Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Early Book Marketing 101

Reaching Pony - by Lindsey Niles
The times they are a'changin'.  Used to be the writer mostly wrote - then sat back and waited for sales while others did the promotion.

Reality check time.  Not any more.

Now the best thing a writer (whether of fiction or non-fiction) can do is to begin promoting and marketing while you write your book.  It helps get you out there, find exposure, and build anticipation for the book that's coming.

Everything from mentioning your up-coming book in tweets, to posting at Facebook and whatever other social networking you do helps you and your creation to hit the ground running when the book is published.
Doesn't matter whether you're self-publishing or have a publisher for your book lined up.  You want to sell your books and you, as the writer, have to participate in the promotion. And, sales you generate early will help to promote the book more and contribute to more consistent and growing sales.

If you have an Ezine or a blog you might think of making a pre-publication offer to your subscribers. You could post a bit of a teaser - like a sample - a bit of your writing online to hook the readers into wanting more.

Set up a promotion folder and keep it close to hand.  Track the promotions you do and the ones you intend to do, when you intend to do them, and notate why.  As you progress through the book find places that might endorse or review the book. Be sure to schedule a time near release when you set up your bio page on Amazon.

Pre-publication, but near, set up a web site, or if your publisher had set one up for you, get the link and begin promoting it, posting it on you Twitter account, adding a signature line to your Emails so it's always there - add it to your blog or Ezine if you have those.

Many claim a great way to sell books online whether fiction or non-fiction is to write articles and link to your website or the website where the book is sold.  If you're wondering what to write about - anything that relates. You can write science articles for that SciFi novel, you can write helpful articles that parallel your non-fiction, handing out helpful information to your readers. Use your imagination.  Writing a romance? - then write articles on love and romantic get-aways. If you choose to do some of that as promotion, DON'T forget to add those links. Also, don't forget to get and use key words and phrases in the opening paragraph of the article that search engines will pick up. That'll lead to higher rankings in the search engines and more visitors.  Expand your keywords through visiting If you make the top 20 of search engine lists in the category you shoot for you'll enjoy much more traffic to your website.

Beyond those brief tips, keep in mind, you, the writer, must do promotional work if you want your books to sell and to sell well.  Don't wait until you've published to get your promotional work done. Anticipation is half the game. And actually, promoting as you go is easier.  Keep that promotion folder at your elbow and you'll be surprised what you'll slip into it and how it will mold and super charge  your efforts.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Shawguides to Conferences & Retreats

If you're looking for a writer's conference close to home or somewhere far away or a writer's retreat or workshop, this is the directory for you. ShawGuides.  More than 1,000 domestic & international writing conferences and workshops listed here. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Writer, Writer, Where to Write?

To the Zoo perhaps??
Writers are an interesting bunch, and the question of where to write arises every so often in discussions. 

Now you'd think the answer to that would be an easy one, but it ain't necessarily so. 

True, I do have my own work space - my study, where most of my writing occurs and where I sit myself down daily, regardless of mood or much of anything else, to do my work. But, it can get to be the same ol, same ol, with a dash of staleness even though the view from my window is fantastic.

So, what to do?

Well, many suggest venturing far afield in search of new places to write, to allow their creations to leap from their heads (probabaly fully formed from their foreheads like the mythic god).

Personally my farthest venture afield is to take my laptop and head out into the walled patio with my dogs and the hummingbirds.  Just that much of a change really does it for me. Fresh air, sunshine, my dogs and my laptop.  I'm happy.

But, I've heard others say they work in coffee shops where there's wireless available.  Really?  Work?  All those people?  Well, I guess some can manage it, but it wouldn't work for me.  I do have to question how much writing actually gets done there, but if actual words on computer screen don't appear right then and it still spurs creativity later, then whatever works I say!

Others tell me they juggle day jobs and their writing and so end up with their notebooks or laptops on trains, planes and automobiles (the last being if they're in a carpool and don't have to drive!)

I believe them when they tell me these things, but I am amazed.  Writing in the middle of crowds or with some companion talking at you? Not to mention I, unfortunately, have a propensity for motion sickness so the aforementioned trains, planes and automobiles could have disasterous results if I tried to focus on a computer screen and write.  Airline terminal or train station, maybe - in motion, not so much.

Parks come highly recommended and there's one our city maintains that's absolutely awash in roses very soon.  It's beautiful, serene and not far away, but I have to admit when it comes right down to it, I usually hie myself outside to the courtyard garden and hang with the hummingbirds.  It saves the gas and my dogs can come along. Oh, and I can pop inside for lunch too so I don't have to take a bag lunch with me.

There are those writers who've told me that they drive a short way from home, park in a quiet location or even at the far end of a parking lot, lock the doors, push the seat back and whip out the laptop to write just to get away from the clamor at homebase to write.  If that's what it takes....

Believe it or not, one friend hangs out in a subway station to write.  Says he likes the wave of people continually going by.  From my perspective...Wow.

So, tell me, where do you prefer to write? Or where do you have to write in order to create?  Is it a simple writing space at home or do you have to go further afield to find peace and quiet or to be inspired?

I'd love to see some of your replies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Book Tour

Just published?  Self? Or mainstream?  You might want to visit and see if they can be of help in your promotion.  They offer tools to make contacts, get reviews and more so you can start your media tour for your book. Some services are free, others offer a free trial.  If you're an author looking for tools to help or a reader looking for literary events to attend this could be the place for you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Promoting the Writer Via A Blog - That's You!

Okay, so you've been writing a lot, doing all the things you need to do to get that novel finished, polished and made presentable so you can actually push it out there to sell.  But did you know you, the writer, need to promote it?

Yes, you.

No buts--the publisher isn't going to do it, it's up  to you.

So, you've begun a blog, right?  Joined some social networking?

Of course if you've begun a blog you have to add to it regularly so you can gain followers, not lose the ones you have, and of course provide some sound, helpful, interesting and hopefully at times amusing content.

But, every writer has his or her day when it just won't work.  Maybe you have the dreaded blog block. 

What to do?

I focus mainly on fiction so I'll give you some ideas in that area - not that I've already done all these, but there are some I've done and some I'm planning on doing.  So here you go:

One simple thing for a fiction writer is to do is to quote an entire short scene from one of your novels as a teaser.  This would encourage your readers to buy your book and using an excerpt could be a great way to illustrate some point you're making.  Just make sure the excerpt you choose relates clearly to the point you're trying to  make.

Here's another thing.  If you're writing genre, think creatively about what you might write about that links to it.

Science Fiction writers can link to the world of science and emerging discoveries. Or they can write about strange anomolies or government cover-ups of UFO's and what about those crop circles?

Mystery writers might create blogs on crime stories they see in the paper each day or a death that is a medical mystery and could be something else... Or they could consider writing about the newest forensic science.

If you choose romance you can put posts on your blogs about foods which are thought to be aphrodisiacs or cooking for your lover or both.  If you're adventurous you might blog about the karma sutra or about romantic get-aways; trips for lovers to share.

Mainstream fiction?
Might take a bit more imagination, but all you need to do really is to ask yourself as you write your novel, what are the angles?  Are there particular foods or locals associated with your novel?  Is there a certain culture you use in your story you can extrapolate on in your blog? Travel? A certain profession? An event such as the olympics, an electronics expo? A swim meet?

So you see, you can cover subjects far beyond what the book you write is actually about.  Anything linked is fair game.

Oh, and you might consider reviewing books in a genre similar to the one you're writing in.  The  name of a famous writer writing in your field will attract readers from the search engines to the review. Reviewing the books of the famous to the lesser known can attract readers.

Don't forget to ask authors of other blogs to participate in cross-promotion.  You write for their blog, they write for yours. Very helpful.

Sprinkle in helpful links as well.  I know, I know, my blog hasn't had a whole lot of that, but I post a lot of links at Twitter - like contest links, website links, language help links.  I enjoy helping people find the things that are useful to them.

If you have access to them, offer freebies to folks who read your blog. You might even think about having a contest in which you offer a 'gift basket' of items that relate to your book.  Could be free Ebooks, sample chapters, poems, anything helpful.

So, sit down with yourself, think about it, and come up with your own creative ways to promote your work online and off.  It really is up to you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Freelance Writing organization

photo by Chance Agrella
It's free and it offers lots of resources.  Freelance Writing Organization Int'l.  Just register and gain access to writer's resources, online job offerings, info on how to qualify for writing grants and more.  Definitely a more than worthwhile resource.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Tension lies at the center of any story a writer may choose to tell. And, what draws your tension tight? Some kind of desire that is unfulfilled, unmet, and appears may never be fulfilled.

So, the axis of your story, that which everything else moves about, basically, is a character who wants something, but for all sorts of reasons you've come up with, can't get it. The key here is as soon as your character gets what he wants, achieves his goal, the story is complete, the tale over.

So, when you as the writer resolve one problem in your story, that lesser resolution must be within the escalation of the greater plot.

While the writer needs to begin his or her story with some kind of a hook, something to engage the reader, you don't want to fall into the trap of throwing out an exciting hook, then following it with an information dump that goes on for pages and from the outset kills the forward momentum. 

So, if you're going to use that catchy hook, be sure to design it well so your story escalates, moves forward instead of crashing into the muck. You can't have your readers thinking "things aren't so bad" or you've lost that forward thrust, the momentum that keeps the reader reading.

What really drives your story forward.  Think about it.  What is it that keeps things rolling.  Is it the fact that it's a "character-driven" story?  No. what really moves things is that goal your main character is striving for, that desire he has that he's willing to do most anything to fulfill.

The reader has to know what the stakes are, what the main character will gain or achieve, what he's reaching for, in order for him to keep reading.  He doesn't care about car chases or fascinating characters until he has a reason to and that reason is, "what does the character want that he doesn't have and what will he do to try to get it."  
The story is driven forward by escalating tension, not events that happen.  Consider you favorite books and movies.  Have you been captivated only by the fascinating characteristics of the main character, or was it something more - the challenges he faced, the goals he reached for and what prevented him from doing so?

It's tension, unknowing, suspense.  So, while you write your novel ask yourself frequently, "how can I make things worse for my hero/heroine?"  Consider the emotional, physical and relationships. Find ways to organically force your hero/heroine into a more and more impossible situation.  To make things worse and worse until there is seemingly no solution - then, brilliant writer that you are, create a resolution that is both surprising and satisfying to your reader.

Your intent is to keep your reader turning the pages, waiting eagerly for your next novel. When the events you pen are naturally caused by the one before it, the story makes sense and as the characters move forward in a convincing quest for their goals the story grows more and more believeable and those characters' struggles with their obstacles deepen the tension and keep the reader reading. 

And in the end, that's your goal.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Literary Agent Rants & Ramblings

Photo by Sarah Sturtevant
It's Wednesday again and this week I want to recommend a site that's written by a Literary Agent, Rachelle Gardner.  She Calls it Rants & Ramblings On Life As A Literary Agent. And she does. There's helpful info here, commentary on the publishing world and more.  A blog worth reading.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Believe In Yourself

This time around I'm going to talk about something a bit less tangible, something that I can't really give precise instruction for. But I've been a writer for well over 25 years and I think this is something writers just need to hear.

The power of what you belive in relationship to your writing and your career is amazing. And, what you do, how your career moves forward, hinges greatly on what you believe about yourself.

I'm not trying to be some sort of motivational guru here or to tell you to put your trust in god - that part is up to you, whether you do or don't.

Here's what I'm talking about. If a writer buys into the belief that publishing is an impossible industry in which to make a living, then that belief, that thought process, will keep that writer desperate and more than likely poor.

But, if that writer changes the way he thinks and focuses on the strengths he posesses then the change kicks in.

Shed the belief that you're just a lowly writer. Reject the thought that you don't understand the business and you have to do what you're told. Believe instead that you can  have a great life as a writer.  One that's fulfilling, fun and yes, profitable.

So what do you as a writer do to attain this state of grace? 

For one thing you learn.  You learn about the publishing business as you go and nothing is too unimportant to take an interest in. You take the time to learn to read your royalty statements and understand what it means. You read you contracts, even if you have an agent, and you undertstand what the clauses in them mean. If you don't at first, ask until you do.

Accept the fact that while  your writing is your  joy and your breath it is also a business.  Understand  you'll make mistakes, and yes, some of them may cost you, but that's okay, you'll learn and not simply whine that someone shafted you.

Understand what you can and cannot control.  Example: you can write whatever story you want and take whatever amount of time you need to do it.  But if you want it published by a certain house or in a certain way (hardcover, paperback, audio) and win awards by the dozens, that isn't in your control. 
The editor you worked with left for a new publishing house and the new editor hates your writing.  That's not in your control. 
The manuscript you love and slaved over and perfected gets an extremely low evaluation in a contest you entered.  That's not in your control either. 
And my favorite, been there, done that: your agent loved your book, has just begun sending it out - goes bankrupt and closes his doors. Yup, not one you can control there either.

So, where lie the writer's strengths?

You can reject a bad contract (no matter how desperate you are)

You can listen to criticism, then decide what really needs changing and what doesn't- then do it.

You can write!

You can submit your work directly to editors or to agents or both.

You can enter suitable contests.

You can work on your own marketing plan - yes, you the author need to market your book no matter what the publisher does.

You can research all the ways today offers toward publication - big publishing houses, small presses, print on demand, Epublishing with publisher, audio books, self-publishing with Kindle or Smashwords or others. You can decide which route to take.

You can do much more as well.

What else?  You can believe you're smart enough to learn what you need to know to succeed.  Others have done it, so can you. 

And biggest of all, believe in yourself.  It isn't true anyone can tell a story and do it well.  Belive in your ability to do it.  Understand your gift is unique. Don't for one minute believe you can be replaced by any other writer coming along behind you, and don't let publishers or agents tell you that is true.

Luck is not in control of your writing life, you are. Luck can play a part, but you have to be aware of your abilities and who you are and be ready to take advantage of opportunities.

So take this advice to heart. Belive in yourself.  Believe in your abilities, persist and take positive action.

That's the cheerleading for today.  Hope it helps.

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