Week 4: Publishers and Marketing
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!
Publishing/Query Writing Assignment
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).
Book Signings and Readings
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!
The Fun of Marketing and the tools to get it done
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!