Archive for the ‘book’ Category

Press Release Tools

June 13, 2007

Many writers have never written a press release. They figure that’s something their book publisher handles or something they can delegate to someone else. In the normal course of events, your book publisher will prepare a press release for the book. This release is focused on the content of your book and a mixture of information about you as the author and the unique marketing position of your new book. It’s a one time event then the publicity person moves on to another book.

There are almost limitless opportunities to promote your events, your forthcoming workshops, your new products and other aspects of your work–if you know how to write an effective press release. It’s another critical skill that every writer should add to their base of knowledge. The first part of this process is learning to write the release, then you need to effectively get that release to the right media person (newspaper, magazine, Internet, radio or television) and follow-up. The key will almost always be in the follow-up.

Whether you’ve never written a press release or it’s been a long time or you just want a tool to help you in this process, I’ve found this resource from John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing. It’s an online press release generator. You fill in the blanks and it generates a press release which you can receive via email and send out. You have to subscribe and confirm your subscription to reach the Instant Press Release link but then you can save this link in your browser and use it over and over. John is using this tool as another way to build subscribers and it’s admirable. If you don’t want to be on his list, you can unsubscribe at any time but I see he provides continual value to his audience and recommend you stay with his list.

Another resource in this same area (where you don’t have to register for the tool) is the Press Release Builder. If you follow the various links here, you will gain an education in this aspect of the business, learn how to email reporters and much more.

A few readers are probably grousing about this post and wondering why they should even care. They want to get published in magazines. Or they have a novel that they want to get published. Or they have a nonfiction idea that they are putting together into a book. Here’s why you should care: you are the best person to promote yourself. Unless you write certain press releases and send them into the market and follow-up with the media, they will never be written. Yes, you can hire a publicist to write them for you but if your resources are limited, then you should broaden your skills and learn to write press releases.

Book Reviews in the Newspapers

June 4, 2007

When I read my local newspaper, the Arizona Republic, I’m always looking for information about book publishing. Today the Living section included a terrific article about Books for Summer. It is increasingly harder to find these book reviews and in fact a crowded market is shrinking.

Yesterday I was talking with an author that I’m working with on a writing project. He has a new business book that is out and had been at the Book Expo America in New York City. He remarked his publisher was going to be working to get the book reviewed. I listened but I knew it would be a challenge to even get a few good reviews. If you want some insight into this area, check out Lissa Warren’s excellent blog entry over at The Huffington Post. Her entry points out the difficulties for publishers and authors with these shrinking pages.

Lissa knows what she is talking about and has an excellent book, The Savvy Author’s Guide to Book Publicity. We met several years ago at the American Society of Journalists and Authors meeting in New York. I have a brief excerpt from her book on Right-Writing.

The Necessity: Ask The Right Question

June 1, 2007

I’ve watched writers over the years and know they are a creative bunch. The majority of them have some idea for a magazine article or a novel or a book, sit down and crank it out. Often they invest hours in the writing process and when it’s completed, they turn and try to sell that manuscript to a magazine editor or a book publisher.

Because there are literally millions of these ideas, queries, book proposals and manuscripts in the jammed pipeline, the writer waits forever for a response from some editor or literary agent. They burn a path to their mailbox or their email box looking for some response. And often when that response comes, it’s a rejection. That’s when the self-doubts set in for the writer.

It’s like the old chicken joke which has been around forever. What came first the chicken or the egg? Where in the creation process of the writing do you begin and write something that fills a need in the market? There are three large elements with this process: Messenger, Delivery System and Market. The majority of people believe they are the messenger, the book is the delivery system and they are trying to reach the market. It’s a long-shot way of touching that market in my view because not enough research has been put into discovering the need of the market.

Yesterday I was fascinated with this transparent post from Thomas Nelson President and CEO Mike Hyatt. While the writer invests vast amounts of time and creative energy in their idea, the publisher has the real “skin in the game” (as some people would say) or financial investment. The publisher has created a product and most of that creation is based on their experience and some “gut” reaction. Mike makes a case for the publisher to do more research before they produce the product. I want to take this idea a bit further and encourage the writer to survey the marketplace before they write another book proposal or another query letter.

How do you survey your market? I’d suggest you use a tool called the Ask Database. Behind the scenes, I’m using this Ask Database to compile the questions and data for my free teleseminar next week (and other teleseminars that are in the planning stages). I hope you’ve asked your question about book proposals or the publishing process because I’m eager to gather your input. Each writer should be building a list of people they can survey. It’s their market and they should be connecting with their readers to find out what they want–then write something that fills a need in that audience. You communicate to your audience on a regular basis through a newsletter like my FREE Right Writing News.

This process of asking the right question and meeting a market need is more important than ever for every writer. Why? We’ve been saying there were 170,000 new books published last year–and a very small percentage (something like less than 500 book titles sold over 5,000 copies–I’ve heard this statistic but can’t lay my hands on it–so I’m hedging) actually sold. Here’s the frightening detail: R. R. Bowker who compiles the statistics have reworked their method to compile the numbers. Now they estimate that over 290,000 books were published last year–a 120,000 jump from their previously published number of 170,000.

Whether the number was 170,000 or over 290,000, it’s a huge number of new books–and many of those titles are entering the market but not selling. I return to my key point in this entry: Are you asking the right question and what are you doing to get your answers?

For the Sharp-eyed Reader

May 29, 2007

Some people are natural proof readers. They are the ones who read with a pen in their hand and correct the typos and missing words that they find in books. At small gatherings, these people always have some horror story about a printed book which was missing something.

I know the publishers attempt to be as careful as possible in the creation process. The majority of publishers have a series of checks and balances in this part of the process with the attempt to catch every error before the book is printed. Yet still mistakes slip through the process. Maybe the words are spelled correctly but something is missing in the context.

What action do you take (if any) when you spot such an error in a printed book?

Most authors and publishers are keeping track of such errors. When the book comes up for reprint. You can write the author or the publisher with a helpful tone saying, “Next time you reprint your book, you might want to fix…” During the rare times that I receive such a suggestion, I appreciate it and always thank the individual.

This morning I’m thinking about this element because I noticed an error in a printed book. It’s not necessary to tell you the book but it’s a beautiful hardcover which will hopefully go through many printings. It is a shame when it happens but the good news is that if you let someone know about it, it can be fixed. The choice is yours. Are you going to continue grumbling about the state of book publishing or be a part of the solution? For the error I spotted, I chose to do something proactive about it and write a kind and concerned note to someone in the publishing house who can get it fixed on the next reprint.

Mysterious Bestsellers

May 18, 2007

If you have not seen it, make sure you catch this article from the New York Times several days ago called The Greatest Mystery: The Making of A Bestseller.

The article is interesting because reporter Shira Boss interviewed a number of key players in the book publishing business. My conclusion after reading it remains the same: while you can point to different variables and factors, it is impossible to predict how a particular book will land in the marketplace. Yes the author can be active and make considerable effort but the results are unpredictable.

Act On These Offers

May 16, 2007

Here’s two resources that you should know about. If you don’t take action on them, they will disappear.

First, PR Newswire is holding a free webinar with three top business editors who are discussing the kinds of stories that catch their attention and the best ways to contact them. Here’s the editors:

Lisa Vickery, Day Editor, National News Desk, Wall Street Journal
Polly Smith, Deputy Business Editor, Chicago Sun-Times
Steve Trousdale, Deputy Business Editor, San Jose Mercury News

If you have a business book or a business book in the works, then this information will be helpful to you. The Webinar called “Inside the Business Section” will be Thursday, May 17th at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Follow this link to register.

The second resource is a new revision of The Radio Publicity Manual by Alex Carroll. Over the last 15 years, Carroll has booked himself on over 1,400 radio shows and sold over 250,000 books as a guest. He has an ebook and until May 22nd you can get it for free (and after May 22nd he will be charging $49 for it). It’s 177 pages of tested advice and I picked it up. Here’s the link. You will have to complete your name, email, phone and address (required fields) but DON’T enter your credit card information since this is a free offer. After completing the order form, you will be taken to a page where you can download the book.

Take Marketing Responsibility

May 15, 2007

Communication snafus are everywhere. It happens for many reasons and most often it’s a lack of communication or the assumption that something is happening when it is not happening. For example, in the book publishing world, it takes a lot of work for a writer to get a publisher interested in their idea and concept. The writer has to learn the craft of writing and build credibility through writing magazine articles or ebooks or other media to build their credentials and abilities. Finally they craft a book proposal and get a publisher to issue a book contract. Their book is released into the marketplace. Because the publisher has invested a large amount of money and energy (and the writer has as well), the writer assumes the publisher will market the daylights out of their book and sell many copies. Now my last sentence is full of wrong assumptions. Publishers do want their books to sell and be successful but they count on a partnership with the author to get the word out about the book, build buzz and sales for each book. Some times it happens in the early stages and other times it builds to a loud clamor in the marketplace.

My encouragement for every author is to take responsibility for their own marketing. Let’s assume the traditional publisher will have good distribution (which in some cases is an assumption). Your book has entered the market and is widely available through distributors, sometimes in the bookstores and can easily be purchased at the major online places. It is not a time for the author to sit back and work on their next book (well maybe some of the time but not all of it). The author needs to continually take responsibility for their own marketing–even if they have had measures of success in the past. The public quickly forgets.

Last week I received a book proposal from an author who is eager for me to represent the project. The marketing section is two paragraphs and all fluff with the major responsibility on the publisher. I groaned the minute I looked at it because this author will need a huge amount of education on my part before this person can put together an attention-getting marketing effort. Yes, this person has had mega sales in the past but it will not necessarily transfer to this new direction and this new proposal. To believe it will transfer, the author is operating on a false assumption which may fall completely flat.

I’m personally limited about what I can put in these entries about the writing life. I have the same 24 hour constraints that you operate under. I’m going to give you some resources and places to turn. First, make plans to attend a Mega Book Marketing Event. They are coming to many different places around the country and the next one will be in New York City later this month. Unfortunately I am not going to be able to attend this event but it looks great. If you can’t go, then make sure you listen to the free preview calls and gain the insight of the speakers. Either listen to them live when they happen or listen to them after the fact through the replay buttons. This training is absolutely free and valuable to any writer no matter where you are in the journey. You can learn from these experts.

Also John Kremer, the Book Marketing expert, is having a free teleseminar this week. It’s another free and valuable resource.

In other entries, I’ve written about Debbie Macomber, one of the leading romance novelist and someone that I know personally. There is a fascinating article about Debbie in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Here’s a writer who has over 70 million books in print and is on the current New York Times bestseller list. She has not assumed her publisher will market her books and is taking a continual active role in this process. Notice the article points out that Debbie has a mailing list with 75,000 readers–and not a list she has purchased but people who have contacted her personally. I’m one of these readers and I get emails from time to time from Debbie. Every writer should be working on developing their list of readers. I’ve got my free Right-Writing News. Several times a month, I will email this list with single letters around a particular product that I am recommending. Then once a month, I will send a regular newsletter which is full of how-to-write articles. In the back issues (which are only available to subscribers—and free), readers have access to over 400 pages of information. I am continuing to work at growing my list and expanding it. If you have no idea how to write a newsletter or what to say, I’d encourage you to follow the links and learn about it, make a choice and get started. It’s another way for you to take responsibility for the marketing of your own books.

More Than A Memoir

May 10, 2007

The writing community has been stirred and drawn to “memoirs.” It’s given writers great hope they can find a traditional publisher for their personal story. Such hope is filled with danger because many of those personal stories don’t have the national pull to become a bestseller. The majority of them are rejected almost immediately and if they appear in print, they are magazine articles. To all of these “regular practices” and “unwritten rules” within the publishing community, there are exceptions. I wanted to tell you about one of these exceptions and why you should rush out to read: If I Am Missing Or Dead, A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation.

Behind the scenes, I’ve been gently cheering for this book and I’m glad to be able to tell you about it here–and other places such as my Amazon review. Janine Latus is a long-time friend and fellow member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. From a distance, I’ve watched her hone her writing craft in many mainstream magazines and excellent journalistic writing. In October 2005, O magazine ran an intense personal story called “All The Wrong Men.” Janine’s article was selected as an award winner at the ASJA 2006 conference. This article was the springboard for Janine’s book proposal for her first book. The proposal set off an intense bidding war which Simon and Schuster eventually won.

Janine wrote the book at a nearby coffee shop. In my view, the writing process of telling such a personal story must have been difficult and draining. The process of reliving the experiences captured in this book must have been tough. For a first-time author, I was interested to learn S & S printed over 120,000 copies, which indicates their expectations for this book. Publisher’s Weekly gave the book a starred review (scroll down to see it from this link). Other reviews have appeared in People and Entertainment Weekly. If you go to Starbucks (I’ll admit not to being a frequent customer), then I understand If I Am Missing is selling a flash drive with the first chapter of the book and part of the money goes to Amy’s Courage Fund. The book is a tool to spur the movement against domestic violence. It is much more than a moving memoir. If you get the book, you should know besides being riveting, it does include some graphic language. Because I don’t typically read or write these types of books, I just wanted you to be aware of what’s inside the pages and not be shocked at my recommendation. It’s true to life so the material is included. After reading the book, my admiration for Janine has grown. Her desire is for the book to be an integral part of a movement against domestic violence. I celebrate the creation of things like Amy’s Courage Fund as a means to help women who are trapped escape these abusive relationships.

I will probably write more about If I Am Missing Or Dead in the future. For now, celebrate this new book and go to your favorite bookseller and pick up a copy.

The Continual Search

April 5, 2007

“What are you looking for these days?” Repeatedly writers asked me this question (or some form of it) during the Mount Hermon conference.

I’ve got a pretty simple answer which some may think is glib but it has an element of truth in it. I say, “I’m looking for the good stuff.”

Usually a sharp writer will follow up and ask, “What is good?”

I’m prepared with, “I’ll know it when I see it.”

I’m not evading the question but there is no one-size-fits-all response to these questions. The response will be different for each editor and each literary agent at the conference. It’s important for you to know that each of us are actively looking for the right project. We will have to endure all sorts of the wrong pitches to find that gem or two in the pile of pitches. Whether the pitch is for a novel or nonfiction book, the writing is important and the idea is important. Each work together in the process. If the writing is bad, then maybe the idea is stellar and I can hook this person with the experience and idea to a writer who can carry out the project. This process may be different from the goals of the writer but are they open to new ways of working? If so, then there is hope. If not, then you press on to the next person with the next idea. At a writer’s conference, there are loads of ideas and pitches.

Part of the challenge of the conference is the follow-up. Will the writer carry through and follow-up with my encouragement to send the project? Some will do it and others will not get it done. Still others will select some other path such as working directly with the publisher or they will select a different agent. There are no easy answers but the search is continual.

What Triggers Someone To Buy A Book

March 27, 2007

Publishers and authors have been trying to solve this question for ages: What triggers someone to buy a book? It’s a combination of factors that involve timing, positioning and touching the reader’s needs. I confess I don’t have the ultimate answer but I do have a experience that I believe is worth recounting in this entry on the Writing Life.

I hold the electronic rights to Book Proposals That Sell and surveys have shown more than 81% of Americans would like to write a book and millions have actually written a manuscript. Get Published! (click this link to see how you can get a free copy of this how-to book) includes this statistic on page 60, “Finished manuscripts for an estimated 8 million novels and 17 million how-to books are lying in desk drawers all over the country, waiting to be published.” Now that is the kind of statement that strikes fear into the heart of every editor and agent (the folks who have to review this material!). So…there is a huge number of people who want to get published and don’t now how to do it.

From the reviews and other factors, I know Book Proposals That Sell is helping people achieve their dreams in this area. While the paperback still continues to sell, I’m also selling the electronic version. I’ve started an affiliate program with this book (and other products are coming). Every reader of these entries should be a part of this affiliate program. It takes two minutes or less to fill out the form and get your own link. Then you can recommend to others the book and potentially earn 50% commission from the link. I hope every agent and publisher and bestselling author will join this program and my goal is to improve the quality of submissions throughout publishing. Mark Victor Hanson calls this a BHAG or a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. At Mega Book Marketing University, Mark told us that a BHAG 1) inspires people to want to play. 2) it forces you to grow to achieve it.

A number of people have joined my affiliate program–including one highly visible book marketing expert. In the last week or two, several people have purchased Book Proposals That Sell using his affiliate link. After we get through my unconditional guarantee period of 60 days, I’m going to be sending this expert a check for these referrals.

Yesterday I took a few minutes to see what he was doing with my banners. He has a strong web presence and many different pages on his website. I discovered he was using my blinking banner on five different pages. I have no idea if it is the location of the banner, the words on the banner, the fact that it blinks or the terrific design. I just know it’s working and I hope other affiliates will use it as well on their own pages. And whether you use this blinking banner or not, do join the affiliate program and use your affiliate link to guide people to the page. (I know my banner here doesn’t blink–maybe it’s a blogger restriction. Go to this link and scroll to the bottom to see the changing banner).

Your link might be the trigger to get someone the publishing help that they need to take the next step in their own journey.