But authors are discovering ways to combine efforts to maximize the force of marketing. A new group, MGGetsReal, unites its members in marketing their books, which all share a common thread of tackling tough topics.
Before we talk about this power in numbers, let's meet #MGGetsReal member, Shannon Hitchcock:
Shannon's novel, RUBY LEE & ME, is the story of 12-year-old Sarah Beth Willis who has moved in with her grandparents after her sister's tragic accident. Sarah and her neighbor, Ruby Lee, will be in sixth grade together. But racial tensions are high in Shady Creek in the fall of 1969; Sarah is white and Ruby Lee is black. Race relations and personal guilt about her sister's accident could make for a rough year for Sarah...
Q: Hi Shannon! RUBY LEE & ME is loosely based on your childhood. Which parts of your youth did you draw upon for Sarah Beth, and which parts did you alter or make up?
When Sarah Beth feels guilty about race relations in her town, I had those same feelings. When writing historical fiction, I have a motto to never let the truth stand in the way of a good story. I made up characters and embellished what really happened.
|July 20, 1969|
A: Not an awful lot because this is based on a time period I actually lived through. Mostly I was fact-checking my memories, but I did read quite a bit about the first moonwalk.
Q: A reviewer on Goodreads applauds you for "...[weaving] fictional fact and factual fiction." What challenges did you find in weaving fact and fiction together?
A: My editor had to push me to make the racial issues more prominent. I was really uncomfortable when Sarah called Ruby a hateful name, but I think it sends an important message. Kids often get angry and call each other names without fully realizing how much words matter. There is a scene later in the book when Sarah finds out just how much hatred is behind the racial slur she uttered.
Q: There's been a call for more diverse books for children. Did this weigh heavily on you while writing, or did you find it inspiring?
|To support We Need Diverse Books,|
Q: How did it feel to get a Booklist starred review?
A: I cried! My first novel, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, garnered positive reviews, but no stars, so this was a special honor.
Q: Let's talk marketing! You're part of #MGGetsReal. How did you find each other? And is there power in numbers?
A: Author Shannon Wiersbitzky [who has written a book about Alzheimer's] emailed me about a group marketing effort and asked if I knew other writers that might be interested in participating. I suggested Kerry O'Malley Cerra, who has written a book about 9/11 and Joyce Moyer Hostetter, who has written a book about war trauma. Joyce recommended Kathleen Burkinshaw, who has a brand new book about Hiroshima. What we all have in common is that we've written about tough topics in a way appropriate for a middle grade audience.
YES! There is power in group marketing!
• Shannon Wiersbitzky is the architect behind the whole thing. Without her #MGGetsReal wouldn't even exist. She made really cool group ads for Twitter.
• Joyce Hostetter and her daughter made a video about our books:
• Kerry O'Malley Cerra compiled a comprehensive list of middle grade books that tackle tough topics. Find all 164 books here.
• Kathleen Burkinshaw wrote for the NCTE blog, hosting a giveaway of all five books that will run through the end of August.
• The contribution that I am most proud of is my post for the Nerdy Book Club.
Thanks for joining us, Shannon. WOW! There truly is power in numbers. Best of luck to you and the #MGGetsReal group.
If you fear marketing, GROG readers, consider joining forces with fellow authors to share the load!
For more information on Shannon, visit her website and blog here.
Or follow Shannon on Twitter, @ShannonHitchcock.