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Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a great summer.

I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of the I Just Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop is Soudha Parsan who picked the Amazon Giftcard!

The winner of THE LEVELLER is Eileen!

The winner of WITCH HUNTER is Book Attict!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can have your book sent to you. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I'm excited to have debut author David Fulk here to share about his MG adventure Raising Rufus that I bet will appeal to lots of kids.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Readers of The Enormous Egg will dive right into this adventurous story about what happens when an average eleven-year-old boy becomes the parent of a giant T-rex!

In the unremarkable town of Menominee Springs, Wisconsin, lives a twelve-year-old explorer named Martin, who one day stumbles across something remarkable.

It’s an egg. But not just any egg—a dinosaur egg. And a week later, Martin becomes the proud parent of . . . a Tyrannosaurus rex!

As the summer unfolds, Martin finds it harder and harder to keep Rufus hidden from rest of the world.

And then it gets ugly.

Can Martin save Rufus from his parents, his neighbors, and most importantly, the owner of the town carnival? With the help of his best friend, Audrey, and his science teacher, Mr. Ekhart, Martin must uncover his inner hero and find Rufus a home, even if it means losing the one thing he’s come to really care about.

Now here's David!

The Many Mysteries of Middle-Grade Marketing

You sold your first middle-grade novel! Congratulations—you’re “in the club.” How can you resist imagining what comes next—publisher-paid book tour, signings with long lines of adoring fans, NYT bestseller list, awards up the yingyang, lucrative speaking gigs, best tables at chichi restaurants, hobnobbing with J.K. and Neil and Kate.

It’s fun to fantasize, of course, but in the back of your head you know the reality: That’s not going to be your trajectory. A gazillion books just like yours come out every year, and even though your publisher is doing all they can behind the scenes, more than ever it’s up to you, the author, to find ways to make your “baby” stand out. So, congratulations again: You’re a book marketer!

Volumes have been written on how to sell your children’s book. Bookstore events. Social media. SCBWI. School visits. Library events. Book trailer. Mass mailings. Giveaways. Blog tours. Book fairs and festivals. ALA, BEA, AWP, NCTE (OMG!). I can’t even begin to list all the possibilities here (though Alison DeCamp comes pretty darn close with her excellent earlier LR post).

All well, all good. But here’s the problem: There’s only one of you. Unless you’re married to a

professional publicist, don’t believe in sleep or having a personal life, or have the multitasking capabilities of a supercomputer—and don’t get me started on the perils of having the dreaded Day Job—odds are you’re going to have to pick and choose your marketing strategies. But which ones work best?

If only there were some master database somewhere that could tell you exactly which of your efforts led to exactly how many book sales, the answer might be a whole lot clearer. Even resources like WorldCat (library sales) and Bookscan (retail sales) don’t give you much in the way of cause-and-effect. For example, I did a mass postcard mailing to public libraries in Massachusetts, where I live, and Wisconsin, where my book is set, and there seemed to be slightly more library sales of my book in those regions than in some (but not all) others. So, was the time and expense I put into the mailing worth it? Hard to say.

I also did a big mailing to natural history museum and dinosaur park gift shops, in keeping with the dinosaur theme of Raising Rufus. Sounds like a pretty good idea on paper, but how would I know the result without visiting, or at least calling, all those shops? Sorry, not doing that. Besides the added time suck, it just seems so . . . well, unseemly.

I did an informal canvass of my fellow Fearless Fifteener middle-grade authors to find out what they were doing to market their books and what they felt was working. One said it was helpful to be well reviewed by book bloggers. One said to make sure your book is submitted to as many awards and list committees as possible, because even if you don’t win, you get read by some important people. One stressed the importance of networking with booksellers, teachers, and librarians. One said it’s good to try to get on panels at conferences. And another mentioned school visits, book festivals, SCBWI events, postcard mailings, and friends and family. Great ideas all, but in almost every case they qualified their responses with something along the lines of “Then again, it’s hard to know for sure how much of a sales boost I really got from that.”

Which seems to bring us back to Question Zero: Who’s got the time for all that? Just tell us what works!

A writer friend with several MG books under her belt told me that she has done next to nothing in the way of marketing, and her books do just fine—while some other writers she knows are tireless marketers, but have struggled to move their books. And another multi-book friend says that your best bet is to have a high-buzz book—which is generally decided by the publishing potentates before your book even comes out. But if that’s not you, well, you’re pretty much on your own, and good luck.

So does that mean the whole thing is really out of our hands? Wow, maybe. It’s an oddly comforting thought, in a way, since if that’s the case there’s no need to feel guilty or frustrated that we aren’t doing more to push our book. But it’s a scary one too, unless you’re impervious to existential angst (and what writer can make that claim?).

In trying to make sense of it all, I’ve found that all roads lead to the same conclusion. Though I’m far from the first to say it, and it’s a piece of conventional wisdom that borders on clichĂ©, the truth of it seems to me to be unavoidable: The best thing you can do to sell your book is to write another one. And after that, another one. And write the best books you possibly can, because you’re likely to find that your later books help sell your earlier ones, and vice-versa, in one big virtuous circle. Congratulations: You didn’t just write a book; you have a career. You are—yes, I’m going to use the dreaded word—a brand.

Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find anyone who disagrees with that one. So I believe I’ll just go with it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take my own advice.
You can find David at: 

Twitter: @davidfulkwrites

David generously offered a copy of RAISING RUFUS for a giveaway.  To enter, you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through August 8th. I'll announce the winner on August 10th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S. and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. Find all the participating Middle Grade Monday bloggers on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

On Friday I'm participating in the Beach Reads in August Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great books to choose from.

Then I'm off until September 2nd when I have a guest post by debut author Ronald Smith and a giveaway of his MG Southern Gothic HOODO. I just didn't see any great books to spotlight in August and it tends to be a quiet month. I will be stopping by your blogs though. I just won't be posting.

Hope to see you on Friday!  


Greg Pattridge said...

Love the concept of Raising Rufus and it appears to be a book that will get read. Not only is the story creative but the cover should draw in young readers. The thing about MG books is it takes time. The average 10 year old is not following Internet buzz about any book (ie. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc) and must find a book through a parent, teacher or librarian. As authors all we can do is keep pushing the products that are out there and keep writing the next one.

Anonymous said...

What David said about marketing is one of the reasons why I do what I do. If just one person picks up an MG book because I recommended it, that makes all my efforts so worth it.
I love the concept of this book and I've seen it plenty around, so I wish David the best. :)


Bish Denham said...

What a great premise for a story! Instead of a dragon we have a T. Rex. As for marketing... I think Greg has it right. 10-12 year olds are not following blogs etc. where books are being splashed all over the place. A lot of time if feels like we are advertising to ourselves, writers to writers.

Andrea Mack said...

This book sounds like do much fun! Love the concept!

David, your thoughts on marketing are interesting! I guess there are no "short cuts" and it's important to just keep working hard on writing more. Luckily, it's also fun (at least some of the time).

cleemckenzie said...

I love this book already. Congrats to the author and to the kids who are going to enjoy reading his story.

Ms. Yingling said...

As a school librarian, I'm irritated that a good book like Raising Rufus has to rely on the author to promote it, when lots of books that are... mediocre at best have multimillion dollar marketing campaigns run by the publishers. Loved Raising Rufus and have a copy on order already.

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey Natalie, *waving* This book sounds wonderful. Second one I've heard about today that I have to buy. Marketing, UGH. Love your comments on the dreaded subject, David. Have a great break, Natalie.

Angela Brown said...

Congrats to David for RAISING RUFUS. I appreciate the candor of this post. Fantasies of what happens after the novel is sold and published is one thing. Reality, another. But I'm working on the "keep writing" angle as that is at least one part I have control over :-)

Liz Brooks said...

I'll definitely have to add this one to my TBR. You had me at T-Rex. And I like David's advice on marketing. I wouldn't like the idea of having to become nearly a full-time publicist just to promote my novel--I'd like to spend most of my time writing. I don't envy that dilemma. Thanks for sharing!

Also, I tweeted about the giveaway.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are so many things you can do to market a book. You'd run yourself ragged trying to do even half of them. Just pick and chose what works best for you and then write another book.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Cute sounding story. Congrats to David (great name, btw)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This is a great post! I love David's ultimate advice: Do what marketing you can and then write the next book, and then the next book, and then the next.

Raising Rufus sounds like a winner. I'm sure it will be a hit with MG readers. (I'm a former teacher, and taught 6th grade for many years. My students would have loved this book.)

raindog said...

Many thanks to all for your kind and insightful comments. Yes, that's basically it: just keep writing, and keep doing it better and better. And thanks for your interest in my book! (This is David, BTW.)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If I did no marketing, my books would tank big time.

Beth said...

Great interview. Yes, it's all pretty much an enigma, isn't it? Sounds like the books are charming, and I hope they do really well.
No need to enter me in the contest, Natalie.

Cynthia said...

Congratulations, David! I like what-if dinosaur stories (think Jurassic Park) so the story Raising Rufus sounds appealing.

Even though I'm not published yet, I do hear a lot about book marketing out there. It's interesting to hear about what authors do, even though, like you said, you don't know how many books they sold from doing that thing.

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations, David! I agonize over marketing a lot, but I agree with you. The best thing to do is write more books.

Karen Lange said...

It's nice to meet David! Marketing is not my favorite thing,but have found certain things work better than others. Guess some has to do with genre and audience and all that too.

Thanks so much for hosting, Natalie. Enjoy your break! :)

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the post and giveaway. I enjoyed reading about marketing choices for authors. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/626069558063816704

Rachna Chhabria said...

I love the sound of Raising Rufus. It sounds my kind of a book.

DMS said...

Raising Rufus sounds like an interesting book.

I really liked hearing from David. Especially since this has been a topic I have been thinking about a lot. :) Writing sounds like great advice and I am guessing doing what else you have time for is a good idea too.

Wonderful to have a chance to win a copy. Thanks!

Crystal Collier said...

I'd like it to be out of my hands. That would make life significantly less busy/stressful. =)

Emily R. King said...

What a fun concept! My boys would love this. It has everything a middle grade reader enjoys!

M Pax said...

Cool story idea. Congrats to David. Marketing is like a mad science experiment. You have no idea what's going to explode and what's just going to sit there.

Stina said...

I write romance but was nodding at everything in the post. It's all true. And yes, it would be awesome to be married to a publicist who works in your genre. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm always trying out different marketing things to see what works. It's not easy, especially when one has time constraints and a day job. David's book looks like a great read. Congrats to the giveaway winners.

Misha Gerrick said...

Very true. I think marketing actually is 90% content, cover and price. 10% or less is actually telling people about your book.

Carrie Butler said...

True words here! My background is in marketing, and even I admit it's a lot of trial and error. :)

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The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Love the premise.!

Jenni said...

I loved Enormous Egg, and this sounds like something my 10-year-old would really enjoy. I'll definitely be checking this out. And I love what David said about the only thing you can control--writing a second really good book. Great advice!

raindog said...

It's easy to get cynical, I know. (Those of you who have done this, you know what I mean!) But I really do believe the best way to keep the artistic flame alive--and, not coincidentally, to market yourself--is to keep being an artist! Thanks again, everybody, for your comments. And best of luck on the giveaway! (David again)