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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: marketing, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,110
26. Meet the Commercial Law marketing team at Oxford University Press!

We are pleased to introduce the marketing team for the Commercial Law department at OUP. Chris, Simon, and Miranda work with journals, online resources, and books published on a variety of subjects which relate to the rights and practice of people in business. The resources they work with are used by practicing lawyers, academics and students, and cover a range of topics including competition law, energy, arbitration, and financial law. Get to know more about them below:

Chris Wogan

wogan c
Chris Wogan. Do not use image without permission.

What is your role in OUP’s Commercial Law department?

I’m Chris, the Marketing Manager for Commercial Law. I plan, implement, and execute marketing strategy for Oxford’s Commercial Law portfolio.

What is the best part of your job/highlight of working at OUP?

The people you get to work with are so much fun. There are some incredibly bright and talented people at Oxford, and I love making our authors and customers happy – that is a really great part of the job. Also, the variety – working in marketing at OUP means you get to try new and different things all the time, it’s a truly interesting place to work, and an exciting time to be in marketing.

Which three songs could you not live without?

Song for Zula – The Phosphorescent
Dream the Dare – Pure Bathing Culture
On the Sea – Beach House

What’s your favourite place in Oxford?

There are so many lovely places around Oxford, including Jericho, Cowley and the colleges, but my favourite place would have to be the walk round Christchurch meadow.

What is your favourite fiction book and why?

I have lots of favourites, it’s difficult to pick just one! I’m a huge fan of James Joyce so will pick one of his – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It’s debatable how fictional it is, but the language is incredible. Or Villette.

If you were in a Hogwarts house, which would it be?

I’d like to think it would be Gryffindor, but in reality it would probably be Ravenclaw.


Simon Jared

simon jared
Simon Jared. Do not use image without permission.


What is your role in OUP’s Commercial Law department?

I’m the Marketing Executive for Commercial Law and work mostly on our book products, though I do also pitch in with our online products and journals.

What is the best part of your job/highlight of working at OUP?

The best part of working at OUP is definitely the people here. I’ve made a lot of friends and there are loads of friendly and creative people around (especially in marketing!). The best part of the job is the diversity. We have a lot of products and types of products, and we’re doing more and more exciting things with digital, content, and social marketing to promote them. We also still get to attend events and meet our authors and other lawyers.

What’s your favourite place in Oxford?

My favourite place in Oxford is the top of the hill in Raleigh Park for two reasons. One: I think the best view of Oxford is from above, with all the spires, domes, and old buildings. Two: I only ever go there when I’m out running and it means the rest of my run is downhill!

Who is the most famous person you’ve met?

I once walked into Paloma Faith on The Strand (not intentionally).

Which three songs could you not live without?

The End – The Doors

Mine for the Summer – by my friend Sam Brawn

Gone – Kanye West

Do you have any hidden talents?

Yes, but I’ve forgotten where I hid them.

If you were in a Hogwarts house, which would it be?

Hufflepuff, because the name amuses me.


Miranda Dobson

What is your role in OUP’s Commercial Law department?

I am the newest member of the team, and recently started as the Marketing Assistant for the Commercial Law department.

What’s your favourite place in Oxford?

miranda dobson
Miranda Dobson. Do not use image without permission.

I’ve only just moved to the city, and it’s such a beautiful place it would be difficult to choose somewhere as a favourite. However, when I’m not hanging out with daffodils, I am a sucker for a good bar or pub, and there are some great places in the Jericho area of Oxford to mooch between!

What is your favourite fiction book and why?

My favourite book is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, simply because I think it’s the perfect novel. I love how the book uses different perspectives through diary entries and a jumbled up time scale. It combines science fiction with a love story; it has violence; it has time travel; it has romance… what more could you want?

Who is the most famous person you’ve met?

I once met Judy Dench (Dame) in Disney Land Paris, she was all in white and looked very stern, but we spoke to her and she was lovely!

What is your biggest pet peeve?

When people have a first name for their last name… you can’t trust those people.

Which three songs could you not live without?

Ain’t no mountain high enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Take me to church – Hozier

Say you’ll be there – The Spice Girls (no shame)

If you were in a Hogwarts house, which would it be?

I’d be in Slytherin, because green is my colour and just like Draco and Snape, beneath my cold, evil-seeming exterior, I actually do have a heart.

Featured image credi: Lady Justice, at the Old Bailey, by Natural Philo. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Meet the Commercial Law marketing team at Oxford University Press! appeared first on OUPblog.

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27. If Marketing Offends You (Wherein I get on my soapbox)

Marketing StrategySo recently I got a complaint from someone that said — and I’m paraphrasing:

I love your Monday Motivations for Writers and free goodies, but every time you start marketing something, I need to unsubscribe from your list and re-subscribe again when the campaign is over.

Every so often I hear from someone who is shocked and appalled that I market products and services to the people on my mailing list. Their entitled attitude is that I should maintain a list of 5,000+ subscribers, pay $70 per month in email hosting fees, and spend hours of my valuable time churning out informative content — for nothing.

The feeling is apparently that I (and other writers) should be providing information and products purely out of the goodness of our hearts. To actually expect to earn money from our skills, knowledge, and effort sullies this sacred profession.

Well, let me deliver a shocker right now: I’m in business to earn money, and you should be, too. Luckily for me, this goal coincides with something I’m passionate about and good at: Helping freelance writers make a living doing what they love.

If I can provide valuable information and products that help other people live the life of their dreams, I feel pretty good about asking for money for it.

You know why? Because if I didn’t accept payment for this service, I simply wouldn’t have the time, money, or bandwidth to help others. I’d be working 40+ hours per week for someone else, with no energy left over to create helpful content, build classes, write blog posts, or maintain a mailing list.

The attitude that we should provide labor for free out of a sense of love for what we do is bad, bad, bad for freelancers. Isn’t this the stance we get from content mills and various magazines and runners of Craigslist ads that say, in essence, “We don’t pay, but isn’t writing fun?”

If you provide a valuable service to society, you should have no problems asking to be paid for it. And yes, your ideas, your writing, and your knowledge are valuable to society. Also: Just because you love something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for money for it.

My view is, we’re all salespeople. When you pitch magazines, you’re selling an article idea. When you apply for a full-time job, you’re selling your skills and your time. When you start a blog, you’re selling your ideas to an audience that you hope will do something for you — whether it’s buy an info product, click “follow this blog,” or hire you as a writer.

So seeing as how we’re all salespeople when it comes to our professions: How would it feel if an editor asked you to keep pitching and pitching so she could use your ideas, but told you she had no intention of ever hiring you to write an article? (But please don’t stop the ideas!) That’s how I felt when this writer said she consumes my newsletter and freebies, but unsubscribes every time I have something to sell.

(I certainly don’t mind people hanging out and enjoying my newsletter, blog posts, and occasional freebies without buying from me. Many people do that, for their own reasons. It’s when they complain about the fact that I market to my subscribers that it crosses the line.)

If the idea that someone would market to you sends you screaming in the other direction — or if you feel someone is pulling one over on you by providing freebies and then daring to try to sell something — this could be pulling you down, professionally. Marketing is not something to be afraid of. It’s not a dirty trick. In most cases, it’s someone asking to receive value in return for providing it — so they can provide even more.

How about you: Have you ever gotten complains when you tried to market yourself or your writing? What happened? Bonus points if it’s funny! [lf]

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28. getting busy

My new business cards have arrived, I'm so excited! Take a look at these babies:

Did I really need to order 500(!) ? Um, no.
But they look great, and I'm sure I will use them. You may notice that I did not include a phone #. My other exciting news is that my family is getting ready to spend six months in France, so I need to be as portable (and mysterious) as possible.
I haven't really had anything printed before, so these are part of an experiment with different services. I will order postcards (and maybe bookmarks?) from a different service to compare. Do you have a favorite printing place to work with?

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29. How I Broke Out of a Freelancing Slump by Breaking all the Rules

Call for you This post is by Deb Mitchell.

I’m definitely more of a “rules are there for a reason” than a “rules were meant to be broken” kind of girl. It just never occurs to me to buck the system, and frankly, that’s served me well all my life.

But when my freelance writing career stalled (despite the fact that I had 5+ years of experience with clips numbering in the triple digits), even playing by the rules top freelance writing experts teach wasn’t getting me anywhere.

“Send pitches to newsstand pubs and LOIs to trade pubs.” Check.

“Email editors – NEVER call them!” Check.

“DO NOT clog an editor’s inbox by attaching your clips.” Check.

“Whatever you do, take time to research each market and NEVER, EVER use a template email.” Check, check.

I was spending loads of time researching markets, ferreting out the appropriate editors’ contact info and meticulously wordsmith-ing every email from scratch. Despite my best rule-following efforts, none of the editors contacted me back. Not. One.

There simply aren’t words to describe how frustrated and discouraged I felt. Giving so much time and effort with nothing to show for it eventually took its toll. On a daily basis I was at best, fighting despair and at worst, sinking in its depths.

In the midst of all this, I started working with a writing mentor (the one-and-only Linda). She calmed me down and gave me a few pieces of advice which I, of course, followed to the letter. I got a few lukewarm responses from editors as a result, and I even sold an article to a new-to-me (but not great paying) market.

Sure, it was progress, which lifted my spirits to a degree. But let’s face it — I was still working long, hard hours for minimal payoff. NOT a sustainable pattern for any small business.

Then Linda gave me a tip that helped me think outside the box – and believe me, it was one I NEVER expected to hear from her or any freelance writing expert.

“Why not try calling some editors?” she said, “And write a great LOI email you can quickly tweak for each market. Ask if they assign to freelancers or if they prefer pitches.”

Um, excuse me, what did you say?? Call editors?? Write one LOI to reuse over and over?? Pitch to trade pubs?? Break rules?!?!

As if that weren’t enough, Linda challenged me to call 25 editors in one day.

The thought of doing things that are widely considered no-no’s freaked me out enough, but seriously, 25?! Believe it or not, the part that scared me the least was the actual cold calling. I have a background in sales and I’m good at talking to people and I like marketing myself. Maybe, just maybe, the reason my by-the-book efforts were flopping was because my approach felt inauthentic. Calling editors seemed much more “me” — I’d just always thought if I did it, they’d view me as unprofessional (and kind of hate my guts for bugging them).

But with Linda, a seasoned pro writer, saying it was OK, I didn’t hesitate.

Armed with a three sentence script Linda wrote for me and a short and sweet LOI template email, I started the challenge.

I didn’t even get to leave voicemails with five editors before my phone rang.

“Deb, I was just delighted to get your message!” Really and truly, an editor was calling me to tell me she was happy I’d called her — not “hacked off” or “appalled” or even just “annoyed.” It seems she’d heard my voicemail right after leaving an editorial meeting where she’d learned an article slated for the next issue had fallen through. I’d also thrown caution to the wind and sent her my LOI email with my resume and a clip attached. She’d seen something in my article that would make a perfect story to fill that empty spot. Could I get something into her within a couple of weeks?

I know, right?!?!

After all my nose-to-the-grindstone work and months of angst over doing things the “right” way, all it took was literally a couple of phone calls and I had a gig that paid more than triple what I’d been getting! Even better, the editor ended our conversation by saying this was “the start of a very beautiful working relationship.” Hello, future high-paying gigs!

I’m no expert when it comes to freelancing, but I do think there’s something to this whole “find what feels right for you” idea. Just because the freelance writing books and classes say “Do this” or “Don’t do that” doesn’t necessarily mean those rules are hard and fast. It took me having someone of Linda’s caliber giving me permission to break the rules for me to do something that in the end felt natural and comfortable for me. And it worked.

As long as your approach allows you to both be yourself and to “sell” yourself as a competent professional, it’s worth trying something out of the ordinary — especially if you’re feeling stuck. You can’t predict how editors will react, but if you’re being genuine and gracious to them, no reasonable editor would hate you just for doing something differently. If they do, consider yourself lucky to have been warned about their inner crazy before you got stuck working with them.

So what will you try that’s not in the books? Be brave and take a risk. Go ahead — run with a stick in your mouth! Jump on the good furniture! Call an editor! Take it from me — it’s good to be bad.

How about you? Have you ever broken a rule of freelance writing and benefited as a result? Or have you found a marketing tactic other freelancers would scoff at, but that works for you? Let us know in the Comments below!

Deb Mitchell is a freelance writer in Charlotte, NC specializing in writing about interior design and women’s interest topics. She also works with business clients to make their websites and client communications the best they can be and with students as a general writing and college application essay coach.

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30. 5 Steps To Find Your Book’s Ideal Audience

There’s nothing quite like seeing a book with your name on it. The beautiful cover, the weight of it in your hands, the pages of your creativity bundled into a package for readers to enjoy. It sits o the shelf–maybe a physical one, perhaps a virtual one–but it is there, mingling with other books, rubbing spines with both fresh and established voices alike.

And there it will sit, waiting to be noticed..among not hundreds, not thousands, but a virtual tsunami of books that grows larger each day. Sure, family and friends will buy your book, and perhaps some of your supporters and connections online, too. But unless you do something, it will eventually fade into obscurity, never having the chance to break out and be discovered by the exact people looking to read a book just like yours.

The number one failing of authors (provided they have a well edited, quality book) is an inability to connect with their exact audience.

AudienceTraditionally published or self-published, in this competitive market, authors must actively find readers or risk their book dying on the shelf. Many fiction authors try hard, but often miss the mark as far as targeting an audience (promoting too narrowly for example, say only to other writers). Some unfortunately go the spam route, misusing social media to shout constantly about their book, sales, 5 star reviews and even sending “check out my book + LINK” messages to followers. This type of promo becomes “White Noise,” which most ignore. In some cases, people become so annoyed, rather than this strategy pulling new readers in, it pushes them away.

So How Does An Author Find Their Ideal Audience?

1) Know What Makes Your Book Special

While a book’s genre (and sub-genres) help to narrow reader interest, this is only the start of your journey to finding your ideal audience. A Fantasy enthusiast will not be interested in reading ALL types of Fantasy, right? So the first step is defining what about your book makes it stand out from all the other novels like yours. Move beyond just genre. What themes or elements are unique about your book? What are the strongest qualities about your hero or heroine that make them likeable? What concept makes your book pop?

Is your fantasy about a race of nomadic humans who are really shape shifting dragons, but over the generations, have forgotten what they are? Or, does your book have a hero who must solve codes and cyphers to uncover an astrological prophesy? Maybe it involves unusual magical travel…wizards that have discovered they can bottle the scents associated with a location and when a subject inhales it, he travels to that place. Whatever it is, this “special element” is a big part of what makes your book unique, and what will draw readers to your type of story and characters.

2) Make a List of Groups that Tie into this Element

Figured out what makes your book stand out from all the others like it? Awesome. Now it’s time to find out what interests people who think X is compelling, because that’s what’s special about your book.

Let’s take one of my examples. Say your book is the Dragon Fantasy concept above. A book featuring dragons may appeal to people who collect dragon figurines, read dragon-centric books, play dragon fantasy games, create dragon artwork, fashion dragon jewellery, blog about dragons, go to dragon-themed movies, visit forums that discuss dragon culture, etc. Google has 38 pages for “dragon lovers.” In less than a minute, I found a Dragon Museum, Dragon Decor Designs and a ton of forums, facebook groups, and the like.  Using Twitter Search, I discovered there is a #Dragon hashtag that brings up people, products and discussions about dragons. All of these people have the potential to be your exact reading audience, especially those who wish dragons were real, but are hiding their true forms. Or Fantasy readers interested in shape shifters and nomadic cultures.

(Don’t forget to look around locally, too. There may be groups, events and activities that tie into your book’s special concept in your own backyard.)

3) Identify Possible Influencers and Opportunities

Now within this glorious pool of Dragondom, there will be influencers: people who blog about all things dragons that really draw an audience, or active forums that discuss the latest dragon films and books. Perhaps gaming communities or even Facebook or Goodreads groups that draw a crowd. All of these help dragon enthusiasts discuss the thing they all love.

Check some of these places out to see if they might be a home for you too. After all, if what makes your book special is the shape-shifting dragon element, I’m going to assume you have a strong interest in dragons, right? Surely you have some things to talk about, links to share, books to recommend, etc. We write what we love, and so we should love to talk about what we write.

You want to find several groups or blogs that offer content to their readers that would also appeal to your readers. See who is discussing dragons on the web. Is there a Twitter Chat about dragons? Also look for people who create tangible goods for dragon lovers (artists, designers, etc.)  These are people you want to try and connect with, because opportunities might exist down the road for some cross promotion. Don’t forget other authors with books like yours. Make friends, tweet links to their blog and book. They will notice and most reciprocate, meaning your book might get noticed by their audience.

4) Connect and Engage

Hurray! We have found a slew of blogs, websites, forums and people who are into dragons! Time to join up, follow and send messages about our book, right?

Sorry, that’s not how it works.

Finding out who your audience might be is one thing, but actually (hopefully) turning them into your audience is another. To do that, you need to connect. Interact. Join conversations going on about dragons. Discuss your own collection, the books you read, the movies you watch. Talk to people, find out more about them. Talk about life. Ask questions. Be genuine. Add to the conversation, supply links to things you think others will find interesting about dragons. Build relationships.

Yes, this takes time. It’s work, but if your heart is into it, it’s fun too. In time you will see that these relationships are worth far more than a handful of sales generated from  spam promo. Why? Because when you need help, you can ask. Maybe you need reviewers, or have a book launch coming up and need people to spread the word. These individuals who you have invested your time in will often be the most enthusiastic about helping you gain visibility. They become not just supporters, but if we are lucky, fans.

5) Create Book Events to Draw in Your Reading Audience

One of the best ways to gain visibility is to host a big book event online. Thinking very hard about who your exact audience is, and what they would find interesting or entertaining is the key to drawing the right crowd to your event. Online book events like a book launch are the one time when people expect us to shout about our new book from the rooftops. We can build buzz and flash our cover and blurbs, and draw interest. Events are excellent ways to get your book noticed by the right people!

But the trick is to create an event that utilizes Social Media well, and draws the attention of the right people: people most suited to enjoy our book. Unfortunately this has been made harder because of all the “White Noise” of online promotion out there. So, the task is up to us to WOW people enough that they take notice, and don’t dismiss the event as more “book promotion.”

When you create your event, keep your theme or special element in mind. Build around it. Could you do a dragon treasure hunt across many different blogs using street team members? Perhaps add a shape shifting element where participants follow clues to figure out which street team member is human and which is a dragon, so they can find the hoard (giveaway prize) on someone’s blog?  Something else? You decide!

I hope these tips help!

  *  *   * * *   *  *

WANaHEADS UP! If you are interested in learning how to promote better during these big Book Launch or Book Sale type events, Becca and I are running a special marketing webinar on October 13th at 8:00-9:30 EST called The Marketing Marriage: Creative Social Media Solutions to Help Your Book Event Get Noticed.

Becca and I have run many successful events that have generated thousands of visitors, huge visibility and strong sales. In this webinar we will show you how to create your own book event that attracts attention, engages your audience, and rises it above Promo White Noise. It’s not just about getting eyes on your book, it’s about the RIGHT eyes.

Can’t make the webinar date? No worries! Sign up and get the recording to watch at your leisure. Follow this link for more information.

How have you found your readers? Any tips to share? Post them below!


Image 1: OpenClips @ Pixabay

The post 5 Steps To Find Your Book’s Ideal Audience appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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31. How to End Worrying About What Keywords to Use: Google Keyword Planner

Have you ever wondered what keywords to use? Really, sh […]

The post How to End Worrying About What Keywords to Use: Google Keyword Planner appeared first on aksomitis.com.

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32. Amazon Author Pages

Increase your sales by using these strategies on your author page. 


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33. Catching up with Gemma Barratt, Marketing Manager

From time to time, we try to give you a glimpse into work in our office around the globe, so we are excited to bring you an interview with Gemma Barratt, Marketing Manager for clinical medical journals. We spoke to Gemma about her life here at Oxford University Press.

When did you starting working at OUP?

I started working at OUP five years ago in the Online Products department as a Marketing Assistant. I worked on everything from Oxford Scholarship Online and the Oxford English Dictionary, to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Oxford Reference. I moved to become a Marketing Manager in the Journals End User Marketing team about a year ago and I now work on some of our major Clinical Medicine society titles.

What was your background before you started working at OUP?

I did my undergraduate degree in English literature and then a master’s in gender and culture. I originally planned on becoming an early years teacher, but was encouraged to do the MA instead and never went back! After my masters I volunteered for a number of arts festivals including the Cheltenham Literature Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, and ended up doing a six month marketing internship with Salisbury International Arts Festival.

What drew you to work for OUP in the first place? What do you think about that now?

Following my internship I knew I wanted to work in marketing and I was attracted to OUP because of the size and reputation of the organization, and that’s still true. The work ethos of OUP is something that I really value and if you like working with passionate and driven people this is certainly a good company to be in.

Gemma Barratt

What is your typical day like at OUP?

My typical day is busy and challenging. It can include anything from recruiting new members of staff to troubleshooting issues raised by societies, working on new bids to training — it’s very broad and varied.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?

I enjoy being busy and there is always plenty to do. I attend a lot of meetings and for the most part this is one of the things I most enjoy. They are opportunities to troubleshoot issues, share new ideas, and work collaboratively with colleagues.

What are the biggest challenges of working in the Journals End User Marketing team?

One of the biggest challenges is also one of the biggest draws to being part of this team — it’s incredibly busy and there are a lot of people to work with. The work is varied and challenging and you need to be on the ball all the time to make sure that deadlines are met and the societies we work with are happy.

What do you see as the key skills for a marketing team in journals publishing?

To be robust, creative, and not to be afraid to question the way things are done to find better ways of working. Also to be able to juggle and prioritize tasks. There are always new things coming in so it’s important to be flexible. I also think it’s very important to be personable and friendly, as managing relationships within the department, OUP more widely, and externally is a huge part of a marketing team’s role.

What is the most exciting project you have been part of while working for the team?

Probably working on new bids — we work collaboratively with the editorial team and it’s really a chance to showcase what we can do and demonstrate our creative ideas and results.

If you didn’t work in publishing, what would you be doing?

I would probably be doing a PhD — my MA focused on remembrance of World War I through contemporary fiction, so perhaps an extension of that?

How would you sum up your job in three words?

Challenging, rewarding, and creative.


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34. Marketing Time: Using a 12-Point List

Good news: The end is nigh! Finally, finally my current WIP, The Abyssal Plain, is just a few pages away from being finished. It's a great feeling, tinged, I must add, with a little sadness. No more exciting adventures for my characters. No more characters! No more figuring out how to get them from A to B. And rather than designing their homes and wardrobes, it's time to move on to marketing. Ugh.

Marketing has never been my favorite part of writing. Query letters, synopses, pitching--they've all been pretty scary to me. I know how small the window is for attracting the attention of an editor or agent, and I know how easily they can delete or ignore whatever they receive.

So that's why I want to turn everything upside down. I want to enjoy marketing, and I want to create marketing materials that will be read. My two main goals are:
  1. That I feel relaxed about writing my query and synopses (in all their wonderful forms, e.g., 1-page, 2-page, 3-page--you know how it goes), and,
  2. That whatever I write be easy to read. After all, who has the time to pore over pages and pages of convoluted story telling when all anyone wants to know is:  what is the story about?
To that end I've come up with a new approach: Before I write a single letter or outline, I'm going to brainstorm three types of 12-point lists:
  1. An ABOUT MY STORY list. This list will include whatever is relevant to sales, e.g., genre, word count, why I wrote the story, who are my potential readers.
  2. A 12-point EVENTS THAT HAPPEN IN THE STORY list, in other words, the top 12 plot points and why they matter.
  3. A 12-point CHARACTER ATTRIBUTE LIST for each of my major players.
Once I have my lists completed, I can then decide what is truly important in each, and what I can put into a single document to be edited and narrowed down even further until I hit pay dirt. 

I’ve always liked listing things in groups of twelve, (something I wrote about in my Take Twelve blog post) finding it a good way to focus and brainstorm at the same time. Aiming for twelve points on any subject seems to help me go beyond the obvious without going overboard and including too much information. My hope is that using the technique for my marketing will turn what has previously been a dreaded task into a good experience I'll look forward to. Wish me luck!

Tip of the Day: What are the top 12 things you can say about your current WIP?  Listing the most important points could be a great way to not only sell your book, but to get it organized before you write it, too!

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35. Free Checklist: 50 Ways to Build Your Freelance Writing Business Today – No Matter How Much Time You Have

build your freelance businessMany of my email mentoring clients have so many ideas and projects that when they try to decide what steps to take next, they feel stuck. There are so many actions they could be taking at any one time that they freak out — and do nothing.

I have the same problem, and one day Renegade Writer co-author Diana Burrell said to me, “Pick one thing and do it. It doesn’t matter what you pick — just pick something.”

I’ve been following her advice ever since, and that was the inspiration for the new checklist 50 Ways to Build Your Freelance Writing Business Today – No Matter How Much Time You Have.

I created a list of 50 action items that will move your freelance career forward, whether you have 5 minutes…30 minutes…an hour…or a whole day free. I then hired the graphic designer Azita Houshiar to create custom illustrations and design the checklist, so it is a pleasure to look at and use.

To use the checklist: Print it out, or keep it on your computer’s desktop. When you have some time, just go to the section that corresponds with how much time you have, randomly pick an item, and do it.

You’ll be one more step towards your freelance writing goals, and you’ll build forward momentum to help you get the next step done, and the next.

To get your free checklist, fill out the form on this page…it will take about six seconds:


Note: If you are already a member of my mailing list — the one where you get Monday Motivations for Writers emails — I’ll be sending you a copy of the checklist, so you won’t need to fill out the form.

Enjoy the checklist, and happy writing!


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36. Paula Yoo on How to Publicize Your Children’s Book

Paula YooPaula Yoo is a children’s book writer, television writer, and freelance violinist living in Los Angeles. Her first book, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, won Lee & Low’s New Voices Award. Her new book, Guest bloggerTwenty-two Cents, was released this week. In this post, we asked her to share advice on publicizing your first book for those submitting to the New Voices Award and other new authors.

When I won the Lee & Low New Voices Award picture book writing contest in 2003, I thought I had hit the big time. This was my “big break.” My dream had come true! My submission, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, about Olympic gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee, would be published in 2005 and illustrated by Dom Lee.

BUT… winning the New Voices contest was just the start. I had to do several revisions of the manuscript based on insightful critiques from my editor Philip Lee. Because this was a biography, I had to do extra research and conduct many more follow-up interviews to make sure all the facts of my manuscript were accurate. And then after all the line edits and copy edits and proof reading checks and balances were completed, I had one more thing to do.


No problem, I thought. All I had to do was answer that huge questionnaire the Lee & Low publicity department sent me. Our publicists were amazing – they were already aggressively sending out press releases and getting me invited to a few national writing conferences for book panels and signings.

But I quickly discovered that a debut author must be willing to pound the pavement, too! So I hired freelance graphic designer friends to create bookmarks and fliers of my book and an official author website. I dropped these off at as many schools, libraries and bookstores I could visit on the weekends. I contacted these same places to see if they would be interested in hosting a signing or school presentation of my book which included fun show-and-tell visuals of how the book was made, a slide show and even a specially-edited CD of historical film footage about my book’s topic.

I contacted local book festivals to be considered for signings and book panels. I not only asked friends and teachers and librarians to spread the word but even people I thought might have a vested interest in the book because they were also professional athletes/coaches and Asian American activists. I always updated our amazing Lee & Low publicists so we both were on the same page. We were a team who supported each other.

NaPiBoWriWee logoI also kept up with the news. Any pop culture trend, breaking news or social issue that was a hot button topic related to my book was an opportunity to see if my book could be mentioned or if I could be interviewed as an “expert.” For example, I pitched my book during the Summer Olympics as a relevant topic.

For my second book, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story (illustrated by Lin Wang), published in 2009, I created NAPIBOWRIWEE – National Picture Book Writing Week on my website. It was a fun version of the famous National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) event that promoted writing a 50,000-word novel in one month. My NaPiBoWriWee encouraged writers to write 7 picture books in 7 days. I advertised my new SHINING STAR book as a contest giveaway drawing prize for those who successfully completed the event with me.

To my shock, this “out of the box” creative publicity idea not only worked… but it went VIRAL. Thousands of aspiring newbie writers AND published veteran authors all across the United States and in countries as far away as Egypt, Korea, France and Australia participated in my NaPiBoWriWee event. Talk about great publicity for my second book! As a result, my NaPiBoWriWee event has become an annual event for the past six years, where I have promoted all my new Lee & Low books! (For more information on NAPIBWORIWEE, please visit my website http://paulayoo.com).

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of what I did to promote my first book. Today, not only must debut authors “pound the pavement” for publicity, but they also must navigate the social media waters with blogs tours, breaking news Twitter feeds, Instagram and Tumblr visual posts, and so on. As I write this blog, I’m sure a brand new social media app is being invented that will become tomorrow’s Next Big Social Media Trend.

Twenty-two Cents coverIn the end, it was an honor and privilege to win this contest. I’m grateful for what it has done for my book career.

For my new book, Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank (illustrated by Jamel Akib, 2014), I’ve already participated in several blog Q&A interviews with signed book giveaway contests from established children’s book writing websites. I’ve promoted the book on my website and on social media sites. And I’m also promoting the book in real life by participating in book festival panels, including the recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

For new authors, I recommend pounding the pavement like I did. Think outside the box – are there current news/pop culture trends that relate to your book’s topic that you can exploit as a relevant connection? Can you come up with your own fun “viral” website contest like my NAPIBOWRIWEE? Make fast friends with your local librarians, schoolteachers and bookstore owners. Keep up with the latest and most influential kid lit bloggers and see if you can pitch your book as a future blog post on their site. And give yourself a budget – how much are you willing to spend out of your own pocket to promote your book? Find a number you’re comfortable with so you don’t end up shocked by that credit card bill!

Of course, these suggestions are just the beginning. Book publicity is a difficult, time-consuming job that requires much hard work and persistence and creative out-of-the-box problem solving. But trust me, it’s all worth it when you see a child pick your book from the shelf of a bookstore or library with a smile on his or her face.

New Voices Award sealThanks for joining us, Paula! The New Voices Award is given each year to an unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript. Find more information on how to submit here. The deadline for submissions this year is September 30, 2014.

Further Reading:

Dealing with Rejection: Keeping Your Dream Going by debut author Thelma Lynne Godin

How to Find Time to Write When You Have 11 Children by New Voices Award winner Pamela M. Tuck

Submitting to Our New Voices Award: Tips from an Editor

New Voices Award FAQs


Filed under: Interviews with Authors and Illustrators, New Voices/New Visions Award, Publishing 101, Writer Resources Tagged: aspiring authors, marketing, NaPiBoWriWee, Paula Yoo, writing contest

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37. Changes in digital publishing: a marketer’s perspective

We all have a great deal of resources at our disposal most of the time, we look things up on our tablets and phones immediately, and are able to retrieve information on almost any topic at any time, almost anywhere. We’ve never been so connected globally. As a marketer, I’m intrigued and excited by engaging with this global community; working in global online product marketing, I’m keen to embrace new technologies and digital resources so we can fulfill our aim to disseminate content to everyone and anyone who wants and needs it. I think about digital resources a lot, mulling over the best way to use new technologies to tell people that these resources exist, reflect on how I can best show people what they can do, and ponder what they have to offer students, academics, and professionals. (You just haven’t lived the full life of a marketer until you wake up thinking of how to best run a digital advertising campaign.)

This is because I work in the online product marketing department at Oxford University Press and am responsible for the marketing of several online products, including Oxford Scholarship Online and University Press Scholarship Online.

I started my OUP life in the medicine marketing department. It was here that I learnt about how to market a list of books. And not just any old books, but ones that help save lives. I learnt about how to pick out the key features and benefits in order to draw the reader into what the essence of the book is about, I learnt about what makes a good book-jacket design, how to produce creative and engaging material to tell our audience about these books. I traveled abroad to all sorts of conferences to show doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists directly the academic content we had to offer.

In the almost four years I’ve worked at OUP a not insignificant shift has taken place towards an online environment, as more and more people begin their research online (who doesn’t start everything with a Google search?), connect with colleagues and peers through social media, and increasingly use online resources in their teaching to be able to reach students across the globe. As a result of this shift more and more of our books were placed onto various online resources (in medicine this largely took the form of Oxford Medicine Online) and as marketers we relish rolling with the changes, adapting, embracing, and championing this new way of providing content to people.

It was a big shift and involved a change in the way we thought about our lists and marketing. But the skills and aims at the heart of what we do remained the same: how can we best engage with you, our audience?

This has led to our ways of working continually changing with this shift to digital (and this is true of all marketing departments and companies everywhere). We are now able to reach and interact with a global audience through our digital campaigns, no longer having to solely rely on printing and mailing thousands of leaflets without knowing if anyone ever read them. We now tweet, post on Facebook and Tumblr, create podcasts, videos, write blog posts, and encourage authors, contributors, librarians (the wonderfully named Tumblrians spring to mind) to join our communities and get involved. The way we relate to our audience has changed; there is an increased desire for a dialogue between publishers and users of our content. We want to talk and listen to our community — we are closer to people than we’ve ever been before. In this brave new world people can tell you what they think in hardly any time at all via a Facebook post or tweet — a scary, but exciting prospect.

As for what the future holds for marketing, I think the communities that continue to grow and evolve are vital. It is the people who use and value what we make who are going to be sharing, commenting, contributing, and making us better.

I can’t wait to see how we’ll be communicating in another ten years’ time!

Featured image: Computer by kropekk_pl. Public Domain via Pixabay.

The post Changes in digital publishing: a marketer’s perspective appeared first on OUPblog.

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38. Book Events

Get the most out of your next book signing or author visit. 


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39. Three years on. By C.J. Busby

I have just had the second book of my second series for children published. It feels like a bit of a milestone.

It's called Dragon Amber, and it's part of a multiple worlds adventure trilogy that started with Deep Amber last March. The cover's lovely, as all of them have been (thanks to David Wyatt), and there's nothing quite like holding the physical copy of your new book in your hands (or even clutching it to yourself as you do a little dance...!!) But it being the second book of the second series made me stop and think. It's my sixth book to be published. While I'm far from being 'established' (whatever that means), it certainly means I'm no longer a total newbie.

Which feels ever so slightly weird, as I still think of myself as a novice, pretending to be an author.

This business of feeling as if you're pretending seems to be something quite a few children's authors suffer from. (It may be related to the fact that very few of us are actually making enough money to feel writing is a 'proper' job, but that's another story...)

Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity - as someone who can no longer consider herself a novice - to try and sum up what I have learnt over the last three years of being part of the world of children's publishing.

1. First and foremost: other children's authors - whether well known, just published or still hopeful - are almost all lovely, warm, friendly and modest (and there are not many professions you'd be able to say that of.) Getting together with them, at festivals, conferences, retreats or book launches is a wonderfully affirming thing to do - and helps quite a lot with that feeling of being a bit of a fraud (I AM a children's writer - because I am accepted by all those other lovely children's writers!!)

2. I have almost no control over whether my books do well or not - so I should just relax and maybe cross my fingers occasionally! Being open to opportunities like school visit invites or festivals is fun and part of getting to know the publishing business - tweeting and face booking have been similarly good for getting to know other writer friends. And sometimes opportunities have come from that. But none of it has turned my book into a best-seller, and I don't think there's any magic way of doing so!

3. If I don't want to become mad and bitter, I have to try not to compare my book sales/prize nominations and festival invites with others - and must remember NOT to check the Amazon ranking of my books more than  once a week! There is a great deal of luck and randomness in this business and then there are the unfathomable whims of publishers, reviewers and the reading public (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?). Generally (but not always: see aforementioned Fifty Shades) it's Very Good Books that get attention and prizes - equally there are thousands of Very Good Books that don't, and which category mine end up in (even  if they were to be considered Very Good!) is mostly down to serendipity.

Oh - and marketing spend.

Which brings me to no. 4.

4. Publishers put serious time, energy and money behind only a select few of the books they publish. These books are plastered all over websites, magazines, 'hot new trends' lists, twitter, reviews, front window billing at Waterstones and W.H. Smiths.

In the absence of this push, you are lucky if your book ends up in a select few Waterstones branches, or garners an online review from a kind blogger. This is no reflection on the quality of your book - I've met too many other brilliant people with fabulous books who can't get them noticed to think it's entirely a meritocracy. Publishers are scrabbling to find the next Wimpy Kid or Hunger Games, and even they don't know what will trigger that response. Often it's something they have all roundly rejected as too dire to waste ink on (cough, Fifty Shades...) So they put money behind a few, and publish a hundred others in a kind of scattergun approach, in case any of them builds a following by chance. I've learned to treat having a book out as a bit like having bought a lottery ticket - whether it does well or not is as random as whether I win the jackpot or a £10 prize for three numbers.

5. So, finally, after a few years of trying to find the 'magic key' to making a go of this publishing lark, I've learned to just enjoy the moment: to hold my new book in my hands, and do a little jig at having pulled it off one more time. In the book I'm currently reading (The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie) one of the characters is a Northman, hard, battle-scarred, always getting into more impossible fights. At the end of each one, he repeats, as a kind of mantra: 'Still alive, still alive...' I think I feel a bit like that about writing - 'Still there, still there...'

C.J. Busby writes funny fantasy adventures for ages 7 upwards. Her first book, Frogspell, was a Richard and Judy Children's Book Cub choice for 2012. The series is published in Canada by Scholastic and the UK by Templar and has been translated into German and Turkish. Deep Amber, the first of a new trilogy, was published in March 2014. The second instalment, Dragon Amber, came out on 1st September.

"A rift-hopping romp with great charm, wit and pace" Frances Hardinge.

Nominated for the Stockton Book Award 2015.

www. cjbusby.co.uk


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40. Influenced By . . .

Who do you consider your literary influences? It's something I've been thinking about lately as I get ready to market my current WIP, The Abyssal Plain. Although I still have about 60 pages left to edit, I'm giving serious thought to my query letters, synopses, and anything else I can put together that can describe both my book and who I am as a writer.

Last night I made a list of all the authors I believe have had the most influence on my own work. In no particular order, they are:
  • Victoria Holt
  • Mary Stewart
  • Daphne Du Maurier
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Ursula Undset
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Jean Rhys
  • Katherine Neville
  • Doris Lessing
  • Willa Cather
  • Angela Carter
  • Velda Johnston
  • Shirley Hazzard
  • Luke Jennings
  • Arturo Perez-Reverte 
  • Yukio Mishima
  • Haruki Marukami
  • Ray Bradbury
After making my list, I wanted to know what it was these particular authors had in common and/or why they appealed to me so much. I narrowed it down to these categories:
  • Language. Rich, lush, yet also straightforward in meaning. Strong sentences that when read alone could almost be mistaken for poetry.
  • Gothic suspense. Characters and plot lines filled with a sense of foreboding and the darker side of human nature.
  • Details. Dress fabrics, tea ceremony rituals, the dust on Mars--I love experiencing every little nuance transporting me into a world I can see, hear, taste, smell, and until the oven timer rings and I have to choose between burning dinner or finishing "just one more page."
  • A brooding sense of melancholy. Although I enjoy a good conclusion to a story, I've never insisted any book I read end with "happily ever after." I'm just as comfortable with  open endings, characters who end up wiser but not necessarily happier, and anything that leaves me on a philosophical note regarding human nature.
  • International and historical settings and culture. One of my favorite things about reading is the chance to travel through both space and time without leaving home. From medieval Sweden to modern-day Japan, I've gone there just on the strength of my library card.
  • Genre description: literary fiction. I enjoy reading a wide variety of genres, but I always seem to come back to what I call "literary page-turners," books that don't necessarily follow strict (or any) genre guidelines, break a lot of the "writing rules," and yet manage to hook me in so I never want to stop reading. All of the authors I've listed above fit the bill perfectly.
I'm sure there are many more connections I could make between my authors-of-influence, but for now that seems to be a good start to understanding why I write the way I do. And speaking of writing, it's time to get back to work--hoping to turn those 60 pages into a nice round zero before the end of the month!

      Tip of the Day: Making a list of "where you came from" is a great exercise for developing your personal brand and marketing materials. For extra credit, why not share some or all of your list under "Post a Comment"? Inquiring minds would love to know! Happy memories, everyone--looking forward to reading your findings.

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      41. Blogging Mistakes

      Don't make these mistakes on your author blog. 


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      42. Why I don't want to self-publish again

      (Kate Wilson of the wonderful Nosy Crow asked me to write a guest post for her on my experiences of self-publishing as a published author. For your info, she didn't know what those experiences were, so there was no direction or expectation. I have re-posted it here, with permission. Note that this is personal experience, not advice.)

      Many writers, previously published or not, talk excitedly about why they enjoy self-publishing. Let me tell you why I don’t.

      I’ve self-published (only as ebooks) three of my previously published YA novels and three adult non-fiction titles which hadn’t been published before. From these books I make a welcome income of around £250 a month – a figure that is remarkably constant. So, why have I not enjoyed it and why won’t I do it again?

      It’s damned hard to sell fiction! (Over 90% of that £250 is from the non-fiction titles.) Publishers know this. They also know that high sales are not always about “quality”, which is precisely why very good novels can be rejected over and over. Non-fiction is easier because it’s easy to find your readers and for them to find your book. Take my book about writing a synopsis, for example; anyone looking for a book on writing a synopsis will Google “books on writing a synopsis” and, hey presto, Write a Great Synopsis appears. But if someone wants a novel, the chances of finding mine out of the available eleventy million are slim. This despite the fact that they had fab reviews and a few awards from their former lives.

      But some novels do sell well. So why don’t mine? Because I do absolutely nothing to sell them. Why not? Well, this is the point. Several points.

      First, time. I am too busy with other writing and public-speaking but, even if I weren’t, the necessary marketing takes far too long (for me) and goes on for too long after publication: the very time when I want to be writing another one. This is precisely why publishers tend only to work on publicity for a short while after publication: they have other books to work on. We may moan but it has to be like that – unless a book does phenomenally well at first, you have to keep working at selling it.

      Second, I dislike the stuff I’d have to do to sell more books. Now, this is where you start leaping up and down saying, “But published authors have to do that, too!” Yes, and I do, but it’s different. When a publisher has invested money because they believe in your book, you obviously want to help them sell it. But when the only person who has actually committed any money is you, the selling part feels different. It’s a case of “I love my book so much that I published it – now you need to believe in me enough to buy it.” I can’t do it. Maybe I don’t believe in myself enough. Fine. I think books need more than the author believing in them. The author might be right and the book be fabulous, but I tend to be distrustful of strangers telling me they are wonderful so why should I expect others to believe me if I say I am? And I don’t want to spend time on forums just to sell more books.

      Third, I love being part of a team. Yes, I’ve had my share of frustrating experiences in the course of 100 or so published books, but I enjoy the teamwork – even though I’m an introvert who loves working alone in a shed; I love the fact that other people put money and time and passion into selling my book. It gives me confidence and support. They won’t make money if they don’t sell my book and I still like and trust that model.

      And I especially love that once I’ve written it and done my bit for the publicity machine and done the best I can for my book, I can let it go and write another.

      See, I’m a writer, not a publisher. I may love control – the usual reason given for self-publishing – but I mostly want control over my words, not the rest. (That control, by the way, is never lost to a good editor, and I’ve been lucky with genius editors.) So, yes, I am pleased with the money I’ve earned from self-publishing and I love what I’ve learnt about the whole process, but now I’m going back to where I am happy to do battle for real control: my keyboard.

      It’s all I want to do.

      Nicola Morgan has written about 100 books, with half a dozen "traditional" publishers of various sizes from tiny to huge. She is a former chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland and advises hard-working writers on becoming and staying published, and on the marketing/publicity/events/behaviour that goes along with that.

      She has also just created BRAIN STICKS, an original and huuuuuuge set of teaching resources about the brain and mental health.

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      43. Getting Into Bookstores

      How to get your local bookstore to carry your book. 


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      44. Everyone Agrees That Book Promotion Is Necessary, But...

      The two writers taking on the question of the necessity of book promotion in The Demands of Book Promotion: Frivolous or Necessary? are pretty much in agreement that it definitely isn't frivolous. They just don't/can't get into the subject much beyond that. The comments are a little more nitty gritty.

      But, you know, it's rare to find a promotional essay that offers a whole lot of help and hope to writers.

      0 Comments on Everyone Agrees That Book Promotion Is Necessary, But... as of 7/26/2014 10:18:00 PM
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      45. Marketing and Sales Panel: Emily Romero

      Emily Romero is the vice president of marketing for the Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Random House, where she has spent over fourteen years working on a wide range of children's literature, from picture books to young adult novels.

      Children's books are permeating entertainment, TV, movies, etc. Emily thinks Stephen Colbert said it best.

      "A young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read."
      -Stephen Colbert

      Most book buyers actively discover books by asking friends, browsing in bookstores, and reading reviews online. This is the seed of what the marketing team does; they take word-of-mouth and build it.

      Building support with booksellers is key.

      Penguin still prints catalogs, they create F&Gs/ARCs, as well as create a catalog of their backlog. They do trade advertising, as well as special mailings.

      Penguin attends Book Expo America (BEA), which give them a chance to put their best foot forward. "We represent our books and get support." Face-to-face opportunities where they as the publisher get to represent their books.

      On getting their books notice: People have to find your book. Penguin works with their sales reps and get promotions (displays, posters, etc.) so that the book is noticed.

      The teacher and librarian market is powerful because it gets books in the hands of readers. Penguin is sure to get their books on state list. They also attend conferences that teachers and librarians attend (like ALA), as well as provide teachers with material they need to use their books in the classroom.

      Reaching consumers is now heavily done through social and digital means. They've invested in all the platforms to be certain they have a reach and build the many communities who might buy their books.

      Advertising is done through print, digital/search, broadcast.

      Sale. Marketing. Publicity. They all work together.

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      46. If You Don’t Read Magazines, Don’t Try to Write for Them

      Magazine stackThe other day I was chatting with my Renegade Writer co-author, Diana Burrell, and she mentioned something that horrified me.

      Diana teaches the fabulous Become an Idea Machine workshop that’s helped students land in the New York Times, Parenting, Success and other publications. She told me that more frequently than you would expect, she’ll suggest a student read through some magazines to help spur ideas, and they’ll reply:

      “Oh, I don’t read magazines.”

      Or, even worse:

      “I hate magazines!”

      I know this is not an uncommon scenario because when I do query critiques, sometimes it’s clear to me that the writer has not cracked open a magazine. Believe me, you can tell! For example, they’ll be pitching an edgy men’s publication and their query sounds like a government report, complete with 5-dollar words, passive case overdrive, and footnotes.

      I’m not even sure how to respond to what I’m seeing out there. Why would anyone think that magazine writing is the only job in the known universe where you don’t need to know anything about the medium you hope to make money from, your clients’ products, or the marketplace?

      It’s like if you were applying for a job as an accountant and you told your interviewer, “Well, I don’t know what accountants do and I don’t much like numbers, but will you give me a job?”

      Of if you wanted to work at McDonald’s and you told your interviewer, “Oh, I’m a vegan and I’m morally against eating meat. I refuse to learn about your menu or serve burgers, but I want you to give me a job.”

      This sounds ridiculous in all contexts — except, for some people, when talking about a freelance writing career.


      I think there are a lot of Internet-famous business “gurus” out there who like to plug writing as an easy work-at-home gig where all you need is a laptop and the ability to string sentences together. After all, it’s FREElance, as in FREE to do whatever you want.

      And that’s true IF you want to write $10 articles for the content mills.

      But if you want to earn some decent money writing for top-notch trade, custom, and consumer magazines, for the love of all that is good and holy, you need to actually familiarize yourself with the magazine market.

      When you want to become a magazine writer, reading magazines becomes a full-time job for you.

      • You read magazines you want to write for from cover to cover and study the writing, the departments, how articles are structured, and even the ads.
      • You read magazines you don’t want to write for, just for the hell of it.
      • You read Writer’s Market in its entirety every year.
      • You browse magazine directories online.
      • You become known as the crazy person who carts away stacks of outdated magazines from your hairdresser’s and doctor’s waiting rooms. (Yes, I have done this!)
      • You ask your neighbors to put their old to-be-recycled magazines on your porch. (Yep…done that too.)

      When you go to the effort required to get to know the market, eventually it becomes ingrained in your brain. It becomes part of you.

      So, for example…

      • When your kid’s school bus driver mentions she’d like to get into writing, you say, “Oh, you should try School Bus Fleet magazine.”
      • When you have an article idea about how to handle your tween’s hormonal temper tantrums, you know Family Circle may be a good market, but Parents is not.
      • Your article ideas become sharper and more focused because you’ve read hundreds of magazine articles and know what’s been done and how you can do it differently.
      • You’ll know that Inc. magazine ran an article two issues ago on a topic you want to pitch, so you’ll need to come up with a fresher slant if you want to query them.

      This is not optional, folks. If you want to write for magazines, you need to read them. No, you need to study them. Lots of them.

      Here’s your challenge: Today, right now if you can, read a magazine from cover to cover, studying every part. Or, if you have a copy or are near a bookstore or library, start browsing through Writer’s Market and read all the magazine guidelines.

      How about you: Do you love magazines? Do you read them? Why or why not? (Hey, does this sound like a high school essay question?)

      photo by:

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      47. Blurbs that Bore, Blurbs that Blare

      I know that everyone has their own method of choosing books. Some go by the cover, others by the back copy. Some people get a good feel for the book by reading the first (or last) page or chapter. For me, it’s all about the book blurb—that two-paragraph snippet on the back cover or the inside of the dust jacket. If I don’t get a good vibe from a book after reading its blurb, back on the shelf it goes.

      As an author in charge of writing my own blurbs, this creates a fair amount of anxiety; with the bajillions of books out there vying for our reader’s attention, it’s critical that we nail the book blurb. But how? What do I include? How long should it be? WHAT, IN THE NAME OF CHOCOLATE, MAKES A GOOD BLURB?

      Enter Michaelbrent Collings, who’s got some seriously good advice on how to write the awesomest book blurb ever…

      blurb image 2There seem to be a lot of misunderstandings about the back cover copy—the “blurbs” that so many writers have to put on the back of their books. 

      In Ye Olden Tymes, some person who was paid to do stuff like that—meaning, a fellow who probably looked like a dumpier version of a Mad Men character—would take care of the blurb as part of the deal a writer got when they were published.

      Now, with more and more writers turning to self-publishing, and with more and more publishing houses relying on the writers to provide copy, advertising, marketing, and more…it’s likely going to be something the writer does.

      And that’s great! Because, well, who understands the story like the person who wrote it?

      But it also sucks. Because, well, who less understands how to sell the story than the person who wrote it?

      Wait, lemme ‘splain. No. Is too long. Lemme summarize. (And because the summary is this long, you should understand how important this subject is.)

      Watching most writers tell others about their books is like watching parents show baby pictures: it’s a passionate, energizing, fascinating process for everyone… except for everyone who isn’t the parent. Sorry, but (and I say this as a parent myself) very few people really care about Tommy’s new tooth, about Lucy’s skinned knee, the nanosecond-by-nanosecond details of Charlie’s first step.

      There. I said it. If I’m gone tomorrow it’s because The Angry Parents League finally dragged me away to an underground oubliette filled with binkies and used diapers, there to die in madness induced by never-ending Teletubbies reruns.

      Back to my point: we don’t care about the everyday details of other people’s kids. At least, not until we are thoroughly invested in the child. And you don’t get a stranger thoroughly invested in anything by spewing mundane crapola.

      6825401968_b85878bfab_mSo why, if that’s the case, do so many writers try to “suck in” complete strangers with the boring, banal details of their story?

      It’s because those writers a) don’t care to be professionals, or b) just don’t understand the purpose of the blurb. I will ignore group a) because, to be honest, they irritate me and I hope they suffer embarrassing diarrhea at a fancy dinner party. No help for them.

      As to group b), here is the purpose of the blurb, and this is the only purpose of the blurb. I will put it in big bold letters so’s y’all know I’m serious-like.

      The only purpose of the back blurb is to raise a question that can ONLY BE ANSWERED when the reader BUYS and FINISHES the book.

      That is IT, people. The outside of your book—the cover design, the spine, the lettering, EVERYTHING—is for one purpose: to separate readers from their money. Your blurb is part of that. And its part of the job is (again):

      The only purpose of the back blurb is to raise a question that can ONLY BE ANSWERED when the reader BUYS and FINISHES the book.

      So how do you do that? A few clues. First, leave out the details. No one cares about Eugene’s first skinned knee. Lead with that and it’s a buzzkill at the Christmas party. But if you say, “So, Number Three almost died today,” all conversation STOPS. 

      Those who know that “Number Three” is your third kid will think, “Holy crap, died?!”

      Those who don’t know what “Number Three” is will think, “Who died?” or “Who’s number three?” or “I thought you could only go up to Number Two!” (this is a Christmas party after all, so some of your people probably aren’t thinking straight at this point).

      But everyone’s interested. Because you haven’t given details. You’ve raised questions. If you walked out of the room at this point, you’d get angry phone calls from “concerned” (i.e. ragingly curious) friends and family.

      This is a good start for your blurb. Raise that question!

      Also implicit in the above are a few other things that good blurbs tend to include: the genre of the piece (romance? Western? sci-fi?), the mood (funny? scary? Melodramatic?), and the HOOK. This last merits a bit of discussion here.

      13533192_2452d19784_mThe hook is that gimmick, the setup, that grabs you in just a sentence or two. The core idea that sets it apart from all the others out there. It’s what you’d see on the movie poster—The Shining is about a family trapped in a malevolently haunted hotel, The Hunger Games is about a girl who competes in a battle to the death with other teens, etc. Note this, again, is not the story. Neither description told you who would live, who would die, what their lives were like outside the bare description of a setup. But the setup…interesting!

      Look at the following examples.

      When Sharlene wakes up after a five-year coma to discover that she has a ring on her finger and a three-year old baby named Kumbaya, she has no memory of how she got the ring or where the baby came from. Doctors assure her that Kumbaya is hers, and their tears assure her that the story behind the little half-Liechtensteinian babe is a heartrending one. But for some reason, no one will speak to her. They will not explain the ring, the baby, or the two million dollars in smuggled African conflict diamonds she also finds in the baby’s bassinet.

      Now Sharlene is on a mission. To find the father of the child, to find the owner of the diamonds, and, hopefully, to find the man she somehow knows in her heart that she loves. She will travel across the world, from Australia to France to Indonesia on a globe-trotting trip that will take her everywhere and bring her into contact with people like the deaf-mute man who somehow plays harp music that makes her heart sing. She will travel everywhere…and then return to find that answers, and love, were right at her side all along.

      And my thoughts after reading this, of course: HO. LEE. CRAP.

      There’s no reason to read the book. Sounds like I’ve just read it, actually. I got the beginning, the middle, and even the end (she’ll find her answers when she comes home, and at this point I’m so sick of reading about it I don’t care anymore).

      The saddest part is there’s a good blurb hidden in there. Think of this:

      Sharlene wakes from a five-year coma with no memory of her accident. Or how she got the wedding ring that sparkles on her finger, the $2 million in illegal diamonds…or the three-year-old baby that doctors insist is hers.

      Now Sharlene is on a mission for answers. Led by clues she finds, led by a need to know. And most of all…led by a feeling that love waits at the end of her journey.

      Now I ain’t sayin’ this is art. But it is 1) shorter (which is almost always better on blurbs, since you have maybe ten seconds to grab someone and twenty seconds total if you DO grab them), 2) leads with the “hook,” and 3) SETS UP THE QUESTIONS THAT CAN ONLY BE ANSWERED BY READING THE BOOK (Who gave the ring? Where did the diamonds come from? A three-year-old baby?)

      Here’s another blurb. This one from my book Strangers, which has been a top seller on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc.

      You wake up in the morning to discover that you have been sealed into your home. The doors are locked, the windows are barred. THERE’S NO WAY OUT.

      A madman is playing a deadly game with you and your family. A game with no rules, only consequences. So what do you do? Do you run? Do you hide?

      OR DO YOU DIE?

      This is 100% about the hook (waking up completely sealed in a family home), and about the QUESTIONS: will the protagonists make it out? Who is the madman behind it? What are the motives? How is such a thing possible to be carried out? And, hopefully, more questions that can only be answered by clicking that little “Purchase” button.

      I also did the tricky move of putting the reader “in” the story. Instead of being “A family wakes up” (Strangers is about a family), I said “You wake up,” “you and your family,” “what do you do?” etc. It personalizes the story and makes the moving question even stronger sometimes (though of course this doesn’t always work). For instance:

      You wake up from a coma. Five years gone. Illegal diamonds next to you, no memory of them or the sleeping three-year-old that the doctors insist is yours.

      The only way to find answers is to follow the clues left by a mysterious man. A man whom you sense will lead you not only to your past, but to your future. Not only to understanding, but to love.

      Okay, hopefully you get the point. And, regardless, I’ve blathered enough.

      Remember, though (if you remember anything), this single thing. The point of blurbs. The fact that no one cares about your babies…not right away. You have to get them invested in the questions and the big stories before they will be interested in the details. And remember…

      The only purpose of the back blurb is to raise a question that can ONLY BE ANSWERED when the reader BUYS and FINISHES the book.

      Good luck. Go forth and sell your babies.


      michaelbrentMichaelbrent Collings is a #1 bestselling novelist and screenwriter, one of the top selling horror novelists on Amazon for over two years straight, and has been a bestselling novelist on various ebook lists in over forty countries. His newest novel is This Darkness Light. Join his mailing list to be notified of new releases, sales, and freebies.

      The post Blurbs that Bore, Blurbs that Blare appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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      48. Content Marketing - Why A Different Name Can Increase Your Product Price By 1000 Percent

      Guest post by Sean D'Souza' Is a sum of $229 expensive? It really depends, doesn’t it? What’s the $229 for? Is it for a book? A half day event? A workshop? An online workshop? A course? A set of 8 DVDs? What always matters isn’t the content itself, but the packaging So, for instance, let’s say you took a book and positioned it at $229, you’re actually getting your audience to compare your

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      49. Promo Friday: Photo Covers For Self-Published Books

      A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk on the traditional vs. self-published experience for writers. I discussed covers, but had to stick to those with new art created by artists, since I had no experience with photo covers. If only I'd been quicker about reading the May/June 2014 SCBWI Bulletin, I would have had some good info I could have included.

      In that issue, author Chris Eboch had a great article called Photo Cover Design for Self-Published Novels. She uses a case study of an author who found the main photo for her cover herself and still needed a photo artist and a designer (that's two different people, folks) to finish her cover. I mention this to make sure everyone understands how involved creating a cover is.

      Finding this article will be worth the effort for anyone thinking about creating their own book cover.

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      50. Getting to know Exhibits Coordinator Erin Hathaway

      From time to time, we try to give you a glimpse into work in our offices around the globe, so we are excited to bring you an interview with Erin Hathaway, a Marketing and Exhibits Coordinator at Oxford University Press. We spoke to Erin about her life here at OUP — which includes organizing over 250 conferences that our marketers attend each year.

      When did you start working at OUP?
      I started working at OUP in May 2012.

      What is your typical day like at OUP?
      I spend most of my day working with our Exhibits Management System (EMS), our database that helps us coordinate and prepare for the over 250 conferences that our team manages each year. Our work also involves closely monitoring conference budgets and making sure we’ve covered all the bases in regards to our booth set up, attendance, AV needs and book lists. In those few months out of each year when the conference load lightens up, I do some fiscal analysis and create training documentation to help our conference stakeholders.

      Erin Hathaway
      Erin Hathaway

      What is the strangest thing currently on or in your desk?
      It’s a three-way tie between a Transformer, a painted skull, and a Wonder Woman metal poster.

      What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
      Read my email to check for any conference emergencies or time sensitive deadlines. Then I go get a cup of tea.

      What’s your favorite book?
      The Black Company by Glenn Cook.

      What is the most exciting project you have been part of while working at OUP?
      We recently transitioned the storage of our journals from a third party warehouse into our warehouse in Cary, North Carolina. While difficult at times, the move has saved us both financially and logistically by allowing us to combine our books and journals onto one pallet for a given conference. This project allowed me to work closely with people from different areas of OUP, from the Journals Production team to the Cary warehouse staff. Everyone was extremely helpful in getting this transition underway and it was exciting to see a project long imagined come to fruition.

      What is your favorite word?
      I like the word “tactile.”

      What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?
      I love strategy meetings with the Exhibits team where we dream up ways to make our systems more efficient.

      If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
      A Kindle filled with many books, my chainmail jewelry kit (a side business of mine), and a comfortable pillow. I’m assuming basic necessities have been covered, otherwise my choices are not very smart.

      What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found about working at OUP?
      After working here for over six years, I’m constantly amazed by how much things have changed. In the moment, it feels like change comes so slowly. Yet, when I look back on how OUP was organized and the systems we were using when I started in 2008, I’m amazed by how committed OUP is to making our company more efficient and incorporating new technology.

      Headline image credit: Oxford University Press by George Sylvain. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

      The post Getting to know Exhibits Coordinator Erin Hathaway appeared first on OUPblog.

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