Thursday, August 6, 2009

And the Minnetonka Salty Pickle Award Goes to....

I just got my publicity questionnaire from a large house, and I noticed that it doesn't ask questions about specialized publications that might review my book, or specialized awards that my book might be a good candidate for. ("Specialized" meaning specifically related to the topic of the book, as opposed to standard children's lit stuff.) Will they be offended if I share this information? How do I find out if they are willing to follow up on it? Should I give the same info to my editor?
Also, is it normal that the publicity contact would not want to give the author a list of the reviewers who have been sent advance copies?
Ah, awards. It seems like there are more and more out there.
I was recently asked by one of my authors to submit her book to an "award" that, upon investigation, we found to cost $200 to enter and which runs out of some RenFair in West Virginia.

That answer was no.

So your answer is: maybe. There are smaller, more specialized awards out there that we wouldn't mind submitting to (the Giverny, for instance). But it depends a great deal on:

1. How much does it cost to put a book in the running? The Newbery, for instance? $0.00. We just send books to the committee.
Some legitimate awards have entrance fees, but an entrance fee does and should always make me think twice.

2. How many people will hear about the winners of the award? Some "award" winners will be noticed only by the 212 other people who submitted a book for one of the 16 different "awards" certain charlatans are giving out. And when the entrants have each paid $200 to enter, I'm guessing the award's organizer is awarding himself a Bahamas vacation.
I also don't care if a small but earnest group of Rocky Mountain hicks wants to give an award. Know who awards mean the most to? Teachers and librarians. Will they hear about the award?

3. How good will such an award sound if we put it on the book jacket or in the marketing materials? "The Podunk Vermont Award for Excellent Depiction of a Bovine" is not something we want to publicize. "The Willa Award for Women Writing the West" sounds a hell of a lot more like something you'd buy, doesn't it?

So no, they won't be offended, but do phrase your email to them in a way that says you're not trying to tell them how to do their jobs. Something along the lines of "Here are some awards you might want to consider entering my book for. Would you let me know which, if any, you decide to pursue? Thanks much, your author." It doesn't hurt to copy your editor on that correspondence.

It's normal that Publicity wouldn't want to give names of reviewers, yes. But which publications they sent review copies to isn't any secret. They're very, very busy, though. If you just haven't heard from them, in my experience it's because they've sent the book to everybody who counts and they don't understand why you can't just wait to see who does or doesn't review your book.

(I know, the waiting is terrible. Authors and the waiting are a bad combination. Keep yourself busy however you can.)


emay said...

Questioner here . . . thanks so much for the response!

"Everybody who counts" seems maybe just a little bit subjective to me. For instance, I happen to know that Fuse #8 does NOT receive review copies from this publisher. So I was interested in knowing which reviewers got my book, so I could use a few of my author copies for important bloggers (Fuse, Bank St., etc.) if they didn't "count."

The publicity contact did take time to reply, very promptly, pleasantly and politely, and in his own words, but reiterating the company boilerplate ("we have a long list, etc. etc."), which made me think there might be some reason why a publishing company wouldn't want to tell an author who'd gotten review copies.

Still a little puzzled . . .

Tara McClendon said...

I love the authors who market themselves as "award-winning" authors because they won the Minnetonka Salty Pickle Award.

Trixie said...

"The Podunk Vermont Award for Excellent Depiction of a Bovine"

Such an outlandish award might cause some curiosity about the book, although at $200 a pop (or whatever the fee) it's definitely not the author who will be making out.

...and yes, I'm still giggling about this particular "award".

Clare K. R. Miller said...

"Keep yourself busy however you can."


My new goal is to become worthy of the Minnetonka Salty Pickle Award.

lisav said...

Can I just declare right now that Children's Book Marketing Departments at publishing houses know what their doing? No one needs to worry that Fuse #8 or Bank Street or EarlyWord aren't seeing their books. That is the answer I have for any author who contacts me personally. Save your author copies for the perfect moment. Are you going to a conference? Will you be somewhere where the publicity will help? The usual suspects, bloggers and print reviewers are receiving them. Let's say I miss a book that other bloggers are talking about. I do not hesitate to ask for a review copy. Publishers want reviewers and bloggers to have the books. Really.

Sara J. Henry said...

Hey! I'm FROM Podunk, Vermont, and our expertise in cows is world-renowned.

Anonymous said...

Emay- there is an easier way to deal with the important bloggers. Think of the half dozen blogs which are the most suited to your book, and contact the blogger directly. Tell her you are a reader of her blog and you'd like to give her a copy of your upcoming book but would not like to burden her with a duplicate copy. Bloggers are pretty good about getting back with a yes, please or no thanks.

You might think carefully before sending your book to a blogger to whom you're publisher will not send review copies. There must be a reason for them to shun what is essentially free publicity. They may never tell you why they are not communicating with a particular blogger, but it is probably not a subjective decision.

lisav said...

and that is why there are copy editors. not their, they're.

lisav said...

An of course the most excellent answer to the Blogger/ review copy question is by EA.

Fuse #8 said...

What Anonymous says is true. Though, in my particular case, there is a funny story for why I don't get books from that particular publisher. It doesn't really matter, though, since I work with a lot of other librarians who also get review copies, so I see a wide swath of material. You can always check with the bloggers you are interested in contacting. In some cases they will already have a copy of your book on hand, freeing you up to use your few review copies for other sites.

Anonymous said...

Because I have a list of people who get everything, a list of people who get just picture books (or just YA or just nonfiction, etc), a group that just get the "top" 2-3 titles, a list of people who choose for themselves, a list of people for books on space (or dogs or potty training etc.), a list of your local publications, a list that gets just read alouds, and probably a dozen other lists as well, and unfortunately, it would take time away from promoting your book to send you a complete list. However, if you ask me if Publication X or Blogger Y got your book, I will certainly let you know and send it "Compliments of the Author" if she hasn't and it makes sense. --From a sometimes frustrated, but always happy to hear from an author with contructive ideas, children's book marketer

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