Dori Jones Yang’s newest book, Daughter of Xanadu, was published by Random House/Delacorte Press in January as young adult historical fiction. A journalist by training, Dori speaks Mandarin and spent eight years as a foreign correspondent covering China. She co-authored her first book, Pour Your Heart Into It, with Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz. Her second book, The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang, is middle-grade fiction and won two awards. It will be re-released soon with a fresh new cover.
How did you begin in kids book publishing?
After my Starbucks book came out, my ten-year-old daughter challenged me to write a book that interested her. After years of writing in journalistic style, I had to start from scratch, training myself in fictional techniques, such as plot, setting, dialogue, and character development. I entered a contest put on by the American Girls company, which was looking for new authors, and eventually I won it! That felt great.
What has been the best marketing practice for your recent YA novel?
Eight months before publication, I began a crash course in book promotion, trying to learn as much as I could. I redesigned my website, printed up postcards, posters, and bookmarks, created a Facebook page, and set up speaking events at local bookstores and schools. By far the most useful discovery I made was goodreads.com. It’s an online community of avid readers, including many who are crazy about YA. I sent two advance copies of my novel out, and 16 bloggers reviewed it before publication. That made it easy for me to set up a “blog tour” to get the word out. I’m proud that Daughter of Xanadu has been #1 on goodreads’ list of “New YA Historical Fiction in 2011” since January 1!
You just joined Twitter. What is your goal for Tweeting?
I’m still trying to figure out how best to use Twitter for book promotion. What are your suggestions, Trish? Like many other authors, I need help!
What is one thing you’ve learned on your writing journey that you want to share?
Perseverance is the key. Writing books and getting them published is tough, with many setbacks and failures. My novel was rejected 22 times before I finally found the right format and genre and editor. If you believe in your project, keep at it.
What’s coming up for you in kids books? What are you writing?
I’m hard at work revising the sequel to Daughter of Xanadu, my second YA novel. I also have two exciting ideas for middle-grade novels, simmering on the back burner. One thing I love about writing for kids and young adults is that young people today are much more multi-cultural and global than their parents. Because of that, their minds are wide open to reading about times and places long ago and far away.
Please come and visit me at www.dorijonesyang.com!
Hi, everybody! You can follow Dori on Twitter @dorijonesyang. And if you sign up for my email newsletter by April 11 (see sidebar), I’ll personally send via your email my free Twitter resource, the helpful Author’s Guide to Twitter (I sent it to Dori already as she is signed up!).
Have a great weekend all!