What’s Your Plan?
How did 2010 turn out for your writing life? Did you get as much into print or online as you planned? Or did you plan at all?
Many writers have a haphazard system for getting their material submitted and out into the marketplace. They work at it off and on without any type of consistent action, then they act surprised when little or nothing happens.
I've written many times about the necessity for a writer to learn his craft and improve their writing skills. It happens through consistency and constant learning and growth. Through experience their communication abilities increase and more of their work appears in print or online. As you write better, you will be compensated better (in most cases) for your writing. The principles are the same for growing your audience, your presence in the marketplace and improving your marketing skills. You need a plan then to consistently execute the plan. If you fail to plan, you should not be surprised when little or nothing happens.
As Raleigh Pinskey writes in the early pages of her excellent book, 101 Ways to Promote Yourself, "P.T. Barnum is the father of a well-known marketing cry, 'Without promotion something terrible happens--nothing!'"
What are you wanting to accomplish in the year ahead? A typical goal might be to gain more people coming to your personal website---or traffic as it is called in the Internet world. What steps can you take to generate more traffic and increased relationships because as John Kremer consistently teaches, writers sell books through building relationships.
I suggest you tap into this free resource from Anthony Morrison, 30 Days to Massive Traffic. This 76-page resource will not cost anything but it will require effort on your part. First download it, print it, read it but then apply it to your life. You will see a different result for your work in the days ahead. More people will know about you and your work.
I work with a number of first-time authors who ask me about whether they need to gather permissions for their work. While I am not a lawyer (the first thing that I remind them), in most cases they do not need to get permission. Now if it is a poem or a song, then it is likely they do need permission because of how those forms are treated in the marketplace. If they are quoting a few sentences from a full-length book and refer to the source, it is unlikely that they need to get permission from the publisher.
Recently I read Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry's new book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It...Successfully! This book is loaded with sound advice on many areas of the publishing process--including permissions. As they write on page 212, "Don't start getting permissions too soon, because you don't want to waste your time or money. However, since it often takes a while to track down a pesky permission--and all permissions should be handed in with your finished manuscript--we suggest the following process:
"1. Break your permissions into three piles. Definites, Maybes, Unlikelies. Track down all sourcing and contact information for the Definites as early as possible. Get prices and any necessary forms. This will help you guesstimate total costs and figure out how much you'll have left over for the Maybes and Unlikelies."
"2. Don't pay for a thing until you're sure what's going in your book. This way, you won't wind up spending money on a Definite that turns out to be an Unlikely."
Then Eckstut and Sterry include a length section about what needs permission. This discussion is tied to the over 30 pages from The Chicago Manual of Style on the topic of fair use (a legal term related to the amount of material you can use from a source without asking permission. Here's the critical sentences on page 213, "It's okay for us to quote 122 words from The Chicago Manual because that's a tiny percentage of its total word count (the book could double as a doorstop). However, if you took 122 words out of a 200-word poem, you must get permission to reprint it--unless, of course, it's in the public domain. And don't forget, composers' and poets' estates are notorious for going after people who abuse copyright law."
Also Eckstut and Sterry include a fascinating story called The Pangs of Permissions: Acquiring permissions requires the patience of Job and the persistence of a pit bull. When she began writing A Thousand years over a Hot Stove, a book with more than 100 photographs and illustrations, Laura Schenone was ill-prepared for the amount of work permissions required. Not to mention the pounding her pocketbook took in the process."
"Laura was presented with an unexpected challenge. Many of the people she was dealing with would sell her rights only for the first printing of her book. 'My editor told me this would be 7,500 copies,' she says. 'When I bought the permissions, I wanted to up this number to 10,000 to 15,000 copies to be sure I was covered. But sometimes the fees as much as doubled.'"
"Laura's story illustrates the importance of understanding permission costs before signing a deal or developing a project. That said, Laura couldn't be happier that she wrote her book permissions and all. A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove went on to win a James Beard Award, the Pulitzer Prize of food writing."
Eckstut and Sterry include a sample permission form in an appendices (page 448). I've only shown one little area this book covers many other topics with great depth and valuable insight. I recommend this book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published--and in the process of writing this entry, hopefully I've shown you a little bit about the permission process.
To many people, book publishing seems easy. Have a great idea then sit down and write your manuscript, send it to a publisher and have a bestseller. Poof!
The real story is quite different and full of small decisions which can make a big difference whether you achieve the dream or turn it into a nightmare, never-to-be-done-again experience. Every writer needs experienced guidance through the process. THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED is packed with insight and wisdom from two experienced voices in publishing.
Avoid the many pitfalls of book publishing where the smallest decison can make a huge difference. For this comprehensive title, agent-at-large for the Levine Greenberg Agency Arielle Eckstut mixes her experiences with her husband, David Sterry. Check out their website at www.thebookdoctors.com. Their personal stories about publishing are combined with experiences from others in the publishing community.
The book is divided into three sections: Setting Up Shop, Taking Care of Business, and Getting the Word Out. The first section examines areas like finding the right idea, social networking and platform building, whether you need a literary agent or not, the submission process and taking action from rejection. The second portion examines how to make a publishing deal, practical concerns for writing the book, working with a publisher and finally whether to go the self-publishing route. The final section is an area where many writers are lacking: marketing and publicity and the fine art of selling to places like libraries, bookstores and unexpected places.
I read this book from cover to cover. While I've been in publishing over 20 years, I often found myself nodding in agreement and learning new insights in this book. I highly recommend it for the new and inexperienced author but also for the much-published author because they can find valuable insights in these pages.