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In the space of a week, I’ve gone from the heights to the depths.
First, the good news.
Last week, I was thrilled to learn that my book, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross was given a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. This book has defied all the odds–just as Wisdom has done.
“. . .Pattison writes crisply and evocatively, and her closing notes provide a wealth of information and resources for readers interested in Wisdom and her fellow albatrosses.” Publisher’s Weekly 2/18/13
The story is about a 60+ year-old albatross who lives on Midway Island and survived the Japanese tsunami. For over 60 years, she has soared over the North Pacific, only coming to shore to breed. Scientists estimate that she has hatched over 35 chicks, including one each year for the last five years. Last year’s chick was named Wonder and this year’s chick–just a couple weeks old now–was named Mana’olana, Hawaiian for Hope. Yes, a 62-year-old bird just hatched a new chick!
After the 2011 Japanese tsunami, I heard her story of survival and within six weeks, I had contacted scientists, researched her life and times and written her story. I contacted about twenty publishers and none would publish it. I decided to work with my long-time friend, wildlife artist Kitty Harvill to publish it from my own imprint, Mims House. Now, I’ve been in this business long enough to know that it would be a long hard road. But it was an important story, one I couldn’t let go.
It won the Children’s Book category of the 20th annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published award, a $1000 cash prize. So, I submitted it to Publisher’s Weekly for review and it earned a Starred Review! Right now, it is an Amazon bestseller (for the spring season, the ebook version is only $0.99).
The starred review was especially nice, because it was a validation of all the work we had put into the book. Go look for yourself: self-published can be quality.
Next, the Bad News
Publishing has weird math. 9 months + 5 revisions = NO.
The rejection I got yesterday was shocking and painful.
For nine months, I have been working with someone on a project and it has developed in amazing ways. The critiques were spot-on and I revised like crazy. I deleted chapters, added chapters, rearranged chapters, deepened characters, searched for ways to add humor. Then, I did it again: I added a character, took out a subplot, deepened characters and searched yet again for ways to add humor. I expanded the climax scene, set it up better. I created a stronger emotional arc, added a stronger villain. I revised.
I love this story now.
It was rejected.
The world tilted for me yesterday.
Nine months. Three major (huge, gigantic, difficult, rewarding) revision and a couple more minor ones.
Yet, the moon rose as usual, I slept.
The sun rose as usual, I got up and showered and ate breakfast.
I have already queried someone else and will send it to them today.
I am raw. I feel wounded. A trust betrayed. A grieving because they couldn’t see the story in front of them; they only saw what they would have written, if only they were writers.
Are they right? Are they wrong?
I don’t know.
I only know that this is a heartbreaking week, but last week was an uplifting week. This is just the heights and the depths of our profession; somehow, it feels normal. And regardless of the reaction of others to what I write, my job is to plod along putting one word after another.
“The Many Faces of George Washington”
Author Carla McClafferty talks at a Comcast/C-SPAN welcoming event in Little Rock about her book – which follows the process Mt. Vernon used to create life models of George Washington as a young man, commander of American forces in the revolution, and as our nation’s first President.
Airtimes: in central Arkansas–Central Standard Time:
Saturday, March 31st 11am
Saturday, March 31st 8:15pm
Sunday, April 1st 10:15pm
Darcy Pattison on Color Your Life Happy BlogTalk Radio Show
Why Revision is Critical to Your Success.
Writers have two challenges. First, they must resist the tremendous urge to edit while creating the rough draft. Second, they must develop the patience to edit, revise, and polish the rough draft once it’s finished.
Upon recognizing the important role of revision, James Michener said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
Join host Flora Brown and guest, Darcy Pattison, author and writing teacher, when she reveals why revision of your book is a critical part of your writing success. She will share how revision allows for distance, reflection and vital feedback and eventually the discovery of your voice and the story you were meant to tell.
Computer Woes. First, my server has been wonky for the last two weeks–apologies. If you have any difficulty getting to pages, please send me an email so I can straighten it out (darcy at darcypattison dot com).
Travel. For me, this summer included a great two-week trip to China. Our friend of ten years was getting engaged and invited us to the engagement party. Wow, what a great trip. So much to see and do–and we did all the usual things. Beijing in July was very smoggy. But we had a couple clear days to climb the Great Wall and see the Forbidden City. My favorite part was wandering the streets, as you’ll see in this video of a street vendor blowing a caramel-sugar pig:
Why can’t I do cool research, I wondered? So, I went and had my throat slashed. Well, technically, they called it minor surgery as they took out my thyroid. But I now have the personal experience to go with Dori’s to write that mystery thriller. Hmmm. Maybe I don’t like research so much.
Back to Normal. But all it well here in the mid-South. And I’m back in the saddle with lots of plans for fall!
Plans for Fall.
Random Acts of Publicity: By Wednesday, I’ll have the complete info posted on this fun week when it’s “All About Your Friend’s Book.”
And I’m planning a September series on the Writer’s Voice.
So, how was YOUR summer? Any interesting trips, research, writing? Please share your good news!
The 3rd Annual Random Acts of Publicity, September 6-8, 2011 is a week to celebrate your Friend’s book, or your favorite book, by doing a Random Act of Publicity: Blog, link, Like, review, or talk about the book . (BLLuRT it Out!)
Daily posts here on Fiction Notes (www.darcypattison.com) will offer tips, wisdom and Prizes for your Friend!
Twitter: Use #RAP2011
September 6: Guest Susan Raab
“Brand Building Square One” by Susan Raab, President of Raab Associates, www.raabassociates.com.
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win one of 15 FREE Giveaways of a 15-minute book marketing consultation provided by Raab Associates.
September 7: Guests Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy
Many Hands Make Light Work – or How Two Heads are Better than One by Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy, Blue Slip Media, www.blueslipmedia.com
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win a 15-minute book marketing consultation provided by Blue Slip Media.
September 8: Guest Deborah Sloan
Create Buzz by Connecting with Readers by Deborah Sloan of Deborah Sloan & Company. www.deborahsloanandcompany.com
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win a one-hour book marketing consultation provided by Deborah Sloan & Company.
September 9: Guest Dana Lynn Smith
How to Get Your Book Reviewed by Dana Lynn Smith of The Savvy Book Marketer. www.thesavvybookmarketer.com
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win a FREE copy of How to Get Your Book Reviewed by Dana Lynn Smith
Post your Friend’s name/book title on the Facebook page for Random Acts of Publicity to be entered to win a FREE The Book Trailer Manual by Darcy Pattison. One ebook given away daily; must post Friend’s name that day to be eligible and you can post it each day if you like.
NOTE: You may not enter your own name in any of these prize giveaways. By posting a person’s name you acknowledge that you have asked their permission and the post is with their knowledge. Please note carefully WHERE to comment for each giveaway. They all require you to comment on the POST at Fiction Notes (www.darcypattison.com). The EXCEPTION is the ongoing drawing for The Book Trailer Manual; for this giveaway and this one only, please post on the Random Acts of Publicity Facebook page.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Who can participate?
Anyone who wants to help a book get noticed by readers. We are focusing on helping a Friend’s book get noticed, but you can also choose to help your favorite book get noticed.
What do I do?
BLLuRT or Post. Or both.
BLLuRT (http://bit.ly/RAoP2011). The basic tasks for book marketing online remain the same, BLLuRT! Do one of these each day for your Friend’s book or for your favorite book.
I’m still celebrating the publication of my picture book, PRAIRIE STORMS, by creating another video. This time, I attended the AETN-PBS Family Day event in Conway, AR, where I talked with parents and kids about reading and books. I invited the kids to be “You Tube” Stars by answering a simple question: What is a Rainbow?
As you might imagine, we got a wide range of answers. See what observations these young scientists made!
Excerpt from The Book Trailer Manual by Darcy Pattison
Most authors make a book trailer and stop. This is my third book trailer for PRAIRIE STORMS, and I plan more. This chapter explains why multiple videos are a great idea.
More than one book trailer? Does this question surprise you? You’re unsure about doing one video, much less a couple. Should you really think about more than one book trailer for your book? Yes. Here’s why.
Networking: Like every other social media, it’s your network that counts. And networks grow when you post regular content to keep them coming back. You may want a series of trailers spread out over several months, so viewers – and readers – have reasons to come back often.
Short Life of a Video: In May 2010, Jay Yarow and Kamelia Angelova reported that the shelf life of a video is very short. Half the viewers of a YouTube.com video come in the first six days. 75% of the viewers are within the first 20 days. Of course, there’s going to be a long tail, in which your video gets a few hits/day for a long time. But if you want a high level of sustained interest, you might want to consider a series of videos, distributed 1-3 weeks apart.
There is precedence in the online world for multiple marketing messages. Often marketers use an auto-responder to set up a series of messages which are automatically sent to an email list at specified intervals. For example, you might sign up for an camera site’s newsletter because they promise to send a series of three tutorials on taking portraits with a digital camera. You sign up and get your first issue of the newsletter right away, along with a second email that contains the first tutorial. The second and third tutorials turn up at one week intervals. These automated deliveries are via an auto-responder.
The idea behind auto-responder messages is to build your audience’s trust in your ability to offer something valuable on a long term basis.
When her father goes soldiering for a year, a girl decides that without Dad at home, it’s not a family photo album. Though her beloved Nanny is in charge of the album that year, the girl makes sure that photographs of her never turn out well. Photos are blurred, wind blows hair in her face. April rains bring umbrellas to hide behind. Halloween means a mask. This poignant, yet funny family story, expresses a child’s anger and grief for a Dad whose work takes him away for long periods of time. It’s a tribute to the sacrifices made by military families and to those who care for children when a family needs support.
THIS STORY IS A WINNER!
In conjunction with “The Help” movie (www.thehelpmovie.com), TakePart.com (www.takepart.com/thehelp) recently sponsored three writing contests: a recipe contest, an inspirational story contest and a children’s story contest. TakePart is the digital division of Participant Media which aims to bolster a movie’s audience with a message of social change. THE HELP movie campaign emphasized the role of stories in people’s lives.
Notice: This site and the story are not endorsed by or affiliated with TakePart, LLC or the motion picture “The Help” and or its distributors.
READ THE BOOK!
Darcy Pattison’s story, “11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph” is the winning children’s story. It is a free download at www.takepart.com/thehelp, or download it here (pdf download).
Coming in May: The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman in Paperback
Dear Friends of Oliver & Imogene:
Shhh. It’s a surprise! To celebrate the paperback edition of Oliver’s story, I have created a new group on Flickr.com,(http://www.flickr.com/groups/oliverkwoodman/) the photo sharing website, that will help teachers use the book more effectively in the classroom.
The point is for schools, teachers, and families around the US to post pictures of Oliver or Imogene in their towns. Teachers will then have an interactive map with photos from around the United States and the world!
Only two requirements: Each photo must be Geotagged, so it will show up on the Group Map. And if you post a student’s picture, you must have parental permission.
The official rollout of the website will be May 1. Before the party begins, I’d like to have some photos already included on the site.
If you have photos of Oliver or Imogene, then upload and geo-tag your photos! Even one photo from your town will add to the fun. Instructions for uploading and geotagging are available on the website when you join. But rest assured: it’s simple!
Ask one other teacher, librarian or family member to join, too. Forward this posting to a friend.
Visit the Flickr site on May 1 to see where Oliver & Imogene have traveled.
P.S. Please forward this posting to just one other person. Even one more person adding one photo from a different location will help make a difference for Oliver.
P.P.S. Or Stumbleupon this posting to help others find the fun!
The site allows authors to set up pages describing their books and how they might do a Skype visit. Skype is the online audio/video free phone service; a Skype visits allows an author to see students and students to see the author.
Authors are asked to do one of two types of Skype visits:
No Charge – Meet the Author Visit – 10 to 15 minutes
In-Depth Visit – 30-60 Minutes – Charge to be determined by author
It’s wise to have your page planned before you sign up, so there’s no time when you have a blank page. So, gather all the photos you want to use, write the copy and be ready to cut and paste it into place. As you write, think hard about what a librarian would want to know about your books and yourself that would entice them to contact you.
Once you’ve updated it, publicize it! Share it with the publicist at your publisher, share it with your editors, post it on your site, etc. Check out Wetpaint’s Droplets as a great way to add an promo to any website, blog or social site.
Ongoing tasks: As you have more books published, be sure to update this after you update your own site. Keep the contact information up to date.
Set up your Webcam
One final thing you’ll want to do before going live with the Skype an Author site is to test out your Skype/Webcam set up. I discovered, for example, that the lighting in my office is great for doing work on the computer, but awful for doubling as a video studio. Here is one videos to get you started on simple lighting. Look for other tutorials.
On July 15, I reported that I was going to try a GoodReads Giveaway for my new picture book, Prairie Storms.
To recap, GoodReads reports these are typical results from a giveaway:
21% of members have a book blog
750-785 people enter the average giveaway.
8% of those who enter will add the book to their to-read list.
To say it a different way: 50 books added to user’s TO-READ shelf
45% of the winners will review the book.
8 reviews (1% of entrants & 42% of winners)
My Setup of the GoodReads Giveaway of Prairie Storms
Here’s how my giveaway was set up:
Goodreads suggests that you let a giveaway contest run for 1-2 months. Mine ran from July 15 to the release date, August 10–so only 25 days, barely the minimum suggested.
There were 2 books offered. You can offer whatever number you want.
My Results of GoodReads Giveaway of Prairie Storms
In 25 days, 554 people entered the giveaway contest.
There are now 6 ratings and 5 reviews. (1% of entrants)
45 added it the their TO-READ Shelf (8% of entrants)
GoodReads was easy to work with. They did the work of tracking who entered and the day it ended, they randomly selected winners and sent me the addresses.
Overall, the giveaway was about average, especially considering the short amount of time. I am pleased with the results. I’ll probably do another one this fall before Christmas, when the market is high for children’s books. Definitely a good experience for me.