Sunday, November 30, 2008

For The Strange Holiday Experiences

The holidays are full of surprises and changes from the normal routine. Often we are with family that we rarely see or other people which take us out of the routine experiences. It's refreshing and good in many ways. Other times it brings challenges and even strange experiences.

I've had a few of those strange experiences over the last few days. There is no need to give you the specifics as I attempt to be diplomatic yet reach my point. When I have these different experiences, I'm committed to learning from them and growing through the strangeness until it is resolved in the best possible way.

If you write or want to get published (or have been publishing), I want to suggest several action steps with these experiences.

First, in your own private way, write down the incident, the feelings and the dialogue, Maybe you pick up an ink pen or pencil and put these words into a journal or open a file on your computer and type in the thoughts. I prefer the computer option since my handwriting had detoriated the point that people tell me they struggle to read my printing. Hey, I understand those comments because after the fact, I struggle to read it as well. While the concepts are fresh you capture the information. I've found time tends to blur the details of these experiences.

Next, look for places you can plug these incidents into your own writing life. For certain stories, you may have to changed the names or let family members read the stories and gain their permission before you publish anything (online or in print).

For some stories, I'd encourage you to go ahead and create the articles. Choose a potential publication or audience as you write so your completed article is an appropriate length in terms of word count and focus which means you lead the reader to a single point or message or takeaway. The polish that story and write a query letter related to it. Some magazines will only look at a completed article if they have first seen the query letter and expressed interest. Other publications will read the completed article. It is your responsibility as the writer to research the publication and understand their needs and preferences.

Some of the most popular and widely-read articles that I've ever written in my years in publishing come from these personal experience stories. Many magazines prefer first person stories for certain sections of their magazine or maybe even a regular column. Again it is your responsibility as the writer to locate these opportunities.

Seasonal stories are always in vogue for magazines. As a magazine editor, I recall the challenge of finding enough stories connected to holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter or Valentine's Day or Fourth of July. Immediately when they happen is the best time to write these stories. You have several months to polish them before sending them out to the appropriate publication.

If you don't want to use them in a magazine article, then save the stories and weave them into a nonfiction book project or totally disguise the details and use them in a fiction project. You can even use a single incident in a magazine article (or two), a nonfiction book then as the spark of an idea for a short story and finally as an incident in your novel. The possibilities are endless.

I hear many authors bemoaning the limitations for their writing. Instead be aware of the boundless possibilities--if you capture the stories and proactively use them in your writing.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Find A Need and Fill It

New books are continually entering the marketplace. It is one of those realities of the market which every author needs to know about and acknowledge. There were over 400,000 new books published in 2007 which is a lot of books when you consider the typical big box bookstore only has 10,000 to 15,000 titles.

I was amused to see Internet marketing expert Penny Sansevieri's tweet about an email from an author who proclaimed, "I don't need to market my book because people will just find it." Right. It's like throwing a party when you don't send any invitations then wondering why no one came to it. (As a complete aside, I encourage you to sign up for Penny's free newsletter. Why? To confirm your subscription, you receive a seven-page list of Top Author Marketing Experts Confidential Contacts. A free resource for every author or would-be author.)

With the volume of books coming into the market and places like magazines and newspapers cutting back on their review space, it is increasingly difficult to get readers--and reviews of your books. Here's where I'm going to with this post: that situation creates an opportunity or a need which you can fill--even if you've never been published or are much published. How are you supporting good books that you discover? Are you telling other people about these books (even if you don't get paid for that proclamation)? It can pay off for you.

Last week I pointed out the free and public section of the American Society of Journalists and Authors newsletter. besides great articles from professional writers, this section also reviews how-to write books for writers. I was reading this December newsletter (actually the printed version of my member copy) and noticed Sandra Dark's excellent review of a Writer's Digest book, Mastering Online Research (page 14).

For several months, I have had Mastering Online Research on my bookshelf and I had never opened the pages of it. From reading the review, I opened my copy and began to read it and quickly discovered a valuable resource which I was not using. I could have quit doing anything additional with this book yet I had invested the time to read the book and wondered if I could do anything additional with it. I looked at the Amazon page for this book. While it released in July 2007 and I assume promoted as a part of the Writer's Digest Book Club to thousands of writers, I was surprised to see that no one had written a customer review about the book on Amazon.

There are many reasons for no one writing a customer review for the book. Possibly no one reminded the author about the importance of these customer reviews. People make buying decisions constantly at the largest bookstore on the planet (Amazon) based on these customer reviews. It does not speak well of a book when there is nothing there and the book has been in the marketplace almost a year and a half. I discovered a need which I could easily fill so I wrote my brief, positive review of Mastering Online Research.

Besides posting that review on Amazon, since I'm the creator of those words, I'm going to repurpose my review here: "Effective research is one of the critical essentials for every writer or would-be writer. In MASTERING ONLINE RESEARCH, you can learn from a master researcher Maura Shaw. Whether you need some basics on using a bootlean operator to narrow your search (fully explained in the text) or need to learn advance search techniques, this comprehensive guide will give you the step-by-step insight."

"It's too easy to neglect the range of possibilities with millions of pages of information online. This up-to-date resource will expand your research skills and help you save time while making effective use of the Internet. I learned a great deal from this book and plan to refer to it often in my own research and writing efforts. I recommend this well-done title."

As someone who loves books and writing, I encourage you to follow a similar pattern for books that you read and love and want others to know about the value of that book. You can take a few minutes to write a positive customer review.

After your review appears, I recommend you take a couple of additional steps--to help yourself and the relationship building process in the marketplace. First, look for a means to contact that author about your review. For most authors, it's fairly easy to find their contact information. These authors will be appreciative and delighted to hear from you. Second, look for a way to tell the publisher about your review. Usually you will be contacting the publicity department for a particular publisher. Too often these publicity people are on information overload. They are promoting way too many titles and can't keep up with who is doing what to help their promotional efforts. They will be delighted to hear whatever you have done to promote their author and their book titles. This brief contact from you will build some good will for you in the future.

You can't imagine how it will pay off in the future. Just think, it came from finding a need and filling it.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Free Seasoned Writer Advice

When it comes to following advice from other writers, I've always looked for the most experienced sources. For example, if I'm attending a writer's conference, I want to take instruction from the most experienced and most published instructor. I will often carefully research their background as I make my choices about which classes to attend.

Not that I can't learn from new writers, from my experience, I've found someone who has written many books has much more depth to their teaching than someone who has only published four or five books.

For many years I've been an active member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. I've written about their conventions and other aspects of the organization. It is an unusual writer's group because to become a member, you have to meet specific qualifications. While the ASJA has a public aspect to their conferences, they have a monthly magazine for members. The internal part of the magazine is for members only but each issue has public pages with insightful articles which ASJA members write for the publication.

I recommend you sign up to receive the public version of the newsletter which is free. For example, the December issue includes an insightful interview from David Kohn with Philip Turner, the editorial director of Union Square Press. Or you can read what Joan Price learned about Book Publicity.

As an ASJA member, I look forward to each issue of the newsletter and normally I often read it the day that I receive it. Now you can read the public portion and grow in your writing with free seasoned writer advice.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Writers and Social Media

Many writers balk at the concept of marketing or interacting with the general public. To them, it's completely outside their comfort zone to interact with hundreds of people. Instead, they want to sit at their keyboard or typewriter and crank out more words which ultimately become books or Ebooks or articles.

Besides, they've taken the plunge and created a website. Isn't that enough of a reach into the marketplace?

They have surveyed the key personality traits of writers and editors. The bulk of these individuals are introverts who prefer peace and quiet to loads of noise and activity. So why do you insert yourself into the noise and activity of social marketing?

Some of you reading these entries will be surprised that in many regards I'm also an introvert who prefers sitting in the corner reading a book to being the life of the party. Yet I've always had a keen interest in marketing because I understand the vital connection between marketing and getting your product into people's hands.

What if you created the most amazing party or celebration and no one came? Or what if only a few people came? Wouldn't you be disappointed that no one accepted your invitation? A similar action takes place in the book world. Authors create well-crafted books and publishers take those books, edit them and distribute them into the marketplace. Yet if no one hears about the books and purchases them, then they remain in a warehouse. Ultimately the publisher sells the books for pennies on the dollar and destroys the rest of the books. They never find their audience and go out of print which is a very sad state of affairs--yet something which happens often in today's market.

As an author or want-to-be author, it is your responsibility to learn about the variety of means where you can touch the marketplace and connect with potential readers. There are an endless supply of ideas in this area. If you want to see the full range of ideas for authors, I encourage you to pick up a copy of John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Books which is over 700 pages. The index isn't included in the book and you have to download it online yet this resource is remarkable and highly recommended.

Here's a basic FREE resource to understand social media and small business. Writers are a small business and the sooner you begin to think of yourself in this manner, the better. John Jantsch has written this excellent and straightforward explanation. It's worth your reading time to absorb this 23-page Let's Talk, Social Media for Small Business Ebook and gain from John's insight.

Finally, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all that needs to be done as a writer--the writing, learning the craft of writing, the relationship building and the marketing. In a word, don't let it overwhelm you. Tackle what you can on a consistent basis--then let the rest go. The most important aspect from my view is to continually grow, improve and to be on that upward trajectory. As the old cliche goes, "Inch by inch, it's a cinch."

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Committed To Regular Reading

Over a year ago in these entries, I gave some reading statistics from bestselling author Harvey Mackay's newspaper column. They are disappointing:

"* Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.

* 51 percent of the American population never reads a book of more than 400 pages after they complete their formal education.

* 73 percent of all books in libraries are never checked out.

* The average American watches 32 hours of TV every week.

* The average American reads only eight hours (books, newspapers, magazines, Yellow Pages, etc.) every week.

* The average American annually spends 10 times more on what he puts on his head than what puts into his head."

With these statistics, it is little wonder that parts of the publishing business are struggling (and even predicting the struggle will continue for some.)

If you want to be involved in some aspect of publishing (books or magazine writing where your work appears in print), then you need to be committed to reading on a regular basis. It's important to take in great information through reading. The experience will fill your mind and heart with something important which will influence your writing. Create a habit of reading. Why?

Consider these additional statistics from Harvey Mackay:

* "If you read just one book a month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world.

* If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world's foremost leading authorities on that subject

* If you read just 15 minutes a day -- every day for one year -- you can complete 20 books."

Often my own reading for pleasure happens early in the morning or late at night. It is a consistent part of my writing life to be reading nonfiction and fiction in many different areas. I read way beyond the books and magazines that I write about in these entries--and I do it on a planned, disciplined and regular basis. Reading is just as much a part of my publishing life as writing and the two disciplines work in tandem. Do they for you and your writing life? Even 15 minutes of reading can make a huge difference--if done on a consistent basis.

Finally, some readers are concerned if they don't see consistent tweets from me or entries about the writing life. Early tomorrow morning my wife and I are flying to the Austin, Texas area. It's a quick family related trip and I'm unplugging from my computer and not taking any gadget to connect. I will admit to slipping my AlphaSmart in my carry-on in case I get some huge inspiration. My wife's aunt turns 100 tomorrow and we'll be there with other parts of the family to celebrate Aunt Mary's milestone. I'll be back and continue my entries about writing and publishing.

In the meantime, I've got one of my biggest decisions to make: which books to carry on this quick trip for my own reading time.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Expand Your Territory

I began yesterday's entry pointing to a USA Today story about Guy Kawasaki.

Repeatedly in these entries, I've encouraged writers to expand their influence or build their platform or influence in the public. It's one of the key elements that editors and agents are looking for when they open your proposals or pitches. Why? People who have followers or a ready-made audience are better candidates for their books or their magazine articles. Editors for magazines are looking for stories which they can highlight on the cover and sell more copies of their publication. It's a simple common sense fact but in the creative process, many writers lose track of these details.

In several recent entries, I've mentioned the social marketing called Twitter where you write something in 140 characters. As a writer you learn how to tell interesting things in short bursts. It's a great skill for any writer to enhance and develop.

I don't know if you've looked at Guy Kawasaki's Twitter profile but as of this writing he has 25, 898 followers. This number fluxuates constantly but that's a lot of individuals who receive his "tweets."

This week, Guy posted a detailed article about how to increase your followers on Twitter. If you want to gain a following, it's something worth considering in your array of various ways to touch an audience. Following some of the advice in Guy's article, I set up TweetLater to automatically follow and automatically welcome people. This system allows you to send a message to welcome your followers. I've created one that is distinct for me. What are you doing to create one which will be personal for you? (If you are even using this system). If you need some basics about Twitter, then download this simple Ebook called Mastering Twitter in 10 Minutes or Less.

More than anything for this aspect of the business, make it fun and your own personality. It's part of our constant search for the audience and balance in our lives.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Accepting Failure

The USA Today headline blared, "Entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki doesn't accept failure." What's up with that?

Through the years, I've heard Guy speak a number of times in different settings. When I worked at Christianity.com, I met Guy at a conference (years ago). He is an out-going, highly-visible and innovative person. I encourage you to read the USA Today article and in particular this last quote: "At the end of my life, is it better to say that I empowered people to make great stuff, or that I died with a net worth of $10 billion? " Kawasaki says. "Obviously I'm picking the former, although I would not mind both." You can actually hear Guy Kawasaki tomorrow (Tuesday, November 11th) if you follow this link.

I began to consider what it takes as a writer in today's environment to not accept failure. It means summoning the courage to persist in the middle of rejection. It means continually pitching and knocking on doors until you locate the right one (or ones) which open for your work.

If you want to get your book idea published, are you learning the best possible way to pitch and position your idea when you talk with literary agents and editors? The expectations of editors and agents are high ones for book proposals and manuscripts because of the flood of information coming their direction. You have seconds to capture their attention and you don't want to squander that opportunity.

I've been re-reading Fern Reiss' excellent book, The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days. On page 18, Reiss includes a remarkable list of books which were self-published when introduced to the reading public. Here's just a few of 27 titles:

A Time to Kill by John Grisham

In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Elements of Style by William Strunk

The Publishing Game is focused on how you can create your own book and push it into the market. It honestly says, "The entry barriers to independent publishers are high. True, by independently publishing you bypass the agents and publishers who wouldn't even unwrap your manuscript. You have control. Unfortunately, unless you have a direct line to your customers, you may nonetheless find it difficult to get your book into circulation." (page 18 & 19). Then the promise of the book, "On the other hand, there are creative ways to bypass these entry barriers. This book tells you how."

The route to getting published is not easy. Can you take a smaller (and shorter) goal such as writing for magazines before your book idea gets into print? Absolutely. Editors and agents are looking for evidence of your involvement in the publishing world--and writing for print magazines can validate and build that confidence.

Keep stretching and learning. The next bit of information you gain from your writing education may provide the key to open the door of opportunity. I encourage you to look into a session I did with eight top editors and literary agents called Secrets About Proposals. You can instantly access this information, download the audio and listen to it. A second tool that I created to help you get on the publisher and agent radar is Proposal Secrets:

This audio coaching program will help answer the typical questions that authors have about pitching and proposals.

Finally I want to return to something everyone can apply to their writing life: attitude. Look inside and summon the courage to persist and move ahead with your dreams and not accept failure. This attitude will show up in your writing.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chase Rainbows In the Rain

I love to see the rainbows in the desert It does not happen often because we don't get much rain. The perfect combination of rain and sunshine creates that multi-colored arch streaking across the sky.

Many times in these entries, I will point to an article in The New Yorker magazine which arrives in my mailbox every week. Often as soon as possible, I will read the various articles. If I fall behind, they tend to stack up and I will miss something significant. Last night I read through the November 10th issue. Many people don't notice the author of a particular article but as a writer, it is always a combination of the subject of the article and the author which will draw me to a particular story. I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell and his contributions to the magazine. I have mentioned Gladwell's excellent book, The Tipping Point in other entries.

Gladwell has caught my attention again with his article, The Uses of Adversity which was thankfully posted online. The full article is worth reading but here's a couple of interesting paragraphs quite a ways into the article, "It's one thing to argue that being an outsider can be strategically useful. But Andrew Carnegie went farther. He believed that poverty provided a better preparation for success than wealth did; that, at root, compensating for disadvantage was more useful, developmentally, than capitalizing on advantage."

"This idea is both familiar and perplexing. Consider the curious fact that many successful entrepreneurs suffer from serious learning disabilities. Paul Orfalea, the founder of the Kinko's chain, was a D student who failed two grades, was expelled from four schools, and graduated at the bottom of his high-school class. "In third grade, the only word I could read was 'the,' " he says. "I used to keep track of where the group was reading by following from one 'the' to the next." Richard Branson, the British billionaire who started the Virgin empire, dropped out of school at fifteen after struggling with reading and writing. "I was always bottom of the class," he has said. John Chambers, who built the Silicon Valley firm Cisco into a hundred-billion-dollar corporation, has trouble reading e-mail. One of the pioneers of the cellular-phone industry, Craig McCaw, is dyslexic, as is Charles Schwab, the founder of the discount brokerage house that bears his name. When the business-school professor Julie Logan surveyed a group of American small-business owners recently, she found that thirty-five per cent of them self-identified as dyslexic."

If you are one of those who struggle with a learning disability, you can gain encouragement from this news. If you don't have one, you can still gain encouragement looking at the persistence and determination of these dyslexic learners who became successful.

Another fascinating article in the same issue is a detailed profile of bestselling author Thomas Friedman called The Bright Side. I devour these profiles in The New Yorker and unfortunately only the abstract is online. (But I understand The New Yorker is selling magazines so you will have to purchase this one to read the full article.) Friedman is a much published and colorful writer, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author (among many other things).

The paragraph which stood out to me relates to Friedman's mother, Margaret Friedman. "She died earlier this year, and Friedman wrote a column headlined "Call Your Mother," which was largely based on the eulogy he gave at her funeral. "She was the most uncynical person in the world,"he wrote. "She was not naive. She had taken her knocks. But every time life knocked her down, she got up, dusted herself off and kept on marching forward, motivated by the saying that pessimists are usually right, optimists are usually wrong, but most great changes are made by optimists." Friedman said to me, "I don't do pessimism." (page 58)

It's important to focus on the possibilities for your writing and work instead of focused on rejection. I love what Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield teach writers about how they handle rejection. They say, "Next." Then move ahead to the next opportunity.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Can You Find The Way?

I watch the news when I work out on my treadmill and that news is generally dismal these days. It's easy to fall into a negative way of thinking about your writing or the publishing world.

This week I received a fresh reminder in Gary D. Foster's newsletter, Religious Market Update where he included this item from a four-year-old Publishers Weekly: "Tough Odds Although the data is 4 years old, it is basically unchanged in ’08: 950,000 titles out of 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies, while just 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. The average book in America sells about 500 copies. Only 10 books sold more than a million copies in ’04. Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000. Nearly 200,000 new titles are published each year. (Publishers Weekly, 7/16/04)"

My encouragement to you is not to dwell on the statistics but look for a way to be the exception and succeed. It will take some diligent searching and trial and error on your part but it is possible. As a writer, your first task is to craft an excellent product with riveting page-turning excitement (whether fiction or nonfiction). Then once you have that product, you need to figure out how to reach your audience. Understand that more than 50% of the books sold are purchased outside of the bookstore. You will need to tap those non-bookstore sales channels.

Some times you can look at successful people and wonder if they know anything about failure. Just take two minutes and listen to what third baseman Brooks Robinson, newscaster Ted Koppel and singer Amy Grant have in common. Or watch what author Caitlin Friedman says about the challenges and opportunities in today's market.

It does not happen overnight but takes persistence and determination to find your way through the publishing maze.

As another resource for you, look into this link which gives 100 useful search engines for writers. I will not gloss over the truth that the days ahead can be challenging for writers yet there are ways to achieve your goals. Are you determined to find them?

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Boost Your Writing Productivity

Each of us have the same number of hours in our day but some people seem to use them much better than others. Last night I finished reading a book from my friend, Bob Bly which came out earlier this year, Getting Started As A Freelance Writer. A prolific writer, Bob and I have been friends for many years.

In April, we were together in New York City and he gave me a copy of Getting Started As A Freelance Writer. I brought the book home and put it on my shelf as a book that I'd like to read--but I did not do it right away. Why? I believe it is the title for this book. I've been writing for over 20 years and I wondered if I needed to read a book about how to "get started."

What I discovered is a book which overdelivers and is much more than it appears on the surface. Many people want to know how to begin the journey of a freelance writer. To learn a new skill like freelancing, you are wise to follow someone who has "been there." Bob Bly writes with authority and wisdom about the details of a freelance writing career.

Whether you are just starting out or have been in the writing business for a long time, you can gain vast insight from this book. The book covers the details of so many issues which concern writers like how to get properly compensated, how to concentrate on the main thing you want to do (write), how to run your writing career as a business (and all of the details), what are the range of possibilities for your writing and how do you grow your business.

In the introduction, Bob points out a key distinction of this book: "One thing that makes this book different from other "how to become a freelance writer" books on the market is the experience and financial success of the author." (page 2)

The information in Chapter 13: Maximizing Your Personal Productivity" is worth the cost of this entire book. Bob gives six keys (and the explanation in the book): Don't do everything yourself, don't shy away from the Internet, don't become addicted to Internet chat, don't get up, don't go out, and don't undervalue your time." (page 170-171). Also Bob includes nine ways to increase your personal productivity.

Getting Started As A Freelance Writer is packed with useful information for every writer--beginning or professional. I highly recommend you get this title and study every chapter. I highlighted and flagged a number of pages in this book as I read it cover to cover.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Master Twitter In Less Than 10 Minutes

It seems like I'm constantly learning something new. Change is a constant part of our publishing landscape. It's comfortable to keep doing things the way they have always been done. But if we are to grow and improve, change is in your path.

Twitter is one of the latest communication tools that have swept the Internet landscape. At first, I resisted it but for the last several months I've been involved in Twitter. If you haven't tried it, here's a resource to Mastering Twitter in 10 Minutes or Less.

I hope you will try it and experience the benefits. Like email, the television, the phone and many other distractions in your daily life, you will have to learn how to tame it. There are many free tools for you to handle that part of the process as well. A free download that I like a great deal is called Twhirl.

I encourage you to download this free Ebook about Twitter, read it, then try it. You will be surprised at the new connections you will make with it.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Help For The Career Novelist

Writing is a solitary profession. If you have a novel in process or are one of the estimated 8 million people who have a novel in their desk drawer, where do you turn for professional help? (This 8 million number is in Get Published! page 64).

In this entry, I want to suggest a free resource for anyone who is working on a novel or already publishing a novel. In the mid-90s, literary agent Donald Maass wrote an excellent book, The Career Novelist: A Literary Agent Offers Strategies for Success which is still listed on Amazon. Maass offers a free download of the book in a PDF format on his web site.

In the book, he explains his purpose for this book, "If this book is about nothing else, it is about the practical, day-to-day solutions, methods, and techniques that I use to make my clients' careers happen. This book is the fruit of seventeen years on the job, of thousands of battles fought in the trenches. It is about marketing, contracts, hidden traps, strategies that work, ways writers go wrong—in short, everything I can think of that you might need to make your career a success." (page 15).

He started his career as a junior editor at Dell Publishing and shares his perspective saying, "It is a view that I wish to share with you. It is not the view of a jaded professional; I am still too enthusiastic about the fiction business for that. It is the view of a realistic, practical, hands-on professional. It is also the view of one who has worked on three sides of this business: in the author's study, in the editor's chair, and on the agent's phone." (page 16) What a valuable perspective for any writer to gain from these pages.

This book has a healthy dose of realism as Maass explains, "Fiction is, today, a tough business. Many agents would prefer to find some good nonfiction to sell. Placing novels is a slow, difficult, and discouraging process. It can take many books to get a career going. With nonfiction you need only one snappy idea." (page 17)

I love his concept that little steps add up and would encourage you to adopt this philosophy. He writes, "This book is about the little steps that add up, over time, to big results. This book is not for dreamers who want to get rich quick, though I have nothing against speed." (page 18) "Solutions, strategies, knowledge, practical plans, damage control, managing success . . . in short, the path of the career novelist." (page 19)

In yesterday's entry, I encouraged you to support good books. One of those methods was to write customer review for Amazon. While I downloaded The Career Novelist: A Literary Agent Offers Strategies for Success from this link on Donald Maass's Literary Agency website, if you enjoy the book as I did, I encourage you to give it a Five Star review on the Amazon page. I did.

OK, you follow the advice in this entry and download the book. Will you read it cover to cover and profit from the experience? The proof is in the application. I'm encouraging more than the reading experience. I'm encouraging application to your own novel.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

How To Support Good Books

Whether you have never published a book or have written many books, how do you support good books?

We have a wealth of reading material. Pick your type of reading and it is certainly being produced in large numbers. The "catch" for these new books is getting any attention or reviews. Newspapers and magazines are constantly cutting back on the amount of review space they will allow in their publications. The majority of magazines only want to give the space to positive reviews. Maybe you've written some book reviews. It's a great place to break into the market, get in print and learn about books in the process. Through the years, I've written hundreds and maybe thousands of book reviews. I began much of my freelance writing with book reviews and it is something that I continue today. In recent years, I have not written many reviews for printed magazines but many times I will support a good book with my online resources.

If you love good books, in this entry, I want to suggest some ways you can support those titles.

First, buy the books. Whether you get them in your local bookstore or online, purchase the books.

Then when you find a good title which helped you or you found a page-turning novel, make a commitment to tell others about it. It's this aspect of telling others that I want to focus for this entry. One of the easiest ways to tell others is through a customer review on Amazon or Borders or Barnes and Noble. Your words don't have to be lengthy or profound. A couple of sentences will suffice for your review along with a five star rating. It is surprising the number of books which have no reviews or only a few customer reviews.

It's only during the last few years that I have been actively writing these customer reviews. If you look at my own Amazon profile (this link), you can scan down the list of books on Amazon and notice some of my books have a number of reviews like Book Proposals That Sell yet other books have no reviews. At the moment, I've written over 220 customer reviews on Amazon. It's one of the ways I support good books and tell others about it.

Also I recommend you blog about good books. Readers will follow your recommendations.

Another way is to use Twitter to tell people about good books. For example, Amazon has a permanent link for each review. You can paste that permanent link on Twitter along with some words. Some of the people who follow you on Twitter will go over read your review and then purchase the book or at least put it on their Amazon wish list for the next time they are buying books.

I participate in several online forums and often in my posts to these forums, I will mention a resource and provide the link to take people right to the page where my review is located. Today I posted a new review for Samuel Greengard's AARP Crash Course in Finding the Work You Love: The Essential Guide to Reinventing Your Life. If you are thinking about changing careers or reinventing yourself, this book is excellent and something I recommend. Notice I have a short link in my post to take you right to the Amazon page. I used a tool like snipurl or tinyurl to make this link. Why? Because often in emails and other formats, the long Amazon link will be broken. If it is broken, it's not easy for someone to use it and go to the page where you direct them.

I encourage you to do more than just read good books. Take the proactive step to tell other people about them. You will be glad you did.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

For Internet Book Marketing Insight

How can you level the playing field for your book to get any attention (and garner sales) in a crowded book market?

An answer you should think about--no matter where you are in the process is through the Internet and more than half of the books are sold outside of the bookstore. Recently I found a terrific resource to help in this area: Red Hot Internet Publicity. This book includes great quotations which are highlighted throughout the book for inspiration like "Eight-seven percent of blog readers are book buyers." (Page 95)

Penny Sansevieri covers the gamut of Internet marketing tools like websites, keywords, search engines, e-commerce blogs, podcasts, Internet Press Releases, virtual book events, autoresponders, email newsletters, Ebooks and cultivating your relationship with Amazon. Each chapter is loaded with ready-to-apply URLs and insight. She writes with experience and authority about a topic where she has intimate familiarity.

In fact, Sansevieri lays out her goal on page 169 saying, "I want Red Hot Internet Publicity to be different. I want you to put down this book with not only a mountain of inspiration, but a plan as well. Book marketing isn't an easy task. It takes time, effort, and lots of sweat equity and most of all, it takes a plan."

Get this book--and let the planning (and success) for your Internet marketing of your book begin.

Even experienced Internet marketer will gain value from a book like Red Hot Internet Publicity. I consider these types of books a success if I only learn a few insights--and with this book I found a number of new tricks to try in the days ahead.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Unexpected Book For Sale

I arrived to the restaurant for my lunch meeting a few minutes early so I went into the nearby Borders. Whenever I enter one of the big box stores, I always like to see the "for sale" material in the entry. For example, I found an audio book by a former President of the United States for only $5.99 and it probably originally retailed for $29.95. Many people outside of publishing don't realize these products are on the path of destruction. If they aren't sold, they will be returned to the publisher and destroyed. As much as I love books, I hate to think about it but it's the reality for unsold products.

As I glanced through the various books, I was surprised to find several copies of Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder by Herschel Walker. The original sticker price of $20.95 was on this book but now it was priced at $2.99.

While holding the book in my hand, I was instantly transported to the last time I held this particular book about eight months ago or last April. In New York City, I spent a day with editors at a number of publishing houses. An editor at a Simon and Schuster imprint showed a copy of Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. It was his first book at the publishing house and he barely allowed me to hold it for a minute explaining, "This book is embargoed until it's release and Herschel will be on Good Morning America talking about it."

Some books are embargoed where retailers are specifically forbidden to sell the book ahead of a certain release date and Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder fell into this category and the publisher had high hopes for the title. It was totally unexpected to see this book for sale as a remainder in Borders.

There are several lessons for any book author or potential book author from my brief experience. First, many authors are dreaming about a major publishing house to take their book proposal or book manuscript and bring it into the bookstore. Those major publishers are impatient for success with their books and often give is a small window to perform in terms of sales or they put it out of print. With a single letter to the author from the publisher, a book can be put out of print and the remainders sold. The smaller publishes are often more patient with authors and keep their books in print for a much longer period of time.

Also remember as a book author, it is all about book sales. An appearance on national television does not make a promotion campaign for a book. The marketing and promotion process is continual for any author who wants to find their audience. Some times books take a while to locate that audience. As the author, you have the greatest passion (and responsibility) for your own book promotion. Yes, you may prefer to be writing the next book but never forget the books in print and the need for a steady stream of sales.

Another lesson is that not every book succeeds in the marketplace--even a name brand sports figure. Publishers gather the best information at the time and make a decision. Some books succeed unexpectedly and others flounder and disappear.

As a book author, you have to be aware of the massive amount of new books and backlist books in the marketplace. There is a continual need to be telling people about your book and it's availability to generate those sales. I love the famous saying from P.T. Barnum in the front of Raleigh Pinskey's fascinating bestseller, 101 Ways To Promote Yourself. "Barnum is the father of a well-known marketing cry, 'Without promotion something terrible happens--nothing!'"

You can't control the future for how the marketplace will receive your books. Instead be committed to doing what you can do.

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