Ruta Sepetys is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Between Shades of Gray.”
Her debut novel is published in over 30 countries and 26 languages, is a Carnegie Medal nominee, a William C. Morris finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, a Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book, iTunes Best Teen Novel, a SCBWI Crystal Kite Members Choice Award Winner, and the 2012 winner of the Golden Kite Award for Fiction. (She'll be awarded that statuette on Sunday at the Golden Kite Luncheon!)
In 2007 Ruta won SCBWI’s Work-In-Progress grant for Between Shades of Gray, and she credits SCBWI for her path to publication.
Ruta has become a master at Media, and has lots to share with us from doing press and media (radio, TV, print) in 20 different countries.
You need a one sentence description of your book, that covers character, setting, and time. Hers for Between Shades of Gray is:
"My book is about the journey of a 15 year old Lithuanian artist who is deported to Siberia during World War Two."Some of her advice:
90% of time, the host hasn't read your book, MAYBE they read the press release, but you need to drive the discussion.
Have at least three message points, which you can formulate by answering these questions:
What is the point that you want to make about your book?
What is unique about your book?
What do you want the world to know about your book?
One of her message points is:
This is an untold story and the world knows very little of Stalin's purge of the Baltic region.
She also explained how message points need their corresponding sound bytes,
the match for the above message point is:
"history holds secrets"
Ruta works with attendees on OUR message points and sound bytes, then goes into the dos and don't, nuts and bolts of being interviewed on radio, TV and in print.
She explains about Bridges and Pivots (Techniques to communicate your point without waiting for the perfect question and how to get to one of your message points.)
Ruta gives us her advice on how to be memorable, stay in control, what to realize when you're being translated, how to avoid being quoted for something you didn't intend, and even how to respond to aggressive questions from audiences.
The session is masterful - we're laughing at all the mishaps that happened to Ruta and the horror stories she's sharing, but at the same time we're learning that we're the beneficiaries of her experience... as she said at the session's start, this is the workshop she wishes she could have taken before she sold her book...
It was, in a word: