Fran Cannon Slayton - The Wild Ride To Publication (Children's Book Version!): Highlights Foundation "Life in the Spotlight" Workshop: Installment #1

Friday, March 21, 2008

Highlights Foundation "Life in the Spotlight" Workshop: Installment #1

Okay, as promised, here is installment 1 from the Highlights Foundation’s "Life in the Spotlight" workshop led by Indiana Professor of Journalism Peter Jacobi.

First, let me say that if you have a chance to go to a Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop – GO! Do not pass go, do not collect $200 – just get yourself there. Set in the Pocono Mountains, Honesdale, PA is an oasis of children’s book and magazine publishing just about 2 ½ hours from the hustle bustle of New York City. It’s a place to get away from it all in your own little cottage – a lovely place to read, write, learn and make friends. Simply top notch in every way.

And the FOOD! My goodness, the food is unbelievably wonderful. Don’t even get me started! Suffice it to say that meals are prepared by Marcia, who won the highest award at the Culinary Institute of America at the time she was graduated. WOW. I’ve really been missing Marcia since I came back home . . .

Anyway, the workshop, oh yes. It was great! We started with a tour of Boyds Mills Press and Front Street. There we met a number of the editors on the Highlights magazine staff as well – a sort of "nice to get to know you" kind of tour. The next morning SCBWI NJ Regional Advisor Kathy Temean presented just about everything you’d ever want to know about websites and web marketing. Kathy has her own web consulting business – Temean Consulting, - for those of you looking for a web designer. I took about a jillion notes and came away with my head spinning as to the number of things I can do to promote my book on the internet.

First and foremost – have a website! You should register your domain name and possibly other sub-domains to help people more easily find you. You’ll also need to determine your web host. I looked around a lot before I committed. If you google "best web hosts" you’ll find lists where several organizations have rated web hosts based upon various criteria. I use IX Web Hosting because they have 24/7 help and because if it doesn’t work out I could get my money back. (But hey, it’s working out!) Another thing you might want to consider when deciding on a web host is whether you’ll be using their template to design your site, whether you’ll be using a web designer, or whether you’ll be using third-party software to create your site. If you are planning to your web host’s template, be sure you check it out first and feel comfortable that it will give you what you want. Many web hosts allow you to test drive their templates before you sign up.

One bit of important information Kathy Temean passed on to us is to develop a signature for your emails that helps promote your book and your website. Sign your name, but also add your book title and website link so that every email you send helps people find you (and your book). I developed a new signature as soon as I got home. It’s taking a little getting used to, I have to admit – makes me feel like a bit of a "self-promoter." I’m not sure that it’s perceived that way, though. And I’m certain it’s helpful, because I always love being able to link to another person’s site when I’m interested. I’d love to hear what others think about it.

One benefit of using a web designer is that a good one also understands how to market your website once it is online. They know mystical things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), meta tags, meta robots, meta keywords, and how and where to submit your site to search engines. Of course, you can always do a little reading and learn something about these things on your own!

Another thing Kathy had us consider is print promotional materials. Once my final artwork is done for my book cover, I plan to talk to Kathy about designing a school visit brochure. This kind of brochure can be invaluable when you go to conferences where lots of teachers may be gathering.

And of course, new authors (and gee, old ones too!) should have a business card to pass out, containing at the very least your name and website information. I also plan to have the cover art and title of my book as well.

A lot to do? Sure seems that way! But it’s kind of fun, too. And definitely a learning experience!

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Ghost Girl said...

I've been thinking about the whole website thing. I've registered 2 names, but haven't started putting anything together yet. So much to think about.

And ooooo...I'm heading up to the poconos for the Retreat in a couple of weeks...Can't wait!

Thanks for sharing all the goodies!

Fran Cannon Slayton said...

Thanks Ghost Girl!! You're way ahead - I didn't register anything until very recently. Have a GREAT time in the Poconos! Fran