I’m writing this in early August, currently traveling for my publisher in the UK and Ireland. Very often books come out in a different order or at different times in foreign markets—because translation takes time. Even in English-speaking markets, there can be a delay, or the books might not come out at all. For example, I had my first adult book come out in the UK and Ireland — and my first three YA books, but after that, I had no publisher there for many years. There wasn’t much I could do about it. However, when We Were Liars came out, I got a new publisher, and that publisher bought my older YA up and brought it out as new.
I’m here for two reasons, then. The first is is to tour bookshops and do a festival (YALC—the Young Adult Literature Conference) for books that I wrote a long time ago. That’s an interesting thing to do, as the books haven’t been particularly popular, and I’m not sure which ones to talk about, particularly. I had to re-read them before getting on the plane!
As I write this I have done two events where I didn’t sell many books except We Were Liars— so I will adjust my presentation tonight. The first event I tried talking through my older titles super fast — a sentence about each. Then the conversation was about YA literature generally, writing processes, etc. At the second event, I didn’t mention the older books at all, but my interviewer gushed a lot about one book — though she actually never explained what it was about. So for tonight, I think I’ll choose one or maybe two to talk from and even read from. These events are supposed to be literary conversations, and nobody wants to hear a sales pitch—but they are supposed to sell books. So I am thinking on the road about how to learn from the events I have had so far.
The second reason I’m here is to generate pre-publication excitement for my September 2017 book, Genuine Fraud. For my first four YA books I had no idea that publishers set things in motion before publication for certain titles. But they do. They might mail out ARCs in special packages, bring the author to conferences full of booksellers, teachers or librarians, and they might have parties. In this case, we had a bookseller party one night (chain buyers, indie stores etc.) and a blogger party another night (video bloggers). There were goodie bags and speeches and the blogger party had cupcakes (see photo). It is part of my job to put these images on Instagram and Twitter — to find amusing ways of extending the reach that events might have. There was also a tea with Irish children’s librarians and booksellers, and I filmed a lot of video (not my favorite thing to do!) that will be rolled out when the book is released. For example, I made a video for a chain bookstore recommending five titles; and I made many videos describing the book that will go onto online book sites.
My job is to have prepared something of a schtick about my book, to have figured out a number of ways of talking about it that are appealing—and to try to connect with people. I try to get my hair to behave itself, but it doesn’t really matter if I fail. I try to adapt to each situation, and to learn from the publishing team what they think is working—it’s a good chance to refine what I’m doing in front of crowds, to understand it and to try and get better at it.
I am super tired and a bit homesick, but I’m also thrilled to see Edinburgh, Dublin and London, and to meet all these readers. I’ve gotten to know the YA book community a bit, and everyone has been welcoming and wonderful.