Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting Ready for a Small Press Launch

My debut middle-grade novel, DEADWOOD, will be officially released December 1 by Pugalicious Press (and can be ordered now!), a new small press that is releasing five new titles in its first year of publication, and I'm getting more excited by the day. A small press book release is a bit different than a big one -- at least, my release is. It's a slow build rather than a huge initial push.
DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews - coming December 1!

I’m realistic about what being published with a small press means: my book will have an opportunity to be reach actual readers. I have a gorgeous cover and an editorial and marketing team behind me. I also know what it doesn’t mean: I probably won’t be in the major bookstore chains and big box stores. But you know what? A Big Six publisher is no guarantee of B&N placement either.

I have an additional challenge, since DEADWOOD is a middle-grade book, and middle-grade readers are hard to reach online. Because of that, I decided not to do a huge blog tour, which is the staple for YA books from presses large and small. There just aren't enough blogs for middle-grade kids, and there's evidence that users are tuning out blog tours anyway (interesting discussion at Creepy Query Girl here).

So what am I doing? Through Pugalicious, I spoke with Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, a children's book marketing consultants. We identified some avenues, and she reaffirmed that some of the things I'm doing (many of which I started on the advice of author friend Dee Garretson (WILDFIRE RUN, WOLF STORM), are the right direction. My goal is do school visits and Skype with classrooms, which are two of the most effective ways to reach middle-grade readers, but first I need to build those connections and credibility. That includes:
  • Building an online presence that has subject-area information. In addition to writing about writing here at Operation Awesome, I'm blogging about trees and outdoor education at and in order to create resources for students, teachers, librarians and parents.
  • Reaching out to teachers and librarians. Instead of doing a lot of blog giveways, I'm sending most of my author copies to teachers and librarians who I hope read the book, share it with students, or include it in their collections, and spread the word.
  • Reaching out to related educational organizations. Although DEADWOOD is a fantasy, it has a major theme of appreciating connections with the natural world. I'm contacting outdoor educators who might enjoy and share the story. 

This is a lot of work, and I haven't gotten it all done yet. But I don't have to do it all now. Because I'm NOT in big chains, I don't need to sell a ton of books out of the gate or risk flooding the warehouse with thousands of unsold returns.

My goal is to do something everyday -- to write guest posts here and there, to reach out to educators, to spread the word over the course of the next year, not the next few weeks. We'll see what happens -- it's been fun so far, and I'm only getting started.

Here's where you can order DEADWOOD now! Thanks for all the support from the readers of Operation Awesome.


  1. Congratulations! Small publishers definitely have their plus points. Good luck and have lots of fun with it!

  2. So happy for you Kelly! Great cover --its beautiful! This is a fantastic story :)

  3. I think your post makes a lot of sense and you are going about marketing a middle-grade book the right way. Many times my kids come home wanting to read the books their teachers or librarians have recommended. I love your cover and think it will definitely pique the interest of potential readers. Good luck with everything and have fun!

  4. Thanks. I'm trying to have fun and not stress.

  5. I'm curious how you're planning on reaching out to teachers. Do you already have a list of teachers picked out?

    I'm a sixth grade English teacher if you want to send me a free copy for my classroom. :)

  6. Great question, Amy! It's an imperfect science -- in fact, it's so imperfect it should not be described as a science. :)

  7. Good luck, Kell! As another MG writer, I'll be watching your journey and cheering you on (even if quietly).

  8. I love this plan! I think DEADWOOD is going to end up a huge success, and word of mouth is what makes that happen. So excited for you!

  9. Hey, Good luck on this journey! Im one of your newest followers. I would love it if you would follow me back

  10. I was just looking at this cover earlier today on Pugalicious Press's website! It's really cool. :) Good luck!

  11. So many congratulations! I love the cover and this is wonderful advice for anyone with a book coming out. Can't wait to watch you succeed!

  12. I found out about your new book through your cover artist Shawna Tenney. It looks great. And your plans sound valid. We'll spread the word! Best wishes.


Add your awesome here: