While I am loathe to share my reviews as opinions -I firmly agree with Paulo Coelho who said, “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion”-my mandate for CanLit for LittleCanadians has always been to promote great Canadian literature for children and young adults. To that end, may I suggest a few ways that authors, illustrators, publishers and publicists can help me to help you?
First let me thank those generous authors, illustrators, publicists and publishers who are so kind to provide me with copies of their books for review, as well as include me in blog tours and allow me to interview our contemporary youngCanLit A-listers. Without these donations, I could not afford to review as many books as I do on CanLit for LittleCanadians.
That said, please limit the books you send for review to those written for young people. Just because there is a young person in the book does not mean that it is a book appropriate for or of interest to younger readers. Imagine expecting Timothy Findley’s The Paino Man’s Daughter (HarperCollins, 1995) or Heather O’Neill’s Lullaby for Little Criminals (HarperCollins, 2006) to be reviewed as youngCanLit? Not going to happen. And just because a younger reader is able to read the book doesn’t mean it’s youngCanLit. If your catalogue is publicizing a book as adult fiction, it’s not a juvenile or teen read, regardless of the age of the protagonist. Save yourself the review copy and the disappointment, and save me my reading time and the communication explaining why I’m not reviewing the book.
If I do review your book, there are several ways to ensure that review gets read by more and more people. While I may not get the million hits of a kitten playing with a bird on YouTube, CanLit for LittleCanadians does very well as a book blog. It is linked through multiple school boards and universities with teacher education programs, English and creative writing programs and library studies, as well as the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and other blogs. But it could always do better. Add a link to CanLit for LittleCanadians (www.canlitforlittlecanadians.blogspot.ca) on your website with a quote from the review or add me to your blog roll or become a subscriber. Doesn’t hurt, always helps.
Post a comment on the review. Thank you to author Monica Kulling, commentator extraordinaire, who always lets me know what she thinks of my reviews of her own books and those of others. Judging by the numbers on Google Analytics, this always brings in more readers. And don’t be dissauded by my need to moderate the comments. I do this to avoid horrific amounts of spam, both commercial and irrelevant.
Support CanLit for LittleCanadians on social media. Each time I post on my blog, I will tweet several times about the book or the review or the event, ensuring the relevant parties (author, illustrator, publisher) know. Your retweets and likes bring in more and more followers and links and you know that in the end that means sales, the all-important bottom line. Whether I’m using the hashtags for youngCanLit or for teachers or teacher-librarians, thoses tweets are getting read. And don’t be shy about retweeting multiple times or multiple tweets about the same book. What catches one reader on Twitter may not be the same as for another. They all count. Toot your own horn, or at least join the band as I’m tooting away. I adore publicist Winston Stilwell at Fitzhenry & Whiteside, the king of retweeting and replying to my tweets for F & W books and Red Deer Press, Inhabit Media and Fifth House Publishers and Whitecap Books, because I know he makes an effort to get my tweets and reviews out there. And all those publishers who bring attention to my reviews through your Facebook pages, thank you.
Please don’t take it personally if I don’t review your book or don’t do it in a timely fashion. Sometimes life takes precedence over blog and I get backlogged in reviews and can’t catch up. And sometimes the book just doesn’t grab me and I’d rather not review it than write a rant of an opinion piece. I alone write posts for CanLit for LittleCanadians, except for rare student reviewers, and do the best I can under constraints of time, health and motivation. I do what I can. With the plethora of outstanding Canadian authors and illustrators out there ready to have their works promoted and applauded, it’s a daunting task.
And while I’m asking for help, if you know of any one who is looking for someone to speak to teacher candidates or schools about youngCanLit or wants to hire a writer who peddles herself as a officiando of Canadian children’s books or can think of a way for me to segue this blog into a salaried career, please leave a comment below. Always happy to hear from my readers and writers.