It’s no secret that marketing plays a large part in the success of a book. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when my publisher asked me to write an article for a children’s literature magazine to promote the Hazard River series. But I was. I was also surprised when he asked me present at a book distributers’ conference and appear at a Scotch College literary festival in Melbourne. I was a brand new author – I’d been a journalist, marketing manager and mother for the previous two decades. What could I possibly tell an audience about writing? The same applies to a blog tour. What to blog about?
After much soul searching and several interviews I’ve come up with a better idea of what readers want to know. Writing blogs, articles and doing talks is like anything else, you have to know your audience. But generally you can assume that they’ll want to know something about your background and the inspiration for your book.
I know that if I’ve enjoyed a book I want to find out more about the real story behind the story – not just because I’m a sticky beak, but also to uncover the author’s credentials for writing a book. No one tells a story like someone with first-hand experience of the issue, the characters or the setting.
Writing and literature blogs are an obvious choice for hosting a blog tour, but they’re not the only choice. Take the themes in your book or your life and look for relevant blogs outside the writing world. As long as you put together a sensible and well-written piece, anything you blog on will give your book a bit more exposure that will hopefully translate into more sales.
I’m kicking off my virtual book tour on Dee Scribe writing because the book tour was Dee’s idea (and a great one at that). And I’ll get things started at the start, with the inspiration for the first paragraph of my new book Tiger Terror.
It was probably my mother’s screaming that frightened the cat. It’s just a guess. No one knows for sure why a cat fell from a ten-storey building onto my head. It was about the last thing I was expecting on my visit to Summercity. I wasn’t expecting to get mixed up with tigers either. I live in Australia. A tiger is one dangerous animal I shouldn’t have to worry about. But the cat changed all that.
The curious incident of the falling cat might sound like the product of an author’s imagination, but it was actually inspired by a true story. Some years back a cat fell from a high rise apartment block in China, hitting and injuring a woman. The event triggered calls for pets to be banned from apartment blocks. I have no idea how things panned out for the cat, the woman or pets in China, in general, but the story stuck in my mind. Eventually I found a home for it in Tiger Terror.
In the story, the falling cat puts Hazard River’s narrator, Jack Wilde, in hospital. But just before it does so, Jack spots two men in a traditional medicine shop handling a tiger’s paw. The Hazard River gang must track down the men before they kill another tiger. The action is fictitious, but it was inspired by a worrying fact. Tigers are on the verge of extinction. One hundred years ago more than 100,000 tigers roamed Asia, now the numbers have dropped to around 3,000. Three subspecies of tigers have already become extinct. The rest live in isolated populations, threatened by poachers and habitat destruction.
The whole Hazard River series is firmly rooted in the real world. It came out of a family holiday on the Noosa River. My sons teamed up with friends and spent the summer exploring sand banks, dodging sting rays, building camps, getting stuck in quicksand, discovering abandoned boats, finding a whole lot of thongs (where do they come from) and having a Boys Versus Wild adventure. I had to write about it.
My children are a constant source of inspiration, but I don’t just rely on my kids’ adventures. I look back to my own misadventures as a journalist in Asia, Europe and Australia. I also keep an open mind, whatever I’m doing – reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, checking a news website. I’m always looking out for a bizarre story or a quirky tale that I can incorporate into one of my adventures. As we all know – the truth is often stranger than fiction.
For more details on J.E. Fison’s Hazard River series visit www.hazardriver.com
See the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZP4wqrSQSk
Hazard River virtual book tour dates:
14/3/2011 Review of Tiger Terror and Bat Attack http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/kids-book-capers-blog/friday-book-feature-more-great-hazard-river-adventures/2011/03
15/3/2011 Inspiration – it’s all around us www.deescribewriting.wordpress.com
16/3/2011 Interview http://www.needtoreadthis.com/randomacts.html
17/3/2011Writing for kids helped me become a better parent http://www.womensvillage.com/profiles/blogs/childrens-author-je-fison
18/3/2011 Does my front cover look too scary in this? http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/literary-clutter-blog/