View Full Version : Week 4: Publishers and Marketing
March 23rd, 2010, 12:34 AM
First of all, congrats on finishing on your novel! You have done something many people have tried but didn't complete! At this point, you have succeeded in something so pat yourself on the back and celebrate!
The job of being a writer is not yet finished, actually you've only just begun! Yes, being a professional writer also goes past the actual writing. Now you need to be looking for publishers and agents.
Always do your homework. You should already know the genre of your book. That is important. The same thing goes for the audience. They both determine who your publisher will be. You should know your story inside and out, and be passionate about it. Believe me, it shows through your emails and snail mail.
Many publishers are going email now so to save time now, always check their requirements before sending them anything. Most rejections come from people not paying attention. Its sad but more rejections are served than acceptance letters are sent out. Publishers and agents are looking for reasons to reject a story. Its not personal, its business. Don't give them any reasons to reject your story.
That is why editing is very important. I can't emphasize enough on that. If you're not ready for this phase, keep editing. Get more help if you need it but your story has to be perfect before sending anything out to anyone. Seriously.
Keep a positive attitude and be professional at all times. Never send out your whole manuscript unless told other wise by the publisher or agent.
Query letters should be professional too. This is the first thing the publisher or agent will see and will judge your story and your writing ability by this one letter so make sure its perfect. Check your spelling and grammar on this before sending it out either through email or snail mail. If you have any experience on writing (even if its minor), include it. Specify why you're the best writer for this story. Even personal experience (if it relates to the story) can be helpful at this point. And don't forget to include what the story is about. Keep it under 3 pages (1 is best).
I don't want to over whelm you so this is all I'm going to share for this session. Don't worry, you can do it. Dreams do come true so don't ever give up, esp now that you've written a complete story. You owe it to your characters and to that story to keep pushing forward!
March 24th, 2010, 12:02 AM
Ok, so you've done the research, found a great handful of publishers you'd like to send your manuscript to, and you've written a great query letter. If that sounds like you, what are you waiting for? Send it in lol!
Now you wait, right? Not unless you're only intending on writing just one book. While you wait to hear from a publisher, you should be getting started on the next book. Publishers like to see writers working hard on the next one. It shows you're a serious writer and they take this business quite seriously.
It generally takes a little while before you hear back on those query letters. Even longer for manuscripts--sometimes up to 6 months on them so learn how to be patient now. When you get that letter saying, send something in, send in exactly what they are asking for. Nothing more, nothing less. They want 3 chapters or so many pages, send that. They want the full manuscript, send it. Never ever send your only copy. I'm serious about that.
Again, no waiting is allowed! Start writing your next piece. Get your mind off that manuscript. Generally writers stick with one genre but there's no rule that says you have to. Look at me, I write in several and none of them even relate lol. Be your own person, your own style will shine through! Master what ever you write!
Don't expect your first try to be accepted. Again, it isn't personal. Maybe they didn't even read it. It happens. Publishers are pounded with submissions on a daily basis. If they just accepted a warewolf story and that's what you've written, guess what--you're probably getting turned down for that time being. It doesn't mean it was bad or good--it just means they aren't ready for your story.
Sometimes, publishers will write back and say it was great but......Listen to what they say and learn from it. Don't let it get you down--become stronger. You really have to have thick skin in this business if you want to survive. Never take things personally because they aren't. When you get a rejection, pat yourself on your back for trying hard and go back out there again and try for more.
Stolen Identity (my second book) was turned by the same publisher who accepted it. I actually forgot I had sent it to them. A different editor looked it over and liked it. After I received the acceptance letter, I got another email from the owner of the publisher who apologized and told me why it was turned down the first time. She didn't like the ending. She told me if I was willing to make changes, they would stand by their acceptance. What do you think I did? Duh, I made the change! It actually worked better for the story. Sacrifices are made sometimes, but for the better!
Just never give up. Dr. Seuss was turned down so many times, I can't even remember the number lol. But look at him now--his books are everywhere! Movies are made about them! Stephen King was also turned down a lot before his first book was accepted. All writers go through it before they reach that level of success. Listen, if we can keep chasing our dreams and succeed--so can you! Dreams really do come true, I promise so don't give up!
I'm not an expert on writing query letters but I'd like to see what you all can do. If you can convince me that you're story is great, then you might just have a great query letter. That's your assignment. Write a query letter about the most recent book you've written and share it on the sharing board. Don't forget to give your experience, background, and information about the story including; genre, audience, word count (if not done, state where you're at from that point).
March 25th, 2010, 03:07 AM
Every writer knows its hard to find the right publisher. Believe me, they are out there. Just remember this....For every person, there is something that he or she likes whether its food, a style of clothing, or whatever. Imagine you're those things for a minute. You're waiting in the store, waiting for that right person to come along and buy you. Sure, some people stop and take a look, some even try you out. And then that magic happens when that right person pulls out their wallet and makes the purchase. Your story is going through that right now!
Ok, when you find that publisher and they send that initial letter to you saying they want to sign a contract with you, you're going to have some emotions. Its ok to cry, let me tell you lol. I sure did, more than once. Its a good thing. Its all right to be that happy. You deserve it lol.
The publisher will send you two copies of that contract. Look it over, sign both if you're happy with it. You keep one and send the second copy to them via snail mail.
Not all publishers are the same (some only offer royalties which are fine). Some publishers don't promote their authors. There are simply too many authors for them and it gets hard to promote them all. Don't get discouraged if that happens to you. It should be up to you as the author to promote yourself first. If the publisher does promote you, its a bonus but don't depend on it. I will talk more about this before the end of the week. For now, let's get through the publishing process. Again, they are not all the same.
This is from my experience so far. You will have a "questionnaire" to fill out. On this, it will ask a few things about how you intend to market your book, how you would like your cover, and more. Make sure you fill it out. It will also have your bio which is the part that goes on the back of the book. Yes, authors write their own lol. Keep it short, sweet, and pack it with a punch. Something that pulls people into your story.
Once they get the contract, you will send them the manuscript. An editor will be assigned to it right away and will begin working on it, making notes and suggestions for changes in the margin. While they are doing that, another department will begin working on the cover. They read the manuscript so they can get an accurate picture for your cover. This is when you can begin marketing your book by the way lol.
Once the editor has finished making their changes, they will send it to you for approval. That means you can either agree or disagree. Don't be too stubborn though. They do remember those authors more than the authors who agree all the time and are easy to work with. That is not a good thing. Don't jeopardize your story but don't be hard headed either lol.
Read the suggestions, add to your story to make it better. Remember, the editors job is to make the story better. If something is missing to do that, he or she will suggest you add it. If something is there but doesn't seem right, he or she will ask about it. It makes you think if you ask me lol.
You make your changes and send it back. The editor will look at it again. More changes will be asked of you (not always) and you will repeat the round. This lasts until the story is perfect. Yes, sometimes they do miss things lol. Sometimes a second editor will take over after a few rounds. And then a line editor will look it over for spelling and grammar, plus punctuation marks, etc.
Meanwhile, you will be looking over cover ideas. You pick the one you like the best and it goes back to the publisher for final approval of your choice. This one, they have the last word on.
Once its finally done, it will be sent to the printer and the publisher will check it over for more mistakes. They will look over the binding and the ink to make sure it was made properly. At this point, you can't really do anything but wait and market lol. I suggest you keep yourself busy by writing your next book and promoting your new book while you wait between rounds.
When the printed copy comes back in good shape, you will be notified of your release date. If the publisher sends out for reviews, they are done at this time as well. If not, that is something you should look into. Reviews do help sales--good or bad. Most publishers do offer you free copies; the number depends on the publisher which will be stated in the contract. Use your copies for marketing purposes.
Enjoy the ride when you get there. It may be frustrating at times but you really need to be patient because you're finally there! Relax! You're done a big part of your job as a writer, let the publisher do theirs so you can get back to your next job as a writer--writing another book, and marketing the one that's coming out! It gets a little more challenging at that point lol.
Here's something to look forward to.......When you meet a fan who wants your autograph and can't stop talking about how much he or she enjoyed your book, its a great feeling. Nothing can replace it. When you read your book out loud in a library or someplace else while others listen carefully, its a great feeling. When you run into someone who recognizes you from your book, its a great feeling. All of it makes the heartache and sweat worth it!
See you all tomorrow!
March 25th, 2010, 08:20 PM
Ok let's refresh now.
1. Do your homework. Know your story inside and out so you know what to look for in a publisher. Know the genre, your audience, and what the story is about in a quick sentence.
2. When searching for a publisher, look at their guidelines. Look at the books they have published in the past. Talk to those authors if you can. How do they distribute their books? Research is key here. Don't leave room for mistakes--this is the place that's going to take your book over and help make it sell so choose wisely.
3. Be professional
4. When writing a query, your writing ability matters. Check all spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. If the publisher can't get pass the query, you've lost your chance. Include your bio, experience, information about the book, your background if it relates to the story (esp if non-fiction).
5. Don't just sit back and wait to hear from them. It takes time so begin the next book right away.
6. If it comes back as a reject, don't take it personally. Learn from it and make it better. Go back to editing, pruning, tightening, etc. Send it back out to another publisher.
7. When you get accepted, be prepared to work some more. Listen to the editors. Work with them to make it better. Stick to your guns on the important things you want in the story but be flexible. At this point, begin the marketing process. Get the word out that your new book is coming soon.
8. Work with the cover artist. Be patient on all aspects of the job. If you don't like it, be honest about it. If you love it, tell them. Font is included with that and can make a difference.
9. While waiting for edits from the publisher and the cover design, keep yourself busy by writing and marketing. This is a never ending job so don't slow down just because you're getting published. It only gets more challenging when you have multiple books out. The more books you have written at this stage, the better it will be so keep up with the writing.
10. Don't forget to celebrate! You've accomplished something big, be proud of that. Your successful now. Remember, you're a professional writer the moment you signed that contract--act like it. You don't have to change your wardrobe or anything but you do need to be more professional in attitude and personality.
11. You're welcome to print this out as a reminder so when you get to this point, you're ready for it. Just remember this--all publishers are different. What you do with one may be different with the next one so keep in contact with each publisher along the way. Establish a business relationship with them and keep it strong. If you do this well, publishing a second book with them will be easy. Of course, sales matter which is where the marketing comes in. Never count on them even if they do help in the marketing.
For the rest of the week, we're going to discuss marketing. Since we do have a few days (5) left, we can also discuss finding time to write that second book if you'd like. Let me know.
March 27th, 2010, 12:18 AM
Once you sign the contract, you may want to begin looking into promoting yourself and your book. If it is your first book, you will want to do everything you can to get your name out there (and the title of the book). Once you have enough books out there, your name will sell itself but it does take a lot of time and effort to get to that point. But it will happen.
First of all, never pass a chance to promote your book. Any time you have a chance to talk to someone, work your book into the discussion. People think authors are celebrities so when they hear you've published a book, they become very interested in hearing about it. I know this from experience lol.
Websites are a good investment. Some say you don't need one, others say its a must. If you can establish yourself online somewhere, do it. Websites are a great way to do that. Blogging is another. Using both together is also great.
Let's talk about that first. Your website, if you choose to have one, should be professional. Pictures are fine but don't pull the attention away from your books. Don't get too personal on your site but adding a bio page will reveal your human side which shows your readers that you are a human. They relate more to humans so put your face on the site at least on the bio page.
Things to include on your website.....
1. Book cover once you get it
2. Excerpts always help but don't use the first few pages of the book, choose something in the middle that will intrigue the reader to buy a copy.
3. Reviews show that others have read the book so include them and make sure they are real lol. They can be from friends, family, strangers, professional reviewers, or anyone who has read your book.
4. Purchase information. Where they can find a copy, how much it costs, and links to those places to buy a copy.
5. If you'd like to have a newsletter, include a sign up link. This can be used to keep your fans notified of book signings, readings, upcoming releases, etc. I have one if you'd like to check it out on my website. When adding the sign up link, put it on every page so they don't have to search for it.
6. Your bio
7. You can also add your book tour information if you're having one. Fans love a chance to meet their favorite writers so if you're planning on signing books, add where you're going to be and when. The same goes for book readings which can be done at the same time.
There are a lot of websites out there that host. Some are free and some charge. Go with what you can afford. I've done both and prefer the host where I pay because there are no ads and it looks more professional. But if you can't afford it, go with a free host until you can.
Google has an excellent blog program and it is free to use. If you haven't used it before, you set it up with your email.
When you blog, you can talk just about anything you'd like. Whatever you're thinking about is good. Make sure you watch spelling, grammar, etc though because it does reveal what kind of writer you are. Use it to help market your book, discussing your favorite parts of your book, discuss the characters and their motives, etc. If you have a background that put you in the writing seat for this book, discuss it. People love to hear what compels a writer to write what he/she does! And be sure to link to your website and visa versa lol.
A blog can also be used to house your newsletter sign up link. You can dress it up with the cover of your book too.
All right, this is all we have for this post. As an assignment, create a blog and share it with us. On the first post of your blog, talk about anything you want but keep it professional. You can even talk about the book you're working on now lol.
Tomorrow we will discuss book signings and readings
March 27th, 2010, 10:06 PM
There's no assignment for this one unless you can attend a book signing in the next couple days or so lol. So, on with the discussion..........
Meeting the readers is a great way to keep pushing through the writing of the next book. Its also a great way to reap the rewards because their input is usually good lol. Having book signings and readings are ways to get in touch with those readers and fans.
If you don't have an agent, you will be the one setting up the book signings so shop around. Think outside the box. You don't have to go to traditional book stores anymore. You can have a book signing pretty much anywhere these days. If you wrote a cookbook, hold your signing in a restaurant that specializes in something in the book. Wrote a children's book, find something where children like to go like maybe a toy store or something. Be creative!
Talk to the manager, who ever that may be. First by phone, then in person. Have with you....your book, a copy of your bio, business card, information about your book, other places where your book is available, your picture and cover, how to order your book if they choose to place an order (other wise you provide the books), and publisher information. Keep it organized. Dress like you're going for a job interview if not better. If you smoke, don't smoke where they can see you or not at all until you're gone.
When you find a place that accepts you for a signing, make sure the date and time is a good one. Make up a copy of flyers that the store can keep in their window (they can fill in the date when agreed upon). Advertise like crazy, using more flyers and more.
The date is set......
If they ordered your books, call them ahead of time to make sure they do have them. Don't wait until the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to get more if you need to. A few days before, call the manager to confirm your time and day. Last minute changes can always be made so be prepared just in case the store makes those changes.
The day of the signing, be there an hour early to set up and look around the store. Bring the manager and employees a gift, something small to show your appreciation. If they like you, they will invite you back for another signing. The same goes for a reading. You should have books on hand for that as well just in case.
During the signing, don't sit unless you're actually signing a book. Don't expect a line. My first signing was a no show, it does happen. During the beginning, we're "no names" so make your name remembered at the beginning. It just gets easier the more we write and publish.
While you're there, walk around and talk to the costumers. Help them shop if you need to. Be polite, dress nicely, don't smoke, and talk about your book lol. Set up in the front of the store if possible so people can see you and your books.
Don't get frustrated and don't get bored. It can go either way, too busy or not busy enough lol. Be prepared for both. Have fun! And when you leave, be sure to thank everyone and purchase something from the store.
Hope this helps!
March 29th, 2010, 12:29 AM
Promoting your own books doesn't have to feel like work. By the time you're published, you're so ecstatic that it got published, you wanna tell the world. Use that energy to market your book now! Its actually fun, really.
Like I've said in earlier posts, meeting the fans make all the hard work so worth it! Hearing their thoughts about your books make your head spin in a good way. I've heard my own fans tell me things about my books I didn't even know and let me tell you it was wonderful! That's the true payment of getting published, seriously.
Just like the pen or keyboard is your important tool for writing, there are very important tools for marketing. You've already learned two tools, blogging/websites and book signing/readings. Now we're going to discuss the rest!
Like I've said before, never pass a chance to spread the word about your book. When standing in line, talk about your book. When you're pumping gas, talk about your book to the next person pumping gas. Having business cards make it easier.
Business cards.......This is like your website. You need your information in one place. Book title, ISBN#, price of book, your pen name, website link or blog if you're only using one or the other, and cover if you're able. Remember, there are both sides to the card so use your space available without cramming it all together. Make it look neat. Some things can be left out so choose wisely. At least go with your pen name, book title, and website.
There are cool things you can use besides business cards such as magnets, stickers, items of clothing, household items like a mug, pens can have your website link and pen name, you can even pass out candy with your book title or website on it. You can make flyers, post cards, calenders, coloring books, or what ever you'd like; the sky is the limit really.
Even when you have a book signing, you can bring in special treats for your fans. Book marks work well, cookies specially made with your cover on them, candies, or what ever.
Contests work really well because it gets people to read your book to win prizes. You can have something made with your cover on it. Or you can have the prize being a night out for dinner for two to a nice restaurant or something. Writing is a business (no longer a hobby for you) and you're the owner of this business so you can make any contest you want! Its your rules, your prize.
Always keep plenty of books on hand to show people because some people might want to buy a copy directly from you so they can get an autograph from you lol. Believe me people prefer buying a book from the author whenever possible and it makes it special for them! I think 5 copies is a good number but its up to you lol.
If your budget allows it, think bigger to find more readers. If you know your audience like you know yourself, finding the location where your audience would hang out is a must. Then you can buy a space on a bench to place your cover and website information, or rent a billboard. You can even have a commercial made.
You Tube has become busy with videos covering everything. Making your own "commercial" could be a benefit. Its called a trailer, like one for movies. Be creative on this. You can video tape yourself reading an excerpt, video an actual scene from the book, or whatever. I watched one video where the author was in a cemetery. Her book was about angels so the video captured angel statues which was really nice. It was a very professional video. You can make your own or hire someone to make one if you can't. The new laptops come with Windows movie maker which is fun to use.
The Internet is a hot line for marketing. The number of people you can reach is in the millions! Networking is a great way to reach those people. Make sure you link everything to your website. The more links you have, the easier you can be found (you and your book).
It sounds like a lot of work and well, it really is but it becomes fun when you don't think about it being work lol. If you enjoy being a writer like I do, it becomes second nature to talk about your books. Don't boast too much though. Being passionate and boasting are two different things. Be proud of who you are and others will enjoy hearing about it.
Let this absorb and I will see you all tomorrow for more tips on writing!
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