Loveland! What are you doing today?

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We have 50 authors waiting to show off their books.  Stop by this afternoon.  A perfect event for children.

Set your radar screen for Ellen Raine and her new book, Splat!  The color and honesty will captivate young readers.

Saturday, October 7, 2017 –

2:00pm to 5:00pm

The Loveland Public Library will be sponsoring a Local Authors Showcase on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 from 2:00-5:00pm. Come meet Northern Colorado’s finest Authors as you browse their works, shop for books and have them autographed.

Where:
Loveland Public Library – Gertrude Scott Room & Galleria

 

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Marketing for Success 101: And the Gold Goes to…

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You, of course!

How did you get to the top?  You worked hard (unpacking boxes-ha!).

Seriously, though, you did work hard; dissecting and utilizing all the tools of marketing is intimidating.

So, your final manuscript should glow like gold in the hands of an agent, editor, or publisher.  You get the gold because you took the following actions.

iu-5.jpegEditing.  I don’t know how many posts and lectures I have given on this topic.  It seems to be the area where a new author wants to take high risk.  Agents, editors, publishers are very busy.  We usually have a year’s worth of work stacked high and more comes every day.  Thousands and thousands of manuscripts.  No one can read all that.  So, the norm is to read about 3 pages.  If there are too many typos or grammar problems, that’s a giant red flag.  Your ms is not going anywhere except back to you or the trash.  I know that’s harsh.  How else can I get this point across?  People like books that flow and sustain some kind of pace.  Typos and grammar problems ruin everything.  You don’t want your reader stumbling from word to word.

Note:  not all editors are the same.  If you are writing fantasy, find one who likes fantasy. He or she is already familiar with the genre, loves to read it, and knows what reader expectations are.  A proofreader is not an editor.  See my previous blogs on editing.

Note:  get quotes.  If you have $25 in your pocket and the bill is $250 for editing, you may want to get more resourceful.  Self-publishers should particularly pay attention to this.  Knowing where to find a good editor can be problematic.  Ask for recommendations.  If you are reading a book that you think is exceptionally organized, see if the editor’s name or company is on the title page or acknowledgment page.  Ask me.  I know some great, very thorough editors with decades of experience.

Price:  Free to $$

iu-6.jpegArt Work.  If you are not already an artist, don’t think you are going to sit down with Photoshop tonight and design an award-winning cover.  I wish it did work like that.  Finding good art that works in a book has been the most challenging part of my job.  I wrote quite a few kids’ stories a long time ago, but that’s where it ended because I had no clue where to find an illustrator.  Then I published novels.  Again, the art was a problem until I lucked into a great cover designer at a conference.  You never know whom you will connect with.

Invest in a good illustrator or cover designer.  Use somebody who does this as a job, not a hobby.  Communicate.  Communicate. Communicate.  If you want a white dog and you get a brown one, say something.  You may be paying for illustrations you are not going to use.

There is no such thing as a good cover.  You need a good front cover AND a good back cover.  The front cover serves to grab someone’s attention.  Colors should be genre appropriate, no more than 3 fonts from the same family, and give standard information:  title, author, series, and maybe a comment.  It must be readable.  The back cover compels the looker to buy.  A back cover could include a blurb, reviews, author bio info. You can find writers who specialize in writing back covers.

If your book isn’t selling, ask someone to look at the first 3 pages.  If there are many errors, fix them.  If there aren’t any errors, then redo the covers. You could go as far as also changing the title.  Of course, that’s going to cost you an ISBN each time, but you do what you have to sell the book.

Price:  Free to $$

iu-7.jpegIdentify your genre.  If you don’t know what the genre is, nobody else does either.  Different genres have different rules.  Prologues are good for epic fantasy and sci-fi, but not for any other genre.  You can create all kinds of worlds which may or may not be logical.  Your reader will buy into one unbelievable fact, but not two. Even color has something to say.  Three years ago turquoise on a cover indicated you were reading a metaphysical book.  That color is everywhere now.

Plus, there are new genres and niche categories popping up every day.  Boomer Lit started about 6 months ago.  Bizarro Lit, Ergodic Lit, Oulip.  Sorry.  I have no experience here.  They are too new to the market.

Price: Free

iu-8.jpegNow you have a finished product, so start entering contests and get your book out there.

If you are writing a children’s book, Google children’s book contests.  How many contests you enter often depends upon the time of year.  There are many to enter right now (October).

If you follow me on FB, I repost contests the minute one shows up in my feed.

Note:  watch the fees.  They vary from Free to $$.  If you are paying a fee, what are you getting?  Yes, you can say you won such and such and maybe you have a medallion to put on your books, but what else?  Any publicity with that or is it over?  Any contest that charges exorbitant rates should provide something other than a medallion or the jpg of a medallion.  AND it should be a prestigious award.  Some money would be nice. (Smile)

Note:  always read the fine print.  Every contest is different.  PDF or hard copy?  How many hard copies?  What category?  One or cross categories?  Fees.  If you enter a contest and the prize is the publication of your work, don’t enter several of those.  You could be looking at legal issues.  If you win, did you sign a contract that promises you’ll be there?

Tomorrow, I’ll address questions and offer what little financial advice I can provide.  I’m also putting together a list of marketing agencies who have some experience with fiction. If you want to turn the entire marketing project over to a third party, there are some good people to work with.  (I also know the scammers.)

Hope to see you or interact with you in a FB Group–never a dull moment there!

Marketing for Success 101: Silver

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Today you should have the essentials of marketing started:  a good email address, a good domain name, a website (and hopefully there’s something on it!), and you’ve looked at business card designs.

Your head may be swimming after looking at the Copper Package, but it will eventually make sense.

So, today we’re racheting up our skills with simple extensions of what you are already doing.

Today’s theme is Join, Have a Presence in the Writing Culture, and Get Out There!

iu-4.jpegFacebook Groups:  There are quite a few FB groups out there for all skill levels.  Some will provide beta-readers, some have editors or proofreaders, some will write reviews, and others will even allow you to advertise your book on their site.  These groups have rules.  Please read them.  These are very good opportunities for writers.

Note:  your publisher cannot do this for you.

Writers’ Group, Children’s Book Reviews and Promos, A Place to Promote Children’s, Reviewmates, Writing for Children: A Community for Kidlit Writers, Writers Helping Writers, Fiction Writing, Writers Assembled.

Price:  Free

wip.jpgGo to conferences.  Writing is a very solitary job.  How often do you get to sit around with inspirational writers who will help you.  How often do you get to practice pitching, talk to agents, learn what’s new in the industry?  And the industry changes.  If your books aren’t selling, maybe something doesn’t relate to your audience.  Stay current.

If you follow me on FaceBook, I post regional conference notices every time I see one.  If you are in the Rocky Mountain area, I highly recommend Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, NOCO Writers Conference, Print for Paws, Wyoming Writers Inc.  Every region has some kind of writers group or book group.  Start looking around your area and participate. North Texas schools have book fairs where the students run around for a weekend, talk to authors, and buy books.  Millennials read, and they like hard copies.  Our local library is hosting 50 authors next weekend.  Events pop up regularly so stay flexible.  Some of these cost a lot or you need to schedule a year in advance.

Let’s say your book may be coming out in January.  That means you will miss all the great holiday opportunities to sell books (October-December).  Scout out the event, see what you can do to attract people, and schedule for next year.

Price:  varies from Free to $$

Unknown-2.jpegMake public appearances.  I know.  It’s that talking in front of a group of people, isn’t it?  Put that fear aside because at this point it’s a stuck point.  If you can’t get up and talk about your book, who is?  If you don’t introduce it to the world, who is?  I’ve been to one too many launches that were not thought through, and I’ve watched the complete devastation reflected in the authors’ eyes.  Nobody is coming to your launch if they don’t know about it.

Guys, I can’t speak for you, but I know women have a group for everything!  I just found a new one called Her Story.  A great platform to reach a female audience.

Price:  Free and sometimes they pay you!

Unknown-1.jpegFairs and festivals usually celebrate something once or twice a year.  You can sell books there.  Sometimes they support a cause.  Donate some of your profit and build relationships.  If you have a Halloween book, now is the time to move.  Get it to every Halloween place you can think of.  Put it in raffle baskets.  Go to the libraries and bookstores and see if you can read to groups of kids.  Holiday books aren’t great sellers because you have such a narrow period of time where it is applicable. Use that time well.

Price:  Free or basic table charges

images-1.jpegReviews, reviews, reviews!!  You can’t have enough.  It’s nice that your sister will take the time to read your book.  Maybe she even bought a copy.  BUT what is important right now are the reviews.

There are different kinds of reviews: unsolicited and solicited.  You want both.  An unsolicited review is from a friend, relative, reader, or fan.  Always ask for them to leave you a review on Goodreads or Amazon.  They can even post a review on FB.

Note:  if you are going to use an unsolicited review on the cover of your book or notably at the beginning of the book, identify the reviewer.  Just don’t put “alkdj;akd;akjd;alkj” — Joan. Who is Joan?  Why should we take her review seriously?  Even something like “Joan, an avid reader” is better.  Also make sure you get written permission to use someone’s words or identity.  Of course, if they are reviewing on Goodreads or Amazon, you won’t have to worry about that.

Solicited reviews are professional reviews.  These will cost you, but they are important.  Do you want to see your book in Barnes and Noble or some other large chain?  You need reviews.  Do you see yourself on The New York Times Bestseller List?  You need reviews.

Note:  if you are self-publishing, these reviews may not yet be available.  That is supposed to change, but right now, the publisher usually requests the review. The review can take up to a year.  Plan accordingly.  If your publisher is in a position to buy reviews, rejoice.  Because aside from the price, the paperwork looks like something from the IRS!

A Kirkus Review is gold.  After that, you read the fine print.  Don’t just buy reviews.  Find out which ones are acceptable and/or influential.  So now you can gulp, hold your breath, or scream!

Price: $300+

iu.jpegVideo everything you can think of.  Take pictures.  Audiences respond to visuals.  Use these to advertise your book.  Great openers for blogs. Say Snapchat!

Price:  Free

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Comicons. They are everywhere.  Probably happening in a place not too far from you right now!  They do let you sell books.  Some genres, admittedly, aren’t going to sell here. Sci-fi and fantasy–great opportunity.

Price:  65+

 

And tomorrow is the GOLD!

 

Marketing for Success 101: Bronze

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Yesterday we put the Copper Package together.  Or at least, I’m assuming you did that because the Bronze package is built on top of it.  If you haven’t put the Copper Package together, then stop reading and go back to that task.  You must have the essentials or foundation before you can build up and out.
The following 5 marketing strategies are free, but could be a bit daunting at first.  Don’t aim for perfection.  It will come.  Just practice incorporating these new strategies into the platform you have built.

  • Blog
  • Virtual blog tour
  • Podcasts
  • Book trailers/picture story
  • Press release

iu-2.jpegOnce you get your website together, you should have the option of adding a Blog. I use WordPress and have it integrated into my website. WordPress also links to FB, Twitter, SnapChat, Tumblr, etc.

The most commonly asked questions about blogs address content. What do I want to say? The easiest way to get started with a blog is to simply tell the story of your writing experience.  Maybe you have a cover design. You can post that. A blurb of the story.

NEVER, EVER throw anything away.  Yes, your editor may have just cut 100 pages of your favorite action scene, but it’s not over yet. When you become rich and famous, you can pull out those cuts and publish an uncut version. Save your doodles. Save. Save. Save. Even if you want to trash it: SAVE.
Write one blog per day.  Respond to people who make comments or ask questions and follow as many as you are comfortable following.

Price: FREE

iu-3.jpegOh dear. First a blog, and now this?  What is a blog tour, anyway?  Generally, a tour lasts about two weeks. An author “visits” a new blog every day, while promoting each stop on social media. Whether an author chooses to hire a publicity professional to book a tour, or decides to go it alone, a virtual book tour is increasingly an important part of the publication process.
You may need help getting this together.  Plan it about 6 months before your release, or use it to promote an online release
Many different companies will design a plan for you.  Just Google virtual blog tours, blog tours, or book tours.
Price:  $300+

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A podcast can be an audio or an audio with video.  You will need a means to capure audio and video, like FB Live.  And what do you talk about?  Put together a list of interview questions.  Maybe a friend could ask the question for you.  Then you just talk about what you know best:  your experience of writing a book.

Price:  Free

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A book trailer is like a movie trailer.  You will see them on FB and YouTube.  They are short videos.  Microsoft’s Photo Story is good for this.  You will need some pictures, music, and a script.  I tried doing this without a script.  Total waste of time unless you’re really good at talking on the fly.  Watch for copyright notices on pictures and music.  Go to the Public Domain if you are worried.
Price: Free
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Press Releases should be written by your publisher for immediate release.  If you want your publisher, PR agent, editor, etc. to send out press releases on your behalf, be sure to provide email addresses.  Don’t just say I want a press release in the Baltimore Sun. It is hard to find email addresses for a lot of firms.  Do your research.  I’ve spent an entire day looking for one newspaper’s email address.  I have given up on several others.  Remember:  there is a division of labor here. Whoever writes the release should not have to spend more time researching addresses (or reading your mind), unless that is part of your contract.

Price:  Free

Do some playing around and see what works for you.  Tomorrow we move on to the Silver Package, which means you must have the Copper Package under control.  It’s always going to go back to that one.

 

Marketing 101: Essentials

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I’m getting pretty used to opening my front door and finding a package waiting for me.  What did I order this time?  Sometimes I can’t go to sleep, so I stay up and entertain myself with shopping sites.  It’s amazing what I think I need at 2 AM versus what I think I need at 2 PM!  
So there’s this huge package on my doorstep, evidentally dropped by a drone since I never heard a delivery truck.  The heavens dropped this here by magic. Must be something great inside. And. It’s. FREE!!!
Hours later…
Um, I have all these nice little colored boxes of various sizes.  It was quite thrilling to open each one, but all I see are some weird pieces and paper with tiny printing on it.  Oh no!!  I have to read INSTRUCTIONS.  It probably looked good in the ad, but now I have to put it together?  Really??  
My favorite expression right now is expectations versus realities.  This box EXPECTS me to assemble the parts–ha!  Not my forté.  However, when I ordered this, I must have believed there was some real component to it that would have a REAL impact on my writing career.
So, let’s unwrap each box together and simplify the assembly.  You will not need any special tools unless you need some special tools.
 
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The Copper Package

There are essentials to marketing anything today.  The book industry is tough.  If you think you have just written the Great American Novel, maybe somebody but you should know about this revolutionary piece of literature.  How do you get the word out?  Open the box and start with #1.
#1  You must have a website.  No website=pretty much nothing.  Don’t expect to be acknowledged as an author or sell any books without one. Brick and mortar is going the way of dust.  When a client of mine described what the closing of a Barnes and Noble did to her community, I was shocked.  Yes, I can and do, obviously, order online, but when it comes to books, I’d like my experience to be in a store.  That is exactly how many authors gauge their success:  I got into B&N!!  Yeah! Get a website.  If you know what you are doing, you can go to Wix, Weebly, use Apple templates (Sandvox)–anything to get you started.  Minimally, you should have a page about you, a page about your book, a way to contact you and order the book, and a blog so you can stay in touch with fans.
Price: minimum is free
#2  You must have a domain name appropriate for your site. GoDaddy or other websites will offer you the opportunity to purchase one there.
Price: $100+
#3  You must have a professional email address.  If you are currently using slutty909 or cock#1, get a new one.  These look like you are immature or don’t take your writing seriously. Yahoo and gmail addresses are usually accepted, but rather than take the chance, change to one that reflects you as the professional writer you are.  This will be included in your website hosting or domain name.
Price: free as included
#4. You must have a Facebook account.  Whether you like it or not, there are millions of active people and groups on Facebook.  You can control who sees what, but remember your goal is to get your name out there and sell books.  Authors survive and build reputations based on exposure. I do agree that FB only targets people over 30.  There are similar ways, but different methods, to reach the under 30 crowd.  If you are Facebook shy, ask someone to set you up.  You will need a profile page and a post page.
Price: free although you can purchase FB ads
These are just some groups I have found lately that look very promising: Writers’ Group, Children’s Book Reviews and Promos, A Place to Promote Children’s, Reviewmates, Writing for Children: A Community for Kidlit Writers, Writers Helping Writers, Fiction Writing, Writers Assembled.  More pop up every day.
#5  You must have a professional headshotDo not use a selfie.  Those things you have hanging on your wall that you don’t really notice get quite the attention when they look like alien antennas or something sticking out of your head.  Maybe you know a photographer or can watch for specials.  Conferences generally offer free or very inexpensive headshots.  NOTE:  you do not own that photograph even though you paid for it.  The photographer owns it.  You will need a signed release.  Most photographers have the paperwork.
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#6  You must have a business card that advertises you as an author or writer.  The best ones I have seen are very simple:  a cursive or printed name of the author with “author” below it.  Detail information can go on the reverse side.  This is your job, not a hobby or something you do when time affords it.  Take your writing side seriously.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the bronze plan.  Obviously, that package has more to assemble and may require some outside assistance.  Just saying…

Marketing for Success

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This week’s blog material extends beyond the publishing process.  If you think about the comparison of a baby and a book, you’ll see they have many things in common.  Let’s say the making of a baby takes at least 9 months.  Perhaps there were other attempts that took quite a while.  So now the making of a baby takes 9+ months.  Much like a novel.  Carrying that baby was at the very least, challenging.  Some pregnancies are easier than others.  Labor?  Was that one push and it was over, or did it last for hours upon hours?
Now you have that baby you have wanted to hold in your arms.  All your life you have dreamed of this baby. What do you do?  Here are some possible options.  1.) Do nothing.  Let the little thing just lie there and try to care of itself. 2.) Shake your head and offer not the least bit of attention.  3.) Sell the baby. Maybe someone else will like it.  4.) Let the baby die and move on to another one.  You can see where I’m going with this one.
Harsh?  Absolutely.  But that is exactly what you are doing if you write that novel, publish it, and then fall into one of the above options.
Your best strategy?  Love your baby.  Give it all you can give.  Introduce your baby to the world and be proud.  Nourish that baby until it can provide for itself, and then don’t ever forget your journey and what this baby means to you.
So…how did my book turn into a metaphor for a baby?
Simple answer:  I went to a conference.  I had the pleasure (distaste?) of listening to an author complain about her publisher.  According to her, her small publisher had done NOTHING to promote her book.  (Drama, drama, tears.)  So, the presenter asked her what SHE was doing to market her book.  What was HER marketing strategy?
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Response:  blank look

If your response is a blank look, then read on.  Each day this week, I’m providing some simple marketing suggestions.  Some are DIY; others you may need to outsource.  BUT before you opt for outsourcing, check your contract, your bank account, and your resources.
Market ’til you make it.