Should you promote your book, yourself, or both?
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Should you promote your book, yourself, or both?
Blog: Anika Denise - Children's Book Author (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: #bakingday, Baking Day At Grandma's, Book Launches, Curious City, Kirsten Cappy, Marketing, path to publication, Penguin, Philomel, Add a tag
Any writer who has been through the launch of a new book will tell you, the process can be all-consuming. Sometimes it feels as though it's impossible to write and market your writing at the same time. Whether you're a well-known author on book tour with a top tier release, or a newly published writer managing the logistics of marketing mostly on your own, it takes tremendous effort and energy to send a new book out into the world.
For my first two picture books, I didn't really do much for the launches. Both times I had small children at home—for the second book I was pregnant and my mom was very sick—so, beyond a book signing at my local bookstore attended by mostly close friends and family, the books went into the world quietly, despite some lovely reviews.
This time around is different. While I do still have little kids at home, the youngest of whom is only three, I am a more experienced parent, far better at multitasking and juggling work tasks with mom tasks. And with the help of my publicist at Penguin, and the incomparable marketing guru Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, I have a plan. A full-fledged marketing plan complete with book trailer, blog tour, giveaways, story hour kits, social media campaign, launch party, holiday tie-ins... heck, I even started my own hashtag (#BakingDay).
I explained this to a family member recently, who very candidly (and not unkindly) asked, "Do you think it's worth it?" Translated, this person was asking, will all the work and investment amount to significantly more book sales? And the honest answer to that question is, "I don't know, yet." I believe it will. But I can't say for sure until the book is out there and our promotions get rolling. And even then, some books pick up steam over time vs. having breakthrough sales out of the gate.
The question made me ponder the small miracle of getting a book published—one picture book's path to publication. Books have hurdles (many!) before they reach store and library shelves. First, you, author-person, must get an inspired idea. That idea then needs to morph to paper in first draft form. You re-read it, revise it, put it aside and re-read and revise again (multiple times). Perhaps at this point, you share it with your critique group. You absorb their feedback and revise again.
Then, if you have an agent and feel it's in good shape to share, you send it along. (You wait, wait, wait.) Your agent likes it! (Huzzah!) She sends it to a handful of editors. (You wait, wait, wait some more.) The editor likes it! (Huzzah, again!) But hold on, the editor must take into an editorial meeting.
And here's where it really gets perilous.
Your little manuscript is read aloud and discussed at a roundtable of editors, editorial assistants, art directors, marketing and sales. (Eeeps!) If the group doesn't like it, or it's too similar to something they've already acquired, it gets passed over.
(Insert more waiting, here.) They like it! Eureka!
Think your story is home free? Not necessarily. It then goes to an acquisitions meeting (yet more waiting) where the final vote is made to acquire your book and offer you a contract. (Shoo.)
The good news is, books surmount these hurdles every day at publishing houses all over the world. But it's still a miraculous moment when someone offers to publish your story.
Think of all the hard work your little book did to get here!
That's what I've been doing as I approach the launch of Baking Day At Grandma's. It's like a baby—my book baby—and I want to give it the very best chance to thrive in the marketplace, and all the love and support it deserves.
So, is it worth it?
Definitely. Add a Comment
Blog: Living the Dream... (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Promotional, maggie suissman, marketing, queries, Advice, Media, Books, Add a tag
Earlier this week, I received this e-mail from a good friend of mine, Maggie Suisman, asking how to balance marketing work with making work. I think this is a question that many of us ask ourselves, so I thought I would share a bit of my own experience.
I just saw your article on your blog “Just Keep Working”. You were so honest — and how helpful to be reminded that I am doing this first and foremost because I love making art. My summer break from teaching has begun and I am diving into the submission process for my dummy, Aysa Reads and my general portfolio. I have a few questions I thought I might send your way in case you might have a moment to share your thoughts. One is when a creative art director or other people at publishing companies say they are interested in looking at artwork (such as Chad Beckerman does in the 2014 SCBWI list of publishers) should I send in tear sheets or should I print the whole dummy and send it to people who do not provide an email address?
Secondly, how do you divide your time between marketing and creating new work? I feel like I could spend all of my time trying to find a publisher but perhaps it’s better to move on to the next project and keep updating my portfolio and making a new dummy.
Though everyone will have a different answer to this question, here are my thoughts:
It’s great hearing from you!
In my experience when a creative director says they are interested in looking at artwork, that primarily means tear sheets. You can send a query letter along for the dummy. I would clearly label the samples from your dummy so that they know you write as well as illustrate. Art directors are typically not interested in seeing dummies because they are not the ones who would work on a story with you. In a smaller house, however, you may find art directors with a bit more say on the editorial side as well.
I would save your dummy for editors.
I wish I could say I don’t market anymore now that I have an agent, but that is only partly true. Lori, my agent, handles the promotion at this point, but I still do a ton of marketing for the books. I spend time mostly sending postcards to schools, libraries, and bookstores. I try to that type of work in the evenings after my studio day is complete. Labeling and stamping postcards is a great activity to do in front of the television (or in bed). As far as new work goes, since I am working on books, I do spend most of my days making new work. I keep a mandatory eight-hour studio schedule, typically 9-5, but in some cases, the time gets broken up from 11-7, 10-6, etc. and most days, I work well past my 8 hour schedule, especially in the summer when I am not using so much energy for teaching. I also work on my writing alongside illustrating other people’s stories. The most frustrating part of it all is having many ideas bubble to the surface but not being able to work on them immediately because of other projects and work. I still keep notes on those ideas and try to revisit them later.
I don’t get to do much personal work these days, but I do try to sneak in at least one piece of my own in between book projects…just to stay sane.
Yes, you should absolutely work on more projects instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket. I submitted four or five stories before I sold a manuscript. Looking back on those first attempts, there are a few ideas that I do want to revisit, but in some cases, I don’t have the energy to deconstruct and approach them from a fresh perspective and before they can be published, I can honestly say they need more work.
I would also just make more images for fun. I didn’t get my “big break” until I abandoned the idea of making “sellable” work. I became more playful in the images I was making and I stop putting so much pressure on myself to make perfect art. Doing so opened up a whole new vocabulary for me and helped me tap into the fun of art again. Those images were the ones that excited publishers and helped me get my first book.
Even my first sold manuscript came from playing. I watched a commercial that I loved and wrote a story in response to it. It wasn’t highly personal at the time but I think that’s what made it successful. I wasn’t taking myself so seriously.
I hope that helps!
All images © Maggie Suisman. You can see more of Maggie’s work at www.maggiesuisman.com.Add a Comment
Blog: Constructions: joyce audy zarins (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: children's books, Interviews, magazines, Norse, process, reviews, Writing today, Joyce Audy Zarins, marketing, traditional publishing, work in progress, Add a tag
What is Writers Rumpus? Marianne Knowles, who runs the writers critique groups I belong to, started a blog for children’s book writers and illustrators that is chock full of great information in twice weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays) by our crit group members and guest posters. I’ve written a few of these articles myself. One, titled […]Add a Comment
Blog: (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: author marketing, denice shaw, facebook, followers, hashtags, hootsuite, twitter, Marketing, On My Mind, writer motivation, Add a tag
Ok. I think every author concerned with reaching out with their readers, networking with other authors and selling more books is either engaged on social media or has at least thought about it. The two (in my opinion) heavy weight entities with regards to social media are Facebook and Twitter. These two networks have their fans.
I have to admit that I used to be a big fan of Facebook as it was easy to migrate from having a personal account to a fan page. I understood how it worked and I could apply what I was doing on an almost daily basis on my Facebook Personal account to my Fan page. On the other hand, this Monster called Twitter, just didn’t make sense. I mean wasn’t the whole concept of Twitter similar to shouting in a market place?
It just didn’t make sense and I avoided it…until sometime last year when I read a book titled How to Get Followers on Twitter: A Simple Guide on How to Optimize Twitter and Hootsuite by Denice Shaw. I started applying some of the things I discovered in this book and my Twitter following has swelled from less than a hundred to more than 500.
Now it has to be said that the amount of your followers does not determine how influential a person is on any social network. I have seen Facebook fan pages with thousands of fans but only a handful currently engaged with the posts on that page. An effective social media network should do at least one of the following:
- Help you to easily find people interested in your passions and interests.
- Facilitate easy connection with people who share your passions and interests.
- Enable a conversation with people that share your passions and interests.
Now with the algorithm changes at Facebook, it has become almost nigh on impossible to do any of the above. Can you think of a painless way to get discovered by people on Facebook who like the books you like? Most authors (and I’m one of them) no longer see the same traction Facebook once provided.
However, Twitter provides the three benefits I highlighted above. Central to the ease of seeing and being seen on the Twitterverse are little things known as hashtags. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen someone leave a message like this
‘Can’t wait to read the latest #mystery #novel by Harlan Coben.’
The symbol ‘#’ before the words mystery and novel render them as hashtags. Anyone on Twitter who is interested in mystery novels can search for those hashtags, find your tweet and either retweet (that is broadcast your tweet to their followers), favourite (similar to liking a post on Facebook) and/or reply to your post. As an author, I usually use the hashtags below:
I’ve found it humbling and exciting when people who don’t even follow me either retweet, favourite or reply to my tweets simply because I have included a hashtag that relates to something they’re interested in. I have made many new friends and acquaintances this way. I have had the parent of a student at a school where I did a reading reach out to me on Twitter. I’ve had a few New York Times Best-selling authors retweet, favourite and/or like my tweets. This week, I had a lovely lady reach out to me on Twitter and share a picture of her grandson with one of my books. The possibilities for connecting with your fans and other book lovers really is bountiful on Twitter. I’d like to encourage you to join Twitter today and join the conversation. There’s a certain group of people who are speaking your language and will gladly welcome you into their fold as to share with you and have you share with them.
I’d highly recommend Denice Shaw’s book as it contains many useful tips, etiquette, resources to help you understand and use Twitter well. Get it at the link below
Are you still finding joy on Facebook? Or perhaps Twitter still doesn’t make sense to you. Or maybe you use LinkedIn or some other social media network that you’d highly recommend. I really would like to hear your thoughts and comments, so drop a line or two in the comment box below and you can follow me on Twitter @davidchukaDisplay Comments Add a Comment
Blog: OUPblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: *Featured, Food & Drink, Health & Medicine, Very Short Introductions, 5-a-day, David Bender, Food, food group, labelling, marketing, nutrition, packaging, superfoods, supermarket, VSI, pineapple, servings, Add a tag
By David A. Bender
The food pyramid shows fruits and vegetables as the second most important group of foods in terms of the amount to be eaten each day: 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit. This, and the associated public health message to consume at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, is based on many years of nutritional research. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as many other potentially protective compounds, and low in fat (and especially saturated fat). There is excellent evidence from a great many epidemiological studies that people who consume 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day are less likely to suffer from atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and many cancers.
Things have changed in my local supermarket now, but until a year or so ago, the “five a day” message appeared above the aisles containing exotic (and expensive) fruits such as mangoes and papaya, but not those containing apples and pears, carrots and parsnips. Now, however, I find a more disturbing difference. If I buy a packet of tomatoes, there is nutritional information on the package, telling me what nutrients are present, and what percentage of my daily requirement a serving contains. Some packages also tell me how much of the produce will provide one of my five servings a day. By contrast, if I buy loose tomatoes there is no nutritional information available. Similarly, when I bought a pineapple last week there was a label around the neck of the fruit, not only telling me it was a pineapple (which I knew), but where it was grown and what nutrients it contained. The next shelf contained mangoes. These had only a small bar code label that would be decoded into a price at the checkout. Three onions in a string bag were labelled with nutrition information; loose onions were not.
All this suggests that I might be misled into believing that while packaged fruits and vegetables are a source of nutrients, loose produce that I select myself from the trays is free from nutrients. Of course, this is not so, but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that many consumers do indeed believe that unpackaged fresh produce (and indeed unpackaged meat and fish from the counter) are not nutritious, since there is no associated labelling.
It is difficult to know what to do about this. It is not likely that shoppers would read a list of nutrition information on a poster above the loose produce – indeed, it would be very annoying if people were standing reading the posters above the produce that I wanted to select. It is annoying enough when someone blocks my access to the shelves by phoning home to ask whether we should have this or that for dinner tonight. One answer might be to expand the labels on loose fruits and vegetables to include a QR code that can be read into a smart phone. I notice that my pineapple label contains a QR code that will download recipes to use pineapple to my smart phone. Perhaps QR codes could be printed on the supermarket receipt – but that is long enough already, listing every item, how much I have saved by buying special offers and “twofers”, how many loyalty points I have earned to date, how many points I have donated to charity by using my own bags, etc.
Another trend is the marketing of some fruits and vegetables as superfoods, implying that they are in some way more nutritious than other produce. Of course, different fruits and vegetables do indeed differ in their nutrient content. Blackcurrants and acerola cherries are extremely rich sources of vitamin C, containing very much more than strawberries or apricots. However, this does not imbue them with “super” status as part of a mixed diet.
The concept of superfoods was developed in the USA in 2003-4 and was introduced in Britain by an article in the Daily Mail on 22 December 2005. Superfoods are just ordinary foods that are especially rich in nutrients or antioxidants and other potentially protective compounds, including polyunsaturated fatty acids and dietary fibre.
Scanning through a handful of websites thrown up by a Google search for “superfoods” gives the following list almonds, apples, avocado, baked beans, bananas, beetroot, blueberries, Brazil nuts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cocoa, cranberries, flax seeds, garlic, ginger, kiwi, mango, olive oil, onions, oranges, peppers, pineapple, pumpkin, red grapes, salmon, soy, spinach, strawberries, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, tea, tomatoes, watercress, whole grain seeded bread, whole grains, wine, yoghurt.
There are very few surprises in this list (apart perhaps from the inclusion of wine as a superfood, although red wine is a rich source of antioxidants, and there is some, limited, evidence that modest alcohol consumption is beneficial). Most of these are foods that nutritionists and dietitians have talked about for years as being nutrient dense – i.e. they have a high content of vitamins and minerals. The nuts, seeds, and olive oil are an exception, but they are all good sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The labelling and marketing of the foods as superfoods seems disingenuous (or a clever marketing strategy), but if such marketing leads people to eat more fruit and vegetables and reduce their saturated fat, salt and sugar intake then it can only help to reinforce the message that the nutrition and public health communities have been preaching for more than a quarter of a century.
David Bender graduated in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham in 1968 and gained his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of London in 1971. From 1968 until his retirement in 2010 he was a member of academic staff of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and then, following a merger, of University College London, teaching nutrition and biochemistry, mainly to medical students. He is Emeritus Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at University College London. He is the author of Nutrition: A Very Short Introduction.
The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday, subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS, and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.
Blog: (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Uncategorized, alex tomov, alexander tomov, author interview thursday, english translation, marketing, sci-fi, self publishing, Add a tag
It’s Author Thursday and I’d like to welcome you to my blog today. We have a gentleman from Bulgaria who was introduced to me by former AIT special guest Stuart Land. His primary language is Bulgarian and he employs the services of a translator to make his books accessible to an English speaking audience. I love the fact that he has not allowed this to hinder him and he reaches out to fellow authors and readers outside the four walls of his country. He also produces book trailers and an all-round nice guy. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming Alex Tomov.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and that first moment when you knew you could write?
I write post – apocalyptic, alternative, speculative fiction and absurdity fiction. I also write short stories. I wrote my first book when I was 16 or 17. It was a poetry book, inspired from my literary education. My parents are writers too. And my first book with short stories was “Future Gone”, written when I was 21/22 years old.
What can a reader expect when they pick up an Alexander Tomov book?
The reader can see in my work many different realities and strange and absurd viewpoints about human nature, mind and imagination, strange visions from future and deep journey into the subconscious. Also in some of my stories, there are grotesque themes about society and politic. So in my work there is no strict logic. I write by intuition.
You’ve written several books that some would classify as science fiction with strong psychological themes present in all of them. What is your major inspiration for writing books in this genre?
My strange visions from the future and my deep fascination about human existence. Also my desire to change the face of world literature with my stories.
Unfortunately my English is not good enough to speak about this in detail, but my new translator Ekaterina Petrova is really good and I think that my ideas in my work can be expressed very well in the English language.
You’re a film director and I’ve seen some of the book trailers you’ve done. Can you let us know the key ingredients of a good book trailer?
I create book trailers for other writers. Most part of the book trailer creation process is technical, but some creativity is also required to make it good too. This is no problem for me, because I’m a writer and film director and have many ideas about many kinds of book trailers in all genres. I have already made 8 book trailers for other writers, outside my country, created only by text description from the author via emails. You can see all videos and some more information, about my book trailers creating services in link below:
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
I haven’t found a way at this time. I’m self – published author from small country – Bulgaria, work alone and search realisation abroad. In this aspect, promotion of my books is really hard and difficult. But I don’t give up and don’t stop trying to realise my dreams and to show the world my ideas.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
I can write a book about this question. There are too many short pieces from books, stories, and movies in my mind, which I use for ideas and inspiration. But also I would say that some modern and classic authors inspire my writing, too – writers like Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Stephen King, Jorge Luis Borges, and Chekhov. However, someone who always amazes me is Antoine de Saint – Exupéry with “The Little Prince”. Simply written book in which is the whole world.
What is your definition of success as an author?
Author who can express original ideas in a very accessible way for the reader.
What is your favourite science fiction movie and why?
There are too many. I like science fiction movies with philosophical point like “Equilibrium”, “1984″ and “Artificial Intelligence: AI”.
To visit Bulgarian mountains. The nature in Bulgaria is very beautiful. To visit the Bulgarian attractions and try Bulgarian cuisine.
What can we expect from Alexander Tomov in the next 12 months?
My new book is ready in Bulgarian and is in undergoing translation into English. The title is “Beyond the Absurd“. I have already 10 translated short stories from “Beyond the Absurd” and I’ve given the stories for reviews. For everyone, who is interested about deep soul horizons and grotesque abyss of Absurd, You can download free e-book from here:
“Beyond the Absurd” in goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18690888-beyond-the-absurd
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
About the industry, sometimes it is really hard, but the industry in not absolute criteria for true literature. Unfortunately this area is often greedy and too materialistic. About new authors, my advice is to stand against their fears and try to transform everything in their minds into literature.
Thanks for being with us today Alex. I love the fact that you’re striving to share your stories with an international audience. I agree with you that we have to overcome the fears that stop us sometimes from sharing the stories that burn within our souls and just write. Alex and I would love to hear your comments and questions, so please drop a line or two below. You can check out Alex’s books at the link below.
Alex Tomov Books on AmazonAdd a Comment
Blog: Writing and Illustrating (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: demystify, How to, inspiration, marketing, Process, Writing Tips, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Study Guide, Study Guide Example, Wheels of Change, Add a tag
WHEELS OF CHANGE STUDY GUIDE
- Change is the overriding theme of this novel. Discuss good vs. bad change and how the characters accepted or rejected change. CCSS RL 4.9
- How did Emily’s ideas about change evolve throughout the story? CCSS RL 3.3
- What does the horseshoe symbolize? Do you think it really had power? Explain. CCSS RL 5.4
- Do you think Beatrice’s personality and behavior are her own or as result of trying to please her mother? CCSS RL 3.3
- What characteristics made Charlie a good friend for Emily? Vice versa. CCSS RL 3.3
- What do you think of Emily’s reaction to Mrs. Peabody’s comments at the tea? Was Emily justified in dumping tea in Mrs. Peabody’s lap? Explain why or why not. What would you have done? CCSS RL 4.3
- 1908-09 was a time in history when segregation was common. Do you think Mr. Soper was courageous in employing an African-American? Explain. CCSS RL 3.3
- Was life easier or harder in 1909? What did you like about the time period?
- The roles of males and females were more sharply divided in the early 20th Century. Do you think Emily’s resistance to learning proper lady-like behavior was typical for girls her age? Why or why not? CCSS RL 4.3
- How did Emily’s relationship with Mama change? CCSS RL 5.2
- The story takes place when there were fewer luxuries in everyday life – especially regarding entertainment. What would you do if you had no radio, television, telephone, electricity or car, like most of the people in the story? CCSS RL 4.9
- Learning skills and being self-sufficient was important during this time in history. Why? Do you think these values are still important today? Explain.
- Emily and Charlie were expected to help the family by doing daily chores. If they weren’t completed, the household and family suffered. Does your family depend on you to do certain jobs? What would happen if you didn’t do them? CCSS RL 4.9
- What did Emily expect President Roosevelt to do for Papa? CCSS RL 4.3
- What did you think of Emily’s suggestions for changing Papa’s business? What might you have done to help? CCSS RL 4.9
- Do you think it was foolish or brave of Emily to stay in the barn during the fire? What would you have done? CCSS RL 3.3
- There were limited opportunities for women at the turn of the 20th Century. Single women who were not from wealthy families could teach, work long hours in a factory under awful conditions, or work as maids, governesses, or servants to wealthy families. Once married, they were expected to stay home and care for their husband and children. Do the opportunities enjoyed by women today make their lives easier or more difficult? Explain. CCSS RL 4.9
- When Mama first meets Mrs. Jackson, they seem ill as ease with one another. Why? CCSS RL 5.2
- Do you think it was unusual for Emily’s best friend to be a boy? Why or why not?
- If the story took place today, do you think it would be easy for a girl to become a blacksmith? Explain.
Hope this gives you some ideas of how proceed when you publish your book.
Filed under: demystify, How to, inspiration, marketing, Process, Writing Tips Tagged: Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Study Guide, Study Guide Example, Wheels of Change Display Comments Add a Comment
Things to do before and at events to sell more books.
Blog: Just the Facts, Ma'am (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: blogs, marketing, Add a tag
How to arrange and conduct your blog tour.
What you might want to know before you go on the air.
I’m an Indie author (the evolving preferred label for self-published authors) and I edit and design books for Indie authors. In this article by Lorraine Devon Wilke on Huffpost, “Is Self-Publishing Killing Books? My Journey With After the Sucker Punch Answers the Question.” BTW, nice cover design—clarity and mystery.
Lorraine has good words for we Indies. For example, these:
“. . . there is no shortage of talent out there in the great, undiscovered public.”
While she admits to there being no scarcity of self-pubbed books that fall far short of professional in cover design and narrative quality, she points out the good flip side:
“. . . not only do I believe self-publishing isn't killing books, I believe it's actually enlivened the marketplace, bringing a fresh, less structured, less filtered, more open life to the entire literary industry. And how has it done that?”
The answer involves gatekeepers, a parallel that she makes with the music industry. Worth a read.
Submitting to the Flogometer:
Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):
- your title
- your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
- Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
- Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
- And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
- If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
- If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.
Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray RhameyAdd a Comment
Blog: The Renegade Writer (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Advice, Marketing, Motivation, Add a tag
This is a reprint of this week’s Monday Motivation for Writers email. If you’d like goodies like this to land in your in-box weekly, sign up for my mailing list!
I’ve had many mentoring and Write for Magazines clients who say, “I didn’t send my idea to X magazine because I don’t think I have enough relevant experience” or “I was sure if my idea was exactly right for this website so I didn’t send it.”
Now, of course you want to send relevant ideas to magazines that need them. But you are not the expert in what the magazine needs — the editor is.
What you’re doing when you don’t send a pitch you wrote is you’re pre-rejecting yourself. You’re saying No to yourself!
Give the editor a chance to say yes or no. You risk more rejection when you put your ideas out there, true — but you also increase your chances at acceptance by an infinite amount. Why limit yourself?
When you send a query, the editor may say No, in which case you’re no worse off than you started. But there are other things she may do as well:
- Give you an outright Yes. Woo hoo!
- Say, “I like this idea but would like you to change it in this way…” Score!
- Reject your idea but be so impressed with your pitch that she offers you a different assignment. May I say “Score” again?
- Reject your idea but be so impressed that she keeps your name on file for future assignments. Nice!
Remember, garnering an assignment isn’t your only goal when sending a pitch. Another very important goal is building a relationship with an editor, even if he has to say No to your query. As long as your pitches aren’t totally off-base, you have a chance at connecting with an editor who may hire you down the road.
If you pre-reject yourself, you’ll never start building those relationships.
So the next time you’re on the fence about whether to send an idea to a market, go ahead and just send it. Do your best, write a kick-ass query, and get it out the door — then work on the next one.
P.S. The last Write for Magazines session of the year starts on June 1…this is the class that’s helped students break into publications from Woman’s Day to Spirituality & Health to E: The Environmental Magazine. I made the crazy decision to accept 30 Premium students instead of the usual 10, and as of this writing on Thursday there are only eight spaces left. Also, if you jump into either version (Basic or Premium) of the class by tomorrow afternoon, you get an early registration bonus: a free copy of Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love, which I sell for $4.99.Add a Comment
How to make your author panel run smoothly, even if you're not in charge.
Blog: The Renegade Writer (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Advice, Marketing, Add a tag
I get a lot of emails from writers. And lately, I’ve been alternately dumbfounded, confused, and frightened by some of the email addresses I see writers using. Addresses like:
(Don’t worry, I changed these addresses…they’re not the actual ones.)
And I wonder: Are writers using email addresses like these to correspond with editors? And how is this affecting their acceptance rate — and their careers? It is physically hurting me to think that otherwise great writers are killing their chances at an assignment for such a ridiculous reason.
(Yes, I know some people have separate, throwaway addresses they use just for subbing to lists, but I assume some of these writers are using these addresses for their writing businesses too.)
I wrote a blog post in 2007 about the poor writer who was reamed out by a source for her email address. But clearly this public service announcement bears repeating.
Your email address is often the first thing an editor or an interview source sees from you, and that first impression of you is seared into their brains. They might read a brilliant pitch from you, but they can’t forget that the email address you sent it from was email@example.com.
I asked four editors — three from national mags and one at a trade pub — what they think of cutesy or just plain confusing email addresses. Here’s what they had to say:
“I find email addresses like that unprofessional. We like the language in the magazine to be fun and conversational, but I expect writers to take their jobs as seriously as I take my own, and that means having a business email address. If someone has a silly one, it makes me thinks she’s still in college and doesn’t have the experience to write for me. Ones that tout being an amazing writer are possibly worse: I don’t think Ann Patchett, for instance, would advertise herself as “geniuswriter123.” A good email address includes something recognizable about your real name!”
–Sarah Smith, senior editor at Redbook
“Well, it straddles the line between being clever and just being silly and unprofessional. The line is a bit blurry, but I’d say this: If the address looks as if it’s referencing a legit business which the writer has started as part of his or her writing/content enterprises, then fine. Meaning ‘TheContentChick’ could be fine. But ‘LittleFlashyThing’? C’mon. Save that for your friends. Only your closest friends.”
–Former editor at a national general-interest magazine.
“Would I turn down a great query due to a wacky email address? No. But these types of addresses lack professionalism, and that’s important if I don’t know you and you’re pitching me for the first time. I’d recommend using a professional-sounding email address for corresponding with editors and colleagues, even if you decide to keep your fun one for friends and family.”
–Peggy Bennett, former editor at Entrepreneur
“I do think the email address a writer uses is important. Part of the writer’s job is to secure interviews with people to whom the writer ostensibly has no connection. In that context I believe, it’s far less likely for a person to respond to an unprofessional email address than one which is straight-forward. Email address which are cute or contain a double entendre can easily be misinterpreted and may not afford the writer the level of respect he/she deserves from the interviewee.”
–Editor at a food industry trade magazine
Okay, so it’s clear: Choose a professional handle for your email address. You know, like your name or the name of your business.
But after talking with these editors, I wondered if the domain name had any effect on how editors perceived the writers. I’ve heard that having your own domain name is the best — for example, firstname.lastname@example.org — but what about other domains like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail?
The editors I asked agreed that for some reason they couldn’t pinpoint, Gmail addresses are acceptable, but ones like Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail are looked upon less kindly. Here’s what one editor had to say:
“I agree about Hotmail, even though I have it. I’m so embarrassed that I still use it. A lot of people feel that way about Yahoo too. Absolutely not AOL. But Gmail seems fine to me; I wouldn’t think twice.”
I’m not sure why this would be the case, but it is what it is. So at the very least, if you don’t have your own domain name, sign up for a free Gmail account, with a professional handle like your name, that you use just for pitching editors and contacting sources.
Your email address is part of your branding, and you should put as much thought into it as you do your query letters and letters of introduction.
How about you — have you ever seen a crazy writer email address? How did you choose your own writer email address? How have editors responded? Share your stories in the Comments below! (Please don’t share other writers’ actual email addresses, for privacy reasons.)
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How to make a great trailer for your book without spending any money.
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This article also appears at writersrumpus.com. While your book is percolating in your mind, in revisions or sketches, or under the scrutiny of your crit group buddies, you can explore ways to build your publishing credentials. Magazines and other media can be valuable, shorter-term ways to get your work seen. Here’s a more-or-less “out there” […]Add a Comment
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But guess what? An editor may actually be leery of the clips you send.
Why? Because too many clips are actually crappily written articles that were edited to perfection by the writer’s editor. So the person you’re pitching doesn’t know if the clip represents your work — or the work of a great editor. Anyone can get lucky by landing a single assignment, so your clips prove nothing.
Then, you make things worse by sending a bunch of clips from different publications. You’re hoping to show off the fact that you’ve been hired by lots of pubs. But what the editor sees is that no one invites you back to write a second time.
So what to do? Can’t you ever make these freakin’ editors happy?
Here are my two tricks:
1. If you have them, send multiple clips from the same publication.
This shows that your writing is good enough that editors hire you to write for them again and again.
If you want to showcase your versatility, send a couple clips from one publication and then another one or two from other markets.
2. Send your final drafts.
This is a big one: Instead of sending in links to your published articles or PDFs with the beautiful layout and graphics in place, send the editor the ugly Word files of your articles as you handed them in.
That way, the editor can see that you turn in nice, clean drafts.
I came across this secret by being lazy. I wanted to send an editor a particular clip but didn’t have a PDF — and sure as heck didn’t feel like scanning it in.
So I sent my Word file and told the editor, “Here’s a clip from X Magazine. This is the article as I turned it in — so you can see what my writing looks like before the editor does his magic on it!” (Notice how I turned a negative into a positive?)
Believe it or not, the editor I was pitching loved this, and I started using this tactic regularly.
Clips aren’t about the layout and graphics. Sure, they look nice, but they’re just window dressing on what an editor actually wants — a snapshot of your writing.
But if you’re going to be sending ugly Word files, why not just send in unpublished work that you write up as clips? It’s because the fact that you were actually published shows that you know how to work with an editor, understand deadlines, and have been through — and survived — the editing process. So published clips are key, even if you’re sending in a plain vanilla Word doc.
How about you…have you ever sent an editor an unconventional clip? What happened? Let us know in the Comments below.
P.S. I’m thinking of running one session of Write for Magazines this year; if I do, it will probably be in May or June. This is the 4-week query writing class that has landed students in Woman’s Day, Spirituality & Health, GRIT, Washington Parent, E: The Environmental Magazine, Pizza Today, and more. If you want to get the details when I have them settled, become a member of my email newsletter list!Add a Comment
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My 6-year old son will ask me if he can watch a movie. Not once. Not twice. Not a few times. He will ask me continually, for hours, until he gets the answer he wants, which is supposed to be, “Yes! You can watch a movie RIGHT NOW.”
Eventually that’s the answer, because it becomes too much trouble to keep saying, “I’m thinking about it.” At some point I have to start thinking about other things – or at least pretend that I am.
His ability to not take “No” for an answer is partly inherent and partly learned. Partly inherent, because I think all children are born with the intuitive gift of wearing parents down. Partly learned because I almost always allow myself to get worn down and eventually give in, which he knows.
In sales and marketing, it doesn’t work the same way. Sure, you can wear people down until you get a response, but it’s not usually the response you want, which is “Yes, I’ll buy/try/attend.” Instead of wearing people down so they give in, you end up annoying them so they hang up, unsubscribe or avoid you.
I’ve experienced this in retail from the time I was a teen, working at the mall. We were pushed to attack all customers coming in, pestering them until they bought something or left. “Can I help you?” was never enough. We had to employ religious cult tactics, continually asking leading questions (Are you looking for a poster? A framed print? Is it a gift?), never accepting “I’m just browsing” as an answer.
Which was perfectly wrong, because we chased a lot of people out of our store.
The perfectly right thing to do is to leave browsers alone and let them browse all they want. Browsing isn’t the opposite of buying, it’s a gateway to buying.
Remind them you are there to help every now and then. Eventually, they will know what they want and they will more likely come to you to get it.
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My 6-year old son will ask me if he can watch a movie. Not once. Not twice. Not a few times. He will ask me continually, for hours, until he gets the answer he wants, which is supposed to be, “Yes! You can watch a movie RIGHT NOW.” Eventually that’s the answer, because it becomes […]Add a Comment
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BY J DAVID OSBORNE
I tried retail for a while, and that was fun, in the way that puking on yourself at a family gathering is fun: you have a story. After a time, though, it stops being a story you laugh at and starts being one that you cry over. Usually into a beer. Next came moving furniture. For a time, that was good, physical work. I genuinely enjoyed it. And the stories I heard there, man, the meat of my second novel is mostly that. My imagination’s not that good. But then here comes nature and that heavy time and all of a sudden my back is in ruins and I got sick of carrying marble armoires up three flights of stairs. Then came restaurant work. That was fun.
Through all of this, I wrote. My first novel dropped in that weird interim before I started the moving job, when I was living in my car. The second hit and I was getting these royalty checks, but aside from the first one (which paid my rent), it wasn’t paying my rent. It hit me: “I’ve gotta find a way to make a living off of words or I’m going to die.”
I’ve been a fan of crime fiction since before I can remember. It started with Ellroy. I read White Jazz and threw my hands up and hollered. You can say this much with so little? I was hooked. I got the classics in, then I got voracious with it: Mosely, Sallis, Willeford, Pelecanos, Westlake, Parker, on and on.
I loved the opportunity crime fiction presented to peer into the human condition, and the (usually) clipped, no-bullshit delivery. What I didn’t like were the formulas, the staunch sexism, the rampant racism. I really wanted to carve something out that could represent everything that makes crime fiction beautiful, minus the stuff that made me cringe. That, and I didn’t want to sell hot dogs anymore.
I gathered a nice group of brilliant writers, who for whatever reason decided to hook me up with some manuscripts. I started a Kickstarter (pause for groans) in which I detailed five books my new indie press would put out, and—wonder of wonders—people thought it looked cool. I got the money and I was off to the races.
The books were edited and designed and off to the printers. They dropped, and then there I was. Floating.
There were many times I’d go out to my porch and smoke a cigarette and my house would shake as the trains rolled by out across the road, and I’d wonder what I could do to actually get people to look at these titles, to pick them up. I’d gotten a massively talented artist (Matthew Revert) to do all of the covers for them, and they really popped. I’d sent out some review copies to places I thought would dig them.
Still waiting to hear back from most of those places.
I got tired of sitting on my hands. I took the books and grabbed a friend and hit the road. We went from Oklahoma to Wichita to Denver to Salt Lake City to Boise to Seattle to Portland to Sacramento out to the Bay to Los Angeles to El Paso. We performed in punk squats and abandoned warehouses and bookstores and back alleys. At one performance we lit a mannequin head on fire while I paced the floor with paint on my feet, tracing a chalk outline of an eye, rambling about a cyclops. At another I read the audience the end of my first novel and ripped out each page and burned it as I went. Though I didn’t sell copies at every stop, I talked to as many people as I could about the books. And I noticed an uptick. We live in an age of social media noise and rampant void screaming. There’s only one way to get things going, especially if you live in Oklahoma: you have to get out there and talk to people.
You have to ask them to dance.
There are other things you have to remember, too. Running a small press, it’s important to utilize social media, despite my prior assertion that it’s a dying medium. You have to be a person online, first. I see folks every day, inviting me to their “book releases,” which are really just Amazon launches of e-books. That’s annoying. You’re more likely to see me posting pictures of my dog, or complaining about how I could really go for a cigarette (quitting is tough, but, hey! nine days) than you are to see me talking about the books or writing or editing. The first reason is that places like Facebook and my blog are my escapes. The second is that you just turn into a spambot and fade into the background, and good luck swimming out of that lagoon.
Another thing: finances. Be careful. Keep your receipts. Where I live, there are crazy tax breaks for small businesses. Make sure you know exactly what you owe your authors. If you don’t pay them right, everyone will know, and you will be ostracized. And rightly so.
On the topic of writers: they are, for the most part, a funny bunch. They care about this stuff. So they’ll have things to fix, last-minute requests, bizarre neuroses. You have to learn to bend, to understand that your voice is not the voice. And if they want changes, you make them. Mark Twain once said that a novel is never finished, only abandoned, and I think that’s true, but Broken River authors abandon their children with a packed lunch (complete with smiley face note written on napkin), surplus army jacket, mace, a Swiss Army knife, and one of those flashlights you put on your head. And a ‘mommy loves you’ and a peck on the cheek. God love them for that. They care. And you have to, as well. If you don’t, well … you know.
I’m not a father so I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, but I’m assuming there’s a feeling you get when you hold a baby for the first time. Does it get real? I figure it gets real, then. When you spend months and months eating tuna from a can and pecking at a keyboard and making sure the kerning and keeping and hyphens and headers look right in InDesign, and then you send it to a printer and they send you copies and they are physical, real objects, resting there, looking up at you, you can almost see these big blue cartoon eyes, these helpless things that need you. So, you start to feel an obligation.
When you start a small press, you lack resources, usually. And that should make you hungry. You need to provide for these babies. Your authors, they spent years writing these things, invested their lives into them. Now here they are. Your responsibility. You’ll want to quit, lord I know you will, because the whole thing is so big, like pressing your body up against the edge of everything. But you have to get out there, you have to keep your mind right, and you have to make people sit up and take notice. You didn’t pull a sword out of a stone; no one ordained you the Chosen One. You chose you. It’s your responsibility. So go do it. If you love something, take that big Christmas dinner in your heart and break it down into MREs and dish it out to every person you meet, in small, manageable doses. They’ll feel it. They’ll know you’re down.
And then, you ask them to dance.
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The myth that publishers have stacks of manuscripts and that writers have to line up in a long queue was deflated by Jennifer Bacia during her talk at the Gold Coast Writers Association meeting . ‘Actually, that is not the case’ she stated. According to Jennifer, publishers are always looking for something that will make […]Add a Comment
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My sequel comes out in week and I’ve noticed a drastic difference in the amount of self-promotion I did this year compared to last year. For my debut, I tried everything, mainly because I didn’t know what worked and/or what was worth spending money on. But looking back, some of those things I did for Taken had a very small payoff. Some of them had a small payoff and managed to drain my wallet and energy at the same time.
So I wanted to take a moment to chat about the marketing materials and self-promo that I think gives you the biggest bang for your buck. These are the things I did for Frozen this year, and at least for the foreseeable future, I can imagine doing them for all my books to come.
Forget business cards as an author. All you need are bookmarks. They hold all the same information as a business card, but they have a very functional purpose. (Can you remember the last time you saved a business card someone handed you?) Furthermore, bookmarks are fantastic marketing tools both pre- and post-launch. Stick them in any ARCs or finished copies you mail out. Give them to readers at book signings. Leave small batches at your local library and/or bookstore. Carry them with you everywhere (in your purse, car, etc). You never know when you’ll run into someone who asks what you do. If they seem interested, give them a bookmark.
A well designed bookmark should introduce both you and your book. Here’s the info I make sure to include on any bookmarks I order:
- Book cover
- Release date
- Author name
- Publisher logo
- Author website and/or twitter
- ISBN, space permitting
- Blurbs, space permitting
- Tagline, space permitting
Like many print products, the larger your order, the less you’ll pay per bookmark. If your budget’s tight, bookmarks might feel like a hefty investment upfront, but I swear by them. If I could only budget for one type of promotional material for my next book, I’d go with bookmarks every single time. (My bookmarks for Frozen are shown to the right.)
I mail these to local libraries and indies within a one hour radius of my home. For some people, that radius can result in a lot of establishments. It’s about 200 for me, and I realize that might be a bit more than some people can handle. Trim your radius down to a half hour, or hand select 20-30 libraries or bookstores you’d like to target most.
The front of your postcards should contain all the info that exists on your bookmarks. (Mine for Frozen are again shown to the right.) The back should be BLANK. Why? Because you need room for stamps and addresses, but also because you’re going to handwrite a note to the library/store. These businesses see a lot of promotional material, much of which gets tossed directly into the waste basket. But if there’s handwriting on your postcard, it will be read.
Your message should be short and sweet. Saundra Mitchell has fantastic advice when it comes to postcard marketing, and I tweaked her proposed messaging to work for my needs. Like Saundra, I have booked a ton of library visits from postcard contact, so I know this method works!
If your publisher only gives you one or two ARCs, this method probably won’t be an option. But if you’re like me, and you get 10-15, that’s more copies than you know what to do with. Take two copies and hand deliver them to your local library and local indie. Take another 3-5 ARCs and plan a series of giveaways on your blog.
The key to a succesful giveaway is exposure. Yes, only a small handful of readers will win a copy, but over the course of the giveaway, word-of-mouth will hopefully put the book on hundreds or thousands of people’s radar.
If you give away all the ARCs in one giveaway, I suggest having the giveaway run for at least a month. Another option is to run several giveaways back-to-back, each with one ARC up for grabs. With either route, considering asking readers to tweet or blog about the giveaway for an additional entry. Rafflecopter is a free service that helps collect and moderate entries, as well as draw winners, and I can only speak positively of it. (It’s that widget tool you often see here on Pub Crawl for our giveaways!)
If you don’t have a personal blog, or just want a super hands-off option, try goodreads’ giveaway service. You specify the prize, how many copies you’re offering, end date, and the territories you’re willing to ship to. Goodreads will handle everything else, including drawing winners and providing you with their mailing addresses.
Once you have your winners, don’t forget to send the prizes using Media Mail. This special USPS rate is available for parcels that are books only. Send ‘em anywhere in the US for around $3!
So that’s it–my suggested 3-part marketing plan! Timing wise, I recommend ordering bookmarks about 3-4 months prior to launch. Stagger any ARC giveaways in this same timeframe. Postcards should be mailed out about one month before your book hits shelves.
There’s lots of other stuff you can do (blog tours, preorder contests, custom swag, and on and on), and they do indeed help. But for me, they sucked a lot of time and enthusiasm, and I’ve chosen to focus most of my energies on bookmarks, postcards, and giveaways moving forward. If you’re pressed for time and/or pinching pennies, I suggest considering one or all of these options yourself.
Done other types of self-promo that was super successful? Seen marketing materials you thought were incredibly clever? Tell us about them in the comments!
Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her debut novel, TAKEN, is now available from HarperTeen, and FROZEN releases 4/15/14. You can visit her blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).Add a Comment
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Agents weigh in on whether you need one or not.
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Tips to get you invited back to schools.
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