June 7th, 2011 · No Comments
One of the best things you can do, when promoting your book, is to think like a journalist. You have a beat to cover and that beat is you and your writing. Look for stories that pertain to the subject matter in your novels, the themes you explore in your work and try to expand on them in a way that would interest everyone. Authors often say to me, “But I write fiction? I make these stories up and there isn’t any earth-shattering revelation in my work. It’s just about women and friendship (or divorce, death, marriage, children).” I always tell my authors that these are the stories that people gravitate towards, these are the personal stories that hold the most interest, these are the stories producers and editors go looking for when covering a topic. If you have written a book about divorce, a novel that explores the ins and outs of one of the most difficult times in a person’s life, then you should explore that in a way that will grab an editor’s (and ultimately a reader or viewer’s interest). Research it. How many divorces take place in year? What is the real percentage of marriages that end in divorce? Are there any headline grabbing names (i.e., Hollywood, Political) who are currently going through a divorce? Tackle your subject and research it daily. Set a google alert to let you know when your topic is mentioned in the news or on blogs. Authors often say, “But I’m not an expert. Who am I to weigh in on divorce/death/marriage?” If you have written a novel exploring a topic, then you are an expert. You have spent enough hours delving into the intricacies of this topic to consider yourself an expert. An expert continues to research and explore a topic and that is exactly what you are doing. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, is considered an expert on happiness because she focuses an entire blog on just that topic. She writes about it daily, thinks about it all the time and explores every angle possible. If you can do that with the themes explored in your novels, then you should share your knowledge…as an expert.
Start every day by scanning newspapers, major online news sites and news programs. Stay alert to what is relevant, what news stories are trending, and where the interest seems to be. If something comes up in any one of these outlets that you feel pertains to your work, your writing or your life, start jotting down ideas. Write about it in your blog or mention it on one of your social media sites (Facebook, Twitter). Stay curious and alert at all times because all it takes is one story or “hook” and you could get the exposure that will help increase the visibility of you and your work.
June 1st, 2011 · 1 Comment
Here is the thing about book tours. They can be exhausting for the author and don’t necessarily result in exposure that will move your book up in sales. There are many writers who love hitting the open road, traveling to bookstores across the country, directly interacting with booksellers and readers. However, it can be difficult to have the stamina and the ego to take on a book tour. You will go to bookstore signings where there will only be three people in attendance (and two of them probably work for the bookstore). And unless your publisher is paying for this tour, it can get pretty expensive. All-in-all, a book tour is oftentimes not the best use of your time, energy and finances. However, one author that I recently spoke with, did a book tour, ended up in a bookstore with three people there for the signing (and yes, two were book store employees) but the third person was a freelance writer for a major magazine who ended up connecting with the author, writing about the book on the magazine’s website and creating a lot of buzz for this particular author. Sometimes, it does benefit to just put yourself out there. I always suggest that authors reach out to their local bookstores for signings or if they are already planning on traveling somewhere, reach out to bookstores in those areas, as well.
However, a blog tour is a much more efficient way to spread the word about your book without spreading yourself too thin. Blog tours allow you to interact with readers, use social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter) to increase the attention of the blog tours and generate interest for you and your book. Research say that people need to hear a title or name at least seven times before it generates a reaction, appearing in numerous places online is a great way to bring enough exposure to your name to have people react and pay attention.
April 21st, 2011 · No Comments
Admit it. You’ve said it, or something along the lines of it. You’re feeling worn out, burned out or just want to get out.
“I can’t do this anymore.”
“I’m not a marketer, I’m a writer.”
“If I spend so much time selling myself, I’ll have nothing left.”
“My writing will suffer.”
“I’ll start annoying people.”
These are the common worries that people have when promoting their writing. They don’t feel qualified or capable of building “buzz.”
To quote a line from The Kings Speech.
“I deserve to be heard! I have a voice!”
We all have a voice and our passions fuel our thoughts, our voices, and what we say. The book you write is an extension of yourself.
Haven’t you wanted to be a writer all of your life? Wasn’t that the career you aspired to? The writing is the creative side but as with all careers, it can’t all be creative work, it’s also about money. You want to sell more books, earn more money and become desirable to your publishing house. You have to get out there. Let your voice be heard!
Things are changing. Selling and marketing books isn’t the way it used to be. There are many more channels, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online reviews, and more competition. We can’t rely solely on securing a review in the book section of a major paper. Not only are those sections diminishing and restructuring their focus, but it is increasingly difficult for different voices (particularly new voices) to be heard.
Think back to when you were trying to get published, stomping the pavement to secure that perfect agent, to find the editor who connected with your work, you were persistent and dedicated to an ultimate goal. This is where many writers think the journey ends. This is where they are wrong. Now you have a new goal…find those readers. Maybe you will find your best reader, the one who belongs to 15 book clubs and writes for her local paper, on a website devoted to psychology enthusiasts. Maybe your work will connect with a columnist who will tell everyone she knows about this great book she read! Maybe a producer for a talk show reads the op-ed section of a particular paper every day and that is where she stumbles upon your essay and falls in love with your voice.
There are so many opportunities out there for writers. So even if you’re feeling like you don’t have it in you to toot your own horn or spread the word about your book, you owe it to yourself and your work. This is your job. Don’t just get it done. Excel! Strive for what seems out of reach and keep pounding the pavement. Go out on that limb, as the saying goes, because that’s where you’ll find the fruit.
April 7th, 2011 · No Comments
April 4th, 2011 · No Comments
Much has been written about, discussed, dissected and scrutinized about self-publishing phenomenon Amanda Hocking and her reported $2 million deal with St. Martins. Before that there was the news that bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a six-figure deal and opted to self publish. Both authors are receiving significant press and publicity. It’s hard to say if Eisler would be such a household name right now if he hadn’t chosen to self-publish or if Hocking’s books would be downloaded at such an intense rate if she hadn’t just translated her self-publishing success into a multi-book deal.
We have witnessed success in self-publishing from many different angles and seen the success an author can acquire by building their platform through self-publishing and attracting mainstream attention. In some ways, self-publishing can be a great way to get your foot in the door, show publishers what you are capable of, and build a strong and supportive readership. With the multiple outlets for social networking and exposure that we have at our fingertips, it does change the rate at which authors can get the word out about their work and build a strong buzz.
Here’s what I like about Amanda Hocking, she writes! She’s written more than 15 books. She blogs regularly, constantly recording her side of the story, her views on publishing, her life as a writer. She actively and enthusiastically self-promotes.
Self-publishing offers writers the opportunity to jump right into the thick of things, to get their feet wet and get their words published. It is a risky and dangerous jump but it can have great rewards. Amanda Hocking offers her readers good stories at a cheap price and available at the click of mouse. These are all opportunities that were not available to writers a few years ago.
The changes we are witnessing in the publishing industry are complex and constantly shifting but they are showing us one thing, writers are being given more and more opportunities to do what they love, write and have their words read. Self-publishing is not going to harm or take business away from traditional publishers. Most writers, even those who have chosen self-publishing, still have the ultimate goal of being picked up by a traditional publisher. Traditional publishers can offer greater opportunities to authors immediately, the support and reception that comes from being with a recognizable publishing house can give an author a leg up. While self-published authors can steadily build significant careers (see JA Konrath) it can feel more like an uphill battle. There are many book review websites, magazines, and newspapers who will not review a self-published title.
There tends to be a stigma attached to self-published work that it is poorly edited, was rejected by publishers and is an authors “last resort.” However, with stories like Eisler’s and Hocking, as well as our clients Brunonia Barry and Lisa Genova, self-publishing can prove extremely fruitful and part of an authors journey towards a successful and fulfilling career. For many, self-publishing is a step towards a specific destination, the goal of being traditionally published. For others, it is a way to fulfill a simple dream, to see their words in print. Whether self-publishing is part of your journey or the culmination of a dream, it is up to the author to build their name and get exposure for their work. Traditionally published authors have the same goal, bring their work to the attention of readers.
What I love about Hocking and Eisler and Konrath and Barry and Genova is that they make people talk about publishing, about books about an industry that has been around for hundreds of years and continues to grow and change, thrive and inspire.
April 1st, 2011 · No Comments
March 30th, 2011 · No Comments
One thing that the push towards digital may create is an increase in the art and artistry of printed books.
Fast Company recently profiled Penguin books cover designer Coralie Bickford-Smith and The Atlantic ran a piece on their hand sewn covers that will be releasing soon.
Penguin seems to be the leader in this area, but as word spreads and interest grows in collecting books as works of art, not just to read, the growth may be significant.
March 29th, 2011 · No Comments
Christina Katz has a great article in the March/April issue of Writers Digest on 50 simple ways to build your platform in 5 minutes a day. The constant throughout her piece is this: always be thinking about your book and how you can incorporate it into what is going on in the world. We give our clients this piece of advice frequently. This is one of the reasons we suggest that our authors start blogs. Many of them are apprehensive about venturing into blog territory. They are filled with questions like, “How do I build up traffic to my blog?” and “What do I write about?” Our advice is simple, just write. You will find that you start gravitating towards similar topics, topics that you cover in your writing, topics that you are passionate about. Putting yourself on a writing schedule, motivating yourself to write daily with a nonfiction hook is a great way to start generating ideas and recognizing angles for your work to be covered. Train your brain to look for hooks everywhere and you will begin to develop angles that you can pitch to publications or websites. Search online for people writing about similar topics and connect with them. Build your online network and share and cultivate ideas.
Katz recommends that writers master the 5-minute release. “Zoom in on the latest happenings, holidays and story hooks and tie your book into it. Write 5-minute mini-press releases and send them out regularly.” Sometimes authors find themselves overwhelmed by all the great ideas they have for promoting their work that they don’t actually take the time to write them down and actively pursue them. Ideas should be written down as they occur, who knows which one is going to be the tipping point for your success.
February 28th, 2011 · No Comments
Here’s what’s going on this week in the literary landscape.
-Could the Kindle be free by November? It’s possible. However, what is most likely going to happen is that Amazon Prime members will be eligible for a free device, according to Michael Arrington at Tech Crunch.
-Half of this year’s best movies were based on books. Independent.
-Here is some new information on Ebooks for libraries. Library Journal.
-Interesting article on the importance of social media for authors. Guardian.
-Upcoming Books-to-Film releases. NPR.
-Alternative outlets for bookselling. NYTimes.
February 25th, 2011 · 2 Comments
With the rapidly changing dynamic of the publishing industry, the online presence of authors and their books is becoming increasingly significant. The immediacy that online sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs and book-related social networking sites like GoodReads and LibraryThing, provide for authors to publicize and sell their work is incredibly efficient. The opportunities these sites provide are growing daily and creative angles are being discovered and utilized much more frequently and with more successful results.
Twitter’s ability to create trends using the hashtag symbol, unite groups with the creation of lists and allow for direct contact between reader and author is an incredibly useful tool for book promotion. The built-in audience that author’s have to promote their work immediately through Twitter is becoming a much used resource in marketing strategies.
Publishers, publicists and authors are running contests on Twitter where people who Retweet certain postings are instantly entered to win giveaways including copies of books, bookmarks, and gift baskets of book-related items. These retweets are a great way of bringing more attention to a company or author’s specific Twitter feed and results in more followers and more exposure for the books they are promoting.
In order for Twitter to be effective as a promotional tool you must have a significant number of followers and the only way to increase your following is to post frequently, follow people and retweet posts you find interesting. Providing interesting links to articles on your Twitter feed is a great way to encourage other Twitter users to retweet your postings and bring new eyes to your profile.
Twitter parties are a relatively new strategy but are proving fruitful in both generating more followers and increasing your book’s exposure on Twitter. For example, young adult author Lisi Harrison is hosting a Twitter party for her newest release, A Tale of Two Pretties. She is cross promoting the Twitter party on her highly trafficked blog as well as through her publishers site.
Twitter is a helpful and useful platform to bring people with similar interests together and Twitter parties are simply a way for these people to interact at a specified time, thus creating a more immediate virtual connection.
Writer Rachel Aydt recently interviewed me for a piece in Publishing Perspectives on Twitter and its power to bring readers and writers together. Her article beautifully examines the changing world of publishing and the growing online community.
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