Building on the Fractured buzz, here is my interview with first-time author and long-time book publicist, Joanna Karaplis. social media maven and fairy-tale re-worker.
I had a chance to chat about her book, social media and publicizing her own work. She’s certainly one to watch!
WOMB: Your new book, Fractured (McKellar & Martin, 2010) is a modern re-telling of some of the most beloved and best known fairytales. Do you remember when you first heard these tales and what did you think of them then?
JK: I can’t remember when I first heard these fairytales; I’m sure it was quite early. I do remember thinking that the princesses didn’t get to do much: they just waited to be rescued by princes. I wasn’t interested in boys back then, so marrying a prince didn’t seem like such a happy ending. I wanted to be the one having the adventures! I remember liking the Disney version of Cinderella because she talked to the animals—I thought that was a pretty awesome talent. I’d still love to be able to talk to animals.
WOMB: In your storytelling (which I loved by the way—so au courant) and in your real life as a book publicist, you incorporate a great deal of social media. How important is being well-versed in these areas is it when appealing to young book buyers?
JK: You hear it over and over again: there’s less and less coverage of books (especially children’s books and young adult literature) in traditional media such as newspapers and magazines. And even when more books were reviewed in newspapers, those reviews were aimed at adults, and readers didn’t have a chance to weigh in.
The great thing about social media is that now a much wider variety of people are reading, reviewing, and discussing books. In particular, I think GoodReads does a great job of bringing together avid readers and connecting them with people who have similar tastes. I belong to a few young adult fiction groups on GoodReads and they’re incredibly active. (And their members are not all teens, either.)
I also follow lots of YA authors and book bloggers on Twitter, both personally and for work. I would encourage authors who want to connect with their readers to check out authors Neil Gaiman, John Green, and Maureen Johnson, who all use social media very successfully (and there are many, many more).
WOMB: What’s it like publicizing your own book versus the works of others?
JK: When I’m publicizing someone else’s book, I need to know how much time they have to give interviews, how comfortable they are with public speaking, what kind of online presence they have, who the audience for their book is, what our budget is, etc.
Whereas with my own book, I know exactly who my audience is: fans of young adult fiction and fairytale retellings. I can also draw on my own personal network rather than just my professional contacts: my friends and family are excited about my book because it’s my book. I work on promoting my book on evenings and weekends; in a sense, it’s a second job! I also don’t have to worry about speaking on behalf of the author, because I am the author. So I can be a bit more informal and take a few more risks, because the only reputation I’m risking is my own.
WOMB: What’s the main message (aside from pure enjoyment) that you hoped readers got out of your revisited fairytales? (By the way, because of you I am NEVER going under the knife
JK: My ultimate goal is for readers to enjoy the stories. If that’s all they get out of them, that’s enough. Having said that, I think the main message of all three stories is that appearances can be deceiving and it’s much better to be yourself than to be popular. Not that there’s anything wrong with being popular, of course, but when you care too much about what other people think of you, you’re giving them way too much control over your life. And you can’t please everyone, anyway.
I think that once you figure out who you are and what’s important to you, you’ll attract people who appreciate the real you—and that’s a lot better than being surrounded by people who only like you when you’re pretending to be someone else.
I’m against cosmetic surgery (in most cases, anyway) because I think it plays into the idea that there’s only one kind of beauty and that you can’t be confident unless you look like a model. I spent a lot of time on cosmetic surgery websites while researching “Swan Song,” and I was appalled by the language they use.
It’s designed to appeal to a person’s insecurities: “you’re not good enough the way you are, but we can fix that and make you happy.” They say that you should “do it for yourself,” but the underlying message is that you should do it so that other people will find you attractive.
Yet no matter what you look like, there are people out there who think you’re gorgeous, and people who just aren’t attracted to you. Stick to the people who think you’re gorgeous rather than trying to alter yourself to please the other people! (Bonus: this approach is a lot cheaper.)
Of course we think Joanna and Fractured are perfect just the way they are and both so very interesting!