Category: On Writing


Bookstore Geek: Griffin Bay Bookstore

By Midge Raymond,

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.

 

 





Mini Q&A with poet Kelli Russell Agodon

By Midge Raymond,

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.

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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.





5 Tips for writers at Women’s Fiction Writers

By Midge Raymond,

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.”

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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.

Happy writing!





Mini Q&A with author L.J. Sellers

By Midge Raymond,

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.

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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.

To read L.J.’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. And click here to visit L.J.’s website.







A Q&A with The Penmen Review

By Midge Raymond,

I was delighted to chat with Pamme Boutselis at The Penmen Review about the joys and challenges of writing, book marketing, being an editor, and more.

A million thanks to Pamme for this Q&A!

And writers: Check out The Penmen Review, which includes not only articles and resources for writers but is an online magazine featuring poetry, fiction, and essays, and more (check out the submission guidelines here).



Mini Q&A with poet Susan Rich

By Midge Raymond,

This is an excerpt of Susan Rich’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about book promotion, asking for what you want, and unique ideas for book events. For more book promo information, and to read Susan’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.

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Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poetry, The Cartographer’s Tongue: Poems of the World; Cures Include Travel; The Alchemist’s Kitchen; and the forthcoming Cloud Pharmacy. Her poems have been published in the Antioch Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry International, and The Southern Review, among others, and her fellowships include an Artist Trust Fellowship from Washington State and a Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa.

Q: What are the most successful things you’ve done to promote your books?


A: I learned this from a poet friend, and it’s very simple: “Ask for what you want.” Be clear on what makes an event or a project a positive experience for you. When one festival in Vermont invited me to read, I wrote back to say I’d love to come but I needed accommodation for my stay. At first the organizer said that he couldn’t accommodate me, but a few weeks later he came through with rooms offered to the festival by a lovely hotel. Since then I have asked museums to host events for free and hotels to give over their penthouse for a performance. There is no shame associated with asking for what you want—and this works especially well when working with other writers.

Here’s one example. For my book The Alchemist’s Kitchen, I decided that I wanted to set up a national tour. This goal sounded overly grandiose to my ears and to my budget (poets are not sent on tours by their publishers), but it was what I wanted: a new challenge. Over a two-week period, I visited San Diego, Boston, and Miami for events in each place. In each city I had friends to see, so I knew it would be fun no matter what else happened. In each city I read with other writers and made contacts that led to other projects. Going on the road facilitated new contacts and new places to do book promotion—because I asked.

Q: What aspect of book promotion has surprised you the most?


A: I’m always surprised that book promotion is actually fun. I am an introvert at heart—happiest with my own company. The idea of “selling” myself makes me want to run off to another planet. However, after several books I’ve found that when a book comes out, I look for other “new” authors in the same position so we can help each other. The writers I’ve met are overwhelmingly a generous lot. We share creative promotional ideas and our favorite bookstores to read in. This goes a long way toward casting the whole expedition as more of an adventure than a burden. My newest idea, “borrowed” from Colleen Michaels, a poet in Salem, Massachusetts, is to create an “Improbable Places Poetry Tour.” Colleen and her students at Montserrat College stage poetry readings where you least expect to find them: a flower shop, a Laundromat, a store window, and a bank. I’m working on an event right now that takes place in a hotel penthouse.

To read Susan’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. And don’t miss Susan’s website.

For those of you in Seattle, Susan will be participating in LitCrawl Seattle on Thursday, October 24, 2013 — she’ll be reading at Poco Wine + Spirits (at 1408 E Pine St.) with Karen Finneyfrock, Rebecca Hoogs, and John Duvernoy.



A guest post on Writers Helping Writers

By Midge Raymond,

I’m so happy to be a guest blogger on the fabulous website Writers Helping Writers, where you can read an excerpt from Everyday Book Marketing on how to create a great author website. (This excerpt was printed in Author Magazine in September, and I’m grateful that it has the chance to appear again on this wonderful site for writers.

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Spend a little time checking out Writers Helping Writers, and you’ll find a wealth of information, from recommended books to online classes to resources for writers. You can also sign up for a free e-newsletter. The site’s founders, Angela and Becca, are both authors who generously share all they know about what it means to be a writer. Enjoy!



Weekly Writing: Hair

By Midge Raymond,

Write about changing your hair — color, length, adding hair, cutting hair, shaving it all off. What did you want to be different, and what did you think might change along with your hairstyle? Were there any specific circumstances that led to the change?

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More book marketing tips for authors…

By Midge Raymond,

It’s been a great pleasure to talk about Everyday Book Marketing as well as to hear what poets and writers are finding useful about it…and this week I’m especially grateful to the poets who have embraced and chatted up the book.

A million thanks to Susan Rich for this generous review on her blog, The Alchemist’s Kitchen (which includes a link where can download a free excerpt of Everyday Book Marketing). And if you already have a copy of the book, don’t miss Susan’s Q&A, which is filled with invaluable advice for all authors.

Thanks, too, to Kelli Russell Agodon, another Q&A contributor with priceless advice, for her review on her blog Book of Kells.

And thanks to Jeannine Hall Gailey for taking the time to chat with me about book marketing, from blogs to reviews to events, on her blog.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to explore these blogs (all great examples, by the way, of how authors can create and maintain successful blogs!) and enjoy what you find there.

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Mini Q&A with author Kim Wright

By Midge Raymond,

This is an excerpt of Kim Wright’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about her adventures in publishing, from a Big Five house to self-publishing, from nonfiction to fiction. For more book promo information, and to read Kim’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing

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Kim Wright has been writing about travel, food, and wine for more than twenty-five years and is a two-time recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Writing. She is the author of Love in Mid Air and the City of Mystery series. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Q: What are the biggest differences between promoting a book published by a big publisher versus promoting a self-published book?


A: At the time that my novel Love in Mid Air came out in 2010, I had a reasonable amount of support from my publicity team at Grand Central. Especially the online publicist, who helped to arrange a blog tour that was quite successful.

But things have changed significantly at the Big Five houses since then. Budgets are shrinking and heads are rolling and any staff left is criminally overworked. What I understand from my friends who’ve more recently gone with a Big Five house is that you just can’t count on getting anything in terms of publicity, especially if you’re a midlist or new writer. That’s one thing that’s always been a bit mystifying about the big houses.

They spend the majority of their promotional efforts on authors who are already established—’cause yeah, Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult really need those ads—and debut writers struggle along on their own.

Of course, the one advantage the Big Five can still give their authors is distribution to bookstores, so if you go with a big house you might have readings, signings, a launch party, etc. There might be efforts made to get you reviewed in newspapers and magazines.

But the key word in both of those sentences is “might” because, once again, these things don’t happen as much as they used to. I don’t know anyone who’s done a book tour during the last two years, no matter how they’ve published.

So … bottom line, there’s not as big a difference as there used to be. Most of the promotional work falls to the writer whether you’ve gone Big Five, small press, or self-pub.

Q: How is marketing fiction different from marketing nonfiction?


A: The biggest difference is that it’s easier to zero in on the target reader and market for nonfiction. For example, each year for thirty years I’ve updated my travel guide for Fodor’s, titled Walt Disney World With Kids. Based on the title alone, it’s not hard to figure out who’s going to buy this book. You’re either going to Disney World or you’re not. You either have kids or you don’t. And a lot of nonfiction is like that. It’s very easy to target a book precisely to its intended market and very easy to build an author platform.

Fiction is trickier. Look at the title of Love in Mid Air— what the heck does that mean? Or the first book in my self-published mystery series, City of Darkness. The titles are evocative but vague. You need explanation before you could guess who would want to buy the book.

So I think fiction requires a little more finesse to market. You have to explain the book in a way that pulls people in and convinces them that even though they don’t need to read this book, they might want to.

To read Kim’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.