Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mary Cunningham

Whenever I ask a non-writer to imagine a typical full-time writer's workload, they look a bit puzzled, before they reply: "Well, a writer... writes. Drinks coffee. Smokes lots of cigarettes. Writes some more. Finishes the book. Sends it off to the publishers. Writes another book."

If only!

Today I'd like to dispel this myth by talking to Mary Cunningham again (see my archives for the previous interview earlier this year, Mary is the author of the young reader series called "Cynthia's Attic". Welcome back, Mary.

Q: I'd like us to concentrate on your marketing effort for the "Cynthia's Attic" series: what did you try?

A: You're right, Yvonne. If only we could just write! Today's authors must be more involved in marketing. Book one, "The Missing Locket" was published in DEC 2005. I wish I'd known then what I know now. I don't think I'd be struggling as much with sales. I'm so much more savvy about promoting on the Internet. It's such an amazing tool. If you hit the right review sites, blogs, press releases, you can reach so many more people than you can at booksignings or book festivals. These are still important, but mass media is so much more effective. I also have a website, and blog on 7 or 8 different blogspots, plus try to "guest blog" whenever I'm asked!

Q: What worked best?

A: So far, blogs have been the most effective. I'd had one review that was posted on 15 (that I've counted) different blogs, including 2 international blogs.

Q: What didn't work so well for you and why?

A: I've struggled with libraries. Although I've sent personal e-mails to libraries in 8 states, I have very few library sales to show for it. Libraries are hung up on reviews - Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly. If your book isn't listed on one of these sites, it's like pulling teeth to get them to add your books to their catalogs. I know other authors have had good success with libraries, so maybe I'm just not hitting the right buttons. I won't stop trying!

Q: Let's talk about Book Three: what is the title and blurb?

A: So glad you asked! The title is Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou.

Colorful Pirates, SuRana, a shape-shifting puma, and an old Cajun guide named Mud Bug, join Cynthia and Gus, in Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou.

The twelve-year-old best friends travel through the magic trunk in Cynthia's attic to a 1914 Louisiana bayou searching for Cynthia's great-grandfather, Beau Connor. Discovering a connection between Beau and Buzzard Jack LaBuse, the meanest, orneriest pirate this side of the Mississippi, leads to a heart-stopping confrontation to recover a long-lost treasure and lift a family curse.

Q: I look forward to presenting an excerpt and the book's cover in next week's blog, Mary. Meanwhile, back to the marketing aspect again: what have you done so far for this latest book, what are you planning to do still, why is it different to or the same as you've tried before?

A: I'm sending out more press releases. Spreading the word through blogs and MySpace. As soon as I have a firm publish date, I'll concentrate on my best markets (hometown, region, book locale, etc.) and also contact bookstores in those areas. In addition to the books my publisher (Quake) will be sending out for review, I'll send books out for review. I've also been asked to write Book Four! I'll never stop marketing, but I also need to find time to write another book. I'm not ready to let go of Cynthia and Gus just yet.

Q: Anything else you'd like to add?

A: I'm proud of the fact that my goal in writing the series is to elevate grandparents beyond homemade cookies and hugs in the eyes of their grandchildren. Cynthia's Attic bridges the generational gap, helping young readers and writers understand that it's okay, and might even be fun, for them to ask questions and write stories about their grandparents before they became, well...grandparents! I regret the fact that I didn't sit down with my grandparents and ask about their childhood. It's too late for me, but maybe I can encourage young readers to be inquisitive and write stories about their ancestors.

Q: And before we sign off: link to purchasing all the books in the series. (links to online bookstores and local bookstores may be found on my website)

Thanks, so much Yvonne. It's been a pleasure being your guest!

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