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Results 26 - 50 of 1,229
26. Author Platform

What do agents and editors actually mean when they say you should have an author platform.

https://janefriedman.com/author-platform-definition/

0 Comments on Author Platform as of 3/30/2016 6:36:00 PM
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27. Guest Post: P.J. Hoover on The Awesomeness of School Visits

By P.J. Hoover
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

OMG an author visit! It’s a huge, exciting time for students, teachers, and the author. We, the authors, are honored to be visiting your school.

Aside from the fact that it gives us an opportunity to get out of the house (and change out of our pajamas), there is nothing better than connecting with our target audience about a subject we love: books.

About the Visit

I like to start my school visits off with a story from Greek mythology. It’s a great way to not only engage the audience right from the beginning, but it provides a nice framework for the entire presentation.

And my story . . . it’s filled with adventure. It’s filled with suspense. It’s short. It’s sweet. And it concludes with a satisfying ending. But disguised underneath it, it talks about the Hero’s Journey.

The hero in the story sets out with one goal in mind. One thing he must accomplish. It’s the thing that drives him forward and keeps him from giving up, even when faced with unspeakable perils.

It’s a lot like life.

With author Cory Putnam Oakes
I’ve learned a ton in the last decade or so, in my transition from electrical engineer to author, much like the hero in my story learns as he travels from one end of his adventure to the other. But the big difference between my hero and me is that he reaches his destination. His perils are left in the past, and he reaches his goal.

My perils? They continue on, day after day after day.

Perils as an author? Sure, I face a ton of them, but lucky for me, everything I’ve learned so far on my hero’s journey has helped me deal with these perils.

It’s made me better, stronger, faster. And I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than being able to share my journey with today’s kids.

School visits are a tricky business. There’s this very fine line that we, as authors, must walk. We need to entertain the kids, to keep them hanging on our every word, while also making the educators in the audience happy. We want the teachers to shake our hand afterward and tell us how they can’t wait to use what we’ve shared in the classroom. And the kids . . . we want them asking for our Instagram usernames so they can follow us and continue the connection.

Because that’s what it all comes down to: the connection.

Take this. I adore playing video games. From the time I got my very first computer (hello, Commodore 64) to my brand new table-top Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga gaming machine (complete with 410 retro arcade games), video games are a great way to relax, spend time with my kids, and—hey, look at that—they’re also a great way to connect with kids during school visits.

I’ll talk about Fallout 4 and Minecraft after the presentation with the kids for hours. But underneath, talking about video games isn’t enough. It needs to relate to books, to writing, and to my hero’ journey. And you know what? It does.


When I was younger, I would have much rather played video games than spent time writing. I didn’t love writing, mostly because I thought it was very subjective and that you were either born a writer or you were not. While some of my author friends spent their youth writing stories, I learned to program in BASIC. I wrote video games on my computer. And I went on to become an electrical engineer.

Now, I love writing, too, and I’ve learned that there is a beautiful cross section between books and the world of technology (including Scratch, Minecraft, and other fun STEM related ideas). It’s this cross section that kids don’t expect. And it’s this cross section that I believe it is important for kids to see.

The same thing goes for "Star Wars." Kids laugh when I tell them that when I was little, I wanted to be a Jedi. You know why? Because they wanted to be Jedis, too. (They probably still do. I do; that’s for sure.) And the thing is that though my dreams of being a Jedi didn’t work out (yet), it’s totally played a part in my life and getting me to where I am today.

The thing about Jedis is that they don’t give up. They don’t walk away from fear. And we, as authors, can’t either.

When I have the kids guess how many rejections I’ve received, they at first say really high numbers because they think it will be funny and get a laugh out of their friends. And then, when I tell them that they’re right, they’re floored.

But, as I tell them, if I don’t face these rejections, day after day, I will never publish another book. It’s a way to show them—yes, show, not tell—that we all face failure. And we all fail. And that’s okay. But it’s what we do after that failure that makes the difference.

If I had to list five (covert) messages I try to get across in school visits, they’d be: 
  1. You don’t have to be born an author to be an author when you grow up. (You can, in fact, be an electrical engineer, just like me.) 
  2. Many things in life are a lot harder to do than you think they’ll be (like, hey, writing a book! I thought it would be easy).
  3. Never give up (even though lots and lots of times you may want to).
  4. Face your fears and do it anyway (this is also a fun time to mention that I’m a third degree black belt in kung fu) And perhaps the most important . . . .
  5. It’s going to be a long journey while you work toward whatever it is you want in life, so you better learn to enjoy it.

Prepare (but don’t stress) about the Visit:

My dream author visit is this. I drive up to the school. My name is on the marquee out front. There is a parking spot reserved for me (and bonus points if it has streamers and balloons). The office staff greets me by name when I walk through the front door, because guess what?

They’ve been expecting me! They know I am coming. They sign me in and have a student escort me to the library. Other students point as I walk to the library and whisper things like, “There’s the author!” or “It’s really her!” I feel kind of like a superstar at this point.

Outside the library is a huge banner with my name. A display of my books sits in a glass case along with fan art created by the students.

Inside the library waits a Starbucks for me (venti Americano, no room). The librarian warmly tells me how the students can’t wait for my visit. She lets me know that every student has read my book.

Things are going great. The technology works without a hitch. There is water. A microphone. Lots and lots of pre-orders.

Like I said, it’s a dream author visit, but we don’t live in this dream world, and I completely realize that this is not always the way author visits go.

As much as I would love every student to have read my book ahead of time, I get that this is not realistic. But there are some simple ways to get the kids excited about an upcoming author visit. Things that can go a long way.

  1. Booktalk the author’s books ahead of time. Display them in the library, print out covers, talk about them during library time. 
  2. Enlist the help of your Language Arts teachers. If budget permits, consider purchasing a copy for each classroom, and encourage them to read a chapter aloud. 
  3. Have students visit the author’s website. For schools hosting me, have the students complete my Author Scavenger Hunt ahead of time. If possible, reward the completion with extra credit. 
  4. Publicize the upcoming author visit during the morning announcements. Announcements are also a great place to remind students about pre-order book deadlines. And finally . . . 
  5. Think about back to the connection. Do you have a kid that can solve the Rubik’s Cube? I’m happy to do a challenge. Someone who can beat box? I’ll rap Alphabet Aerobics. Ask me to sing The Element Song. Challenge me in a kung fu sparring match! (okay, maybe not this, but I do love showing my kung fu video). Whatever it is, make the kids feel like they are a part of it. That this event is special for them.

Continuing the Connection

I admit I got tears in my eye when I read this email I received after an author visit.

“After that talk about your journey to being an author you have inspired me . . . I thought that I couldn't do military, become an engineer, and become a successful author, but now you've changed that. You have shown me that you can do whatever you want as long as you don't give up and keep striving towards your dream.
"My parents always say never give up because you might achieve your goal, but I always thought that was something that parents said because it was a requirement for being a good parent or something. Then I heard about your stories and how you achieved all you goals and dreams using perseverance, patience, and persistence.
"You are one of my heroes and inspirations to chase after my goals . . . You are an inspiration to me showing that nothing is impossible no matter how hard . . . Thank you so much for presenting to us and inspiring me.”

This. This is what it all comes down to.

Everyone should (and can) benefit from an author visit. I want each kid to walk out of there with something. Some little tidbit that they’ll think on, that they will use in their life. I want them to believe that anything is possible. That they can accomplish their dreams and goals, even when those dreams seem impossible.

And most of all, I want them to enjoy their journey in life.

Cynsational Notes

For information on author visits with P. J. Hoover, contact Carmen Oliver at The Booking Biz.

P. J. (Tricia) Hoover wanted to be a Jedi, but when that didn’t work out, she became an electrical engineer instead. After a fifteen year bout designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to start creating worlds of her own. She’s the author of Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life and the forthcoming Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World (Feb. 2017), featuring a fourteen-year-old King Tut who’s stuck in middle school, and Solstice, a super-hot twist on the Hades/Persephone myth.

When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik’s cubes, watching "Star Trek," and playing too many video games.

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28. 35 Posts To Help Writers Elevate Their Craft And Marketing Skills

thumbs upA friend of mine asked me for a list of posts that I would like shared online (how nice, right?) and it prompted me to visit my website stats to see what posts were the most popular with those who visit.

This in turn led to the bright idea that instead of just sending her the list, I should share it here, too!

If you are looking for helpful posts in different areas of writing and marketing, these TOP 5 LISTS are ones visitors seem to enjoy the most. If you find any of them especially helpful, feel free to pass them on to others, too. :)

CHARACTERS

The Four Types of Character Flaws

Personality Traits: Building a Balanced Character

Lessons From James Scott Bell: Characters That Jump Off The Page

Finding Your Character’s Weakness

The Subtle Knife: Writing Characters Readers Trust But Shouldn’t

EMOTIONS

Hidden Emotions: How To Tell Readers What Characters Don’t Want To Show

Writing Emotion: Does Your Hero Shrug, Smile & Frown Too Much?

Writing Extreme Emotion Without The Melodrama

Show, Don’t Tell: Revealing True Emotion In Dialogue

3 Steps to Taking Your Character Further and Deeper With…Anger?

EMOTIONAL WOUNDS

Understanding Character Wounds: A List Of Common Themes

How To Uncover Your Character’s Emotional Wound

Emotional Wounds Thesaurus

Why Is Your Character’s Emotional Wound So Important?

How Your Hero’s Past Pain Will Determine His Character Flaws

CHARACTER ARC (MOTIVATION, GOALS, GROWTH)

Planning a Novel: Character Arc In A Nutshell

5 Surprising Ways Regret Can Deepen Your Hero’s Arc

The Importance of Psychological Development in Character Growth

How Your Character’s Failures Can Map A Route To Self-Growth

The Connection Between Emotional Wounds and Basic Needs

STRUCTURE & TECHNIQUE

Writing Patterns Into Fiction: Scene and Sequel

Story Midpoint & Mirror Moment: Using Heroes’ Emotions To Transform Them

James Scott Bell: The “Write From The Middle” Method

5 Important Ways to Use Symbolism in Your Story

Inside One Stop For Writers: Unique Templates & Worksheets

MARKETING

A Book Marketing Truth Few Experts Will Admit

5 Steps To Find Your Book’s Ideal Audience

Creative Book Launches That Command Attention

Need Online Exposure? Asking Bloggers For Help

Marketing For Introverts

OUR TOP POSTS LOCATED ON OTHER BLOGS

How To Research Your Book Smarter, Instead of Harder

Eight Ways To Make Your Character More Plausible

The 7-Step Business Plan For Writers

Flaws, Emotional Trauma & The Character’s Wound

Brainstorming The Hero Before You Start Writing

Hopefully there are a few post here that catch your eye and can help you with whatever you are currently wrestling with.

And what is the #1 visited page on our site?

TOOLS FOR WRITERS

There’s a reason for it too…if you haven’t visited, I recommend you do. There are many free tools and handouts that have been downloaded well over 50,000 times.

Happy writing, all!

Image: carloscuellito87 @ Pixabay

The post 35 Posts To Help Writers Elevate Their Craft And Marketing Skills appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

0 Comments on 35 Posts To Help Writers Elevate Their Craft And Marketing Skills as of 1/1/1900
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29. Guest Post: Linda Covella on Going Indie: Tips & Advice on Self-Publishing in the YA Book Market

By Linda Covella
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Thinking of going indie?

Self-publishing can be a fun, exciting, and rewarding endeavor. But get ready for an eclectic collection of hats, because you’ll be wearing many. It’s important to realize you’re selling a product that should be of the highest quality.

Here are some tips and resources to help you through the process.

Editing

By the time you’re ready to publish, you should have already gone through developmental editing of concept, character, and plot issues. Now, you need a proofreader/copy editor.

Don’t rely on a random friend or relative. Keep self-published books a strong and respected force in the market by having your manuscripts edited professionally or by a trusted, experienced critique partner. (Whenever you hire an outside service, be sure to have a contract.) See my list of editors from author recommendations.

Tip: Other indie authors can be a great resource for any self-publishing questions.

Cover Design

Your cover should be unique while blending with other books in your genre (a fine line to walk).

There are three cover options:

DIY: Royalty-free images are available online, such as this site, which you can use to design your cover.

Pre-made covers. Google “pre-made book covers,” and you’ll find quite a few.

Custom cover design. I’ve compiled a list of recommended cover designers. Bibliocrunch and Girl Friday Productions offer editing, cover design, and other help for indies on a budget.

ISBN

Do you need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number)?

Not necessarily, but most retailers and publishers require one. (Amazon.com does not.)

With an ISBN, your book will be more discover-able by readers, bookstores, and libraries.

Currently the price for an ISBN (purchased through Bowker) is $125—not cheap. And you need one for the ebook and paperback of each title. If you plan to publish several books, you can buy them in bulk at greatly reduced prices; they never expire. Some businesses buy ISBNs in large quantities so they can then sell them at reduced cost.

There’s some controversy about the validity of these or “free” ISBNs, so obtain one from a reputable source. See Joel Friedlander's article on ISBNs and the ISBN website.

Formatting and Publishing

Depending on where you decide to publish your book, you may need help formatting your manuscript. It’s free and easy to publish ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and they accept Word docs. Amazon’s print service, Createspace, is free and requires only a PDF. They also offer professional publishing services.

Smashwords is an ebook publisher, accepts Word docs, but has a style guide that must be followed.

Smashwords has distribution agreements with all major online retailers and with Baker&Taylor, which libraries use to purchase books.

Draft2Digital publishes ebook and print books. They accept simple Word docs with no style guide to follow. They offer editing and cover design as well, and distribution agreements.

Smashwords or Draft2Digital? Here’s one blogger’s analysis.

IngramSpark is a print and ebook publisher with distribution agreements. They have a style guide to follow, and you may need a professional formatter. See blogger Linda Austin on IngramSpark vs. Createspace (book doctor Stacey Aaronson says it’s beneficial to use both)!

Pricing

To price your book, check other books in your genre. A common price for ebooks is $3.99.

The freebie can be a good marketing tool when you have a series: offer the first book for free in the hope that the reader will buy the other books in the series.

Experiment with pricing; see where that “sweet point” is. Just remember, you’ve worked hard and deserve to be paid a reasonable price.

Marketing and Promotion

Once you’ve published your book, the real work begins. As an indie book publisher, marketing and promoting is a never-ending job! Here are some tips and resources:

Local schools, libraries, and bookstores. Ask if libraries and bookstores will carry your book. Contact schools to do author visits. Author Alexis O’Neill’s blog is a great resource on school visits.

Subscribe to newsletters for publishing news, tips, classes, freebies, and generally “knowing your industry.” Some good ones are:


Follow blogs, including those of your favorite YA authors. If you use Wordpress, you can follow tags in your reader to find others with similar interests. Good blogs for self-publishing include:

  • Chris McMullen. Lots of info on Amazon, other self-publishing tips.
  • Bookbaby (another ebook and print book publisher). They had a recent Twitter chat with YA author Lauren Lynne.
  • IngramSpark has a blog on their website with self-publishing information.
  • Of course, Cynthia’s blog, Cynsations!

Guest blog on YA authors’ blogs. Most bloggers love having guest posts. Come up with an interesting topic and ask!

Join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), check the website for resources, sign up for their newsletter, and get involved in your local chapter (you can join forces with other authors for book signings, etc.).

Use Social Media

  • Get your books noticed through accounts on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media sites.
  • Join some young adult author and reader groups on Facebook and Goodreads to meet and learn from other YA authors, and to expose your books to readers.
  • Create a website. Pay someone or DIY with sites such as Wordpress.com and Wix. This article showcases some “stellar” author websites.

Reviews

It’s tough for indie authors to get reviews. Ask for reviews on your website and social media. Put a request at the end of your books. Here’s one list of bloggers who review books. Though the title says middle grade literature, most will also review YA books.

Ginger
Do a blog tour (usually done when your book is newly published), and many of the bloggers will review your book. These businesses, among others, handle blog tours. Some specifically target YA audiences, but be sure to pick a blog tour company that lines your book up with YA bloggers.

Enter contests. Prizes can add credibility to and exposure for your books. There are many free contests and others, such as RONE, Chanticleer, and Literary Classics, have entrance fees. These three all have YA categories. And, of course, there are the biggies from ALA. See which awards accept indie books.

Advertise. Occasionally having a sale on your book and advertising can help boost visibility. Advertising prices and results vary. Most, if not all, of these promotional sites have YA categories. Missing from the list, but popular with authors, are The Fussy Librarian and Bookbub (expensive, but results can be worth it).

Self-publishing has lost its earlier stigma of “vanity publishing,” and readers are embracing indie authors and their books. Indies have discovered the advantages of self-publishing: control over content and cover design, higher royalties, and quicker time to market.

Do the research, put out a quality product, work on marketing, and you can find success and satisfaction as an indie author.

Cynsational Notes

Linda Covella’s varied background and education (an AA degrees in art, an AS degree in mechanical drafting & design, and a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.

Her first official publication was a restaurant review column for a local newspaper. But when she published articles for various children’s magazines, she realized she’d found her niche: writing for children. She hopes to bring to kids and teens the feelings books gave her when she was a child: the worlds they opened, the things they taught, the feelings they expressed.

She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband, Charlie, and dog, Ginger.

No matter what new paths Linda may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment. Find Linda at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest and YouTube.

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30. Book Publicists

How to find and work with a book publicist.

https://janefriedman.com/find-book-publicist/

0 Comments on Book Publicists as of 3/12/2016 6:30:00 PM
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31. Guest Post: David Lubar on The Name of the Prose

Tor, 2016
By David Lubar
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I love it when people ask the title of my new book. I get to say, “Character, Driven.”

Then, if they nod knowingly, I add, “Character, comma, Driven.”

If they smile at that, I add, “It’s a plot-driven novel.”

I feel it’s a clever title. But a title has to be more than clever. It also has to be a good. It has a marketing job to do.

With 35 books or so to my credit, and close to 300 published short stories, I’ve created a lot of titles. Some were good. Some weren’t.

My first novel, published back in 1999, was about kids with special powers. The working title was "Psi School." I wanted something better.

Back then, I often watched "Double Dare" on Nickelodeon with my daughter. At the end of the show, host Mark Summers would ask if anyone in the audience had a hidden talent.


One day, as he said that, I realized Hidden Talents was a perfect title for my novel. This was back in the days when we didn’t instantly and constantly search the Internet for information.

Starscape, 2003
Starscape, 2004
It wasn’t until the book came out that I searched for it in online stores and discovered there was a Jayne Ann Krentz novel by the same name.

That’s when I learned my first rule: Try to make the title unique.

Even having a similar title can be a problem. I was aware that Wendelin von Draanen had written Flipped (Knopf, 2001) before I called a novel of mine Flip. (I couldn’t resist. The title fit the story so well.) I didn’t think it would be a problem.

I also didn’t think we’d ever be on the same panel at a conference. To this day, I still run into people who confuse the two books.

I didn’t have that problem with Dunk, which was about a boy who wants to work as a clown in a dunk tank. I checked. There wasn’t a previous book with that title. But the title presented another problem. I’ve met people who never picked up the book because they thought it was about basketball.

I guess there might have been people who picked it up for that very reason. Inevitably, some of them would be disappointed. My second rule: Avoid confusing potential readers.

Graphia, 2004
Dutton, 2005
A title has to work with a broad population. My novel, "Flux Sucks," was renamed at the last minute, out of fear that “sucks” might keep it off the shelves in some communities. The hastily created new title seems to be a good one. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie works well, I believe, because it is intriguing, and it can have multiple meanings.

I think the same holds true for Character, Driven. My main character, Cliff, is both driven to succeed in life and love, and driven by his friends because he lacks a car of his own.

The title also hints at the metafictional nature of the narrative.

I think my most successful title, in terms of marketability, caused a different sort of problem for me. The story collection, In the Land of the Lawn Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales (Starscape, 2003)(excerpt), inspired such brilliant cover art from illustrator Bill Mayer that I decided the next collection also needed a Weenie title story. It was a smart move.

There are now seven Weenies collections, with an eighth coming in September. But it is a mixed blessing. Some people don’t take the books seriously, for that very reason. I’ve seen them referred to as “garbage books” by one blogger, who I suspect never looked beyond the cover, and a friend told of hearing a parent tell a child who’d snatched up a copy at a book fair to “pick a real book.”

Happily, the millions of copies in print remind me that, all in all, it was a good decision to run with the Weenies. (Not to mention the endless jokes I get to make when authors gather.)

Darby Creek, 2006
I have a chapter book about a boy who is cursed to speak in puns. The title, Punished!, actually came to me first, inspiring the book. (I also wrote a sequel, Numbed!, where the same characters lose their math skills. That, too, began with the title.)

I never tire of saying to kids who select that book at a school signing, “I’m glad you got Punished!”

I feel it’s an excellent title. But I made a mistake when I went for emphasis. Some online book sellers aren’t set up to search for an exclamation point. So neither Punished! nor Punished will produce that book.

If you search for the keywords Punished and Lubar, you’ll find the book, and some alarming bondage photos (just kidding), but the truth is that people are often better at remembering titles than authors. So a title should be both memorable and searchable.

Speaking of which, I foolishly called an ebook of mine, built from stories that were deemed too problematic for the Weenies collections, Zero Tolerance Meets the Alien Death Ray and Other (Mostly) Inappropriate Stories. I suspect that many of the kids who heard me talk about it forgot the title by the time they got home. If not sooner.

I hope I chose wisely this time. As a title, Character, Driven is memorable (I hope), searchable (I tested the comma, and found no problems), and confusing only in a fun and ironic sort of way.

Is it a good title? I think so. But that’s really a question for the marketplace to decide. And that would be you. So let me know what you think. Or just smile and nod knowingly if we ever cross paths.

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32. How and When to Catch the Elusive Publicity Department — Part 1 of 2

Hi all! Stacey here with Lizzy Mason, Director of Publicity at Bloomsbury Children’s Books. This is the first of a two-part series on what our publicists do, and how to maximize our relationships with them. Today, Lizzy will be sharing with us a typical publicist’s timeline. Lizzy, take it away.

Whenever I meet an author and I tell them what I do, they always ask me the same question: “When is it okay to reach out to my publicist?” And I always think, Oh my! These poor neglected authors! But when I’m at my desk in the office, reading email, and I get a question about a book that’s more than six months away, I often think Oh, no, I’m not ready for you yet.

It’s not that I’m not excited about those books that are further away, often times I’m dying for them to come out already so I can talk about them, but there’s a reason why we publicists have a reputation for being tough to nail down: we’re working on A LOT of books and we need to focus on them at specific times.

Please bear in mind as you read this, though, that every situation is different. Some books are lead titles, others are school & library focused, and others we have basic plans for. But no matter what plans your publisher has, it’s good to start thinking early about what YOU can do to supplement them. The onus is not just on your publisher to promote your book. You need to do your part.

Here’s a general timeline for how I start a campaign:

18 months to 2 years before on-sale: I hear about the book for the first time, either at acquisitions or pre-launch.

9 months to 18 months before on-sale: I hear about the book a half dozen more times at launch, marketing preview, sales conference, target meetings, etc. (Mind you, these meetings are often called different names at different houses.) This is when the mysterious “plans” for books start getting discussed.

9 months before on-sale: By now, a marketing and publicity plan for your book should exist. Ask your agent to ask your editor to share the marketing plan when it’s ready. (I know that sounds crazy and indirect, but it’s best if things are funneled through your editor at this point. And we’ll take it more seriously in-house if the request comes from your agent.) Once your agent explains what it all means, you can start thinking of how you can assist with or supplement what the publisher is doing.

This is also when I start seriously considering when I have to put these plans in place. Did I say I’d send an author to a trade show, conference, or festival? Now is when I have to start doing those pitches. If you’re accepted for one of these, you might hear from me asking if you’re available to do it.

6 months before on-sale: This is around the time that I recommend setting up a call with publicity and marketing if you’ve got questions or want to tell them what you’re going to be doing. At Bloomsbury, we work very closely with marketing, so sometimes it’s confusing to figure which of us does what (and, of course, it’s a little bit different at every house). So I find it helpful to have both departments on the call.

5 to 6 months before on-sale: Things are picking up steam. I’m sending ARCs or F&Gs out to reviewers, I’ve been meeting with media and pitching your book, I’m starting to plan tours and events. Lots of things are at the beginning stages.

3 months before on-sale: I’m confirming long lead media (magazines, generally), trying to nail down interviews, features and reviews. I might also still be confirming events. If I’m doing a blog tour, this is when I’m planning who I’ll be asking to be a part of it.

1 to 2 months before on-sale: By now, most events that are happening near the on-sale date should be confirmed. (Though you probably won’t see a complete tour schedule for a while. Just the basics.) Travel is getting booked. The blog tour is getting confirmed. The details are coming together. This is also when we get finished books and begin sending them to media.

At on-sale: This is, of course, the key moment. By now, I’ve been following up with media to confirm reviews and interviews and should know what’s coming. Sometimes reviews will run a few weeks before on-sale, sometimes a few weeks after. (Or occasionally months later, that happens too, but not if we can help it.) But we try to plan for as much to happen right at on-sale, from reviews, to social media posts, to bookstore events. Now is the time to make sure people are talking about the book.

Next month, Lizzy will share her thoughts on swag, bloggers, event planning, and freelance publicists. Got a question about publicists? Leave it in the comments.

Lizzy pic

LIZZY MASON is the Director of Publicity at Bloomsbury Children’s Books. She previously worked in publicity at Disney, Macmillan Children’s, and Simon & Schuster, and graduated from Manhattan College (which is in the Bronx) with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. Lizzy dedicates whatever spare time she can to reading and writing YA fiction. She lives with her husband (and his comic collection) and their cat Moxie (who was named after a cat in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials) in Queens, NY. Follow her @LizzyMason21.

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33. Marvel Month-to-Month Sales January 2016: “LOOK AT THE STARS! (WHILE THE GROUND IS SHAKING)”

BenKenobiCroppedBannerSECRET WARS has finally ended...with a shocking sales twist!

10 Comments on Marvel Month-to-Month Sales January 2016: “LOOK AT THE STARS! (WHILE THE GROUND IS SHAKING)”, last added: 2/19/2016
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34. Image Comics Month-to Month Sales December 2015: Oh, What a Night

wicdivsahkmetA new year, a new Image of you.

10 Comments on Image Comics Month-to Month Sales December 2015: Oh, What a Night, last added: 2/13/2016
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35. Marvel Month-to-Month Sales December 2015: “THE GROUND IS THE LIMIT!”

secretwars-lgMagic is the new trend at Marvel!

10 Comments on Marvel Month-to-Month Sales December 2015: “THE GROUND IS THE LIMIT!”, last added: 2/11/2016
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36. New Voice: Melissa Gorzelanczyk on Arrows

On Twitter? Follow @MelissaGorzela.
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Melissa Gorzelanczyk is the first-time author of Arrows (Delacorte, 2016). From the promotional copy:

People don’t understand love.

If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. 

No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.

Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. 

And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma.

But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

Could you describe both your pre-and-post contract revision process? What did you learn along the way? How did you feel at each stage? What advice do you have for other writers on the subject of revision?

Like Melissa on Facebook.
Revising post-contract is a lot different than pre-contract.

The best part about post-contract revision is you have a clear path set by someone you (hopefully) trust. Your editor!

When my edit letters come in, I like to allow the feedback sit for a day or two before diving into the changes. That feels long enough to let any emotions attached to what she is telling me disappear.

 I wouldn’t recommend writing from a place of feeling wounded or defensive. You need to be open.

Once I’m open to the critique, I go through her letter and write a list of all the problems in my manuscript.

After that, I brainstorm possible solutions, making sure my favorites work on a big picture level. The process breaks down to finding solutions within all of my story elements—plot, setting, character, theme—and then onto chapter/scene/sentence level from there.

One thing to remember when revising post-contract is that your book will actually be out in the world someday. While this seems obvious, it’s easy to forget when you’re focused on the work at hand. Mainly, you want your editor to continue liking your book, right? Do not forget that now, in revision, you should also fix the things that don’t ring true to who you are.

Because people are (for reals) going to be reading your book in the near future! Make sure you feel proud and certain about the changes you are making.

Pre-contract is much harder, especially if you don’t have a critique partner you trust. The key is to find at least one.

Trade samples of each other’s work, and see if you like what the other person is saying to help make your story better. See if they work on the same turnaround as you. See if you feel comfortable being yourself when you email back and forth.

Melissa's office
My second piece of advice is to trust your story and your gut. Long ago, a valued beta reader of mine suggested that I consider taking the teen pregnancy aspect out of my YA novel Arrows. I decided not to, and that ended up helping my book sell to Delacorte. In fact, my book was pitched as “MTVs 'Teen Mom' meets Greek mythology.”

I’m not saying the beta reader was wrong. Maybe my book would sell a million more copies without the teen pregnancy plotline. Who knows. I’m just saying you don’t have to revise according to every comment, especially pre-contract.

Before sending your manuscript to beta readers, I suggest doing at least a couple revisions on your own. One of my favorite revising methods is a modified version of Susan Dennard’s revision method (just scroll down). Take her ideas and adapt them to fit your style.

For me, a simplified approach works best. My plan always starts with printing my manuscript and reading it in one sitting. I might make notes in the margins, or I might not. Then, like Dennard, I paperclip my chapters together and figure out what is or isn’t working with the plot, characters and setting.

This takes time! And this isn’t the place for line edits! Because believe me, for those first revision passes, your deleted scenes file may end up as long as your manuscript. That is okay.

Shed no tears.

This is how all books are made.

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”
Ernest Hemingway

How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making? Where did you get your ideas? To whom did you turn for support? Are you enjoying the process, or does it feel like a chore? What advice do you have on this front for your fellow debut authors and for those in the years to come?

Promoting my debut has been both exhausting and interesting. I’m still a few weeks from publication date (I’m writing this on 1/4/16), but I truly feel I’ve done all I can leading up to this point.

I try to remember that promoting a book is a slow burn, kind of like the publishing process as a whole. It doesn’t happen all at once.

The things I’m doing pre-publication are the things I’ll be doing all of next year.

Promotion starts by figuring out two things:

1. How much time you can devote to promotion.

2. How much money you can/want to spend.

I think every author should plan to spend some time and some money on their promotion, but no one really knows the magic combo. Personally, I devote half of my work day to promotion, as well as some nights and weekends, which I started doing when my book was about four months from publication.

Up to that point, I was working on promotion as things came up. There wasn’t a set schedule or plan. So I guess you could say that about four months to publication, I panicked, created a master spreadsheet and worked really hard to meet my goals.

As far as money, my guess is that I’ll have spent about $1,500 to $3,000 on promotion by the end of 2016. This estimate includes postage (budget more than you think you need), thank you cards, thank you gifts, bookmarks, buttons, postcards, my book trailer, conferences and my launch party. All of this is tax deductible.

I have no idea if this is high or low as far as a marketing investment, but as a debut, when deciding where to spend money, it made sense to go “all in.”

I’m curious how I’ll feel at the end of 2016. My advice is do what feels right for you.

Melissa's office
If you’re wondering where to start with promotion, I’d highly recommend joining a debut author group. I’m a member of the Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2k16.

Being able to ask fellow debuts questions has saved so much time in random Google searches/panicking. Plus it’s a safe place to share failures and successes, and well, meet people who “get it.” My author family is a whole new awesome kind of family.

Another thing you can do is study what successful authors are doing. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Add your personality and style to their ideas. For instance, if they are on Goodreads, you probably want to be there, too. If they are doing giveaways on Twitter, why not try one?

For your own sanity, stay organized. Write all of your ideas on a spreadsheet and add deadline dates so that you don’t feel completely overwhelmed.

Work on your promotion in bite-sized pieces. One blog post at a time. One bookmark order at a time. One Tweet at a time.

In my opinion, being a debut is a good time to say “yes”. Try all the blog articles you can. Answer every interview you can.

Yes, you want to make a book trailer? Figure out how to do that. Yes, create a professional website and blog, Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. Yes, send a monthly newsletter (I use MailChimp). 

Yes, you can do this!

Cynsational Notes

Melissa recommends: Ten Things Nobody Tells You about Being a Debut Novelist by Tim Federle.

https://thesweetsixteens.wordpress.com/

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37. Promotion Timing

If you're running a promotion, make sure it's in place before spreading the word on social media.

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2015/12/more-on-promotion-timing.html

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38. DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales December 2015: “And Lo, There Shall Be a Rebirth…”

dktmr-cv2-1-25-var-a9a7dWhat does Rebirth mean for DC's financial futures?

10 Comments on DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales December 2015: “And Lo, There Shall Be a Rebirth…”, last added: 2/3/2016
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39. Book Promotion

Can you launch a book without making yourself miserable?

https://janefriedman.com/can-you-promote-a-book-without-making-yourself-miserable/

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40. Podcorn Podcast 1/27/16– Could DC Comics’ “Rebirth” Change the Way You See Relaunches?

PodcornTVLogoCould #Rebirth really, truly, launch a DC Universe that looks like nothing we've ever seen before?

1 Comments on Podcorn Podcast 1/27/16– Could DC Comics’ “Rebirth” Change the Way You See Relaunches?, last added: 1/27/2016
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41. Instagram

With all the choices available in social media now, should you include Instagram in your marketing plans?

http://www.jkscommunications.com/should-you-be-using-instagram/

0 Comments on Instagram as of 1/25/2016 1:30:00 PM
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42. Author Brand

Your author brand is what helps readers recognize what they can expect in your writing.

http://writersinthestormblog.com/2015/12/22714/

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43. Are Blog Tours Worthwhile?

Should you include doing a blog tour to publicize your book?

http://www.girl-who-reads.com/2015/11/are-blog-tours-worth-doing.html

0 Comments on Are Blog Tours Worthwhile? as of 1/16/2016 11:41:00 AM
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44. Podcorn Podcast V4.15 — The Hidden Meanings Behind DC’s New Double Shipping Initiative

PodcornTVLogoEvery Wednesday, I talk about comics with Brandon Montclare, writer of the hit Image series Rocket Girl and co-writer of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series. We gab about what we’re reading now, what books we consider classics (Brandon loves Dark Knight Strikes Again…), and the hottest gossip of the industry.  Occasionally, the inimitable artist Amy Reeder (Rocket Girl, Batwoman) stops by.  Check out our full […]

6 Comments on Podcorn Podcast V4.15 — The Hidden Meanings Behind DC’s New Double Shipping Initiative, last added: 12/31/2015
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45. Is 2016 Your Year? Make A Writing Plan And Take Out The Guesswork

Becca and I love you guys. We want to see you break barriers, build careers, and enjoy success after writing success. Supporting you is what we’re about and what we do. We enjoy helping however possible, encouraging each of you to grow and be awesome as only you can.

2016To do this well, sometimes we have to nudge. Push a little, even. But our hearts are in the right place, because there’s no point candy coating the work it takes to be a successful writer. It will require every drop of strength and persistence you have to keep moving forward in the face of obstacles, rejection and doubt. You will have to grow thick skin, thicker than you ever thought possible. You will have to wear the hat of a learner, because you will never know it all or reach a point of ‘good enough’ when it comes to writing. There will always be more craft to absorb, more skills to hone, more marketing and business challenges to overcome, more work needed to expand your career, year after year.

So in our tough-love yet encouraging fashion, Becca and I are starting the year with a challenge for you: steer your own ship. Make a plan. Treat your writing like the business it is.

And this isn’t hot air, I promise–we live what we preach. Since organizing ourselves and adopting a yearly business plan in 2012, we have accelerated our careers. Not only have we built multiple businesses, published books in 5 languages, created a one-of-a-kind writing library and grown Writers Helping Writers into a learning hub with a loyal following, we teach and speak professionally as writing coaches. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen easily, but it happened.

And guess what? Neither one of us is special. We don’t have a magic 8-ball, or pet hamsters that shoot lasers out of their eyes while predicting the future. We’re just Angela and Becca, two writers who met in an online critique group.

What’s I’m saying is…if we can do this, you can too. So let’s get started. :)

Organize The Chaos

Most say writers write, but I think writers actually juggle. Yes, they do write, edit, and learn. But they also research the industry and their audience, build a brand, create a platform, handle marketing, promote, and run a business. And that, my friend, is juggling.

Trying to master all these aspects of a writing career is chaotic. There are countless books and articles to read on various subjects of writing, publishing and marketing, experts to heed, social media platforms to navigate, people to connect to and opportunities to take advantage of. And often what happens is the writer is pulled into so many directions at once, no real headway is made on bigger goals. Instead writing time is spent on a million mini tasks that seem valid at the time, but may not be.

planIn 2012, Becca and I found our time was being eaten by all the little things that come with running a larger site like Writers Helping Writers. Our days were spent neck deep in email, social networking, blog comments, and guest posting. And guess what wasn’t getting done? Writing. And well, that’s sort of the point, wouldn’t you say?

We knew we needed to organize ourselves and prioritize better. We wanted a way to measure each opportunity that came our way and make better decisions with our time. Luckily, my husband is a business management consultant, and he led us through the process of creating a business plan. The start was to assess where we were at, and define where we still needed to grow.

Ask Yourself The Tough Questions

In the business world, assessments are common. People are brought in to examine departments and processes, do risk assessments, and conduct 360° reviews on employees. A company needs to be efficient and functional to prosper, and a writer’s career is no different. So take a step back and look at where you are at. What areas did you focus on this past year, and what was your progress toward big goals? If you could do it all over, would you do it the same way, or organize your time differently?

Taking stock of where you are, and where you want to go is a great way to hone in on what to focus on in the coming year. If you can be honest about areas you are weaker in and what you must strengthen to position yourself better, you’ll save yourself heartache. For example, if your writing is really strong, you have a book you feel is marketable but you have no online presence whatsoever, spending more energy honing your craft isn’t the best use of your time. Instead, you might want to make getting yourself online, learning how to network and find ways to build relationships with your potential audience a primary focus. Yes, this might seem scary, but pushing out of your comfort zone will help you grow.

Likewise, if you are a Social Media queen but your writing skills are less-than-adequate, start boning up on your writing craft. Read, take classes and practice technique. A great platform will not sell a poorly written book.

Be a Planner, Not a Pantser

pantsLots of writers like to “pants” it. A little, a lot, maybe the whole book is written on the fly, a joy ride from start to finish. What will the main character do? Where will he go? How will the book end? Who knows—that’s all part of the fun.

And pantsing might work great…in fiction. But in business, pantsing will hurt you, or perhaps better said, will hurt your potential. Because while you’re flying along, researching weather patterns for a new story idea you have here, increasing your twitter following there, and flirting with a group promotion or two when invites roll in…you are missing the forest for the trees. Rather than take confident strides toward achieving specific goals to help you leap forward, you’re taking half-steps in too many directions and hardly getting anywhere.

Like Becca and I did, you might need some structure. A road map, a way to determine what areas are the most important to work on, what goals should be the focus, and the timeline needed for each. You won’t believe how well this will help keep you on track, and just how much more you’ll get done in a year.

encourageI realize for many, the words, “business plan” probably sounds intimidating, but it really is so simple—7 steps will get you there. In fact, I wrote a post about the process at Jane Friedman’s blog, so please, check it out. Everything you need is there—the steps, a template, and even an example of one of our old business plans. (Take advantage of some free professional business consulting!)

You love what you do, and you work hard every day, I know it. You are capable of so much, so challenge yourself! Make 2016 your year.

Happy writing and business-planning,

Angela

 

 

Image1: geralt @ Pixabay
Image2:McLac2000 @ Pixabay
Image3: JosephKah @pixabay
Image4: Alexas_fotos@pixabay

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46. DC Comics Month-Month Sales November 2015: “All of This has Happened Before…”

dkiii-promo-image-sdcc-copyOur resident sales analyst David Carter looks into DKIII's BIG debut!

10 Comments on DC Comics Month-Month Sales November 2015: “All of This has Happened Before…”, last added: 1/9/2016
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47. The Year Ahead: Ideas for an ailing DC in 2016

superman_wonder_womanWhat does DC need to do to change its fortunes in the year to come?

10 Comments on The Year Ahead: Ideas for an ailing DC in 2016, last added: 1/8/2016
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48. Podcorn Podcast: Best of the Comics Industry 2015

PodcornTVLogoBrandon and Alex talk about the best comics and comics creators of 2015!

0 Comments on Podcorn Podcast: Best of the Comics Industry 2015 as of 1/8/2016 6:40:00 AM
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49. Book Promotion

Can you market your book without making yourself miserable?

https://janefriedman.com/can-you-promote-a-book-without-making-yourself-miserable/

0 Comments on Book Promotion as of 1/12/2016 8:15:00 PM
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50. Free Events

If you're published, should you still be doing free events?

http://uncommonya.com/?p=889

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