December 4th, 2013 | Career, Marketing and Platforms, Questions from Beginners, Resources for Writing, The Business of Writing | 5 Comments
by MacGregor Literary award-winning author Jill Williamson
When I started writing I was pretty much on my own. I searched long and hard for local writing groups, but couldn’t find one. I tried a few online groups and eventually started one with another YA author I’d met online. We sort of mentored each other as we went along, the blind leading the blind. It wasn’t the worst way to learn. And we did learn. We’re both traditionally published authors now.
I also attended writers conferences, read books on the craft of writing, and read writing blogs. But I never sought out a mentor. I didn’t know how. I was too shy. And I figured they’d all say no, anyway. But once I was published, I liked helping other writers. So I started blogging for teen writers. I figured that there were plenty of blogs out there for adults, so why not create one for teens?
Blogging for teens was a way to share what I’d learned. And I wasn’t the only one with this idea. At a marketing retreat, I got to know Stephanie Morrill who started www.GoTeenWriters.com. She and I talked and decided to combine forces. She had created an amazing blog for teen writers and graciously took me on as a co-blogger. Blogging for teens allows me to speak to hundreds of teen writers every week.
Later on we also put our various blog posts into a book we co-wrote called Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book. This book has enabled us to mentor in yet another form and had been read by teen writers all over the world. How cool is that?
I officially mentor two writers. I don’t think I could handle mentoring more than two as it can be very time consuming. But mentoring is also very rewarding. It allows me to give another writer the support that I would have liked to have had back when I started out.
If you’re thinking about mentoring a writer, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Define the communication plan.
It’s important to decide from the start how often you’ll talk and how, whether through email or phone or in-person visits at a local coffee shop. If you have some boundaries you want to keep, set those up in the beginning.
2. Be clear on what you will do and what you will not do.
There are authors out there who would send everything they’ve ever written to their mentor to read and send new material whenever they write it. But a mentor is not a personal slave, so be clear up front about what you will read and give feedback on and when you will do it. I tend to work on one project at a time with my mentees. I will also read query letters, pitches, and proposals too when they ask.
3. Help set goals and be sure and follow up.
Part of being a writer is meeting deadlines, so it’s important to help your mentees set goals and follow through. Be sure to put the deadlines on your own calendar so you can send reminders.
4. Give feedback but don’t try and make them into you.
Depending on the writing level of your mentee, it can be hard not to try and fix everything all at once. Some mentees need more work on their craft. Others don’t. It’s wise to work with authors who write things you like to read. That will help you remain impartial. Try not to over critique their stories, either. It’s a delicate balance. Remember that this is their story, not yours, and you are trying to help them grow as a writer.
5. Try to meet.
If you don’t know your writer personally, try to get together and meet. If not at a writer’s conference, than try Skype or Google Hangouts. You don’t have to meet on a regular basis, but there’s something wonderful about sitting and talking together face-to-face.
6. Be positive but honest.
Being honest can be a difficult dance at times. You are the voice of experience, and it can be tempting to be overly honest as we might with a peer. But new writers can be vulnerable, and it’s important to be positive even with criticism or the feasibility of selling a story idea so as not to discourage. Don’t be in a hurry to try and see that your mentee learns everything right away. Learning the craft of writing is a journey that each person must travel. We can help our mentees on that journey, but we can’t walk it for them and we should be wary of offering shortcuts. We mustn’t make our mentees dependent on us. We need to teach them how to go it alone so that someday they can reach out and find a mentee of their own.
Do you mentor a writer or share your expertise with other writers in some way? If so, how? Do you have any tips for mentoring? If you are a writer who would like a mentor, what help do you most seek?
This week the Go Teen Writers ebook is on sale for .99 in all ebook formats. If you mentor a teen writer, this might be a good gift idea for them. Also, feel free to visit www.GoTeenWriters.com and join in the discussions with teen writers.
Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books including By Darkness Hid, Replication, The New Recruit, and Captives. She’s a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant, who was raised in Alaska. She blogs for teen writers at www.goteenwriters.com. You can also visit her online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.
GUEST WRITER ANE MULLIGAN
President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, she’s worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), business manager, drama director and writer. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). A three-time Genesis finalist, Ane is a published playwright and columnist. She resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband and two very large dogs, and has just returned from the ACFW conference.
Finding Your Voice
Fiction writers are told to find their voice. Well, what is it, and for that matter, how do you find it?
I mastered the mechanics of good writing by learning and following the guidelines or … stay with me here … the rules. It’s kind of like staying between the lines in a coloring book before taking on a blank sheet of art paper. Then, I began to understand when and how to break those rules to turn my manuscript into a symphony of words.
About that same time, I started a new series, and when I sent my critique partners the first chapter, they told me I’d found my voice. Cool. I didn’t know I’d lost it. I mean, I didn’t have laryngitis or even a sore throat.
Okay, I’m being silly and probably not very funny, so you can stop rolling your eyes. In truth, I’d been working on voice. I read Les Edgerton’s book Finding Your Voice. I highly recommend it if you’re still looking for yours.
In Edgerton’s book, he said go back and look at letters you’d written when you were young or at least before you began to write. There was your voice.
As I thought about that, I remembered how our friends always told me they loved my Christmas letters. Mine were the ones they actually read and looked forward to. If I was late with it I received a few “Where is it?” emails. Instead of a travelogue or a report on the kiddos’ doings, I made up stories about the major events of the past year, poking fun at us and liberally adding embellishments.
I pulled out those past Christmas letters and studied them. I noticed the cadence, the style, and the sound of them. That’s what I wanted in my fiction. I then tried a new game of “Name that Author.”
First, I went to a multi-author blog—it doesn’t work on any other type. (NOTE: This needs to be a blog of authors well known to you.) I chose Girls Write Out. Then, before I looked at the signature or by-line, I tried to guess who wrote it. Between the post and their fiction, I could see the similarity in the “voice.” It was natural and organic to the author. While some may have similarities, especially if they write in the same genre, each author does have a unique voice.
If you’re still developing your writing voice, read … a lot. Don’t copy another writer, but rather study what they do and how they do it. Then look at something you wrote before you started perusing a writing career. Forget the mechanics for a moment. What did the writing sound like? That’s most likely your voice.
Try it for a while and see what happens.
We’ve been talking about “making a living at writing,” and I had several people ask what essential tools are needed if someone is going to do more than just type up a manuscript at home. A fair question…
I suggest there are nine essential things every writer needs:
–A time to write. That is, a set time when you’re going to sit down and write every day. When I decided I was going to make my living at writing, I had a regular job, so I got up early and sat down at my computer every day from 6 to 8 in the morning. I’m not a morning person at all, so this was a sacrifice… but I had three small children, and it was the only time when I thought I could get uninterrupted writing time.
–A place to write. You may need peace and quiet, or you may do best with the buzz of a lot of people around. You may like music playing, or you may insist on silence. Some writers use a spare room in their house, others want to take in the atmosphere at Starbucks. But whatever the exterior trappings, most writers do best if they have one place and one time, when they KNOW they are going to write.
–A project to write. When you sit down to write, you’re not journaling or searching for your muse — you’re working on a project. It might be a blog post, or an article for a website, or the next chapter in your book. But when you start, you know exactly what project you’re going to work on.
–A writing goal. Many writers set a goal of creating 1000 words per day. Others set it much higher. When I was writing full time, I had a goal of a chapter per day. The trick is to set some sort of goal, so that you can gauge your success. Novelist P.G. Wodehouse set a goal of writing 1100 salable words per day — something he kept up for more than 60 years, and the reason he published 90 novels and hundreds of short stories.
–A bank account. If you’re going to start looking at your writing as a business, you’ll have money coming in and going out, so you’ll need a way to track income and expenses. This will help at tax time, since none of the money you earn writing will have taxes withheld. Start the business account in your company name, even if it is something simple such as “Janet Smith Writing and Editing.” In time, you’ll find you want to tie a credit card (to track purchases) and a savings account (to retain a portion for quarterly taxes) to this account.
–A website. If you’re going to get the word out on your writing business, you’re going to need to invest in a decent website — something that tells potential customers who you are, what you do, who you’ve worked with, and how to get in touch with you. You’re probably also going to want some business cards, but you probably don’t need a huge stash of them any more, and you can get them cheaply online.
–A filing system. Whatever system you use, you need to have a way to keep track of people, projects, and information without digging aimlessly through old emails or file folders. So learn to track your work and file it in some sort of system that makes sense to you. My grandfather used to say, “Some people have twenty years of experience; others have one year of experience twenty times.” The people who track their work are the ones who don’t have to keep re-inventing things.
–A network. With time, you’ll want to know other writers, connect with editors, meet with publishers, bounce ideas off of others in the industry. So go to conferences, make friends, and get to know other people who are doing this. Much of your work will come from your growing network.
–And, course, an up-to-date computer and software. I hate talking about this, since I’m not a tech guy, and used my first Macbook for six years before I decided to replace it. But if you’re going to work in the world of publishing, you’re going to have to know and use Microsoft Word, and you’re going to have to own a relatively recent version of it. Sure, you can create documents in other programs, but eventually you’re going to have to use Word to work effectively with everybody else. So, yes, Bill Gates owns your soul.
I suppose there are other things you could put on this list (an understanding partner, good internet access, a decent coffee maker), but these are things I’ve found essential to making a living with words. Would love to have you leave a comment with what other tools are essential.
I’m excited to be able to share with you that Snippet–a brand new publishing and reading app–is moving their Writer Dashboard from private beta to open beta today.
As an author, it’s been amazing to be involved with Snippet. (If you missed my post a couple months ago about how Chip became my agent and how my upcoming book became a Snippet, you can catch up on that here.)
Even though Snippet has already gained thousands of readers, it’s still new, so I’ve included some information below about my own experience and about Snippet in general, to answer some questions you might have.
You can request access to their Writer Dashboard starting today, and begin creating your own Snippet at any time!
What does Snippet mean for writers?
Snippet gives writers a brand new publishing path that allows you to publish and monetize quickly and easily, but in a high quality, beautiful format. (Published Snippets are gorgeous, which was a really important factor for me as an author.)
How does it work?
With the move of Snippet’s Writer Dashboard to open beta, you can sign up to get access and begin creating your Snippet at any time. Each chapter is 1,000 words or less, but you as the author decide how many chapters your Snippet will have. You also have the option of enriching your text with “discoverables” like video, audio, and pictures. (And just a note here: don’t let this part intimidate you; for one of my videos, I simply used my iPad to record myself, and for all of my audio, I used my phone. They turned out great, and it truly enriches the reading experience.) Creating and publishing a Snippet is free, and your published Snippet will be available for download from $ .99 – $4.99. As the author, you choose the price.
What are some ways writers can use Snippet?
1. As a companion piece to one of your books. This is what I’ve done for my book for moms, Finding Mommy Bliss, which is being released in hardcopy this spring. And this is what best-selling author Jeff Goins did with his Snippet, The In-Between – Shared Experiences, which compliments his hardcopy book The In-Between. You can also create a Snippet to share additional topics related to your book, such as backstory or additional information or stories about your characters if you write fiction.
2. To share blog posts you’ve already written. Maybe you have some of your top blog posts in archives that you want to pull together in a Snippet and share. Or maybe you have several posts you can organize around a certain category or topic and make available to your readers.
3. To share an origin story: Is there a story behind one of your stories that you want to share with your readers? Maybe the story behind the writing of one of your books? The story about your path as an author?
4. And in many other creative and amazing ways. If you look at the current Snippet library, you’ll see the variety and quality of work already published. It’s pretty exciting.
If you’re not sure you want to write a Snippet yet, but want to check out the Writer Dashboard, you can still sign up and take a peek. You set your own deadline and determine if you publish.
And if you want to see what a Snippet looks like, mine is FREE for a few days in the Snippet store so you can check it out. Simply go to the app store and download Snippet App for free onto your iPhone or iPad. Then scroll through the store and tap on Finding Mommy Bliss to download it.
Last, if you still want to learn more, check out this short video:
Genny lives in Northern California with her husband and two kids, where she balances writing with motherhood and loves both. She’s an author, speaker, blogger and coffee lover. Her book for moms, Finding Mommy Bliss, is being released by Hallway Publishing in April, 2014.
Today we have a guest blog, from Claire Morgan at OEDB…
It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or a professional writer: there’s always something new to learn and ways to make your writing more refined, better researched, and more effective. Writing is essential for students who want to succeed, whether they’re enrolled in one of the top online colleges or an Ivy League university. As essential as it is, learning to write well isn’t easy. The best practices for writing and research can sometimes be subjective, and the finer points of syntax and style often take a backseat to looming deadlines and strict citation guidelines.
Luckily, there are many helpful resources that make it easier to build on your existing skills while
learning new ones. We’ve compiled links to sites dedicated to helping students, bloggers, and professional writers improve their techniques while also becoming better editors and researchers. Browse through the following list or focus on categories you need most. It’s organized by subject and resources are listed alphabetically within. With more than 150 resources to chose from, you’re bound to find something that can make your writing life a little easier.
These blogs can help you learn more about the profession of writing, brush up your skills, and even see what it takes to get a book published.
These tools can help you to create a freelance writing business, get you through assignments in the best online business programs, or just protect yourself should you decide to publish.
These guides will help ensure you stick to certain styles when writing and correctly cite your sources.
Everyone, even seasoned writers, can use a little help with their writing and language skills. The following links can help you write anything from a term paper to an article for The New York Times.
These resources can help those who write in certain genres ó from fantasy to technical writing ó find support, help, and ideas for writing.
These resources can help you to better research a story, offering access to a wide range of data, information, and primary resources.
Why visit a single news source when you can save time by gleaning current stories from digests and news roundups? Here are a few worth visiting for a great breaking news fix.
These resources can help you learn more about what being an journalist in the modern age means, with some even focusing specifically on new media research and writing.
One of the best ways to supercharge your writing is to stay organized. These tools, most of them free, let you do that with ease.
Whether you’re a professional writer or a student planning to be one, professional organizations can provide useful resources, support, and information that can make you a better, more successful writer.
Solid rhetoric and persuasive writing skills can help any kind of writing be more effective. Here are just a few resources that can help you build your abilities.
The following tools include everything from word counters to image databases and can help improve the speed and content of your writing.
Thinking of a word but can’t pinpoint what it is? These resources offer help with spelling, definitions, synonyms, rhyming, and more.
If you need a little help with editing and revising your work, consider these sources for some perspective and guidance.
Whether you’re writing a term paper or a book, these links can help you streamline and improve your research and writing.
These tools can help writers pen their latest work from almost anywhere, with some boasting features that make it easier to concentrate, organize ideas, and share work as well.
You can visit Claire’s blog at http://oedb.org/library/features/150-writing-resources/
While our hardworking agents are attending BEA in New York this week, several authors are filling in with guest posts. Enjoy!
Rajdeep Paulus decided to be a writer during her junior year in high school after her English teacher gave her an “F” but told her she had potential. She studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and began writing on the island of Dominica, while her husband of two months biked down to campus to begin his first day of medical school. Fifteen years, four daughters, and a little house on a hill in the quaint town of Locust Valley later, she now writes YAFiction and blogs weekly In Search of Waterfalls.
I’m not the first newbie author to wade through the waters of marketing her first book with a bit of trepidation. Truth be told, when I learned that a writer’s job was not simply to write a great story, sit back and wait for readers to come in flocks to scoop up copies galore, I welcomed the challenge that lay before me. Simply because I’m a tad atypical to the hermit-writer stereotype: I love people and rubbing elbows with the world outside my writing cave.
So when I read a title like “The Extroverted Writer” by Amanda Luedeke, I think, oh, she’s talking about me! When, in fact, she’s composed a book chalk full of practical advice for all types of writers who find the whole marketing thing as messy as a knot on a bad hair-day morning. Something I am all too familiar with since I have four princesses. Hair balls up the ying-yang, but where was I?
Yes. The art of marketing your first book. How do you do it? Successfully? And how do you know how to proportion your time, giving yourself time to write, edit, market and still take time to breathe.
So I began my marketing momentum by brainstorming. A bunch of ideas that amounted to not much more than share my book with anyone and everyone. I also considered TP-ing Jhumpa Lahiri’s house, but Chip dissuaded me, assuring me that there are much better ways to pursue an author endorsement. Come to find out a friend of a friend of a friend knows Jhumpa. Well, her relative. It didn’t pan out. So much time spent on one point of contact when social media has opened up the world to you and me. Literally.
Anyway, the one thing I’ve learned is that if I don’t know how to do something, whether it’s parenting, marriage, or building a treehouse, someone out there does. And most likely, someone has written a book or blog on it. So I came up with three resources that have truly impacted my understanding and approach to marketing *in addition to Amanda’s Book and Chip’s blog:
I appreciate Michael’s affirmation that anyone can build a platform. Even if you’re a first time author. He’s the reason I invested in blogging at In Search of Waterfalls faithfully for the last year.
Rob Eager gave me the motto, “Figure out who your readers are and go and stand in front of them.” Of course we all want to believe that the book we wrote can be read and will be loved by EVERYONE! That might be true, but there’s still a key group of readers you’re searching for. So I asked myself, over and over again, until I narrowed it down to “Female teens and young adults with a South Asian-American background.” Simply because Swimming Through Clouds is a Young Adult fiction book with South Asian-American characters.
So I set out to find out where my target audience congregated, both in the real and cyber worlds. There are times, I have to be honest, when I feel like I’m sifting through the clothes racks at TJ Max, just searching for those one or two tops that fit perfectly, because there are a ton of places/websites/blogs out there.
Chris Brogan and Kamal Ravikant discuss audience in the context of caring about people on Brogan’s podcast. Because in the end, it’s about relationships. People are valuable. Each person priceless in worth. And if, as a writer, you want people to read your book, don’t you want to know and care about them first? And find out what’s important to them? Whether they feel compelled to open the pages of the story you penned is and always should be an added blessing and not the gift you search out upfront.
So my goal is to connect with people. And hear their stories. Because even though I’ll be the first to admit I love to talk, I so relish listening to people’s dreams, hopes, and stories. And earn, if you will, the right to share mine. Or not. The investment in the relationship is enough. The side effects, icing.
Does this mean I approach marketing passively? Not at all. I’ve “Liked” just about every Facebook Page that mentions Brown Girl, South Asian, Young Adult, Long Island, New York Writer, and Indian-American. I’ve scoured Twitter for anyone with the same hashtags and spent countless hours emailing/contacting YA Book Reviewers, especially those who focus in on South-Asian writers. Even connected with the people who make Post-its, since that’s a hot topic in my first YA book, Swimming Through Clouds, where a Post-it note sparks a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. And since Swimming Through Clouds also addresses the issues of abuse and human trafficking, I’ve sought connecting with organizations tackling these issues.
But I’m not done. Each time an idea/topic/angle sparks from the content of my blog, book, or personal background, I take a walk down that path and search out people. Because your readers are your treasures. Waiting to be found. So as in the words of Ravikant, “Go where they are. Meet them where they’re at.”
Which brings me to the part of marketing that has been the most fun—finding potential readers in the real world, in real time. And heading to New York City to connect with them. Having a lot of fun enjoying the city in the process of making new friends and hearing their stories. And then when the time is right, sharing a bit about mine.
Have you heard of Playlist YA Fiction? We’re a team of Young Adult Fiction authors over at www.playlistfiction.com who write and publish Contemporary YA E-books. These writers have filled my life with fresh new fiction, become my friends, and influenced my writing, for the better. Team-marketing reminds me of team sports. If the team wins, everyone wins!
So I encourage all writers, new and those who’ve been around the marketing block a few times, don’t give in or give up. There’s a world out there full of the hurting and hope-seekers. Everyone’s searching for that next story. That book that will give them a taste of heaven on earth. Or help them on their own journey. Or just take them out of their madness for a moment.
Thanks so much, Chip, for giving me a little space to share a bit of my writing journey. You’re not just an extraordinary Agent. You’re a friend I truly treasure.
Sincerely aware that great stories change lives,
And you? Tell me how the whole dance with marketing has been? Learned anything that works you’d like to share with us? I mean, does the bookmark thing really work?!? Maybe an iTunes gift card for a song from your book’s playlist? Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout!
FaceBook: Author Rajdeep Paulus
A guest post from Holly Lorincz, assistant to Chip MacGregor
Recently, I was forced given the opportunity to learn to master the art of uploading ebooks onto Smashwords and Amazon for this persistent Scottish agent I know. After extracting multiple promises that haggis or blood pudding would never be served at staff parties, I agreed.
I can’t approach the simplest assignment without first reading at least seventeen reference books (the heftier the better), and yet, after all that research and putting my own book up for esale, I’ve really only learned one thing about self-publishing: marketing your ebook is a full time job. Selling it successfully? There’s magic involved and a lot of patient plodding, and messing around with algorithms. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use that word algorithm, since it just screams ‘first period math class.’ Sorry. Unless you’re going to hire a publicist, get used to it. Also, if I’m being totally honest, you may want to bypass the whole formatting and uploading issue, hire a professional, if you have a life away from your computer.
Still here? Okay then. The following is a list of random ebook publishing and marketing tips that I’ve picked up from books, other self-publishers, and my own stumble down the publishing path. Some of it will be common sense and common practice, so just view it as a reminder.
1. Remember those early beta-readers you sought out as you were finishing your book? Remember that one that drove you crazy, the one that only commented on dangling participles, improperly used pronouns and linguistic improbabilities? If you haven’t burned that bridge, find that grammarian and ask him or her to read your book one last time, tasked with catching typos, specifically homonyms and homophones. (Because, you know, spell check silently chuckles when you use the phrase “his voice was a horse whisper.”)
2. Decide if you are going to use KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing Select requires you publish only with Amazon) or if you want to publish in other venues, such as KDP or Smashwords, which distributes to most other distributors like Barnes & Noble and Sony. There are benefits to each choice. However, even if you choose to distribute only on Amazon, I recommend you initially format your manuscript using the Smashwords Style Guide process, as it gives you a much cleaner ebook (you will not thank me while trudging through the laborious frustrating process, but you will when you’re done).
3. There are (at least) three books you should read before you begin formatting your text: Smashwords Style Guide: How To Format Your Ebook by Mark Coker (available as a free document on Kindle); Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing (free document on Kindle); and Publishing E-Books for Dummies by Ali Luke. Thankfully, I bought this last book in print form, since I ended up formatting my manuscript while using my computer, my Kindle and the Dummies book at the same time. The first two documents offer specific, step by step instructions. Dummies is an overview of the multiple methods of self-publishing ebooks and contains problem solving strategies that are not in the first two documents. Dummies also has helpful sections on building your own author’s website and driving buyers to your ebook.
4. Write your acknowledgements page, copyright page, book’s hook, short description, and author bio days before you put your book online. You need to give yourself time to go back and edit. And that hook has to be good. Look at samples from the top 100 Kindle sellers, what are they saying? Speaking of hooks and descriptions, try inserting a top Amazon or Google key word search term for your book’s genre within the first sentence or two . . . but do it smoothly. Good luck. If you do manage this trick, you will be driving readers who are looking for subjects like “vampires in love” or “dinosaur fossils” to your title. Hopefully that is what your book is about.
5. Your cover and title. You will hear this over and over again, because it’s true: nothing is more important than your cover and title. The imagery needs to somehow imply the genre, tone and subject matter of your manuscript. When I was getting ready to put my first book online, I searched through internet stock photos for two days before I finally realized I was going to have to do my own photo shoot. Luckily, I know photographers and graphic designers. Then I needed to consider the title, make sure it was prominent and properly represented the text. Readers get edgy when they think they’re buying a romance entitled something like Love’s First Kiss only to discover the two people snuggling sweetly on the cover turn out to be demons seeking to ravage a futuristic dystopian society. Again, go into Kindle’s top 100 best sellers and assess their covers and the titles. Look especially close at your genre. Great titles have meaning AND they incorporate top key word search terms. That’s a coup if you can pull that off. In his book, Making a Killing on Kindle, Michael Alvear uses a Charlaine Harris title as a good example of this: Living Dead in Dallas. You know the book falls into the zombie category, and it includes “living dead,” which is a top key word search in Google. For that matter, Alvear’s title is apropos to this discussion; are you unclear at all on what his book is about?
By the way, if you’ve already epublished, it’s not too late to reconsider your title or your cover. You can edit or resubmit, or you can hire a service to make the corrections for you.
6. Once your book is online, pay attention to not just your sales; also look at your Amazon ranking. The higher you go in the ranks, the more Amazon does to market your title, like adding your book into the “customers also bought” thread under other books in your category. According to Alvear, there are a number of ways to bump up your ranking just by paying attention to what he calls the ecosystem within Amazon. Namely, chase reviews from family, friends and book bloggers; get people to purchase top selling titles in your genre at the same time they purchase your book online (if this happens often enough, Amazon will start to link the two titles); review other books online and somehow, subtly, refer back to your own book while praising that author (if you can’t do this without coming across as smarmy, I don’t recommend it).
6. Make sure you take advantage of the author’s page on Amazon. Amazon’s Author Central allows you to post a bio, pictures, links to your websites, blogs, videos, articles, podcasts . . . this is available when a reader is perusing your title information, trying to determine if they want to buy your book. Sell yourself and you might sell your book. Consider offering freebies for these browsers, like bookmarks or mugs or previous books you’ve written. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
I’ve just grazed the surface of what you can do to market your book. I haven’t even mentioned social media, like Facebook and Goodreads and Bookshelf and blog tours . . .
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon andBarnes & Noble.
Last night was our GET PUBLISHED teleseminar with Michael Hyatt. What a great time, talking business and answering questions! It was a blast.
We weren’t able to get to some of the submitted questions, so I’ve gone ahead and answered them below. Would love your thoughts on what was discussed during the teleseminar, or what is talked about below.
And don’t forget! We have a special opportunity for friends (that’s you!) of MacGregor Literary.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers (one of the largest publishers in the world), has recently released a comprehensive solution for authors called GET PUBLISHED. It’s a 21 session audio program, accessible online, that distills Michael’s 30+ years of publishing knowledge into a step-by-step guide to help authors get published and launch a successful career, even perhaps a bestseller!
Michael is offering a special limited time discount on GET PUBLISHED. Not only can you save significantly on the program, you’ll also get access to several bonuses worth over $150. Bonuses include items such as Michael’s popular “How to Write a Winning Book Proposal” ebook and more.
For details and to take advantage of this special offer, go to http://michaelhyatt.com/getpublishedoffer
(Note: This discount offer is only available through April 17).
Okay, on to those questions!
Brooke asks: What makes an agent take a chance on a first-time author?
When we fall in love with a fiction author’s story idea and writing, or when we see the potential of the book idea, writing, AND platform of a nonfiction author.
Mark asks: What do you think about publishing a “book” as a series of blog postings over time, or self-publishing a free e-book, rather than through traditional publishers? If the purpose is to gain readers/audience, what is the best way to collect that information? And then what do you do with it (esp in terms of monetization)?
I think this can be a great idea of done right (great cover, professionally edited, targeted to a focused audience). If you publish through an epublishing site, you should keep track of your sales numbers, and in terms of monetizing it, you’ll be able to set a price for your items, which will make the whole thing a bit more worth your while.
Terri asks: What are the most effective ways to attract your audience to a blog or website? I’ve previously produced blogs and ended up spending too much time on the content compared to the number of views received. Also, what recommendations do you have on balancing the time demands of building platform vs. completing works in progress?
First, it takes time to grow a readership. I don’t know how long you pursued your blog, but it’s going to take 1-2 years or more to build a solid following. There are many ways to grow a readership (I have a whole section on this in my book), but the easiest is to find other blogs that hit the same readership as your own and spend time there leaving comments and interacting with others. You can also do giveaways, include the right SEO, and attend blogging conferences where you can team up with other bloggers and present a unified front. Really, the ideas go on and on.
If you’re serious about growing your blog, you should spend half your time writing and the other half going out and getting your readers. Depending on how long it takes you to craft a blog post, this could be tricky. But if it takes you an hour to write a post, you may want to spend an afternoon knocking a bunch out and then 30 or 45 minutes every day, going out and interacting with your potential audience.
Melissa asks: We see many big name authors supplementing their income by self-publishing titles themselves along with their traditional books, at what point do you think authors should consider this route? Do you think it will harm their career or enhance it?
I think this is a great idea if they do it right and are willing to pay for a great cover, great edit, etc. Too many authors dial it in. It needs to be professionally done, but then they also need to realize that in order for the book to be a success, they need to promote it like crazy—no one is going to stumble upon the book on a store shelf. And of course they also need to make sure that epublishing won’t violate any contracts they have with publishers.
Anne asks: Please comment on how the rapid changes in publishing, stimulated by e-publishing, have affected quality, increased competition, and whether this necessitates amp-ing it up with a paid edit before submission.
There’s a lot more competition all around, but I don’t think paying an editor to clean up your manuscript is the solution. I think hunkering down and truly learning the craft and taking time with your ms is where it’s at. Too many authors want to write only one or two drafts and then be done. The business requires more than that these days…especially if you’re a debut author.
C asks: I’ve had five commercially-published romance novels and I can’t seem to get another contract. Would you recommend my self-publishing some e-books (romance novellas)?
Absolutely. You don’t want to lose your current readership, and you need to make money. If your agent supports it, I think this is a great option. But don’t do it flippantly. Be serious about it, because if your sales are strong enough this could help you get back in with a traditional house.
Jeremy asks: I’ve been looking for an agent for my first ms via the query method with no success. I have been thinking about going to a conference, but the cost is quite high. Is there any other way to acquire an agent for the Christian Market? Are conferences worth the expense?
Conferences are absolutely worth the expense, and there are so many that there’s probably one relatively close to you. It’s only at a conference that I can truly feel comfortable with the authors who are pitching me, and I’m much more likely to sign someone after meeting them at a conference than if I were to simply read a query from them. It’s that face-to-face aspect that changes everything.
Greg asks: It seems that literary agents are very busy and as a first time author how do we get their attention?
Try to attend a conference or see if we’re active on Twitter and other social media sites. But still…conferences are where it’s at.
Jane asks: I heard a popular author say that you don’t have to be a GREAT writer, just persistent. Do you agree or disagree?
If we’re talking about having a traditional publishing career, then I disagree. Editors have a lot on their plate, and more and more they’re looking for projects that require minimal edits. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but overall, a GREAT manuscript has much more potential than a so-so manuscript written by a persistent author.
*Note: MacGregor Literary is not profiting from this reccomendation nor is this an affiliate link. We only recoomend GET PUBLISHED because we truly believe in it’s impact as a resource for authors and because of the vast knowledge that Michael Hyatt provides.
Join us (Chip and Amanda) and Michael Hyatt, bestselling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson, for a complimentary LIVE teleseminar on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).
During this call you’ll have the ability to get your publishing questions answered by the three of us. You’ll also learn many of Michael’s insider secrets on getting published and building a platform for success.
The call will last about an hour. It’s free for all to join and there will be an MP3 recording / replay shared with all who register. When you register you will have the option to submit a question for us to answer
Q: What is a teleseminar?
A: Think of it as a giant conference call. You dial in (or listen via streaming web audio), along with others and listen while we share and answer questions.
Q: How much does this cost?
A: It’s free. If you choose to access the LIVE call via phone, you may incur standard long-distance charges if you choose a dial-in number that is not local to you (there are multiple dial-in number options). Other than that, no fee at all.
Q: What is the date and time?
A: The LIVE call will take place on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).
Q: How can I access the LIVE call?
A: You’ll have two options. Our call capacity is 3,000 total. Five hundred can access the call via phone, the rest via streaming web audio (listening via your computer). Access is on a first-come, first-served based on registration and which access option you chose. We will notify you prior to the call with the specific phone number and web address.
Q: I can’t make the LIVE call. Will there be a recording?
A: Yes, we’ll make the recording available to all who registered after the LIVE call.
Q: How do I ask a question for you to answer during the call?
A: When you register there will be an option for you to submit a question. We’ll also take a few LIVE questions during the call itself.
Q: Do I need any special equipment?
A: No, nothing special needed. You won’t need to download anything to access the call. If you use the dial-in access then you simply make a phone call. If you use the streaming web access then you simply open a web browser, click play, and listen. We will send the instructions to you via email.
Q: When do I get access information after I register?
A: We will send you access information via email a day or two before the call and a reminder email on the day of the call.
Plan to listen in! We’d love to have you there.