Publicize Your Book!! Marketing Plan By Elicia Clegg

Publicize Your Book!!
Marketing plan created by Elicia Clegg, author of “Castigate My Sins”
www.eliciaclegg.com

There are roughly 200,000 to 300,000 books published each year.  How are you going to make your book stand out?  This article will give some suggestions on how to formulate your PLAN OF ACTION section on your Marketing Plan. (A list of resource materials is located at the end)


Marketing Plan

I. Author Biography
II. Similar Writing Style
III. Primary & Secondary Markets
IV. Synopsis
V. Action Plan
VI. Budget

VII. Sample Reviews & Preview Work
VIII. Selected Sample Chapter

Know your Budget before you create your Action Plan

Sample Action Plan

I.  Attend at least two book fairs [multiple book author]
a. Arizona Book Festival.  www.azbookfestival.org
b. Border Book Festival www.borderbookfestival.org

II. Friends and relatives
a. Send out post card announcing book and pub. date
b. Send out emails announcing book and pub. date
c. Post book and pub. date to (YOUR) website and social networks

III. Radio Appearance
a. Make list of relevant radio shows
b. Compose email
c. Follow up call

IV. Virtual Book Tour
a. Contact Virtual tour website
b. Compose calendar of event dates
c. Post virtual book tour to relevant sights
d. Email friends and family of Virtual book tour schedule

V.  Press Release
a. Compose Press Release
b. Contact list of local newspapers & college
c. Hire Press Release Company
d. Send out Press Release

VI. Book Signing or Panel Discussion or Creative Writing or Q & A
a. Compose list of possible locations and contacts
b. Compose letters and send
c. Follow up calls
d. Create calendar of events

VII. Book Reviewers
a. Write book review letter
b. Compile list of possible reviewers
c. Send out letters
d. Send out book

VIII. Commercial
a. Research if this is feasible

IX. Advertising
a. List of relevant websites
b. Contact websites
c. Create advertising ad

BRAINSTORM with OTHERS….The best campaign is the one that is unique and captures your target audience

Resources

www.booktv.org
www.loc.gov/cfbook/bookfair.html
www.shelfawarness.com/news.html
www.short-fiction.com

Bookstore Directories

American booksellers association: www.bookweb.org
Barnes& Nobel www.bn.com
Books-A-million www.booksamillion.com
Booksense www.booksense.com

Libraries

www.publiclibraries.com
Bacons Media directories us.cision.com/products_services
Burrell’s www.burrelles.com
Literary marketplace www.literarymarketplace.com
Mathews Media Directory
www.marketwire.com
www.publist. com

Online marketing resources and services

Author Buzz:  www.authorbuzz.com
Bridge Marketing:  www.bridgemarketing.com
Dear Reader:  www.dearreader.com
The Great American Book Giveaway:  www.bkgiveaway.gather.com
Goodreads www.goodreads.com
Anobii www.anobii.com
Library Thing www.librarything.com
Net Read:  www.netread.com

Press Release Services

www.bridgemarketing.com
www.elance.com
www.press-release-writing.com

Amazon Sales Tracking App

This information was sent to me by Dave Wooldridge from Electric Butterfly, Inc.

NovelRank for iPhone – the Amazon sales rank tracking app – enables authors, publishers, and book marketers to track and compare the Amazon sales rank statistics for printed books and Kindle Edition ebooks across several Amazon country sites. The app supports tracking through free NovelRank.com user accounts, which can sort books by title, sales rank or last sale. The app also provides a graphical history of daily sales estimates and hourly sales rankings.

If your book’s web site, blog, Twitter, and Facebook Page drive traffic to your Amazon book page, then tracking your sales rank history via NovelRank is a great way to determine if and when your online marketing tactics are effective. It’s also a convenient way to compare your book’s sales rank with competing books.

Available as a free app download on the iOS App Store. If you want to try out the app before creating your own free NovelRank.com account, then within the app, simply assign the user account name to: demo

App Store URL: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/novelrank-amazon-sales-rank/id423938573?mt=8

For more information, visit: http://www.ebutterfly.com/novelrank/

INDEX OF ALL BOOK MARKETING FLOOZY ARTICLES

floozyI began researching book marketing almost from the time I wrote the first word of my first novel. I read about using bookmarks as business cards and giveaways, sending out press releases, setting up booksignings, but I learned very little about marketing books on the internet. Many of the sites I went to for information about promoting a book free on the internet were simply ads for books about promoting free on the internet. This blog is intended to be a notebook detailing what I discover as I research the topic, including lists of sites for promoting books, articles about blogging, and tips on how to use social networking sites to promote without getting branded as a marketing floozy. Feel free to offer advice. 

  1. Being a Successful Author — Magic or Work? by Sia McKye
  2. Blog Radio by Aaron Paul Lazar
  3. Blogging — Creating a Community for Your Book by Dog Ear Publishing
  4. Book Marketing 101 by Bobby Ozuna
  5. Book Marketing: Branding Yourself as an Author by John Marion Francis
  6. Book Marketing on the Internet: Sites for Writers by A.F. Stewart
  7. Book Marketing Tips From A.F. Stewart by A.F. Stewart
  8. Book Marketing: Writing Book Reviews by Pat Bertram
  9. Book Promotion: Blogging by Pat Bertram
  10. Book Promotion: Establishing an Online Persona by Pat Bertram
  11. The Book Promotion Puzzle by Pat Bertram
  12. Book Publicity for Authors — Getting the Most From Your Publicity Campaign by Dog Ear Publishing
  13. A Bookseller’s Perspective on How to Promote Your Book by Michelle Maycock
  14. Book Stores and Book Signings by Shirley Kennett
  15. Book Stores Are the Worst Place to Sell Your Books by Dog Ear Publishing
  16. Books Don’t Sell Themselves by Sia McKye
  17. A Cheapskate Guide to Creating a Publishing Company by Ken Coffman
  18. Contacting Famous People by D.B. Pacini
  19. Creating a Book Marketing Plan by Dog Ear Publishing
  20. Creating a Teaser Trailer for Your Book by Suzette Vaughn
  21. Different Ways of Marketing Your Book Online by Peter N. Jones
  22. The End of the Book Marketing Business as We Know It? by Claire Collins
  23. Getting Published: No Magic Wands or Treasure Maps by Sia McKye
  24. Guerilla Book Marketing  by Dog Ear Publishing
  25. Help Other Writers be More Visible by Anne Lyken-Garner
  26. How I Did My Book Signing by Christine Husom
  27. How Much Time Should an Author Spend Tweeting, Facebook-ing and MySpace-ing? by Cheryl Kaye Tardif
  28. How to Advertise Yourself as an Author by A.F. Stewart
  29. How to Deal With Well-Meaning Friends and Readers by Laurie Foston
  30. How to Do a Blog Tour by Marshall Karp
  31. How to Set Up a Blog Tour and Why You Should by Alan Baxter 
  32. Making the Most of MySpace by Jordan Dane
  33. The Magic of Social Networking by Pat Bertram
  34. Marketing the Old-Fashioned Way by Sherrie Hansen
  35. More Sites for Marketing Your Books Online by Pat Bertram
  36. The Most Important Word in Book Marketing by Pat Bertram
  37. Negative Reviews: Are They Really Negative? by Marshall Karp
  38. Never Be Afraid to Ask by Ian O’Neill
  39. Notes on Book Promotion by Pat Bertram
  40. One Introvert’s Guide to Reading at Book Signings by Mairead Walpole
  41. Promote Your Work? Why? by Edward Talbot
  42. Radio Interviews and How to Get Asked Back by Chuck Collins
  43. Selling Your Book to Readers — Part I by Dr. Seymour Garte
  44. Selling Your Book to Readers — Part II by Dr. Seymour Garte
  45. Setting Up Author Events and Book Signings by Dog Ear Publishing
  46. So You Want to Become a Published Author by Roger Dean Kiser
  47. Starting an E-Publishing Company by Joan De La Haye
  48. Submitting to Literary Magazines 101: Professionalism by Vince Gotera
  49. Think Outside the Book by Cheryl Kaye Tardif
  50. TK Kenyon Talks About Book Marketing for the Introvert by TK Kenyon
  51. Twitter: How to Use It To Promote You and Your Books by John Marion Francis
  52. What Blogging Platform Should You Use? by Pat Bertram
  53. What are You Doing to Promote Yourself? How Are you Creating Name Recognition? by Sia McKye
  54. When Is the Best Time to Start Promoting Your Book? by Pat Bertram
  55. Writer Cliff Burns Talks About Book Promotion by Cliff Burns and Pat Bertram
  56. Writing Columns and Branding — An Interview with Aaron Paul Lazar
  57. Writing Cover Copy and Book Bios by Dog Ear Publishing

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

How much time should an author spend tweeting, Facebook-ing and MySpace-ing?

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention and book marketing coach is my guest blogger today. Tardif responds:

The quick answer: Not so much time that your manuscript is piling up around you–unedited or unfinished.

All writers need to find ways to use social networks; it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Only you can determine how much time you spend on your social networks. I recommend an average of 15-30 minutes each for MySpace and Facebook, 2-5 times a week, depending on your schedule. This would include reading and responding to emails, contacting friends with requests (especially reviewers), leaving comments on your friends’ pages (socializing), sending invites to events or a bulletin (MySpace) announcing your new article, book, event etc. It all boils down to time management. 3-5 hours a week is a good goal.

Twitter requires less time. 5-10 minutes a day is all that’s needed to make an impact on sales, word of mouth, and opportunities. One book marketing expert, John Kremer, likes to send out about 10 tweets (messages) a day. Mine will vary, but on average, I probably send out 5-10 messages every other day. More lately because I’m promoting a contest that is bringing new followers in by the hour. 🙂 I suggest people set small goals. Use a timer if you have to so you won’t go over — or stick to one thing a day. Start small, working up to your goals.

As I mentioned in my presentation at the recent Get Publishing conference, all authors will have various needs. The first thing you need to do is determine WHO you need to connect to and WHY. Who can help you move forward in your career? Publishers? An agent? Bookstores? Magazine editors? Readers? Book Clubs? Book reviewers? Newspaper reporters? TV talk show hosts? Radio hosts? etc. This is the first step–target your network.

In the past I have been reviewed by a New York Times bestselling author because of my friendship with her on MySpace. It happened very quickly after connecting with her. I also have 5 other known authors who will be blurbing my new novel once my agent finds a publisher.

I have found numerous book reviewers through all social networks, and through them found other marketing opportunities, like guest blogging on their blog and using them as hosts for a VBT.

I have had film producers and directors contact me through these networks. Some have read my novels and my screenplay for Whale Song.

I have been interviewed as a result of online networking. I’ve had book clubs pick up my books; schools have too–which means I’m selling books.

The main thing is by being on these networks it becomes a “viral” form of marketing. Like a virus, word spreads and we all know how vital word-of-mouth advertising is. Twitter is perfect for this. Just add “RT” to your tweet and others will re-tweet your message to all their friends. And so on…and so on…

The bottom line is this: if you want to be a successful writer who is able to continuously bring forth new works and get paid for them, you will want to spend time marketing your books EVERY DAY.

I always try to do at least 3 things a day that will move me forward in some way–even if it’s giving someone a bookmark at Starbucks. As with any kind of marketing, it has to be balanced with your writing and other life. If you’re spending more than an hour a day maintaining the top 3 social networks (MySpace, Facebook and Twitter), then you might want to look at how you’re spending that time. It’s totally up to you though.

Visit Cheryl at The Write-Type — Multi-Author Musings

Never Be Afraid to Ask

Ian O’Neill, the one-time advertising copywriter turned award winning freelance journalist, is the author of Endo, a mystery/suspense novel set in Ontario, Canada. Ian has written for newspaper, magazine, radio, television and once wrote a dirty limerick on a dusty car but didn’t sign it. Ian writes:

The more technology enters our lives the more we’re able to live at arm’s length – the arm being enormously, freakishly long at times. It means communicating without, in many cases, having to look people in the eyes (their actual eyes, not a webcam version of them). Surprisingly, there are writers harboring a trepidation about not only coming face-to-face with other humans, but simply making requests even at a comfortable, technologically-created distance.

My father may not have had a tremendous amount of formal education but his teachings have stayed with me. One little nugget of knowledge he imparted has served me well in the writing world and stands to help a lot of authors better market their books.

Never be afraid to ask. This is the translated version from my father’s thick Scottish brogue which in it’s original form was, “You’ll never get the jail for asking.” At least not in this part of the world.

Dad was definitely on to something.

Considering the plethora of ways to communicate, some authors still find it difficult to ask for things. Is it in our nature? Is it in a writer’s DNA? Are you Canadian? Factoring in the percentage of writers who are simply shy or nervous about communicating to anyone, you’re left with those not wanting to be perceived as pushy or have anyone thinking they have a big ego.

 Authors with small publishers shoulder the bulk of their book’s promotion burden. This is where many writers vacillate in getting attention for their work. We know so many ways to get the word out. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites like this one listing ways to promo your work. The problem is the writer has to approach a bookstore owner/manager, a site’s administrator, even their own publisher to get that opportunity.

So, to what kinds of questions am I referring? Questions that, when asked, can promote you and your work and can help sell books. That’s the dirtiest four letter word in any author’s vocabulary – sell.

Putting together a blog tour is difficult if you can’t approach bloggers with a request to participate on their site. This seems like a simple task, but our perceptions of what others think of us gets in the way of what is potentially very good for us. Maybe it’s how you approach people that will make the difference. Always be professional and polite when dealing with anyone — reader, blogger, fellow authors, anyone. This applies to any situation, whether communicating from a distance or in person. Never use net speak; always use proper spelling and grammar. No one wants to see LOL or U or smiley faces. Save those for your casual communications.

What about a book launch? You’ve considered it and are laying the groundwork for a killer launch. Your book has gardening as a key component so you think having an outdoor launch at a local botanical garden is a good idea. Now all you have to do is ask. Get up the gumption to call, e-mail or go in person to find out if what you want is possible. I can’t tell you the number of author’s I’ve spoken to who’ve mentioned plans like these then dropped them a week later. The amount of work and dollars involved may have contributed to their change of mind but many have admitted the interaction intimidation factor.

 What other options does the writer have at their P.R. disposal?

Book signings are a great way to get your name out there. This is a difficult task to accomplish whether you’ve got a publisher setting these up for you or you have to organize one yourself. The biggest challenge is approaching the bookstore with the idea. You’ve made a list of stores including that great indie place you’ve shop at for years. Take a deep breath and ask if they do signings. Then work out any of the details necessary to make it a success. How much advertising will the store do to promote the event? Will they supply all the books? What can they provide for shoppers in the way of refreshments? Get a list of questions down on paper before you even ask if they are willing to do a signing. If it helps, read them over a dozen times out loud to familiarize yourself with them before hand or read them right off the paper. 

Ever venture into a bookstore and see a lonely author sitting at a table, books stacked beside them, pen at the ready but no one is lining up? It’s not uncommon and there are a few things to remember if you are that solo artist. Looking at people and smiling is the first step in breaking down any awkwardness and that usual imaginary barrier that surrounds the table. When someone does approach you, put a book in their hands. We choose books in several ways, not the least of which is by reading the cover copy. Having the book in hand allows for this to happen and it increases the chance of a sale. One book sold opens the possibility for dozens more to sell.

Conventions are a fantastic place to meet readers, potential readers and fellow authors. Again, those bearing the marketing load must take the initiative and ask to be included. It can be daunting but in my experience cons are one of the most receptive at communicating with and including new authors. Find out what booksellers will be attending and staffing a booth in the sales room and ask to have your book among their convention inventory. Bring books with you to your panels and put it in the hand of conventioneers in hopes of sparking their interest.

One of the best selling features of a book is reader reviews. Whether you have a website, blog, Twitter, Facebook or use a mailing list, connect with readers and ask them to give you a positive review. You’d be surprised at how receptive readers are to this especially when you explain that they can be part of your success. It will make readers feel connected to you giving them a more personal stake in the situation.

Worrying that people will see you as egotistical becomes irrelevant when you realize that if you don’t talk about your book, who will? Ask questions and get the ball rolling.

What we’re really talking about here is initiative. Once you establish a course of action you need to be able to approach those involved or in charge and ask for what you need.

The result of writing this post is twofold; I get to impart some knowledge that could help other writers and I get my name and book title mentioned to an established audience. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked. Remember, in the end the absolutely worst thing that can happen is someone says no. As writers, that is a common word and by now, holds little weight. We hear it, absorb it and move on to find a yes.

Starting an E-Publishing Company

My guest today is Joan De La Haye, author of Shadows and co-founder of Rebel E Publishers. Joan writes:

When I finished writing Shadows, I hit a few brick walls. Which left me feeling less than positive about my writing career. It also left me thinking that there had to be an easier way of doing this. It took me a few months to come up with a solution for my dilemma. I also used that time to lick my wounds. Bruised egos take a while to heal.

Luckily, I had received positive feedback from a big, mainstream publishing house, so I had an inkling that my book was viable and that it didn’t belong in the dustbin. Thinking that way also helps the bruised ego heal faster. I think if I’d only received form rejection notes, I may have decided to do things differently.

So I took matters into my own hands. What can I say?  I’m an impatient, control freak who doesn’t believe in waiting around for someone else to take control of my future.  I also believe in dragging others into my crazy hair-brained schemes, to which my wonderful business partner, Caroline Addenbrooke, can attest. I twisted Caroline’s rubber arm into starting an e-book publishing company, which we called Rebel e Publishers. We felt that we were being rather rebellious and that the company title should represent that.

We were then lucky enough to find an amazing editor, Jayne Southern, who jumped on board our crazy train without a second’s thought. Without her, our books wouldn’t be as good as they are. She asks the tough questions, that we writers try to avoid. Having a professional editor on board also gave us a bit more credibility.

The reasons behind taking the e-book route were very logical. With e-books we weren’t limited by our geography: being in South Africa means that we’re very far away from the rest of the world. Being on-line and digital puts us on everybody’s doorstep. We’re now just a download away.

Another reason was the financial benefit. Opting for the e-book route meant our overheads were now much lower. Our main costs are our website and book covers. Being in South Africa, we get our ISBN numbers for free. Big bonus! As a result we don’t overprice our books. So we and the reader win.

Going the DIY route in publishing is not for everybody, but it was perfect for me. Having my own publishing company as well as being a writer gives me an interesting perspective on the industry. That perspective also helps when I’m working with another writer on getting their book out into the world. I know what they’ve been through and what they’re going to go through. I love that I can now help someone else through that birthing process and that someone else can benefit from what I’ve learnt along the line.

If you want to learn more about our rebellious little publishing company, you can find us at Rebel E Publishers

You can find out more about starting an epublishing business here: https://marketingfloozy.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/a-cheapskate-guide-to-creating-a-publishing-company/

See also: Pat Bertram Introduces Jack, the Torment Demon from Shadows by Joan De La Haye
                   On Writing Shadows by Joan De La Haye

Submitting to Literary Magazines 101: Professionalism

I am truly honored to have Vince Gotera as my guest today. Vince writes poems and stories, as well as the occasional creative nonfiction. His books include the three poetry collections Fighting Kite, Ghost Wars, and Dragonfly, as well as the critical study Radical Visions: Poetry by Vietnam Veterans. Vince serves as Editor of the North American Review, originally established in 1815, the longest-lived literary magazine in the US. He has been a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa since 1995. He earned an MFA in poetry writing and a PhD in English from Indiana University. Gotera writes:

In a couple of days, I will be starting my tenth year as Editor of the North American Review — a tremendous privilege and honor since the NAR is the longest-lived literary magazine in the US, originally established in 1815.

About a year and a half ago, in a Facebook group titled “MFA in Creative Writing,” as part of an online discussion of editing and publishing, I dashed off an impromptu list of my pet peeves as NAR poetry editor. This list quickly took on a life of its own and was re-run on at least one other writerly blog and perhaps others. (As the movie Dorothy said of the Munchkins in Oz, blogs “come and go so quickly” so I can’t be certain how widespread the list “viraled,” so to speak.)

In any case, here (officially) is the precise text of that offhand list, originally written on 29 August 2007:

Okay … for me, the “turn-off” is different for each poem I ultimately reject. Here are a few immediate turn-offs, in no particular order:

• Botched ending … forced, too explanatory, too “universalized”
• Clumsy use of form … for example, if sonnet or sestina, etc.
• Slow getting going … should rock from first line down
• Too much full rhyme … I prefer slant rhyme
• Uninformed line breaks … be aware of lineation effects
• Abstract or image-less … unless experimental
• Superficial topic or handling
• Obviously unaware of poetic tradition(s)
• Cover letter explains poem … inexperienced submitter
• Poem sent with vita or résumé … very inexperienced submitter
• Says “copyright …” … does writer think I’ll steal the poem?
• Centered lines … unless important for theme
• Badly edited … errors, typos, grammar, etc.
• Font too small … many editors are older and have old eyes
• Monotype font or font too fancy … hard to read quickly
• Pseudonyms … let’s back up our writing with our names, ppl
• Handwritten … usually from prisoners, though I’ve accepted poems by prisoners.

There are other turn-offs but that’s all I can think of at the moment.

I do want to say that I don’t just drop the poem. My eyes touch every word. I read very quickly and wait for the poem to say, “whoa, you’re reading too fast.”

I also want to say that not every poem we take is already “perfect.” if a poem has something good going for it but has errors or whatever, we are willing to work with the poet in the proof stage. Not full workshop of course … that would be inappropriate … but suggestions and queries. In the long run, though, the writer’s in charge, of course.

Well, I’m grateful Pat has offered me a slot here as guest blogger. I would like to use this opportunity to expand on and clarify some of the items in that offhand list above. And maybe, if she’ll allow me, devote some later guest blogging slots to other pet peeves.

Today, I want to address professionalism in submitting to literary magazines. Five items above plus one other are germane. What I will say below about these six items are part of what many people — both writers and editors — refer to as “unwritten rules.” Oh, incidentally, what I’ll say below pertains directly to poetry, but of course writers of other ilk are welcome to adjust my advice for their own genre(s).

(1) The Cover Letter. Many writers don’t include a cover letter at all. The reasoning, I suppose, is that the editor will of course know why the poems are coming to the magazine. That’s okay, but I personally like to get cover letters because I think they’re polite. If they’re handwritten and say something like “Some poems for the magazine,” that would be fine. Our grandmothers told us we should send nice notes, and that’s what the cover letter should be. Sorry if I seem fussy here; I just think the transaction between the writer and the editor should be civil and friendly. A cover letter certainly can dispose me favorably (a little) toward the submission. Especially if a cover letter is fun or entertaining.

But … don’t try to impress me in your cover letter. Don’t tell me you were published here or there. Or that you have published so many books blah blah blah. When I see that in a cover letter, I don’t read it. For me, the poem and only the poem can get itself into the magazine.

Definitely do not explain the poem in your cover letter. As an editor, I’m trying to gauge how readers will understand the poem, and I don’t really care how you read your poem. Or what you meant. Or what poetic form or style you used. If the poem can’t “say” all that for itself, it’s not getting into the NAR.

It’s a good idea to list in the cover letter the titles of the 3 to 6 poems you’re sending. This will make our lives easier should your cover letter get separated from the poems. Not likely to happen but it could.

(2) Résumés and Vitas. Sometimes writers who know the cover-letter pitfalls listed above will instead send a list of publication credits. From my point of view, that’s equally annoying. Actually, more so, because it’s not as friendly as an actual letter.

What ever you do, never send a résumé or a vita; that really smacks of inexperience. Of not knowing the “unwritten rules.” There may be fields or disciplines in which one sends a vita with a submission, but not in the literary magazine world. Sending a résumé or a vita could possibly dispose me against your work. What I mean is that your poems will have to work that much harder to catch my attention. It could happen … the poems could be so good that they make me overlook the résumé faux pas but that would be a rare occurrence indeed. It’s never happened, actually, in my twenty years of poetry editing.

(3) Copyright. The experienced writer should be aware of how copyright law works: that as soon as you write something, you own its copyright; in other words, you only have to show that you wrote something and when to defend your copyright. Inexperienced writers, on the other hand, will sometimes fear that their poems are leaving their hands and could be stolen by someone at a magazine. So they will include a copyright notice on the poem itself.

This is quite an insult. An arrogant one. First, this practice suggests that you think your work is so good that the editor or some other staff member will, instead of publishing your work, be driven to steal it. Second, this tells us you think we are thieves. Do you think this makes us friendly to your poem?

There are how-to articles and books out there that say put a copyright notice on your piece. That is old advice for an older time and is no longer necessary in today’s copyright environment. So just resist doing it. Your chances of getting published will increase. What I mean is that the poem will have a chance of a better reading without a copyright notice.

(4) Fonts. Something that we see quite often is a poem that has been printed out in 9- or 10-point font. Sometimes even smaller. I’m not really sure why people do this. Perhaps they’re trying to save postage. Or they want to squish their entire poem onto a single sheet. Who knows?

Look at it this way. When you are interviewing for a job, do you make it difficult for the interviewer? Or annoying? Do you dress in garish colors that make it hard for the interviewer to look at you directly? Do you whisper your answers to the interviewer’s questions so that you can almost not be heard?

What you do with fonts can be equally deleterious. Let’s face it, editors are writers who have some mileage on them; and that mileage takes years. So quite often, an editor will be someone with older eyes. How do you think the miniature font you’ve used to get your poem all on one sheet will be received by that editor with the graduated bifocals or trifocals? There is no problem with having continuation pages. In fact, when I send out poems, I use 14-point Times to make sure they are readable by all.

Speaking of Times font: I would dissuade you from using a typewriter font like Courier. Those are harder to read than Times or Palatino or Georgia or some other standard non-typewriter font. Remember that the editor must read quickly. For example, at the NAR, we read 7,000-10,000 poems a year. If the poem is hard to read fast, there’s a possibility it may not be read at all. Ditto with fancy curlicue or script fonts. Hard to read. Bad. Also sans serif fonts like Helvetica. A little easier to read but not as easy to read as Times. You may think Times is boring but it could help you get published.

(5) Pictures. No. Very bad. No pictures with poems. Even if you’re sending an ekphrastic poem — one based on a painting or a sculpture, for example. The enclosed or attached picture is a definite tip-off that the writer is inexperienced. An ekphrastic poem has to be good enough to stand on its own without the visual image next to it. In a blog, including a picture next to a poem is a plus. In a submission, BIG minus. Just say no.

(6) Pen Names. This last one is not the same kind of no-no as those above; it is not patently a bad idea. Nevertheless, it is still a no-no (at least for me). Pseudonyms were important to publish in previous decades for many reasons; one of these is that women or minorities had a harder time getting their work accepted without a “good old boy” name. This situation has changed, however, and people who use pseudonyms often do so now for romantic reasons. Or because they feel their poems are somehow NSFW (“not safe for work,” as we sometimes say in Internet slang).

A pen name some poet might think romantic, like “Valentine Lovesmith” or “Genevieve Queensryche,” is just straight-out silly; the real name of an American 19th-century romance writer, Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth (Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte), helped to make her a bestselling success story, but taking on a name like that won’t work today. I feel writers should stand by their own names; their poems should carry the weight and significance of their real names. Not all editors will probably agree with me on this, but I suspect a majority of them will.

Okay, that’s it for now. I hope you will see the sense of these “unwritten rules.” Basically, for me, it’s about friendliness and civility, again. Editors are your friends. They want to publish your work. They want to discover the next great poet. So make the submission easy for editors, professional, and your poems will be able to shine on their own as they should. Good luck with your writing and with your submissions.

Radio Interviews and How to Get Asked Back

When I was asked me to be a guest on a  blogtalkradio show, I immediately posted a discussion topic on Facebook, and my writing community there came through for me with some wonderful suggestions. Chuck Collins was especially generous, and he gave me permission to share his wisdom with you. Collins says:

Here I am an expert, no modesty needed. I have been a broadcaster for more than 30 years. There is one simple rule: there is no such thing as a yes or no answer. If you stop reading here, you’ll be fine.

A little physical prep is good. You certainly don’t want to jump off the treadmill and pick up the phone. You want some water nearby (you will get dry-mouth). And you want to make sure the room from where you take the call is totally quiet and you are the only soul present; that includes pets.

Write down the person’s name and city on an index card that you can see almost without looking at it. I don’t care if you are talking to the local swap-meet guy or Larry King, you will forget. Good idea to know the time zone at the destination of your talk. It’s also good to know a little bit about the interviewer, Simple things such as is he or she a parent, of a certain racial or ethnic group. Google him or her!

Be in comfortable clothes, but wear clothes! No sweats or jammies. That will give you a false sense of empathy. A good interviewer will want to throw you off at least a little. Stay sharp.

A bad interviewer will not know where to place the question mark. They will qualify a question to death. Be ready to interject your answer; trust me, he or she will thank you for that.

Have a clock or timer near. I like to use the timer feature on my iPhone. No answer should go longer than 2 minutes. That sounds like a long time, it isn’t. Ideally you want your answers to be in the 90 second range. I am not suggesting you obsess over time, just be aware of it. The interviewer is.

Assume that the interviewer has not read your book and never will. And you don’t care. It is the listener you want to get interested in the story.

Talk about the story or the subject matter. If you get a groupie question such as, “what made you start this project?” Talk about the genesis of the characters and the plot. It really doesn’t matter where your head was at the time. And yes, say the title of the book as often as you can.

One thing to keep in mind: good radio sounds like a conversation but it is not. We know this from composing good fiction. Nearly everyone can write, but few can craft a good novel. Nearly everyone can speak, but few actually sound good on the radio.

You can have a pleasant conversation with a host. Come away feeling good about the segment and not compel a single listener to buy your book.

You must help the host create an atmosphere that is as magnetic as your story. Use your voice to paint a picture that the listener MUST complete by buying the book. In short you need to convey passion, emotion and attraction.

This is not casual. It is quite deliberate. Have you ever heard or seen Garrison Keillor give an interview? There is always something that makes you wonder. It doesn’t matter what you wonder about, but he sticks in your mind long enough to take action, click on Amazon and buy the book. The host talks about the interview after you are gone. If you are lucky even the next day, perhaps replay it, podcasts it on their website! Mr. Keillor is a master of both art forms, but we can certainly learn from him.

The radio interview is a remarkable opportunity. You do not want to become a quivering mass, but you want to serve yourself first.

Generally the people listening to the interview are not interested in us. But we can give them reason to choose our work over the literally millions of options. Convince one person, that is really all you have to do.

If you are on a show about books and authors then you can relax some and just be yourself while still keeping the work central to the discussion. But if you are lucky enough to get on mainstream radio you are expected to perform, not as a radio professional but as an artist. We are supposed to be interesting people, we who have the nerve to create.

As far as selling, there are many ways to do this. The best way is make the product irresistible. No amount of begging can compete with a must-have product. Of course you never want to say, “please read my book,” but you can say “I have reserved a number of books just for your listeners. I will gladly sign them and for the next 24 hours wave all shipping costs.” I don’t believe in discounting the price, that is an insult to those who have already paid full price. But shipping, now there’s a coupon.

There are several ways to get asked back.

Sound like you belong there. This is delicate because you want to remain the “junior partner” in the presentation. In this dance, the host leads.

Remain humble, but not sycophantic. Know your stuff but when possible attribute your knowledge to others the interviewer and her audience may know and admire; maybe even interviewed recently. “You had a great interview with X on your show last month. He is a strong inspiration…” Show that you are a fan of the show, too.

Don’t ask for anything from the show! Arrange to have the show recorded yourself and offer to link the interviewer/program site to yours.

Thank both the host and producer in writing. Let them know how much you enjoyed the opportunity and are available anytime they would like you back…”

Don’t try to be funny. The key word here being TRY. You WILL be funny, don’t worry. You can even prepare a humorous story, but it will come naturally and that is the most engaging and memorable.

Here’s something from the AP Interviewing class: Relate to the audience directly as much as possible. This takes practice. For example. Instead of saying “When I find an author I like…” say “when you find an author you like…” same sentence, same set up. We know that the most magnetic words heard on the radio is one’s own name, short of that is “you.”

Finally you can forget all this and still do great! The worst interviews I ever had were with radio people — Don Imus, Howard Stern, etc. The best were fiction authors who would rather lick a porcupine than talk on the radio. That’s because I admire what they do and was genuinely interested in the craft. You’ll sense that from Rita and other good interviewers and the time will fly by.

Marketing the Old-Fashioned Way

My guest today is Sherrie Hansen, author of Night and Day published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Sherri writes:

So you’ve written a wonderful book. Friends and family who’ve read it rave about how good it is.  Now all you have to do is to figure out how to get it into the hands of the hundreds and thousands of other people who you know would enjoy it.

Marketing your book can be far more intimidating than writing it – especially for a writer who is more introvert than extrovert. For me, it is not so much the lack of courage, but lack of time that comes into play.

Whatever your reason for not getting your book out there, conquering a few easy marketing strategies can make the difference between your book being a success and not.

I’m not a marketing expert by any means, but I’ve owned and operated a fairly successful bed and breakfast and tea house for 17 years, and I have learned quite a bit about promoting a product. Here are a few ideas that I’ve come up with for marketing my recent release, Night and Day, that I hope you’ll be able to adapt and use to market your own books. 

(Note:  In this article, I will concentrate on old-fashioned, non-internet marketing ideas. )

1.  A couple of weeks ago, I personally visited several grocery stores and specialty shops in my area with a book in hand to let them know about Night and Day. One shop owner handed me cash right then and there and said they’d call when they needed more books. They’ve already called to order 2 more. Other shop owners seemed more skeptical, and wanted to have the books, but on consignment.

One woman wasn’t there when I stopped by, so I left a book for her to take a look at. When I returned a week later, she had read half of it, and was  saying things like, “What are you doing living in St. Ansgar, Iowa? You should be in New York City writing full time – you have such a knack for this! The book is wonderful! I love it!” and “If I don’t get my Easter ham in the oven, it’s going to be your fault. I can’t put this book down!”

While not everyone is going to react to your book with such enthusiasm, all it takes is one person – in a store, a community, an area, and the word is going to get out. Word of mouth is always the best advertising. Giving away a few books to people you think might be good cheerleaders might really pay off.

2.  I also sent out a letter to a dozen or two shops in areas mentioned in my book. For Night and Day, I targeted Scandinavian specialty shops, quilting shops, and book stores in areas of Minnesota mentioned in the book, as well as areas of Iowa and California with high concentrations of Danish settlers. So far, I have only had one positive response, but it was definitely worth my time. And, once I follow up with a personal visit (I’m planning to head to Red Wing, Welch, Cannon Falls and Blooming Prairie, MN as soon as I have more books, and a free day.)  I hope to land a few more placements for my book. You can find email and mailing addresses online if you visit the chamber of commerce pages for the community you’re targeting.

3.  Offer to do a book signing at the shop’s next sale, open house, or special event. Shop owners are always looking for ways to attract a few more customers. Some shops have wine tastings, or craft demos, or participate in community celebrations. Ask if you can come to their next event and be part of the excitement. Everyone I spoke to reacted enthusiastically to this idea. I’ve even been invited to do a book signing at the Book Loft in Solvang, CA next January when we’re out on the West Coast. It might have something to do with the fact that I offer to bring a plate of Melting Moments (a little Danish butter cookie my family has always made) with me when I come.  A unique slant can catch their attention.

4.  Woman’s groups and clubs, church groups, community groups, most any kind of group enjoy special speakers. I’ve been on several committees, and it’s a constant challenge to find someone to speak at our monthly meetings. Prepare a 10 – 15 minute long talk on some aspect of your experience, and contact libraries, churches, friends, community centers, senior citizen centers, and let them know you’re available. Odds are, they’ll be delighted, and you’ll soon have an opportunity to present your book to a captive audience! I will be speaking to a local writer’s group this Friday at 10 a.m., and another, in the next town over, sometime next month.

5.  Send out press releases to area newspapers, radio and television stations. Include a blurb, a bio, a photo, a list of places your book is available, and hopefully, a slant that makes your story unique. A unique slant might be how you were discovered, how the story ties in with a local legend or current event, or what inspired you to write the book in the first place. Most of them will go in the trash, but if even one picks up the story (who doesn’t love a “local girl or guy done good” story?), it will have been worth your while. I taped my first radio interview yesterday, for a station in Atlantic, Iowa, a large Danish community a couple of hours south of here. Who knows what will come of it?

6.  Offer your book as an auction item or special prize for your favorite charity, a church bazaar, or a local contest. Most places will also let you leave a stack of business cards or book marks to maximize your exposure.

I’m sure there are many other ideas that you can use to market your books, but hopefully, this short list will jog your creative impulses and help you get started. If not, make a list of what kind of people you think would enjoy your book (who is your target customer?) and where you are most likely to reach them.  Then, make a list of each place, area, craft, hobby, or profession mentioned (hopefully in a positive light) in your book, and start thinking about how you can market to those niches.

You HAVE written a wonderful book. Now it’s time to tell the world!

Promote Your Work? Why?

My guest today is Edward Talbot, author of the thriller New World Orders, available as a free audiobook online. This post was originally a discussion for the “Help Support Independent Publishers!” group on Facebook, but I thought it important enough to index here. I especially found the questions at the end of the article astute, so when planning your marketing strategy, keep them in mind. Talbot wrote: 

When you’re talking about independent publishers, changes in the publishing industry, how can new authors get noticed, and a number of other topics, a lot of the discussion turns to publicity and promotion. We’ve had some excellent discussions in this group already. In the twenty-first century, an author is adding a nearly insurmountable burden when he or she doesn’t pay close attention this this side of the business.

We’ve all read or heard the words of wisdom. Treat writing as a business. Create a web site. Create a blog. Do contests and giveaways. Books signings and talk radio go without saying. All these are valuable suggestions. But to my mind, the most important thing that can be missed is a sense of exactly what you are aiming for.

We want to sell books, of course. But exactly how does a book-signing, for example, sell books? Well, the book store advertises the signing, you show up, and a bunch of people buy signed copies. Of course, you might blow most of a day to sell several dozen copies on which you make 10% of the cover price. The hope is that the buyers tell their friends, and also come back for your next release. The question I would ask is whether there are better uses of your time?

I want to note that I am NOT suggesting book signings are a bad thing. Not at all. They may not be better uses of your time. If your only response to my post is to defend book signings, then relax, I like ’em too. I could have used talk radio, blogging or contests as examples instead. These are all valuables tools. But I am trying to make two points

1. There is never time to do enough promotion and publicity. I mean that literally. You could cut your sleep to an hour a night and that would still be the case. There’s always one more set of letters or emails to send, one more audience to try to connect with. For that reason, it is imperative that you target your efforts and look closely at everything you do. I work full-time at a reasonably high-powered job. I exercise regularly. I have a wife and a child. I’m rarely going to stop writing to focus solely on promotion, because the next deadline will always be out there once I’m published. I suspect that having these commitments is the rule, not the exception. I can’t afford not to take a critical look at every single thing I do for my writing business. I use the word business partially in jest because right now it’s a bunch of red numbers. But I think of it as a business.

2. It’s important to model after people who have been successful, but there is a difference between model and copy. Tiger Woods would say he’s modeled himself after any number of people. But he has also forged his own unique approach. We as writers need to do the same thing. Don’t just do what everyone else does because that’s what worked for them. Apply a critical eye. Trust yourself (and your agent and publisher if you have them) to figure it out. And try new things, but analyze them honestly.

Before I ask the specific questions, I’d like to make a couple of brief mentions that I think are appropriate for the topic. First, my fellow podcaster J.C. Hutchins wrote a blog post last week called “Spontaneous Human Promotion.” If you want to hear thoughts on this topic from someone who used promotional creativity to go from an unpublished, unagented author to awaiting the launch of the first in a multi-book deal with a major publisher, check out his post at:

http://jchutchins.net/site/2009/01/29/spontaneous-human-promotion/

Second, I’d just like to share one of my favorite quotes that I think applies to most of us at one point or another. I treasure a good quote, whether it’s from a song, a book, or just conjured out of the air in a conversation. They’re like gems that never lose their lustre. Most of us really believe we’ve written something good, and it can be very difficult to take it when it seems that few others share the opinion. It makes promotion particularly difficult, right at a point that you need it the most. And it makes it very easy to start blaming the publisher, agent, the industry as a whole, etc. I try to remember Don Henley’s words:

“Have you noticed that an angry man can only get so far? Until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be with the way things are.”

Comment on anything I’ve written, but here are three questions to discuss specifically:

1. Name at least one thing you do to promote yourself that is not common. Tell us how it has worked and why you think it works.

2. Tell us as least one common promotion technique that you don’t use because you’ve realized it simply is not effective for you. And tell us exactly why it is not effective for you.

3. If you are either published, or have at least one novel-length work you are trying to get published, on average, how many hours a week do you spend on things that build and/or support your audience but don’t directly generate income? I know if you aren’t published, you might ask yourself what you could possibly be doing to build an audience. Maybe nothing. But while you’re doing nothing, other authors are thinking outside the box and building their fan bases. Who knows, you may come up with something no one’s tried yet. There’s only one way to find out.