December 11, 2018

Helping Me Helping You with promoting youngCanLit (Revised post)

No, this is not a parody of an ABBA song. This is actually a revised post of one originally published on June 30, 2016 called "May I suggest ...? Five ways to help me help you promote your youngCanLit." My intent was, and still is, to help promote Canadian authors' and illustrators' work. But I am painfully aware that I can always use a little help from writers, artists, publishers and readers to achieve this mandate.  Because I can tell,  through analytics on Blogger, Twitter and Facebook and more, when a review is getting support from the youngCanLit community, I know when an effort is being made to help me help you. There are so, so many who work to support my work and I wish I could acknowledge every one of you. But for those who don't realize that you can help yourselves and me, here are a few handy suggestions to help.

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 submissions, I could not afford to review as many books as I do on CanLit for LittleCanadians.

By the way, thank you to all those publishers who make an effort to send me hard copies of your books. I appreciate having a book that, after reading it, I can share with others, including schools, if I don't squirrel it away on my own shelves. I know that it's less expensive to send me a pdf or an unbound copy but, when I'm not receiving any remuneration for my reviews, having a final copy feels like a nice trade. 

That said, please limit the books you send for review to those written for young people by Canadian authors or illustrated by Canadians, born or residing here.  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 Piano 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 promoting 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 schools and 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 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. Publishers, this is especially important for you to do.

Post a comment on the review.  Thank you to so many of you who leave comments on reviews of your own books and those of others, who share with me what they are reading, and correct my mistakes (of which there are many). Judging by the numbers on Google Analytics, comments always brings in more readers. It suggests that readers of the reviews are engaged with the text and that helps get others interested too. And don’t be dissuaded 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 for YOU.  Whether I’m using the hashtags for youngCanLit or for teachers or teacher-librarians, those tweets are getting read.  And don’t be shy about retweeting multiple times or with 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 have worked with amazing publicists over the years who retweet religiously and ♡ my tweets and do so on the day the review hits the blogsphere but also weeks later. And all those publishers who bring attention to my reviews through your Facebook pages and book 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. (BTW, sending a book months after it has been published and expecting me to review it immediately assumes that I don't have hundreds of books already waiting in my TBR pile. And you know what they say about assuming.) 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 firmly agree with Paulo Coelho who said, "The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion." I alone write posts for CanLit for LittleCanadians, except for rare student reviewers, and I do what I can under constraints of time, health and motivation. With the plethora of outstanding Canadian authors and illustrators out there ready to have their works promoted and applauded, it’s a daunting task. (Also, I do have a difficult time reading stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, in which animals are key characters. I'm not talking cartoon characters. I'm talking stories in which animals are integral to a dramatic story. I have to find a compelling reason to read these books and I rarely do. I almost missed Shari Green's Missing Mike from Pajama Press for this reason.)

I know from the comments I receive regularly that many of you get it. You understand what I will and won't read and that I can't do it all. And you respect what I do get done. Thank you to author-illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi who recently honoured me with a badge (to the right of this post) for championing kidlit. Though I don't always feel deserving, it is wonderful to have my efforts encouraged.  For those who never knew how to help me help you, I hope this blog post will be a first step in doing so.

Let's continue to get everyone reading youngCanLit!


  1. Replies
    1. Happy to do so, Patricia. BTW, saw advance copies of pages from Moon Wishes. Your upcoming book with Guy Storms and Milan Pavlović looks amazing!

  2. Your reviews are great! I always look forward to your posts.

    1. Thank you, Kari. I appreciate your readership!