This week is all about Middle Grade: writing it, indie publishing it, and especially marketing it! As you may know, reaching those elusive middle grade readers is tough, doubly so when you're indie published. Plus there are giveaways (see below)!
Here's the schedule:
Warrior Faeries and Math Magick: How Susan Kaye Quinn is using a Virtual Author Visit video and Teacher's Guide to reach readers with her MG novel, Faery Swap.
Faery, Fairy, Sweet and Scary: a discussion with MG author Kim Batchelor on writing about Faeries in kidlit.
Sci Fi for the Middle Grade Set: a post with MG author Dale Pease about writing SF for kids.
Writing Indie MG: a roundup of indie MG authors (Michelle Isenhoff, Elise Stokes, Lois Brown, Mikey Brooks, Ansha Kotyk) about why they write MG and how to reach readers, including their indie MG author Emblazoner's group catalog.
Marketing Indie Middle Grade - The Hardest Sell - about reaching MG readers as an MG author.
Warrior Faeries and Math Magick
by Susan Kaye Quinn
Middle Grade Is Tough
Publishing middle grade novels isn't easy. It's hard along the traditionally published route unless you happen to be writing what publishers are looking for. I know this first-hand from querying my first middle grade novel (a space opera) only to be told it was great, but could I please rewrite it to be more like A Wrinkle in Time? (note: my book was nothing like A Wrinkle in Time) I naively thought there weren't MG SF novels like mine on the shelf because no one had written them! Unfortunately, things aren't any easier on the self-publishing side: kids themselves don't generally discover their own books on Amazon, and reaching the teachers, librarians, and parents who recommend books to kids can be difficult when mainstream children's reviewers still close their doors to indie published authors.
Taking the Leap
But times are changing. More kids have ereaders and are discovering they can shop from their devices. More teachers, librarians and parents are discovering indie works that they themselves enjoy and aren't as dependent on the mainstream children's reviewers to find quality works. And indie MG authors are getting savvy about how to reach their readers. So I finally took a deep breath and launched my first middle grade title, Faery Swap.
Middle Grade Fantasy
Warrior faeries can be very stubborn.
Especially when they possess your body.
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut.
Knowledge is Power when Math is Magickal
In Faery Swap, warrior faeries steal mathematical knowledge from humans to enhance their magickal faery powers. This message embedded in the book - that knowledge is power and math is magick - is one I'm passionate about and hope will reach middle grade readers. I knew I could do that with author visits to the classroom, but there's only so much time in the day. So I created a Virtual Author Visit, so any teacher, anywhere on the planet, could share this message with their students.
This dynamic video brings Author and Rocket Scientist Susan Kaye Quinn (Ph.D. Engineering) into your classroom, sharing her background in science and engineering and talking about her book, Faery Swap, where warrior faeries steal mathematical knowledge from humans to enhance their magickal faery powers. Then she shows how humans use math in the real world to do amazing things... even without magick to help them.
With the help of teacher-friend Risa Cohen, I designed a Teacher's Guide to go with the video. These grade-level-specific activities follow Common Core Math standards and are designed to follow-up what students learn in the video, using the Faery Swap story to reveal the power of math and science in everyday modern life.
PART 1 - TEACHER'S GUIDE
Cause and Effect
PART 2 - KNOWLEDGE SEEKERS GAME
Cause and Effect
PART 2 - KNOWLEDGE SEEKERS GAME
A card-based game where students break into groups representing different Faery Houses and compete to gain points by convincing a Human (teacher) to give them Knowledge Cards. The 17 equations used to create the easy-to-print Knowledge Cards are based on the 17 Equations That Changed The World and give information about what each equation does, who invented it, and how it is used in modern everyday life.
Making it Simple
All of that provides teachers with what they need to bring the message (knowledge is power) into the classroom. But how to entice teachers to consider taking a peek at these materials? And how to tempt students to read the book? I met with the principal of my kids' school to ask for help. He was enthused, but wanted simpler materials to get things started. (a one page handout for teachers, a two-minute trailer for kids).
So, naturally, I hopped right on it!
2 minute trailer
One Page Summary for Teachers
What Teachers Can Do
If you're a teacher (or you know one), I hope you'll consider using the author visit video and Teacher's Guide to bring the magick of math into your classroom. You can play the trailer to get kids excited about the book (for example, my kids' school is putting it on the morning announcements). I'm happy to send you FREE bookmarks for your class. You can share the one page summary with your colleagues to see if they're interested in doing a unit with the book. The videos and range of activities means you can spend as little as two minutes in the classroom (book trailer) or design a whole Common-Core based unit around it. The book comes in print and ebook - if your classroom has access to ereaders, I would be happy to give you ecopies for FREE. Or I can get you classroom discounts on the books. Please email me to make arrangements: susankayequinn (at) comcast (dot) net
What Librarians Can Do
If you're a school (or public) librarian, the trailer can be used as an introduction to the book, should you choose to stock it in your library. I would also be happy to send you FREE bookmarks to pass out as prizes to your students.
What Parents Can Do
Recommend the author visit and activities to your favorite teacher! Or you could just show your kids the trailer and see if they're interested. If you tell them there's a Knowledge Seekers card game to go with it, that might intrigue the gamers among them. All the activities (and even the author visit video) are designed to work both inside and outside the classroom, for homeschoolers or for parents looking for supplemental educational activities for a cold Saturday afternoon or long summer day.
Reaching Middle Grade Readers
This is just one prong of a multi-approach marketing plan for reaching middle grade readers. I'll be talking more about the other aspects of middle grade marketing at the end of the week, with Marketing Indie Middle Grade - The Hardest Sell.
This tagline for Faery Swap works for indie authors as well as kids...
Always keep learning... just in case!
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction, and several adult fiction stories. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she's up to.