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SPAWNews Newsletter – April 2011

by SusanDaffron on April 1, 2011

For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews: editor@spawn.org.

Those of you who are SPAWN members, be sure to visit the Members Only Area to read this month’s Market Update. Go to http://www.spawn.org and click Log In. You will be asked for your username and password.
If you are not a member, join now online: http://www.spawn.org/join.htm

From the President

Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!

Today, I have been really busy because we just opened registration for the third annual Self-Publishers Online Conference. SPAWN is a sponsor again this year.

If you’re reading this newsletter (or the resulting blog post), you can get a discount. Go to the site and when you register, be sure to put SPAWN11 in the coupon field and you’ll receive 10% off our already low “early bird” pricing.

As you will see, we’ve assembled an amazing line-up of speakers, including a few SPAWN members. Check it out here:

http://www.SelfPublishersOnlineConference.com

It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you’ll join us!

Susan Daffron (susan@spawn.org)
President & Webmaster, Small Publishers Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN)
http://www.spawn.org
President, Logical Expressions, Inc.
http://www.LogicalExpressions.com

April Teleseminar Announcement!

Teleseminar for SPAWN Members

Who: Elizabeth Danziger

When: April 5 at 1 pm Pacific (4 pm Eastern)

How: Members will receive an email with call-in details

Title: “Get to the Point! Painless Advice for Writing”

Editor’s Note

For months I’ve been saying, “I need more writing work; I’m going to submit more articles and pitch more ideas.” I followed through and then added, “promote other people’s work.” How can that help? Well, maybe karma, and maybe the idea of getting my name out with writer attached to it, or it might just be the power of attraction. Whatever it is, it worked. This month I have more writing assignments than I’ve ever had, and I’ve been alternating between joy and panic.

I belong to a lot of e-mail lists. Sometimes they’re overwhelming, but they are good not only for new ideas, but for marketing and promoting, too. This month I promoted someone else’s book to the dog groups, short stories and a novella to reading lists, and a publisher to the cat writers’ group. I posted reviews on Amazon and put everything on Facebook, as well.

I’ve been open to ideas, too. A pet-sitting client is getting married and I asked if her mastiff will be in the wedding. I pitched the idea to a magazine and have an assignment. A former source e-mailed an update and talked about his dog’s new job. You can read about it later this summer.

I often use Help A Reporter Out for sources. Many of them come through PR people who say, “I have other clients you might want to write about.” I reply, “If your clients need anything written, I hope you’ll keep me in mind. I want to expand the topics I write about.” That is starting to pay off, too.

How creative can you be in coming up with ideas? There’s no limit. It’s putting the twist on an idea that gets you noticed, hired, and published. Then it’s time for all the people whose work you promoted to give a little back.

— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, editor@spawn.org

Join SPAWN at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – a Few Spaces Are Left!

Take your book to the Festival—the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, that is.

Get exposure for your book from among 140,000 readers on April 30 and May 1, 2011.

Reserve space in the SPAWN booth for Saturday, Sunday, or both days. The cost is just $200 per day (a fraction of the cost of renting your own booth).

You can learn more about this opportunity on this page:

http://www.spawn.org/latfb2011.htm

If you have any questions, please contact Patricia Fry at Patricia@spawn.org soon. Time is running out.

(Note that catalog entries for the print catalog to be circulated at the event are now closed.)

SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

The April edition of the SPAWN Market Update brims with over fifty resources for authors, freelance writers, and artists/photographers. You’ll find links to a new foreign rights site, ten writers’ conferences throughout the US, ten magazine editorial calendars, twenty magazines that use book reviews and book excerpts, PLUS job sites for those looking for work in the writing/art fields. Don’t miss out on the opportunities in this edition of the SPAWN Market Update—for members only—in the member area of the SPAWN Web site.

Special Offer for Members Only

Mark Levine is offering a special discount (50% off!) on his fourth edition of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing for SPAWN member. It is available in softcover, PDF, MOBI, and ePub formats. You’ll want a copy of this—lots of new information is included. Find out the details in the Market Update or email patricia@spawn.org

If you cannot access the MEMBER area, PLEASE check with susan@spawn.org

Ask the Book Doctor:

About Outlines, Editing Yourself, and Direct Questions inside a Sentence

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: When writing a chapter-by-chapter outline for a memoir, should the writer tell what happens with a resolution, aside from the synopsis?

A: A chapter-by-chapter outline does not tell everything in the chapter. It can be a one-paragraph summary of the subject or subjects covered. Below is an example:

Chapter three covers the birth of my first child, who seemed perfect for the first three months, until his eyes began to twitch. At seven months, he was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease. This chapter tells how we found information, guidance, and help facing our child’s inevitable early and painful death.

Q: I have little to no experience in formally editing my works, and I’m not about to send in an unpublished manuscript. My urban fantasy runs around 65,000 words. Any ideas you might have about getting the process started would be greatly appreciated.

A: You are smart to get your manuscript in its best form before attempting to get it published. For formal editing, you need to get help from not just any editor, but a professional book editor, to ensure you get a good editing job and helpful feedback. Professional editors like me charge a substantial fee, because the work takes a great deal of time. Editors vary in how much they charge, how they work, and what they give you for your money. For that reason, talk to potential book editors and be sure you understand what you will get and when you will get it. Price and turnaround time are always the two things people want to know first, but they are the least important. Money well spent gives you the best product, and the best product takes time to produce. Be ready to pay a thousand dollars or more for the job, and be prepared to wait six to eight weeks for turnaround.

Anyone can say he or she is an editor, but choose an editor who primarily edits books and who has been in the business for five or more years. Be sure you are using someone you can trust.

Before you commit, check the editor’s credentials. Also ask for names and contact information of past clients, and check them out. If any editor tries to rush you into a decision, rush in the other direction! High-pressure sales tactics are rare in our industry, but some companies use them. Such tactics indicate someone who is better at selling than at editing.

I highly recommend using a book editor who not only edits the manuscript but also evaluates the concept, plot, characterization, pace, voice, and all the other elements of the manuscript. You will learn a tremendous amount from such an evaluation, and it will help you when you write future books, too.

You may also try to edit your book yourself using my desk reference, Purge Your Prose of Problems. I use that book to train my own editors, and many editors and writers use it as a reference book. Frankly, I’d rather you pay me a thousand or more dollars to edit your book than to pay me $29.95 for this book; nevertheless, you can buy Purge Your Prose of Problems at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.

Q: When I read print that has simple grammatical errors in it, particularly from reputable companies, I wonder (or question or think) How can they expect to be taken seriously?

It seems like I read in a newspaper or some print form that the first word in the sentence being asked to oneself was capitalized, but no quotes were used. Is that correct? I would like to know how to do it properly, as I have often had occasions to use this type of writing.

A: I don’t know what the Associated Press style—preferred by many newspaper publishers—may require. Chicago style, however, preferred by book publishers, says that a direct question included within another sentence is usually preceded by a comma and does not need to begin with a capital letter unless the question is relatively long or has internal punctuation. In that case, a capital letter helps with clarity. If writing a book-length manuscript, then, I would write the sentence this way: When I read print that has simple grammatical errors in it, particularly from reputable companies, I wonder (or question or think), how can they expect to be taken seriously?

A clearer rewrite, along with a little tightening, might go like this: When I read print with simple grammatical errors, particularly from reputable companies, I wonder how they expect to be taken seriously.

What’s your question about writing or publishing? Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.

Book Review: The Collaborator Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Stay Friends with Your Co-author

by Patricia Fry

The Collaborator Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Stay Friends with Your Co-author
by Sally Shields
Safflower Publishing, Inc.(2010)
ISBN: 978-0-9747617-1-8
Paperback, 135 pages—$12.95

Have you ever thought of collaborating with another author (or non-author) on a book project? Many people do—some even do so successfully. But it’s not always easy. That’s why Sally Shields has compiled this great little book of tips and ideas for those who want to walk down the collaboration path.

I often get e-mails from people who want to engage a co-author; most of them already have someone in mind.

Shields recommends keeping this sort of collaboration on a professional level; this means not involving friends. She would rather see you audition potential collaborators from a pool of virtual strangers. I can attest to the fact that a business relationship gone bad can spoil a good friendship. I’ve seen it happen over and over again among collaborating authors who started out as friends.

I like how this author guides you along a sort of courtship path with your potential writing partner, and I love the suggestion that you practice collaborating on a small project before committing to the real thing.

The aspect of this book that potential collaborators will appreciate most, however, is the section on contracts. While this author doesn’t offer sample contracts, she discusses the uncomfortable issues that can arise from any collaboration. As she points out, it is best to be prepared and legally protected.

Another important aspect to the successful collaboration is the ability to work together—to give and take—to share and receive—to accept and to reject, as well as to graciously be accepted and rejected.

As Shields points out, a collaboration is a relationship. Not only that, it involves an emotional process—writing. Emotions are bound to escalate in both directions. She provides excellent counsel throughout her book to help you keep things in check. And she even tells you how to know when it’s time to make an exit.

This book is written with humor, but all of the issues you’ve feared, or that you’ve actually experienced as a collaborator, are addressed. If you are considering a book-project collaboration, be sure to pick up this little book to guide you in a more successful process.

Member News

Registration for the Self-Publishers Online Conference opened today. (SPOC is the brainchild of SPAWN President Susan Daffron and her husband James Byrd.) During the event 16 publishing experts (including a few SPAWN members) will present information on writing, publishing, and promoting books. Check out the line up of amazing speakers at http://www.SelfPublishersOnlineConference.com

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Barbara Florio Graham is speaking to Ottawa Independent Writers on April 28 about handling interviews and public presentations. Help! I’m Going to be on Radio or TV! is one of Bobbi’s most popular talks, based on her book, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity.

Bobbi is also speaking to the Media Club of Ottawa on May 16. Her topic for that meeting is Publishing Options: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. A publishing consultant, Bobbi served as Managing Editor of Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List, which will be released in May by Bridgeross, a mid-size Canadian publisher.

Both meetings take place at the National Library & Archives in Ottawa. Information from the Media Club Web site: http://www.mediaclubofottawa.ca or from Ottawa Independent Writers at http://www.oiw.ca

A full description of Prose to Go is on Bobbi’s Web site: http://www.SimonTeakettle.com

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Sandy Murphy, SPAWNews editor, writes, “While you need to be a SPAWN member to be listed in Member News, former member Lee Juslin is getting a mention here because I am in her new book, Frosty’s Story. It’s a tiny mention but it means a lot.” You can read about the fictionalized Nurse Frosty (four books in the series so far) or the non-fiction version, Frosty’s Story, which tells the happiest and the saddest of Frosty’s nine years of therapy pet visits. On page two, Lee thanks Izzie and me for being the inspiration for Frosty to become a therapy pet, too. The pleasure was all ours. You can find the books on Amazon or at www.ibdoggone.com

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Sandra Beckwith, publisher of the Build Book Buzz newsletter, is speaking on the “Be Your Own Book Publicist” panel at the annual conference of the American Society of Journalists and Authors in New York City, April 29-May 1, 2011. Beckwith and two other book-publicity experts will teach participants how to secure free exposure for their books in traditional media outlets and online. For more information, go to http://www.asja.org/wc/2011/.

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Sandy Murphy says, “I was guest blogger for Patricia Fry’s publishing blog on March 17 and 18. Take a look as I dissect writer’s groups—who joins, where to find them, and how they can help improve your writing: http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog/

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Patricia Fry was awarded a plaque from the mayor of Ojai, CA for twelve years of service on the Ojai Historic Preservation Commission.

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Note: To have your announcements included in Member News, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please email your news to editor@spawn.org

Anthologies: Risen from the Grave

by Toni L.P. Kelner

A few years ago I was told there is a nickname for hardback anthologies: remainder. But in August of last year, Death’s Excellent Vacation, an anthology I co-edited with Charlaine Harris, debuted at number eight on the New York Times Best-Seller List. I don’t know if anthologies were ever a dead market, but if so, they’ve clearly risen from the grave. That means there are opportunities out there for writers, including SPAWN members.

I’ll admit that my experience with anthologies has been far from typical. My partner Charlaine Harris has had more simultaneous NYT bestsellers than any other author, and I cannot overestimate the value of having a name like hers and some of our more famous contributors. But Charlaine’s and my anthologies are not the only ones doing well.

In fact, I had stories in three other anthologies last year, ranging from noir anthologies from Tyrus Books and Busted Flush Press to a mystery anthology from Berkley Prime Crime. This year I’ll have a reprint story in an electronic mystery anthology for Wildside Press and an erotic urban fantasy story in an anthology from Baen Books. Charlaine and I have another anthology coming out from Ace Books in August. Now, I think I write good short stories, but I assure you  I’m not driving the sales of all those different books for all those different publishers. Then there’s Akashic Books, which has a whole line of city-based noir anthologies that get rave reviews and award nominations. There are a slew of excellent urban fantasy anthologies, notably the series edited by P.N. Elrod, and a lot of romance anthologies, too. I’m also seeing a lot more electronic anthologies—there seems to be some indication that the Kindle/iPad/Nook reader likes short stories.

I could give more examples, but the point is this: the anthology market is pretty darned lively for a corpse.

That’s the good news—now here’s the bad part. Most of the anthologies I’ve contributed to have been by invitation only, and those invitations can be as hard to get as invites to a royal wedding.  Generally speaking, you either have to know somebody or have a big enough name that people come looking for you. So if you’re new to the field or not well-known yet, that’s tough to overcome.

Note that I say it’s tough, but it’s not impossible.

First off, there are anthology markets that accept open submissions—here are a few ideas. I’m focusing on the mystery and urban fantasy markets, because that’s what I know best.

  • If you’re a member of Mystery Writers of America, you might be able to submit to one of their anthologies. Though there are no current anthologies looking for stories, they’ve done several over the years.
  • If you’re a Sisters in Crime member, your local chapter may publish an anthology. Check with your chapter for more information.
  • If you’re a New Englander, there’s Level Best Books, which publishes an annual mystery anthology. Pay is low, but the books are lovely and previous stories have been nominated for all the major mystery awards. The last volume has an Agatha nominee and an Edgar nominee. Check out http://levelbestbooks.com for more information.
  • John Joseph Adams (http://www.johnjosephadams.com) and Ekaterina Sedia (http://ekaterinasedia.com) have both edited anthologies with open submissions. I don’t see any calls for stories on their sites now, but keep an eye out.
  • If you write mysteries, you might want to join the Short Mystery Fiction Society (http://www.shortmystery.net), which keeps a list of short-story markets.

Of course, that’s just a sampling. There are plenty of market report sites; you just have to keep an eye out for open submissions and write the best story you can to beat the sometimes fierce competition.

Finally, here’s some advice for getting into one of those invite-only anthologies. Speaking from my own experience, it’s perfectly all right to send the editor a polite note and express interest.  Once. If you don’t know the editor personally, it’s also a good idea to briefly describe your experience and to provide a copy of a published story or two to showcase your skills. You should also show some familiarity with the editor’s work, particularly previous anthologies. After all, why would you want to be included in a project if you don’t respect the editor? Most of the time, you still won’t get an invite, but Charlaine and I have used several people who just told us they were interested, so maybe you’ll get lucky. Maybe it won’t be for the next anthology—we pick our contributors before we announce a forthcoming book—but we do keep a list to consider for the next time. (Just FYI, we’re already full-up for our next anthology.)

So remember, the anthology market seems to be making a comeback. In fact, it may be entering a Golden Age. You remember I mentioned that Death’s Excellent Vacation was on the NYT list? I did a little research, and it turns out that no original anthology has ever hit so high on the list before. Maybe we should change the nickname of hardback anthologies from Remainder to Bestseller!

In addition to her mystery novels, Toni L.P. Kelner has published a couple of dozen short stories, mostly in anthologies. Her short story Sleeping With the Plush won the Agatha, and other stories have been nominated for the Anthony, the Macavity, and the Derringer. She lives north of Boston with her husband, fellow author Stephen P. Kelner, Jr.; their two daughters; and two guinea pigs.

Interviews Without Fear

by Darrell Laurant of The Writer’s Bridge

1. Use the Internet as an ice breaker. Before you call someone, send an e-mail explaining what you want to talk about and how you plan to use the story when you write it. Ask if there is a convenient time to call or meet, and offer to answer any questions in advance.

Note: Although it’s tempting, I would avoid Internet interviews. People tend to be a lot more economical with words on-line, and you probably won’t get many good quotes. Generally, on-line conversations work well only when you need to find out a very specific piece of information.

2. If this is a feature story, or if you’re interviewing someone about what he or she did on D-Day, there’s nothing wrong with calling to say: “Here’s what I’d like to talk to you about. I’ll give you a day or two to think about it.” When you ambush people, they tend to get nervous and forget some good stories that they only recall later. Giving them some reflection time eliminates some of the awkwardness.

Of course, there are times—such as if you’re calling a reluctant subject about some subject they don’t really want to talk about—when you don’t want to give them any wiggle room.

3. Remember that as a rule, people love to talk about what they do. One truism I’ve learned from my interviewing career is that while most of us feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves (we’re taught not to do that, after all), we can go on for hours about our job or our hobby or our favorite whatever.

4. Similarly, it’s OK to confess ignorance. I used to have a cartoon on the wall of my cubicle that showed a group of blindfolded people lined up with darts in their hands. The dart board was divided into subjects ranging from “foreign policy” to “rugby” to “liposuction,” and was labeled “Today, I am an expert in …” The caption read: “How journalists start their day.”

The overwhelming majority of people you interview will be fine with your saying, “I don’t know a whole lot about this, so you may have to help me out here.” They’ll probably even be flattered—ever notice how someone’s face lights up when you stop to ask for directions? People love it when they know something you don’t.

You might also employ the time-honored: “How would I explain this to my readers?”

I’m not proud of this, but when I was in college, I used to get spending money by writing term papers for my fellow students. One of the things this taught me (besides the fact that I had no scruples back then) is that if you know where to look and the right questions to ask, you don’t need to know anything about something to write about it.

5. On the flip side, do whatever homework you can before an interview. These days, with the Internet, there is no excuse for not knowing a little something about most people before you contact them—or, at least, something about the topic you want them to discuss.

6.  It’s best, if possible, to establish a connection with a market before you start doing your interviews for a piece. It carries a lot more weight to be able to say. “Hi, I’m Sharon Smith, and I’m working on an article for Education Weekly” than just to say. “Hi, my name is Sharon Smith and I’d like to talk to you.”

7. If it’s practical, try to do interviews face-to-face. You might pick up something in the surroundings that will add color to your story, and the interviewee will probably be more relaxed.

8. Along the same line, don’t just leap into an interview. A couple of minutes of small talk helps break the ice—for you and for the interviewee. Ask where the person is from, about kids, cats, whatever. This puts it on the level of a conversation instead of an “interview,” which sounds intimidating.

An exception would be a politician or someone else famous, who may want to cut to the chase.

9. Speaking of which, if the person you’re contacting is well-known, he or she probably has a PR person. You might consider going through that person first, to grease the wheels.

10. Be understanding if someone asks: “Can I see this story before you print it?” Naturally, the person is nervous, and probably has heard horror stories about subjects who have been grossly misquoted or misrepresented.

Here’s what I say: “I don’t like people to read the whole story in advance, because it’s never going to be written exactly the way you would write it. However, I’d be more than happy to send you your quotes to make sure they’re accurate. If your name is attached to a statement, you deserve that it be exactly what you said.”

Note: People rarely remember exactly what they said.

Working with Others for Success

by Joel Friedlander

When I started blogging about sixteen months ago, I knew I’d be doing a lot of writing, but I didn’t know I’d be getting to know so many people—other bloggers.

One of the social media aspects of blogging is exploring other blogs in your niche. Bloggers, because they’re drawn to social media in the first place, are very often people who like to connect. This is an area in which working with others for success is the usual order of business.

Over the months, I’ve gotten to know a few dozen active bloggers by commenting on their blogs, hosting their guest posts, interviewing them for my readers, and exchanging ideas.

Part of the art of content marketing is expressing your own generosity by sharing what you know, often for free. Altogether, you end up with a network of people with some expertise in a particular area, willing to share their content and their platform, and it’s amazing how many different ways that can make a difference.

For instance, this month I’m issuing the first book (of my own) that I’ve published in many years. I’ve sent hundreds of books to press over that time, just not my own. It’s called A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish from TheBookDesigner.com.

Plugging into the Network

When I wanted to get some feedback and possible testimonials for my book, I naturally turned to this network of authors and bloggers. I didn’t know how people would react, and I was thrilled when I got some great reviews.

Then it came time to figure out how to get the book to other people’s attention. After all, the first law of book marketing is that no one can buy a book s/he doesn’t know about. I would be writing about it on my blog of course, but I wanted to go farther afield.

I got in touch with some of the bloggers on my review list to see if they would be interested in taking a day off and running a guest post from me instead.

This is the classic blog tour, sort of like a bookstore tour for bloggers. I was lucky enough to have several people offer me a spot for an article.

Working Together: Interviews

Another great part of doing a blog tour is participating in interviews. Writing all those guest posts is a lot of work, especially if you also blog every day and run a business. Fortunately, several people suggested doing interviews instead.

I’ve done interviews on my blog from the early days, and recently I got brave enough to do one over Skype and record it as an MP3 file that people could download. I picked Joshua Tallent of www.ebookarchitects.com because I expected he would be patient if I had trouble with the technology side of it.

The interview went really well. Joshua is a self-published author too, (Kindle formatting) and works with large and small publishers every day. Afterward I asked if he would do the conversion of A Self-Publisher’s Companion to Kindle and ePub formats. He did a great job.

Interviews are a natural way for authors or bloggers to work together. After all, it takes two people collaborating to get a great interview. A few months ago I was interviewed by Joanna Penn on her great blog www.TheCreativePenn.com and had fun because it was my first video interview.

This year I’m going to try to get into video myself, so that was a useful exercise. Luckily, Joanna is a very experienced interviewer, so she is quite adept at taking care of the timing and the mechanics of the interview, allowing her guest to relax into the conversation. That’s a recipe for success.

Look around at the other people you collaborate with, or those in your niche covering different aspects of the same subject. That is your network. Tapping into the resources of your network can help make your writing more effective, and can multiply your book-marketing efforts. And it’s a lot of fun at the same time.

Joel Friedlander, Marin Bookworks , Book Design and Production for Authors and Publishers, Office and Voicemail | 415-460-1959    Fax | 415-223-9993 Interested in self-publishing? Check out my new book –A Self-Publisher’s Companion

Book Review Recap

Just a reminder of some of the books reviewed lately—have you read any of these?

  • June—The Gettysburg Approach to Writing and Speaking Like a Professional by Philip A. Yaffe
  • July—How to Write for the New Age Market by Richard Webster
  • August—Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World (Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders) by Marcia Meier
  • October—How to Write Your Life Story by Ralph Fletcher
  • December—Poemcrazy, Freeing Your Life With Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge
  • January 2011—The Art and Craft of Cover Design, a Comprehensive Book Cover Design Guide for the Self-Publisher by Gene Stirm
  • February 2011—Be Your Own Editor, A Writer’s Guide to Perfect Prose by Sigrid Macdonald
  • March 2011 – Self Publishing Manual Volume Two by Dan Poynter

Book Signings–Ten Things I’ve Learned

by Leslie Korenko

I always thought that being asked to do an author signing was a great honor, and it is. But even though I had my two books on local history in several small bookstores, I was never invited to do a signing. So when my first invitation came from Borders, I was thrilled. When it was over I had sold thirteen books in three hours. Here’s what I learned from the experience:

1. Don’t wait to be invited. Call and offer to do a signing. You are really doing THEM a favor. They get both a greeter at the door (you) and a free employee who sells books for them. It’s a win-win for both of you. My Borders signing came when I contacted them about signing alongside another pre-scheduled author. They liked the idea and gave me a better time-slot.

2. Make sure you understand the selling arrangement. Some stores buy a supply of books that you sell for them, others may take a small commission when you sell your own stock, and some are just glad to have an author appear and bring in traffic.

3. Position yourself near the entrance and greet each person who walks in. A simple big smile and a “Hi” will do. When the person pauses—and most will—point to or pick up your book and engage him or her. (“Yes, it’s the Pomegranate Book” or “Have you seen the new Peach Blossom Book?”) If they walk on—and most will—greet the next person. Don’t get discouraged; you get better at it and it gets easier.

4. Have a small display and handouts. People come in with a specific goal, and you need to distract them momentarily from that goal. They EXPECT to see books in a book store, but not a tri-fold display with pictures from your book. Or try displaying some items from the store that compliment your book (a children’s book might display well with a stuffed animal or a box of candy). You are offering them the perfect solution to their gift dilemma.

5. Make sure they touch your book—hand it to them and invite them to look inside (it doesn’t cost anything to look). Customers attract customers (it must be good if another person is looking at it). You’ll find that customers often walk up as you are signing a sold book.

6. If someone stops to talk, make sure he or she takes your business card. Some people like to think about it before they purchase. Invite them to visit your Web site for something that might interest them (like a link to a You Tube video, a book trailer or a slide show).

7. If you get a talker, ask him/her to move a bit to the side and continue to greet customers while s/he talks. If he or she is interfering with your sales, a gentle “Can we talk later?” will often do the trick, especially if there is a lot of traffic. On the other hand, an active customer attracts other customers.

8. Bring in customers. Make sure you promote your appearance. Submit a press release to the Local News or Events section of your newspaper. Add an announcement of the event to every online calendar you can find. Post it to Facebook and then remind everyone when the date nears to stop by and say hello.

9. Check your stock. If you’ve sold several books, make sure the store has a fresh supply before you leave. Some people regret not buying on their first visit and may return later.

10. Remember to thank your host or hostess. If the signing was a big success, set up another, especially around Christmas, doing one at Thanksgiving and another closer to December 25.

Remember, promotion is up to you and it’s not as hard as you might imagine. Sometimes you just have to ask.

Leslie Korenko is the author of two books about the early history of Kelleys Island, an island in Lake Erie. Kelleys Island 1810-1861 – The courageous, poignant & often quirky lives of island pioneers and Kelleys Island 1862-1865 – The Civil War, the Island Soldiers & the Island Queen. You can take a tour of Kelleys Island on her Web site: www.KelleysIslandStory.com (just click on slideshow).

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