Agent Monday: Free Ways to Help an Author Friend’s Book Succeed

Green Green signing - Let's Play Books - Emmaus, PAHappy Agent Monday, everyone! Phew, it’s been quite a summer. My debut picture book GREEN GREEN: A COMMUNITY GARDENING STORY (FSG/Macmillan, co-authored with my husband Baldev, and illustrated by Sonia Sanchez) just came out. That means I’ve been doing a number of book signings and radio interviews and author appearances. Simply put, a book must be found by readers if it’s going to be successful — so authors must do promotion. The truth, however, is that an author can only do so much, and because of this, many books are just never found by readers — even readers who would really want that book. What we really need for our book to be found and to succeed is reader promotion. Do you have a friend or family member with a new book out? Then they and their book need your help – big time! You can make a huge difference fast, no matter where you live. Best of all, it won’t cost you a cent. Here are six simple ways that you can be their book hero :

(1) Have a library card? Then you can tell your library to order the book. Simply go onto your library’s website, and request that they order it! On my library’s site, I can click on Catalog, and there on the right side of the page is “Item Request.” Imagine if every friend and relative that knew your author buddy did that? And imagine how great it will be for readers all over the country to discover that book on their library shelves!

(2) On Goodreads? If you mark the book as “to read,” all your followers on Goodreads will see it! Give it a bunch of stars as a rating, and they’ll see that, too. Or go for the whole enchilada and write a review! These all really matter, because nothing is more valuable than word of mouth, and making a book visible to potential readers. You can also enter it on various lists on the site that apply, like Best New Picture Books, or something like that? 😉

(3) Read the book and loved it? Then say so – to your friends, to your book group, to your librarian, and bookseller. Write up a review – even if it’s something REALLY simple and short, like “Wow, loved this!” And don’t feel you have to write that review over and over on different sites — just copy and paste your review in. Where can you put it? Go for Goodreads, barnesandnoble.com, amazon, librarything.com, etc. And don’t forget your social media spots, like Facebook and Twitter.

(4) Stopping by a bookshop? Then find the book on the shelf, pull the copy out and re-position it so that it is cover out, vs. spine out, so it’ll be seen easier. That simple move can make the difference of someone skimming past it, vs. noticing it, picking it up and buying it. You could ask the bookseller if you could do this, or, sssh, go covert and just do it on the sly…

Presenting(5) Support your author by retweeting their posts and reviews, and plain old showing up at a signing just to show you are on their team. Don’t feel you have to buy the book if you don’t want to or can’t afford it. Just showing up and cheering the author on will be much appreciated, believe me.

(6) Have a blog? Perhaps invite the author to guest post or do a Q&A on your site. It’s all about being seen by others.

So there you have it – 6 simple, easy and FREE ways you can be your author buddy’s book hero.  It isn’t about spreading money around. It’s about helping to spread the word. And if you get a few others in on doing this with you, it’ll magnify the positive results for your author in HUGE WAY.

Your author friend will definitely feel the love. And their wonderful book will make it into more hands, all because of you. I hope you’ll share these tips with others. And I sincerely hope this info helps those wonderful books written by the wonderful people you care about.  And to all the wonderful people who continue to support my books – I send my deep and heartfelt thanks!

Green Green signing - Tinicum Arts Festival 2017

*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site.

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GREEN GREEN’s Book Birthday!

green-green-front-cover“They say it’s your BIRTHDAY!” Yup, it’s true. Today is the official publication day of GREEN GREEN: A Community Gardening Story!!!  It’s my debut picture book, co-authored with my husband, Landscape Architect Baldev Lamba, and illustrated by the phenomenal artist Sonia Sanchez. School Library Journal calls it, “An attractive read-aloud for beginning lessons on gardening.” This book is available everywhere books are sold. To purchase it, please contact your wonderful local bookstore — they will be happy to help you! Or, to order online, click here for a number of choices.

In the book, green grass is wide and fresh and clean for a family to play in, and brown dirt is perfect for digging a garden. But when gray buildings start to rise up and a whole city builds, can there be any room for green space? The neighborhood children think so, and they inspire the community to join together and build a garden for everyone to share in the middle of the city.

This is a fun and busy book, full of action, digging, construction stuff, nature, silliness and engrossing pictures. Every time I look through the pages, I discover something new and delightful! Can I just say I’m in awe of Sonia’s illustrations?

And at the end of the story, the book includes easy ways children and families can be more GREEN GREEN, including ways to help threatened honeybees and Monarch butterflies. There’s even a fun craft for kids!

Community gardening is such an important movement throughout the country, bringing together people and transforming the ground into lush gardens that feed and delight. GREEN GREEN is all about sustainability, something so close to my heart. And this book shows how children can make a real difference in our world. I especially love the diverse cast of children throughout the pages.

Just as a community garden needs many busy hands in order to grow, GREEN GREEN required the care and talent of so many wonderful folk. Thank you to my amazing agent, Jennifer De Chiara, to my editor Susan Dobinick, who planted the seeds, to my editor Grace Kendall, who helped this book grow, and to the wonderful team at Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan for, oh, just EVERYTHING they have done to bring GREEN GREEN into the hands of children across the world.

DSCN5510And thank you to the many folks in my life who continue to support this wacky writer! My family, my wonderful friends, my network of amazing writer buddies…my community! You’ve all helped me grow. 🙂  And thank you to the fabulous network of bookstore friends, librarians, and schools who are sharing GREEN GREEN!  And to readers out there? Adults who take the time to sit with a child in their lap and make a book come to life for a child? Wow. You are the real heroes of any book.

Yup – I’m a bit gushy here. But, hey, it is a birthday party, after all. 😉  Okay… just wanted to close with a huge THANK YOU to the fabulous indie bookstores Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA, and Clinton Books in Clinton, NJ for hosting us on our book launch weekend! (Both stores have author-signed copies of GREEN GREEN on their shelves right now for sale. To snag one, call or stop in at these stores.) And for an updated listing of where I’ll be doing future book signings and story times, you can check out my appearances page here.

*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site.

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Agent Monday: 3 Things I’m Searching for in Fiction

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binocularsHappy Agent Monday, everyone!  With last week’s blizzard a distant icy memory, it’s time to dig into my submission inbox – hoping for some hot fiction I can represent. Often, though, submissions look so promising on one front, but don’t deliver on another. So I thought I’d share what I’m looking for in that “total package,” in case it’ll help you amp up your own fiction into that coveted must read for agents and readers alike. So here are the 3 things I’m searching for in submissions…

1. An Intriguing Idea

I know, duh, right? But this is essential. When I read what the book is about, I want to think: Oooo, that’s interesting! Not: Oh, THAT again? Or: And? I care because? If your idea is ho-hum, this presents a huge challenge for you the writer. Also, your idea should be handled in a fresh way that only you will show me.

2. Skill

Double duh. BUT, so very often I find that intriguing idea and think, “Yes!  This is something I’d love to read. So excited!” Then I start to read the manuscript and find the writer’s craft is lacking. They have a great idea, but can’t carry it off.

3. Follow Through

Writer’s that have an intriguing idea, and demonstrate skillful craft, must still be able to take that idea, and, with skill, develop it into a satisfying read to the very end. Too often, manuscripts start off well, and then plateau and disappoint. A great manuscript must promise something great to the reader, show skill, and then, and here’s the real key, deliver even more than what the reader had anticipated.

So a great manuscript grows that intriguing idea. The writer’s style and personality works perfectly with that idea to truly create a world and show us something even more insightful, moving, and or unique than we’d ever anticipated. That writer has truly taken us on a journey. We end the read more than satisfied. We are amazed.

What I’m often seeing are manuscripts that give me #1, but not #2. Or #2 but not #1. And when #1 and #2 are in place, #3 is missing. As an agent and a reader, I need all three elements in place. And when I find them, it’s reading magic.

Need some examples of projects that snagged my attention on all three fronts? Here are just a few from our client list:

Adult fiction:
DAUGHTER OF AUSTRALIA by Harmony Verna (releasing through Kensington this March)

Young adult fiction:
MENDING HORSES by M.P. Barker (Holiday House)

Middle grade fiction:
ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER by Carmella Van Vleet (Holiday House)
THE JUMBIES by Tracey Baptiste (Algonquin Books for Young Readers)
THE FRIENDSHIP EXPERIMENT by Erin Teagan (releasing through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Fall 2016)

Picture book:
TO THE STARS! by Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan (Charlesbridge)

As a writer myself, I strive for those 3 elements in my own fiction, and work hard to hold myself to those standards whenever I dive into my own fictional worlds. If you want to check out my YA novels, here are the links:

DRAWN by Marie Lamba
OVER MY HEAD by Marie Lamba
WHAT I MEANT… by Marie Lamba (Random House)

And coming in 2017, is my picture book:

GREEN GREEN (Farrar Straus Giroux) by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

 

*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.