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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm thrilled to have debut author and fellow Michigan SCBWI member Alison DeCamp here to share about marketing middle grade books and her new MG historical fiction MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES. It sounds really good and has been described as somewhat like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It sounds really good and I know many of you will be excited for this. Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

It is 1895. Stan is on a mission to find his long-lost father in the logging camps of Michigan. And he's embellishing all of it in his stupendous scrapbook.

There are many things that 11-year-old Stanley Slater would like to have in life, most of all, a father. But what if Stan's missing dad isn't "dearly departed" after all? Who better to find this absent hero/cowboy/outlaw than manly Stan himself? Unfortunately, Stan's fending off his impossible cousin Geri, evil Granny, and Mama's suitors like Cold-Blooded Killer Stinky Pete. If only he could join the River Drive, the most perilous adventure of all, where even a fellow's peavey is at risk.

It's a wild ride for Stan as he finds out about true manliness. But at least Stan has his scrapbook, full of 200 black-and-white 19th-century advertisements and photos, "augmented" with his commentary and doodles.

Stan's tale will leave readers in stitches, but not the kind that require medical attention.

So here's Alison!

Hey! Look at me!

Oh, middle grade. We’re like the pesky little sibling of YA, aren’t we? Jumping up and down over in the corner. Not quite cool enough or old enough to hang with the big kids. While YA is out there all over the place, we’re still at home with mom and dad, still needing them to drive us someplace or cut up our apples because we’re not yet allowed to use the sharp knives.

I suspect that’s one of the many reasons we choose to write for this age group—it’s still safe. It’s still innocent. But when it comes to marketing we’re up for a bit more of a challenge. Our target audience is largely reliant on recommendations from librarians, teachers and parents, so when we market we have to appeal to eight-to-twelve year olds (plus or minus a couple years) as well as the adults in their lives. So what does that mean?


First of all, realize that middle grade buzz is a slow burn. My editor has used this exact phrase. My agent has echoed it. Word of mouth is integral and creating this buzz might just be some magical formula no one has yet put out there on the Internet. In the meantime, however, you can get the word out several ways.

Send postcards. indiebound.org is a good resource for contact information. I work in a bookstore part-time (to support my habit) and we receive a lot of mail. Design your postcard so that the side with the address (the side that will most likely be seen first by the bookseller) is interesting and eye catching and includes your publisher’s logo—make it look official and important. Just like anything in the publishing world, do your homework—make sure the store ownership hasn’t changed, the store is still open, and they carry middle-grade books. If you have a bookstore in your area, connect with them. By “connect” I mean, start shopping there. Create a relationship. Then, when it’s your time for a book launch, event or signing, your bookstore will be your strongest advocate.

Check out Saundra Mitchell’s post ingeniously titled the “I Have a Life Marketing Plan.”
http://www.saundramitchell.com/blog/the-i-have-a-life-marketing-plan/, but add schools to her list. Schools are integral to marketing middle grade. Target school librarians, teachers, administrators, PTA or other parent organizations. Addresses can be found with a simple Google search. If you’re available for school visits or bookstore events, be sure to add that to your note.

Anywhere from two weeks to two months prior to your book launch, host a Goodreads giveaway. Goodreads will recommend taking a month for your giveaway, but the real interest is on the first and last days, so a shorter (one or two week) giveaway is fine. This serves to add numbers to your want-to-read list. I don’t guarantee it will add up to book sales, but psychologically it’s nice to see interest in your book.

If you're at all computer savvy, create a book trailer. They work well when selling your book to teachers and students. I wouldn’t shell out money to have someone else do it, however, simply because I don’t know that the benefit outweighs the cost. I made mine with iMovie. I have lots of images in my book which made this easier, but finding pictures to go along with your story can be fun and a welcome distraction when you’re on deadline and really should be writing (not that I’ve ever done this). Mine can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEc-Amkmme8.

Creating a teacher’s guide, discussion questions, or games is also a way to appeal to teachers. There are people you can hire to do this for you. My web designer, Sierra Fong (www.sierrafong.com), makes swag and came up with the idea to include trading cards. They turned out better than I could have imagined. One side is an image from the book while the other has discussion questions and publishing information.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, Vine — is your head exploding yet? Social media, and the feeling you have to belong and be present on all of it, is mind boggling. I’m on many of these sites, but some of them have the ability to make me feel like I’m sitting in the corner at a party and no one really even knows I’m there. Also, for middle grade authors this is not necessarily where we connect with our readers. It can be an effective way to connect with teachers and librarians, but choose your poison. If you love Twitter, go for it. If Facebook is your boo, post away! Can’t help but take pictures with your camera every five minutes? Instagram is for you! Just don’t feel like you have to do it all.

Finally, join a group of fellow writers. SCBWI is a no-brainer, but also consider debut groups. I’m a member of the Fearless Fifteeners and the Class of 2K15. There is so much uncertainty in this business, it’s nice to have people to go through the process with you.

Remember, this is not brain surgery. We’re not curing cancer. We are opening up worlds, fostering imagination, and connecting with readers with that magic thread of words. We may never get to the Big Kids’ table, but I’m okay with that. The little kids’ table is more fun, anyway.

Thanks for all your advice, Alison. You can find Alison at:

Alison generously offered a copy of MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through March 14th. I’ll announce the winner on March 16th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have an interview with debut author Victoria Aveyard and a giveaway of RED QUEEN, her YA fantasy/dystopian.

And next  Wednesday I have an interview with agent Alex Slater at Trident Media Group with a query critique giveaway. And he has great advice for self-published and small press authors too!

Friday next week I'm participating in the Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great new releases for you and an Amazon gift card if you don't like my choices.

The following Monday, I'm interviewing debut author N.A. Traver and giving away DUPLICITY, her YA cyber thriller.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Kristin Lenz said...

Yay for Alison and our Michigan authors! She'll be on our SCBWI-MI blog too.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations on your release, Alison! "Middle grade buzz is a slow burn." SO TRUE! And with middle grade, the buzz usually comes AFTER the book has been out long enough to get into kids' hands. Your target readers won't be talking it up until after they've read it -- so don't worry if you can't muster the pre-release buzz of a YA book.

Paul Greci said...

Alison, congrats on your book!! Great title!! Thanks for this post. It's very timely for me since my debut MG book will be released in March. I loved hearing that "Middle grade buzz is a slow burn." I hadn't heard it put quite that way but it makes sense. I also liked the distinctions you make about marketing YA and middle grade. Very helpful. Thanks!! :-)

Jessica Lawson said...

Oooo, I'm excited to read this one! Thanks for the marketing advice, and congratulations on your debut!

Brenda said...

Ooh wonderful guest post! I enjoyed the distinctions you made between MG and YA. Can't help chuckle over this "Jumping up and down over in the corner. Not quite cool enough or old enough to hang with the big kids." It was interesting learning about the process you use to market your book. Congratulations on its release.

David P. King said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time. I have been looking for ways to better promote and this gave me some ideas. Thanks a million, Alison.

And your book sounds fabulous! :)

Liz Brooks said...

Thank you for sharing! I love the personification of MG, and I absolutely love the book cover!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was a wonderful post! I learned a lot from this. Thanks, Allison. Your book book sounds so engaging. I especially like books set in that time frame, and, as a former teacher, I like books that take young people into the past.

Jocelyn Rish said...

So many great ideas for marketing here. I just hope one day I'm in a position to use it. :-)

DMS said...

Congratulations! Great advice about marketing for middle grade. :) ~ Jess

Greg Pattridge said...

What a ride! Marketing could be as difficult as writing. Well, maybe not. Thanks for the insights. The new book sounds great.

Jessie Humphries said...

Postcards, eh?! Are the cool YA kids allowed to do this (in between smoking cloves and cutting apples with butterfly knives)? ;)

Ann Finkelstein said...

Great ideas. Thank you for sharing.

S.P. Bowers said...

I've always thought writing middle grade was the hardest. Great marketing suggestions, and congrats on the book Alison!

Beth said...

What a charming book! I love the way she's used a scrapbook in her story-telling. Fun!

Alison said...

Thanks, all! And if you have anything to add, that's always welcome! :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! Thanks for all these excellent tips! I love the postcard. :) And, I agree with Beth - the scrapbook storytelling is cool!

Heather Villa said...

Many writers not only like to write, they like to share tips. Thank you, Alison. Your new book sounds absolutely clever.

Jeri Baird said...

The pesky little sibling of YA? Best description I've heard! Great tips - thanks for sharing.

Crystal Collier said...

Wonderful tips! I think school visits are probably the most effective tools. Kids get so excited about things that they beg mom and dad to hop on board. I remember an assembly when I was in elementary school where an author taught about Native Americans, the subject of his books. He made out like a bandit after that presentation.

Rosi said...

Gosh, this is just full of good advice. Thanks for this post and for a chance to win what sounds like a really fun book.

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for the giveaway and for sharing your ideas. Congrats on your book--I love humorous stories! I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/571025076214108160

Nas said...

Thanks for this great post chock full of ideas. I'm book marking for future reference.

Buffy Silverman said...

Great ideas--putting this book on my to-read list.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful marketing info. I'm bookmarking this.

Mary Preston said...

This sounds like so much fun.


Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Alison! And what great ideas about marketing!

Gina Gao said...

Alison, congrats on the book!


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the book, Alison!! Great post :-)

Empty Nest Insider said...

What a wonderful cover! Congrats to Alison! Thanks for the great tips!


TerryLynnJohnson said...

tons of information here. thanks!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Congratulations, Alison! I've been dying to read this book ever since I read the first page on Dianne Salerni's blog. Thanks for all the great advice. Loved your book trailer! Natalie, I tweeted about the giveaway. https://twitter.com/JoanneRFritz/status/574015631311396864