Here is the final installment of Using Social Media to Promote Your Jewish Children’s Book, The Whole Megillah’s cyber-roundtable of authors who have successfully been using social media to promote their Jewish children’s books.
- Laura Toffler-Corrie, author of The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz (Roaring Brook Press, 2010)
- Steve Sheinkin, author of the Rabbi Harvey series (Jewish Lights)
- Shirley Vernick, author of The Blood Lie (Cinco Puntos Press, September 2011)
- Ellen Bari, author of Jumping Jenny (Kar-Ben, 2011)
- Shevi Arnold, self-publishing Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey
The Whole Megillah (TWM): Did you find that one medium served you to a greater extent than another? Please also comment on the use of Jewish-oriented media.
Laura Toffler-Corrie: Not really. I think it’s about putting yourself out there as much as possible and using all the resources available. It helps if you win an award or make ‘important’ lists.
With regard to the Jewish-oriented media, I’ve been publicized and endorsed by kidlit Temple book clubs across the country. My book has been featured at many Temple book fairs as well. But with regard to some of the Jewish award committees, it’s been my experience that if committee members believe that your book is too edgy perhaps or unconventional in its approach to Jewish subject matter, it will be overlooked.
Steve Sheinkin: Let’s face it, I’m never going to check and update a site several times a day. So for me, the most valuable thing is to keep creating content, and use media sites to get it out there.
Shirley Vernick: I’m just starting, so the jury is out on this.
Ellen Bari: I am just beginning to explore the most effective avenues, but think that the website, which I created specifically for Jumping Jenny, is a wonderful way for parents, educators, and kids to see what the book is about and get some extension activities that enhance the experience.
Shevi Arnold: Facebook has served me best. I have nothing to say regarding Jewish-oriented media specifically, although the SSCBWI Yahoo Group has been quite helpful to me. It introduced me to the conferences that Anna Olswanger created at the 92nd Street Y. Anna has also been very supportive of my work. She sent me the nicest rejection letter anyone has ever received.
TWM: How would you measure the success of using social media?
Toffler-Corrie: It’s the future. Authors really must collaborate with their houses and also be independent in promoting their work. The social media are great tools, and I believe I’ve had success with it.
Sheinkin: Seems to be helping to spread the word. Harvey’s Facebook page even has a string of comments from France!
Vernick: I’m going to be looking for “likes” on my Facebook page, comments on my website, and points-of-contact generated by blog activity. Of course, this is hardly an exact science; not everyone who’s inspired to read a book based on social media input actually bothers to comment about it.
Bari: Let’s check back in a half year or so.
Arnold: By the number of reading friends and followers you have, and by how much what you put out helps, informs, or entertains others. It’s about creating a positive connection.
TWM: What advice would you give to other authors?
Toffler-Corrie: Be creative about getting yourself and your book out into the world using the social media. However, I think it’s important to be circumspect as well. If you’re too aggressive about yourself or your book, especially on FB and Twitter, I think you run the risk of over exposure and turning people off. Also, always be aware of your public presence. Never say anything, write anything, or post a picture of something that is inappropriate about yourself or someone else. It’s unprofessional and will definitely come back to haunt you.
Sheinkin: I don ‘t know enough about social media to give much advice. To me, even when you’re promoting something, the promotional content has to be entertaining in its own right. That’s what I think about.
Vernick: Do it! But don’t get addicted to it. It’s amazing how many hours one can spend surfing social media like Facebook or the blogosphere.
Bari: I had learned a lot through my entrepreneurial experience with Momasphere. If an author had not been exploring social media in advance of the book being published, I would recommend hiring someone to help you. It is a lot of work and very time-consuming coming up to speed and doing everything on your own.
Arnold: Jump right in, but not before reading some helpful books on platforms and marketing. Keep it fun, informative and positive. Social media isn’t about selling; its about giving. If you give people something, they’ll become your friends and followers, and they’ll generate positive buzz about you and your books. Keep your personal stuff and your business stuff separate, so you don’t tweet about what you had for breakfast or get your Facebook wall filled up by a real-life friend’s links to funny stuff she found on the web. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are other writers and publishing professionals online who would be happy to help you out with a quick question or two.
TWM: Is there anything else you’d like to say about social media?
Toffler-Corrie: The social media are continuing to morph and change all the time. Stay abreast of new promotional opportunities. Be your own advocate as much as possible.
Sheinkin: Yes. It makes me feel old at 42.
Vernick: Don’t spend your retirement fund on an expensive website design. I suggest using one of the free templates offered by WordPress or Blogspot, or hiring a technically savvy student.
Arnold: Look up your favorite writers and see how they do it. What works for them could work for you. And don’t forget to follow or friend them while you’re at it.
Thank you — Laura, Steve, Shirley, Ellen, and Shevi — for sharing your practices with us.