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
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).
October 18, 2013 No Comments
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.
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.
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.
October 17, 2013 No Comments
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.
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!
October 15, 2013 2 Comments
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?
October 14, 2013 No Comments
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.
October 13, 2013 No Comments
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.
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.
October 11, 2013 No Comments
October 7, 2013 No Comments
This is an excerpt of Ashland library manager Amy Blossom’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about how to approach libraries for events. For more book promo information, and to read Amy’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.
And save the date! I’ll be doing a book marketing event at the Ashland library on Wednesday, October 9, at 7 p.m. Click here for more info.
Amy Blossom is the manager at the Ashland Branch Library in Ashland, Oregon, and serves on the board of Friends of the Ashland Public Library. She is the host of Open Books, Open Minds, a local television program featuring interviews with authors from the Southern Oregon community and beyond.
Q: What is the best way for a local author to approach his or her local or regional library?
A: A personal approach is much better than a cold e-mail. It’s so easy to dismiss an e-mail, whereas a phone call or even stopping in allows for a personal connection. Then, after an initial conversation, I like to get a follow-up e-mail with all the details.
Also, authors should be sure to have a hook—a way to let us know what the book is about and why it would be of interest. We get a lot of requests, and it helps if your book or presentation has a fascinating angle to it.
If you’re a new, unknown author or a self-published author, show that you are prepared to help bring in your own audience—if no one knows who you are, it’s hard to get people to show up for an event. Joint events or group events have the potential to bring in more attendees, so you may want to team up with someone, not only to be sure you get enough people but also to broaden the exposure you’ll get for your own book.
Q: What are some of the ways in which authors can support their local libraries?
A: Offering an event is in itself a great way to support the library. We also appreciate it when authors donate a copy of their book. Donating a copy along with ordering information, especially for self-published authors, is a wise idea because most libraries like to have local authors in their collections.
Keep in mind that most libraries require that self-published books meet the same criteria as other books; for example, there needs to be a strong local interest, or the book should have received at least two professional media or industry reviews. So it’s a good idea to ask about such requirements when you consider donating a book to your local library.
I recently read a study noting that library users buy more books than any other type of book buyers. People often don’t think of library users as big buyers, but being big readers in general, they are. So even if you may not sell a lot of books at an event, just by being there, you can still gain readers down the road.
October 2, 2013 No Comments
Write about the last time you won something — from a professional award to a holiday raffle.
To take this a step further, write about a time you lost.
September 30, 2013 No Comments
This is an excerpt of photographer and essayist Rosanne Olson’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about author photos. For more book promo information, and to read Rosanne’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.
Rosanne Olson began her career as a photojournalist after receiving her master’s degree in journalism. Since starting Rosanne Olson Photography, she has photographed portraits as well as advertising campaigns for the New York City Ballet, Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, and Children’s Hospital. Her award-winning work has been featured in Communication Arts and More magazine, among others, and she is the author of the book This is Who I Am.
Q: What do you think makes a good author photo?
A: The photograph needs to convey how the author wants to portray himself/herself. Usually that means approachable, intelligent, engaging. Some people are more dramatic in how they want to be seen. Some are more friendly or sophisticated.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes authors make when it comes to their photos? Sometimes people come here with too much makeup on. Or they bring their clothing stuffed into a bag so everything is wrinkled. Believe me, not just authors do this but lots of people. It is actually pretty amusing except for the fact that clothing then needs to be pressed or steamed here. Aside from that, people are usually willing to trust me to do the best possible job that I can with them. It is an exquisite collaboration.
September 26, 2013 No Comments
I’m thankful to Vickie Aldous at Ashland Daily Tidings for her wonderful column on Everyday Book Marketing — check it out for info about the book, as well as insights from L.J. Sellers, Jenna Blum, and Zoe Ghahremani.
September 24, 2013 No Comments
September 23, 2013 No Comments
This is an excerpt of author Wendy Call’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about creating a budget, doing a book tour, and how to put yourself out there as an author. For more book promo information, and to read Wendy’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.
Wendy Call is a writer, editor, translator, and teacher of creative writing. Her narrative nonfiction book, No Word for Welcome, won Grub Street’s 2011 National Book Prize for Nonfiction and the 2012 International Book Award for Best History/Political Book. She is co-editor, with Mark Kramer, of Telling True Stories, and her nonfiction, translations (from Spanish) of poetry and fiction, and photography have appeared in more than fifty magazines and literary journals.
Q: Tell us about how your book came into the world.
A: My book began as a series of twenty essays and narrative nonfiction pieces that I wrote while living and working in southern Mexico. I had received a two-year fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs, and they published my writing. I returned to the U.S. in the summer of 2002 and began to put together a book proposal, to seek an agent, and to learn the deep difference between a collection of five-thousand-word narratives and a single ninety-thousand-word book—as well as the difference between writing a book and publishing a book.
On the publishing side: I approached nearly fifty agents before I found two—in the same month, after nearly five years of sending queries—who were interested in representing my book. I chose the agent who had more experience selling narrative nonfiction. She circulated the proposal (and later, the full manuscript) for about a year, and was on the verge of giving up when the University of Nebraska Press tentatively offered me a contract. The contract, contingent on a significant revision, included no advance. Because of the peer review process (common at university presses), a year elapsed between my agent sending UNP the proposal and the press sending me a contract.
Q: What aspect of book promotion surprised you the most?
A: As naïve as it sounds, the sheer quantity of work shocked me. I began working on promotion part-time six months before my publication date, and full-time about three months in advance, and that was not soon enough. Other than my hometown Elliott Bay Book Company, the first six bookstores I approached turned me down. Even those “No, thanks…” replies came only after many, many hours of figuring out whom to contact, crafting personal query letters, sending review copies, seeking a local co-sponsor, answering detailed questions, or trying (over and over) to get the right person on the phone.
Q: What advice do you have to offer new authors?
A: This is no time to be shy. Nor humble. Put yourself out there; push yourself a bit past your comfort zone. When this seems impossible, ask an extroverted friend to coach you. (I have a quote from Sandra Cisneros—who is deeply generous as well as brilliant—on the cover of No Word for Welcome only because a fearless friend talked me through composing the e-mail to her and then pressing “send.”)
Make sure to let everyone you have ever met, and have an e-mail address for, know about your new book. I found that I couldn’t predict with any accuracy which friends and colleagues would be interested in No Word for Welcome and happy to lend a hand in its promotion.
Devote as much time and money as you can possibly afford— but only what you can afford—to promotion. Set priorities, but try a variety of strategies. For example, I devoted $500 of my budget to submitting my book for awards. My publisher offered book copies for six award submissions. I wanted to submit to a dozen different awards, so I bought the book copies for the other six awards, and I paid all the submission fees. It seemed like a strange way to spend five hundred bucks, but it was worth it. I won two awards, bringing a bit of renewed media attention to No Word for Welcome nearly a year after its publication date. (One award came with a $1,000 check, so you might say I doubled my investment.) Even if I’d not won either award, the submission process put my book in front of movers and shakers in the literary world.
September 17, 2013 1 Comment
Write about a device that is now basically obsolete (a pay phone, a Walkman, an answering machine) that you once used regularly. What do you use instead? How has the extinction of this device changed your life, if at all. How old does doing this prompt make you feel? (That last part is a joke…sort of. I’m feeling old just writing this, thinking of all the things I once used that the next generation’s never heard of.)
September 16, 2013 No Comments