All About the Authors

Helping edit, publish, and market your book.

Category: Networking

The Wonder of a Workshop

groupIt’s been 10 years since I attended my first writer’s workshop, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a pretty small workshop, with the three basic genres you find at most workshops: fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. The real draw for me was the faculty. One of the three was Sherri Reynolds. I had heard her speak while I was a college student, and read some of her books. I was in love with her passion and excitement for writing, and knew that I would be inspired just being around her.

I was probably an anomaly at the workshop. I wasn’t really “working” on anything, so to speak. I haven’t written a novel, I don’t write poetry, and at the time I wasn’t even trying to write short stories. But I was making a living as a freelancer doing editing and writing jobs, and I figured the workshop would be a great way to improve my writing skills, as well as serve as inspiration and also some practice for when I did find time to start writing the fiction I’d always dreamed about.

It was a short three-day conference, but the experiences I took away from it were priceless. I’ve attended a few other one-day conferences here and there, and every time I come away armed with inspiration and great feedback and advice. Here are a few reasons why I think writer’s conferences and workshops are a good investment.

  1. You get a chance to be around other writers. For most of us, writing is pretty much a solitary endeavor. And it can sometimes get lonely. Attending a conference gives you a chance to be around other writers, where you can share your ideas and frustrations with a group of peers who understand, because they’re going through the same thing.
  1. The feedback. Need I say more? Whether you get feedback from the faculty or other attendees, or both, it’s always good in helping improve your writing.
  1. Networking. If you’re working on something that you hope to one day get published, attending a conference is a great way to meet other writers and make connections that can help you out down the road. You might meet someone who knows an editor or an agent that would be helpful, or other writers who could serve as reviewers for your book once it’s published.
  1. Fresh ideas. As I said at the beginning of this list, writing is often something we do alone, and because of that it might be harder to find ways of doing what some professions call continuing education. Writers workshops and conferences are a good way to get out and find out what’s new in the publishing industry, new trends in the writing world, and even fresh ideas when it comes to style and tone.
  1. A chance to try something new. This might not be true for everyone, but it was for me. In my work I mostly write non-fiction. But I attended a workshop in the fiction genre, to experiment and go outside my comfort zone. It was exhilarating. Some people might not want to do that, if you’re a poet and need to focus on your poetry, it’s fine to stick to one thing. But the opportunity to try something new exists.

It’s pretty easy to find a conference that’s affordable enough and close enough to make it worthwhile to attend. Poets & Writers has a great database that you can use to find something near you. And if you can’t make it to a conference, you can join a local writer’s group. You get a lot of the same benefits there, free, local and on a regular basis!

Get social in just 30 minutes a day!

Tina Siadak - Wedding Shower 5-3-16 010All of us are working on so many things every day that it’s hard to carve out time to connect with our friends and followers through social media. Let’s face it, some people enjoy social media more than others, and some are just better at it. But, for those of us hard pressed for extra time, what if it’s possible to build our online conversations in just 30 minutes a day?

That’s right, begin each weekday (or whatever time works best for you) with a 30-minute social media program. You’ll find that your social network will build quickly over time and hopefully, using it will be more fun.

Use the channels that are most familiar to you and your fans. And, those that fit your demographic e.g. women ages 25-55.  For example, if Facebook is a good tool in reaching your fans – one that you use frequently — this is a good place to start. I use Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email marketing. If there are others that work well with your book topic such as Pinterest, use those in lieu of these or in addition to your preferred social media.

Here’s a look at a five-day social media plan using just 30 minutes a day:

Monday

  • Brainstorm ideas for Facebook and Twitter posts that your fans and readers will find interesting and that relate to you and your book. Remember that you want to start conversations that others will respond to. Next, draft a few. (10 minutes)
  • Begin writing a brief blog post (300-500 words) about one of the ideas you came up with (10 minutes)
  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections. Also, build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they reach larger networks. (10 minutes)

Tuesday

  • Finish your blog post and post it if you haven’t already. Definitely use a picture if you have one or can find one without copyright issues. Make sure that you include a link to the post on your social media posts to gain greater readership. (10 minutes)
  • Respond to comments from readers (5 minutes)
  • Draft an email newsletter in Constant Contact or Mail Chimp with good information about your book topic that augments the information you’ve posted on your blog and that’s meaningful to your reader community. For example, if your book is about hiking in North Carolina, include a meeting of a hiking group or a newly discovered trail. (15 minutes)

Wednesday

  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections; build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they are reach larger networks. (10 minutes)
  • Respond to any comments on your blog (5 minutes)
  • Go through your Facebook and Twitter feed to respond to those in your network – be interested in them and they’ll be interested in you! Add new posts of your own. (15 minutes)

Thursday

  • Finish and send your email newsletter and then send out social media posts with a link to the sign-up page on your blog or website. (10 minutes)
  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections; build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they are reach larger networks. (10 minutes)
  • Go through your Facebook and Twitter feed to respond to those in your network. (10 minutes)

Friday

  • Respond to anyone who’s commented on your blog post or Enewsletter. If they express interest in your book, let them know the publish date or if already published, where they can get your book. Pre-orders prior to publication rock! (10 minutes)
  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections; build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they are reach larger networks (10 minutes)
  • Add new fans to your mailing list or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database so that you can send them announcements about exciting upcoming events or happenings. (10 minutes)

Are you ready to give it a try at least for two weeks? If you get in the social media habit, I think you’ll be amazed at the results. Just remember to check your messages, especially on FaceBook. Your connections and conversations will grow exponentially but you have to keep them going. Bon chance!

 

Facebook for Writers

fblogoFacebook can be a great marketing tool. It’s a good way to build a network with other writers, to build relationships with people who are or will be reading your work, and to promote things like book signings and events. It can even help sell books, but don’t depend on it for a lot of direct sales. Using Facebook for marketing is all about building relationships and drawing traffic to your website, and that’s where you sell the books.

It’s highly likely that you’re already on Facebook. According to Facebook’s stats, in December 2015 there were 1.04 billion daily active users. Something I find even more interesting is that 24 percent of non-adapters use someone else’s account. So even people who say they aren’t on Facebook are on Facebook!

The question for writers is, how do I set up my Facebook presence? Do I want a personal profile page, where people can “friend” me and feel like we’re having personal, private, friendly conversations? Or do I want what Facebook calls a Business page, something separate from my personal profile?

For writers, you have a choice. Some choose the profile for their “author” page, mostly because they don’t really want to have a private presence on Facebook anyway, and that way they only have to worry about one page. But I recommend using a business page for your author site and your writing presence on Facebook. Here are the reasons I feel a business page is better than a personal profile for writers.

  • Keeping personal separate. Having a business page helps delineate your personal life from your work life. Even though as writers we do share some personal things with our writing network/base, like where we are in our writing, how we’re suffering from writer’s block, or the interminable search for an agent, it’s not really the appropriate place to post things like your kid losing his first tooth or your favorite crockpot recipe. It’s nice to have a personal profile page for those family posts, and a business page for your other posts.
  • Analytics. Facebook’s business pages are equipped with analytics so you can see, in real time, how many views each posts gets. It also tracks the likes, shares, and comments of each post, so you can see which ones garner more interaction.
  • Unlimited number of likes. A personal profile page only lets you have 5,000 friends. There is no limit to how many likes you can have on a business page. So hopefully someday we’ll all be as successful as Diana Gabaldon, who has over 571,000 followers.
  • The Facebook Scheduler app. I’m not a huge fan of scheduling Facebook posts, because I think they need to be in the moment and relevant, but there are times when it comes in handy to schedule a few posts ahead of time. With a business page, you can use the Facebook app, which allows you to schedule posts ahead of time without sacrificing the number of views that post might get.

It’s really a personal preference for writers whether you want to launch a business page or not. But if you’re hoping to really build your brand and reach out to a lot of people, a business page is the way to go.

It’s your party! 5 Tips for a Great Book Event

Burkhalter 1Here’s the awesome part! It’s time to tell everyone about your book. Hopefully, you’ve already launched your website or blog and built relationships via social media. So, the buzz has begun. Now, you can begin planning your book signing event or events. Your first step is securing your location/s. Then, begin planning for each event.

Follow these five tips for a great book event:

  1. Once you secure your location, work with the bookstore or other retailer. Speak to the person handling the event for the store and find out what she or he will do to promote the event. Most bookstores look to their authors to bring in traffic for the event so coordinate your own efforts with those of the bookstore.
  1. Then, create buzz for your book(s) with press releases that dovetail with social media including Facebook, Twitter posts and LinkedIn as well as email marketing via a newsletter or Call-to-Action marketing piece letting the media and your fans know about the event. You might offer a sample chapter and author information to your local newspaper, magazine and radio station and ask for an interview before your book signing. Your community papers and local radio stations are the best media sources for getting the word out.Burkhalter 5
  1. Develop collateral materials and giveaways including postcards, posters and bookmarks. Send postcards to friends and family with a handwritten note before the event and keep them handy on your table. Several posters displayed in the store as well as one at your table are great point-of-display items that will create interest. Also, ask nearby retailers if they’ll display your information, too. Contact special interest groups like the local Chamber, arts society, your book community, or any other group relating to your book’s topic.
  1. Practice your presentation and/or reading. This helps you be more comfortable in front of a crowd especially when you’re not following a structured speech. Many authors are more relaxed when they speak less formally but it’s always a good idea to have at least an outline of what you’d like to talk about. And, if you’re doing a reading, make sure that you practice reading the excerpt aloud on your own. Most authors talk for about 20 to 30 minutes and then open up for questions from the audience. Have a few of your own handy to get the conversation started.Burkhalter 4
  2. Have a friend on hand to help. When your table gets mobbed by readers as you hope it will, a friend can hand out bookmarks and giveaways, replenish your books, ask customers to join the email list, make announcements, and take pictures of the event. You’ll want to post these on social media as soon as the event is over with a short write-up about the event. Also, send it out to the same media contacts who may run a photo or two with a caption.

There are so many great ways to promote yourself and make the most of the event.  Have fun and do as much as you can to make it successful.  You can always add special touches like food, wine and a designer cake to make the event a celebration.  After all, it’s your party!

6 Steps to beginning your book marketing campaign

couple reading booksBeginning your book marketing campaign can be daunting. The key is to begin well in advance of your book’s publication, know your goals and expectations, and make productive and sustainable choices about the publicity for your book and your identity as a writer. Here is a list of six steps that will (hopefully) clarify the process:

1.  Let your fans know about your book

The first step is letting your fans and potential readers know about your book. But it’s often confusing and overwhelming to begin a marketing and publicity program. There are so many choices available today including traditional media as well as online social media resources. Begin with those most familiar to you and your fans. For example, if Facebook is a good tool in reaching your fans – one that you use frequently — this is a good place to start.

2.  Determine your goals and expectations

Your path to book sales also depends in large part on your expectations and personal goals. Your book publicist is a resource and guide through all the myriad media outlets, but you are critical to your book’s success.  Is your goal to sell a certain number of books? Or, is it to gain recognition of a cause that’s near and dear to your heart?

3. Start well in advance

Learn as much as you can about publicity and marketing well in advance of your book’s publication date. Talk with your publisher’s publicist or marketing manager for guidance. Once you’ve determined your goals and expectations, and thoughtfully plotted a three- or six-month strategy, you can decide whether working with a publicist makes sense for you.

4.  Advantages of working with a publicist

One of the advantages of working with a publicist is that he or she can offer you needed exposure to media. Your publicist has the expertise to develop a list of media and bookstores that are best for you—saving time and energy. Publicists will also make the media calls for you. Although it’s necessary to make an investment in publicity, in the long run it’s much less expensive than traditional advertising and more credible. It also saves you time so you can do what you enjoy and do best—write.

5.  Make productive and sustainable marketing choices

As an author, remember that you’re in it for the long haul. Develop a campaign that reflects your values, is comfortable for you to implement, and that is sustainable over time. If you create a website or blog, make sure that you post to it regularly and that you include information that’s interesting to your readers apart from your book. Do this with your social media as well. The goal for all your online and traditional media is communication, and developing a following is all about being interesting. Thoughtful, funny and informational posts will go a long way in building loyalty.

6.  Decide if a publicist is right for you

When you interview potential publicists, ask them if they will regularly update you on their progress and provide you with information such as media lists, a schedule of media outreach, follow-up results, and any other outreach they may do for you. An experienced book publicist can be a valuable, effective partner who will offer education and direction, and can increase your book’s visibility in a very crowded, noisy field.

Photo credit: Copyright Erin Kelly at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ekelly89/7030239035.

 

Basics of Beta Readers

If you’ve ever encountered a beta website, chances are you’ve run into a kink while using it. The term beta means something is in test mode. In the case of beta readers, it’s your manuscript being tested, not the readers themselves.

Betas: Readers, Not Fish

Betas: Readers, Not Fish

What Is a Beta Reader?

A beta reader is someone who enjoys reading and is willing to give honest feedback on an unpublished manuscript. Beta readers are not book reviewers. While it would be nice if your beta readers left a review for you after you publish, it’s not part of their job description. Beta readers are not professional editors, either.

 

 

Who Makes a Good Beta Reader (and Who Does Not)?

Family members are the worst beta readers. Too often they either offer meaningless feedback (I love it. You’re so talented.) because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, or they cut you to the quick with their jealousy (This was the worst drivel I’ve ever read. What makes you think you’re a writer?).

Critique partners can fall on either side of the fence. Because critique partners are also writers, they understand nuances of story construction or character development that are lost on a casual reader. They can give you meaningful advice that will improve your manuscript. Sometimes, though, writers have a hard time not imposing their writing style and ideas on others’ work. Proceed with caution if asking a critique partner to beta read your full manuscript.

The best betas are readers in your target audience. If you don’t know who your target audience is, figure that out ASAP.

How Do You Find the Best Beta Readers?

Shoot to work with three to five beta readers.

Use networking connections to find content experts if you’re writing nonfiction. If you’re writing a middle grade novel, ask a teacher or a librarian if they can introduce you to students who would read your book and tell you what they think (get parental permission, of course).

Look for people that enjoy reading, know something about writing, and/or won’t be afraid to give you constructive feedback. If you are really struggling to find quality beta readers in your circles, you can hire beta readers.

Best Practices When Working with a Beta Reader?

  • Be clear about your genre, description, and manuscript length.
  • Set a reasonable deadline. Gently nudge the reader if they miss the deadline. (Side note: if they keep putting you off, chances are they couldn’t get into your book and don’t intend to read it. If you suspect this to be the case, asking directly may be your best bet.)
  • Give your beta reader(s) guiding questions to think about while reading. This will help ensure you get feedback that you can use. Explain that you want feedback on content, not on word level edits (spelling mistakes and the like).
  • thank-you-textBe gracious. If you haven’t paid for this service, be sure to send a thank you note. You may even want to include a small gift card or other treat if their feedback was especially helpful.

 

What Do You Do with the Feedback?

Wait until you’ve received feedback from all your beta readers before you make any decisions about revisions. Read through their feedback and then sit with it for a period of time to digest it. Take note of areas that your beta readers agree need revision. But maybe ignore the suggestion that doesn’t resonate. Then get busy incorporating changes.

Beta readers are a valuable part of the publishing process. Take the time to utilize them and improve your manuscript. It’s worth it.

7 Things about Book Marketing You Want To Know

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Build demand with consistent messages or “viral marketing”

Hey, is it catching? You certainly hope so! As an author, you want to get the message out to as many people as possible about you and your book. Viral marketing is contagious and describes marketing on the Internet. You goal is to entice people to share your information with their friends, who then share with their friends, and so on. It spreads like a virus if your message is creative and on point.

Be accessible

Authors who are available for comment for news stories in print, radio or television, are sought out by reporters who cover their topic, industry or expertise. Guest columns on social media are another great way to keep yourself and your book in the news. Media and website owners will seek you out – and keep seeking you out — if you’re accessible.  Self-promotion builds if you make it a point to be available, are on-time for the interview, if you’re well-spoken (or written), and keep your promises.

This publicity is free and frees you up to do what you like best – writing. An effective first step is letting media know your availability and including your contact information on all correspondence. Then, stay in touch, especially is there’s a newsworthy event that relates to you and your book. When someone cancels at the last minute, you might be next in line for an interview.

Keep showing up

Why should you keep showing up even if it seems like you’re making little headway? Because it takes five, seven – or even 10 impressions before media and fans begin recognizing you and your book. It used to be the “rule of three” impressions to make an effect in advertising and marketing but now there are so many ways to send your message and so much noise (static from everyone else sending messages) that it’s better to just keep sending them so that you’ll be heard. A caveat is not to annoy reporters by contacting them too frequently. Just remain persistent and helpful. And, remember, double check your contacts to make sure your message is going to the right person or people.

Make them care

Creating empathy with your audience connects you and your book in the same way you’d connect with a friend. Today, relationship marketing pulls at the heart and core beliefs of your followers. Everyone wants to be understood so your mission is to connect on a deeper level than just telling them the facts. What about you and your book is important to your audience? At a book event that I attended this weekend, I was able to hear the story behind many books directly from the authors and all of them were connecting through the heart. For example, Jo Anne Normile, author of memoir Saving Baby, discussed her passion for horse rescue and how it’s transformed her life. And, beyond the passion for horses that I’m sure many people share, a portion of the proceeds from each book sale provides funding for the Saving Baby Equine Charity. You want your reader and fans to believe that you’re talking directly to him or her – and you are.

Find or target your audience

As an author, chances are that you defined your “target” audience before you even began writing your book. This market is the right group to target for your marketing messages. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone is your audience. Age group alone segments book audiences e.g. Young Adult literature, and gender is key. Envision your target and speak to them. In fact, if you haven’t done it yet, write down a detailed description of your reader. Geography is also a good way to segment your audience. Is your book classified as Southern fiction? Or, is it set in the northeast along the coast? All these factors further define your target audience and give you a starting point for marketing.

Next, you’ll want to brainstorm what best matches your audience’s beliefs, opinions, attitudes or intentions. “Every day brings something good!” is the central message within Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall, now deceased.  Although Carol chronicled her battle with cancer, the overriding message is that life is uplifting if you open your heart. Her friendship with a gardener from Kenya had to do with much more than gardening and is an inspiration for readers looking for this message about life and living.

Write effective marketing pieces

Writing effective marketing pieces is entirely different than writing a book and for some it’s a daunting task. The best marketing pieces are short and catchy. Whatever you’re writing – press releases, letters, website content or an email blast – remember to focus on your reader. First, write a headline that’s succinct, to the point, and interesting. A rule of thumb for email messages is no more than six words in the subject line. I sometimes use more if needed to get the message across. If it’s a press release about an event such as a book launch, I usually include the day and time to express urgency. Next, connect with your readers on a deeper level than just the facts. Telling them some of your story is a great way of connecting. Write copy that talks to your readers directly and include a call to action. This is a direct communication to come to your book launch, buy your book, find out more, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.

Follow-up

Follow-up – or the lack of follow-up – can sink your marketing campaign. All of us struggle with what feels like a sales call. I generally wait until I’m relaxed and have a “smile in my voice” before picking up the phone to follow-up with media or other contacts. If you follow up consistently, with a genuine desire to build an ongoing relationship, people will be receptive. A good guide is to set up a simple list of contacts and make notes regarding date of contact and comments. Then, mark dates to follow-up with them. You’ll build relationships that will be win-win.

Blind Dates and Editing Samples

There are many reasons that I’m grateful for my husband, but I’m especially appreciative that I will never have to go on a blind date again. I know some folks hit the jackpot when their friend sets them up with their roommate’s cousin’s brother. My best friend is living proof that a blind date can turn into a lifetime romance. That said, horror stories abound, like the time you faked a seaweed allergy just to get rid of a bad date, never mind the fact that you chose the sushi restaurant.blind date
Yahoo, no more blind dates for me! Except I’m an editor. And every time I open my inbox and see an email from a potential client, I’m reminded how much editing samples are like blind dates.
1. It’s a Cold Call.
Most often a request for a sample edit comes from a stranger. He found me online and liked my website. She got my name from a friend.
2. Make Small Talk.
We exchange witty emails. I try to dazzle them by sounding fun and professional. Who wants to date a boring editor? Little does the prospect know I spend ten minutes agonizing over the greeting.
3. Online Stalking Commences.
In the interim of email exchanges, we check each other out on social media. We reach out to any connections to get the skinny. Believe me, I don’t want to work with a prima donna lunatic who will leave me in the lurch when it’s time to send payment. And the prospect wants to make sure that my red pen isn’t deadly.
4. A Date Is Set.
If we’ve both passed the initial hurdles, we set a date for a sample edit. The prospect scrounges for the best material to send me. They worry that I’ll think the sample is fat or ugly or boring. I sweat over the sample, spending longer than I should. I worry they’ll think my editing style is out of shape or arrogant or cheap. We agonize over the moment of the truth.
5. If All Goes Well, We’ll Get Naked.
No, not really! But kind of. Metaphorically speaking. If the material is a good fit for me and the prospect likes my style, we dance. We agree to fees and schedules. And then we get busy. Editing, of course.
While I may never have to endure another painful meal with a stranger that I’m hoping will be my man, I do have to put myself out there with each prospective client. The next time you’re looking for an editor, remember they’re probably just as nervous as you are to make a good impression.
Be sure to subscribe to see what I have to say about the best ways to find an editor in the Wild West market of today’s publishing industry. And tell me in the comments what questions you have about finding an editor. Or entertain me with a blind date horror story. 