Book Marketing: Sweetening Your Royalty Stream


© 2018, Charles S. Weinblatt

Congratulations!  You have produced your book. You are a published author! What’s next?  What should you do to enhance sales?

In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing retail book market, even trade-published authors cannot count on someone else to successfully market your book. So, you will need to chip in with some time and effort to make your book a smashing retail success.

What marketing tasks must you accomplish as the author? Why an author platform?

Because of the changing nature of the publishing world and the revolution in electronic book purchasing, someone needs to market your book throughout the Internet world.  Because this work is extremely labor-intensive and detail-oriented, few publishers have the time, employees or enthusiasm to make electronic marketing successful. This is where the author must step in, with the motivation to work hard on behalf of your own book. The bad news is that there is a lot of work for the author to do. The good news is that almost no expertise or money is required.

Viral marketing ideas:

What should you do to help reach readers?  Contact local newspapers, magazines and blogs to solicit articles about you and reviews for your book. Reach out to local bookstores and arrange for book signings. In some cases, you can sell books on your own through local organizations. Keep in mind that institutional sales often include repeat sales, year after year, such as with schools, encyclopedias and libraries.

Try to obtain reviews and interviews about your book everywhere in your town. One of the fastest ways to solicit business for your book is through the media. Since positive reviews sell books, contact regional newspapers, libraries, schools, magazines and book clubs. They are a great place to start. When you encounter serious interest, send them a review copy.

But, the world is a lot bigger than your neighborhood.  If you want a great many people to read your book, you will need to create a much more global electronic marketing campaign. Fortunately, almost all of this can be accomplished with your computer.  Better yet, it won’t cost you a dime.

First, create a viral marketing campaign. Viral marketing means any way that social media allows for people to continue to spread the word on their own electronically. The obvious examples include web pages, blogs, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, video marketing (You Tube) and all other electronic means of spreading the word about your book. It sounds difficult. In reality, it is simple and free.

Use effective KEY WORDS, so that search terms in Google or other search engines will easily help readers find places where your book is sold.  Test your key words often for accuracy. Modify them as necessary.

Identify local people, places and organizations relevant to your book or your potential readers. Contact them in an effort to make them aware of your book. Ask if you can give a presentation to groups, if appropriate.

Contact regional newspapers, journals, magazines, TV and radio stations with a sales pitch for your book, or for your as an author. Personal interest broadcasters are always seeking new ideas and people. The more personal your effort, the easier it is to achieve success. Always try to tie your book or its subject to regional events, history, activities or to local people.

E-mail marketing is inexpensive and fast.  However, your sales pitch must grab the reader’s interest quickly.  You must construct an e-mail cover page that is informative, has embedded links to your web sites and the publisher and will sell the value of your book instantly.  More about e-mail marketing later in this article. 

Web site marketing:

Never rely on the public finding your one book landing page, or even your publisher’s web site, if you’re lucky enough to have someone else working for your book’s success.  Anyone can create a free web page for his or her book.  Just visit Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, WordPress, BlogSpot, Goodreads, or Facebook and begin building your site.  There are many other Internet sites where you can build a web site or market for free, not the least of which is LinkedIn.  The instructions are simple and fast.  The more pages that you create for your book, the more chances buyers will discover it.

For example, I created a free web page that includes many detailed facts about my book (Jacob’s Courage), including review excerpts, historical data and links to my Blogs and web sites, as well as my publisher.  To keep readers on the site, I added dozens of interesting and useful links about the Holocaust.  You can see this web site here.

I created another web site that includes a syllabus for my book, packed with features and reasons why people should purchase it.  You can see that web page here.  Connect these web pages to each other via links.  This is FREE.  All it takes is some of your time.

The secret to success with Internet web sites is to make them interesting and to use effective key words.  Key words (a.k.a. “tags”) are the way that search engines find web pages.  For example, if you Google “Holocaust love story,” you will find many useful references to me and to my book.  Select your key words very carefully.  The more accurate, distinct, descriptive and appealing your key words, the better the chance that search engines will uncover your book.

Some people recommend that you give away downloadable copies of your book on the Internet, as a marketing tool.  Publishers may disagree.  However, if you allow someone to download your e-book, or e-mail it to them, there is a chance that they will enjoy it and tell their friends about it. Someone recently asked if I was disappointed that so many people were reading my book from the local library, rather than paying for it at a bookstore. I don’t mind at all.  People who enjoy your book will tell friends and family about it. In the end, giving away books judiciously is a viable sales tool.

There is no limit to the number of web pages that you can create.  The more times you create a new web page, and the more times you update an existing page, the more times you refine and enhance your key words/tags, the more times people will discover your book.  Continue to perform maintenance on your key words and update your sites with continuously with new tags and links.

Before you are done, go to this web page.  Here you will be able to submit your book’s web  sites to Google’s search manager. This step is critical, so that your web sites will appear on as many future Google searches as possible.

Blogs:

Blogging about your book, blogging as a writer or writing on other blogs can be a powerful tool to increase sales. Anyone can create a blog for free and use it to promote a book.  I Blog on two of my own sites.  You can see them here and here. Blog about anything of interest to you, or any particular expertise you have acquired. It doesn’t have to be related to your book. Note that you can easily promote your book on blog pages, through links and sidebar widgets. Just be sure to sign off each post as, “Author of …” below your name. And use hyperlinks to activate the name of your book and your name.

Using Google to find appropriate marketing opportunities:

Anyone can use Google to search for any key words with a feature called “Google Alerts.” Simply visit this Google page and you’ll be able to program Google to search the web continuously, snagging every article, book, news item and relevant site to your book and its needs. You’ll not only know the latest news about the topic of your book, you’ll also be able to effectively measure the value of your prior marketing efforts for quality.

Importantly, you can also comment on other people’s blogs, vastly increasing your book’s visibility. For example, my book is about the Holocaust. I use the above Google search feature to troll the Internet searching for Holocaust key words. When I find Internet newspaper or magazine articles about the Holocaust, I visit the site, evaluate it for marketing viability and decide whether it is a useful marketing tool about my book.  When Google finds other blogs and pages that are Holocaust-related, I comment there about Jacob’s Courage.

Similarly, you can comment on articles in magazines and newspapers via their Internet versions. In some cases, you will need to register.  It’s usually free and the time you put into registering is a small price to pay for the ability to promote your book in future iterations of that newspaper or magazine. Most Internet news media allow reader comments after an article.  When you find an article related to your book, write your comment and then sign your name and, “Author of …” after your name.  Be sure to include the title and the sales URL of your book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook fan page, etc..  If possible, add a link to your best web site under the name of your book.

Write articles:

Anyone can write articles and have them published on the Internet. Where is your expertise? What’s your book about? In what way can you provide people with valuable information?

Writing articles is not simple or swift. You may need to conduct some research. Take your time and write carefully. Your topic need not be connected with your book. For example, my book is about the Holocaust, yet I have had articles published on topics as wide ranging as publishing, psychology, Judaism, life, death, WWII and philosophy.

There are many free places to publish your articles, including TRCB, Ezine and Blogger.

LinkedIn is another terrific place to market your books. I’ve discovered that tens of thousands of readers and authors populate many more tens of thousands of group message boards in LinkedIn. Find one in which you can share some expertise. Then, within your posts there, find some unobtrusive way to share information about your book(s). Even if you simply sign off with your name and the name of your book, you can include a link or an embedded link below your name, or in the name of your book. I track most sales of my published books and I saw a significant increase in sales after I posted in various LinkedIn groups related to writing, publishing or books. There are many more. It’s not why I went there; but a side effect is more royalties.

Publish Articles:

I had excellent success publishing articles about a number of topics. In many cases, no experience as a published author is required. Two of the best places to start are Ezine and TRCB  My book is about Judaism, but I look for a chance to write articles about it that will be distributed on various web sites for all faiths. Again, sign off with your name and the name of your book underneath and copyright each article.  If they allow it, add the reverse-link to your best landing page.

Establish a Goodreads account. Goodreads is a web site for readers and authors.  It is a terrific place to see and be seen. There is no more natural place to sell your book’s value to potential readers. Although Goodreads is not a retail site, it offers an opportunity to network with other authors who have similar interests and problems.

Social networking:

Join as many social networking sites as possible. Twitter, LinkedIn,  Google, Facebook, You Tube, WeChat, Tumblr, Skype, Snap Chat, Google+, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Instagram, Goodreads, …  They are all valuable ways to make your book known.  At each of these social networking sites, you can create a profile, including a description of your book and stores where it is sold. Be sure to create a Facebook fan page for your book, spread the word about  it and update it frequently. Join groups within the sites that are related to your book, writing, being published and anything related to the topic. Join groups of interest and related to your book. You can reach many thousands of people within these groups.

Amazon:

Amazon is not only a place to sell your book. It is a place to post a blog (“Amazon Author Page”). Amazon’s “filedby” includes an author biography where you can post relevant articles. Also within Amazon, each content section has forums in which people start topics or respond to the topics of others. Amazon forums are as wide ranging as history, historical fiction, war, genocide, love stories, religion, literature, etc.  Again, each time you write, sign off with your name and the title of your book (“author of…”). You will instantly have the potential to reach thousands of readers.

Create a review for any relevant book sold there that you have read. (“Create Your Own Customer Review”). Be sure to write, “Author of …” after your name. Every time someone reads your review of that book, the name of your book will appear. Since the reader is already on Amazon, they can purchase your book by typing its name at the top of the page.  You can review as many books as you wish, each time marketing your own book under your name.

Email marketing:

You can personally contact tens of thousands of critical people and organizations with e-mail. Never count on a publisher doing this. They can only dream of having the time and labor to accomplish such a task. All that you need are e-mail addresses, an effective sales letter and some time.

As an example, my Holocaust book could be sold at any Holocaust museum or Jewish center in the English-speaking world.  I used a Google search to locate the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO).  Each member of the AHO, throughout the United States is listed, with an e-mail address. All that was left for me to do was to create an effective e-mail cover letter and send it to each one electronically.

Since we have already established the danger in using attachments that people fear opening, you must embed links instead.  This is very simple and very fast.  Below is an example of one of my e-mail marketing letters:

“Greetings.  I am the author of historical fiction framed within the Holocaust called Jacob’s Courage  (2015, Texas Tech University Press).  A retired university administrator; I was also published for nonfiction in 1986, for non-fiction again in 2011 and then twice more for fiction.  Jacob’s Courage is a tender coming of age love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria. This popular historical novel presents accurate scenes and situations of Jews in ghettos and concentration camps, with particular attention to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz.  It explores the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. From desperate despair, to unforgettable moments of chaste beauty, Jacob’s Courage examines a constellation of emotions during a time of incomprehensible brutality.

Jacob’s Courage is sold through all major booksellers. Reviews include Jewish Book World and the Association of Jewish Libraries. You can read some of the other reviews more extensively at the Amazon siteJacob’s Courage is also a Kindle Book.  A syllabus is here.

Would you care to write an article about Jacob’s Courage, interview me or review the novel?  May I send you the e-reviewer’s copy?

Feel free to contact me at XXXXXXX.XXX or by telephone at XXX.XXX.XXXX.  Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely,

Note that hyperlinks are vastly superior to typing in lengthy Internet addresses.

Your e-mail message should be brief and concise – less than one page.  Embed the right web sites, contact information, reviews, sales links and media successes.  The e-mail is only designed to grab their interest, so be brief. The embedded web sites and relevant links will sell your book. At least one of your embedded web sites should allow the reader to instantly purchase the book. In my e-mail message above, the reader can buy the book instantly through the publisher’s site or through Amazon, with only one click required to reach the site.

I created four web sites for my book and I provide a few interesting articles as well.  This  took only a few days to create and modify them to my tastes. It cost nothing.  In fact, some large Internet companies, like Google, will pay you per click if you allow them to advertise on your site. Instead of paying for web site development, create your own and make money by selling advertising on it. Learn more about the affiliate program.

Embedding Internet hyperlinks into your e-mail cover page is simple.  In many e-mail programs that use Word as an editor, you can right-click on any word and then select the button for “Hyperlink.” Follow the instructions to embed the hyperlink. That word will appear in all future e-mail versions of your letter in blue. When your reader clicks on the blue word (while compressing the “Control” key), your web site will emerge in their browser.  Try it with the sample e-mail paragraph above.

Conclusion:

The world of book marketing and sales is undergoing considerable rapid change.  People who formerly explored the world of books and purchased them at their local bookstore increasingly do this now on the Internet. The Internet is filled with web sites, social networking locations and blogs that can be used to attract the public to one’s book and accomplish the sale with a few mouse clicks.

The author can solicit reviews, articles and sales by creating several attractive and concise web pages and by implementing an effective e-mail marketing campaign, right from their own computer – and it is cost free.

Since publishers are still required to edit, print, distribute and market in traditional ways, and since they have fewer staff due to lower margins, it falls upon the author to accomplish many new tasks related to electronic marketing and sales.

Marketing your book is time consuming and sometimes frustrating.  But do not count on your publisher, a publicist, an agent or anyone else to accomplish critical tasks, particularly if you are a new author. Remember that in fiction, the quality of your author platform means everything. Be willing to implement your own marketing with web sites, blogs, a Facebook fan page, regular Twitter posts and e-mail. The harder your effort, the larger your royalty checks will be.

Charles S. Weinblatt\

Author, “Jacob’s Courage

 

 

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7 TIPS FROM A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST FOR STRENGTHENING YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE


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Reprinted with permission from The Greatest Escapist.

I’m a proud Clevelander, an incurable writer, an unabashed liberal, a neurotic Jew, & a chronic, unapologetic oversharer. I’ve been sharing my stories here since 2007.”

I love when people think that writing is my full-time job, but alas, it isn’t. I work a 9-to-5 (OK, more like a 10-to-6) at a nonprofit organization, where I’m responsible for writing & editing, yes, but also for lots & lots of social media management. My background is in journalism, but social media was just gaining traction during my college years, & as a communications major, I fell into it naturally. You could say social media & I have grown up together – or at least grown together. We’ve both come a long way!

I’ve done a little bit of social media consulting on the side, but mostly I just like to engage in on-the-fly conversations with friends & small business owners who have one-off questions or just want quick tips for building their social media presence. I know, I know, don’t give away your expertise for free – but I like it.

Here are the seven most common quick tips I like to share with folks who are struggling to get a grasp on their social media presence. Please consider forwarding it to someone you know who’s having a hard time Internetting!

1. Make time. 

Especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you, set aside a little time each day – on your clock or calendar! – to devote to social media scheduling, engagement, etc.

2. Use scheduling tools. 

No one wants to spend all damn day online, social media professionals included (& perhaps especially!) I love Hootsuite, Sprout Social, & Facebook’s native engagement tool for setting it & forgetting it while remaining consistent in posting.

3. Engage with others!

If a tree falls in the forest & no one is there to hear it… same with social media. Retweet, share, praise, ask questions, etc. Your social media voice shouldn’t exist in a vacuum.

4. Vary your content from platform to platform.

Switch it up, rather than cross-posting the same thing over & over on all of them (& for goodness sake, don’t set up auto-crossposting!). These platforms are different for a reason, & different presentations work best for each of them. You’ll see the most engagement & have the most success if your messaging is tailored for the medium.

5. Post different kinds of content. 

Sometimes, post a teaser link, other times a photo or a branded graphic, or a retweet-with-comment, or a direct share, or a video, or a Spotifty playlist, etc. See what works best for your audience & which kinds of posts give you the greatest levels of engagements.

6. Google is your BFF. 

Have a social media question? Someone has definitely already answered it online. Stick with reliable sources, a la Mashable, Hubspot, & other industry professionals.

7. Ask a pro. 

Still not sure you’re doing it right or want direct feedback? Hire a professional to help you sort out your social media presence & get on the right track. Lots of folks with full-time marketing/writing gigs do social media consulting on the side (like me, or Brittany from According to Brittany), so you should be able to find someone at a reasonable price, whatever your range.

Reprinted with permission. http://www.greatestescapist.com/2017/10/7-tips-from-social-media-strategist.html?m=1

CAVEAT EMPTOR: DON’T BECOME A VICTIM TO PREDATORS


Novice authors are often desperate to sell their books. Desperation leads to mistakes.

Assessing your talent as an author before you have been published is a very subjective experience. Inexperienced authors tend to believe that the quality of their writing is far better than it actually is. When an alleged agent or publisher tells us that our book is wonderful and that it deserves to be published, our unbounded joy may easily obscure our need for clear logic. We become our own worst enemy.

There may be more predators lurking in the dark corners of the writing and publishing world than there are in any other industry. No required education or certification process separates outstanding professional editors, agents and publishers from villains. Either you find the villain before you sign a contract, or they make easy money from you in return for… nothing.

Here’s the bottom line. Do not take compliments too highly from someone calling themselves a successful agent. The predators’ sugary sweetness is designed to convince you to play by their rules because they “will make you a famous, wealthy author.” Alleged agents may tell you who to pay to have your book properly edited. They will convince you that they will sell your book to the very best publishing houses – as they do with many new authors. They may even ask you to pay them for some kind of service before you have a publishing contract. A few hours of sincere research will uncover all types of fraudulent agents and scam agencies.

Editors are paid by you after you vet them, hire them and you are satisfied with their work. Publishers and literary agents will charge you NOTHING – EVER. The publisher will take a share from the book’s sales and pay you a royalty. Thus the motivation to sell is highest with the publisher, as sold books constitute their only opportunity to earn back your advance and gain a profit.

Agents earn money after you have signed the publishing contract by taking a share of your advance or royalty payments. If an agent asks you for money up-front, the little hairs on the back of your neck should stick up. Stay in control. Don’t be fooled by false promises or misled by agents who shower you with false glory – “if you will only pay my standard pre-publication fee.” They will mislead you by saying that they need a little money up front to conduct research, to pay for editing, or to pay a “reading fee” to a publisher’s acquisition editor. None of this is true.

YOU are responsible for fact-checking every alleged editor, agent and publisher. Never discuss an agency contract until after you have completed and evaluated a long and thorough investigation. The same process applies to researching editors. How can a novice author conduct such an investigation? Read on.

The two iconic resources for all things related to professional services in editing, agency representation and publishing are: WRITER BEWARE (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/) and PREDATORS & EDITORS (http://pred-ed.com/). Bookmark the URLs. Use them regularly. You’ll be amazed with the volume and quality of their information, especially if you are a new author. If an editor, agent or publisher is on a “bad” list with either of those sites – BEWARE; approach with sincere caution.

You might or might not be the next Stephen King. But you can make sure that you’re not the next victim of predators masquerading as editors, agents or publishers.

Interview with Author Nancy Christie


Nancy Christie is the author of the fiction collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories, and two short story e-books, Annabelle and Alice in Wonderland (all published by Pixel Hall Press). Her short stories can also be found in literary publications such as EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and others. The founder of “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, Christie is currently working on several other book projects, including a novel and a book for writers. Charles Weinblatt interviews for Author Publishing and Book Marketing:

CW: Tell us about yourself. NC: I wish I had an unusual childhood or had spent my adult years in some exotic locale but the fact is I am living in the same area where I was born, have lived in the same house for about 35 years now and although I have a passport, I have only pulled it out for domestic travel. I am a writer—plain and simple. I’ve been writing for 50 years now—that’s because I started in second grade!—and can’t imagine not writing. I’m a professional writer by trade (marketing and corporate work primarily with some magazine articles thrown in) and a fiction writer by preference, which means that there isn’t a snippet of conversation overheard or a physical contact witnessed that doesn’t get stuck somewhere in my fiction writer’s brain to be pulled out and used in one way or another.  

CW: Give us an overview of your writing/books. NC: My first book, The Gifts of Change, is an inspirational book about making the most of the changes that come into your life—even if you didn’t want them. That book was inspired by my mother’s cancer diagnosis and a number of other changes and challenges that came into my life—some desired, others, not so much. My second and current book, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories, is a short fiction collection about characters who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results. So, in a way, both books deal with change—just from different perspectives.

CW: Who/what was your biggest inspiration? NC: I don’t know that I could point to any one person or event. I was always a bit of a loner and loved to read, and fortunately my parents indulged me in that. I had wonderful teachers who emphasized writing skills—spelling, grammar, and punctuation—as well as content. And then there are authors whose work is so compelling and creative that I can’t help wanting to write as well as they do, and give to others what they have given to me: journeys to places—some real, some imagined—full of fascinating characters.

CW: What has been your greatest challenge? NC: Time, for one thing. In addition to my professional work, I am caregiving for my father, and that takes up a fair bit of time, although I am glad to be able to do it and even happier that, at 92, he is still so vibrant and in good spirits. And of course, the self-doubt, the inevitable comparisons with other writers, the fear that I won’t be able to live up to the good reviews with my next project—or worse, that the good reviews I have already received are all the good reviews that I am going to get!

CW: What do you most want readers to take from your book(s)? NC: A sense of sympathy and understanding for those who are struggling through life.  It’s so easy to sit in judgment or say that we would never make the choices that others have made that led them down that path of destruction but we don’t really know that for certain, do we?So rather than be afflicted with that most dangerous of all viruses—superiority—we should instead be compassionate. It’s that whole “there but for the grace of God” thing…

CW: Are you actively trying to have your books made into a play or a movie? NC: That is my plan for 2015. I have heard about certain actors who are buying movie rights to books and so intend to pursue that possibility.

CW: What’s next for you as an author? NC: I’m working on a second collection as well as a novel that I want to pitch. But my first goal is to find an agent. (Don’t all writers say that?) My first two books were un-agented, but I think it’s time to get an expert on board and take over that part of my career.

CW: How did you pick a publisher or decide to self-publish? Do you have an agent? NC: I didn’t want to self-publish—I have neither the time nor funds to purse that path and know full well that there is more to self-publishing than just getting the book printed. For my first book, I was encouraged by the comments I received from agents—they loved the book but since I was an unknown, passed on representing me—so I researched publishers who handled first-time un-agented authors, and found my publisher relatively quickly. With Traveling Left of Center, I had already connected with Pixel Hall Press who published two of the short stories in e-book format, and so it was a natural step to work with them to publish the entire collection.

CW: Do you have suggestions to other writers about the writing process and publishing? NC: It’s a business. Treat it like one. Yes, you need to be a good writer but if you plan on being published, you also have to be a good business owner. Your book is your product. Know how to market it. Do your advance work. Expect to spend time and money doing what you need to do to get it out there. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

CW: How do you market yourself and your books? NC: I have done some in-person events—not as many as with my first book simply because I can’t travel as much with my other obligations. I blog, I do the whole social media thing, did some virtual tours and plan to do more, participate in interviews, request reviews and then, when I get them, make sure I get the word out. I send out press releases, update my book’s web page every time there is something interesting to share—basically, I do everything I can think of, and then read articles and blog posts to find even more suggestions that I need to incorporate in my marketing.

CW: Where can someone buy your books? NC: Everywhere and anywhere—from bricks-and-mortar stores like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Powell’s and other indie booksellers to online retailers like Amazon.

CW: What would you like your Writer’s Epitaph to say? NC: Fiction writer.

CW: I’m pretty sure that’s already been accomplished exceedingly well.

You can read my reviews of Nancy Christie books at The New York Journal of Books, here:

Author Platform: Reaching Readers and Gaining a Competitive Advantage


“Author Platform”: If you’re an author, your platform is your ability to reach readers. Authors who can build, maintain and leverage their platforms will have a significant competitive advantage over those who cannot. Think of author platform as a multi-layered infrastructure that allows you to reach both new and existing fans. Elements of this infrastructure include your social media followers on Twitter, Facebook and the RSS feed of their blog (social media tool). It also includes subscribers to your private mailing list. It includes your celebrity, and your ability to leverage social media or traditional media or the love of your fans to get your message out. There are two primary factors that drive sales of any product or brand. The first is awareness. If the consumer is not aware of your product or brand, then they cannot purchase it. Authors must place their product in front of a consumer and gain their attention before the consumer can consider purchasing it. The second is desire. Once a consumer is aware of your product or brand, they must desire it. The author is the brand. Your job as the author is to build awareness of your brand, and to build, earn and deserve positive desire for your brand. Awareness plus desire create demand for your product. This is why platform will become more important than ever in 2014. Your platform helps you get the message out to existing fans, those who already know and desire your brand; and, equally if not more important—your platform helps you reach new fans. The larger your platform, the more it will grow incrementally because a well-maintained platform grows organically.

——– By Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. Reprinted with permission from the AAA Books Unlimited Literary Agency October 2014 Newsletter.

25 Tips on How to Impress a Book Publisher by Cheryl Tardif


1. Understand that publishers are very busy people. We are juggling multiple authors and manuscripts, as well as promotions, events, and marketing. We have little time to spare, especially when swamped with hundreds of manuscripts, many of them sent when a publisher is closed for submissions. Showing a publisher that you understand they are busy and submitting during their open submissions time shows you respect their time.

2.Learn everything you can about the publishing company. Learn about the publisher, their authors, and the works they’ve published to ensure that you’d be a good fit. Connect with them on social networks. Share their posts and tweets. Buy some of their titles, especially in the genre in which you write.

3.Read and follow their submission guidelines. Most publishers post their guidelines on their websites. Read them carefully, and pay special attention to whether or not they have a specific time frame for submissions. Follow their guidelines! Give them exactly what they want. Be prepared to answer questions, especially regarding past sales.

4.Hook the publisher in the first sentence of your query. Just like a well-written book, your query should hook them in the first sentence. Read your first sentence, and ask yourself: “Would this make me want to know more if I were a publisher?” Ensure that you follow the Four Firsts for your manuscript.Don’t know what I’m talking about? Learn about the Four Firsts here.

5.Let your personality shine as a positive person. Don’t be afraid to show publishers who you are. Just be sure it’s someone publishers will like. Be humble, appreciative, and a team player. Don’t act like you know it all. You don’t.

6.Be open to learning. With the ever-changing landscape of publishing, successful authors must always be open to change—and to experimenting when new things come along. Show a willingness to learn and to evolve with the industry.

7.Be everywhere online! Recognize the importance of a website, blog, and social networks, and use them frequently. Even if you’re not yet published, you should have a website, a blog, and Facebook and Twitter pages dedicated to your writing. Publishers will look for these.

8.Have an impressive platform in the SAME genre as the one you’re pitching. If you’ve been writing nonfiction and have a huge following there but are pitching a work of fiction, understand that the audience isn’t the same—unless there is a common theme. Example: Nonfiction books on dealing with autistic children have a specific audience of people looking for help with dealing with autistic children. A novel featuring an autistic child as the main character would then appeal to this audience.

9.Don’t rave about how awesome your book is and how it’s going to sell thousands of copies in the first week. Be humble and stick to the facts.

10.Show you understand your audience and that you know who your target audience is. Don’t pitch a book with a ten-year-old main character as a novel for adults. And don’t pitch an unpublished book as “for anyone, any age.” There are few titles that fit that description, but this is established by sales and time.

11.Don’t send the book until the publisher asks for it. Unless the publisher’s guidelines tell you to send it with the query, wait for them to ask for it.

12.Ensure your book is as error free as possible. Run a spell-check and grammar-check before sending it. And have at least one other person edit the entire work, preferably someone with actual editing skills who understands CMOS rules.

13.Know what CMOS is and understand the rules. Have a hard-cover edition on hand or sign up for the online edition. Show your knowledge of CMOS style rules in your manuscript. CMOS is the writer’s Bible.

14.Do not e-mail the publisher to ask if he/she has read your book yet. If the guidelines do not stress a time limit, ask for one when the publisher requests your manuscript.

15.Impress them with your publishing credits. If you have published other works in the same genre or type (fiction or nonfiction) as the book you want to submit, let the publisher know, and point them to your Amazon profile page.

16.Make sure you have an Amazon profile page if you have published works available on Amazon. If you have no profile page, you’ll look like someone who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

17.If you have won a prestigious award, mention it briefly. Ensure you know the difference between a “prestigious” award and one that means very little.

18.If you have published other works in the same genre, briefly summarize what you have done to promote them. Impress publishers with your marketing abilities and creativity.

19.Reviews are vital! Make sure you have a substantial amount of reviews on your published works, especially those in the same genre as the book your are hoping to submit. Don’t query a publisher or agent until you have 10+ reviews on the majority of your works, and an average rating of 3.5 or above stars.

20.Don’t pitch a publisher your manuscript while also pitching your services as a book cover designer, editor, marketing coach, formatter, etc. Query separately. Be professional.

21.Be editable. Your book isn’t perfect. Even if you’ve had it edited by someone else, the publisher will need to know that you’re open to being edited.

22.Don’t ask if you can supply the cover, cover description, or images for the cover. Publishers have their own creative designers.

23.Understand you have competition. Know who your competitors are and who has written works comparable to yours. Watch how they promote their works on social networks. Learn from those who are selling.

24.Make the publisher curious enough to want to ask you questions. Don’t tell them everything in your first e-mail.What you want is for the publisher to engage in conversation with you. You want to give them everything they ask for and hint at anything outside of that. For example, if a publisher doesn’t ask for sales data in their guidelines, you could mention you made a best-sellers list for two weeks in a row. Let them ask for more information. When they do, give them everything you can, including where the best-sellers list was published, what ranking you got, and total sales to date for that title.

25.Express gratitude. Be thankful for the publisher’s time and for any feedback or advice they give you. They don’t have to give you any feedback­—or their time.

Cheryl Tardif is the publisher at Imajin Books, a hybrid publishing company based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is also known as Cheryl Kaye Tardif, an award-winning, international bestselling author represented by Trident Media Group in New York. She is best known for Children of the Fog, Submerged, and Whale Song. Booklist raves: “Tardif, already a big hit in Canada . . . a name to reckon with south of the border.” Check out Cheryl’s website and Imajin Books website, and connect with her on Twitter (Cheryl and Imajin Books) and Facebook (Cheryl and Imajin Books).

http://www.imajinbooks.com
http://www.cherylktardif.com

Blog: http://www.livewritethrive.com/2014/09/29/25-tips-on-how-to-impress-a-book-publisher

8 Unexpected Lessons From Working with a Literary Agent by Brian Klems


With self-publishing becoming more widely accepted and Amazon waging wars with publishers, more and more I get the sense from aspiring authors that they don’t think landing an agent means as much as it used to.

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Writers’ Digest Guest post by Bethany Neal, who writes young-adult novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. She graduated from Bowling Green State University and is obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, pickles, and dessert.

“My Last Kiss” is her first novel. You can connect with her online at http://www.bethanyneal.com.
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They believe “traditional” publishing is going the way of VCRs and none of the old rites of passage apply anymore. That’s fine if you think that, but, in my experience, it simply isn’t true.

I signed on with my agent, Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, in September of 2010 for my first (unpublished) young adult, suspense novel and it has solidified some valuable lessons.

Guest post by Bethany Neal, who writes young-adult novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing from her Ann Arbor, Michigan home. She graduated from Bowling Green State University and is obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, pickles, and dessert.

My Last Kiss is her first novel. You can connect with her online at http://www.bethanyneal.com.
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    Searching for an Agent

The beginning of this journey started with little more than a polished draft of my manuscript. I started simply by researching agents through Literary Marketplace, which is a massive tome that sits behind the reference counter at most public libraries.

Some of this research was review because I had previously queried a paranormal YA trilogy that ended in 32 rejections.

Having revived my search, I made a shortlist of reputable agencies looking for YA. I browsed their sites and found agents within each agency looking for my specific flavor of YA. I write a little on the dark side—somebody is almost always dead—and I write a lot of kissing. Not everyone wants to represent that, and that’s fine.

I think the most important part in the agent search is reading every agent’s bio and only querying those you feel a connection with and who are interested in not just your genre but also your style. My agent, for instance, at the time was looking for darker YA projects with a strong voice. That’s my writing in a nutshell.

Landing an Agent

I had two full manuscripts and one partial out with various interested agents when I got the email.

The email that said Stacey read my manuscript and wanted to set up a time to discuss it. I’d been rejected by 14 other agents already, so I wasn’t even sure what that meant. Then I got the call.

Thus began a string of very important lessons for my writing career.

1. Look before you leap.

My agent told me what she liked about my writing and the story and answered every single one of my questions.

I was so out of my mind excited that she wanted to represent me. So I told her I didn’t need to wait to hear back from the other two agents interested and I wanted—needed her as my agent.

This is my one regret in my agent search. I should have given myself a day to regain sanity and speak with the other two agents. I don’t regret signing with my agent because she’s been an enormous support throughout the years, but it’s something I know I should’ve done for peace of mind.

Take that day to pause before you jump on the first agent who smiles at your manuscript.

2. Prepare to move.

Almost immediately, my agent was requesting more information.

Stacey asked me to send her an author bio and a synopsis for the other novel I’d written, then emailed me an agency agreement that stated DGLM exclusively had the right to sell my novel for one year.

Right out of the gate there were deadlines. This one at least was a soft deadline, but it stoked a sense of urgency.

We went back and forth on revisions for a few months and ended up pushing back the submittal date so she could feature my novel in DGLM’s Upcoming Projects newsletter to generate interest with editors.

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

3. Anticipate nice, bad news.

After about a month being out on submittal, she sent me an email chocked full of the most positive, helpful, optimistic rejections I’ve ever gotten in my life. It was the best of a worst-case scenario I could have hope for.

I made revisions based on feedback and we made a round two submittal, but the basic consensus was to move on.

Luckily, I’d been writing away during all this waiting and close to finishing a draft of my new project that editors were eager to read because they remembered liking my first novel. That new project is titled MY LAST KISS and was published by FSG/Macmillan on June 10, 2014.

I didn’t expect to feel encouraged by rejections, but aligning with an agent allowed me to receive bad news in a way that turned out positive.

4. You’ll idolize your agent a bit.

It’s strange waiting with bated breath for someone’s email while also kind of loving and worshipping them even though you’ve never physically met them. I don’t think I could ever do online dating because it was weird. I’ve since met (and loved even more) Stacey in person.

I wasn’t anticipating, though, how many emotions I would wrap up in whether or not I heard from her.

5. You will hurry up and wait.

There is a lot going on, but the process from signing with an agent to publishing is a pretty drawn out experience.

I had no idea how long every step would take. It took us five months to get my first novel revised and ready to get out on submittal. It took another couple months worth of waiting to hear back from editors. And there’s more waiting once you get published. You can make good use of the time spent waiting though. For me it became an opportunity for uninterrupted writing time, which is invaluable.

[Learn important writing lessons from these first-time novelists.]

6. Expectations will drive you mad.

The biggest, dirtiest little secret about getting an agent (and being published) that no one tells you: Expectations, albeit mostly self-imposed, will drive you mad.

You start worrying about what will sell. Don’t. It will lead you down a dark, dark path—like Van Gogh, cut-your-ear-off dark.

Do yourself a favor and don’t go there because it’s extremely difficult to climb out of that pit of author-ly sorrow. You can’t predict the market and what will or won’t sell. The sooner you accept that, the saner you will be.

7. Agents breathe fresh life into your work.

An incredibly positive, unexpected bonus to finding my agent is how insightful and willing she is to collaborate on revisions.

Stacey will send me an email with literally one sentence asking something about my manuscript and it will enlighten me to the exact issue I’d been trying to fix for eight months. Having access to an expert with a keen eye is invaluable.

8. An agent is a partner in your journey.

On the warm and fuzzy side, how much she believes in me and my writing is something I couldn’t have anticipated.

Being an author still feels like this soap bubble that might burst at any moment. Even after having my first novel published, that insecurity hasn’t gone away. If I didn’t have my agent to give me pep talks and reassure me of my talent when the chips are down, I don’t know where I’d be.

Being a writer is hard work. Getting published is even harder work. Having an agent can give you a much needed hand. Just know that there are some surprising twists and turns along the way.

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Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.