep me sane. Plus he got to act as official tour photographer!
As for putting my life on hold, pretty much everything got put on hold. I’m still way behind on emails and I didn’t get a speck of writing done during the tour. But it was well worth it as I got to meet so many wonderful readers and book sellers!
What was an outstanding or really memorable moment of your book tour?
Oh gosh, there were so many. Definitely among the highlights was meeting a bunch of old fanfiction readers. I wrote Sailor Moon fanfic for many, many years, and I had lots of people come up to me on tour and tell me they’ve been reading those fanfics since they were teens. It was so rewarding to meet people who have stuck with me on this long writing journey! One girl even brought a bound hardback book of one of my old fanfics—her friends had had it made for her because she read the story so often! So I got to sign both that and CINDER, which was very cool.
Is there something you did along the way that you never imagined you would/could do?
Oh, I feel that this whole promotion things has been one new challenge after another. I was so nervous to record my first videos and vlogs and also to do my first radio interview, but both went fine. I was terrified of the school visits at first (one was in front of about 300 students!) but I’ve since gotten pretty comfortable doing them, and I was also scared when I was asked to write an article for the Wall Street Journal (gulp). And on and on. But I try to embrace things that scare me, because I do think it’s healthy to get out of our comfort zones. When I’m nervous about doing something new, I just tell myself that any number of authors have done this and survived before me, so I’ll be just fine too.
Any general or specific advice for those of us looking forward to our releases?
Work on the next book! Without doubt, the smartest thing I did last year was get Book #2 finished way, way early. (I sent it to my editor in September, even though it’s technically not due until this March.) October was then swallowed up with getting married and going on a honeymoon, which left me all of November and December to work on promoting CINDER before its January 3rd release. Not having to worry about both writing and promoting at the same time was a life saver for me.
Not to mention, of course, that by far the best thing anyone can do to sell their books is to first write really great books.
Finally, since we are the Lucky 13’s, we’d like to know, is there a superstition you developed or followed on your journey? And by that, I mean either your journey to publication or your physical journey around the country.
Haha—good question! I guess I’m superstitious when it comes to how successful the book might (or might not) become and I try not to think about it. It’s hard, because CINDER has so much publisher support and buzz around it that I’ve had about a gazillion people tell me things like, “It’s going to be huge!” and “It could be the next big thing!” and I just want to cover my ears and sing “la la la” when I hear that. I don’t want to jinx anything, and I also don’t want to get my expectations up so high that I can’t appreciate the journey for what it is and all the fabulous things that are happening. I know it’s human nature to always want more-more-more, but I really try to enjoy every victory and accomplishment, no matter how big or small, without thinking too much about the future.
Thank you so much, Liz and the Lucky 13s, for such an awesome interview!! I can’t wait to cheer you all on during your own promo and publication journeys.
THANKS, MARISSA!Want to hear a sample from CINDER? Check out this excerpt from the audiobook here:
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Liz Coley writes young adult novels and science fiction/fantasy short stories for anthologies and magazines.
Her novel Pretty Girl-13 from HarperCollins Katherine Tegen Books will be debuting in 2013. There are secrets you can't even tell yourself.