Sunday, February 20, 2011

Be Active on Twitter & Automate It

When I meet with writers at a conference or on the phone, they will often tell me,No one knows me or my writing." Maybe they have written a few magazine articles but never published a book. Or maybe they haven't published anything but want to get published. Other people have written for magazines or newspapers but never written a book (nonfiction or fiction).

First a reminder: I know of no overnight successes in the publishing business. If you have someone who appears to become an overnight success, then look closer at the journey of that person. I've often found they have been in the trenches for years before they achieved their dream of success. OK, with this reality check, now what can you do to begin building your visibility in the community? There is not a singular answer to this question. There are many answers.

One answer is to become active on Twitter. According to Twitter's site, as of September 14, 2010, there are 175 million users who tweet 95 million times a day. Those numbers are right--a million. What are you waiting for? Let's get started.

1. Who is your target audience? Who do you want to reach and with what message? It is important from the beginning to select one or two "themes" to your tweets because this consistency will attract your audience and help you.

2. Create your Twitter profile and add your photo and bio. Get more details in my free Ebook, Mastering Twitter in 10 Minutes or Less.

3. Add a distinctive twitter background to your twitter profile. Here's a free tool to create it.

4. Use a free tool like Hootsuite to send out your tweets and also to schedule them.

5. Locate Twitter Leaders in your area at Twellow. Follow those leaders and learn from their tweets.

6. Use a tool like TweetAdder to automate your twitter process of gaining followers. It is excellent and adding about 100 to 150 followers a day to my Twitter account. You can get 15% off TweetAdder by using code NICHE15.

If you don't like to tweet, then automate your content on Twitter using Google Alerts. Select several key words and pull in content to your twitter account. Follow these ten steps: 1. Do you have a Gmail account? If not create one. While you are signed on to that Gmail account… 2. Go to Google Alerts 3. Select several phrases that you want to turn on alerts 4. Leave the Type as “comprehensive” or from anywhere on the web 5. Change How Often to “as-it-happens” because you want it throughout the day and fresh 6. Change Deliver to: and select “feed.” 7. When you save it, you will see the feed in Google. Notice the orange icon or the word “feed.” Right click on that and copy out the feed URL because you will need it for the next step. 8. Go to Twitterfeed and log on to this free application using your twitter username and password. 9. After you log on to Twitterfeed, you are creating a new Feed. Give your feed a title and paste the RSS feed URL from Google alerts into the feed spot. 10. Click the Advanced Settings. Change “Update Frequency” to every 30 minutes and post up to “3” new updates at a time.

This ten step system will automatically pull content into your twitter account. I have this system set up for some twitter accounts that I do not monitor as closely as I do for my main twitter account.

It is critical to provide content, point to articles, give free resources and not to engage in hard selling (buy me, buy me). It’s a soft sell approach that works on Twitter. With millions of people on Twitter and using some (or all) of these techniques, every writer can increase their presence and activity on Twitter.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why It's Called The Slush Pile

Every writers pitch their ideas to literary agents and publishers. I've listened to many of these pitches personally at writers conferences and I've received stacks of these submissions as an editor and agent.

In a matter of seconds, I can tell if something is going to be worth reading and considering. Yes, seconds. Millions of submissions are in circulation at different offices. The editors and agents are actively looking because it is their business to find fresh talent and publish authors.

I've received many unusual submissions. The number and variety of these submissions grew that I started a file in my desk and labeled it, Strange But True.

Today another one landed in my mail box. Just to be clear, I've not worked for Howard Books for five years Yet a handwritten letter was addressed:

Manuscript Review Committee

Howard Books

Suite D-3 #481

23623 N. Scottsdale Rd.

Scottsdale, AZ 85255

It came to my personal address yet it was addressed to the "committee." OK. I opened it and thankfully it has an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). After I post this message, I'm going to print this entry and mail it to the author with the hopes it will help her see the necessity to have a much better presentation with her pitch.

The letter (typed) and dated February 15, 2011 began, "Dear Sirs," Why would you address a single editor to his personal mail box with Dear Sirs?

First paragraph: "If you could hold in your hands, this moment, the most urgent, significant, consequential revelations of the century, a manuscript so meaningful as to rival the Holy Bible of old, a manuscript containing the most sacred and controversial heavenly truths ever bestowed on the eath (she meant earth); would you publish it?"

OK, this paragraph is engaging yet full of hyperbole (exaggeration). It is in many respects over the top in terms of exaggeration.

Second paragraph: "This manuscript exists. _______ is about 900 pages of the most sacred words of the holy angels of God. This is a powerful, dynamic manuscript from a heavenly perspective, not a mortal imagination. These are deep, thought-provoking, intelligent, inspirational words which will invoke an indelible emotion in the reader. Some will tremble in the soul. Eyes will fill with tears as they recognize these are actual truths of angel's wisdom. This is not another "angel book."

A typical nonfiction book (which this claims to be) is 40 to 80,000 words. The world of books and magazine looks for the word count--not the page count. Estimating 200 words a page, this manuscript is 180,000 words or over 700 pages of a typeset book. That fact alone is enough to get this instantly rejected. The author has no concept of the challenges of book production or the difficulties that such a large book will mean to any publisher--much less thinking about the contents. I'm speaking only of the word count. It is way beyond the normal range.

While these changes are mostly cosmetic (the lack of a personal name address and the lengthy manuscript), let's address a core issue with submissions. You have to send your pitch to the right agent or editor. It has to be someone who identifies with the topic. Howard Books is a "Christian" part of Simon and Schuster. While there is broad definition for the word Christian, as a minimum, the editors hold to the basic Christian doctrines. For example, what do the editors believe about the Bible? I would expect their view to agree with what Billy Graham writes on his website, "But the Bible isn't just another human book. The Bible claims to be something far greater than this: It claims to be the Word of God. In other words, it says that behind its human authors was another author: God Himself. The Bible says, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). If this is true (and as a Christian I believe it is), then it means we aren't free to pick and choose what parts of the Bible we will believe. The whole Bible is God's Word, and the whole Bible teaches us God's truth. The Bible says, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless" (2 Samuel 22:31)."

This submission includes a page of quotations to entice the editor to request a partial or full manuscript submission. Here's one of the quotations, "About hell: "This is not for you or others. Do not be afraid because you think yourself not good enough to enter heaven. Even the most sinful of souls have a place in God's plan. A place will be waiting for all souls, where each will find happiness."

Really? You can follow this link to see what Billy Graham writes about hell but it is a real place.

Bottom-line this author has no idea how to approach an editor with the book idea nor how to send this idea for proper consideration.

As I have written here before, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Tuesday, I'll be answering your questions about book proposals in a free teleseminar. I hope you can attend and will ask a question and pick up my free Ebook.

Also this teleseminar will be the launching my Write A Book Proposal training program. In 12-weeks, I teach step-by-step how to craft a book proposal and sample chapter which will gather the right sort of interest.

Every writer needs to learn all they can to make the best possible impression on the agent or editor. They are searching for a champion who will move their idea through the publishing process and they will ultimately get their book published and into the marketplace. As for this "submission" to the Manuscript Review Committee, it will only land in my "Strange But True" Manila folder.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Get My Step-by-Step Proposal Help

During the last seven years, I have a stream of writers who have contacted me in person or on email. They tell me about the life-changing results from Book Proposals That Sell. They studied the book, used it to write and shape their book proposal and pitch to an agent or editor--and snagged a literary agent or a book contract--when before they had been getting rejected.

I wrote this book as a frustrated acquisitions editor. Each day I searched through the submissions from authors and received incomplete, inadequate and at times strange pitches for book ideas. These authors were not giving me what I needed to champion their projects within the publishing house. I wrote the book to be an agent of change and help writers succeed with their dreams.

While the reactions to this bestselling book have been gratifying., to be honest, the book is not without it's critics. On a regular basis, I hear about the perspective of Book Proposals That Sell--that it is geared toward nonfiction writers. Sometimes novelists will return the book or ask for a refund if they have purchased it online. Early on in this book, I mentioned that it is geared toward nonfiction writers.

Many novelists have gotten a lot of great insight and information from the book--at the time of the writing (key), I was immersed in nonfiction as an author--and as an acquisitions editor. I had spent a fair amount of time in fiction but I didn't work that information into this book. The critics continue as people purchase the book and study it.

Nothing has been changed in that book for years. However as an author and communicator, I have changed and grown and improved. For example, for three years I acquired fiction for Howard Books (a part of Simon and Schuster). I read thousands of submissions and championed novels for the publisher. Also I spent several years as a literary agent--again selling fiction and nonfiction to publishers during this period of my career--and learning a lot of information not built into Book Proposals That Sell.

I've decided to take action on these elements and have developed a new teaching strategy for book proposal creation. I've not seen anything like it in the book publishing marketplace. You can learn about it at: www.writeabookproposal.com. It is a 12-week program to teach you step-by-step how to create an excellent book proposal and sample chapter. Each week during the program, the participants receive a lesson on part of the book proposal creation process along with a specific assignment. The course builds the proposal and sample and at the end of the program (provided you follow the instruction), you will have a solid pitch for your book idea--whether fiction or nonfiction.

To launch this product, I'm holding a free February 22nd teleseminar on proposal creation and marketing. Feel free to ask any question about proposal creation and marketing. I will answer them live during the event. If you can't make the event, don't be concerned because it will be recorded. Anyone who registers for the event, will receive the link with the recording.

In addition, I've created a new Ebook that you can get free just signing up and asking a question. The ebook is called Acceptance or Rejection? 5 Strategies That Make a Difference. When you reach the confirmation page, you can immediately download this free Ebook.

After the event, I will change the teleseminar into an evergreen mode so it will continue to serve you for the days ahead. I look forward to helping you step-by-step to create excellent book proposals.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

An Idea Factory Packed with Inspiration

Almost daily I meet people who are stuck. They've created a product or book or service and need more people to know about it. Yet they have no idea how to take action and get publicity or increase their exposure (and ultimately sales).

If you are in this situation, then you need a copy of Marcia Yudkin's PUBLICITY TACTICS: INSIGHTS ON CREATING LUCRATIVE MEDIA BUZZ. For many years, I've subscribed to a weekly column Yudkin writes called The Marketing Minute. It is excellent. Now she's compiled and organized these columns into this excellent book which is packed with ideas.

The entries into eight parts: Why Pursue Publicity?, Your Attitude Counts, Stellar Publicity Successes, Understand Publicity Timing, Ways to Become Newsworthy, Frequently Overlooked Publicity Tools, and Dealing With Reporters. Each chapter is two pages long. It's the perfect book to pick up, read several of them--then take action on the ideas and improve your visibility in the marketplace. Most of the ideas are free or call for small investment of money but can reap large dividends in publicity and sales. As Yudkin explains in the introduction, "My tips apply whether you're promoting a major product launch, your long-established professional firm, a save-the-redwoods campaign, a church fundraiser or yourself as an authority."

Many chapters include a short quote as Food for Thought such as this one from John D. Rockefeller, "Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing." (page 74)

Whether you need a jolt of creativity to your marketing or a fresh idea, reach for this title and keep it handy to refer to it again and again. I highly recommend this power-packed book.

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