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On May 16, as long promised, we are delighted to dive into the subject of marketing and publicity, specifically for children’s books, though much of what we will discuss will be relevant for authors of any kind of books. Some of the subjects we will talk about will be: author websites and newsletters; social media and what is worth doing; what is the difference between “sales” “marketing” and “publicity;” what kinds of things are standard and should be expected from any reputable publishing house’s in-house team; how to work with and improve upon any publishing house’s plan; why their plans don’t go in your contract; when and why you might want to hire outside help and more. We will talk for 60 minutes and take questions after that, wrapping up at 8:30 PM EST.
Moderator: Victoria Wells Arms is a literary agent at Hannigan Getzler Literary Agency where
she specializes in children’s and YA books, and select adult fiction and food books. Before
becoming an agent, she spent twenty years as an editor and was the founding editorial director at Bloomsbury USA’s Children’s Division, where she worked with many bestselling and award-winning authors. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Victoria lives with her three children, two birds, and one dog in New York City and Ithaca, NY.
Rocky Callen is the author of the YA novel A Breath Too Late, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Young Adult Book of the Year and a Chicago Public Library Best Book and was featured in The Mujerista’s 2020 list of the ten best young adult books by Latinx authors. She is a contributing co-editor for the mental health YA anthology AB(SOLUTELY) NORMAL with Nora Shalaway Carpenter, just released from Candlewick. Her next YA novel, CRASHING INTO YOU (Holt) comes out Spring 2024. Before traditional publishing, she was a behavioral coach for over ten years and then worked in the self-publishing world focusing both on her own writing and the work of others. She uses her talents in public speaking, social media, networking, and traditional media to support the publication of her work and is a trusted ally of many other writers in promoting their work as well. She received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband and two children where she is working on her next novel and promoting her backlist fearlessly.
Val Howlett is a VCFA grad with ten-plus years experience in children’s book publishing. They cut their teeth in sales and marketing at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, and then worked their way up to Senior Marketing and Publicity Manager at Running Press Kids. Currently, they own Little Howl Media, a freelance business that specializes in integrated marketing and publicity services for authors and publishers. In their other life, they make flower arrangements based on characters from classic literature.
Sawako Shirota is the Library Marketing Manager at Candlewick Press based in Somerville, Massachusetts. After getting her Master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College, she interned in the School and Library Marketing Department at Candlewick and then made her way up to its managerial position over the last ten years. In between traveling to several library conferences and industry events, she enjoys spending time with her family in Japan, trying different cuisines, and discovering new and exciting voices in children’s literature.
Tracy van Straaten has nearly 30 years of publicity and marketing experience and has created hundreds of campaigns for bestselling, award-winning, and debut authors, as well as beloved characters, celebrities, and brands. Over the course of her career, she and her teams have launched more than 200 New York Times bestsellers, including Suzanne Collins’s bestselling The Hunger Games trilogy; He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo; Olivia by Ian Falconer. Van Straaten has held publicity and marketing positions at Little, Brown and Company, HarperCollins, William Morrow, Simon & Schuster, and Scholastic. In 2019, she founded TvS Media Group, a boutique public relations and consulting firm specializing in book publishing, entertainment, and brand management, with particular expertise in children’s and young adult books.
Photo credit: Lea Michaelson