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I’ve been writing a lot lately about craft and bravery in writing. If you’re in that head space and need to stay there, skip this post, this one is gonna be about…
*cue dramatic music*
I recently listened to Publisher’s Weekly’s webinar Building the Next Generation of YA Stars. It was moderated by John A. Sellers, the children’s review editor at Publisher’s Weekly, and featured guests Emily Meehan (Disney-Hyperion Editorial Director) and Natashya Wilson (Harlequin Teen Executive Editor). They discussed trends, how they market their authors, and what new and established authors can do to get in the game and stay on top.
These are my notes on the topics they discussed:
How are you working to keep established authors on top?
- Every book is unique and evaluated on how it will best reach an author’s established audience and a new audience.
- We partner with an author to reach out to fans, help them build a brand, stress the importance of a website, and keep audiences aware of what is coming out.
- We do a lot of social networking – cover reveals, trailers, etc.
- We start to create buzz 6-9 months before a book comes out.
- The best established brands have a very interactive approach with their audience.
- We also have been using short stories and novellas to keep readers in contact with an author’s work when they reader is waiting for the next book.
- Cover reveals, trailers, chapter teasers!
- Group bookstore and festival events have also been a great way to draw readers together and introduce them to authors they may not know.
How do you market a debut author who doesn’t have an established audience?
- Because they don’t have an established audience you focus on the content and the book itself.
- Blog tours work well.
- We’ve also done some creative marketing with Q&A’s from the book’s editor, author, and even the characters in the book.
- It’s all about the content and teasing out what the book is about.
- This process is about establishing the author’s brand.
- We try to connect authors with reviewers in traditional publications and the YA blog-o-sphere.
- We try to create multi-forum events with new and established authors, and use the draw of the established author to introduce the readership to the debut author.
What is it about the YA readership that allows you to be more adventurous in your marketing?
Emily & Natashya:
- Teens are young and creative and we need to be creative so they respond to it.
- Teens are looking for the exciting next thing. They give us the freedom to experiment and they are receptive to what we try.
- Get the teens invested and they will drive the campaign themselves. For example: We had teens vote on what cities they wanted an author tour to stop in.
- We like to try crowd-sourced initiatives and throw the marketing back to the fans. The more interactive it can be the more they like it. For example: Unlocking content with “Likes.” (i.e. X-number of “Likes” unlocks the new cover of the book, etc.)
- We also like to do cross-publisher events if an author is published with another house. Then both houses benefit.
- Word of mouth is always your best marketing tool.
Are in-person library or bookstore events still relevant?
Emily & Natashya:
- Festivals are really important.
- Traditional events still have their place. Booksellers and librarians are big readers and have direct contact to the market. They will help promote your book and create buzz.
- We can’t send all our authors on book tours, but we’ve found that Skype visits have been another great way to contact an audience when on a budget.
How has technology changed the marketing game?
- “Sometimes I feel like Twitter is my second job.”
- Online marketing is really important!
- We’ve been doing a lotof chat initiatives.
- The internet is pervasive!
- It’s a great way to test out new ideas.
- The internet gives you a huge reach without a huge investment.
- It causes readers to look for you, and it lets the reader take charge of the content they want to be exposed to.
Tell us about some of the books you’ve got coming out this year that you’re excited about:
Emily & Natashya:
- Contemporary YA is on the rise!
- There’s a hot trend of “tough stuff” and issue-driven romance.
- Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland.
- Dare To You by Katie McGarry (the companion novel to Pushing the Limits).
- Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott.
Costume Dramas & Historical Fiction:
- Costume Dramas are all the rage (thanks to Downton Abby).
- Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed .
- Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (the companion novel to Code Name Verity).
- All Are Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill.
- Project Paper Doll by Stacey Kade.
Fantasy & Paranormal:
- Ink by Amanda Sun (urban dark fantasy set in Japan).
- Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa.
What do you think about this “New Adult” Trend?
- It points to a huge hole in the market.
- People love it and it’s here. We are definitely acquiring it.
- It’s about the transition from high school to becoming independent.
- Lots of edgy authentic stories.
- There are several definitions out there of what “new adult” is. We tend to label books in a way that a reader doesn’t.
- Older YA has naturally fallen into what might be considered “new adult,” and it’s been doing it all along. Only now we are labeling it.
- It’s about concentrating on a good story and not salacious content.
Is the market overloaded with Dystopian and Paranormal books?
Emily & Natashya:
- There’s a lot to choose from in these catagories. Both publishers and readers are becoming more selective of what they want in this area.
- There’s more competition in this part of the market.
- Dystopian is still selling well and people are still talking about it.
Are there taboo topics in YA?
Emily & Natashya:
- No. It’s all about how a story is executed. It’s got to be authentic.
- The question is about how the story is presented or handled. Is the taboo topic important to the story?
- Authors are showing us what the “rules” are. They’re blending genres and themes all the time.
How do you find new authors?
- I can’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Agent submissions only.
- We also only accept agent submissions. This is because of the sheer volume of submissions.
- However, we are looking actively online for authors and may contact you.
- We’ve found some authors through Yahoo Chats or meetings at conferences.
Do you have anything to say about diversity in YA?
- There’s no limits.
- We are open to anything, but it has to be a great story. What’s in the market now reflects the best written work. We want a great story from the POV of someone we care about.
- We try for diversity, always.
- We want content to represent many points of view and stories that resonate with as many readers as possible.
What is on your submissions wish list?
- Something that feels unique and makes me sit up and read the whole thing.
- Something that’s not too similar to what we’ve already published.
An archive of this webinar is available at: Publisher’s Weekly Webcasts
Emily Meehan is the Editorial Director at Disney-Hyperion. She has worked in almost every aspect of trade publishing for children: picture books, middle grade, young adult, original paperback series, and in most every genre, from general interest fiction to nonfiction, to fantasy, romance, religious, and historical.
Natashya Wilson is the Executive Editor at Harlequin TEEN. She began working at Harlequin Books in 1996, when she became an editorial assistant for the Harlequin American Romance and Intrigue series. She worked as an associate editor for McGraw-Hill and Rosen Publishing Group, where she edited children’s nonfiction books. She returned to Harlequin in 2004 and later became the senior editor for Harlequin TEEN.
Photos by Andrew Rich and Vanessa Paxton.
Yes, finally, the eBook edition of Saving the Planet & Stuff has been published and is available for both Kindle and Nook.
I believe my first mention of this project here at OC was on March 1 of 2012 (when we hadn't yet settled on the spelling "eBook"), so it has been very, very close to a year that the Saving the Plant eBook has been in the works. Go back to Saturday's post on publishing to get an idea of what we've been dealing with while I've been trying to juggle other work-related tasks that are in various stages and my computer guy/publishing partner has been holding down a full-time job.
You'll continue to hear about my experiment in self-publishing as I work on promoting this title over the coming months. In the meantime, look at what we did! A book trailer!
By: Morgan Mandel,
|Girl of My Dreams|
by Morgan Mandel
I'm happy to report that my second born book, Girl of My Dreams
, went viral during the promotion last weekend, resulting in 16,465 downloads in the US, 3024 in the UK, 388 in Germany and 84 in Canada, with lesser amounts in other countries.
At one point, Girl of My Dreams
reached #13 in Free Kindle Books, which is my personal best in KDP Select promotions! At 99 cents now, it's still doing well after the free promotion. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out: http://amzn.com/B0065R11QO
I hope everyone who clicked to download during the promotion will enjoy reading about the madcap adventures of the straitlaced assistant who became a reality show contestant. I'll be writing future romantic comedies later, because they're a lot of fun to do!
Next in the works is Blessing or Curse. Yes, I've been promising that for a while, but I'm almost through with my edits before it goes to the editor. I haven't paid too much attention to it, since I needed to give my already written books their due first. Blessing or Curse contains five separate romance stories about test subjects who take the Forever Young pill. This one's not a comedy, as it explores a range of emotions. Before doing another event, I plan on getting this book into shape.
As you may have guessed, authors don't have the luxury of just writing. Marketing is an important part of the business these days.
What about you? Do you spend time on special promotions? If so, what type?
Find all of Morgan Mandel's books athttp://www.morganmandel.com
Her romantic comedies are also athttp://www.chicklitfaves.com
Marketing is not always a favorite part of our jobs. Whether we lack confidence in our ability to write copy for our programs or find the perfect graphic for a poster or design an effective handout, it can all be slightly fraught. But one thing that we all
can do, no matter what our talents, is sell up or personally invite people to our programsLisa of Libraryland
has a great post on February 9 detailing her marketing approach to get the word out to people. In it, she talks about the "personal touch" - actually walking up and inviting people to be part of whatever effort you are hoping to engage people in.
It's always a surprise to me when staffers assume "everybody knows" about a youth program. Sure we have handouts; media PR; posters; sometimes flyers to the schools; Facebook and Twitter. But that still doesn't mean people are aware of what we offer. Even frequent library users, with busy lives and multi-tasking minds, miss out on our info stream.
I can't stress the "personal touch" or "personal approach" enough. The staff at service desks and walking the floors are our best sales force. Sharing information about upcoming programs; inviting participation; talking about initiatives can all help alert families to the fun the library has in store. These conversations in which we invite our families and talk personally to them results in more participation. It's surprising what a difference this makes.
We saw this again and again over the past few months while we were delaying our winter storytime start until we had hired our new librarian colleague (Hi Brooke!).
We made sure we had plenty of passive programs planned - the Smart Cookie Club
in January and "Book Bundles - Storytimes in a Stack" (learned from Amy at Show Me Librarian
blog) in February.
When staff would get questions about when storytime would start, some would reply, "In March". While all too true, there was more information to be shared. Savvy staff would invite people to part of our Smart Cookie Club or talk enthusiastically about the upcoming storytime in a stack contained in book bundles. They would chat about the hiring of our new colleague and our excitement. They would explain that we wanted to see them in the interim.
Lately, I've encouraged staffers to engage more with parents who are reading to their preschoolers in the library and ask them if they are part of our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Club. We have been registering many more kids into the program because of this personal invite. The parents are pleasantly surprised and appreciate hearing about this DIY program.
A little up-selling never hurts and always helps. So let's get out there and start those conversations with our customers!Image: 'Little secret' http://www.flickr.com/photos/20722444@N00/224674200 Found on flickrcc.net
By: Caroline Starr Rose,
Blog: Caroline by line
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Create Your Writer Platform: The Key to Building an Audience, Selling More Books and finding Success as an Author -- Chuck Sambuchino
I’ve read several books on author platform but have to confess never fully grasping the term until reading Chuck Sambuchino’s CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM. At its simplest level, a platform is an author’s visibility and reach
-- the framework an author has and continues to build that let’s others know of his or her work.
Sambuchino describes his book as “a guide for all the hardworking writers out there who want a say in their own destinies.”
Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to establishing a platform, Sambuchino says the need for platform cannot be ignored, even for those of us who write fiction. The book is divided into three sections: The Principles of Platform, The Mechanics of Platform, and Author Case Studies. At the end of each chapter, literary agents weigh in on the chapter’s topic, giving readers perspectives outside of the author’s. One of the most helpful aspects of the book is the Case Study section, where twelve different authors from a variety of genres (memoir to self help, fiction to reference) reflect on the choices they made in building their platforms -- what worked, what they wish they’d done differently, what they believe makes them stand out from others in their field.
Sambuchino is also quick to say “this is a resource for those who realize that selling a book is not about blatant self-promotion.” It is more about relationships, the sharing of expertise, and supporting others along the way. Though written for the aspiring author, a lot of things resonated with me, a newly published author, such as the wisdom behind an author newsletter, establishing an “events
” page on my blog, and always, that kindness and generosity go a long way.
I heard the oddest story about the Nike Just Do It campaign the other day.
Apparently 'Just Do It' was inspired by the final words of killer Gary Gilmore, 'Let's do it' - before he was shot by firing squad in 1970s Utah.
Adman Dan Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy changed the 'Let's' to 'Just' to give it better emphasis.
"I'm sure they didn't want anyone to know that that was the genesis of the
TweetTitan Comics, surging up like a dinosaur from a swarm of sleeping butterflies (that’ll make sense in a second, promise), have sent out some promotional material regarding the July launch of Stuart Jennett’s Chronos Commandos. A four-issue miniseries, the story (completely created by Jennett) sees the aforementioned Commandos fight dinosaurs, as they struggle to save [...]
You’ve probably heard about the relatively new genre that has entered the scene: New Adult. It’s been around on the web for a while (since 2009 according to Wikipedia), and lately it has started to really take off. TheNew York Times article in December really got a lot of people talking. Basically, New Adult is targeted toward 18-25 year olds who are leaving home, entering college, experiencing changes in relationships, and learning what it means to be an adult. While there have been plenty of cries of “marketing-ploy” around the web, I think New Adult fits a needed gap in books I wish I’d had when I was younger. The only books I can remember reading that were set in college were the Sweet Valley University books (I am totally dating myself by admitting to reading those!). Books were always my way of pre-experiencing life changes, and I would have loved some books that talked about what it was like to share three sinks with twenty other college freshman in the dorms. Some of the marketing concerns about New Adult come from bookstores, who are scratching their heads over what to do with these books—place them with YA, or with adult? Maybe find a way to squeeze in a new shelf somewhere? As the popularity of the genre grows, and I think it will as it draws from the older fans of YA and huge adult-loving-YA base, it will sort out. There is also the question of whether college kids really read. I’ve heard this so many times—that people this age don’t have time to read. Considering I work with college kids every day, I can definitely say this isn’t the case. Yeah, sure they are busy and may not read at the same rate as they did in high school, but I always get an enthusiastic response when I ask what a student is reading for fun. One of the really cool aspects of marketing New Adult is the fact that this age group often has their own source of income that they are free to use on any book they want. They no longer have to ask, or get approval from parents to purchase what they want to read. There’s been a lot said about how this allows for the steamier scenes that won’t be censored by an adult who wouldn’t want their child reading any explicit. In terms of selling books, it allows more room for targeting the audience directly, and not the parents (though they may want to read your book too!).
(Goodreads graph on New Adult growth)
Another bonus is the fact that many people this age already have ereaders, read on their phones, or computers. A lot of the early success in this genre was with self-published books, and this is testament to the fact that the New Adult age range is much more willing to pick up and ebook and read it on the bus or between classes. My second novel, The Chemistry of Fate, will release in April and it falls firmly into the New Adult genre. In pulling together some marketing plans, there are a few things that I’m thinking about that capitalize on this market: College creative writing classes. I live in a university town, and there’s also a junior college nearby. Both offer writing classes, and it doesn’t hurt to send an email to the professor asking if they’d be interested in a little presentation to their students about writing/publishing/something unique you can offer. (It’s probably better to do this early in a semester—just a recommendation from this professor!) Book clubs. Maybe it was just me, but this was an area that I had a hard time with when my first book came out, as Colors Like Memoriesis YA. A lot of book groups (even ones I’m an active participant in!) weren’t willing to read it as it was meant for “kids.” Well, New Adult definitely allows for a broader base in that area. Also, I think more and more adults are getting comfortable with reading books with younger characters—50%+ of YA books are purchased for adult readers according to Bowker. Word of mouth.Okay, this is a part of any marketing plan, but the thing with YA is that while there are some awesome teens that run book blogs and other means of spreading the book-love, there are a lot more college students who do so. Plugging into the college social media scene has its perks (even more than wasting time during lecture!). Have you read any New Adult? Do you have any additional ideas for how to market to this age group? Here are a few resources I’ve found useful: -The twitter #NewAdult hashtag always has great links and books listed. -There are a lot of blogs, but I’m partial to NA Alley (do see their Resources tab—lots of great links!) Reference: Graph image from: http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/398-young-adult-gets-old
This charming book by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch, which I bought in Zurich, cleverly presents its theme on the cover as a title: “Vom kleinen Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat” on the cover. Egils translates this as “From small Mole, who wanted to know who dropped this thing [...]
Thanks to the Library of Congress for this listing of book fairs by state.
By Lisa Evans
It happens to all of us: The ebb and flow of freelance work means there are times when we have lots of assignments on our plates and times when our inbox is empty. Sometimes it can seem as though your email is broken. Refresh, refresh … still nothing?
For me, those slow times usually occur around the Christmas holidays. With editors on vacation, there’s no one to pitch to and it takes three times as long to get a response.
While slow periods may seem like your worst nightmare – a detriment to your business success – there are many ways to use them to your advantage. Here are some of my favourite strategies for turning downtime into cashtime.
1. Research Editorial Calendars and Plan Ahead
Most publications have editorial calendars outlining the themes that each month’s issue will cover. Matching your query to a theme on the magazine’s calendar will not only show the editor you’ve done your research but will make it that much easier for them to accept your idea. Most publications include their editorial calendars in media kits – packages given to potential advertisers. Use your downtime to research editorial calendars and plan your pitches for the upcoming months.
2. Start a Blog or Website
If you’ve always wanted to start a blog or set up a website, but haven’t had the time, this is your chance. Use your downtime to plan your website’s content or write a month or two worth of blog posts and save them for busy times when you aren’t able to update on a regular basis. Blogging is also a great way to keep up your writing skills.
3. Create a Marketing Plan
We all know how important marketing is to our freelance success, right? Use downtime to plan your marketing strategy. Decide which publications you will target each month, which conferences or writing events you will attend during the year, and set a monthly or yearly sales goal for yourself.
Now is the time to design and print business cards or to make a template letter of introduction. If you don’t already have a system for keeping track of queries, consider setting one up. Mine is a simple excel spreadsheet where I record the date I send each query, follow up dates and notes from editors.
4. Sign Up for Online Courses
Use your downtime to learn the tricks of the trade and improve your skill set. Online courses provide a channel for you to meet other writers, learn from experienced professionals, stimulate your brain and add to your writing repertoire. Linda Formichelli’s Write for Magazines course is a great place to start. (Subscribe to Linda’s email list to get an announcement when the next session is set.)
Is there a type of writing you’d like to break into? Whether it’s medical writing, corporate writing or personal essay writing, there’s a course on it. Seek training in an area that will allow you to add a new revenue stream to your business. If you’re a lifestyle freelance writer, like me, try taking a course in writing white papers, for example – an area where you can land better-paying clients and expand your services and expertise.
5. Research New Markets
Hit the magazine stands and research new markets. I like to take my downtime to read through and analyze magazines I’ve never heard of or never written for. Make a list of the type of articles that appear in the publication and brainstorm ideas.
Have a query letter lying around without a home? Check to see if it fits in any of these publications. I had an idea on how to get flawless wedding day skin that I’d been pitching for nearly a year to various wedding publications before stumbling upon a bridal magazine I’d never heard of. I pitched the idea and within a week had a response. They liked it. Sold – thanks to downtime.
6. Plan Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are a great way for you to pick the brains of writers whose work you admire. Most people are more than happy to be treated to a coffee and have an opportunity to talk about themselves for a half hour. Introduce yourself, say you’re a freelance writer starting out in the business and you’d like to talk shop with them. Joining a writing association can be a great gateway to meeting experienced writers.
7. Write for Online Markets
Need some fast cash during your slow days? Online markets are often in need of copy, as they update on a daily or weekly basis and can be a great way to keep yourself busy writing and keep your pocketbook full.
8. Get Out!
Don’t let the slow times drag you down. There’s no sense chaining yourself to a desk grovelling for work that just isn’t there. Get off your butt and have experiences you can write about later.
Is there a new restaurant you’ve been dying to try? A dog-sledding adventure you’ve been waiting to take? A new exercise class that intrigues you? Now’s the time. You never know what ideas might pop into your head while savouring a local delicacy, freezing your butt off or wiping the sweat from your brow.
Lisa Evans is a health, lifestyle and travel freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Alive, Canadian Living, Entrepreneur.com, Experience Life, The Globe and Mail, Longevity, The Toronto Star, The Sun and What’s Up Families. Visit her at her website.
Writers, get ready for the new year!
One good way is with a copy of the Writer’s Guide to 2013.
If you want insider information for what’s important to writers in the coming year, this is your book. Over 200 editors, publishers, agents, and industry professionals review what’s coming in 2013.
There are five sections of articles (39 total), plus a sixth section on contests and conferences. The book is divided into:
- Business & Career
- Contests & Conferences
A Taste Treat
To whet your appetite, let me quote from one article in each of the five sections.
From “Markets”–”Big Fish, Little Pond: The Saga of the Midlist Writer”: This article deals with most writers, those of us who haven’t won a Newbery or hit the NY Times bestseller list, but are good writers (often with substantial sales records). As the author of the article notes, these midlist writers are “being abandoned by the ship and left to fend for [themselves]. As a result, midlisters either pursue self-publishing routes or seek out the harbor of smaller houses that welcome their talents.” The article goes on to detail some excellent ideas and goals for midlisters in this fluctuating publishing time.
From “Style”–”Characters in Conflict”: This article takes the average advice on conflict several steps deeper so that your conflict will be both meaningful and gripping to the reader. The conflict needs to be important and difficult, complex and challenging. “If you typically start with a plot concept, ask yourself what kind of person would have the most trouble in that situation while still being able–just barely–to succeed. If you typically start with character, focus on the characters’ primary needs and how they would define themselves. Then figure out which situations would most challenge them.” The author takes you step by step through this process, with good examples, so you can create your character/conflict combination that really works.
From “Business & Career”–”Maximize Your Writing Productivity”: I wish I could quote the whole article for you here! It is full of very useful tips and ideas. I liked how the premise of the article points out a vital truth. One writer is quoted as saying, “Create a vision of what ongoing success would look like for you, and then go for that. Don’t dwell on or pursue other people’s glory.” Depending on what success means to you, you will find certain productivity tips helpful and others useless. Decide where you want to go first. “Goals that do not fit your individual personality and vision…may fade away.” The author gives practical ways to deal with things like email, Facebook, etc. “Internet activities, games on your smartphone, or Downton Abbey are not the only time pirates. People, yes, even those we love, can undermine productivity.”
From “Research”–”Nostalgia: Getting It Right”: Because I’m at the age that I remember with longing some simpler, quieter times, this article caught my attention. What is nostalgia, and why are there so many markets for it? (I was astounded at the market listings in this article–nearly 25 of them.) “The song ‘Remember’ that is so poignantly offered in the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail strikes at the heart of what it means to experience nostalgia. It is a deep pining for something long ago and far away.” If you have those pinings, check out what editors say they want most in the nostalgia market.
From “Ideas”–”Creativity: Where Does It Come From & How Do I Get Some?”: This lengthy article does a good job of simplifying the right brain/left brain information using recent brain research, talks about how your individual personality affects how you create and what tips you will find helpful, and then gives many good ideas for what the author calls putting your creative self “on a strength-training regiment that you have the discipline to commit to on a consistent basis.” I know my own creative muscles get under-used and flabby, and I found the suggestions very useful.
FREE 30-DAY EXAMINATION
Order the Guide here and use it for 30 days. If you don’t find the Writer’s Guide to 2013 as valuable as I think you will during your free examination period, simply return the book, and they will promptly refund the full purchase price you paid.
I love no-risk deals!
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I’ll admit my mind is blown knowing there are over 10, 000 Emotion Thesaurus books out there in the world. Becca and I are thrilled, and so appreciative to all the writers and teachers who took a chance on it. As aspiring novelists, we know just how hard it is to write and the perseverance it takes to create a book. Providing a tool to help other writers with emotion is nothing short of an honor (sappy, I know, but true. Writers rule and we love you guys!)
In that same spirit of wanting to contribute, we thought it might be beneficial to share our focus as we sent The Emotion Thesaurus into the world. We realize this is a non-fiction book, not fiction. Novels are a harder sell--instead of dealing primarily with what a audience NEEDS like NF, it is more about what they WANT, and personal reading tastes are unpredictable. However, much of the strategy we used with the ET can be adapted for fiction, so hopefully novelists will find value here regardless.
A Bit of History...
As many of you know, The Emotion Thesaurus started on the blog as a 'set' of lists focusing on how to show a character’s feelings. Becca and I struggled with emotion, and when we could not find a good resource to help us, we created one. As it grew in popularity, readers asked us to turn it into an enhanced book version.
We chose self publishing for a few reasons, the most important being TIME. It can take years for a book to find a publisher and then be available to purchase, and writers and teachers needed it NOW. We also discovered someone pirating our content for profit, so waiting any longer to create the book would be foolhardy. We launched The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression on May 14th, 2012.
What We Had Going For Us
PLATFORM. Becca and I have worked since 2008 to build a place within the Writing Community, providing resources through this blog and forging genuine relationships with our audience. Our attitude has always been to contribute and do what we can to add value. It was our hope that our readers would be willing to help raise awareness for The Emotion Thesaurus book.
NICHE. Our book tackled a topic that writers struggle with, yet few resources were available to help. As writers, we knew exactly what type of tool was needed to help with emotion and body language.
What Stood Against Us
LACK OF CREDIBILITY. Becca and I were not authors (yet), nor accredited editors, and certainly not psychologists or experts on emotion. We had a platform, but no ‘book world’ clout. How could we possibly compete with the biggies in the Writing Resource field, names like Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, James N. Frey, The Plot Whisperer, or the dozens of other incredible, best-selling authors/experts?
SELF PUBLISHING. While the stigma is lessening, we all know bias remains. In some ways, creating a how-to writing resource and then choosing self publishing over traditional acted as a strike against us, meaning we would have to really prove ourselves with readers.
CONFIDENCE. This business is often a murky pool of feeling not worthy, not good enough. Without a book deal in place for our fiction to give us credibility or a degree/subject-specific education to hold up, we felt naked. Putting ourselves out there and donning the hat of authority that comes with writing any sort of how-to guide was terrifying.
The Scale Tipper
PASSION, BELIEF & TEAMWORK. As writers, we knew people needed this book. Heck, we needed it! We decided to create the best brainstorming tool we could and put all our effort into making it discoverable to those who might benefit from it. Working as a team allowed us to play off each others' strengths and aided in decision-making.
READYING FOR LAUNCH
- Set up a business
- Paid for a professional edit
- Hired a cover designer
- Outsourced formatting to a HTML goddess because the book is full of links and redirects
- Test-marketed it with a select group of writers & used feedback to strengthen
MISTAKE: choosing a launch date and under-estimating the time it would take for setting up the business (two authors in different countries is a pain), uploading, formatting challenges, fixing last minute typos (again, our formatter Heather is worth her weight in gold!) This created lots of down-to-the-wire stress. Test marketing the book (while super valuable) also meant enabling changes late in the game.
First Hurdle: Launching A Book Without Feeling Like A Timeshare Salesman
For two writers who hate promoting, this was a massive challenge. Look at me! I have a book! Buy it! <---our personal nightmare. We needed a way to let people know about the ET but not be eye-bulging, book-waving maniacs about it. After many facetimes, we realized that to do this in a way that felt right, we needed to return to our AUTHOR BRAND: writers helping & supporting other writers.
“Random Acts of Kindness for Writers” became our secret plan: instead of making our release date about us, we would do something to celebrate & thank writers. This was risky in the sense that to do it authentically, we had to steer attention AWAY from our book’s release. However, we felt the reward was twofold--traffic to our site, and it allowed us a way to pour our flag-waving passion into celebrating people who really deserve recognition and yet rarely get it. This event aligned perfectly with our pay-it-forward beliefs, driving us to do all we could to make it a success.
For brevity's sake, I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of how we set up the RAOK Blitz (but if enough people wish it, I can expand on this in a future post). Suffice to say it drew thousands of visitors and hundreds of writers participated, becoming a huge ‘feel good’ week for everyone that showcased the generous spirits of our Writing Community. :)
Marketing Boost: Becca and I gave away a free PDF called ‘Emotion Amplifiers’ as our RAOK gift to writers. This PDF booklet is a companion to The Emotion Thesaurus and has a similar layout. Our hope was that if a writer found it helpful, they might check the ET as well. (It’s still in our sidebar if you want a copy and helps with describing conditions like pain, exhaustion, stress, inebriation, etc.)
Second Hurdle: Reviews
A self-published book that is also non-fiction? Rough. Many professional reviewers will not take on SP books, and those that do usually only read fiction. So, instead of seeking out review sites, we put out a call out to Bookshelf Muse readers and asked if any of them were interested in reviewing the book. After all, the ET is BY writers FOR writers. Who better to review it? :)
We could not accommodate all the requests that came in, so we chose some reviewers strategically for their audience reach, and others through a random draw.
MISTAKE: We should have arranged for reviews much sooner. Due to not leaving ourselves enough time to get the book ready to go, we were unable to get a decent version out to reviewers until close to launch or after.
LUCK! Many people, after buying and using the ET, were so happy with it they wrote reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
MORE LUCK! These reviews swayed even MORE people to take a chance on the book, and they in turn became avid word-of-mouth spreaders, telling writing friends and critique partners all about The Emotion Thesaurus. This led to better sales, top 20 ranking in several (paid) writing categories for print & kindle, a strong Amazon Best Sellers Rank, and placement on the Top Rated, Best Selling & Most Wished For lists (writing).
Marketing Tactics - Swag
We chose to invest in a postcard-sized bookmark that doubles as a Revision Tool. Many bookmarks lie forgotten in a drawer, or they end up being recycled. We wanted ours to stay right beside the computer during revisions, so we printed a ‘Crutch Word List’ on one side--words we commonly overuse and need to weed out. Our hope was that by making our swag useful, writers would hang onto it!
Spreading the word about a book can be difficult, so we put out a call (again utilizing our blog readers) and asked if people would be willing to take our bookmarks and hand them out to critique groups, or give them out at conferences and workshops. This allowed us to reach out beyond our own circle and hopefully reach new readers.
MISTAKE (?) This was a bit pricey considering the postage involved (some were sent worldwide), and took time to get addresses and mail out. We had no way to track the effectiveness. And while I have heard from people who said they saw them at conferences or were given one by another writer, we are not sure if the ‘mail out’ idea brought a significant return. But, the postcards are super handy to have at events where Becca and I are presenting, and we can pass them out afterward to keep the ET in people’s minds. So overall, this swag was worth it!
Marketing Tactics - Discoverability
The bulk of our marketing energy went into discoverability. Because we have such an amazingly supportive audience at The Bookshelf Muse, we chose a 'grassroots' approach rather than solicit big bloggers/sites for exposure. In our initial blog post asking for assistance from readers, we utilized a sign up form so the people who wanted to help us could, and in a manner that most appealed to them. The results of this was amazing--so many people offered to help get the word out!
One of our biggest needs was bloggers willing to host us for a visit. We were overwhelmed with gratitude to see how many people were willing to do this (have I mentioned how great you all are?) and we actually had to change how our form was worded to include offering book excerpts and reblogging previous TBM posts to accommodate the response. We ended up with over 115 hosts all told.
Attempting so many guest posts
caused panic attacks, obsessive chocolate binging, feelings of inadequacy *coughs* was daunting. But Becca organized everything (SHE IS AMAZING!) and put us on an aggressive schedule that would allow us to finish them all within a 4 month window. We created a master list of topics, most centered directly on content that would tie into Emotion & Body Language, so that each post was a planned, quality post. The best thank you to those who offered to help us was to write content that would bring them strong traffic, not just exposure for us.
GUEST POST TIP: We did our best to thank personally every person who hosted and helped. We also shared all links on our social networks to bring new people to their blogs. We truly appreciated their time and energy, and their desire to see us succeed.
MISTAKE #1: biting off more than we could chew. This was an enormous amount of guest posts (with more requests coming in as a result of this visibility) and so it meant we were both unable to write anything but blog content for a good 4 months. We managed to get them done and we have no regrets because of the great exposure, but it also meant other things slipped. There were a few blogging relationships and opportunities we were unable to stay on top of because we were so busy posting elsewhere. We also had a tough time commenting on blogs and getting email written. With such a strict timeline to adhere to, I worried about messing up and forgetting something vital, letting a host down.
MISTAKE #2: not thinking enough about how to keep up with our own blog AND everyone else’s. Luckily as we met new people at different blogs, we found folks who wanted to guest post for us. We were able to give them exposure in return and bring some good content to the blog (LUCK!) So while we made a mistake about over committing, it worked out.
MORE LUCK! These ‘seed’ guest posts led to some writing communities and bigger organizations contacting us. This resulted in book reviews and giveaways that were included in newsletters and offered exposure with bigger audiences. The Discoverability Tour worked!
Marketing Tactics: Giveaways
We utilized giveaways to generate interest in our book and bring attention to some of the blogs we visited. We purposefully did not host book giveaways during the month of May to encourage people to buy, not wait to win. We had a few giveaways in June and then more in July, August and September. Some were bigger exposure opportunities like being featured in a banner at the Writer’s Knowledge Base and as a prize at Ink Pageant (thanks guys--you rock!) We tried to go where our readers would be, and took advantage of opportunities that allowed us to reach beyond the Kidlit & YA writer’s network we know best in order to create inroads with Christian and other Adult genres who might not know us or The Bookshelf Muse.
Marketing Tactics: Distribution Channels
Becca and I talked about going KDP Select but neither of us could see the benefit to doing so right out the gate. In our minds, we wanted to ask a fair price for the books and have it available across as many channels as possible to reach readers where they are, not where we ‘chose’ to be. We distributed widely and included a PDF option for those who did not have ereaders or who felt more comfortable with PDF format. For those who like numbers, here’s the breakdown to 10,000 which we hit in September:
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*Prior to September, Kobo sales were bundled with Smashwords. Once Kobo created their own distribution, we uploaded direct. Sony sales are under the Smashwords umbrella.
You will notice that Print is quite strong. We believe this is partly because many writers like 'craft' books in paperback. We also have had feedback that some original digital buyers were so pleased with the ET, they later decided to invest in a print version, too.
Pricing: We chose the 4.99 price point for digital, and 14.99 for print. We have not changed the price nor offered the book for free. In the future we may change our pricing, but for now it works well with Extended Distribution, which we sell enough through to make it important to keep.
MISTAKE: not enabling Extended Distribution right from the start. Originally we didn’t think it would do us much good, until we realized without it, we could not get onto Amazon.ca. Seeing as I live in Canada, it is important that the people I meet at events or at my workshops have a way to get the book. Not doing this before May meant a six week lag of fielding emails from Canadians unable to buy the book.
Marketing Tactics: Paid Advertizing
We opted to not invest in any paid advertising. I think this was the right decision for us, but do see us choosing a few select ads in the future.
Where We Got Extra Lucky
- Winning Top 20 Best Blogs For Writers with Write To Done a few months before The Emotion Thesaurus released. This raised our profile significantly, and at a critical time.
- Once sales started climbing, Amazon would send out mailers to people who purchased writing related books, and sometimes The Emotion Thesaurus was listed as a ‘Those that purchased X might also like’ pick.
- A price war between B & N and Amazon. For the last week of September, the two duked it out, lowering the book’s price daily until the discount put it under 10 bucks. Average sales nearly doubled for print (although sales dipped that week for Kindle).
A Few Extraneous Mistakes
- Not soliciting endorsements. We didn’t do this in advance of publishing the ET because we were worried about being turned down, worried about getting the cold shoulder because we were newcomers and new authors. Now more than ever we are seeing an acceptance of SP, and of Traditional authors making the leap. Endorsements probably would have helped us greatly and so moving forward we’ll be seeking them out.
- Not believing in ourselves enough at the start. I think we wasted a lot of energy on doubt because we hadn’t published before (except in magazines) and we were afraid that while we felt The Emotion Thesaurus added value, others would not. The response to The Emotion Thesaurus has been nothing short of phenomenal and knowing that Illinois State University is using it in their Creative Writing curriculum makes us incredibly proud. A self published book going to University...who would have thought?
Thoughts to Leave You With
Looking back, I believe we did two things right that led to everything else:
First, we created a book that readers are very happy with, and it fulfills a need in a way that they are excited to share it with people they know. (We are so, so, SO grateful to this word-of-mouth. Thank you all for doing this!)
Second, we live our brand: writers who help and support other writers. This is who we are! We love writers and have forged genuine relationships with our readers. When we needed help to spread the word, people responded, and more than that, became our advocates. There are not enough thank yous in the world for me to say what this means to us.
If I can encourage writers planning to publish to do one thing beyond the above, it’s to be authentic in whatever you do. When you build your platform, start in advance and think very hard about what your brand will be. Be yourself, be likable, do what feels right and resonates with who you are. Understand your audience, their likes and dislikes, and search them out. Use keywords to find blogs, forum discussions and hashtags that will help you discover people who might be interested in a book like yours. Interact, be genuine and think about how you can add value, not how you can market to them. Focus on giving, not getting. Trust that the rest will come. :)
Do you have any questions about what we did or why? Becca and I are happy to answer if we are able. And again, the biggest, squishiest, bacon-filled thank you for all your support of us and the ET. Your word-of-mouth has allowed writers and teachers everywhere to discover this book!
I am super excited to welcome Nina Amir, Inspiration to Creation Coach, who inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose.
Do you ever wonder if all that great content you write about each week can and should be converted into a book? If so, this is a very good resource to check out--Nina knows her stuff!
How a Blog Allows You to Promote as You Write
By Nina Amir
Writers write. That’s what we do. That’s what we are good at. And that’s why we balk at promoting ourselves and our books.
We don’t do promotion. It’s not our job. It’s not what we are good at.
Here’s the rub. If we don’t promote ourselves and our books we:
- Don’t get book publishing contracts.
- Don’t sell many self-published or traditionally published books.
- Don’t get many freelance writing jobs.
- Don’t make as much money.
That leaves you and me with a few options. If we are stubborn, we can maintain our position: I don’t do promotion. I’m a writer. Period.
Fine. Then ask yourself: Do I want to become a successful writer? If so, define what success means to you. If success means selling more than the average 250-500 books per year or earning more than a four-figure income per year from writing, you must change your attitude and embrace promotion.
Don’t fret! You can do so simply by writing. You can promote yourself and your forthcoming or published book with a blog.
What to Blog About
Yes, a blog involves a different type of writing in addition to your other writing, but it’s writing! You simply need to commit to writing a short blog post—250-500 words—a few times—2-5—a week. That’s not so bad.
And there are so many things you can write about. I came up with 20 things aspiring and published authors could blog about. Book marketing expert John Kremer came up with 101. Look at the topics you feel passionate about or your forthcoming and published books and come up with a list of possible topics. Make a content plan for each month, if that is easier for you.
Or pick a theme and stick to it. In the process, you’ll become an authority. You can even do this on many topics. This will help you land more book contracts and writing assignments—and added bonus of blogging.
The Blog as an Author Website and Branding Tool
Still having trouble wrapping your busy writing fingers around this concept? Consider this: Do you write morning pages? Keep a journal? Spend time emailing friends? Blogs began as online journals. Take on blogging as an author website where you can brand yourself by revealing the many aspects of who you are as a writer. Connect with potential readers, let them know more about your through your posts, and show off your awesome writing talent for potential book, newspaper and magazine publishers. (And, of course, feature your published works.)
Simply start your daily writing period with 30-45 minutes of blog writing. Compose a short post about whatever is on your mind that day. You can even add in your own photos and videos easily created on your iPhone or other android phone. Have fun with your blog. Make it a creative statement.
The Blog as a Writing Machine
If this still seems like a superfluous activity, then get down and dirty with your tactics. Use your blog as a way to write a book. Indeed, blogging a book is the quickest and easiest way to write your book and promote it at the same time. You’ll hardly know you are promoting your work at all!
When you blog a book, you publish your writing regularly and consistently on the internet as you create your first draft. This allows you to garner a loyal following of readers—fans—for your book as you write it. These fans then purchase the finished product. They also help promote your blog and the book when it is published. Plus, if your blog becomes popular, you might land a publishing deal in the process.
Here are the basic steps for blogging a book:
- Pick a topic. Choose a topic you are passionate about and can blog about for a long time
- Determine if your book is viable. Your book idea should have a large enough market and be unique among existing blogs and books.
- Map out your book’s content. Brainstorm all the content that could be in included in your book and organize it a table of contents.
- Come up with a content plan. Determine what content that will appear in the published book but not on the blog.
- Break the contents down into posts-sized pieces (250-500 words). Each post should have a title.
- Write and publish posts on a schedule. Write and publish 2-7 times per week for the first 6-12 months; then you can reduce the number of times you post.
- Create a manuscript. Write your posts in a word processing program, and then copy and paste them into your blog.
Go ahead. Write. And blog. In the process, promote yourself and your work by doing what you do best.
By Erin O’Neil
You know all those books you have on freelance writing? Put them away. Now. Stop reading them immediately. I’ve already read them for you.
I’m one of those people who loves research — perhaps a little too much. You might even call me a research evangelist. So when I embarked on a full-time writing career, I pored over every book I could find on the subject.
And there are a lot of books on freelance writing. Like, dozens. Hundreds. Many are highly recommended. Many are totally irrelevant. A large percentage are just plain boring. But sandwiched in between, you’ll find some overarching themes that can put you on the path to a successful and fulfilling writing career.
I don’t even want to know the amount of money I wasted purchasing books on writing freelance to glean information on inside tips and tricks of the trade. I refuse to delve that deeply into my Amazon.com order history. But there’s a silver lining to all of this. Because I spent weeks of my life reading over 100 books on freelancing, you won’t have to.
Derived from the best books on freelancing, use these 5 tips on being a freelance writer … and regain valuable time to do good work and get paid.
1. Jay-Z is a valuable business coach.
Some of the best advice on freelancing is best summed up in the immortal words of Jay-Z: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”
You may not be wearing a suit and working a 9 to 5 every day, but as a freelance writer, you are a business. And you’d better start acting like one if you want to pay the bills and avoid living in a cardboard box.
This means organizing projects, invoices and payments effectively. As a business, you’re responsible for all the administrative tasks, the bookkeeping, the marketing … and delivering great work to your clients on deadline. It also means sticking to a daily schedule, showering regularly and banning sweatpants from your wardrobe.
The scariest word in the above paragraph for many freelancers is marketing. And yes, marketing your work may require hustling outside of the internet and your home. It may involve attending some initially awkward networking groups. Them’s the breaks.
Putting yourself out there and letting others know about your work doesn’t have to be fake or insincere. Marketing strategies can be as simple as taking a writer or editor you admire to coffee, or sending an e-mail to an editor you’ve worked with in the past saying “thank you.” Attach a sandwich board ad to your dog when taking her for a walk advertising your services. Whatever. Just market!
Once you get over the initial “awkward” feeling, marketing your business becomes much easier down the road. And if you want to be your own boss, marketing isn’t negotiable. You must do it.
2. Do your homework, then do it again.
One of the things I vastly underestimated when jumping into writing full-time was the amount of research. As a freelancer, your research often has nothing to do with fleshing out a story. Before you even think about hitting “send” on an e-mail query to an editor, you’d better have a good handle on the tone, target audience and subject matter of the magazine.
Essential for writer recon missions:
- Find the target’s (potential client, company, magazine, etc.) website. Read everything, especially the “About” section or “mission statement” if they have one.
- Take notes in some form on the tone, style and structure of the market. Download the press kit if available and add details on target readers, the current and future editorial calendars and the masthead. Keep these notes organized and available for future reference. You’ll need them when writing a query letter, or just for a pitch if you don’t query.
- Click on some of the writer bios, if the site has them. Are they mostly staff writers, or are many articles written by freelancers? What sections would you like to pitch to?
- Read everything on the website again, and archived articles if possible on magazine websites.
Basics for sending the actual query:
- Do not ever send something to “email@example.com.” Ever. This is a black hole of death used to decrease the number of pitches editors have to wade through.
- The website masthead is usually the most current and effective source for editor info.
- It’s best not to send things to the head editor. Most publications have editors for specific sections of the magazine or site. Sleuth out the e-mail address if it isn’t listed (they usually are, though, except for top tier publications).
3. Use the force to kick negativity and bitterness in the ass.
A recurring theme in many books on writing, from novelists to magazine editors, is how essential it is to be persistent, take things in stride and remain positive. This is a tough industry, but not an impossible one. That being said, it’s easy to get discouraged along the way, which is a perfectly human reaction sometimes.
Just be wary of those negative inner thoughts dominating your brain. If you don’t keep them in check, they can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you never accept criticism on your work, it won’t ever get better, and it will limit your career. If you constantly think you aren’t good enough, or that everything is a lost cause, you’ll send out half-baked queries and pitches that never get a response.
Here’s a real life example of how negative thinking can kill your writing (and your career):
Over a year ago, I attended a meeting of a large writer’s organization. The members were primarily fiction authors working on novels. Part of the meeting involved discussing the stress and lack of confidence authors go through after having their manuscripts rejected (or worse yet, ignored).
One participant angrily recounted his ongoing struggle to get his book published. The plot involved a man and his dog. And then the unpublished author was out for blood.
In an extremely unsettling manner, this gentleman proceeded to actually take out hard copies of his rejection notices and dispute each of them on a case by case basis. He finally concluded his tirade, breathing heavily, with this:
“My book clearly wasn’t rejected because of the quality of the writing, but because editors and publishers are idiots and thought a book about a man and his dog wouldn’t sell. Well, look at “Marley and Me”! Look how that did! A bestseller! It’s a movie now! And they think my book isn’t worth publishing! Morons.”
Mr. Bitter-and-rejected didn’t seem to notice that many of us had quietly scooted our chairs away from him and glanced wistfully at the exit doors as he was speaking. And we all made sure not to cut him off as he was leaving the parking lot.
The angry guy at the meeting wasn’t a bad writer, but he wasn’t great, and the rejection letters were right: The book sounded boring. But he’d become so frustrated and bitter that he’d convinced himself the problem wasn’t him, it was everyone else.
If you find yourself doing this, take a step back. Go for a run. Put things in perspective. Don’t become so closed minded and bitter that your work and career suffer. Not to mention that thinking that way will probably make you miserable.
In more practical terms, get out of a negative thinking rut fast for this reason: Budding writers often don’t have great health insurance, and therapy is really expensive.
4. Play games with yourself (in a healthy way).
Rejection sucks, plain and simple. But you know what? Ninety-nine percent of writers get rejected. And I’m not referring to that old anecdote about Dr. Seuss, either. I’m talking about modern authors who went on to write bestselling novels and win awards.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King writes about tacking all of his rejection letters to the wall using a large metal spike (and he notes that he had to replace the spike several times to accommodate the large number of rejections).
David Foster Wallace, one of the most intelligent and talented writers of the past decade, taped all his rejection letters from magazines end on end throughout his office, like a DIY wallpaper project.
King, of course, is a household name. Wallace went on to win a MacArthur Genius Grant, and wrote novels and short stories that many critics consider to be some of the finest in postmodern literature. His books of short stories are largely compilations of essays published by magazines who initially rejected him.
What can humble writers like you and me learn from this? Plenty. Use rejection as inspiration to work harder and harder, like King did. View getting published as winning a game of strategy, as Wallace did. Rejections aren’t a bad thing. They mean you’re trying, and trying is probably more than 75% of the battle.
Jenna Glatzer had some great advice on this in her book Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer. In a section about creating goals, Glatzer suggested creating a goal of receiving 10 rejections. When I first read this, I thought she was nuts. But then I realized what a brilliant suggestion it was. Getting 10 rejections means you’re playing the game, pitching and getting your work out there.
Don’t take rejections or a lack of response personally. Instead, turn it into a game you can win. Inbox filled with rejections? Send out more pitches. Not getting responses? Look over your old queries and see what you can re-work to fit the magazine.
5. Draw on experience, or just stuff you really like.
Before I became a writer, I worked in finance, pretty much two polar opposites. But through reading books on freelancing and finding a niche for my writing, I realized a way to make it work. There’s a big market for financial journalism, business writers and writers who know about mutual funds and hedge funds and estate planning.
If I can bridge the gap between my professional background (the finance industry) and writing, believe me, so can you.
So right off the bat, think of ways your unique background can help you establish street cred with publications and editors. Build that up first. Once you’ve gotten a few good clips under your belt, branch out. Do you love cooking, sports or travel? Write about them.
Writers who write on subjects they enjoy create articles that are engaging and fun to read. Your passion for your subject will shine through. And believe me, there’s a market for everything. Just crack open your copy of the Writer’s Market and browse through the trade magazines section. And then get to work!
Erin O’Neil is a freelance writer and financial journalist in Atlanta, Georgia, and does not live in a cardboard box. You can find her work sprinkled throughout various financial publications and trade magazines, or just visit her website at www.econeil.com.
By: Victor Volkman,
Social media marketing is the 800 pound gorilla in the room nowadays. The trend is so widespread that it is one of the most popular ways to market a business or profession on the internet besides using Google to be findable.
Of all social media platforms, Facebook is the most used. With over 1 billion users as of September 12, 2012, businesses, professionals, and every day folks are riding the wave with no end in sight.
Interestingly, Google recognizes the significance of this trend and they count the importance of social media platforms when ranking websites for search engine optimization. In layman’s terms that simply means if you’re popular on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., Google will know it and will reward your website with higher ranking if you correctly set up linking between your site and the social platforms.
Lastly, businesses and professionals are urged to create a marketing funnel using social media platforms and search engine marketing. Combined, it is powerful marketing.
I am taking part in The Next Big Thing Author Meme, thanks to Sarah Stevenson. Google "The Next Big Thing" and authors. It's all over the place.
This very professionally focused meme is an example of the collaborative nature of blog culture. I think a lot of authors don't understand the blogging world. They hook up with Blogger or Wordpress, post some stuff occasionally, and say they have a blog and, thus, a platform. But they don't really understand the networking aspect of blogging. Yeah, they hope for some kind of viral thing to happen to their book. Somehow. But blogging remains apart from them. It's something they do because the marketing books and many, many how-to articles say they should.
I haven't even done my Next Big Thing blog post yet. I've only been mentioned as doing one in the future. The stats for this blog have jumped these last two days. That, my lads and lasses, is blog culture at work.
You have to be part of the culture to have things like that happen. You have to be somebody who has connected with other somebodies in the blogosphere. You can't just treat blogging like ordering post cards and bookmarks, part of the marketing plan that you're forced to do.
Way back in March, I wrote a post about Pinterest. At that time, I had been contemplating using it to save images to use in my research. Given potential copyright issues, I decided it just wasn’t worth the bother.
That was then. This is now.
I still don’t use Pinterest to save images found while researching various writing projects. Instead, I use it to pick new topics. After these projects are published, I use Pinterest to attract new readers.
If you aren’t familiar with Pinterest
, members visit this site to do image searches on anything that interests them. There are categories for Animals, History and Science and Nature. You can also do keyword searches.
When I am researching new topics, I click on “Popular.” Granted, this isn’t as focused as a search on Photography or Weddings, but it does tell me what people are Pinning (this is the Pinterest term for copying an image to your own page, called a Board).
One of my primary writing gigs is for Education.com
. If I click on Popular and see numerous pins that involve initials or various words or blocks of text used in craft activities, I brainstorm something along these lines for grader school students. The same goes for string art, polymer clay and food served in ice cream cones.
Pinning Down New Readers
Once Education.com publishes my activities, I Pin the images back to my own boards. I have a board for Activities and Crafts
and another for Science Projects
. Because I took the photos and link back to Education.com, with their permission, there aren’t any issues with who owns what and thus no copyright hang ups. And, if someone repins an image to their own board, that’s more traffic driven our way.
I don’t stop there. I’ve been taking a lot of nature photos to use in my blog posts about writing. A board labeled, obviously enough, Nature Photos
links back to my personal blog
. Another board, What I’ve Been Reading
, links back to either my book review blog
or my personal writing blog. On days someone repins one of my photos, I see a bump up in traffic.
What if you don’t write book reviews or crafts? Then think about what you do write. If you write fiction, where is your novel set? If it is a real place, and it is someplace that you visited and took research photos, then put up a board.
Maybe you took scads of photos of clothing and furniture so that you’d be certain to get period details right. Create a board.
Food. Animals. Health and Fitness. Geek. All of these and more are categories on Pinterest. Not that this has to limit you in any way. After all, people can find you with a keyword search.
Get out your camera. Brainstorm about your book and start promoting yourself.
Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writers's Journey
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By Mridu Khullar Relph
The world is flat, asserts Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times‘ Foreign Affairs columnist and the author of the bestselling book by the same name. Never before in the history of the world have opportunities been distributed so evenly between people of colors, countries and gender. This is certainly true in freelancing. You could live anywhere in the world, never have stepped foot in New York City, but still have a fantastic career writing for some of the most respected names in the business.
I know of what I speak. I started my career ten years ago from New Delhi, India, writing for small publications around the world, including in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Bahrain, France, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and of course, India. I’ve now lived and worked in four continents and written for The New York Times, Time Magazine, Marie Claire, The Christian Science Monitor, The International Herald Tribune, Ms. magazine, Vogue, Glamour, and many more.
I have also come full cirlce and wound up where I began in India and even today, 95% of my income comes from publications that are based outside of my home country.
Selling work to countries outside your own isn’t just an ego boost (though it can be one when you get fan mail from Malaysia). With editors increasingly demanding more and more rights and your income threatening to dwindle, selling reprints in different countries and non-competing markets can be a fantastic solution. Even if you simply resell your pieces to different markets in various countries, you’ll earn substantially more.
Pitching to a foreign magazine is no different from pitching publications at home. Just be careful of cultural differences though. What works in the West may not necessary be right for, or even acceptable in, the East and vice versa. You can find international publications pretty easily these days. Just enter in keywords of your choice with country names into Google and just watch those babies pop up!
Here are a few more good reasons why you should be writing publications outside your own country.
1. Better pay.
Publications in the US typically pay a lot better than publications in Asia. Publications in Europe typically pay a lot better than publications in the US or Canada. Publications that are in foreign languages will translate your work and pay you for doing no extra work. Publications that are outside of the English-speaking world that need good writers in English will come back to you repeatedly for more work.
There is immense opportunity out there if you’re willing to look, do a bit of legwork, and keep your eyes open for opportunites beyond your newsstand. I get e-mails on a weekly basis from editors in European countries from publications I’ve never heard of asking me to write for them. If I do a good job, repeat work is almost inevitable. And my income has soared as a result. These aren’t the sexy gigs, but they’ll keep you in business.
2. Less competition.
Most writers — new or experienced — will usually look for publications in their own countries to pitch story ideas to. This means that there are editors in about 200+ other countries that may not have regular reporting or analysis from your country. That’s a very fertile market with very little competition.
For instance, I currently write for two construction trade magazines, one in the UK and one in the US. Both pay well, give me regular work, and have no other correspondents based in my country. They’re eager to hear about new developments from my part of the world, and I’m more than happy to provide it. Because I’m the reporter on the ground, I’m the eyes and ears for these publications and hence my relationship with my editors is much more involved and friendly than it would be if I were just another one of a group of writers they hire in their own country. I bring a specific part of the world to them and that’s what makes me stand out.
3. Less legalese.
American writers are often so used to 10-page contracts that will ask for everything but the deed to your house that when a publication doesn’t offer up a written contract or just, you know, wings it, they balk at this idea and think it must be some sort of scam. Sometimes, it is. But in much of Asia, and a lot of Europe, this is the way business is done. “We’re going to buy your article, we’ll have first rights, we’ll pay you £1,000 for it. Deadline is end of this month. Capiche?” How simple is that?
4. Extra income for work already done.
As I alluded to earlier, if you’re smart enough to hold on to your rights (and admittedly, it’s getting harder these days), you have 200+ more opportunities to sell that piece for first rights in specific territories. And that’s just in the English language alone. Then there are translations, audio rights, all sorts of rewriting opportunites, and don’t forget reslanting that information.
You’re obviously not going to go all that far with each piece — you chose this career because you found it exciting to write and report new things, after all — but even if you follow up on 1 percent of those opportunities, you’ll have a better income and more credits.
How do you get paid by all these publications? Wire transfer is my method of choice, but checks should work, too. Paypal works. Talk about tax with European publications — some like to deduct at source, which means they might lop off a third of your paycheck before it even gets to you even though you’re not paying tax in that country. You can get that money back, but it’s a headache. So discuss these things beforehand so there are no nasty surprises.
5. Higher readership.
If you’re looking to sell e-books or products from your own website, bringing international readers into your fold can substantially increase your readership and your market.
And why just e-books? You might end up selling international rights to your paperbacks, Kindle versions are now available all over the world, and Friedman’s flat world is especially becoming a reality in publishing where readers have always been open to new ideas, new authors, new cultures.
By consciously making an effort to include international readers in your work, you make fans for life. And how do you find these readers? By publishing in newspapers, magazines, and websites in their countries, of course.
6. Short lead times.
You know the women’s magazine that has been sitting on your FOB for about six months and has just now slated the piece for March next year? That doesn’t usually happen with non-US publications. Lead times around the world are far, far shorter than those for US magazines, so if you’re looking to beef up your resume with a few quick clips and credits, look to publications in Asia, where the lead time is the shortest I’ve ever seen. There — I think I just answered the age-old question of “How do I get published quickly?” that every new writer seems to ask. Tell me you don’t love me.
7. Makes you an expert.
Writing for international markets is a fantastic way of becoming a specialist in a certain topic. Say you’re an IT expert. If you can say you’ve been published in IT magazines around the world (or in X number of countries), that immediately lends you credibility and boosts your perceived experience on the topic. This, in turn, brings you more opportunities for speaking, presenting, teaching, and, of course, more writing. So if you write because you’re a specialist in a certain subject (or have a book out on a specific topic), writing internationally can be the key that unlocks many potential opportunties.
How about you? Do you regularly publish outside your country? Do you have any additional tips to add to the Comments?
Mridu Khullar Relph is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for The New York Times, Time magazine, The International Herald Tribune, Marie Claire, Ms., Elle, and hundreds of other national and international publications. Check out her tips for writers on her blog and connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. She’d love to hear from you.