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From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
The theme of this month’s newsletter is one that’s close to my heart. If you’re an introvert like I am and the idea of "selling" makes you mildly nauseous, you’ll enjoy the many tips in this issue. People are happily selling their writing, books, and artwork in many ways. As you’ll discover, you don’t have to suddenly change your personality to make a living.
To me, the most important piece of advice comes from Executive Director Patricia Fry. She suggests that you "go where your audience is." If your audience is "foodies," for example, try hanging out at Farmer’s Markets. Some of the readers of my books work at humane societies and pet rescue groups. Not surprisingly, my most successful book selling experiences have been at conferences focused on saving animals.
No matter where you are, whether it’s at a conference or on a bus, always have your business cards (or books) with you!
Members of my writers group are a prolific bunch. They write one story, have another in mind, and meanwhile edit the previous one. They submit and get published, too. During a critique session, they’ll argue with other members for twenty minutes over a character’s behavior. However, ask them to promote work—their own or another writer’s—and in the resulting quiet you could hear a gnat snore.
We’ve talked about the shyness factor. But being an introvert is more than just being shy. It’s not a learned behavior, but a character trait. We’re creative, inventive, and introverts. It’s not something we should change, but there are ways to adapt painlessly—if not at first, then with practice.
Nobody wants to be the stereotypical overbearing salesperson who talks people into buying things they don’t want or need. But if no one reads your work, how do you get more work? If you have a message to share, how do people find out about it? All book sales do not have to take place in a bookstore. Presentations don’t have to be to a crowd of hundreds. Promotion doesn’t have to be in person. You can be creative and still manage the business side of writing.
Patricia Fry, Hope Clark, Amy Jo Fleming, and others tell where and how they sell books, meet their public without too much stress, make friends and loyal readers without asking anyone to spend the rent money on their book. Send your creative ideas to me for publication in a future SPAWNews.
– Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
If you are an author seeking publication or looking for ways to promote your book, this month’s SPAWN Market Update is designed with you in mind. We list five new publishing imprints, services, and opportunities for authors, two great resources and seven solid book-promotion opportunities, including interview sites for authors. Are you looking for a job in the industry? We provide five job boards for writers and editors. You’ll also learn about a major magazine database. Use just some of the resources and links in this issue of the SPAWN Market Update and you could earn enough money for a fantastic summer vacation.
Join SPAWN this month by going to www.spawn.org and click on Join/Renew.
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Book Promotion, Book Trailers, and Autographing Books
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: What’s the best promotion method to use once a book is published?
A: I wish I could answer your question, but what is best for your book depends on your type of book, your expertise, your abilities, the amount of time and/or money you have to spend, and much more. I recommend that you read a book about book promotion and decide what methods are best for you and for your book. The one I read and used extensively was Jump Start Your Book Sales by Marilyn Ross. It advises getting started with promotions before the book even comes out. It also recommends adding a chapter that appeals to an additional sector of the market, to broaden the appeal of the book. Based on her recommendation, I included a chapter on business writing in my book, Write In Style, which had originally been geared toward only creative writers. My publisher was pleased with the addition, too.
Ross’s 1999 book may be a little dated now, so I went on Amazon and found at least two other books that give marketing ideas for books. Look up Ross’s book, and you will see others like hers that are even newer.
Editor’s note: Patricia Fry’s Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author is another excellent choice.
Q: Creating a trailer to promote a book online is becoming popular. I am exploring a possible business venture in this field and would value your knowledge and opinion.
Who generally pays for creating a book trailer and promoting it on the various sites? Is it the publishing house or the author?
What is the return on investment? Has anyone done the research?
I find most trailers on YouTube or dedicated trailer sites, yet not on the online stores or e-book libraries. Any idea why this is the case?
With e-book and online book sales increasing, this medium is likely to grow.
What is your personal opinion? Do book trailers help sell a book or increase interest?
A: I can give you only my opinion, not based on many facts, but you asked for my opinion, and here it is:
A book trailer on the Internet is no different from a web page; someone or something has to drive traffic to it, or it sleeps in cyber space wasting bytes. For that reason, probably, most trailers appear on YouTube, where people watch funny, shocking, or educational videos, and where all video producers hope their babies will go viral.
Who pays for the trailer? I imagine the biggest buyers of trailers are self-publishers seeking an avenue to promote their books, and in those cases, the author and publisher are the same.
I cannot speak for why online stores aren’t using trailers; I have no knowledge of the thinking in those places. Although I suspect they see no value in trailers, who knows?
All the trailers I have seen were produced and paid for by the author, and none of them has enticed me to buy a book. Have any enticed you? Nevertheless, some must work, or they would not be popular, unless they simply play on the ego of the author who can say, “I have a book trailer.”
As for the return on investment, it depends upon whether you are the producer of trailers selling to authors and publishers or you are the author attempting to sell books to readers. If you are thinking of going into the trailer-producing business, your biggest market would probably be self-publishers. Will self-publishers get a good return on their investment? In my opinion, no, unless they have a strong marketing campaign to drive people to the trailer and a compelling trailer that entices people to buy the book.
Q: My handwriting is not the best and is getting worse. Is it normal for a writer to publish a book already signed with the author’s signature? What are the pros and cons if I do this?
A: I have never heard of anyone doing it, although it may have been done somewhere without my knowledge. Here are my thoughts about the pros and cons:
Once a signature is printed, it is not an autograph, but simply a printed copy of a signature, so it has no significance or value.
Books do not have to be autographed; an autograph is an added feature that personalizes a book and sometimes adds value, but it is not essential to the enjoyment of the book.
I have heard of authors who refuse to autograph books, so if no autographed copies exist, all the books have the same value.
Autographs do have personal appeal to buyers, but unless the author becomes famous, an autographed book has little added financial value.
If I had any physical or emotional reason not to sign books, I simply would not offer to sign them.
To order Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing go to http://zebraeditor.com/book_ask_the_book_doctor.shtml.
Bobbie Christmas, book editor, 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.
Starting Your Career as a Freelance Editor, a Guide to Working with Authors, Books, Newsletters, Magazines, Websites, and More by Mary Embree.
Allworth Press (2012) www.allworth.com
ISBN: 978-1-58115-890-8, Paperback – 231 pages $19.95
Review by Patricia Fry
For those of you who don’t know, Mary Embree is the founder of SPAWN. She is also a literary consultant, editor, book doctor, writers’ workshop leader and the author of two previously published books. Perhaps her most well-known book is The Author’s Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing and Publishing Your Book (now in its third edition).
If you are considering becoming a freelance editor or you are already working within this field, this book could make the difference between a successful career and a failed one. Embree starts the book by helping the reader determine whether editing is the right path for him or her. She covers various types of editing careers, explains how to market your services, how to work with authors and she spends quite a bit of time on styles, usage and editing principles. New editors often wonder what to charge for the work they do. This is covered in Chapter 12. And Embree also talks about the business and legal aspects of an editing business. This is the most complete and well-rounded book I have seen on this subject. It even has a chapter on methods of editing. As an editor myself, I know that different people expect or are accustomed to different types of editing—some want to send you the hard copy to edit, others want you to use a software program to show the editing marks. Embree explains these and other systems and how to use them.
I especially like that Embree has included stories from other editors. You’ll see them in Chapter 2, where she talks about getting started as an editor.
So how can you become a freelance editor? Start by reading this book. Embree also suggests that you get to know people in your field by attending conventions, expos, etc. Ask questions, join an editing organization or a company where you can get assignments. Join writers groups and book clubs, attend events where writers in your specialty gather, discuss freelance editing with friends.
Most of all, she says, “Keep your antenna up.” And she adds, “You never know where your clients might come from.”
The Shy Writer Reborn by C. Hope Clark
Review by Sandra Murphy
I find it’s taking me longer to read this book—it’s non-fiction, which is never as fast as fiction—but with this book I keep stopping to think about what I’ve just read and how I can incorporate into my writing life.
Here are just a few of the points that really got my attention, all quoted from the book:
- You do not have to sacrifice yourself to fit someone else’s mold of what a writer is like.
- These days, being real is the most marketable commodity of all.
- There’s sticking with writing, and then there’s sticking with getting better at writing.
- You can quit writing; write for yourself, family, and friends; or you can learn how to write professionally.
- Voice is what sells your writing.
- Platform must be seen, felt and heard.
Each chapter ends with three suggested exercises to get you to think about what the problem really is and how to fix or work around it comfortably. There are chapters on interviews (as the interviewer or the subject), queries, and pitches—how to talk about yourself, meet-and-greets, and all the confusing social media that contribute to your platform. This is a book I’ll read again as well as use for reference. See more about the book in Clark’s article below.
The Three Tricks of a Good Shy Writer
by C. Hope Clark
An introverted writer is not handicapped any more than an extroverted writer is obnoxious. But if I’ve learned anything in my years of speaking at conferences and coaching writers, it’s that writers are overwhelmingly introverted, and afraid. Fearful of what others think, of failure, of confrontation. They often let fear intimidate them into inaction. Control fear, however, and you control your life. I know. I’ve been introverted my entire life.
Over time, however, I’ve collected a pocket full of tricks to use when I’m faced with an intimidating moment—three in particular. None of the three will require you to become boisterous, to speak fast, or to dominate a moment. They don’t apply just to public appearances, though I developed them to handle my fear of speaking. Regardless, whatever new ground you break, these three tricks will keep you sane and safe.
They involve positive thought and putting on that optimistic hat. They are so simple you’ll doubt their power, but they work.
Trick One: What If I Wasn’t Afraid?
When fear strikes, we often let it lead. We take the path of least resistance, avoiding as many obstacles as we can. But fear never leaves. Just because you close your eyes doesn’t mean it disappears. When you open your eyes, it’s staring right back. Name your fears. Then add “What If” to the front of them.
What if I wasn’t afraid of . . . rejection? I’d write more, maybe faster. I’d submit more, publish more.
What if I wasn’t afraid of . . . being critiqued? I’d turn in my manuscript and really listen to what people were saying, knowing I don’t have to do all that they say. I’d easily pick and choose what to keep, and what to throw away. My work would be so much stronger.
You easily solve your problem by addressing a simple question . . . What If? We use those two words plotting our stories, so why not use them plotting our careers, our lives?
Trick Two: After This is Over
You’re up to your ears in deadlines; frustrated. You’re the last speaker of the day, addressing worn-out attendees. You begin a reading and someone coughs, and won’t stop, making you lose your place.
Irritating moments, unexpected catastrophes, scary interruptions you never considered. If you stick around this profession long enough, you’ll face situations you never saw coming.
See yourself at the finish line. Imagine yourself once the situation is over. The glass of tea, or even a beer. The hot bath. The long walk. The alone time with a good recreational read. But also the hard cry, the scream, the rant with a good friend. Whether you’re the venting type or the release-and-relax person, see yourself after your trial is over. Call it forecasting. After this is over, I will . . .
When you forecast, your mind pictures the sense of relief after the fact, the satisfaction of seeing an event through to the end. That vision can lower your heart rate and settle you down. Envision the calm after the storm, the iced tea after the sweat, the soft bed after the long, hard day. See yourself at the finish line. There is life after whatever messes with you, whatever gets in your way.
Trick Three: I’m Really Okay
The suspense mounts as you wait in line to pitch to an agent at a conference. Or you are about to read your poem to a room full of writers. Or you have a great idea for a magazine piece, but you’re afraid the editor will laugh, or steal it, or simply not reply.
You argue with yourself on whether you have the ability to do this . . . whatever it is.
Try this exercise. Imagine the absolute worst that could happen to you in that situation. Amplify it. For instance, take a written rejection . . . and imagine it oral, in front of people, over a microphone . . . naked! Picture yourself at a conference, and they ask you to read your first chapter. The room laughs at you. Let it out. Screw with your mind.
Okay stop. Now breathe. Ask this question: am I okay right now?
Of course you are. You’re alive. Your health hasn’t changed. War, famine, or pestilence hasn’t consumed you. No tornadoes, SWAT teams, or clouds of locusts. Nobody arrested you.
Life is still normal.
Paint a smile on your face right then and there. You are fine. Then continue with your mission.
As shy writers, we are often our worst enemy. But if you tackle your hideous moment, whatever it may be, and apply one or more of these three tricks, you’ll realize you’re stronger than you think. Don’t let intimidation take over. Take control of your fear, because that’s when you take control of your writing career.
C. Hope Clark is editor of FundsforWriters, author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, and the author of newly released The Shy Writer Reborn: An Introverted Writer’s Wake-Up Call. You can find her work at www.fundsforwriters.com and www.chopeclark.com.
Experimenting with Book Clubs
by Amy Jo Fleming
Almost everything about my novella, Death at Bandit Creek, is experimental. An experiment to write a book in a series with 31 other writers set in a fictional town—Bandit Creek, Montana. An experiment to self publish. An experiment to develop cover art and a format my book. An experiment in marketing: to find reviewers and learn social media. And now, the Book Club Experiment. When I was asked to do a book-club presentation, I leapt at the chance. The next day I had to ask, what did I get myself into?
I am no stranger to book clubs. I belong to a book club where we read a wide range of books. We get together once a month, drink a little wine, and discuss the book. We find common threads in the books, and in life, and share our insights. And then, we eat a fabulous dessert. Who could ask for anything better?
But…I had agreed to speak to twelve women I didn’t know and who might not like my book. When members of my book club hate a book, it just makes the discussion more interesting. Suddenly, I was a little nervous.
For me, preparation was the key. I turned to some on-line writers groups and the support was awesome: topics to cover, questions readers raise, and the delicate question of dealing with negative comments. (Acknowledge the opinion and then MOVE ON.) A true introvert, I outlined what I planned to say and wrote it all down in my journal. When I speak to a group, if I have a well-laid plan, I may never use it, but it keeps my nerves under control.
At the book club, I referred to my notes, but only to make sure I covered all the points in my outline:
- Why did I decide to become a writer? The truth is that I have always been a writer. I have had day jobs and frustrations along the way, but I wanted to write and I made the time for it.
- Where do ideas come from? Ideas come from everywhere. I read everything. I listen to people. I love to combine and twist ideas into a premise and ask myself, “What if this happened? What would happen next?”
- What is my writing process? I start with a premise and theme. Next comes setting. Then I build characters and then a plot to suit the characters.
- Premise and Theme: I talked about developing the premise for Death at Bandit Creek. What if a young school teacher—Charlotte Fraser—went off to a remote mining town—Bandit Creek, Montana—in 1911 and discovered that her predecessor had been murdered?
- Setting: The readers were really engaged by Bandit Creek. One aspect was a secret staircase. For me, the staircase was a tool to advance the plot. For readers, it was so cool. It was a secret that all characters seemed to know. They loved the irony.
- Character Development: I use character charts to get to know characters. I asked whether the characters seemed real and got a gold mine of information. For example, the readers didn’t believe that a minister would have an affair with a prostitute. I needed to give him a stronger motivation.
- Plotting: I talked about how I use a Three-Act Structure. My main concern about the book was whether the suspense was strong enough, so I asked. The readers thought Charlotte was in real danger. They knew who the villain was right away, but the suspense was real. I had a red herring, but they just didn’t buy it. He was too good-looking to be a villain. Go figure.
- Drafting and Revisions: This is the time when I show up at my desk every day and write. The book was not going to write itself.
- Current Projects: The book club seemed most interested in my work in progress, Trust Fund Baby, which is women’s fiction rather than romantic suspense. Again, who knew?
- Pricing: The ladies were unanimous that I had underpriced Death at Bandit Creek at $2.99.
All in all, I had a great time. Twelve women enjoyed my book enough to discuss it and were delighted to have a “real author” talk to them. I got valuable feedback on my writing and twelve email addresses to add to my mailing list. These ladies want to buy my next book. My book club experiment was a complete success. It would be great to hear from other authors who try their own book club experiment.
Amy Jo Fleming is the author of Death at Bandit Creek. Romantic Suspense. Available everywhere e-books are sold. White Christmas is part of the Frost Family Christmas Series. Christmas Romance with a mystery twist. Available October 1, 2013 on Amazon. www.amyjofleming.com @AmyJoFlemingLLB
Where to Sell? Where Not!
by Patricia Fry
One of my favorite unusual book-promotion ideas is one an author told me about. He and a friend co-authored a fun book of humor. They have fun selling it on the fringes of farmer’s markets throughout the county. They set up a small table or TV tray outside the farmer’s market and sell lemonade to passersby. The lemonade sells for $10 a glass, but thirsty customers get a free copy of the authors’ book along with it. It works for these guys and their book!
My friend used to travel to sell her cookbook through kitchen stores. But she also sold books when flying home, because she carried a poster advertising her book-signing with her. It caught the eye of people in the airport and on the plane and she said she always sold books to fellow passengers.
Several of my clients and colleagues have sold books in unusual settings. I am a big fan of selling books and having signings in specialty shops related to the theme of your book. This might include pet stores or spas, feed stores, flower shops/nurseries, hobby shops, coffee houses, delis, metaphysical/spiritual stores, cafés, airports—wherever your readers gather. I know authors who have sold books at cupcake bakeries, gift shops, children’s clothing/toy stores, a zoo, and of course libraries and schools.
Authors who give something of value to their audiences generally sell more books. I go out and speak to my audience on publishing and book promotion. And I sell books. When I have a booth at book festivals, I do my best to respond to visitors’ questions. Many of them buy books. Where appropriate, you can do demonstrations. One author I know used to show how to make crème brulee—the theme of her book. Another demonstrates how to make a succulent wreath—and sells books on this topic. I once put on a full-blown luau in order to promote my book on how to present a luau on the mainland.
I like to encourage having a book-launch party. If your book is older, have a re-launch party or a coming out party or…whatever you want to call it. All I know is that when I (and others) have had a book launch party and did a lot of publicity, sent special invitations, followed up, etc., it has been quite successful.
If you missed the point of experiencing success through these unique or interesting book promotion suggestions, here they are simplified:
- Go where your audience congregates and make sure they become aware of your amazing and pertinent book.
- Get creative in your choice of venues and your presentation.
- Give something of value to your guests/audience.
- Be extremely ambitious in your publicity efforts in order to entice people to your activity.
For more book-promotion ideas and more detail on these I’ve mentioned, order my book Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author. It’s at Amazon.com in print, Kindle and audio, also at most other online and downtown bookstores.
Sign up for my online book-promotion course. http://www.matilijapress.com/courses.htm
Member Book Promotion Tips
Earl Staggs sells his books, Justified Action, Memory of a Murder, and Short Stories of Earl Staggs, at bus stops. “I drive a school bus part-time and many of the parents who put their children on board buy my books.”
Patricia Fry had a book signing for her Nordhoff Cemetery Book at the Nordhoff Cemetery in Ojai, California.
Hope Clark learned to have copies of her books Low Country Bribe and Tidewater Murder with her at all times after selling copies at the gym, hairdresser, post office, a restaurant, bar, Hooters (really, sold five copies!), income tax preparer’s office, and while standing in line at the grocery store.
Lucinda Crosby sold her novel, Francesca of Lost Nation at artist league/guild get-togethers, in fine restaurants at a presentation she calls Wine and Words, general stores in the Southern Sierra, at the Historical Society USO historic building in a small town where she lived, at Rotary meetings, at garden club meetings, at chamber of commerce meetings, at Mule Days in Bishop, California, at wine walks, in consignment shops, and at brunches hosted by book clubs that were open to the public. She also offers a free Skype session to book clubs that order online.
She sold her children’s book The Adventures of Baylard Bear: a Story about Being DIFFERENT at nearby small town museums, at garden club meetings, at local consignment shops, and at wine walks.
Multi-published non-fiction authors Susan Daffron and Patricia Fry have both entered the world of fiction, having finished their first drafts of upcoming novels. Susan recently wrote the first draft of a romantic comedy that will be released this summer and Patricia Fry has written drafts of three novels in a new mystery series involving cats.
Sandra Beckwith will be speaking about book publicity at the virtual Nonfiction Writer’s Conference May 8-10. The conference features 15 speakers covering traditional and self-publishing, e-books, social media, marketing on Amazon, blogging, SEO and video marketing, professional speaking, and other book-marketing tactics. Learn more at http://bit.ly/SBNFWC. Sandra also recently introduced a new online training program for authors: “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz Basic E-course.” The program features the continually updated, top-quality content of the premium e-course that authors praise, but without instructor interaction. That makes the learning process more flexible, ongoing, and affordable. Learn more at http://buildbookbuzz.com/bp101basicecourse/.
Barbara Florio Graham is featured on the Women on the Move page in the April issue of Ottawa Woman. This free publication is available at Metro, Food Basics, IGA, and most Bridgeheads, as well as online at www.ottawa-woman.com on page 18. A graduate student in the journalism program at the University of Western Ontario interviewed Barbara Florio Graham at the suggestion of her professor, an old friend of Bobbi. http://westernreport.fims.uwo.ca/index.php/the-nine-million-lives-of-internet-cats/
Find Barbara Florio Graham on Facebook, LinkedIn, BranchOut, Pinterest, and Google Plus. Simon Teakettle III (Terzo) blogs at: http://www.SimonTeakettle.com/blogterzo.htmand his 2013 calendar is now available from http://www.OttawaPhoto.com. His Very First Video is at http://lnkd.in/fKsbhH.
TLC Graphics presented two classes and sponsored a booth at the IBPA Publishing University in Chicago April 26-27. SPAWN board member Tamara Dever presented “Selling Power of Book Design” and her colleagues presented “Real-Life Success Stories: Tips and Techniques from Small Publishers With Big Sales.” www.TLCGraphics.com, Facebook Group: http://tinyurl.com/2a7mr7, www.twitter.com/helpmepublish, Blog: http://helpmepublish.wordpress.com/
Arlene Uslander from San Diego says, "I am excited about reprinting my book That’s What Grandparents Are For, an illustrated book of verse for grandchildren and grandparents to read together. The original traditional publisher went out of business, and I was able to buy the rights to the wonderful illustrations from the illustrator for a reasonable price. I found a printer through a Spawn member at a good price per book, and I am now a publisher! Check out the book on Amazon. And thanks to SPAWN for helping me find a printer. It was not easy."
Dallas Woodburn has been awarded the Steinbeck Fellowship for Creative Writing at San Jose State University for the 2013-14 academic year. She says, "I am so thrilled, honored, and excited." Here is the link with more information: http://as.sjsu.edu/steinbeck/steinbeck_fellows/index.jsp. Dallas Woodburn is an author, speaker, freelance writer, editor of Dancing With The Pen: a Collection of Today’s Best Youth Writing, instructor at Purdue University, founder of Write On! For Literacy & Write On! Books, and SPAWN’s Youth Director. firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.writeonbooks.org, http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com/, http://daybydaymasterpiece.com
Contests, Events and Opportunities
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