Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deadlines Drive the Publishing Business

This week I sent several book contracts to authors after our publication board met and made decisions. It is exciting work to send these contracts to authors via email. Then I called them and congratulate them. My phone call is also to make sure they see the news of the Morgan James contract in their email.

The Morgan James contract isn't complicated and only four pages but it does include a deadline for the author to send their manuscript. Some authors are still in the process of writing their book and they get worried about meeting the deadline. If they express concern, we can lengthen the timeframe. The key reason for including the deadline is that many authors will never turn into their manuscript without a specific date.

Whether the area of the publishing business is magazine or book, deadlines drive many of our actions. This weekend I had a couple of magazine articles due for publications. I write for these publications on a regular basis. For each deadline, I set a “task” on my computer to remind me about the upcoming deadline. The reminder will get me to focus on the publication and what I've written for them in the past and to begin to spin some ideas about what I will write for this particular issue. 

The bulk of my work during the day is focused on acquiring books for Morgan James. I'm emailing and talking with authors about their book projects. My writing assignments for these publications isn't something that I'm even thinking about—until the little reminder pops up on my screen to begin to work on it. The looming deadline drives me to write and produce the material.

If you meet your deadlines (even if self-imposed), then you will stand out as a writer. In general, many writers are notoriously late and miss their deadlines. As an acquisitions editor, I've frequently had writers call and ask for an extension on their deadline. Each time they have something that has interrupted their writing process. In fact, most publishers build some “fudge” room into their schedule to be able to give writers a few extra weeks—because it happens so often.

While I tell you that fudge room is there, you don't want to be one of those writers who is always extending their deadline and not meeting the editor's expectations. Whether you realize it or not, with those extensions, you are sending the wrong signal to the editor. Editors are looking for writers who meet the deadlines with excellent writing. If you can meet their expectations, then you will be a writer that editor will want to give you additional contracts or assignments and work with over and over. 

My deadline experience is rooted in my start in the newspaper business. For morning newspapers, we would write our stories, turn them in during the late afternoon or early evening and they would appear the next morning. For afternoon newspapers, we would have morning deadlines and the stories would be out in the late afternoon. There is no time for writer's block or stalling, you simply sit at the keyboard and pound out your story. The deadline is looming so you write.

Magazine journalism is slower than newspaper work and books are even slower and more methodical. As a writer, you have to set your own deadlines and then meet them successfully and repeatedly.

How do you handle deadlines and do you meet them successfully? Even if self-imposed and not from a publisher or editor, they can move you forward to accomplish your writing goals.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Why Authors Need a Book Marketing Plan

By Rob Eager

In today's erratic economy, publishers pay more attention than ever to the strength of an author’s platform. I define “platform” as the amount of people you’re sure will buy your new book within the first 90 days. If publishers don’t believe that you can help sell a lot of books, they’ll tend to reject your book proposal and choose someone else. This doesn’t minimize the importance of good writing, but it means that publishers place a premium on authors with a large marketing platform.

The problem is that most authors spend over 80% of their time writing a manuscript but less than 20% preparing for how they'll market that book. Yet, it's the marketing part that usually determines whether or not a book ever gets publi
shed. Publishers gravitate to books that they believe will sell in the marketplace. But, how do you convince them that your book is worth the financial risk? Show them a well-crafted marketing plan along with your book proposal.

Publishers want to see real numbers describing how many copies you can help sell on your own. However, I find that many of the standard book proposal templates used by authors and agents don’t give enough marketing detail to make a convincing case with a publisher. That’s why I recommend creating an author marketing plan that shows the specifics of your platform and your ability to promote books. Demonstrate in writing how you can help sell a lot of copies on your own
. Publishers who see this information are more likely to offer you a contract, and even better, devote more marketing resources to support your book.
A good marketing plan should answer these four essential questions:

1. What positive results do you know your book can create for readers?
2. What type of reader needs your results the most?
3. Where do readers who need your results congregate in large numbers?
4. What steps will you take to get your book in front of those large groups?

Creating a marketing plan that answers these questions ahead of time pr
ovides multiple benefits. First, you’ll be better positioned to convince a publisher that your book is an asset, rather than a risk. Second, you’ll be positioned to start your marketing efforts way before your book launch, which helps insure your success. Too many authors are too haphazard with their marketing and start promoting way too late. Planning in advance helps you avoid their fate.

When you’re armed with a solid book marketing plan, you’ll show a publisher that you can be more than just an author – you can be an invaluable marketing partner.


If you’ve never written a professional marketing plan, get a copy of Rob Eagar’s “Marketing Plan Template for Fiction and Non-Fiction Authors.” Rob has coached over 400 aut
hors at all levels, including several New York Times bestsellers. Plus, he's secured multiple book contracts for himself. So, he knows what it takes to gain a publisher’s attention.
His downloadable, 4-page template serve as your expert guide to create a successful book marketing plan. They're in an editable format that walks you step-by-step through each part of the process. When you're done, you'll have a top-notch book marketing plan for personal use and to accompany discussions with a literary agent or publisher. Rob's marketing plan template will help you:
• Identify specific groups of readers most likely to buy your book.
• Understand your competition and the advantages your book offers.
• Pro
ve that you’re a financial asset to a publisher, rather than a risk.
• Create an effective plan that keeps you focused on success.

The regular price for Rob’s "Marketing Plan Template for Authors" is $19.99, go to: http://www.startawildfire.com/marketingplan.html

About the Author:

Rob E
agar, founder of WildFire Marketing is a consultant, author, and speaker who helps authors and publishers sell books like wildfire. He has worked with numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Dr. Gary Chapman, Lysa TerKeurst, and Wanda Brunstetter. His new book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, will be published by Writer’s Digest in May, 2012. Find out more about Rob’s coaching services and products for authors at: www.startawildfire.com

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Last Minute Substitute

Yesterday I received an email with a startling subject line:

“Help” It got my attention and I opened it and responded right away. A writer's conference director had a problem. One of his faculty members was ill and could not teach at this conference toward the center of the U.S. and it started on Friday. He wondered if I was available.

I wasn't real keen to get on a plane tomorrow but I checked my schedule and yes, I could substitute. Then we began to check the airfare prices. For such a last-minute ticket, the cost was going to be high. The director appreciated my availability but asked me to hold off on booking the ticket.

For several hours, I was going through my mental checklist of what I would need to clear off my to-do list in order to travel this weekend. I thought with the high cost, the director would be searching for a cheaper replacement.

Then I received the brief email that a closer replacement had been located. Whew. I was off the hook to become a last minute substitute. Several points about this experience:

1. I've been speaking at conferences for many years and I was grateful this director felt comfortable to call on me at the last minute. I've got the depth of experience where I can jump into a situation like this at the last minute without feeling anxious or worried.

2. While I could have traveled this weekend, I'm relieved not to be teaching for hours at this conference. As an acquisitions editor at Morgan James, I have a number of other things that are pulling for my attention. Now I will be able to focus on those matters and not be standing in front of a group of people teaching about writing.

I am excited about the various places where I will be speaking this year and next year. You can always keep up on these events at this page. As additions come into my schedule, I change this page to reflect the new events.

As a writer, what are you doing to open more opportunities to speak? You have developed a certain area of expertise with your writing. What is that area? How can you ask or open up possibilities for more speaking engagements?

Yesterday, my friend Sandra Beckwith held an hour long teleseminar where she gave over 60 FREE ways for every author to promote the book. I loved the information in this session. While the live event has passed, you can gain immediate access to the information for only $19. The ideas and resources Sandy gave were incredible.

You can take one or two of these free ideas and sell many books. Here's the key: you must take action on the ideas. Training is excellent and I listened to Sandy's teaching yesterday. The key for my book (and the key for your book) is to actually execute these excellent ideas.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mark Of A First-Time Author

I’m an early riser. I get to my office early, do some reading, skim through some email and handle some things in the quiet of my home. I revel in that calm atmosphere and tend to get a lot accomplished in those early hours.
Imagine the jarring noise to my day when my phone began to ring at 6:50 a.m. From my caller ID, I could see it was someone in Alabama with no idea that dialing my New York phone number that they were calling my home office in Southern California. After all, it was 9:50 a.m. in their part of the world.
I almost sent the call to voicemail but instead I answered it. It was a first-time, unpublished author calling to find out if I had received his submission. He tried to send it once and it came across embedded in his email. Now he was trying to send it again as an attachment.
I checked and yes I received it. And why was he calling? He was concerned about the length of his manuscript at so many pages. I asked for the word count—a common mistake is to give the page count and not the word count. It was 47,000 words or within the range of our fiction submissions. I affirmed it was OK.
Did this author make an impression? Yes and it was negative. I’ve not read his submission because when I wrote this article I was on the road on the way to conference. In fact, I’ve still not had a chance to read his submission. I did process it so he will receive an acknowledgement letter from me. I will try and read it with an open mind—but he’s already colored his submission in a negative fashion. His subject line: The Next Bestseller And I thought, “really?”
My counsel for you is to not use the phone with an editor. You will rarely get them and most of the time get their voice mail. Instead use email or the mail to reach them.
Now if they call you, then it is a different story and you should return their call. But to call them first? In most cases, that is not a good idea. You only make a negative impression with the editor. For many years, I’ve been writing and working with editors and it is rare that I will call an editor. I’m certain this author doesn’t recognize his negative impression that he made. He was acting on impulse and it was a false impulse.
The majority of our communication in the book business does not call for it to be on the phone. The work is slow and methodical. Magazine writing is quicker but even then you often can communicate via email or the mail instead of picking up the phone and calling the editor.
If you work for a newspaper, these deadlines are much more rapid and timely. You are forced to use the telephone more often. Not in the book business.
To be fair, the author forgot that I lived in the Pacific but for his simple questions he did nothing for his relationship through using his phone. I hope the lesson is valuable for you.

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Another Travel Adventure

It is a solitary task to write. I find tremendous value in getting to a writer's conference and interacting with writers and other professionals about the business.

With this sort of anticipation, I went to the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I had not attended this particular event in many years and was unfamiliar with the location. As instructed, I flew into Orlando. What I didn't understand is the conference is located almost two hours away from the airport. 

I live in Southern California and scheduled an afternoon flight, changing planes in Houston then going on to Orlando. I knew I would arrive in the evening but also knew with the time change it would be OK. You can't predict what will happen when you travel. I faced the unusual on this trip.

When we boarded the plane, I noticed a passenger who reeked of alcohol and I wasn't even near him. He struggled to find his seat on the plane. Everyone boarded and they pushed back from the gate. Yet before they left, the plane returned to the gate and they took off the drunk passenger.

The delay meant we left a few minutes late but they made up the time in the air and we arrived in Houston on time. My connection to Orlando was only 30 minutes and I made it to my gate and the flight. Yet none of the six people who went from Southern California to Houston to Orlando had our luggage. The suitcases were still in Houston and would not come until the next day. 

The airline gave me a little survival kit which contained a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a comb, some deodorant, a razor and some shaving cream. I met my driver to the conference and arrived in my room about 1 a.m. EST.

Off and on throughout the next day I was checking with the airlines about my bags. They arrived in Orlando and were not delivered to the conference until about 6 p.m. I learned a few things through the experience:

Pack some essentials in my carry-on bag. For example, I didn't include any business cards in my carry-on bag and at a conference, business cards are critical. Besides cards, I needed a few key items from my suitcase. Next time I can tuck them into my carry-on bag and be more prepared.

Finally my bags arrived and I had what I needed for the event. Also I relearned the old lesson that anxiety doesn't help you one bit. There was nothing I could do to speed up the delivery of my bags or my missing material. Instead I made light of it and carried on with the business of meeting and helping writers at the event. 

I taught a single workshop at the conference which was well-received. Through my attendance at this event, I met more passionate writers with great material to get into print. I look forward to the days ahead to see how I can help them. The roots of our relationship often begin at a conference.

Despite the adventures of travel, I continue to have high expectations about my forthcoming speaking events. Thursday will begin my time at Author 101 University which is in its eleventh year. Because of where I live this year, I don't have to get on an airplane to reach this event but only make a short drive. I look forward to seeing some of you readers on the road in the days ahead.

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