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December 28, 2012
One good way is with a copy of the Writer’s Guide to 2013.
If you want insider information for what’s important to writers in the coming year, this is your book. Over 200 editors, publishers, agents, and industry professionals review what’s coming in 2013.
There are five sections of articles (39 total), plus a sixth section on contests and conferences. The book is divided into:
- Business & Career
- Contests & Conferences
A Taste Treat
To whet your appetite, let me quote from one article in each of the five sections.
From “Markets”–”Big Fish, Little Pond: The Saga of the Midlist Writer”: This article deals with most writers, those of us who haven’t won a Newbery or hit the NY Times bestseller list, but are good writers (often with substantial sales records). As the author of the article notes, these midlist writers are “being abandoned by the ship and left to fend for [themselves]. As a result, midlisters either pursue self-publishing routes or seek out the harbor of smaller houses that welcome their talents.” The article goes on to detail some excellent ideas and goals for midlisters in this fluctuating publishing time.
From “Style”–”Characters in Conflict”: This article takes the average advice on conflict several steps deeper so that your conflict will be both meaningful and gripping to the reader. The conflict needs to be important and difficult, complex and challenging. “If you typically start with a plot concept, ask yourself what kind of person would have the most trouble in that situation while still being able–just barely–to succeed. If you typically start with character, focus on the characters’ primary needs and how they would define themselves. Then figure out which situations would most challenge them.” The author takes you step by step through this process, with good examples, so you can create your character/conflict combination that really works.
From “Business & Career”–”Maximize Your Writing Productivity”: I wish I could quote the whole article for you here! It is full of very useful tips and ideas. I liked how the premise of the article points out a vital truth. One writer is quoted as saying, “Create a vision of what ongoing success would look like for you, and then go for that. Don’t dwell on or pursue other people’s glory.” Depending on what success means to you, you will find certain productivity tips helpful and others useless. Decide where you want to go first. “Goals that do not fit your individual personality and vision…may fade away.” The author gives practical ways to deal with things like email, Facebook, etc. “Internet activities, games on your smartphone, or Downton Abbey are not the only time pirates. People, yes, even those we love, can undermine productivity.”
From “Research”–”Nostalgia: Getting It Right”: Because I’m at the age that I remember with longing some simpler, quieter times, this article caught my attention. What is nostalgia, and why are there so many markets for it? (I was astounded at the market listings in this article–nearly 25 of them.) “The song ‘Remember’ that is so poignantly offered in the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail strikes at the heart of what it means to experience nostalgia. It is a deep pining for something long ago and far away.” If you have those pinings, check out what editors say they want most in the nostalgia market.
From “Ideas”–”Creativity: Where Does It Come From & How Do I Get Some?”: This lengthy article does a good job of simplifying the right brain/left brain information using recent brain research, talks about how your individual personality affects how you create and what tips you will find helpful, and then gives many good ideas for what the author calls putting your creative self “on a strength-training regiment that you have the discipline to commit to on a consistent basis.” I know my own creative muscles get under-used and flabby, and I found the suggestions very useful.
FREE 30-DAY EXAMINATION
Order the Guide here and use it for 30 days. If you don’t find the Writer’s Guide to 2013 as valuable as I think you will during your free examination period, simply return the book, and they will promptly refund the full purchase price you paid.
I love no-risk deals!
September 14, 2012
I’ve moaned and groaned in the past about marketing. I’ve bought marketing books, only to find that they were geared more to adult writers or suggested ideas I couldn’t afford.
But last month I bought an ebook that lived up to its name called How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller by Katie Davis, an author and illustrator. She also does podcasts, a blog, a newsletter, and webinars on marketing children’s books.
Worth Your Money
Here’s the Amazon blurb:
Children’s author/illustrator Katie Davis has written a comprehensive guide in an easy, conversational style with 30 chapters chock full of practical advice, including plotting your strategy, using social media, how to grow your mailing list, and how to use videos in ways in addition to book trailers. There are unexpected ideas to promote a book and a huge list of Do’s and Don’ts shared by well known published authors. Every chapter is stocked with real life examples of how published authors and illustrators succeeded with creative and unique ways to promote their own books. There are even examples of ideas that didn’t work. Every contributor is linked, the sources and resources are just a click away, too. Each chapter ends with a homework assignment designed to motivate and kickstart the reader on the path to promote his or her book, helping to build a career writing children’s books.
Sometimes she runs sales, so check that out.
Even if you pay full price–I did–this ebook is well worth it.
August 31, 2012
The three protests I hear most often about this are:
1) I don’t have the money to sink into publicity tours, posters, bookmarks, etc.
2) I don’t have the time to do all that marketing, nor can I afford to hire a publicist to do this for me.
3) Ugh. Marketing is so “boring” and uncreative.
Is This You?
If you feel this way about marketing your book, I have some good news for you. I came across an article called “How to Market Your Book on a Budget,” and the ideas are quite fun, easy (even for introverts), and very economical.
The first part of the article shows links to five other articles by the author. This is a series on marketing she did a year ago. Following those five links are three more ideas, in detail and with photos. [The additional ideas are fun! You might want to read them first.]
When you have a minute this weekend, open a notebook or Word document, then read through the whole series plus her new additional ideas. Take notes of things you’d be willing to try. By the time you’ve done that, you should have a working publicity plan.
You’ll use it yourself, plus you can include it in proposals since editors today want to see your publicity plans for your book. This should give you quite a list–and it won’t break the bank!
July 27, 2012
First, thank you to everyone who posted to the discussion this week on “Social Networking Burnout, OR How Much Marketing is Enough?”
So many great suggestions were given, and I learned a lot from you.
Before you jump into the deep end of marketing and drown, I want to insert a voice of reason. Please read the following two articles.
The first one will help you stay sane and not fry your brain cells online. The second one will be a nurturing–and honest–assessment of social networking (the kind where you actually talk to people, like at conferences.)
Both articles, if taken seriously, can either prevent you from going insane with all this (if you haven’t jumped into it yet) OR help you regain your sanity if you’re already part of the social networking whirlwind.
First, read Michael Hyatt’s article “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (And What We Can Do About It).” It’s both a podcast (if you want to listen) and an article (if you’d rather read it). Michael Hyatt is author of the bestselling marketing book Platform. His article is a summary and response to the five-webpage Newsweek article called “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?” [If you have time to read the Newsweek article too, it's good. Very chilling about the effects on children.]
Second, you’ll love “The Day Networking Died” by Emily Freeman. I could feel my high blood pressure dropping as I read the post. If social networking leaves you feeling a bit panicky, you’ll feel better after reading this!
July 24, 2012
According to an article in Writer’s Digest three summers ago (“The Must-Have Online Marketing Plan” by M.J. Rose), “Ultimately, no matter what you do, careers are made on the book, not on the marketing.”
That’s very true. Just as true is this statement from the same article: “Someone–either you or your publisher–is going to have to get the word out about the book.”
More and more often, that “someone” is the author. That article was written three years ago…but the dilemma of “how much marketing is enough?” has still not been resolved.
Today’s Publishing Reality
More and more, today’s author is expected to do his part in the marketing. Marketing plans must be part of your query or proposal now–no matter how much you’ve been published.
It can include (but not be limited to) creating a website, writing a blog, making video trailers, doing blog tours, getting your book reviewed online, writing a newsletter…AND being active on Facebook and Pinterest and Goodreads.
Why Social Networking?
Until I heard several speakers at a leadership conference a few years ago, I’d avoided most social networking because of the time it took. I was very “hit and miss” with Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn until I discovered SocialOomph.com, which let me schedule posts and tweets for a week at a time.
According to those market gurus, a high percentage of people check Facebook accounts four times more often than their email. (I’m sure it’s much, much more often now.) Social networking appears to be the new way to connect with people–including your readers (now called your “tribe,” a term I heartily dislike.)
I have a private family Facebook account, although I have my doubts anymore about just how private anything is online. And I have a writer’s Facebook account and what they used to call a “fan page.” I finally set up my LinkedIn account, my Amazon author page, and Pinterest account. I tried Goodreads three times and got kicked off each time…more rejection to deal with! Ha ha.
The Times, They Are a-Changin’…Again!
We writers feel the pressure to learn and use all the marketing and networking opportunities, but is there no limit? How much time do YOU devote to marketing (daily or weekly)? How do you decide which sites to try, and which ones to leave until later?
If you have time, leave a comment below about your own social networking and marketing experiences. Which avenues have worked best for you? Which ones do you actually enjoy? How do you keep from using more time than you intended? (I literally missed a meal the first time I got on Pinterest! My eyes were nearly bloodshot when I logged off.)
Before you begin using images off the Internet for your blog or even repinning on Pinterest, read this scary article by a blogger who was sued for using such pictures.
What are the pluses and minuses you’ve encountered? Looking forward to your ideas!
[NOTE LATER: Please read the comments below by some much published authors. They make some good points!]
June 6, 2012
However, let’s not overlook one very critical factor. As one marketing guru said, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” Don’t let this happen to you!
I’ve read some good marketing books lately. I’ve tried–like all writers these days–to make the change from publisher advertising to the much more do-it-yourself marketing that is required.
The Cart and the Horse
But remember! Writing (plus studying and practicing to write even better) comes first. That’s your horse, and it is most important. Do NOT lose sight of that fact. Marketing is your cart. It won’t go far with a lame horse. [More about that in a moment.] But while you’re learning to write better, you can begin your own marketing if you want to. There are great resources to help you do that.
Helpful books on the new marketing?
- Michael Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is full of practical, hands-on tips for building a platform.
- I also enjoyed Self-Promotion for Introverts: the Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead by Nancy Ancowitz.
- Another one is Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed and the Underconnected by Devora Zack.
Remember from our previous discussion that an introvert gets recharged in solitude and starts to feel drained after being around people too long. It has nothing to do with your social skills. Depending on which study you read, introverts comprise 40-55% of the population.
Put on the Brakes!
With all the concentration these days on building a platform and social networking, it’s easy to overlook one critical factor. It will make you or break you as a writer.
The first 25 pages of Hyatt’s book deals with this issue. It is about creating a compelling product. In our case, that means a book or story or play. As Hyatt says, “There is no sense in wasting your valuable time and resources trying to build a buzz about a ho-hum product…The purpose of marketing is to prime the pump. But if people don’t want to use your product and–more importantly–if they won’t recommend it to their friends, you’re hosed. You can’t spend enough money or be clever enough to overcome a lack of word-of-mouth marketing. It just won’t work.”
To get noticed in today’s over-crowded publishing world, it is rarely okay to just be “good enough.”
Good enough is the kind of writing we do on a tight deadline, writing that we sense isn’t the best we can do, but it’s good enough to meet the requirement. It’s also the kind of writing we do when we get in a hurry to publish. It’s the kind of writing we do when we sense something is “off” somewhere, but we just don’t feel like making the effort to figure out what’s wrong, study and learn how to fix it, and then do one more in-depth revision. We hope no one will notice and we send it off to an agent or publisher because it’s “good enough.”
“Good enough” writing won’t get you very far, and rarely will you be able to break in to publishing and establish a career that way. Hyatt says you have one choice: to produce a “wow” experience for your reader. What’s that?
- Disappointing: the experience did not meet their expectations
- Good: the experience met their expectations
- Wow: the experience exceeded their expectations
The second category–the good category–is what we used to call mid-list authors. They weren’t the J.K. Rowlings of the world, but they had slow, steady sales over a number of years. The mid-list author has largely disappeared from many publishing lists.
That is discouraging to me too, but we need to let that spur us on to better writing instead. If we work hard, study and apply what we learn–and take our time doing it–we can go from being “good enough” writers to excellent writers.
The Bottom Line
Your platform is what generates the necessary word-of-mouth advertising for your book. It gets people talking–and recommending–your book to others. That’s what generates sales. HOWEVER, what people say about your book in all this word-of-mouth advertising has to be good. As Michael Hyatt pointed out, a good platform that creates bad word-of-mouth advertising will just kill a bad or so-so product faster.
So, yes, work on your platform. Choose methods that fit your particular personality. But don’t launch your book too soon–not submitting to an agent or editor, nor self-publishing. Be sure you have a superior book–one that has been rewritten, and critiqued, and rewritten again and again.
You want all that hard work of platform building to pay off in fabulous “you gotta buy this book” word-of-mouth advertising.
March 28, 2012
This week, while working on a new novel plot, I felt about as creative as mud. Luckily I had the new edition, Writer’s Guide to 2012.
While I was encouraged by the positive news and lists of new publishers (more about that below), what saved my writing week were four articles at the end of the book in the section called IDEAS.
Getting Out of the Box
These are the articles that helped me maneuver out of my mental log jam.
“Loosening the Ligaments: A Writer’s Journal” by Judith Logan Lehne
“Self-Inspiration: Keep Yourself Writing Until Your Big Break” by Sue Bradford Edwards
“The Key to Writing a Book that Makes an Impact: Ideas & Theme” by Patricia Curtis Pfitsch
“Spin Zone: Remixing Headlines, Brainstorming Ideas” by Meredith DeSousa, who (I’m convinced after reading this article) must be the most creative “idea” person I know of!
Those great articles are just in the IDEAS section. There is a MARKETS section (ten articles), a STYLE section (eight articles), a BUSINESS section (seven articles), a RESEARCH section (four articles), the IDEAS section named above, and a CONTEST section. A detailed Index at the end helps you find what you need.
In these articles you’ll find everything from writing book proposals and early readers to structuring a novel and creating a website. There is just as much news on publishers: who they are, what they want, and how to sell to them.
What’s New and What Do They Want?
Do you know about book publisher and imprint start-ups like Electric Monkey, Scholastic Ruckus, Albert Whitman Teen, Jericho Books, Splinter, Downtown Books, Kensington Teen, Confluence Books, Signal, Fenn/McClelland & Stewart, and others?
They are all reviewed in Writer’s Guide to 2012.
As the Titanic Turns
After two years of demoralizing sales and profit declines, the American book industry has rebounded with two years of growth in both sales and profits. Overall industry sales were up by 5.6% in the latest year, unit sales by 4.1%.
Inside those numbers is the huge advance made by ebooks. E-reader use has doubled in a year. Amazon made huge news by having its first month ever when it sold more ebooks than traditional books, and that excluded free Kindle titles.
If I haven’t convinced you to buy the book, that’s okay. This particular offer comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You have 30 days to decide whether Writer’s Guide to 2012 is a keeper. I’m betting that I know what you’ll decide!
October 7, 2011
I very rarely read an e-book and then buy the hard copy–but I did in this case. I have to mark it up, add my colored flags and post-its, and turn down page corners.
Why? Because it is so very full of practical, usable, frugal marketing advice. (And I mean frugal in terms of both money and your time.) I already owned the 2004 first edition, but publishing times have changed so much–and this 2011 updated version reflects that.
Why a New Edition?
We all know that book promotion (and life!) has changed since The Frugal Book Promoter was first published in 2004–particularly in ways that have to do with the Web, but in other ways, too. As an example, the publishing world in general is more open to independent publishing now than it was then. So, this update includes lots of information on ways to promote that were not around or were in their infancy a few short years ago.
So here is what is new:
- A simplified method for making social networks actually work–without spending too much time away from my writing
- How to avoid falling into some of the scam-traps for authors
- The best “old-fashioned” ways to promote–the ones I shouldn’t give up on entirely
- How to write (and publish) an award-worthy book
- How to promote your book to mobile users and others
- The pitfalls of using the Web and how to avoid them
- Unusual methods of getting reviews–even long after your book has been published
Today’s technology, social networking and marketing techniques are covered. Updated web resources abound. Advice in sync with today’s Internet are incorporated:
* Blogging tips and pitfalls
* Obtaining reviews and avoiding scams
* Finding places to pitch your book
* Using the eBook explosion to promote sales
* Using Google alerts to full advantage
* Staying on top of current trends in the publishing industry
* Writing quality query, media release letters and scripts for telephone pitches
* Putting together power point and author talk presentations
This is just a tip of the iceberg too. I highly recommend Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s updated Frugal Book Promoter. (NOTE: Be sure you get the new 2011 edition with the cover above.)
September 23, 2011
I admit it. I don’t enjoy changes outside my control.
I can change, and I seem to be adapting to some kind of personal or professional change on a weekly basis. [I'm going to ask you for a favor at the end of this post concerning one such change.]
As Jack Canfield says in The Success Principles, “When change happens, you can either cooperate with it and learn how to benefit from it or you can resist it and eventually get run over by it. It’s your choice.”
Old Dog, New Tricks
He points out that there are cyclical changes (like the seasons) and structural changes (where there is no going back to doing things the way they were before)–neither of which you can control. The last few years have shown structural changes in publishing.
Frankly, I had hoped the changes in publishing were just a cycle–I’d seen recessions in publishing before that “righted” themselves. But with the whole social networking phenomenon–and the ability of writers now to do a lot of marketing online from home–it’s a whole new ballgame.
“Structural changes are the kinds of changes that can sweep you away if you resist them,” says Canfield. “Will you embrace these structural changes and work to improve your life–or will you resist them?”
Recently the marketing manager at one of my publishers asked me to set up a Facebook Fan Page to replace my current Facebook page where I have my “friends.” There are different rules and you use different apps on fan pages–and I’m slowing learning the new system.
Before long, I will shut down the “friends” page where many of you connect with me. After that, we will connect on the fan page, where you can still leave comments like before. IF…
If you do me this one small favor…I’d really appreciate it. Could you click on the Facebook “like” button on the left of your screen, underneath the book jacket of More Writer’s First Aid? It will add you to my Facebook Fan Page called KristiHollBooks. [This truly sounds absurd to me. I feel like a wallflower at a junior high sock hop asking someone to please "like" me and ask me to dance.]
If the button doesn’t work for you, click the Fan Page link, and you will see a “Like” button at the top of the page. Please click it to add your name to my page of friends. [You will probably have to sign into your Facebook account also.]
Like many changes that I have made (mentally kicking and screaming), this new Facebook change will probably work better for me. It will be a place where I can consolidate news about all my writing and updates from my three websites and two blogs. I think it will simplify and streamline my marketing efforts once it all gets under this one “umbrella.”
Thank you for helping me out–and when you set up your own writing fan pages, let me know. I already like you–but I’ll be glad to make it official!
August 12, 2011
Like 89% of new writers today, I started writing with my heart set on publishing fiction. And like 84% of today’s aspiring writers, my first published work was nonfiction (Institute assignments, in fact).
While most of my forty published books have been middle-grade fiction, I got my foot in the publishing door with nonfiction. My Atheneum editor said that she took a chance on my “slush pile” novel because I’d had stories and articles (mostly articles) published in children’s magazines.
What a Goldmine!
How I wish I’d had Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children back then! (See the impressive blurb about the mother-daughter writing team at the end. They really know their stuff.) Being a mom with babies when I started writing (and no Internet then for research), I relied on personal experiences about my kids to break into print.
I especially loved the chapters in Anatomy of Nonfiction on brainstorming ideas, finding the heart and voice of story, and handling the how-to genre. A wannabe fiction writer will especially enjoy the chapters on using storytelling techniques to write nonfiction.
Why learn to write effective nonfiction if you only want to publish fiction? Because there are eight nonfiction markets for every one fiction market. Or, to put it another way, you’re eight times more likely to be published as a nonfiction writer than you are as a writer of fiction.
(Author credentials: Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas are masters of the true story. Facklam, an instructor at the Institute for 12 years, has written 43 nonfiction books. Thomas, also an instructor, has written 17. A mother-daughter team, they pooled the secrets of their success to write Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children-the only step-by-step guide to the mind, soul, heart, and inner workings of children’s nonfiction you’ll ever need to get published. As instructors, they know what you’ve learned about children’s writing. As authors, they know exactly what you need now to get published.)Newer Posts »