Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Five (thoughts and favs)

My thoughts
  1. Hair today, gone tomorrow. I cut the worst hair cut yesterday. I don't know what I was thinking. Here's what I said "I want some bangs, a couple inches off and to go a bit darker. So why did I want to look like Janeane Garafalo. *sigh* (I used to have long curly hair like Julia Roberts! Keep in mind i said her HAIR, by no means do I look like her!) Why did I want so much of a change right before LA. (so suzanne young if you read this - i guess you and I will be hanging out together drinking and sobbing over our hair issues :) I will say - its what I asked for. It's a cute doo, I just went a little crazy and want my long hair back. Just wait until I go red in the fall!
  2. Got to have a J.O.B! I've been working like a dog so my goal is to get revisions back to Secret Agent (who really isn't a secret, its just fun to call her that) before I leave for LA. Ive been working like a dog and am so happy with how it is turning out. I don't have time to waste - I need to bring in some cash off this gig.
  3. Mama don't let your babies grow up! My little girl starts Kindergarten in less than 2 weeks. She's all grown up and is already trying to tell me what kind of hair cut she wants for school. And so it begins. I am just glad I got alot of time to spend with her up until this point. :( I need to hurry and get this book done so I don't have a baby instead :) (JK honey!)
  4. You are what you eat? We just found out my little boy has a sensitivity to wheat and cows milk. I will repeat that for those who may be stunned - wheat and cows milk. Changing over to rice milk is not that big of a deal but wheat? Not even all gluten free stuff is wheat free. Anyway, we are transitioning/changing his foods and he won't eat. Now he has lost weight - so much I can now see his ribs and it is stressing me out!!! he's happy but he won't eat. I know I shouldn't but you can't help but wonder if kids can waste away.
  5. Oh Lover boy - Ah I thought Jill and mankini wearing Ed were so cute on bachelorette this week. I actually think he came across better at the Dish session. I mean he was funny! He was kinda all serious and gooby on the show. The outtakes of them were so cute. I totally would have gone for him too had they shown that side of him. I think I could look past the green mankini (That is if I wasn't married to a hotty myself :)
Sounds like I've had a bad week but it hasn't been that bad. Just a few irritants along the way.

My Favs

Judged by your book covers - Books have always been judged by their covers.I know most of us don't have much say but here are things to think about if you do happen to get to voice your opinion. After the Liar debate - I thought it was interesting.

Make the most of Media leads
- The key really isn’t getting the leads, the trick is now responding to them. Here is a quick guide that you might want to keep handy the next time a lead comes your way.

Market Savvy text - If you ask any Search Engine Marketing Expert they will tell you the importance of anchor text. So what is this exactly?

Borders marketing directly to Teens - Borders Group Inc. is launching a teens department to capitalize on such hot writers as Stephenie Meyer and Sarah Dessen, as young-adult authors provide a badly needed lift to booksellers.

The evolution of a cover - Caren Johnson shows some behind-the-scenes juice. Specifically how a cover comes about.

Have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's great to W.R.I.T.E alone.....

Marketing Muse: No Blind dates please!
Don't go into a book signing unprepared. There are a few things you need to market effectively for a book signing: BOOKS! (be sure they are ordered), A few pens that work (Sharpies are best), business cards, a takeaway about your book (brochure, postcard, flyer, bookmark), free giveaways (candy, pencils, bookmarks, etc), and a plan on what you will talk about and what you will read.


W.R.I.T.E Alone!

As some of you know,I am working on my last round (fingers crossed) of edits before my agent submits my book. My husband came up with the idea of using the Marriott points I had accumulated but had never used when I was consulting.

What a great idea! I never thought about it. And from now on, I'm going to be sure I get points at any hotel I stay at because these little points - all bunched together - come in very handy!

I spent the whole weekend at a hotel writing, editing, cutting. I don't get much time to write in long chunks of time. I usually am writing for the 3 hrs my little ones are in Mommy's day out, or the one hour my kids nap in quiet time, or the 1 hour my husband jogs at night or the 1 hour after my shows are over.

To write in a long chunk of time, holed up somewhere is AMAZING!!!! I felt so wonderful this weekend, so alive, so happy. Ordering in room service, sitting in sweats with hair pulled up, looking out my window at the blue sky was so good for my writing.

I tallied it up. I got about 20 hours of work done in 2 days. That is like 2 weeks for me! I realized in those moments how alive and truly happy I feel. At the hotel, when everything was quiet, no kids, no hubby, no responsibility, no chores, no task lists, no phone, no playdates, no doggie needs, no mess, no obligations - my mind was so free. so open. so present.

There was nothing to do but listen to the air conditioner hum while I write and write and write.

I realized over the last 6 months I had gotten away from that a little so it was a good place to go back to. In the process of finding an agent and stressing about the agent process, I forgot to love writing. I appreciated the process and loved my work but I forgot to love how I FEEL when I am doing it.

This is why W.R.I.T.E....

W is for wonderment - I love to wonder. Wonder about worlds, wonder about what "ifs", and wonder about life. Where else can you be whoever you want, go wherever you like, and see places you have never seen.

R is for revenge. Revenge is not acceptable in today's society. (Stay with me :) In writing I can take out all the aggression I've built up on my characters. Come up with perfect come backs to snide remarks. Pay back those who have hurt me.

I is for Imagine - Sometimes, my characters fill my need or lack of time for more friends. Sad right? But I laugh with them, cry with them, shoot I even argue with them. (Are you all scared yet?). They are real to me. If I cant go to a party , I can just write about one.

T is for Therapy. Lets face it a psychologist charges 180$ an hour. Where else can you work all your issues out in less than 300 pages, say the things you always wanted to say but didnt', and redo your mistakes.

E is for escape writing helps me unwind. I have a huge imagination that can get wild and a little out of control. To have some way to escape and focus that energy makes me feel light and happy.

I know it is hard. Especially for you moms with kids, people who work full time, and those with financial constraints.

But I recommend taking a day to yourself (you deserve it) and go write with nothing else to do. Go to a coffee shop with free wireless, use your miles for a free stay at a hotel, beg your significant other for $, find a family member for a stay at their 2nd house, beg a friend who is going out of town to house sit. There are so many creative ways you can get the space you need - even if it is only for a day - to just reconnect to why you write in the first place. Why you are going through all this hassle and pain and rejection and work.

Some things I looked for in a room:
free parking, free wireless or internet, access to easy food to save on room service for 3 meals and snacks, refridgerator for drinks/snacks, desk, window.

Now make a plan...

Find a place...

Be alone...

Sit...

Write...

Breath...

and be happy!

You deserve it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Cynthea Liu (Author, Paris Pan Takes The Dare)

NOTE: Cynthea may be dropping
by so feel
free to leave your
questions/comments for her.


Hi Cynthea, thanks for finding time to
join us today!


Before we get started, can you tell me a
little about yourself and your books
that all appear to be doing so well. :)


Hi Shelli. I'm the author of PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE (Putnam, 2009)--a middle grade novel about a dare, a creepy shed, some very bad basketball, and a heart attack that was possibly caused by a chili dog.

My YA novel, THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA--a Students Across the Seven Seas novel (Speak, 2009) follows an adopted teen to China in search of answers to her past. It's also part travel, part romance, and all-over fun if it doesn't make you bawl at the end.

WRITING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS: A CRASH COURSE (Pivotal, 2008) is my tell-all book--without the gossip!--for new writers who had just as many questions as I did when I started writing for kids and teens. I hope it answers all those questions and then some!


Looks like you have had a busy 2 years. To promote your book, do you have your own website or blog? If so, when did you start it and who manages it?

I do. I am almost embarrassed to say I have THREE websites and a blog, managed by me and my pet rabbit Snoop. Though he's been slacking a lot lately.

My author site, my writing site, and my Debut Author site (which supports the largest collaboration of debut authors in the US, and quite possibly the world!)

I also maintain a blog.

Phew! Now I realize why I'm so tired. :)


Boy, those alone must keep you busy. But you seem to find time to do marketing for yourself as well. In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?

The best things I think an author can do (in no particular order) are:

1) If you're going to go online: have a website where people can find the following information:

a) Info about yourself
b) Info about your books
c) Info about visits, talks, or presentations (do you do them? how much does it cost, what can you do?)
d) How to contact you

2) Tell everyone you know about your book. It's so easy to forget to do that sometimes! Even if you're not a web-savvy person, let the people you personally know (family, friends, your dentist) know about it. Yes, even Dr. Smile who may give you nightmares, can be your biggest fan and supporter.

3) Write the next book! It is way too easy to get lost in PR activities. And it could make you crazier than you already are. We have to remember, FIRST AND FOREMOST, we are authors, not marketers. Our writing is what keeps us going! That said, if you can joyously market your book without feeling guilt, by all means, do it! But if marketing makes you sick and angry and annoyed, remember: no writer needed to know how to build a website in order to be a great author!

See? Isn't this just sooooo simple? Why do we stress ourselves out with all this stuff? There's just no need!

In your opinion, how important is social networking? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads.

First I think it is important. I am on Twitter and Facebook.

If we're talking about social marketing and its correlation to book sales, you will find examples where social marketing has let a not-so-big author sky-rocket to the top because a social network gave them visibility that they wouldn't have had otherwise. But there are right and wrong ways to do it! Most people online can see through sales pushes now, and social networking can actually be a negative if you don't use them correctly.

How important is it? Based on my answer to Question 3, you can tell I don't feel like every author HAS to do it. Can it make a difference? Sure! But it's still a question of ...

Do you want to do it?
And can you do it joyously?

Otherwise, you could be wasting your time.

Personally, I use social networks according to the purpose for which they were built--hanging out, getting to know people, connecting and reconnecting. Direct-selling on social networks can be kind of Ick. Though I have sold stuff before using Facebook and Twitter for my PARIS PAN launch called Take the Dare: Show You Care. I held an auction that raised money for a Title I school in my home state of Oklahoma. I was selling and selling hard. But I wasn't trying to sell PARIS PAN. (What?!) I was selling the school, auction prizes, etc--motivating people to put money down for a cause. Sure, fans could buy my book in support of the school. And the book got great exposure. But did I expect to sell thousands of copies? No. Not at all. So if you're thinking "what Cynthea did" is what *I* need to do to sell my books, think again. A book launch DESIGNED to sell books would have been a much better alternative.

But..."it's my party, and I can do what I want to ... do what I want to!" :)

In the end, the community raised around $15,000 for Tulakes Elementary in less than a month. Most of it through social networking. While I'm talking about it, I have to thank everyone who put up with all the noise during that time and supported the cause. (And btw, if you want to donate money or books straight to Tulakes, you still can. Find out how to double your money at http://www.cynthealiu.com/showyoucare. Don't be left out!) See? I still can't stop selling that school. I LOVE IT!

So this brings me to a big point about social networking.

Be genuine. Be you.

If you're putting a sales-hat on, and it's just not fitting your fat-writerly-head, don't wear it.You might as well go door-to-door and sell your book that way. The result is the same. Doors closed. No one answers. Who cares?

Finally, social networking is supposed to be fun, not work! If people buy your books as a side-effect of social networking, amen. If you set out to sell your books through social networking, more power to you! But I, for one, am perfectly happy with just reading and commenting about other people's stories when I can, posting fun pics of my Baby Liu, and sharing my writing joys and woes with others. And that's just another way you can socially network effectively!


Wow that was packed with a lot of great advice. You mentioned your auction, when you started marketing your books, did you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random?

A formal marketing plan? Ha. I can barely find my planner, much less formulate a marketing plan. But I do have some idea about what I want to do and when. Like my book tour to Oklahoma this fall. Does everything I want to happen get all done? Absolutely not. There's just no end to the things that you can do to get your book out there.


What creative things have you done to promote a book?

People have told me that my book launches are some of the best launches they've ever seen. Wow! But that praise always takes me by surprise. I guess I haven't stopped to think about it until now. So here's what I'm thinking ...

If you do something creative, it becomes more memorable automatically.

Even though my first book launch (for THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA), wasn't "mind-blowingly" creative or anything, I did spend some moments thinking about how to make party-goers feel like they were REALLY at a party (but online). Then it became .. we have to have food, games, prizes, movies, etc. So I made a video that wasn't just any old book trailer, I served up some grub (recipes related to the book), got the game figured out, made sure everyone left with a party favor, and gave away free prizes. I guess, as a total package it WAS creative. And that's what made it stand out to people.

The Paris Pan launch party was like the new-and-improved version of my first launch party. While online auctioning isn't a new idea, the combination of the book launch, the auction, the new movie, the game, the contest, and everything else made it even more special to my fans and supporters. I was so happy I could show everyone a great time and do something truly meaningful to me in the process. And btw, if you'd like to go to one of my online parties, the after-party is still on at http://www.cynthealiu.com. You can see what happened: the auction bids, the passed-out people with lampshades on their heads, and even take home some prizes. Sweet!

I also put together an essay contest that tries to do more than just get kids to write about the book. In true Paris-Pan-style, I ask readers to "Take a Dare: Dare to be You." It's part writing-rigor, part social-experiment. Kids will dare themselves to change something about their behavior, and take their own Dare over the course of one week. Their dares should get themselves to act in ways that are more aligned with who they truly are. For example, a reader might say, "I should stop acting like washing dishes is worse than an oral cavity search. I am not a lazy person, I am a helpful one." Once the reader carries out the Dare, he or she then reflects upon it in an essay. Finalists will be published in a book of winning essays and the top winners will also get some serious cash. Now how can you beat that?

So if you have any kids, know any kids, who might benefit from this one (maybe YOU might benefit from it if you need some dish washing done :) ), definitely check out the essay contest. It's open to all students in the U.S. and Canada (including homeschoolers) in grades 3-7.


You obviously have a knack for marketing that not all authors have. Did you do this great of a job marketing yourself to agents/editors before you were published?

Before my books sold, I focused on writing, more so than getting noticed by agents/editors in any other way. It's easy to forget in this age of Internet-Everything, that YOUR WRITING is what matters most. You do hear about examples where writers have gotten stuff sold from having great blogs and so on; I think that's fabulous! But keep in mind you still have to be a great writer! It's not a matter of putting up just any old thing and then hoping it happens. There's a lot of hard work involved.

Also, the Internet is now inundated with blogs. That means it's becoming harder and harder to be noticed by editors and agents through your blog unless you're doing something truly unique, and doing it in a way that shows publishing people that you might actually have a really good book in you! So let's remember what editors and agents think about when trying to make that determination. I won't spell it out for you here. I want you to think hard about it ... Done? Now make sure you're "showing" that in your blog, if getting noticed by agents/editors is one of your objectives. And keep in mind, that even if if you are doing all the right things, don't bet on anything happening either. You'll just frustrate yourself.

Finally, I can't say enough about how wonderful it is to put yourself out there, online, and befriend other people in the community (not just agents and editors) BEFORE you're published. If you want to blog, have a website, or socially network now, but you're holding back because "I'm not published yet!", get that thought out of your head. You don't have to be published to have a wonderful place to hang out on the Internet. It could be one of the best marketing moves you'll ever make. Who wouldn't want a fan base already in place when your first book comes out? (And I'm not just talking about your mom and your English teacher! *Though we love them, too!*)

So go for it. I look forward to meeting you in cyberspace!

Thanks for the great tips today, Cynthea.

Thanks for having me, Shelli! Hope your readers enjoy the interview!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round up (7/24)

Here are my favs for the week:

Marketing controversy over The Liar book cover - While I have heard only good things about Justine's novel itself, the blogs have lit up with frustration and shock over the cover. The book is about a mixed race teen with self described dark skin and short black hair but the cover depicts a Caucasian teen with long brown hair. What do you think about it - think about it from a marketing perspective. Does color matter? Even E Lockhart got in on the buzz.

Article marketing offers free exposure. Basically, article marketing is writing informative articles on a specific info niche and placing these articles around the Internet for other people to use for free (without contacting you) on their blogs and in their newsletters, ezines, etc. How can it get you exposure?

Ranking ebook sales? - USA Today Best-Selling Books List becomes the first major book bestseller list to include ebooks in its rankings. So what does that mean for publishers and authors?

Social media - is it a tactic? Is it marketing? - In the world of Social Media Hybrid Marketing people and relationships seem take second or third place to creating a buzz and gaining traffic.

Today's top twitter trends to watch. Last time, the trends were different. here are an additional 5 trends that are shaping the way brands communicate.

Have a great weekend! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Steps to opening an editorial letter from Secret Agent & Awesome Assistant

Marketing Muse: Internet Marketing Training
Internet marketing training can cover many different aspects of the Internet. And choosing which areas to start learning about can be an overwhelming task in itself. This article simplifies this process by planning a "learning" agenda for you.


Steps to dealing with editorial letters

OK - since many of you have been so kind and thoughtful to email me offline asking for an update of my book editing process, I thought I would post one.

First - thank you so much for being interested in my journey. I really didn't think it would be interesting to anyone but me so I was trying to refrain from talking about it all the time. (except to my hubby and mom that is :)

I'll catch you up to speed:

Got Secret Agent in May
First draft sent in June
Edits returned
Revised draft sent in July

Yesterday, hot off the press, my secret agent emailed over her next "top secret assignment". And let me tell you it's a doosey! I don't even know if James Bond could tackle this one!

In a nutshell, I am changing the beginning and end. ugh! Hard but doable.

I love getting the editorial letter., especially when you print it out and it is 5 pages long, single spaced. (just kidding it was 1.5 spaced:)

Doesn't matter, I say the more changes the better! Right??? (Hey, that was not a rhetorical question!)

So after getting the letter and surviving it. I thought I would share secret steps on what you need to do you when you get an editorial letter that causes your printer to go "beep beep. Hello! can I get some more paper please!"?

1) Breathe! Preferably in and out. If you just breathe out - that would be considered hyperventilating and trust me - that only causes words to blur. I know this.

2) Chant. You now can begin to chant positive mantras to yourself before reading the lines. Things like: "How bad can it be? Doesn't matter, I can do it. I'm a good writer. My story rocks. She loves me, she loves me not." BTW, I think it is OK if your mantras are total cliches. Maybe even a little: "I'm good, I'm smart and darn it, I like me!"

3) Focus on the good news. You read the first and last paragraph. These are usually the 2 paragraphs where all the positive things are stuffed in. They cushion the changes. You know, the sandwich method, it's what I called it in consulting when I spoke to a client or did a yearly review with my associate :) You can repeat these 3 steps as many times as you need.

For example lets just say IF you agent said something like: "I see this as Meg Cabot with a heavenly flair" or "If Mia Thermopolis of Genovia died, this would be her afterlife.", then why not read it a million times, right? I mean, reading fabulous zingers like these - if you got them that is - can only help. :)


4) Read the OTHER pages. Now, it's time to read the rest (which BTW all the pages of advice I got are wonderful and detailed and through and packed with great ideas.) You MUST do this step without any attachment, without any judgment, and with an open (sane) mind.

However, it is OK if you are muttering during this step. Maybe things like: What? No way! oh crap! they didn't! how in the world? are they crazy? interesting idea. Dang why didn't i think of that? I know you are but what am I?)


5) Take notes of your own. This is so I can pair down and pinpoint what the changes really are and how extensive. This process summarizes 5 pages into 1. It helps you grab onto the real issues. It also makes the changes seem more fixable and not so scary.

6) Oh yeah, I almost forgot - now is when you can close your mouth right about now and stop pulling out your hair. Tell yourself, it is not that bad. It is doable. At least they did not change the middle! At least they did not kill off my character! ;)

7) Be grateful!!! why? because I have an agent!!! (and agent assistant). Not only that but ones who love my work, get my bad jokes, are fast as lightning, thorough as heck. They provide so many wonderful ideas that I really use, sometimes I wonder if their name should be listed as co-authors (OK maybe not that but they definitely deserve high accolades, 15%, and acknowledgements. Maybe even a box of chocolate.)

8) Vent and read the letter (multiple times) to your writing buddies - ANY and ALL that will let you. Only read to the ones who are not afraid to say - "oh they had a good idea". and "yikes, I agree with them". or "Yep, you need to get back to work and stop whining."
This helps b/c your writing buddies are objective and can see your book from a higher view than you can. They can say - oh that's not hard, it's just changing this. Or that's totally going to work. They are not as close as you are.

9) Vent to your hubby about all your writing woes, how you're getting older every day, how you probably aren't going to get published before your 60 anyway, and how you might need new writing buddies just because they don't' kiss your arse! :) After hubby says: Oh yeah I can see why they say that", you can then return to your office with door closed and steam, pace, cry, groan, hit your computer, brainstorm, take notes, rip notes, toss notes, and drink a glass or two of wine.

10) Reread the letter again and again, hoping the words will mysteriously disappear (except for the good parts of course :) Hey I'm a masochist - what can I say!

11) Sleep on it, dream of your book on the shelf, your movie on the screen, your name in PW. You have to sleep on it, don't' do any rash cutting at 2 am. Trust me - it is a waste of time.

12) Wake up fresh and smile, chanting "I can do this. This is good. This is better." Maybe even whistling while you work. (It could happen!)

13) Make a list - what do you agree with and why. what do you not agree with and why. The why is very important. If you just say... "because..." that is not good enough. There has to be a reason to incorporate the comments or a reason not to.

14) Make a plan. (no no no sillies, not a plan to prank call your critiquers. Who would think to do that???) You make a plan to incorporate their comments.The ones that resonate.

15) Run secret plan by your secret agent to get some last minute feedback before you tackle the plan. Just to be sure you took away what you needed. what they intended. I would recommend this so you don't spin your wheels for nothing. (Pssssst. This also give Secret Agent to change her mind and say - you know what? I love it just the way it is. Lets just get it to market. hey, don't laugh ! One can dream!!)

16) Try to remember - this is all part of the process. The journey. No author goes from agent to final book without revisions, without major development, without major edits. So dont' beat yourself up. This is how it goes. For all your PRE-agented writers - expect this.....alot. You are not done when you get an agent. Something I just found out :) (Surely JK Rowling had a least one editorial letter!!!)

17) Now, dig in.

This is where I am today. Ready to dig back in. Ready to do the work. Ready to put in the hours. When I hit the drawing board, I go all in. I get a babysitter, I take weekends thanks to wonderful hubby). I throw myself into. Not to get it done quicker but so I can immerse myself in it, live it, breathe it, and turn it around. I'm not chewing on this thing for 6 months, I've got stuff to do, plans. I would rather work 80 hrs in 3 weeks than 80 hrs in 6 weeks. Writing in 2 hour chunks a day is harder than just diving in for 8 hrs.

It's hard, especially with kids. But it's temporary. It's not all the time.

So this weekend, I am off to a hotel to dive in. (yes you heard me right. Hubby is sending me to hotel. Isn't that nice?)

I don't want to wade or doggie paddle in the shallow end. I like to cannonball into the deep end.

Let's all hope I don't drown!

Oh well, I guess nothing good comes without some kind of sacrifice. :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Sarwat Chadda, author of Devil's Kiss

Hi Sarwat! Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Oh, I’ve been writing serious for about five years and my book DEVIL’S KISS is out here in sunny Britain and will be out in even sunnier USA 1st September (this photo is the US cover) .

It’s about a fifteen year-old girl, Billi SanGreal. She’s a recruit into what remains of the Knights Templar, a secret society of demon killers. I love Gothic horror and medieval history, especially the Crusades period. Though set in modern London my stories are a mixture of all those things, basically monsters, religion and sword fights.

I found my agent, Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary, through entering a writing competition. It’s a fantastic way of avoiding the slush-pile scenario, so do look bear comps in mind if you’re keen to break in. Plus it gives you an idea if you’re ready or not since a lot of these comps will include honourable mentions and runners-up.


Do you/your agency/your house have a website/blog? When did you start
it and who manages it?

I manage my own website, sort of. I also have a blog in there that I started as a bit of fun a year ago, but have recently really gotten into it. It’s mainly me rambling on about writing and getting stopped at airports. My UK publisher has also set up a website for Devil's Kiss.




In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and
must do to promote their book?

1) Okay, if you’re a kids’ author you really should visit schools. It’s not just good publicity but I think it helps remind you of what you’re doing. However much you think you remember your childhood, you don’t (especially if you’re my age).

2) Tours are something publishers organise and may seem a bit overwhelming, but just do your best to enjoy them, rather than dread them. They really aren’t that bad and audiences are humans too.

3) Websites go without saying, not sure about blogs. I can understand how they might end up being a chore. No-one forcing you into this job, so do make sure you remember to have fun. Even if you don’t become a blockbuster, being a writer is about loving what you do.

 

 







Did you think about marketing before your book was published? Did you
start prior to getting an agent or selling your book? If so, when and what
did you do?

There was never a formal marketing strategy because I think we were all caught a bit by surprise when the book went to auction the way it did. Therefore, I’ve spent the last year desperately playing catch up. I’m having to find out about the publishing industry very quickly.

Meanwhile I’m concentrating on writing, which should always be the priority, don’t you think?
However, marketing is hugely important and there are some writers out there that have built awesome fan-bases over the Internet. Maybe it’s a generational thing but I’m a bit old fashioned about this. I really enjoy the school visits side of things so will probably build my marketing around those and the school visits are really best once the book is out.

 

 






What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?


Mold the marketing to suit you, rather than try and copy someone else’s strategy. If your strength is face to face and mixing it up with an audience, do that. If you’re a great blogger and write entertaining blogs and die at the idea of standing in front of a crowd, focus on the Internet stuff instead.

But remember, you can be taught. If you want to do audience work, so go on a public speaking course. Or learn website design. Play to your strengths. That’s the best way to enjoy marketing, which otherwise can feel a bit like a chore.


Do you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random?
If not, why? Would you like to?


My marketing’s pretty random right now because I’m trying a few different things and haven’t quite decided what works best for me. This’ll carry on for a bit longer then in the fall I intend to be a bit more organised. I recently did my first writing workshop and that was fun. It was centred around why The Devil Wears Prada is the same plot as The Godfather. It’s all smart suits and power. Now I know I can make that work and enjoy doing it, I’ll do a few more.






What creative things have you done to promote a book?


I love role-playing so wanted to get the audience to participate whenever I do an event. I’ve got a few props so we get a few kids up to act out a scene they themselves make up. It’s usually pretty gruesome, but very funny. It keeps you on your toes too since you never know what they’re going to come up with and somehow you’ve got to help them turn it into a semi-coherent scene.




How did you market yourself to agents/editors before you were published?


I didn’t. Let’s not forget this is about the book. The book must stand alone. My background is in construction, so I knew nobody in publishing at all. I only joined writers groups AFTER I had an agent and book deal. I think people might believe that there’s some secret trick to getting published. There isn’t. Learn how to write. Write a great story. Agents and publishers are DESPERATE to find great new novels. Be charming, funny, approachable and clever all you want at agent parties and signings and publisher events. It’ll all help BUT only once you have a great book to sell.

I believe the marketing will be built around that. Not the other way around.



Thank you for joining us today!

Thanks Shelli.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round up (7/17)

Random News

Hi guys - been busy this week. sorry for the low posts. Next week will be better. :) here are mu favs for the week.

1) Get ready - starting September 1st, I will have another Comment Your Butt Off contest. New prizes and revised rules to be announced in a few weeks. :)

2) Starting on August 1st - I am rebranding. I realized that I spend so much time helping others do their own marketing that I never have time to brand myself properly or update my own websites. So stay tuned in August for new web site, blog and additional features :)

3) Book update - I'm heading back into another round of revisions. I love the statement my agent made this week. "I want you to know I'm a harsh critic when preparing for submission and that you're making strong progress!" I'm not sure I understand the gap she mentioned but I hope to clear that up with her next week. Back to the drawing board and one step closer to my dream.

anyone have any good news??? I love to hear other people's successes.


Friday Round up


Marketing techniques for newly published - If you are serious about getting the broadest exposure for yourself and your book, you must realize that literary critics and the buying public will not distinguish between your work and that of commercially successful, established professional writers.

Cynthia's interview with publicist Barbara Fisch - She specializes in publicity and marketing services for the trade children’s book industry.

Advice for authors on Booksignings - It’s finally happened, your book has been published, and you’ve managed to set up a signing at your local bookstore. Congratulations! You think publishing was the tricky part? You’re only just getting started. Here are some things to think about as you get ready for your Big Signing!

Website marketing resources for writers - A small list of resources from Scott Treimel, literary agent.

The importance of building a platform
- Building an author platform has never been more important. This is because of three realities author’s face today. Find out what they are.

10 steps to put social networking under your spell - Here are some easy clues that signify you're bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by social networking.

Have a great weekend! :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (Agent)

Hi Joanna, thanks for agreeing to share your marketing tips with us. Before we get started, tell me a little about yourself.

Well, I'm the first literary agent that Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation has ever taken on board, and I couldn't be happier. Working with an industry veteran like Nancy has been invaluable to me--she's a fantastic mentor. Prior to working with Nancy Coffey, I was a literary assistant/junior agent at FinePrint Literary Management, where I also
sold audio rights. My taste varies, as you can see by my first two sales listed on Publisher's Marketplace--The Town that Food Saved by Ben Hewitt (Rodale, winter 2010)--narrative non-fiction) and The Ghostwater series by Lee Nichols (Bloomsbury, May 2010--YA paranormal). I'm always on the lookout for something new, and if the writing is strong, it doesn't matter what it's about!

In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?

1--Definitely create a website.

2--If they haven't already, join a writing community (SCBWI, RWA, etc)--the writing community is one of the most supportive I've seen in any industry and your fellow writers not only make wonderful critique partners, but they have great publicity and self-marketing advice.

3--Reach your audience personally. I'm not more specific here because honestly, it depends on the book. For YA, a blog with contests and maybe even a blog tour is a strong marketing device. For a socio-economic non-fiction, it may be best to give lectures at colleges and business conventions. Either way, you need to reach that audience!


How important is technology to an author’s marketing plan?

These days, very important. Even that socio-economic narrative non-fiction writer wants a website and to set up a few interviews online. I know one author who gives lectures by webcam
when he can't be present himself, there are e-books, e-anthologies where authors publish short stories about the characters in their upcoming books, etc--there are some fantastic options for writers these days!


What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?


Take a very active role in the marketing of your book. There are still writers and authors
out there who expect everything to be done for them. With the publicists at the publishing houses spread so thin, this is unrealistic and will only hurt the sale of your book. You need to be a team player, and in fact, the star of the game. Send some copies out to local papers/magazines for reviews in your area. If you've published a children's book, visit some schools. If you've written women's fiction, look out for local women's organizations that you may be able to appeal to. Go on a blog tour, link up with some other author's for book signing events, attend conferences. If you won't be the biggest champion for you book, who will?


When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?

Always.


What things do Publishers offer in contracts in terms of Marketing? What does the average author receive or is it different, depending on the book?


Publishers don't actually offer anything in contracts in terms of marketing. The publishing
house's marketing plan is completely separate and varies from book to book. Each house
has a general marketing plan that they do for all of their titles, but if it is something they really want to push, they'll write up a specialized marketing plan for that specific title.
I would say that the average author receives placement in the company's catalog, and the book
is sent out for review to the usual line up (Publisher's Weekly, Romantic Times, etc). That's it. Scary, huh? This is why it is so important to champion your own book!


What are you looking for? What are you interested in?

Well, I represent a lot of children's books, from picture books to YA (non-fic to fic), covering every sub-genre there. As far as the adult market goes, I am looking for historical fiction, women's fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, dark drama, horror, some narrative non-fiction (although I'm very picky about this--I know what I like when I see it. Topics would be: food, environment, pop culture) I am NOT looking for: mysteries, poetry, screenplays, short stories, anymore picture books, corporate/legal thrillers, academic non-fiction, memoirs.

And if I didn't mention the genre that you write, it can't hurt to query me!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Some resources you may want to know about

You may know about some of these but I thought it couldn't hurt to post them. :)

Kidlitosphere - They do an annual conference on social networking and blogging. This year's is in Washington DC in Oct.

Muse Conference Online - In oct they offer a free lineline conference for writers. All you have to do is register for the yahoo group. YOu must register before August 1st.

Three great online forums for writers:
  • Absolute Write - You don't have to be a member to read, but if you want to participate in the conversations you'll have to register. You can register here: . It's free!
  • Editors Unleashed - they have a great blog and forum
  • VerlaKay
QueryTracker - not only a great resource to track your queries but also has a great blog and forum

AgentQuery - great information on agents. Very through. Also has some great articles on what to ask agents when you get an offer.

Publisher's Marketplace - pay 20$ a month and get an email with the daily deals - listing editor, agent, author, genre and summary. best 20$ I spend. Publisher's lunch newsletter is free but does not list the deals.

SCBWI - society of children's bookwriters and illustrators

Shaw Guides for Writers - lists all national conferences, workshops and events by state for writers

Guide to literary agents blog - all the information you need to know about agents

Nanowrimo - write 50,000 words in a month. Has great information on other topics as well.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round up (7/10)

Here are my favs for the week:


The PR Times are Changin'- Old times are gone. Let’s increase the odds and prove how effective online marketing can be if used correctly (with correctly being the key buzz word here).

It's my PR story and I'm stickin' to it! - a new column that examines all things PR. Yep, public relations -- also known as image management, spin, publicity, and hype.

Get your Facebook game face on -
With over 200 million active users (this impressive number represents those who have logged into Facebook in the past 30 days not just anyone who has signed up), writers can access experts and publishers to land gigs, find opportunities and obtain memorable quotes.

Social Media - Social media strategy coaching for authors and publishers

When is it OK to follow agent or editor
- Is it kosher to send a friend request to an agent on Facebook? Is it accepted to follow an editor on Twitter?

Protocal for Facebook and following industry professionals (older article but relates to the last one) Let's say you're interested in submitting to a few specific agents. Would you look them up on Facebook to learn more about them as a person? Many of you probably already have. What about MySpace? Twitter? LinkedIn?

Social networking anyone? Rachel Gardner is taking on poll on how effective social networking is for writers, how it fits
into the writing life, and what the perceived value is.The responses should be interesting.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Any questions about Marketing I can answer for you?

Wed and Thursday are "marketing questions?" day.

Does anyone have any questions about marketing I can answer for you? These can be about marketing to agent/editor, to peers, or to book buyers (librarians, bookstores, kids, bookclubs, etc)

Add your question to the comments by midnight Thursday night and I'll answer them for you. :)

For free! ;) (My clients are all cursing me right now)



Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wes - Karma is a Bitc$$

I usually don't spout off about TV on my blog and I rarely get on my soapbox.

But did anyone see The Bachelorette last night?

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

I am so appalled at Wes's attitude. How can people in this world be so cold and heartless? I still can believe these people still exist! And did his family lie for him? They said he wasn't dating anyone. If he's been dating someone for 6 years, they would know.

I really liked him in the beginning and then last night it was like the Jekyll and Hyde show.

To come on a show and purposefully lie and cheat and deceive is horrible. What a jerk!

Yes, the show is hokey. Yes it is probably staged. Yes some guys/gals are weird. (hello the foot fetish dude? Tanner keep your pants on!)

But do you have to be a total ass too?

I don't understand how someone can lie to someone's face who is obviously genuinely trying to find true love. Maybe it won't work. Maybe it won't last. But to deceive someone and purposely stomp on their dreams for your own personal gain is just wrong.

And it was all for "Number Uno". (as he referred to himself)

All I can say is Wes, I would not listen your CD/music if you gave it to me. I thought you were a hotty totty, but it is amazing how ugly someone can become when they dont' have a good heart. Your music kinda sucks anyway. Not all that. And your girlfriend is just as sad if she is proud of you.

Not to mention, your publicist is a snake. I'm a publicist and I would never work for people like you, let alone encourage them to succeed at someone else's expense.

Your mistake was not taking your "act" all the way to the end. You did all that for publicity and ended up looking like a huge weasel. All because your ego got in the way and you just had to spout off how deceiving you were. Something you are obviously proud of - "I am the first man to make it to the final 4 with a girlfriend."

If I was your snaky publicist - I would have to kick your arse for showing your true colors. because I hate to tell you this will backfire in your face and ill be short-lived. You will never be remembered for your music - only your weaselness. You just alienated about 20 million girls who watch the show.

I don't worry about people like this because what comes around, goes around. I do not believe you can just take and take and take and not expect to eventually give up something BIG. HUGE. I don't believe you can disrespect someone's spirit and not pay for it in the long run.

I hope this backfires in your face so you can learn it is better to give than receive. It is better to be honest than deceive, and it is better to love others more than yourself!

Good riddance!

Tanner - you are a wimp - you should have called him out to his face along time ago. Who cares about the "Male pact".

Jake - you rock for sticking to your guns and trying to help someone you care about expecting nothing in return! I hope you are the next Bachelor cuz that took some guts to get back on TV after being rejected and standing up to Wes the Weasel.

Jillian - you kept Wes on way too long but thank goodness you came to your senses.

What do I take away from all this?

Characters, characters, characters.

And now, I have a bad guy for my next book. ;)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Ginger Rue (author of Brand New Emily)

Today we have something a little unique. We have marketing advice from an author, Ginger Rue, who's character Emily hires a PR rep to improve her image in school. I just finished the book and it is fun! Wish I would have thought about it! I highly recommend the book. Also - don't forget to post any questions you have for Ginger.

Hope you enjoy!


Hi Ginger. Thanks for stopping by today. Why don't you tell me a little about yourself and your new book. Is your background in Marketing and PR? How did you get published?


I was a middle and high school English teacher for eight years and wrote for magazines on the side. When I quit teaching, I landed a gig as an advice columnist for a great teen magazine called SWEET 16 (sadly, it folded a couple of years ago) and was doing most of my magazine work for the teen audience. One of my best friends had worked in New York at a big
publishing house for a few years, and she suggested that I use the platform of a teen magazine audience to try to do a teen book.

I don't have a background in marketing or PR, but my brother Glenn is an advertising professor at Southern Methodist University, so for years, we've casually discussed different campaigns--he'd tell me why an ad campaign was either terrible or brilliant, and often he'd roll his eyes at me when I'd get suckered in by some gimmick in a commercial--like a talking dog or a cute baby or whatever. So, while I didn't pursue a degree in APR, I've always been pretty aware of some of the aspects of how it works, just from hearing about it from my brother, who is quite phenomenal at what he does.

I got published in the usual way, I suppose. I wrote the book, looked for an agent, signed with an agent, and then worked with her to sell the book. Everyone who's published a book tells you how slow and frustrating the process is, and they're right! So much waiting!

What marketing research did you need to do for the book? What does your character learn about promoting herself?

Since my brother was in Texas when I started outlining BRAND-NEW EMILY, I couldn't ransack his bookshelves, so I called a friend of ours who went to grad school with Glenn. It just so happened that he had cleaned off his shelves a few days before and really wanted to unload about ten or fifteen old marketing, PR, and advertising texts, so I went and picked them up. I read them all and marked places I thought I could apply to my plot. I wanted to throw around a lot of lingo because the PR rep in the book is very knowledgeable, but I wanted to make sure it was relevant lingo.

Emily learns that middle school popularity and politics aren't all that different from the entertainment industry. Both rely on getting good buzz and having the right connections. She also learns how fleeting it all is. I think that in both realms, there's tremendous pressure to be the hip, new thing...so keeping your brand fresh and exciting to the consumer is a constant challenge.

Since your character gets pretty savvy on marketing herself, how have you marketed yourself/book? Web sites/blogs etc. What major points about branding and image do you consider important?

I'm a Southerner, and we're socialized not to be pushy, so it was very difficult for me as a freelancer when I first started out because I didn't want to bother anyone; I didn't want to be a pest. But I learned that if you want something, you have to ask. It's unlikely that someone is going to call you up and say, "Hey, can I promote your book for you?" So I simply asked people I'd worked with at magazines about promoting my book. Not all of them were willing or able to help, of course. One of my best clients isn't a teen magazine, so there wasn't a logical tie-in for them, and I understood that. I also try to think in terms of "win/win" situations; I don't ask bookstores or magazines or companies to do things for me without clearly defining what's in it for them.

Since the plot of BRAND-NEW EMILY involves a makeover, I thought some sort of partnership with a cosmetics company might be in order. But I didn't want to work with just anybody...my book is very fun and wholesome, and some cosmetic companies have an edgy image that just wouldn't make a partnership with them a logical fit. My first thought was Bonne Bell because when I was about 14, they really cornered the market on tweens and young teens. Everything they did was fun and fresh, not too heavy, and always with a positive vibe. So, I researched them and found that they were a three-generation, family-owned business, based in Ohio, and that their corporate philosophy included a statement about how inner beauty is more important than just looking good. I was sort of blown away by how perfect we were for each other!

My book has a strong family theme, and it's set in Ohio, and the value of inner beauty is a major theme as well. I called my publicist at Tricycle and said, "We've got to get in touch with this company! I love them!" While she was trying to get in touch with the right person, my final edit was due and the book was going to the printer. I had this scene where Emily is being made up, and I had described how natural the makeup looked on her--how it wasn't heavy or overdone. We had no idea if Bonne Bell would want to work with us at all, but we went ahead and put their name in that scene. I figured that even if they didn't want to promote the book with us, I didn't mind giving them a plug because they were such a positive influence on young girls, and I really, really didn't want girls reading this book and then caking on a bunch of makeup to try to recreate Emily's experience!

Later, we heard back from Bonne Bell, and they were very enthusiastic. They've given us great exposure on their Lip Smacker Lounge website and they've sent Lip Smackers (their lip gloss line) for me to give out at signings, which makes signings so much more fun. At one of them, this one girl was trying to decide whether to spend her allowance on my book or another book, and I said, "Hey, did this other author show up to sign your book and give you a free Lip Smacker? I don't think so!" She bought my book...which goes back to the whole "if you want something, you have to ask" thing!

All this to say that I do think branding and image are very important. Kirkus Reviews called my book "fizzy" and "fun," and that made me very happy, because that's what I was going for with BRAND-NEW EMILY. Right now, dark and edgy are big, but I think there is always room for fun. My book was definitely informed by my years as a teacher and how I had to all but beg the kids to read the books on our list. For instance, one year, I selected this fantastic book about a girl in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years, and her mother dies tragically, and they're poor and miserable. It's a beautiful book that's beautifully written, but try telling that to a seventh-grader! Once they'd read it, they loved it, but it's unlikely they'd have picked it up if I hadn't forced them. They used to always ask, "Why does everything we read for school have to be about pioneers or poor people or something depressing?" And if there's a dog on the cover, watch out,
because there's a 99% chance that dog is getting shot or rabies or something terrible, and the kids know that going in!

I wanted a book that girls couldn't wait to read, something that was well written and had some substance, but also had all the fun of reading a magazine. And what's in a teen girls' magazine? Fashion, beauty, boys, celebrities, advice, and insider info--all that stuff is in BRAND-NEW EMILY. When girls tell me they couldn't put it down, I love to hear that, because when I was a teacher, I had to force my students to read X number of chapters per day of whatever we were studying, and except for the couple of kids like me who loved reading anything and everything, the students would've rather been in an ant bed than do their reading!

In your opinion, how important is social networking?

I resisted getting on Facebook. My husband blogs and Twitters and does Facebook and all that stuff, and I could never understand why anyone would purposely put their personal business out for public consumption. But my publicist told me to do it, so I did. I didn't want to. But now I'm a Facebook addict like everyone else! It was fun because so many of my former students whom I'd lost touch with "friended" me (yes, that's a verb nowadays), so I get to see what they're up to now. It's also nice because, while I would feel weird sending an email to everyone I know about each step along the way (signings, reviews, etc.), on Facebook, it's normal...you just post your "status." And my Facebook friends tell their Facebook friends about my book or events or whatever, so it's been very helpful, I think in getting the word out.

I read somewhere that today's authors have to be more PT Barnum than JD Salinger if they want to keep writing books, and I think that's true. It's a different playing field than it used to be. Readers expect to be able to interact with you in some way, whether that's through your website or at a signing.

What creative things have you done to promote a book?

I think the Lip Smackers partnership is very cool and something a little different. I think teens today are programmed to expect more than we did. When we were teenagers, it was like, "Hey! I spent three dollars and I got this magazine to read!" Now, the teen magazines have contests so readers can win something for literally every day of the month, or you can take your magazine in to a store and get free stuff, like sunglasses or a t-shirt. I think it's brilliant, actually. Advertising has had to evolve along with industry. So I was definitely familiar with the concept of adding value to your product, because I know today's consumer, especially teens, expect that.

How did you market yourself to agents/editors before you were published?

I did mention in my query letters that I had an advice column called "Ask Ginger" in a magazine with roughly a quarter of a million readers, so that probably didn't hurt. Platform is definitely a plus; the publisher is taking a big risk on you, and they might feel better about doing so if
they believe you can sell books. That said, I think the most important thing is a great idea for a book combined with strong writing and a solid voice. Write a great query letter, and then when an agent requests a partial or a full, give him/her your best work. It's not the most exciting advice, but I think the best thing you can do as a writer is write the best book you possibly can.

Without that, all the fancy ideas about how to promote it won't mean a thing. In fact, this is roughly the same advice Brynn (the PR rep) gives Emily in BRAND-NEW EMILY: "'The consumer knows other consumers. And he or she might decide to tell those other consumers that the product was a rip-off. By and by, word gets around, and nobody else is buying. All that packaging and advertising have gone to waste as the product dies on the shelf.'" Worry first about having a great product. Then worry about how to promote it.

Thanks Ginger for stopping by!

Thanks Shelli

Friday, July 03, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round up (7/3)

Hello peeps -

I'm taking a break from revisions, car loans, mortgages, utility bills, Kindergarten registration, Michael Jackson obsession, Wipeout episodes, Tivo back-ups, Fourth of July celebrations, mosquito stakeouts, and delusions of grandeur.

Why?

To give you the Friday Roundup - because that's the kind of loyal and committed bogger I am :)

Have a great holiday! See you on the other side.


Here are my favs for the week:

Should I stop blogging? If you are questioning whether blogging is worth your time and wonder what it can really do for your marketing, read this article.

Lessons from launching an eBook. Here are some tips if you are thinking of launching an ebook, whether it be fiction or nonfiction.

To Market, To Market - Eizabeth Bluemle has a terrific article about what kinds of promotions work, from a bookseller's POV. It's geared more toward publishers than authors/illustrators but with so few publishers doing any significant promotion these days, you might want to consider some of these tactics. She also tells which ones she finds a waste of time.

Promotional Email Dos and Don'ts - Is email marketing the way to go? The bad news: we read fewer than 10% of the email promotions we receive. The good news: sometimes even an unread email leads to sales. Here's how to do it right.

Book Promotion Lessons
- Just when you think you've seen it all, an author comes up with something completely new (and possibly crazy) to do.

Answers to the top 10 Twitter Objections - If you are still on the fence about starting to tweet, here are a few answers to the top 10 reasons why people don't tweet.

Where did you hear about your book? Nathan Bransford asked his blog groupies where they heard about the book they are reading. Read over 300 comments if you want to know the power of blogging!

5 Ideas for a successful book launch - Getting published is only a step in the book writing process. There is even more work involved in promoting the book and getting it to sell. Here are a few great ideas for having a successful book launch.