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+

Podcast.jpg

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

Booktrailer.jpg
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.

 

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Simple Steps to Publishing Success

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Who are you?  You are an author, an informed author.  Maybe you don’t have a lot of experience yet, but you will.  You will exude confidence in the publishing world.  Just make sure you do your homework.

Know the INDUSTRY STANDARD FOR MANUSCRIPT FORMATTING

  • For printed manuscripts, use 8 ½ X 11-inch, white paper (use only one side of the paper).  Ask if you may send your ms. electronically.  Many publishers will ask for both.
  • Set 1- to 1 ½-inch margins all around.
  • Use 12-point standard typeface: Times New Roman, Courier, Ariel
  • No end-of-the-line hyphenated words or justified right margin.
  • Double-space the entire manuscript.
  • Indent paragraphs.
  • No additional spacing between paragraphs.  Be careful here.  Word will sometimes automatically put in extra spacing.  Check your settings.
  • Add identifying information, your byline, and the header:
    • Type your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address in the upper left corner, single-spaced. In the upper right corner, type the word count. You can round the word count up to the nearest hundred or the nearest ten in short pieces, if you’d like.
    • Drop down about halfway on the first page and center your title. Your byline goes beneath it. These are double-spaced.
    • On page two (and subsequent pages), add a header that includes your title, last name, and page numbers.

 

Write your Letter of Introduction.  Sample from Windy Lynn Harris, www.windylynnharris.com #windylynnharris

Fabulous Writer (you)

Your address here

And here

 

November 20th, 2017

 

Jane Doe, editor

The Perfect Magazine

107 N. Robertson St.

New York, NY  10028

 

Dear Ms. Doe:

I’m submitting my 600 word humorous essay, “Magical Words for Marrieds,” for your review. I think it would be a great fit with other essays I read in your magazine.

This story was created as I reflected on my thirty-five years of marriage. I am a member of Wise Women Write and have been published recently in The Chick-Lit Review.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Fabulous Writer

Phone:  xxx-xxx-xxxx

Email:  xxxxxxxxxxx

 

Encl:  Manuscript and SASE

See Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide to Getting Yor work Published, Windy Lynn Harris, Writer’s Digest Books

Tomorrow we will discuss what to do when you send in your manuscript and hear no response.  Again, more simple solutions.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

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RMFW held its Colorado Gold Conference this weekend in Denver, CO. #RMFW2017 http://www.RMFW.org @RMFWriters

I have been encouraging new writers to join an organization. It is the number one way to improve your writing, get the latest information on the publishing industry, get help for your stuck points, practice pitches, and talk to agents, editors, and publishers.  This conference targeted new writers.  Tons and tons of workshops and panels, tons and tons of experts willing to give you some individual time, and lots of master classes for the already accomplished author.

AND we got to meet Diana Gabaldon, author of the OUTLANDER series, which premiered on STARZ last night.

Throughout the week, I will be posting sage advice I gleaned from the conference and pass that along to you in segments.

You can join for as little as $45.  Check out the online classes, free help sessions, and monthly events–all designed to make you a better writer.

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Tips for First-time Authors

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How to I start?

Typically, you pitch an idea or send a query letter before you write an entire manuscript that may or may not be accepted.  Don’t pitch to a company that doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.  Don’t pitch a romance to a company that specializes in mystery or a children’s book to a company that specializes in adult literature.  Do your homework.  Check websites or get access to the Writer’s Market.

Do I send everything?

Never write or submit more than an idea or several chapters  It’s unrealistic to expect one or more people to drop a current project and read your 50,000 words overnight.

What about a contract?

Never work without a contract.  Contracts vary from company to company.  Again, unless you are Stephen King, Lady Gaga, or a Real Housewife, don’t expect millions in signing bonuses.  Traditional publishing houses are not going to extend any offer until you have proven yourself profitable.  Small publishing houses don’t make those kinds of offers.

How long before I publish my book?

Just because you have finished writing, or assume you have a final product, that is not true.  You are now in the hands of several editors and the editing process.  And unless you are Ernest Hemingway, you need those editors.  (See my blog about the publishing process and what does an editor do.)

You want the best for your “baby.”  There are short cuts, but that doesn’t guarantee your baby will be healthy and thrive.

 

Are Your Dreams of Being Hemingway Dissolving? Don’t Despair!

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You might start out with a plan, but after you write a while, your writing can take on a life of its own and lead you down another path.  Don’t despair. “[T]hat’s the great thing about fiction. We use it for entertainment, and we also use it to explain and understand our lives. We only make sense of what has happened to us when we can tell it as a story. I’ve used my fiction to deal with 9/11, the War on Terror, aging, death, wealth, poverty and a host of other issues. I just happened to include the undead and werewolves and spies while I did it.

Five books in, this is the one lesson I can say I’ve learned, the one thing I can tell any aspiring writer: Write what you want. Even if it includes lizard people or Atlantis. If people don’t like what you like, write it again, and make it better until they do. But never be ashamed of your enthusiasms.”

Read more of “I dreamed of being Hemingway and ended up a pulp fiction writer” at http://nypost.com/2016/08/14/i-dreamed-of-being-hemingway%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8b-but-ended-up-a-pulp-fiction-writer/

Does Your Book Follow the “Code”?

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Jodie Archer had always been puzzled by the success of The Da Vinci Code. She’d worked for Penguin UK in the mid-2000s, when Dan Brown’s thriller had become a massive hit, and knew there was no way marketing alone would have led to 80 million copies sold. So what was it, then? Something magical about the words that Brown had strung together? Dumb luck? The questions stuck with her even after she left Penguin in 2007 to get a PhD in English at Stanford. There she met Matthew L. Jockers, a cofounder of the Stanford Literary Lab, whose work in text analysis had convinced him that computers could peer into books in a way that people never could.

Soon the two of them went to work on the “bestseller” problem: How could you know which books would be blockbusters and which would flop, and why? Over four years, Archer and Jockers fed 5,000 fiction titles published over the last 30 years into computers and trained them to “read”—to determine where sentences begin and end, to identify parts of speech, to map out plots. They then used so-called machine classification algorithms to isolate the features most common in bestsellers.

The result of their work—detailed in The Bestseller Code, out this month—is an algorithm built to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which novels will become mega-bestsellers. What does it like? Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No sex, just “human closeness.” Frequent use of the verb “need.” Lots of contractions. Not a lot of exclamation marks. Dogs, yes; cats, meh. In all, the “bestseller-ometer” has identified 2,799 features strongly associated with bestsellers.

If you’d like to read more, this article is available at https://www.wired.com/2016/09/bestseller-code/

Copyright: What Do You Own?

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If you have written a manuscript wherein you created original characters, plot development, and theme, that manuscript belongs to you and should be cited in a book by the copyright symbol.  Should you require more protection, you can register that copyright.

However, in most circles, copyright is respected.  Even an editor cannot significantly change the nature of your manuscript without written permission.  An editor DOESN’T rewrite material.  If you are thinking of turning your first draft into a publishing company, let me stop you in your tracks.  You should turn in your BEST draft, knowing that there is still work to be done.

Poetry gets very tricky.  Every word, every punctuation mark is crucial and fragile.  To present anything but your best is to turn it over to a subjective microscope whereby your true meaning may or may not be expressed. If you are writing poetry without knowledge of rhyme or rhythm, Dr. Seuss is a great way to get started. Poetry for children should follow the rules; adults can function with more abstract language.

An editor should honor your style and try to maintain your syntax, but sometimes there are alternative ways to accomplish the same goal.  Keep your eyes wide open.