Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Writer's resources

You might want to visit Para Publishing this week.  The site offers many resources for writers in many areas: fiction, non-fiction, promotion, publishing and more.  While you're there you might try out his free newsletter.  It was recommended by a publishing friend of mine and I've been happy to get it.  Since it is pretty broad-ranging you  might not find something every week for you, but there are enough kernels of information there each week to keep me skimming along in search of the next pearl. 

I'll be taking a break from this blog for the next week so you won't see anything  new.  But don't forget to check back Dec. 6 for  my next new post.  See you then!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writer Beware - Agent Scams

We writers are generally a trusting lot.  We want to believe the 'agents' out there are going to represent us, get a sale and we'll both profit. 

And, most of the time there's validity to that hope/belief.  Most agents are legit, trying to make a living, and get downright excited on  many levels when their clients succeed.

But, there are the bad apples in the lot, as there are in any industry, and it's a good idea to know what red flags to watch for. 

Here are a few I've experienced or known about:

A.. Think about it carefully if an agent solicits you.  I got stung by this once earlier in my career after a couple of books had been published.  I loved the fact he approached me to represent me, but didn't do my research thoroughly enough and got stung.  That guy turned out to be a jerk of monumental proportions.  There are times an agent may approach you and it could be a very good thing, but don't just jump.  Check out the situation thoroughly first. Then decide.

B  If the agent you've contacted tells you your work is wonderful, fabulous, you're going to get rich - right after he/she does the needed editing - at a price, run, don't walk, in the other direction.

C. The agent charges a fee to read your manuscript.  Nope, no way.  Don't do it.

D. If an agent offers a contract the day after you sent your manuscript for his/her consideration, back off.  Be realistic.  Anyone needs some time to read your work.  If the offer is too quick you can be sure it hasn't been read.  So why, then, would he/she want to represent you?  Think about it.

E. Now here's one that should give every writer pause.  If the agent you've contacted replies with a letter that's written poorly and has many spelling errors think again.  And if his/her favorite manner of communication is through a form letter and he/she can't be bothered to pick up the phone or jot you a quick Email in response to a question or an opportunity, then this probably isn't the agent for you.

F. If an agent comes up with excuses as to why he/she can't/won't tell you who else they represent, consider it a warning.

G.  If you have an agent who 'represents' you, but dodges phone calls, never talks to you and doesn't want to discuss your work and where it's being sent, this is a very bad sign.  Run.

With all these warnings you might be thinking, gads, who wants an agent?  But as I said above, there are many reputable and great agents.  Just do your homework. Check out the red flags. If you see any whether from your own checking or hearing from other writers, keep looking. A reputable agent will recognize you are his/her client and your success is their success.  Don't let an agent intimidate you because he/she knows the business and you don't.  If the relationship doesn't feel comfortable from the start - then don't start it.

Keep looking.

Here are a few references that might be of help to you:
Agent Query   

Use your twitter account - search #agents #agencies #LiteraryAgents and be creative and thik of more and see what you come up with.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Introverted Writers Unite!

Seriously, writers, have you thought of how lucky us introverted types are to be writing in this age of the net?  There was the day when publishers very much preferred the author who as an extrovert.  One who got out there, hit the road, promoted his or her work with book signings, school visits, talks and more.  Writers who would get their faces out there and make of themselves, celebrities.  After all, it doesn't take a whole lot of work to promote when the writer already has a following, a 'brand' and a fan club. 

Can't blame them for that, really, they want to sell books.  Writers on the other hand just want to be left alone, emphasis on 'alone', to write their books.

So, the idea of going out, doing radio interviews, appearing on television and book signings doesn't cut it with most writers who are, at heart, introverts. 

But things are changing.  Us introverted writers have to open our eyes and realize ant those things are not the only ways to promote - or these days even the most effective ways to promote your books.  Us introverts have suddenly become much more valuable and at the same time have many more choices open to us. 

Yep, today, folks aren't reading print so much as they're online. There's a whole lot of reading going on, but it isn't the printed page. These days the writer can stay at home, write and promote.

Just think about it.  Amazon offers the opportunity for reviews by readers.  Book bloggers review as well, and the right blogger can be mighty influential.

Today, writers can send out review copies in Ebook format or in  hard copy. They can draft news releases, create their own blogs, mention their books in their Email signatures, Tweet, put up a Facebook page and much more.  Social media is the way to go, the way to say hi to your readers, get your face out there, and never leave home.

Ah, the new age for the new writer. Social media is where the readers, the buyers are and the introvert writers likes to spend time online, meet their readers and make new friends. 

Now tell me who's valuable?

 **note to my readers - this blog is posted a bit early as my office is about to be torn up for some construction...I think/hope I'll be able to post as usual next week though I may miss a Writers Wednesday Post this week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - GoodReads

Reader? Writer?  Have you stumbled on Good Reads yet?  Its an excellent site for both writers and readers. Readers can find great new books to read, folks to recommend them, groups to discuss them and giveaways to get free books and sometimes special deals. 

Writers get a great opportunity to connect with readers, to chat with them, to get their newest book into their hands and perhaps reviewed. A great community -take a bit of time to check it out.  

In fact, just for reading this far, I'll offer you 50% off my Global Ebook Award finalist novel, Stormrider.  Click this link and use promotional code SL67D at checkout. Take advantage of me while you can. The offer is good until the next Writers Website Wednesday post - November 16.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Marketing Your Novel - Tips & Insights

Come on, you know you're going to have to do it.  You're going to have to bite the bullet and put some time and, yes, money into the marketing of your novel whether you've self-published or published with a House.

When I mention money it's because in all probability you'll be putting in at least some real time appearances and will find yourself in the position of being asked for take-aways either from folks at a signing or personal appearance or from folks who put together 'goody bags' for conventions and conferences or maybe from bloggers who do giveaways for their readers.

So, while you can give away a copy of your Ebook easily online with no cost to you really, there are other things that work that are going to cost you something. And you probably want to keep a few things on hand so  as to avoid the mad scramble of trying to get personalized items on short notice.

So let's talk about some ideas.

Bookmarks with a picture of your book cover and your info on them are great.  They aren't the best for bookstores or conferences since almost everyone is handing them out there.  But I woldn't say no either.

Postcards are a great item.  They give you a bit more space to work with - book cover on one side, your book & personal info on the other, and maybe some space left to give to a fan with an autograph.  And I've seen a lot of folks using them as bookmarks so that postcard might have a longer life than we might expect. VistaPrint is one resource, there are many others. You can even  make a calendar there if you have enough material to creatively fill 12 'spots' of the year - then offer them as prizes or giveaways.

Buttons can be kind of cool and people frequently leave them pinned to things like totes, backpacks and vests.  Thing is, don't get one too clunking large and avoid the very tiny. Design is very important here.  Maybe just a bit of your cover and the website.

Magnets remain popular with people and they frequently find their way up onto refrigerators or stuck in cars or on the side of filing cabinets. That makes them a great giveaway and not too expensive either.

If your book is in  hard copy, be prepared to give some copies away.  Take advantage of the special price your publisher gives you and get them into the hands of reviewers, contest winners and the like. People love free stuff.  Ebook?  Even easier. And with an Ebook you can have cards printed up with a website where the book can be downloaded free.

There are plenty of other ways to promote yourself as well.  You can blog and work with other bloggers to do some cross-promoting and cross-bloggng.  If you don't want to have your own blog (and that's all right) you might be able to do the occasional 'guest blog' at a sight you like.  Contact the site's owner and ask. 

Do participate in some social networking - Twitter, Facebook, and others are out there. The goal is to make that persomal connection with your readers. To be real, and accessible.

What about personal appearances.  Yep, it's a good idea to do some of those as well.  The Book Tour isn't what it used to be, but getting your face out there is a big help.  Book signings are okay, and can be fun, but not the first line of attack these days. 

Book festivals are better.  Conferences are good.  School visits, if you write for that  age group are good too.

 You might think about getting a few T-shirts or coffee mugs with your book cover and info as giveaways.  That can get pricy, but a few, as contest prizes or special bonuses can be a good idea.  Cafe press is one place you can design and create your own 'stuff.'  There are others, maybe even locally, look
around.  The advantage of Cafe Press is you can order as little as one or two and you can create a store right there online if you want to 'sell' those T-shirts and mugs, etc. as a sideline. 

So make some effort, be creative, think of little things like pens or pencils, cards or postcards, notebooks and such you can stamp with your personal book cover and get into peoples' hands. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writers Websites Wednesday - Off The Bookshelf

A site worth visiting for Readers and Writers - Off The Bookshelf offers for the readers print books, Ebook, audio books and more.  For the Writer there're tools for publishing, a cover art, Ebook converter and author services.  Spend a bit of time and look around. Times they are a changin' - and fast - good to keep up on what's available.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writing To An Audience or From Your Heart

--Or both.

Sigh, I thinks most writers have been told to write to the market. To train yourself by reading other books, books in your genre and out, books that are loved by reading groups and book clubs, books that win awards!

It's not a bad strategy in many regards. Writers must read. And studying the market is a plus, just as long as you add to that approach, the realization that you need to write to your strengths as well. 

Hopefully when you do it will all coalesce and you will be able to write to an audience you love where you can display your writing strengths and really pull a rabbit out of a hat. 
But, if that magic combination doesn't happen, then I strongly recommend you reconsider and direct your efforts to writing what you write best - THEN find your market. 
It's true, "the market"  can be a good thing, but just as true is the fact that markets can dry up, what was popular yesterday could well be defunct today. In other words, "the market" can crash. 

So, how to ensure you're not writing to a dying market? First, nothing is a 100% guarantee.  Sorry, just doesn't exist. 
Next, remember 'the market' is in constant change. Elements come and go.  Genres add back corners and subgenres. Yes, you need to be aware of the market, to track it, to constantly evaluate where your work fits in. To be aware of current market favorites and to be able to edit your book to fit current trends. Can a setting be changed, rural to urban, can the hero or heroine's job be transformed from one field to another? Can your narration be shifted from first to third or third to first? Can you add a sidekick, or another character to breathe more life into your plot?
But all the while, and I'll admit this sounds like I'm being contrary here, the most important thing is that the author remain fixed on his or her own voice and vision. Trends come and go.  The 'hot' market fades and something else surges to the fore. 
Instead of following the crowd wouldn't it be much better to be the writer who's writing what you love, telling your story with the greatest zeal, creating a new path, perhaps a new genre or subgenre?
Success is not guaranteed by that route either.  Not every new idea, every new leading edge created out of enthusiasm and passion will sell.  But the writer (unless a superstar) is not guaranteed a sale by writing to the market either. 
Balance is what is needed.  Awareness, familiarity with what's churning through the market, coupled with what you love to write will tip the odds in your favor.

Other Posts Of Interest:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...