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Friday Q&A

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! On Fridays, the OneFours answer questions about their books, writing processes, life, favorite flavors of ice cream, and more. This week’s question:

Which book by another author would you love to claim as your own and why?

I’d love to pass off MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness as my own. His whole Chaos Walking Trilogy, really. It contains such an interesting sci-fi concept, and Ness isn’t afraid to put his characters into the kind of horrible situations that make you want to simultaneously punch him in the face and sob for a million years. My goal as a writer is to make people feel the way I feel when I read his books.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Maggie Stiefvater’s book always make me feel like I have no business writing, but I’ve learned that a lot of newer authors feel that way. So, I’m going to say Amber Dermont’s THE STARBOARD SEA, which is a coming-of-age story (classified as adult, but I’d readily recommend to teens who appreciate beautiful words). It’s the kind of book that deepens with repeated reading and a protagonist who really got under my skin and made my cry (which is the benchmark of a good book for me).
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

I’m gonna cheat and go with a whole series here, but they’re short! The Ruby Oliver series (THE BOY BOOK, etc.) by E. Lockhart is, in my opinion, the most dead-on insight into the teen female mind. The writing is great, and Ruby’s a really fun character, but what really gets me about it is the way four strong books are crafted out of the kind of real, true dramas I remember experiencing that age, which no crazy, unrelatable plot points thrown in for sympathy points or dramatic effect or to scream “High concept!” It’s really just a girl learning to prioritize her life and embrace herself, while understanding what makes some relationships stronger and more worthwhile than others. To pull off that kind of thing while also being quirky and entertaining and unique isn’t easy, and it’s the kind of thing I’d love to contribute to the YA canon!
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Would anyone notice if I replaced Ellen Raskin’s name with my own? Even now, The Westing Game has everything I love in a book. A central mystery. The reading of a will. Cryptic clues. A race to solve them. An ensemble cast of interesting, complex characters. A flawed but funny mini-heroine with a great name (Turtle). And at no point does the book talk down to kids: the plot includes bombs, bookies, religious extremism, and degenerative disease. I read this book over and over as a kid, and I still pick it up and re-read it! I think that’s the dream of any author–to write a book that has something to say to every reader.
Laura Marx Fitzgerald, UNDER THE EGG

Oh, Libba Bray’s BEAUTY QUEENS, without a doubt. It’s smart and funny. A brilliant work of satire! I had writer-envy right from page one.
Skila Brown, CAMINAR

I’m a sucker for a good romance, and it doesn’t get more perfect than ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. I don’t know anyone who isn’t in love with both Etienne and Anna, and the perfect Parisian setting is just the icing on this delicious cake. I would love to be able to craft such a perfect romance.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I’d be thrilled to be able to slap my name onto WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. Fantastic characters and setting, and a plot that fits together like a perfect puzzle? Something to aspire to, for sure.
Tara Dairman, ALL FOUR STARS

I was so endlessly captivated by the world building in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, by Laini Taylor. Her ability to create a world that is so vivid and lush, while also creating real, relatable characters blew me away. I wish I wrote in that genre because every word on her pages would be such an incredible study in craft.
Kelsey Macke, DAMSEL DISTRESSED

Another vote for DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. Laini Taylor’s prose is breathtakingly gorgeous, and her world-building is some of the best I’ve ever come across. I read that book twice—once in complete awe of its craft and once more just for fun.
Meredith McCardle, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. From the very first sentence, I knew it was going to be a bad idea to read it, because it ‘s so good, with such completely compelling prose, I felt like a total hack in comparison. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to be a better writer.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

If I’d written BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu, I could die happy. I love the way she combines the real world with fantasy and brings alive the hurt of losing a friend. She manages to make being human seem hyper real through fantasy, and her writing makes me so immersed. Breadcrumbs is also super dark and scary, and I love that!
Edith Cohn, SPIRIT’S KEY

One day I would love to write a book like The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I love it for its scope and the incredible characters she creates and follows through out their lives.
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

This is a hard one! I’m so tempted to say Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, but I’m going to have to go with God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo. It was the first book I had to re-read immediately after finishing it.
Julie Murphy, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY

I’m tempted to say The Hunger Games, because, helloooo, BANK. But I’m going to say Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. Beautiful prose, quirky characters, gorgeous setting, poetry. It’s basically like the best date ever in a book.
–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor because HOLY GORGEOUS WRITING, BATMAN. She could write about knitting and I’d be captivated.
Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I’d love to claim MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY (the whole series) by Rachel Harris. The characters are so real, the romance makes me swoon, and I love the time travel elements. (I’ve always wanted to write a time travel book, but I’m so afraid I’d mess it all up!) Or if I can’t have that series, I’d claim the CAMP BOYFRIEND series by J.K. Rock for the same reason: characters that feel like real people and romance that makes my heart flutter. :)
Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEP

I’m going to say CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare. There’s something about her writing that makes me care so freaking much about the characters, and the romance between Will and Tessa is one of my all time favourites. The scene where they first kiss is a masterpiece of an example of how to create an incredible amount of romantic tension with the simple act of removing a glove.
Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

My choice would go to JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta. I read it last year and was so struck by the beautiful writing and the stunning plot craftsmanship. And all of the characters felt so real and genuine to me; I didn’t want to leave them behind when I got to the last page. I didn’t at all expect it to affect me like it did, and I only wish I could write something so complex and touching.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

I’d love to be able to claim SAVVY by Ingrid Law. I am so intrigued by the idea of turning 13 and having a special power! I was captivated from the first page of her wonderful book.
Kate Hannigan, CUPCAKE COUSINS

Jaye stole my idea of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. You know what they say about great minds… Beyond the heartfelt way Jandy weaves a tale of both grief and love, loss and new beginnings, the use of Lenny’s discarded poetry is genius. I had ALL the feels after readings that book. In fact, I think I need to reread it right now!
Bethany Neal, MY LAST KISS

The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. I don’t recall how old I was when I read it, but those are the books that made me look for the small crevices and sheltered places in my own world where magic might hide. Which is another way of saying they turned me into a bizarre little child writer. I’d like to do that for some other unsuspecting creature.
Natalie Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

What book do you wish you could claim as your own? Share in the comments!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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Setting; or, That Special Feeling

If you open any book called, say, How to Write Anything With the Slightest Possibility of Getting Published, there will be a chapter or a clipart bubble about setting. It doesn’t matter if your plot is unique, your dialogue is witty, and your prose is long-steeped in descriptive phrases. If you don’t have a sense of place and time for your scene, then it’s nothing more than a passing dream.

Setting is what grounds the story. It is what frames the story. It is what enriches the story.

The hard part is how to write setting well. I’m not an expert, but I do enjoy writing setting more than, well, any other part.

Here are some tips I use to develop setting:

1)   Decide on where the story takes place. Start big-picture, such as “a New York  public high school” or “the planet Schwarz.” Then work your way down to where the imminent action is taking place (“the janitor’s closet” or “on the riverbank”).

2)   Imagine what this place looks like—and then record every detail you can think of, going through the five senses. What colors do you see? What are the textures like in the rug, the pebbles, the crispy strings of the dried-out mop? What do you hear? Are there other people talking, far off? Is there an animal purring or howling? Is there water flowing or dribbling past? Can you hear the wind? Can you smell a paper mill? Or flowers? Or body odor? You get the idea. Work through these, and jot them down.

3)   Now, when does this scene take place?

4)   What sort of feeling do you want your reader to get from this time and place, in this scene?

Once you’ve got your setting all set up (haha), you’re ready for the fun part: weaving it in to the story.

Why don’t you just start off with several paragraphs describing every detail of the setting?

You can, but you might put your reader to sleep. My favorite thing to do is texturize the dialogue and some of the descriptions with little details that put the reader into the right frame of mind. I want her to feel the setting, as if she’s actually there. I want him to taste that cupcake. I want her to feel the sting of saltwater against her battle wounds. I want the reader to feel his bare feet against the cold marble tiles just as the main character feels them.

All the Feels…

To do this, you need to have your character notice these details. Don’t have your character tell the reader that the daylight is waning. Have him notice that the waxy leaves on the magnolia have lost their sheen and are deep in matte shadow. If the reader experiences these details while the characters notice them, it will develop immediacy and intimacy between the reader and the story. This is what I aim for every time I sit down to write.

Other tips:

1)   Setting descriptions are like salt…not enough, and the story is bland. Too much, and it turns the reader off.

2)   Let the details flow naturally in the story. Blend them into the dialogue, or the inner monologue (if there is any), or the narration.

3)   If you’re stuck, close your eyes and put yourself in your character’s shoes. This always grounds me back into the story.

Good luck!

(but worth it)

Amber Lough lives with her husband, their two kids, and their cat, Popcorn, in Syracuse, NY. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer to spend eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. Her Middle Eastern fantasy, THE FIRE WISH, is due from Random House Children’s in July 2014.
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The Author’s Voice: interview with OneFour author Robin Constantine

Tacky hors d’oeuvres and longing glances!

Robin speaks with us about her YA contemporary The Promise of Amazing (Balzer + Bray, 2014).

Kate Boorman is an independent artist and writer from the Canadian prairies. She was born in Nepal (where she was carried up the Himalayas in a basket) and she grew up in a small Albertan town (where she rode her bike to Girl Guides). She is fond of creepy things. Speaking of! Her YA fantasy WINTERKILL debuts in November 2014 (Abrams/Amulet and Faber & Faber).
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Joshua David Bellin: SURVIVAL COLONY NINE

Though he doesn’t debut until September, Joshua David Bellin just couldn’t wait to tell the world about his book, the YA sci-fi adventure SURVIVAL COLONY NINE. (Josh gets that way sometimes.) Let’s forgive his impetuosity and welcome him to the OneFourKidLit blog!

Survival Colony Nine cover

So we understand you can’t wait to tell the world about Survival Colony Nine, right?

Right.

Well, then, tell us already!

Oh. Okay.

War and environmental catastrophe have ravaged the world, and all that’s left of human society are the survival colonies: small, mobile units clinging to the remnants of past technology as they crisscross a hostile desert landscape. Heat, dust, and starvation aren’t their only enemies. They also must evade the Skaldi, creatures with the ability to consume and mimic human hosts that mysteriously appeared on the planet after the wars of destruction.

Fourteen-year-old Querry Genn, a member of Survival Colony Nine, has problems of his own. The leader of his colony–his father, Laman Genn–is never satisfied with him. The girl he loves, Korah, is someone else’s girlfriend. And six months ago, he lost his memory during a Skaldi attack on the colony. If he can recover his past, he might possess the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can’t, he’s their next victim.

Sounds pretty cool! Is Survival Colony Nine the first novel you’ve written?

Far from it! The first novel I wrote was titled “The Slowest Runner,” which I typed (laboriously, on a manual typewriter) when I was eight. It ended up being about two pages long. The first novel-length novel I wrote was an epic fantasy titled To Alter the Past, which I wrote when I was sixteen. A family friend who was in publishing took a look at it, but he told me (quite kindly, thank goodness) that I needed to work longer on my craft before I’d be ready for publication. As it turns out, “longer” meant about thirty years!

That’s not so long. So where did the idea for Survival Colony Nine come from?

Growing up, I was sure I was going to be a comic-book artist. Though that career didn’t pan out, I remain a very visual thinker, even when I’m writing. So my best ideas come to me first as images, not words. In the case of Survival Colony Nine, I woke up one morning with an image buzzing in my brain: the image of a desert landscape and a small group of people in camouflage uniforms traveling across the waste. I had no idea what this world was or how the people had gotten there, but the image wouldn’t go away. I had to create a story to fit the world, and that meant I had to create a main character, a history for him and his people, and all the rest of it.

One more question before we go. What was your favorite book when you were fourteen?

Hands down, my favorite book then remains my favorite book now: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I read it when I was thirteen (a year after the first Star Wars film came out), and I’ve loved it ever since. I read all kinds of stuff when I was a teen and pre-teen, including Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, some adult titles (mostly fantasy and sci-fi), but I was blown away by Tolkien’s ability to create a fantasy world that seemed as necessary and complete as the real world. I don’t read much epic fantasy these days–I’ve shifted to sci-fi, dystopian, and contemporary–but I think everything I write is shaped by my formative experience of immersing myself in Tolkien’s great imaginative act.

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since age eight (though his first few were admittedly very short). His debut YA science fiction novel SURVIVAL COLONY NINE will be published in September 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Josh likes (in no particular order) gorillas, frogs, monsters, and human beings.
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When We Say YA

Welcome to When We Say YA! Every month, the OneFour YA authors get together to talk about everything related to young adult lit. This is our very first When We Say YA post, so this month’s topic is:

Did you always know you wanted to write YA?

I did! When I started writing, I wasn’t even a young adult yet. I was about eight, and obsessed with my big sister’s Sweet Valley Highs, and I just wanted to create gorgeous and popular California girls of my very own. So I started writing what we’d now call YA, and never stopped.
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Yes, I did. I began writing seriously as a teenager, so it made sense to me to write for people in my age group. I love YA so much, I’m not sure I’ll ever write anything else!
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

I didn’t! I always thought I would write for adults until I received feedback that various stories of mine might work better as YA. I tried it, and then I was hooked. No going back now!
AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

I never considered writing fiction! But when I got hooked on reading YA, stories just started collecting in my head and I gave it a try. I can’t imagine writing in another age-range now.
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

No–my first few novels were adult SFF (even though I was a teenager at the time). When one of my adult novels wasn’t clicking I re-envisioned the characters as teenagers, and the book fell into place straightaway. All my ideas since have been YA, with a sprinkling of MG. Given that in my time in fandom, I’d spent a lot of time writing characters in that same age range, I wonder why I didn’t make the switch sooner!
Corinne Duyvis, OTHERBOUND

I am a Janie-come-lately to YA novels. I began my career writing and publishing a children’s picture story book series, ages 5-9, and NF articles for adult market magazines. Then I went back and got another degree in jounalism and wrote for newspapers. So prior to selling NO SURRENDER SOLDIER to Jacqueline Mitchard, editor of Merit Press (Adams Media/F+W Media) I was published in poetry (in English and French), picture story books, ESL/EFL fiction, HI/LO-ESL NF, NF middle-high school library books, plus articles in newspapers, magazines and journalis. My first choice in writing novels was middle grade. But along this path editors kept telling me over and over that I’m an abstract thinker who writes complex concepts in an understandable manner and I write best for YA.
Christine Kohler, NO SURRENDER SOLDIER

All of my first literary loves were YA or middle-grade. I grew up living in those imaginary worlds, and I never wanted to leave. So I didn’t.
Also, I think it helps that I’m perpetually a teenager at heart. Or at least I retain my teenager sleeping habits. (Mornings? What are mornings?)
Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

A friend once suggested to me that we write to the ages at which we most needed stories, the ages when things happened that shaped us in some fundamental way, and I subscribe to that. For me, there are several big signposts starting around age ten and carrying into young adulthood. Since I felt like an adolescent well into my twenties, I have plenty of life experience to tap into in the YA realm, and so far that’s where my story brain has wanted to live.
Rachel M. Wilson, DON’T TOUCH

When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing fiction, the first idea I had was what would now be considered New Adult. But at the time, NA wasn’t a thing at all, so I abandoned the idea because I couldn’t find any comp titles to read for genre guidance. Soon after that was when I really got into reading YA and I realized that was where my passion was. I may try to write something else some day, but right now YA is where my heart is!
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

Not at all! I was working on an adult novel that had some kid characters. I kept getting such great feedback on the kid characters. Everyone was most interested in them and wanted more of them, not the grown ups. That was when I realized I should follow that strength.
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

I thought I was going to try my hand at romance, but then I had an idea for this book and I knew the character wasn’t an adult. And then the more YA I read, the more I loved it. I’m actually writing a middle grade right now, and it feels strangely right.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

When I joined SCBWI I wrote picture books, but then I had this idea…I thought it was going to be a short story, but it kept growing and then it sort of stalked me. I think I was afraid of writing something longer – that I couldn’t sustain it, but I adore young adult – it’s where my voice naturally settles. Such a volatile time of so many changes – how can it be anything but exciting?
Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

I read “The Catcher in the Rye” when I was nineteen and thought it was the best, most powerful book I’d ever read. I wanted to create characters like Holden, with unique voices that critiqued society and carefully examined the world around them. I didn’t start seriously writing for a number of years after reading “Catcher”, but that voice has always been an inspiration and guide. Sometimes I wonder if “Catcher” is really YA – it came about before the YA category did, so the book could probably lean in either direction (YA or adult or maybe NA) and I think that’s the direction I typically lean as well.
Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

I didn’t think I’d be a writer of anything until I was thirty, but it was a YA novel that inspired me to try. And I wanted to write something my high school (math) students would identify with and want to read. Since then, it’s been YA all the way!
R.C. Lewis, STITCHING SNOW

No. I read a lot of adult SF/F as a teen (and a lot of it from decades ago, when the YA barely existed as a separate category), so I always figured that I would be a general fantasy author–winning the Hugo and the Nebula, of course! But slowly it dawned on me that I kept writing about teenaged protagonists, and that the current YA genre was a really good fit for me. So here I am, and it’s awesome! Though I still think I would like to write adult as well someday…
Rosamund Hodge, CRUEL BEAUTY

I always read YA, and was really disappointed when I graduated high school and felt pressured to move to adult fiction (which, in my mind, was all about middle-aged white men feeling angsty and having sex). But taking fiction classes in college and grad school, I wrote more standard literary fiction, even though I was mostly interested in YA. Then, in my Shakespeare class, I did a project on Shakespearean imagery in YA and realized I was working way harder on that project than on any of my other standard fiction stuff. I threw myself into the genre after that and haven’t looked back.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

YA is definitely where I feel the most comfortable, although I have written a few picture book manuscripts and a MG contemporary that I absolutely adore. But when I decided to really get serious about my writing a few years ago, YA was my default category. YA contemporary books are my favorite things to read, so naturally that’s where my mind goes when I create. (My 13-year-old daughter recently took a “how old are you mentally?” quiz, and when she finished, she told me that I didn’t need to take it, because she already knew my results. “It would tell you you’re 13-18 years old, because you think just like a teenager. Good thing that’s the kind of books you write.” High praise from a girl firmly in the middle of her “my parents are so embarrassing!” years.)
Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

I’ve been all over the place as a writer before finding my home in YA. I wrote academic prose, literary fiction, adult fantasy and sci-fi…. And then I had kids. Reading to and with them made me fall in love again with the genre I’d loved when I was a YA myself, and I’m so glad I found my way back. Now I’m re-imagining all my old, unfinished non-YA projects as YA!
Joshua David Bellin, SURVIVAL COLONY NINE

YA wasn’t such a big thing when I was a teen, and I more or less stopped reading it in my last year of high school in favour of adult fantasy novels. I didn’t start writing until I was 26, and the first couple novels that I completed were adult epic fantasy. I didn’t actually start reading YA again until I picked up a copy of Twilight to see what all the fuss was about, which got me started reading more and more of it. I found I really enjoyed the pacing and character focus in stuff written for teens, so I decided to give it a go. And I never looked back 🙂
Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

Yes! It’s 90 percent of what I read, so it only makes sense.
Livia Blackburne, MIDNIGHT THIEF

I never thought of myself as a writer because I never thought I’d be good enough. But soon the desire to put the stories in my head onto paper overcame that fear. And since my natural voice is definitely YA rather than adult, YA became a natural niche for me.
Christy Farley, GILDED

Even as an 10-year-old scribbling stories in a notebook, I wrote about characters in their teens. At the time, it was probably just me wishing I was a teenager because, for some reason, that seemed like the ideal age. But as I got older, those sorts of books were the ones that stayed with me and left the strongest impressions. So of course, that was what I wanted to write as well.
Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I started out trying to write adult chick lit. Whoops! I randomly stumbled upon YA when I saw an online YA writing course offered and figured I had nothing to lose. Since then I’ve never looked back. Writing for teenagers comes so naturally, I wish I’d thought of it sooner!
Robin Talley, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES

Was YA always for you, or did you try other categories/genres first? Share your answer in the comments!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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The Author’s Voice: interview with OneFour author Danielle L Jensen

Trolls! Romance! Rebellion!

Danielle speaks with us about her forthcoming YA fantasy, STOLEN SONGBIRD.

Cover: Steve Stone, Artist Partners

Kate Boorman is an independent artist and writer from the Canadian prairies. She was born in Nepal (where she was carried up the Himalayas in a basket) and she grew up in a small Albertan town (where she rode her bike to Girl Guides). She is fond of creepy things. Speaking of! Her YA fantasy WINTERKILL debuts in November 2014 (Abrams/Amulet and Faber & Faber).
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What I learned from my first Goodreads giveaway

As I learn how to get the word out about The Secret Side of Empty I grow more and more grateful for Goodreads, the social networking site for readers. Imagine a website full of people who love the very thing you hope to popularize (and which you also love)… books. Amazing, right?

That’s why Goodreads giveaways are a great way to help spread the word. You list a free book on their giveaways page and the people who find it intriguing enter to win it. If they really find it interesting, they also add it to their “to-read” shelf.

I just did my first Goodreads giveaway and I learned some tips and tricks that should help you make yours more successful.

Here are the stats on my Goodreads giveaway for my young adult novel:

I ran the giveaway for 3 days.
I had 652 people enter to win the book
I had 304 people add my book to their “to-read” shelf.

That’s an average of 200 entries a day – a really good number. My giveaway ran Saturday through Monday, 3:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Eastern time. (So technically Tuesday. It doesn’t let you pick a time). When going for maximum entries, day of the week probably matters. I had over 200 entries on Saturday and Monday and less on Sunday, with Monday being the highest with over 250 entries. I was totally delighted that I averaged over 200 per day.

I have someone that I’ve never met to thank for this great initial success: the good folks over at NovelPublicity. See below for a link to their tip sheet.

Probably their best tip was to run the giveaway for a short number of days. I am a “more is more” kind of girl, so left to my own devices I would have probably run my giveaway for a long time and promised a whole lot of books, hoping to attract a lot of entries. But that overlooks two of the main ways that people find giveaways on Goodreads: the “Recently Listed” tab and the “Ending Soon” tab. When you first list your giveaway, it will naturally be listed in the “Recently Listed” tab. When it’s about to end, it will come up on the “Ending Soon” tab. If you list for a few weeks or a month, as I saw a lot of authors do, there is a whole lot of time in between when your giveaway is languishing in a sea of giveaways. Listing mine for 3 days meant I was getting entries constantly. I saw books with more entries than mine (some over several months) but few with that 200+ a day average.

Also, offering just one book did not slow down the rate of entries at all (other giveaways that were offering more weren’t necessarily getting entries at a faster rate). My theory is that if the book looks intriguing, people will enter whether you’re offering one copy or ten. (I mean, would you calculate your odds of winning based on entries divided by books available from book to book? I wouldn’t. I’m a writer, peeps, not a mathematician).

One other thing I did was employ my know-how from my marketing days. I know that you’ve got 3 seconds to catch someone’s attention. While deep and meaningful descriptions might sell someone on entering, potential entrants won’t even get to reading that unless you grab them right at the start. That’s why the first two lines of my giveaway were “Signed Copy” and “Junior Library Guild Selection.” If your book has gotten an award or an amazing review, put that up at the top where it will make you stand out from the pack.

Running this initial giveaway was a great learning experience. There are a few things I will do differently for my next one. For example, when tagging my giveaway, I looked to the list of tags and picked the one that made the most sense: young-adult. But it wasn’t until the giveaway was underway that I realized that you can tag with as many tags as are relevant, not just one. I didn’t edit it right then and there because I realized that giveaway changes have to be approved by the Goodreads staff, and approval of my giveaway took several days. When I made one edit pre-start date, it told me it had to be reviewed by the Goodreads staff again so I didn’t want to risk taking my giveaway off-line during its short run. I made a mental note to do it better next time. But that meant that if someone looked to narrow their search for giveaways to “YA,” (instead of young-adult, which is how I tagged it) The Secret Side of Empty didn’t show up.

Here are a few of the ones that are relevant to The Secret Side of Empty:

coming-of-age, ya, young-adult, new-adult, contemporary-fiction, love-story, teens, book-club, teen-fiction, book, books, young-adult-fiction, college, debut-novel, new-york-city, secrets, multicultural, sweet-romance, youth, family-relationships, ya-fiction, yalit, girls, author, juvenile-fiction, young-adult-romance, new-authors, first-love, ya-romance

Be sure to scroll through several pages of potential tags (list is to the right) so that you can jot down all the ones that are available for your genre.

Still, I am beyond thrilled with this amazing early exposure for the book. I thought I’d share my experience for authors finding their way through the wonderful world of Goodreads giveaways.

Write me or tweet me @WriterSideofM and let me know how your own Goodreads giveaways go!

And, in case you’re curious, here’s a link to my upcoming Goodreads giveaway (ending 1/24/14) so you can see all my tweaks in action. Click here.

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Click here for the Novel Publicity tip sheet