Tuesday

Class of 2K12: The Best "Launch Buddy" Idea Ever

I've heard how useful it is to have launch buddiesother authors in your genre with similar publication dates. Not only is it nice to have a little support, it gives an author someone other than herself to celebrate and tweet about.

I've never seen the concept done quite so well as this: a few weeks ago someone gave me a totebag with the titles of more than a dozen soon-to-be-published YA and MG books, and I was introduced to the Class of 2K12. Author Caroline Starr Rose, whose novel May B. debuts this January, agreed to tell Blurb is a Verb all about the Class of 2K12 concept. Thank you, Caroline!





By Caroline Starr Rose

2k12 is a group of twenty middle grade and young adult novelists working in concert to promote our books and reading. The Classes began in 2007, the brainchild of author Greg Fishbone, who figured a group of writers could spread the word about their books more effectively than the traditional route of going it alone.

All sorts of authors have been involved over the years. Here’s a glimpse of a few you might know:

Newbery winner Rebecca Stead (2007)

New York Times best-selling author Jay Asher (2007)

William C. Morris Award winner for a Young Adult Debut Elizabeth C. Bunce (2008)

Cbyils YA Fiction winner and Silver Award Parents’ Choice winner Swati Avasthi (2010)


How does membership work?

In order to be considered for the Classes, books must be an authors’ middle grade or young adult debut, and book publishers must be listed in The Children’s Writers’ and Illustrators’ Market Guide (CWIM). Members pay $275 to join and commit to group promotional work that ranges from guest posts for blogs, website design, swag creation and distribution, group mailings, reaching out to local booksellers, librarians, and teachers (the BLTs), and all around general talking up of each others’ books.

While most authors sign up initially for the promotional push, in many respects its importance becomes secondary. The relationships formed trump everything else. Having a group of like-minded friends navigating the road to publication together is tremendously helpful. This is the place we turn when worried about edits, excited about covers, unsure about option novels, or upset with reviews.

Our titles this year span a variety of genres — contemporary, historical, paranormal, verse, action and adventure, and steampunk — and we’ve got all sorts of surprises in store:

1           book basket giveaways to start and end our debut year
2           monthly giveaways of two 2k12 titles
3           giving back events — open to newsletter readers only — for school libraries and public libraries
4           book drop

Check out our predecessors’ sites,

and be sure to visit our links to find out about 2k12 books, authors, and events:

our newsletter (Click to sign up -- simply write ADD ME in the comment line)



14 comments:

  1. Sounds like a scam to me. I do not see why people should have to pay $275 to agree to promote the books of other writers who have similarly paid $275.

    As I write, the Twitter account of Class of 2K12 has precisely 267 followers. It is not exactly a cast of several thousand is it? I have no doubt that some of those 267 are book reviewers who have their own readership, but what is to stop an author contacting the relevant people directly?

    I know I am being cynical, but I am fed up of seeing people get ripped off.

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  2. Sarah, thanks so much for talking up The Class of 2k12!

    Michael, the $275 goes to website design, swag creation and distribution (postage alone on fliers and postcards can get quite steep), book giveaways, and group promotion events. It might seem expensive, but it's something all of us are glad to pay in order to spread the word far and wide. No one's profiting off of this; 2k11 planned down to the last penny how to wisely use their funds.

    As our primary audience is booksellers, librarians, and teachers, we're doing quite a bit of direct outreach to these groups class-wide. Then there's the individual outreach that often happens organically -- sharing Class and individual bookmarks at our local libraries, recommending titles to friends, mentioning our group and passing out swag at teaching conferences, like I did last weekend.

    Groups like ours might not be for everyone, but I'm so glad to be a part of something bigger than my own small efforts that has forged friendships and connections that will last well beyond our debut year.

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  3. Michael-I can understand your concern. As a member of the class of 2k12, I can tell you that it is worth every penny. Like Caroline said, the very best part is the close friendships we've made, but the financial aspect is money that I would have spent promoting myself but a lot less effectively. I can give you a very real example about how this has worked for us.

    Caroline and I had never met before joining the class of 2k12. But since her book MAY B. is being released much earlier than mine, I got to read an ARC of her book and fall in love with it. She sent me some post cards and stickers that I could share with people. Of course, I'm a regular at my local library--I love the folks there and we talk all the time. I was able to bring in Caroline's swag and tell my librarians, face to face, all about how wonderful Caroline's book is and how is could be used to the best effect locally. They trust my judgement because we are friends. Then I let Caroline know that I'd spoken to them and gave her their information so she could follow up and introduce herself--which she did. They will buy that book for their library because they know they are getting a good one. Caroline would never have had that level of contact with my Library without me. And of course I share her book and my fellow debut author's books the same way with everyone I have a relationship with. And I feel great about it because these books are fantastic. I can only hope my own lives up to their standards. I'm also confident that Caroline will share my book with the people that she feels would connect with it. These are folks I would never have had that intimate level of contact with.

    Like Caroline said-a debut group might not be for everyone and that is perfectly okay, but truly it is not a rip off. This has been an amazing and wonderful experience for me. I think our philosophy is not to amass high numbers of followers, but to grow interest in our books the same way we made true relationships with each other. I would rather have 267 followers who really care about us than a zillion who just clicked a button.

    So, in the interest of putting my money where my mouth is...can you tell me a little bit about you. Are you a writer? How's it going?

    PS Sarah-thanks for having us over on the blog-very sweet of you.

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  4. Caroline,

    Perhaps I am being overly cynical. My comment is more to do with the fact that I suspect that a lot of novelists would be keen to have wider distribution of their books. There are numerous different ways that books can be promoted and many of them cost money. The idea of class 2K12 may of may not be good value for money, I simply do not know.

    In any event, I wish you the best of luck with the launch of "May B."

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  5. Thanks for the wonderful feature, Sarah! You've just made a case for the power of the 2k12 group's influence. I think the $275 is a very reasonable price for the things we have planned and I think what Michael isn't understanding is that we're not paying a service to do our marketing for us. We're simply pooling our resources (and that's more than just dollars - we all bring indidual strengths and skills to the table) to reach wider audiences than we could do individucally. I truly believe that my $275 contribution here will net me an excellent ROI in real marketing.

    And, it's worth noting that I could not have bought the support and sense of community that I've already built with these great fellow authors at ANY price. Being a debut is scary and it's been great to share the experience with a group of newbs in the same boat.

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  6. Kimberly,

    Thank you for your message. As I responded to Caroline, perhaps I am being overly harsh.

    The following point to me is relevant. It seems, as a measure of quality, the only qualifying factor to be in 2K12 is if the book is published by a CWIM listed publisher. In your own words, you were able to "fall in love" with Caroline's book. But what if you hadn't? What if you thought, and it is a possibility, that Caroline's book was poorly written and not worthy of publication? (I am certainly not saying that is the case, I have not read the book, I am just raising a possibility). If this were the case then would you still be bound by the general agreement within 2K12 to promote her book? Or is it possible you would be entitled to say something like the following?

    "There are a number of 2K12 authors away from myself, the ones I particularly recommend are A, B, C and D. I believe E, F and G to have written mediocre novels and H and I to have written poor novels and J to have written something truly awful: unworthy, and I would not even wrap up a bag of chips in the paper from the pages."

    It is reasonable of you to ask a little about myself. I am from the UK and not American, I am not an author, sadly I cannot afford to be one. I should clarify that by saying that the sort of books I would write if I had the time are not the sort that would appeal to a mass audience, they would be quite niche works of non-fiction that would not sell in enough copies to make it possible for me to be able to afford to give up my job and be a writer.

    I am however an avid book reader. I love the world of books and, if truth be told, am envious of those such as yourself who have had books published by reputable publishing houses. I wish you best of luck with "Touching the Surface."

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  7. Thanks so much for hosting the interview about our group, Sarah! It's a fantastic bunch of authors to be a part of.

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  8. Class of 2K12--you are welcome! I love the idea. Without a support network, it is so easy to find a deafening silence on one's release date.

    All authors spend time or money or both on promotional activities. The $275 seems like a bargain, given all the other options I've explored both personally and here on Blurb is a Verb. I see that your group even has a treasurer to keep track of funds.

    As to Michael's point about recommending books that you may not love, there is always a high road available. You may not write the same enthusiastic Amazon review for all 19 of your "classmates," but a congratulatory tweet is not the same as a whole-hearted "buy this!" endorsement. With 20 authors involved, there must be something for everyone.

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  9. Sarah, thank you for the Class of 2k12 shout-out! Publishing a book can be a long and winding road, but to have friends to travel with is priceless.

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  10. Hooray for the Class of 2K12! Great idea and so many wonderful books to look forward to.

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  11. Sarah-I was out all day. Thank you for putting that into words for me. That was exactly what I would have said. And again--thanks for the support today. We really appreciate it. :o)

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  12. I think this sounds like a really good idea. I'm not an author but any time you go through something really big or tough, it's nice to know that you have others surrounding you and giving you support that are going through the exact same things!

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  13. My friend and I have talked about doing something like this. There are many different ways to do it. We live in the same area and have thought about a collective to promote authors from our area on a national level. We're only at the talking stages and I don't know if it'll go further.

    But I've read of other groups who find common ground to use to promote themselves. They start with a website then do group appearances at bookstores, book fairs and other venues. They use each others connections to get bookings, sales, guest posts, etc. They promote each other on their blogs.

    We've got to be creative these days and as long as you're working with people you trust, I think this can only be a good thing. I have a thousand contacts, you have a thousand contacts. Between us, we double our resources.

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