Imitate Good Ideas
I am constantly looking for good ideas that I can imitate and apply to my own writing life and publishing work. This entry on The Writing Life is going to cover a number of ideas. My hope is that you will apply these insights to your own writing situation.
First, I want tell you about something that I had heard about but never actually seen until yesterday. You've probably heard about the book Mistaken Identity because of the intense media on television about it. It was the theme of yesterday's Oprah Show. Howard Books was the publisher for this book and a former colleague sent me a short email that Mistaken Identity will be at the top of the New York Times bestseller list on April 13, 2008. OK, today is April 3rd so how did he know that information? I've heard these lists are compiled about 12 days out from the actual publication date. The email announcing the news about this book included a PDF attachment. At first, I opened the PDF, saw the placement and celebrated. Later in the day, I looked closer at this attachment and printed it. This document was the full extended New York Times list for April 13. It was a new experience for me.
If You've Written A Memoir...
A couple of days ago, Alex Mandossian interviewed Julie Andrews. You can listen to the interview now in replay or look at this page for the replay. The book is a memoir yet notice what they are giving away to people who come to this book tour website. It's not a portion of the new book but instead it is a series of tips about how to get the most out of reading with your child. Yes the site pushes people toward the memoir but Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, also have a series of children's books. Notice this sort of cross-marketing effort that I found fascinating. My question if you are pitching or writing a memoir. Can you imitate this good idea for your project?
If You Have A Book To Promote...
I've pointed out Book Tour in some past entries but not for some time. The creators are from Wired magazine so savvy about using the Internet tools. It's free and I did a bit of experimentation. With some simple HTML, you can make your profile as well as the events "clickable" or so they open a new window and lead someone to another website. Here's my author profile on Book Tour. It didn't take much of my time (always something writers seem to be concerned about in this marketing area) yet I believe it is well worth doing. I updated my profile with my forthcoming travel schedule for this year and included the various conferences and speaking dates. Take a few minutes and imitate this idea for your own writing work. You never know how it will pay off for you.
If You Need A Platform...
Whether it is in the queries or book proposals that come across my agency work or the questions I am asked at a writers conference or in any other setting, most writers seem to understand publishers are looking for authors with platforms. I want to be clear because publishers are not building platforms but looking for authors who already have built the platform. This situation has been true in nonfiction for some time but it is also secondary but important for fiction authors. Many writers groan when they hear this news, feel rejected and slink off somewhere to moan to each other. In my view, they need to stop such actions and begin to build their platform. Yes, it will take time. It takes time to learn your writing craft and marketing skills and many other things. Start a newsletter and then regularly build your audience. Again I'm going to point to this PDF resource which is a 150-page FREE Ebook. You have to take action, get this book, print it out and study it. Then start your own newsletter and audience building for your own platform.
I've mentioned this example in the past but please bear with me because I've got some updated information--so read carefully. In this platform area, I've mentioned New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber. Several years ago I was at a conference with Debbie and she orchestrated a mob scene for her book signing at the local Barnes and Nobles in Amarillo, Texas. If you haven't done it, check out her guestbook and the data that she is collecting. About a year ago, a Seattle newspaper interview mentioned that Debbie had over 70,000 names on her list. An article in the March 31 issue of Publishers Weekly shows that Debbie continues to grow this list of readers and now it is over 100,000 strong. Notice the amazement of her fellow novelist in the article but also how Debbie is using this list. First, she has grown this list over 25 years in the business and second, she uses the data to tell people about her book signings in a particular area of the country and build new readers. I believe it's another good idea that any author can imitate. It will not happen overnight but begin to take some steps in this direction for your writing life.
Some of these practices are easy but will take time and investment. Are you willing to chisel away at it and make it happen? I'm encouraging you to take action and imitate the good ideas that come across your path.