Monday, August 21, 2017

Life After Publication: A Conversation with Kathleen Burkinshaw and a Great Giveaway!

Congratulations to Linda Andersen for winning Kathy Wiechman's ARC of NOT ON FIFTH STREET.

It is my pleasure to host Kathleen Burkinshaw on her TLCB Blooming Anniversary Tour.

What has life been like for you since The Last Cherry Blossom was published?

This past year has had wonderful, surreal moments as well as frenzied, bittersweet ones.  To hold The Last Cherry Blossom (TLCB) the first time and see it in a bookstore, a library, or in schools was so rewarding. 

A surreal moment was being on stage for my first Author’s roundtable and autograph signing at the 2016 SCBWI-Carolinas conference. When I hear from readers that words I wrote about my mom’s experience growing up in Hiroshima has them thinking about the world differently, I feel humbled and most grateful.

The frenzied moments, for me, were the worry of how and where do I market TLCB? Are there awards that I should consider?  What conferences should I submit a request for proposal? Which ones can I afford to attend? I’m so thankful that SCBWI awarded the Book Launch Honor Award to me. It helped with some of the fees for conferences and allowed me to be an author sponsor of Multicultural Children’s Day this past January, which I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own.

What events and/or marketing have you done? 

I had bookmarks printed while my ARCs were being prepared.  My agent suggested that my publisher give out the bookmarks at the 2016 BEA, ALA, and BookCon in New York, since they would not be giving out copies of my ARCs. This built some buzz for the book.

I had my book launch at a local independent book store, Main Street Books, Davidson, NC.  They had offered to have my ARC reviewed by their teen book club, and suggested that one of the members do a reading with my daughter. I had book swag, such as cherry blossoms, silk fans, cherry blossom lip gloss, bookmarks, and even homemade chocolates in the shape/color of cherry blossoms. At middle school events ahead of time, I gave out bookmarks announcing the launch. 

I also joined a fantastic 2016 debut author group for MG and YA authors, The Sweet Sixteens. Members in this group helped one another by marketing each other’s books/events, and hosting various blog interviews. In addition, we encouraged each other through the highs and lows of pre-publication and afterward. 

A few months before my pub date, my friend, Joyce Moyer Hostetter asked if I’d like to be part of a group with her, Shannon Hitchcock, Shannon Weirsbitzky, and Kerry O’Malley Cerra. Our books all deal with difficult, emotional, or diverse issues that many middle graders face every day. The group is called #MGGetsReal. Kerry O’Malley Cerra painstakingly compiled a list of books by other authors that deal with tough topics which she continues to update. We did blog posts about one another, and with each other.  We also presented at the NC Reading Association discussing #MGGetsReal and our books.

I prepared a spread sheet for my publicity person at Sky Pony Press so she would know whom I had given information to, and who I hoped they could send a press release and copy of my book. I included local newspapers and TV stations, as well as Japanese book reviewers. In addition, I organized a list of awards and their deadlines, where I thought Sky Pony could submit TLCB.

My major marketing strategy is what I call my “Research, then throw it out there and see what sticks." I researched the names of various nuclear disarmament groups, Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivor groups, Japanese American societies, and Asian American publications. I signed up to receive various industry newsletters and writing blogs. I commented on blog posts and if on topic, I would mention my book. I requested a review from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific children’s book review blog, Book Dragon, and was pleasantly surprised when they agreed. 

Because I feel the school market is my best target audience, I researched school library, reading, social studies, and history associations.  I had set up a twitter account less than a year before my pub date. Interestingly, by direct messaging the NC School Library Media Association, I found out how to write a proposal and did my first conference presentation at their annual conference last year. 

I highly recommend Twitter. I’ve met some wonderful teachers, historians, and bloggers through various tweet chats. These look daunting at first, but it’s not as difficult as you might think.  It’s a wonderful way to connect with readers and authors all over the world. 

I also have enjoyed writing my blog, Creating Through the Pain. I started it at least a year before I had a publishing contract. I continue to meet some wonderful people through my blog.

Lastly, I am glad that I learned how to Skype with a class so that I could participate in World Read Aloud Day. Skyping with a class is a great way to meet students when traveling is difficult.

Which would you not repeat?

The tough thing about marketing your book is “that you don’t know what you don’t know.”  I didn’t know that there were certain lists to submit your book to be on their list--for example the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. If your publisher doesn’t know about it and you don’t know it exists, it doesn’t get submitted. Now working on my second book, I’m keeping notes so that I can be sure the second book doesn’t miss out on opportunities.

What advice would you give for the year(s) following publication?

For the year following publication, aside from working on your next book, visit classrooms, and connect with teachers or state school library associations, submit your book to various school library lists in different states that allow you/publisher to recommend your own book, and write guest blog posts. 😊

It is a delicate balance for every author between family, work, and anything else in life and their writing/marketing time. My difficulty is balancing all of these efforts in the middle of pain. There was a large stretch of time, I couldn’t even research or write because all my energy was spent on marketing.  I’m learning to balance my time better to hopefully cut down on pain flare ups. 

But, the most important message is ENJOY, have FUN, and CELEBRATE every exciting step. Remember, you worked hard honing your craft to get to this point. Take it all in, smile, be proud of yourself, and then get back to writing. 
If you would like to enter Kathleen's giveaway for the items shown below, please go to: Two winners will be chosen at random on August 31. (US or Canada residents only.)


Theresa Milstein said...

It's great to come back and hear how this year has been for Kathleen. There's helpful advice here, and I'm bookmarking this post to keep in mind if/when I'm in her place. Thank you!

Linda Phillips said...

Kathleen, you are an inspiration, both for your wonderful book, and the way you have dug into marketing so effectively. Thanks, Carol, for showcasing this author's wisdom!

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks Theresa and Linda. Yes, Kathleen is an example for us all!

Connie Porter Saunders said...

It is very evident that even though writing a book and getting it published is a great achievement there is so much more to do to assure that it is read. Thanks for sharing!

Carol Baldwin said...

Isn't that the truth, Connie!

sheri levy said...

Hi Kathleen,
i loved hearing about your busy schedule with marketing. It has been the most difficult time for me. Thanks for sharing some of the things you've done!

Kathleen said...

Thank you Carol for asking me to write about my first year after publication on your blog and having it be a stop on my anniverary tour & giveaway. Thank you Theresa, Linda, Connie for your kind words. I'm so glad that I can help in some way :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Sheri. I know how hard you have been working too! Kathleen--the pleasure is mine!

Rosi said...

Wonderful interview, as always. Thanks for the post. Please let someone else win. I won a copy of her book, and I still haven't had time to get to it! (Blushing here.) Moving it to the top of my TBR pile.

Carol Baldwin said...

I understand, Rosi. You'll enjoy it when u do!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Thanks for this terrific interview on how Kathleen marketed her book. It’s an insightful look at the industry for all writers. Such an important book, too! Best wishes for success and congratulations to Kathleen on her debut novel.

My reading pile is teetering, Carol, so please don’t include my name for the drawing.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Clara!

Linda A. said...

What a great interview ladies. Wow, I don't know anyone juggles all these marketing strategies and has time for anything else. This interview is one to keep and study for future reference. I applaud you and your marketing efforts, Kathy. I'm not entering the giveaway because I have my own cherished, autographed copy! Thanks again, Carol and Kathy!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda!

Kathleen said...

Sheri, Rosi, Ciara and Linda, You're so welcome. I'm so glad that you found this helpful. It's definitely a learning curve, but in a good way :)

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thanks for interviewing Kathleen Burkinshaw. She is an amazing author and I admire all that she does and all that she has accomplished. I have Kathleen's book.

Dear Kathleen,
Thanks for sharing all of your marketing strategies for The Last Cherry Blossom! I am very proud of you and all that you have accomplished!

Never Give Up

Kathleen said...

Dear Joan, you are so very welcome! And your encouragement and friendship mean so much to me. Thank you so much <3

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