Michelle Isenhoff

Writing Indie MG–Middle Grade Week

Only two more posts left in Middle Grade Week. If you missed any, the links are directly below in the schedule. Yay! I’m in this one!
This week is all about Middle Grade: writing it, indie publishing it, and especially marketing it! As you may know, reaching those elusive middle grade readers is tough, doubly so when you’re indie published. Plus there are giveaways (see below)!
Here’s the schedule:
Warrior Faeries and Math Magick: How Susan Kaye Quinn is using a Virtual Author Visit video and Teacher’s Guide to reach readers with her MG novel, Faery Swap.
Faery, Fairy, Sweet and Scary: a discussion with MG author Kim Batchelor on writing about Faeries in kidlit.
Sci Fi for the Middle Grade Set: a discussion with MG author Dale Pease about writing SF for kids.
Writing Indie MG: a roundup of indie MG authors (Michelle Isenhoff, Elise Stokes, Lois Brown, Mikey Brooks, Ansha Kotyk) about why they write MG and how to reach readers, including their indie MG author Emblazoner’s group catalog.
Marketing Indie Middle Grade – The Hardest Sell – about reaching MG readers as an MG author.
Writing Indie Middle Grade
with Emblazon authors Michelle Isenhoff, Elise Stokes, Lois Brown, Mikey Brooks, Ansha Kotyk
intro by Susan Kaye Quinn

Introduction by Susan Kaye Quinn
Indie publishing is the new cool thing, but there’s still a genre where reaching readers with indie works is really tough: middle grade. But children’s authors are passionate about what they write, and passionate about reaching their young readers. This passion shows in the Emblazoner’s group of 20 indie MG authors (of which I’m a member). We recently went in on an ad in Middle Shelf magazine, an online mag that spotlights cool reads for kids. Here’s what the ad will look like:

A wise man once said, “Write your name on the heart of a child.”
We hope to emblazon our stories there.
(I just love it.)
As a group, Emblazoners share information about marketing, help promote each other, and generally support each other as we write our books and try to get them in the hands of middle grade readers. One of the innovative things that the Emblazoners have already done is put their works in a catalog, available for download and sent to teachers and librarians twice a year.
Gorgeous, yes?
Today we have a roundup of five Emblazoners (indie MG authors), talking a bit about why they write middle grade, how they reach readers, and a spotlight on one of their books (most of our authors have several).

When Michelle Isenhoff isn’t writing imaginary adventures, she’s probably off on one. She loves roller coasters, big waves, big dogs, high school football games, old graveyards, and wearing flip-flops all winter. 

Why Michelle writes MG: Michelle Isenhoff never outgrew middle grade fiction. She loved the innocence and beauty that characterize classic children’s lit so much that she went into elementary education then tried her hand at her own story. She’s now written eight!
How Michelle reaches her readers: Teachers, librarians, and homeschoolers are on the literary frontlines, getting good books into the hands of kids. That’s why Michelle offers free digital copies of her novels and free lesson plan materials to educators on. Check it out.
The Candle Star (Divided Decade Trilogy, 1) – Free everywhere!
Runaways hidden in the barn, slave catchers housed in the hotel, and Emily squeezed between two very different loyalties.

Elise Stokes lives with her husband and four children. She was an elementary school teacher before becoming a full-time mom. With a daughter in middle school and two in high school, Elise’s understanding of the challenges facing girls in that age range inspired her to create a series that will motivate girls to value individualism, courage, integrity, and intelligence. The stories in Cassidy Jones Adventures are fun and relatable, and a bit edgy without taking the reader uncomfortably out of bounds. Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, and Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant are the first three books in the series. Book Four, Cassidy Jones and the Luminous, will be released in 2014. You can find more at her website.

Why Elise writes MG: A good adventure story absorbed me during those turbulent years (Come on, the angst, self-doubt, and desire to blend in are still very fresh for you, too. :)). I hope to provide the same escape for other young readers, and ignite their imagination while doing so.

How Elise reaches her readers: Carve out characters that are relatable, facing the emotional challenges they are and managing to triumph. A good sense of humor is a must; quirkiness is a plus, too.
Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula (Cassidy Jones Adventures, Book One)
Discover how fourteen-year-old Cassidy Jones gains superpowers in her first action-packed adventure.

Lois Brown’s  love of all things fantastical began when her five older brothers made her watch television shows such as “Dr. Who” and “Lost in Space.” (Yes, the originals.) Now she likes to write her own stories that spark the imagination. Her first novel, CYCLES, was a top 5 finalist of The Kindle Book Review’s “Best YA Indie Books of 2012.” You can find more at her website.
Why Lois writes MG: Writing middle grade books is like reliving the best part of your childhood–along with some of the worst. It’s a time in life that falls between still being a child but realizing there is more to the world besides your bedroom and elementary school.
How Lois reaches her readers: Lately, I’ve been reaching out to my middle grade audience during “enrichment times” at middle and junior high schools. In my area, schools have about 30 to 40 minutes per week when the students (who don’t have detentions) get to choose between several educational activities. I arrange my author visits through the school librarians. I sell some paperback books, give out bookmarks to my ebooks, enjoy talking with the teens, and consider my time spent as “undercover” research.
Cycles (Cycles Series)
When a pair of misfit teens uncover disturbing experiments conducted in the basement of their neighbor’s house, they become entangled in medical research that could destroy their lives and forever alter the human aging process.

Mikey Brooks is an author/illustrator, freelance cover designer, daddy of three girls, and a dreamer. He’s published several books including the bestselling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures as well as The Dream Keeper Chronicles. You can find more at his website.

Why Mikey writes MG: When I was twelve I fell in love with a middle-grade series and it changed my life. L. Frank Baum opened not only his world of Oz to me, but he planted a seed that later made me the man I am today. I learned from his stories to be brave, to believe in myself, and most importantly—that magic is real. I write middle-grade books because these are the stories I would have loved to read when I was a kid. They are stories that I hope inspire others.
How Mikey reaches his readers: First in order to “reach” middle-grade readers, you need a book that connects with them. The characters have to be real and relatable. Once you have a story that touches their hearts, it only takes time for others to see it.
The Dream Keeper (The Dream Keeper Chronicles, 1)
Kindle | Nook | Print | Audio
Dreams: Dorothy called it Oz, Alice called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME.

Ansha Kotyk writes upper middle grade and young adult novels that take a reader on a journey to remind them, not only of the importance of imagination, but of the bonds of friends and family. You can find more at her website.
Why Ansha writes MG: I love to write middle grade fiction because the age range for the characters is at a time in life when they are a child working to become an adult. There’s a great deal of tension built on that alone. Another reason is that middle grade readers are full of awesome.
How Ansha reaches her readers: I have found the best way to reach middle grade readers is through school visits.
Gangsterland (Ink Portal Adventure #1)
Jonathan wishes he could hide from the middle school bully and suddenly finds himself inside his comic book. With a murder to solve and a girl to rescue, can he draw the way out before they both become the next victims?

More Middle Grade Coolness coming up this week! Enter the Giveaway below from all the participating authors!
Writing Indie MG–Middle Grade Week

4 thoughts on “Writing Indie MG–Middle Grade Week

  1. Enjoyed the post. I am really impressed with the authors and their passion to reach tweens/teens. I also love the innocence of the books, because they touch that transition period from child to teen that makes them so vulnerable and open. Still enough kid, but also the stirrings of adolescence. I like that you’ve banded together — more power in numbers. The ad is really says it all! Love it!

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