As I draw nearer the point at which I hope to have my manuscript in the hands of editors and beta readers, the more nervous I get about various topics: publishing, marketing, sales, book reviews, and the list goes on.
A few weeks ago, to stem the tide of nervousness, I attended a two-hour marketing workshop presented by PDX Writers, a local organization committed to helping writers do their best. The guest speaker was John Sibley Williams, a local writer and literary agent, with years of experience in both areas.
Did it help?
Well, the most important thing I learned is that two hours is too little time to cover all you need to know about marketing and selling your book.
I left the workshop feeling overwhelmed, underequipped, bombarded, discouraged, ready to toss my draft manuscript in the circular file and never look back. Did I mention I also had a headache?
I am not blaming PDX Writers or Mr. Williams for my emotional response to their presentation. It is obvious the hands on the clock moved too quickly.
Despite my spewing above, I did come away with some helpful tips and handouts, not to mention good contacts made:
Have a good business plan and strategy;
Prepare a budget and maintain a budgetary spreadsheet;
Create realistic marketing and branding strategy;
Consider methods for earning direct income;
Have active presence on social media, including your blog and/or website;
Develop local network with libraries and bookstores
Gain exposure by a variety of methods (that’s another post!);
Think of and incorporate means of saving money;
Learn all you can about query letters, self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, agents, editors, press releases, etc.
Like I said, a large amount of material was attempted in this workshop.
However, I now have a conceptual view of what life will be like depending on a number of decisions I need to make about my book in coming weeks and/or months.
If you have published a book, what one thing would you recommend a writer to make his/her priority as they reach the point of finalizing a manuscript? What one thing would you do differently? Please help out by adding your comments below.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce my guest, Patricia Fry, to you. Patricia is a writer, editorial consultant, and speaker. With over four decades of writing behind, Patricia has written many articles as well as 45 books. Her experience in publishing and editing makes her an ideal consultant for projects of many kinds. More about Patricia in her bio below. Join me in welcoming Patricia Fry to the blog.
Before putting pen to paper, I always recommend that hopeful authors study the publishing industry before getting involved in this highly competitive business. Most new authors consider publishing an extension of their writing—something they can ease into once the writing is done. But while writing is a craft, publishing is a serious, complex business. Before ever entering into it, an author needs to know something about his or her publishing options, the possible ramifications of their choices and their responsibility as a published author. Nearly 78% of all authors fail—that is, they sell fewer than 100 books total. And the two main reasons are, they do not fully understand their publishing options and, either by choice or ignorance, they do not put enough effort into promoting their books.
By getting your stories published, you are creating a following – by landing an article writing assignment in appropriate magazines and newsletters you will get attention from your target audience. This is building the authors’ Continue reading →
My guest today is Mary Gottschalk, author of Sailing Down the Moonbeam and most recently, A Fitting Place. Mary shares her insights into marketing and the challenges marketing presents to writers today. I encourage you to visit Mary’s blog and to take a look at her books. Mary is an excellent writer and someone I look to for guidance in many ways. Now let’s welcome, Mary.
Back in the days when I was a financial consultant to multi-national corporations, I loved Seth Godin’s little tome called The Dip. In it, Godin offered a way to deal with that awful feeling of being ”stuck” … with those days when you’re wondering why on earth you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing.
Godin, a popular management consultant in the corporate world, draws a distinction between “a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing” (the Dip) and a situation that “will never get better, no matter how hard you try” (the Cul-de-Sac or dead-end).
I find Godin’s wisdom relevant for writers, particularly for indie authors who are laboring in the field, trying one trick after another to market their books, with varying degrees of success.
Even as I was still in the writing stages of my novel, A Fitting Place, I found myself resenting the seemingly endless hours I spent on social media, garnering information about titles and book blurbs and covers and printing options and, of course, marketing strategies. Pundits (social media people, mostly) kept telling me how useful this information would be. I had no reason not to believe them, but I wanted to be writing, not making lists of websites to contact and contests to enter.
I grew grumpier with every passing day. I abhor repetitive tasks. The ever-growing list of to-do’s made it almost impossible to enjoy a bike ride or read a book—assuming I actually found time to get on a bike or pick up a book.
Even more, I hated the idea of asking strangers to do something for me. This quirk goes back a long way. At age 7, I was the only one in my troupe who failed to sell her quota of Girl Scout cookies. That pattern followed me throughout a successful career. In the early years, I never had to send out resumes because I had mentors who believed in me and opened doors on my behalf. In the later years as a consultant, word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients meant I never had to advertise.
As a consequence, I was woefully ill-prepared by both temperament and training for the kind of self-promotion that an indie writer needs to be successful.
We’ve all heard, of course, that you’ll be more successful if you focus on things that you are good at as well as passionate about. Marketing failed on both counts.
At the same time, I didn’t like the idea of being a quitter.
Should I just buckle down and do the marketing tasks, regardless of how unpleasant they seem? Was this a dip that I could forge through, eventually developing the marketing skills to generate significant sales? Or was this a cul-de-sac? Would I spend days and weeks on a repetitive series of tasks I hated, with little to show for my efforts?
What Godin’s little book offered was a way of thinking it through. What I soon realized was that my measure of success with A Fitting Place is not how many books I sell or how many contests I win. It is the simple pleasure of having a reader tell me that my novel made him or her think differently about the complexity of human relationships, about the need to break down social stereotypes about gender, about the importance of taking responsibility for your own decisions. It is the delight of sharing life experiences with book clubs and writing groups. And of course, it’s always nice to be told that A Fitting Place is a “page turner.”
From that perspective, I already know that my novel is successful. Selling another 1,000 or 50,000 books will not materially increase my level of satisfaction.
An intensive marketing campaign would almost certainly be a dead-end rather than a dip.
With Godin’s help, I have begun to get some balance back in my life. I now have time to take a philosophy class, to go for a bicycle ride, and last but not least, to dig into my waist-high “to be read” pile.
I would love to hear how you’re dealing with challenges of marketing.
Mary has made a career out of changing careers.
She spent nearly thirty years in the financial markets, first in New York, and then in New Zealand and Australia, eventually returning to New York.
Along the way, she dropped out several times. In the mid-1980’s, at age 40, Mary and her husband Tom embarked on the three-year sailing voyage that is the subject of her memoir, SAILING DOWN THE MOONBEAM. When the voyage ended, she returned to her career in finance, but dropped out again to provide financial and strategic planning services to the nonprofit community.
In her latest incarnation, she is a full time writer. Her first novel, A FITTING PLACE, was released in May, 2014. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.
How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal
By: Brooke Warner Publisher: She Writes Press Published: October 25, 2013 Genre: Nonfiction Source: Author
Synopsis: How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal offers memoirists an easy-to-follow formula to create a winning book proposal that will attract agents and editors. Brooke Warner is a former acquiring editor and current publisher who breaks the nonfiction proposal into three editorial components and three marketing components. This ebook includes a section about platform-and an explanation of why memoirists need one and how they can build one-as well as real samples from authors who have sold their memoirs to traditional publishers off their proposals. Find easy-to-follow templates and smart tips for navigating agents and publishers, along with best practices memoirists can’t afford not to know!
With a memoir well on its way to completion, I’ve been muddling over what does a writer does once the manuscript is complete, when you believe it’s really ready for the hands of a publisher.
When the opportunity arose to review Brooke Warner’s newly released book, How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal, I signed on to help spread the word about it. Little did I know that a majority of my questions would be answered while I read the book.
Warner succinctly and with clarity provides a step-by-step guide to what a memoirist needs to do in order to place his/her manuscript on the correct pathway to publication. Leaving nothing to chance, she provides tips set apart in such a way that it is easy to thumb back through the book and easily spot them. Here’s an example similar to what you’ll find in Warner’s book:
TIP: THINK OF YOUR BOOK PROPOSAL LIKE A BOOK REPORT YOU WOULD HAVE DONE IN GRADE SCHOOL. IT NEEDS A TITLE PAGE AND A TABLE OF CONTENTS SO THE READER OF THE PROPOSAL KNOWS WHAT THEY CAN EXPECT TO FIND, AND SO THEY CAN SKIP AHEAD IF THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIFIC OF INTEREST TO THEM.
Additionally, Warner provides other best practices information with each chapter. These are extremely well written and easily understood. Samples of each phase are provided, including query letter, components of proposal, marketing research, etc.
Sprinkled along the way are resources Warner believes beneficial to the writer new to the marketing and publishing aspects of book publishing.
Her writing and format are both good examples of what agents and publishers will likely be looking for.
Considering the short length, 88 pages of text and tips, Warner answers all of my questions to date and has demystified the issues of platform, query letters, book proposals and more.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough for people writing memoir who may be reaching that point where issues surrounding marketing and publishing begin to come into focus. This is by far one of the best examples of a “how to” book which clearly maps out the process for you.
* * *
Meet the Author:
Brooke Warner is the founder and president of Warner Coaching Inc., where she specializes in helping writers get published. She is also the publisher of She Writes Press. In her thirteen years in the publishing industry, including seven-plus years as an acquiring editor at Seal Press, Brooke shepherded over 500 books through the publication process. Her expertise is in traditional and new publishing, and she is an equal advocate for publishing with a traditional house and self-publishing. Brooke’s website, www.warnercoaching.com, is the recipient of an award from the Association of Independent Authors for Best Website for Independent Authors. She sits on the board of the National Association of Memoir and She Writes. What’s Your Book? is her first book and she’s proud to be publishing on She Writes Press. Warner lives in Berkeley, California, and works remotely with clients nationally and internationally.