Monday, April 21, 2014

MMGM: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL w/ Jonathan Auxier (plus the 4/21/14 links!)

Don't go into shock--but I actually have a proper post this week. A really good one, too. PROBABLY because I didn't write it. But hey, I had to be organized enough to get it all assembled and posted for you, so... it's progress, right?????

All kidding aside, I'm SO excited to share this most from the amazing Jonathan Auxier with you guys. Partially because he's super flippin' smart in it. But mostly because I'm a huge fan of his books, so it's always fun when I get to support them.

And so, without further ado, I give you: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL, by Jonathan Auxier:

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!


DAY ONE - Finding Your Tribe

Publishing is a slow process—usually taking more than a year between sale and publication. For a new author, desperate to see their book on a shelf, it can be an agonizing wait. But this delay is a good thing, because you need that time to prepare! This first week, I’ll be talking about the five things you need to do in the months before your book comes out.

The first thing any new author should do—and they should start as soon as possible—is find a community of friends within the book world. This can be easier said than done.

Right after selling Peter Nimble, I dedicated myself to learning all about the kidlit/YA community. I spent months reading every klidlit blog and website I could. The goal was simple: find my tribe. Even in a market as small as ours, there is a lot of diversity—some people love paranormal romance, some want to talk about education, some want to talk about public libraries, and some want to discuss old books (that would be me!). The more widely I read, the more I was able to determine which authors/bloggers/teachers/librarians shared my own interests and passion.

Your goal is not to determine a “target audience” or anything so cynical. Think of yourself as a new kid in school, scoping out the yard during recess, looking for friends. That last word is key: these people will be your friends. So look for people that you actually like and whose opinions and interests you respect.

So how do you turn these strangers into friends? Reaching out to virtual strangers can be daunting. The trick lies in nine simple words:

“Can I buy you lunch and pick your brain?”

The best way to learn about the industry is to talk to people who are in the industry. And the best way to talk to these people is to spend time with them in person and learn about their lives. When I entered the world of children’s publishing, I did just this. After meeting a few authors/bloggers/librarians who I admired, I made a point to seeking them out. If you’re not in the same city, then you’ll probably have to meet up with people at conferences and book festivals (which I’ll be discussing in week two!).

Please note that this is not about pitching your book. Your book shouldn’t even come up. This is about learning from people you like and respect. Just be a curious, courteous person who shares similar interests. Remember the kid in the schoolyard: you’re just trying to make friends, not win votes for class president.

I should mention that many of these librarians/bloggers/authors are likely too busy to sit down with complete strangers—that’s where being an avid reader of (and commenter on) blogs helps. If I want to meet someone who isn’t a blogger, my rule of thumb is first to make sure that I have at least two mutual acquaintances before reaching out. And once I’ve sat down with a person and had a good chat, I always end the conversation with the same question:

"Who would you recommend that I talk to next?"

This is a fairly painless way for a new friend to help you—it takes almost no time and gives you a reason to keep in touch with them. Hopefully, over the course of several months, you will build friendships that will live way beyond your book launch. Assuming you’re serious about being an author, this is a community you will share for the rest of your life.

That’s it for BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow, I’ll be visiting the Novel Novice to discuss the tricky business of building a “public identity” that actually reflects who you are! Swing by and spread the word!

JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at where he blogs about children's books old and new.


See why I'm a huge fan of this guy? Such great advice. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Jonathan. 

And don't forget to check out these other MMGMs happening throughout the blogosphere:

- Michelle Mason is cheering for PARTNERS IN CRIME--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.  
- Barbara Watson is gushing about WHAT THE MOON SAID, with an ARC GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the fun.  
- Mark Baker is spreading love for POACHED. Click HERE to read his feature! 
- Katie Fitzgerald is feeling TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Andrea Mack is drawn to THE AWESOME ALMOST 100% TRUE ADVENTURES OF MATT & CRAZ. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is on the edge of her seat for THE WELLS BEQUEST. Click HERE to see why. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--AND GIVING AWAY--ICE DOGS. Click HERE for details.
- Rcubed is highlighting THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES OF FLORA & ULYSSES. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sue Heavenrich has some earth day reading for you with LAST BUT NOT LEAST: LOLA GOING GREEN. Click HERE to learn more.
- Greg Pattridge wants you to TURN LEFT AT THE COW. Click HERE to see why.
- Daniel Johnston is giving a shoutout to FRINDLE. Click HERE to see his feature 
- Suzanne Warr has chills for ODIN'S PROMISE. Click HERE to see why.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.    
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.


  1. Wow...
    This guy is good! And I never thought about that...

  2. And Shannon, congrats on your proper post! (Sure has been a while) :P

  3. Great advice, Jonathan! More practical and useful than I've gleaned elsewhere. And, thank you Shannon for both arranging this excellent interview and hosting us all for MMGM!


  4. Great post! Thanks for hosting this interview full of advice we can all use.

  5. Thanks, all! A lot of people helped me out with advice when I started publishing--so it seemed right to pass some things along! Glad you enjoyed the post--stay tuned for more tomorrow at the Novel Novice:

  6. I'm looking forward to following Jonathan's progress through the blogosphere this month. Loads of good information here, and to come!

  7. I can use all the advice I can get--thanks!

  8. Great post. I loved the advice and it sounds like a great series.

  9. I really enjoyed this post and all the great advice. His series sounds wonderful!
    My MMGM for this week:

  10. Wonderful advice on this post. Glad to see you out of your revising cave and posting again. 8-) Thanks for keeping MMGM going while you were in there.

  11. Hey, Shannon, middle grade is my favorite even though I review all levels of kid lit. I would remember to post middle grade on Mondays more often if you could make a badge and a link list to sign up after the fact like Mother Daughter Book Reviews has for the first and third Wednesday Kid Lit blog hops. It would probably save you time. Anyway, maybe you can include my review of Diego's Dragon next week. It's up now, so I'll send the link. Thanks!

  12. Great post, thanks! Have read both of these books and they are fabulous!


Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Any arguing or intense debate--on any subject will be removed. Let's keep this a safe, fun space.