Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’
The first Wednesday of every month I participate in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. #IWSG. This is one AMAZING group of talented writers. Some of them are beginners and some are professional authors. One of the many things we all have in common is our moments of extreme insecurity about our craft. Another is our gratitude and strong -pay it forward attitudes when our confidence is soaring.
To find out more about the IWSG (there is really big news there this month) or to join us, visit:
It’s another first Wednesday of the month when all the IWSGers post on their blogs about their writing insecurities or offer some encouragement to others. If you are new to the IWSG, then please check out our IWSG Sign-up tab here and join up. A big thank you to our co-hosts for this month's posting: Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders!
A new feature we’ve introduced here at the IWSG is a question each month. The big question for this month: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?
On Wednesday’s I like to share information I picked up on my path to publishing, marketing and preparing to publish again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
Social Media Manners
What in the world did we do with our time before social media? I for one was definitely more productive writing wise and my house was much cleaner than it is now. I have a feeling that social media caused the cancelling of most daytime soap operas. Why watch scripted on T.V. when we can scroll through non-stop reality.
Whatever negative side effects social media might have it does have equal and opposite positive effects as well. For me I have never felt so much a part of so many completely different communities as I do now. Writers/Bloggers truly are the most supportive, genuine and friendly people I have ever known.
Because it is the start of a new season I thought this would be a good time to share some social media etiquette and tips that I have learned over the years, some of them the hard way.
It is social media not sell media. There are many companies out there that will take your money and instruct you to auto post the same posts across all of your social media platforms. Posts like ‘BUY my book’ ‘Must Read’ 500- 5 star reviews.’ Then there are those direct messages you receive thirty seconds after you follow someone. The requests to, buy my book, like my page, follow my blog and don’t forget to favorite and share this message. These companies will fill your head with numbers that sound important but they are useless. Social media is about being social and making real connections. Automatic cross posting and constant selling will leave people thinking you are lazy and unapproachable and they will keep scrolling.
Once you post it, it cannot be erased. In 2015 this is still important. If you are not sure about posting or responding to something take the time to think about it before you post or respond.
Ignore Posts that offend you. It would be great if we never had to lay eyes on or hear anything that offends us but when it comes to social media we are going to see plenty. It always feels good to be part of a ‘do good’ mob but choose your mobs wisely. Don’t take someone’s dislike of children or pets so personally and just scroll on. Trust me your mood will be better if you just ignore and scroll on. If they persist and you have trouble ignoring the offensive posts you can hide them, disable notifications from that person or un-friend them.
You owe no one an explanation to unfriend/unfollow. There is never a need to post things like ‘I am cleaning up my friend list.’ Just unfollow quietly and move on.
In 2015 it is still a bad idea to vague post, chronically complain, over share and post in clumps, frequently. ‘I am so upset’ ‘Some people need to just shut up and you know who you are.’(My personal least favorite) If you share someone’s post or article always write something personal about it such as why you liked it or didn’t like it. I can’t believe people still get upset when someone shares what they have posted. That is the gold people. It is all about the sharing.
Do not post spoilers. Be considerate of our friends in different time zones. If you cannot wait to talk about that winner or scene, take it private.
Limit rants. Sometimes a good rant can be healthy and prompt positive conversation. It is a good idea to only post them occasionally.
Never use more than two hashtags in one post.
The buzz about you, your book or your blog should NEVER come from you. This is simple; you only gain credibility when other people post, talk about or share your work. That doesn’t mean you cannot share exciting information or big news. There is a difference between good news and overselling.
If you wouldn’t say it to someone in person don’t say it on social media. It is a good idea to stop and think before reacting on social media. There is a way to say and mean what you want to say without being mean. We are writers, right?
It is okay to discuss politics and religion. Discuss is the key word here. We should always respect each other’s views or beliefs even if they are different from our own, especially if we have no idea what is behind those views. Discussion and debate are healthy. Headlines, talking points and surveys are annoying. Most people have their minds made up when it comes to religion and politics. Your post will not ever change their mind so stick to reality, discussion and healthy debate.
Do you have any to add to this list?
On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my path to publishing, marketing and preparing to publish again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
As much as I intend to stay in the moment and enjoy every single second left of summer it is time to plan for the fall, winter and spring.
If you are like me, achieving your writing goals is nearly impossible during the summer. Having a book to market, a new one coming out this fall and writing another has kept me busy and I didn’t quite meet my goals so of now I am in panicked catch-up mode.
How did you do with your writing goals over the summer?
I have a few author events coming up and I need to start preparing for them so I thought I would share what I’ve figured out with you.
Preparing for Author Events
I’ve been reading a lot lately about authors that no longer want to do book signings because they have no luck with them. While I agree that there are times when no matter what you do to prepare for the event people just don’t show up and other times there can be a line out the door.
What I have learned is there are things you can do to improve your chances for a successful event. The fact is publishers are not doing much these days to market and or promote their authors. Book stores depend on the author to bring the crowd to their store. It is up to us to advertise; market and promote ourselves.
Two months before the event:
Contact the community relations manager (CRM) and ask if they have ordered your books from their distributor or if they need you to supply them. Ask if he/she sends out press releases and if they do provide them with your bio, high definition book cover and author photos. I always send my own press releases too.
Most newspapers have an event calendar online that you can add your information to. Place a series of ads in your local newspaper or magazine advertising the event. Ads can be pricey so ask about specials or discounts and check the rates of large and small publications. You don’t want the ads to run sooner than two-weeks before the event but they may have to be ordered weeks in advance.
Create and order postcards. I use Vista Print and use my book cover, author photo and the bookstore’s logo or a photo of the front of their store. Ask the CRM if they will put the postcards on their counters.
Create a Facebook event. I always mention that I have a gift for the first ten people that buy the book. I get ten gift bags from a dollar store and pens, candy, small notebooks, bookmarkers and other small items from Sam’s or BJ’s. It doesn’t have to be much and the ten small bags with bows look nice on your table.
Send pitches to your local TV and radio show producers.
Six weeks before the event:
Send out an announcement to your e-mail list. Add the event to your website/blog and check with local bloggers to see if they will do an ad for you on their blog. These can be as inexpensive as $15.00 a month. Some will offer to do a write up and a review as well.
Mail postcards to everyone you know, friends, family and co-workers. Ask them to spread the word.
One Month before the event:
Think about how you will set your table up. You may want to bring a table cloth that matches your book cover, business cards, bookmarkers, a stand to put your book or poster on and a big bowl of candy. I put a sign up on my table that says ‘Meet the Author.’ Believe it or not sometimes people just have no idea what you are doing there.
Attend one or two author events at the store and network while you are there.
If you can afford to hire a professional photographer to take photos during the event it can create a lot of interest in you and your book.
Write an announcement for the store to use. I write three so they aren’t repetitive.
Two weeks before the event:
Follow up with whoever you invited. Place reminder calls. Create social media posts. Do not post about the event more than once a day. It can annoy people. Two or three times a week is plenty.
What are you going to wear? Whatever you decide on it should be business casual.
Plan to arrive ½ hour early so you have plenty of time to set up your table and deliver the announcement you wrote to the person who will be doing the announcing.
Bring a small gift for the CRM. One of the small gift bags is fine.
Get out from behind your table and mingle. Always have a book in your hand. If someone ask you what the book is about hand them the book with the back cover up and invite them to read the synopsis.
No matter how many people show up, have fun. I once had a signing and only two people showed up. One of them was the host of a radio show, she invited me on her show and I sold dozens of books because of that appearance.
Ask the CRM if you can sign a few books to leave in the store. Post on social media that you left signed copies at the store.
After the event:
Send a thank you card to the CRM and let him/her know that you are available for future events, author panels etc.
Good luck and happy writing,
WRITING WEDNESDAY- Rerun
On Wednesday’s I like to share information I picked up on my path to publishing, marketing and preparing to publish again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
I am not an expert in Self-Publishing but I know a lot of self-published authors and I am planning to self-publish myself, in the future so I have been taking notes.
There are a lot of advantages to Self-Publishing:
- The Author has total control
- The time frame. Your book can be published in a few months vs. 18 months-2 years
- Royalties of 20-80% vs. 5-15%
The disadvantages of Self-Publishing are evaporating quickly. The success stories are mounting. Like any business venture (yes writing is a passion but publishing is a business) it will take research, investment, hard work and most importantly a great product to have any chance at success. No matter which publishing choice you make it will be difficult at times and will take time and patience but it will be so worth it. I cannot even describe how amazing it feels to hold your first book in your hands.
Once your manuscript has been critiqued and professionally edited by a literary editor and you are planning to self-publish on your own, you will need an ISBN number [International – Standard Book Number] for your book. This is a social security number for the book. There are a lot of company’s out there that will be happy to sell you an ISBN # but BOWKER is the International clearing house for these numbers so you might as well skip the middleman and get it from them. The cost is $125.00. If you are using a company to assist you with self-publishing they may offer to get the ISBN# for you. Deep discounts are offered to companies that buy multiple #’s so they may offer it to you for less or include it in their package. If they charge more than $125.00 you can easily apply for it yourself.
You will need a business plan/proposal or an outline for fiction
If you are planning to self-publish 100% than Amazon is the place for you. Smashwords is One of the Amazon companies for e-books and Create-Space is used for print books.
If you use Amazon for publishing your book will never be available in an actual book store. This is because Amazon Publishers will not process returns. You will have to design all of your marketing around online booksellers. Amazon offers a KDP (Kindle Direct Program) a program that offers some marketing opportunities.
Lightening Source is a company you can use if you want your book to be available in book stores. They process returns, for a charge. All publishers, even traditional ones charge you for your returns.
To have any chance at having your book in a book store, your publisher has to be willing to offer your book to them at a wholesale discount price of at least 55% off the cover price. The books must be returnable if they do not sell within the stores allotted time-frame.
All print books are delivered through a book distribution center. The two major distributors are Ingram and Baker & Taylor. If the publisher you are planning to use does not use one or both of these distributors, move on from that publisher.
Here is a list of random Self Publishing Boutiques that offer a variety of packages to authors and come with some good references. As always never sign a contract unless you have had it reviewed by an attorney.
- Blue Lobster Book Company
- She Writes Press
- Book Locker
- Turning Stone
- Lucky Bat Books
- Assisted Publishing
Tate Publishing and Enterprises- Tate offers a publishing package that includes editing, formatting, cover design, ISBN#, copyrighting, marketing assistance and they handle returns. They deal with Ingram so your book will be available to any store, school or library that wants to stock it or make it available for order. Once your book sells 1000 copies, Tate refunds your investment. They basically operate like an Independent publisher. There are many other companies out there like this one and new ones are being started every day.
I cannot stress enough for you to have any contract reviewed by an attorney and ask for and check references. It is also a good idea to order books from several authors of any company you are considering, so you can check the quality of the printing etc…
A good book to read is Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur/ Guy Kawasaki
*FYI-Tuesday is the only day of the week that new books are released
Traditional Publishers make their money selling 100’s of copies of only several titles verses other publishers that make their money selling 100 copies of thousands of titles.
If you have any experience with self publishing it would be great if you could leave tips in the comments. Did you work with a company that you were thrilled with, please share.
If you have any questions please leave those in the comments and I will do my best to answer or find someone who can.
This Saturday August 1, 2015 (Can you believe it is almost August?) I will be at The Big Blue Marble Bookstore (7pm) with author friends, Maria Casale and Dylaan Rhea. We will be reading from our books and talking about writing and women under pressure. We are bringing snacks…
551 Carpenter Lane /Philadelphia, PA 19119
I am SO excited and such a nervous wreck because I am going to be co-hosting (for the first time) The Insecure Writers Support Group for August! Next Wednesday right here!
On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my path to being published, marketing and preparing to be published again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
The publishing business has changed so dramatically over the past few years and there doesn’t seem to be any slow- down in sight. It is still so unclear who the winner will be in this evolutionary process and that can cause more than a bit of anxiety for new as well as established authors. The good news is if you want to be published, you have choices…
This is a brief overview of the different Publishing Choices available and the pros and cons for each:
Traditional Publishing is still number one through six in sales, in publications and in best -selling titles, in the world. Those top six companies (not in order) are:
Hatchette Book Group
Simon and Shuster (name owned by CBS)
Each of these companies also own dozens of smaller companies known as imprints. An imprint may be used when publishing in a narrow field such as sci-fi or fantasy.
How it works:
Traditional publishers in most cases will only work with literary agents. If you want to be traditionally published you will first need an agent.
Submit your query and then if requested submit your finished, professionally edited manuscript to an agent that specializes in your genre.
If they decide to sign you they will have you go through another round of edits
They will try to sell your manuscript to a publisher
They will negotiate a contract on your behalf
They will receive a percentage of your sales
Once they have sold your manuscript to a publisher:
You will go through yet another round of editing
A cover will be designed and a title will be decided on
Conceptual editing will be done (styling)
The Advantages of Traditional Publishing:
They put up the front money for editing, copyrighting, distribution, listing with vendors, ISBN number, some marketing and advertising. They may even provide an advance.
Chances are much better for international sales
The big Publishers have connections w/ T.V., radio, Magazines etc…
Your book will be released in Hardcover and then 8 months to a year later it will be re- released in paperback.
Prestige and credibility
Disadvantages of Traditional Publishing:
Lack of control over everything involving your book including style, title, where it is sold, how it is marketed etc…
Earnings- You do not get paid until your advance is paid back (if you received one), royalties tend to be paid at lower percentages than other publishing choices.
The process tends to be impersonal.
If the Publisher does not make their initial investment back in two-years they may drop you.
The time frame from signing to publication can take up to two-years.
Independent Publishers tend to be smaller companies and can be imprints of a larger company. Most of them operate ‘under one roof’ meaning they have editing, marketing etc…in house.
There are hundreds of Independent Publishing companies with new ones starting every day. Just a few examples in no particular order are:
Publishing Genius Press
Coffee House Press
A Strange Object (new)
Gray Wolf Press
Advantages of publishing with an Independent Publisher:
They may or may not require you to be represented by an agent
Offer better royalties
More individual author attention
Prestige and credibility
Time from signing to publication can be as quick as one year
More willing to work with new authors
Less opportunity for international sales. Not impossible but unlikely
You will need to do most of the marketing
Your book may be released as an e-book prior to paperback release. It may not be released in hardcover.
Subsidy, Vanity, Print on Demand and Assisted Self- Publishing Companies
This is where the publishing water gets very murky. These companies charge fees for services. Some of them are very good companies that do exactly what they say they will do and some of them are very bad companies. Some of them are extremely choosy over what they accept for publication and others will print anything. If you choose this route for publishing you must research the company. Have any contract looked at by a literary attorney, request author references and order a few books that the company published to check the quality.
These companies may offer different publishing packages ranging in price from $10,000 for complete preparation to release services, $5,000 for less services and $600 or less for assistance with self-publishing such as ISBN number (your books social security number) copyrighting and formatting for Amazon and Barnes & Noble listings.
Advantages to these types of Publishing:
More control artistically
The highest royalties paid
A good option for special interest, regional, self-help, speakers, cookbooks and celebrities
Quick turnaround time, a year sometimes less.
Some of these disadvantages are changing, rapidly. The stigma surrounding self -publishing is eroding. To break through these barriers, write a good book and make sure it is professionally edited.
Some libraries and book stores, still will not stock these books.
Perceived Lack of credibility.
Some professional reviewers still will not review these books.
Some authors self-publish poorly edited or not edited at all books and it hurts all self-published authors.
Again, this is changing rapidly!
Companies to avoid at all cost (This list is not complete. Always research, check references and have a literary attorney read any contract.)
i universe (also known as Writers Club and Writers Showcase)
Publish America now known as America Star
Whatever route you choose for publishing, if you write a great story and have it edited professionally, the readers will come! Just like anything worth having in life, you will need to make an investment to get a return.
Are you a published author? What Publishing choice did you make and why?
Are you a writer hoping to be published? Which publishing choice do you thing would be right for you?
Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey from writing to publication, marketing and writing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us in the comment section.
Preparing for a Writers Conference
As writers one of the best investments we can make in our business/career is to attend as many conferences and workshops as we can afford. To get the most out of our investment we need to be prepared.
Have you followed all of the presenters, agents, the event itself and other attendees on social media? Learn as much as you can about each of them. You might be able to pick up a conversation starter that can break the ice. They might even remember something witty that you tweeted.
Bring plenty of business cards, pens and a notebook. When someone hands you a business card jot a note on the back of it, something to help you remember who the person was. Do not bring written pitches to hand out.
Prepare your pitch. Can you describe your manuscript in two to three sentences? Describe yourself and your book in ninety-seconds? This is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. Prepare that pitch and practice, practice, practice.
Dress appropriately. Agents and editors are professionals and they are looking for professional writers. You don’t have to suit up but I would say wear your best business casual.
Don’t monopolize an agents time. Everyone is there to meet them. They will not remember you favorably if you are a conversation hog. They want to meet everyone. Keep the ninety-second rule in mind and practice!
No matter where you are in your writing process there is always something to learn. Take the time to listen.
Relax, smile, socialize, make new writer friends and have fun!
Who is going to the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference?
I hope to see you there!
The Stranger in My Recliner has a cover. It’s almost a real book!
Writing/Critique Groups and Writing Classes/Workshops
A good writing and or critique group can be such a good resource for writers no matter where they are in their writing process. These groups are the best place to receive constructive, honest criticism from people who expect the same in return.
Writing classes and workshops are also good resources. The business of publishing is evolving rapidly so no matter where you are in your writing, classes and or workshops are a good place to keep up to date with those changes. They are also a safe place to receive honest feedback and advice from like minded people.
If your family is like mine it has members that love and are proud of everything you do and members that are critical of everything you do. It is much wiser to get feedback for your writing from other writers.
Writing is such a solitary process. For most of us it can be extremely difficult to step out of our safe writing caves and share our work with others but it is a necessary process and so worth it if we want to be the best writer’s we can be.
On- line writing groups and workshops are good for education and inspiration but in -real -life groups are the best place to socialize and are invaluable when it comes to promotion.
Members of a good group or class will keep you educated and motivated.
Where do you find these classes and groups? Most community colleges offer a variety of writing, publishing and marketing classes. In local newspapers you might be able to find a workshop.
Writing groups can be found by doing a Google search of your town and writing group. You can also find groups on the Meet-Up sight.
You may have to visit a few groups before you find one that fits. I suggest giving the group a chance by visiting two or three times before making a decision.
If you can’t find a group that seems to be a perfect fit for you, start one!
I belong to two-writing groups. One group meets every Wednesday at a, Panera Bread. It’s an- hour drive for me but I love the group so the drive is worth it. I am so grateful to, Kelly the facilitator of the group. She is a talented writer and blogger and a friend. The members of the group are so positive and supportive and that is because of Kelly’s leadership.
Do you belong to a group? Have you taken any classes or attended a workshop recently? What did you take-away from them?
For a little inspiration, visit:
Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey from writing to publication, marketing and writing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us…
A proposal is a business plan for your book. If you write nonfiction and query an agent that agent may ask to see your proposal. More and more agents that represent fiction are asking for one as well. It is a good idea to have one prepared before you start to query.
When I started querying for my first book I had no idea what a proposal was. I was so excited to get a response from the third agent I queried but when she asked for a proposal, I had no clue. Needless to say the one I hurried to put together got me nowhere. This time around I wrote the proposal before I wrote the book.
- It contains a cover page with word count, genre, title, short description of the book and your contact information.
- A table of contents
- A one page summary (the synopsis) of your book. Think of what might be on the back cover of the book.
- Target Audience. Who will buy this book and why. Do not ever say everyone will love this book because they won’t. Pick a specific demographic and then two sub demographics.
- Research the competition. What titles out there are similar to yours? Remember that competition in the book world is a very good thing. If there are numerous titles that means there is consumer interest. Agents and Publishers love competition. List these books and explain why they are similar and why they are different. Why is your book better?
- Your Platform- how you will be able to reach your target audience (where you are on line, your church, groups or organizations you belong to, connections etc…)
- Detailed Author Bio- Who you are and why you are the best person to tell this story and the best person to promote the book. Include resume information.
- Your marketing and promotion plan. Only list what you know you can do not what you hope to do. Example: Do not say I will appear on Oprah’s show and she will love my book unless you know for a fact you can make that happen. Make your plan concrete and include numbers. The secret to creating this plan is not how many ideas you have but how many connections you have and the action steps you are willing to take to improve your presence.
- Chapter Outline with a brief description of each chapter.
- Sample chapters- Choose two or three of your absolute best chapters (complete)
- Have several people including your editor go over your proposal.