New parents will say such things as, “He’s such a good baby” or “She’s such a quiet baby.” Based on your personality today, what do you think was said about you? Fill in the blank for your own babyhood as you imagined it was: “He/She was such a ______ baby.”
December 2, 2013 No Comments
For a tiny town on a small island, Friday Harbor, Washington, has wonderful bookstores. Among them is Serendipity, a used bookstore near the ferry line at 225 A Street. The store doesn’t have a website, but you can call (360) 378-2665 to check its hours.
This beautiful store is overflowing with books (yet all books are cataloged, so if you are looking for something specific, just ask). And books are arranged by section, from contemporary general fiction to classics to Oprah Book Club selections, and so on. Particularly fun is the cookbook section, which is located in what formerly was the kitchen of the house:
All the different rooms and nooks makes for excellent browsing. This definitely outs me as a Cat Lady, but I did love the cat-book section of the store.
Between the sheer number of books and the cozy fireplace, Serendipity is one of those bookstores you can lose yourself in, so plan accordingly — and if you’re in the ferry line, keep an eye on the time!
November 29, 2013 No Comments
November 25, 2013 No Comments
For many of us writers, doing a cross-country, in-person book tour isn’t affordable (in terms of time or dollars). But there are other options…like a Virtual Book Tour.
For a few tips on how to get on the road, virtually, check out this excerpt (along with many other resources for writers!) at Author Magazine.
November 21, 2013 No Comments
This is an excerpt of Janna Cawrse Esarey’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about book clubs. For more book promo information, and to read Janna’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.
Janna Cawrse Esarey is the author of The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers & a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife (Simon & Schuster). A Publisher’s Weekly Summer Fave, Today Show rec, and Parade Pick, it’s the true story of a woman who sails across the Pacific on her honeymoon, only to find her relationship heading for the rocks. Watch Janna’s book trailer at www.byjanna.com.
Q: How did you get your first book club gig, and what can a writer do to get on the radar of book clubs?
A: My very first gig was actually before The Motion of the Ocean came out. A local college class was assigned to create promotional materials for several new books, mine included. (Pays to have friends who teach!) These amazing students convinced the campus bookstore’s book club to read ARCs (advance reader copies) and recorded the group’s discussion. They also made a book trailer—a short video—to promote my book. (I know, lucky! You might see if students in your area could do the same.)
My next gig, also pre-publication, was with Simon & Schuster’s in-house book club—a huge honor—but it made me understand why my editor had gone to bat for photos, a map, and a book club kit in the back (discussion questions, activities, and an interview). We had to fight hard for all these extras. With no budget for a map, I drew it myself, and I also helped write the discussion questions since I knew I didn’t want any dry, English-teachery reading comprehension questions. (Hint: Questions that make readers interpret the text or reflect on their own lives work best.) These extras— whether in traditional publishing or self-publishing—can be a lot of work, but they definitely attract book clubs.
To prepare for other book group gigs, I set up a section for readers on my website that included an expanded version of the book club kit as well as recipes, my personal backstory, and, of course, the book trailer. You could also include a blog, inspirational quotes, behind-the-scenes info, or photos of where you write. Visit your favorite authors’ websites to get ideas. I also ran a promotion: Choose MOTO for your book group and receive one free, signed copy. My publisher gave me a box of books to give away in this manner—very effective!
Speaking of social media, Facebook is an author’s best friend. Why? Because you can reach out to your number-one fans—your friends! Set up both a personal Facebook profile and an author or book page. Here you can post author events, links related to your book topic, the inside scoop about writing and publishing, tidbits from your personal life, and, of course, photos and anecdotes from your book club chats. Connecting with one book club via Facebook—and posting about it—will often lead to connecting with another book club. You can also try a Facebook ad that will post only to your friends’ friends, or friends of those who have already “liked” your book page. You can set your budget and your bid so it doesn’t break the bank.
Twitter also provides a quick, easy way to mention upcoming book club chats, post group photos, or share possible discussion questions. Reflect afterwards with favorite quotes or questions from the evening. Use a hashtag (#bookclub) to get as many views as possible, and create a hashtag for your own book, too (#MOTO).
For more of Janna’s book club advice, and to read her complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. And visit Janna online at http://www.byjanna.com.
November 20, 2013 No Comments
Griffin Bay Bookstore is in the heart of Friday Harbor, Washington, on gorgeous San Juan Island.
Griffin Bay is a must-see when you’re in Friday Harbor, and it’s a particularly perfect spot to visit on a rainy day, with its cozy feel and relaxing cafe.
The bookstore features a great selection of island-related books, as well as all of the latest indie bestsellers. It’s wonderful for browsing not only for books but for all sorts of readerly and writerly things; I especially enjoyed its amazingly diverse and lovely selection of note cards.
Last but not least, Griffin Bay has a truly impressive selection of Theo Chocolate.
November 19, 2013 No Comments
November 18, 2013 No Comments
This is an excerpt of Kelli Russell Agodon’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about unique book promo ideas and offers advice for new authors. For more book promo information, and to read Kelli’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.
Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, Small Knots, and Geography. She co-edited Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry. Kelli is the editor of Crab Creek Review and the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press. Her third book of poems, Hourglass Museum, will be published in 2014.
Q: What was the single most successful thing you’ve done to promote your books?
A: Oddly, I’m not sure I’d have any idea what one thing it is, but probably a coming together of many. Having my poem on Poetry Daily (www.poems.com) was a huge boost because poetry readers visit there daily, so I connected with a lot of people outside my area.
Another thing I did was send my book to ten random people. These can go to anyone, like a reader who sends me an e-mail saying they liked a poem of mine, or I may mail a copy off to Garrison Keillor for his “Writer’s Almanac” radio show. I just like sending my book out into the world and seeing what happens—sometimes nothing, sometimes a lot.
From my ten-random-people experiment, my poem went on to be recited by Garrison Keillor on his radio show and then ended up in his Good Poems for Hard Times anthology. You never know what doors your book will push open, and it’s a fun way to connect with others and send your work into the world.
Q: What advice do you have to offer new authors?
A: 1) If you’re trying to publish your book, be persistent.
2) If you have a book published and are trying to market it, be polite and professional.
3) Use your newly acquired fame to help promote other writers you like. It’s wonderful to support others, and having a book will give you the platform to help raise others up and share their work as well. Remember, we are a writing community full of readers and writers. Share the wealth with others, and let that good karma come back to you twofold.
4) Remember there is no one way to be a writer in the world. Try new things (make a book trailer, start a Facebook page) and find ways to promote your book that make you feel good. If you like working with people, see if you can volunteer somewhere. Or visit someone’s book group. Find ways to share your book with others that you enjoy.
5) Don’t judge your success by your royalty check. We are artists first, and we can’t judge our work by a dollar sign.
To read Kelli’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. And visit Kelli online at www.agodon.com.
November 14, 2013 No Comments
Write about orange. This could be the color, the fruit, anything you associate with this word.
Then, write about purple. Then, blue.
November 11, 2013 No Comments
Today I’m delighted to be a guest on Women’s Fiction Writers, the fantastic blog of Amy Sue Nathan, author of The Glass Wives. For those of you who don’t know of Amy’s blog, check it out and keep returning for awesome tips, guest posts, and other resources for women writers of fiction on editing, publishing, and the writing life. I escpecially love the blog’s tagline: “no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels.”
In this guest post, I offer 5 tips for how to be an Everyday Writer — that is, how to keep writing when you’re not actually writing. There are myriad ways to stay connected to your work even when you’re not able to be in the chair…and I hope you find these tips helpful.
If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, you might find that these 5 tips help keep you on track. Even if many of the tips involve away-from-the-desk activities, what you gain from these will most likely affect your writing directly.
November 7, 2013 No Comments
Write about the end of the day. What do you do; where do you go; what rituals, if any, do you have? What’s your favorite thing to do at the end of a day — and how often are you able to do it?
November 4, 2013 No Comments
This is an excerpt of L.J. Sellers’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about self-publishing and her path to an Amazon book deal. For more book promo information, and to read L.J.’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.
L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist and author of the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series as well as standalone thrillers. A Readers’ Favorite winner, L.J.’s novels have been praised by Publishers Weekly, Mystery Scene, and Suspense Magazine, and her Jackson books are the highest- rated crime fiction series on Amazon.
Q: Tell us about how your first book came into the world, and how this led you onto the path of being (and remaining) an independent author.
A: I self-published my first Detective Jackson novel in 2007 after receiving rave rejections from major publishers. That was before the Kindle was released and print-on-demand publishing became available to individuals, so I spent a small fortune on a print run of 3,500 mass-market paperbacks. Then I worked like a madwoman to find a distributor and reach out to bookstores. I got lucky, and the novel was well received and reviewed. So I wrote two more books in the series, which were picked up and published by a small press. I spent ten times as much money promoting the books as I made in royalties. Despite the wonderful reviews from readers, I strongly considered giving up the series and even wondered if I should continue writing fiction. Then I was laid off my newspaper job, and the year 2010 looked very bleak for me.
But during those years, e-books had emerged as a growing market, and POD became a viable option for print books. So I started looking at my options and decided to upload my unpublished stand-alone thrillers to Kindle to see if I could generate some income. I quickly realized I needed to leave my publisher, get the rights back to my Jackson series, and self-publish every story I had—both as an e-book and as a POD print offering. Which I spent a good chunk of the year doing. After I uploaded the fourth Jackson novel in late October, I turned down freelance work for nearly a month and spent eight hours a day promoting my novels. I wrote blogs and articles, posted in forums, bought a few newsletter ads, and gave away hundreds of e-books on Goodreads and LibraryThing.
The results were astounding. By the end of the year, my series was a Kindle bestseller, and I was making a living selling e-books. Since then I’ve published another five books, and I’m living my dream of being a full-time novelist. But that term is a little misleading. Because I was self-published with ten books on the market, I spent as much time running my business as I did writing the next novel.
But all that has changed. Last year I signed an eleven-book contract with Amazon Publishing—nine backlist titles and two new novels. For the record, it’s the only publisher I even considered selling to. Amazon’s contracts are writer-friendly and generous compared to other publishers. And now that the new versions are on the market, Amazon is heavily promoting them, and my sales have doubled. I’m finally free to write full- time. My lifelong dream.
Q: What has been your biggest marketing challenge?
A: The biggest challenge in marketing is to keep finding new opportunities. Because what worked in 2010 quit working in 2011 when every other author started doing the same thing. And what worked six months ago is no longer as effective now. The market is constantly changing, and the competition is fierce. So I continuously have to find and try new marketing ideas, and it’s time consuming.
Q: What advice do you have to offer authors who plan to self-publish?
A: The first thing is to have your work evaluated by objective professionals in the industry to determine if it has commercial potential. If your novel is marketable, then you have a green light to make the investment you need to be competitive. At that point, you need to decide what your goals are. Do you simply want to publish your book to see it in print for family and friends? Will fiction be a sideline, or do you want to make a living from it? Determining what you want out of the self- publishing experience will help you decide how much time and money to spend. Because if you want to sell well and earn a living, the next step is to invest real money in editing, cover design, professional formatting, and promotional spots. You also should commit to spending a couple hours a day on promotion—social networking, blogging, posting in forums, and querying book reviewers. If professionals don’t consider your work to be marketable or you don’t have the time and money to invest at an appropriate level, then you may need to accept that writing novels is a hobby and whatever you invest may never be recovered. That may sound harsh, but it’s the reality of a very competitive market.
October 29, 2013 No Comments
October 28, 2013 No Comments
The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication, by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada, is a helpful guide for beginning writers that focuses on five stages of creativity.
Dan Millman, well known for his book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, has teamed up with his daughter, journalist Sierra Prasada, for this new book on writing, creativity, and publication. They include their personal journeys as well as tips and guidelines for authors beginning their own journeys.
The first stage, Dream, is about defining one’s story — finding ideas that stick and going from there to defining character, finding plots, considering setting. I especially like the concept of “dreaming in dialogue,” which encourages the writer and his/her alter ego to have a role-play type conversation that helps in discovering characters’ motives, plot twists, etc.
The Draft section is about telling one’s story, from beginning to end, and this section covers topics from using the senses to doing research. In the Develop section, the authors raise the question of hard work versus talent, revision (and reinvention), and the importance of never giving up.
The Refine stage covers sentence-level editing, from trimming to punctuation, and the Share section addresses how to publish and market your work, as well as how to handle rejection (there are some wonderfully inspiring rejection stories here!). One thing I think will be particularly helpful to new writers is the authors’ notion of Nine Sales — that is, the myriad ways in which all writers must sell their books, from selling it to themselves, to their literary agents, and to their editors, all the way to their sales reps and their readers.
Throughout the book, Millman and Prasada remind us to go back to story whenever we’re stuck — to ask the important questions, such as “What’s the story about?” and “Who’s our audience?” For those writers who are new to workshopping or seeking/giving feedback, the book includes what questions to ask your prospective readers in order to get the most constructive feedback possible.
The Creative Compass features a helpful FAQ index near the beginning of the book, referencing such immediate questions as how to find one’s voice as an author, when to ask for feedback, and how journaling may be useful. Inspiring quotes by authors pepper all pages of the book, and a section at the end devotes five pages to quotations. The Creative Compass is an inspiring guide for anyone just beginning to explore their creative selves through writing, as well as those who are just beginning to get a sense of the stories they want to tell.
October 24, 2013 No Comments
Write about a time someone tried to sell you something you didn’t want, from life insurance to a new faith to an item at a flea market.
October 21, 2013 No Comments