Monday, June 26, 2017

Understand the Role of a Book Publicist

Whether a traditional and recognized publisher launches your book or a self-publisher, the author has to be engaged in the promotion and marketing of their book. One of the key players in this process is the book publicist. Many of these publicists have valuable connections and relationships with media and others to help you promote your book.

This past weekend, I finished reading a new book from publicist Claire McKinney, who has worked in publicity for major publishers for over 20 years and is a recognized expert in self-publishing appearing on The Today Show for example. DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? is the name of McKinney's book with the subtitle, “A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns.” As the number of new books entering the market increases every day, authors need to understand the role of a book publicist and how to work with them in the process of book promotion. Managing expectations about what a publicist can do for a writer is great information and woven into the fiber of this book.

The promotion or sale of any book is tied to key connections and relationships—for example to the media. Book publicists like Claire McKinney have been building these relationships for years. Every author needs to understand their role in publishing. DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? fills a critical role in this process with pointed insights throughout.

McKinney answers common author questions like what is a press release and what is a book launch and the best time to launch a book? The answers are packed with her years of experience in such tasks. 

In the section on Reaching the Media, McKinney writes, “I’ve found that “fear” is the one thing that holds most people back from reaching out and from developing good pitches. Of course, you don’t want to be insulting, use the words “extraordinary” or “dynamic” just to create hype doesn’t help either. If you are honest about your intentions and what you are looking for, you are more likely to get a response. It takes extra effort, but that is also how you will build a relationship with the contact that could benefit another book, or could enrich your experience in another way. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I’m sure you know that expression. If you get a snappy response, chalk it up to a bad day. What is the worst that can happen?” (Page 100-101)

Every book author can profit from the details in DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?—whether it is your first book or many books. I highly recommend this book. Also I recommend you follow this link to McKinney's website and download her Guide to Social Media 101. Each of us can learn something and get some new ideas from this free resource. 

With increased understanding from reading DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?, you can apply this information to your own writing life. One of my reasons for occasionally including reviews of books for authors in these articles about the writing life is to showcase the importance of reading and applying books to your life. While I've been in publishing many years, I learn new insights and tools from these resources. I hope you are taking action for your own writing life.

Have you used a book publicist like Claire McKinney in the promotion of your books? Tell me about in the comments section.


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Monday, June 19, 2017

Writers and AudioBooks

June is AudioBook Month. This area of publishing continues to expand and explode from everything that I read in the trades.

Check out this article from the recent Book Expo America and mega-bestselling author, James Patterson. “Patterson (Crazy House, Hachette Audio) opened his presentation with a declaration: “Listening to an audio is reading. A lot of gatekeepers don't buy into that, but I do.” Noting the audiobook “is only scratching the surface of its potential importance and its audience,” he offered a pair of recommendations. “The first suggestion is that some audiobook people have to go out to Silicon Valley. We need to redesign audiobooks so they can be sold at a better price.” He also advocated for offering an irresistible audiobook package, which “could include, just for example, a John Grisham, a Patterson, Hillbilly Elegy, a Wimpy Kid novel, Alan's new book,” to automobile makers at close to cost if they would agree to put it in every new car they sell.” I found this idea interesting and will be watching the publishing world to see if someone takes James Patterson up on such an idea.

If you are wondering about the viability of audiobooks, just look at these recent statistics “In 2016, Audiobook Sales Up 18.2%, Unit Sales Jump 33.9% Audiobook sales in 2016 rose 18.2%, to $2.1 billion, and unit sales jumped 33.9%, according to the Audio Publishers Association's annual sales and consumer studies, conducted respectively by Management Practice and Edison Research. This marks the third year in a row that audiobooks sales have grown by nearly 20%. The APA attributed audio growth to an expanding listening audience: 24% of Americans (more than 67 million people) have completed at least one audiobook in the last year, a 22% increase over the 2015.”

“Among other findings:
  • More listeners use smartphones most often to listen to audiobooks than ever before (29% in 2017 vs. 22% in 2015).
  • Nearly half (48%) of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35.
  • Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year.
  • More than a quarter (27% of respondents) said borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks.
  • A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%), followed by in the car (32%).
  • 68% of frequent listeners do housework while listening to audiobooks, followed by baking (65%), exercise (56%) and crafting (36%).
  • The top three reasons people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) they can do other things while listening; 2) audiobooks are portable so people can listen wherever they are; and 3) they enjoy being read to.
  • The most popular genres last year were mysteries/thrillers/suspense, science fiction/fantasy and romance.
  • 19% of all listeners used voice-enabled wireless speakers (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) to listen to an audiobook in the last year, and for frequent listeners, that rises to 30%.”
I hope some of these statistics caught your attention about the importance of audiobooks. Here's several ways you can get involved with audiobooks:

1. Listen to audiobooks on a regular basis. The first way for any of us to get active in an area is as a participant. I have written about audio books in past articles.

2. Use your activity to promote and encourage others to listen to audiobooks. As you complete an audio, book, write a review. If you look at my Goodreads book list, you will see many of these books are audio books.

3. Get active creating audiobooks. If you have no idea where to begin, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Richard Rieman's book, The Author's Guide to AudioBook Creation. This little book will help you learn more about the audio book industry and give you resources for launching your own audio products. If you live in the Denver area, I encourage you to come to the South Denver Chapter meeting of the Nonfiction Authors Association on Wednesday, June 21st. Richard is speaking about audio books. The first meeting is free and you can hear Richard and ask questions.

Are you using and creating audio books? Let me know in the comment section.


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Monday, June 12, 2017

Daily Word Count: A Key to Consistent Writing

It’s not profound but true: writers write. A common bit of writing advice is to write every day.

Some people fill this daily need with a journal practice. They consistently write every day about their activities. I understand such a practice but I’ve never created or written such a journal.

I’ve interviewed over 150 bestselling authors about how they practice their craft of writing. It is rare but I found one writer who used a timer in his writing process. He set a timer and sat at his computer until the timer sounded. To me, this process did not make sense. Anyone can spend time staring a screen but that does not mean you are creating words or telling stories during that time. You could be simply staring off into space.

A much more productive and common practice among writers is to have a daily word count. The amount of this word count will be different for each writer. Some writers are on deadline and to meet their deadline, they have to produce a certain amount of words each day. Other writers have created a personal goal and the word count keeps them on track. If the writing comes quickly, then they achieve the goal in  short amount of time. If the words do not come, then they spent much more time and energy at their keyboard or computer.

Like prolific novelist Bodie Thoene told me, “No little elves come out of my closet to write 650 pages. Some mornings I don't feel like writing but I do it out of obedience to God.” Severely dyslexic, Bodie could not read her own name in the Third Grade yet she writes riveting 500 page historical novels. Her talent and importantly her discipline as a writer are an example to each of us.

A daily word count goal is a way for you as a writer to move your project forward. For example, I have a book manuscript under contract that I need to finalize and get off to my editor (yes every writer has an editor—even one as experienced as I am). Currently this manuscript has not been happening but I’m committed to working on it little by little and moving it forward. Without consistent effort, it will not happen.

You have to do the same sort of effort for your own writing. I have busy authors who struggle to complete their manuscripts. I encourage them to set even small daily word count goals and keep moving forward. Even if they commit to writing 500 words or two double-spaced pages, with consistent effort, a month will yield pages of results. Notice the word consistent and regular. That constant effort is what helps you complete the work. Thinking about it without action doesn’t do it.

Where are you stalled in your writing? Would a daily word count writing goal help you move forward? Let me know in the comment section.


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Monday, June 05, 2017

5 Ways Writers Profit from a Conference

I know it is June. I took this photo on May 19, 2017 in Estes Park, Colorado at a conference.

For many years I’ve been attending conferences. My time at the recent Colorado Christian Writers Conference was unusual because in mid-May, we had over three feet of snow. It snowed for almost two solid days after we arrived at the event. Some faculty members who arrived late were stuck at the Denver airport. The snow made for an unusual and memorable event.

Some people wonder how I’ve published such a range of magazine articles and books. I’m not the best writer in the room but I am one of the most consistent. If I pitch an idea and an editor says, sounds good, send it to me. I make a little note, then go home, write the article or book and send it. Yes you have to write what the editor wants but overall I’ve found such a simple strategy works.

Just attending conferences is a financial investment of money, time and energy. In this article, I want to highlight five ways to profit from a conference.

First, listen for opportunities then take action. For example, one editor I met told me about a forthcoming series of Bible studies that his publisher will be doing. I’ve written Bible studies in the past and enjoy this type of writing. I noticed the opportunity so I made a point to email this editor and affirm in writing my interest in the project. The editor was grateful for my interest and said at the right time he would be in touch. This type of follow-up work leads to additional writing opportunities. You have to be listening for them.

Another editor at the conference has worked on a publication that I’ve never written for. It has a large circulation and I wanted to write for this publication for the exposure as much as a new writing credit. I’ve emailed the editor and we are corresponding about some ideas which I believe will lead to an assignment and eventually publication. You have to listen for the opportunities, then take action.

Advanced preparation before the event is a second way to profit from the conference. Study the faculty and see what they publish and then write pitches and book proposals. Most publications have writer’s guidelines and other information easily available online. Several writers at the recent conference brought flash drives with the electronic copy of their material. I appreciated the effort of these writers and it moved their submission to the top of my stack. I put their material into our internal system and moved it forward through the consideration process. In one case I’ve already turned in a writer’s project to my publication board and I’m hoping to get a contract for this author in a few weeks. The germ of this activity was her arrival at the conference prepared for her meetings. You can learn and mirror such actions when you attend an event.

Most conferences have a freebie table with magazines and writers guidelines. These publications are looking for freelance writers. You have to pick up the publications, read the guidelines then make your pitch or query or follow-through. This consistent action of follow-up is the third way to profit from a conference. When someone mentions an interest in your material, make sure you exchange business cards with them. Then when you get home, send them an email and follow-up.

At the conference, I met many people and came home with a large stack of business cards. I’ve been following up with writers and encouraging them to send me their proposal and/or manuscript. Yet few of them have reached out to me—and this type of situation is typical from my experience. If you reach out to the editor and take action, your actions will receive positive attention and you will get publishing opportunities. This is the fourth way to profit from a conference.

One of the reasons to attend a conference is to learn a new skill or a new area of the writing world. The fifth method to profit from a conference is to take action on these new skills. Are you learning how to write fiction or a magazine article or tap a new social network? A variety of skills are taught at conferences.

It’s easy to put away the notes and never look at them again. The writers who get published take a different course of action. They review the notes and apply it to their writing life. At the Colorado event, I taught an early bird workshop about Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (my book). I worked hard on my handout which had many additional resources and links for those who used it. Here’s my handout for your reference: http://terrylinks.com/js I encourage you to download the handout, print it and follow the extra material to profit for your own writing life. I'll be at the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference next month and other events this year. Check my speaking schedule link to connect and I hope our paths cross later this year and I can help you one on one.

As writers we are continually learning and growing in our craft. A conference can be a huge growth area if you take action and follow-up.

Have I given you some ideas? If so, let me know in the comments below.


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