Showing posts with label Carol Smallwood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carol Smallwood. Show all posts

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Are Interviews What They Are Cracked Up to Be?

  

Are You Writing Interviews for Bloggers?

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Writing free content related somehow to your genre or title can be a fun way to add to value to your marketing campaign. I recommend bartering your writing skills for free content, especially for new writers. They get to do what they love; they get to write.

They also get bios, bylines, links to their books and even mini pitches for their books. That ups the backlinks to their websites and other online pages and, in turn, that ups their online presence. Not bad for doing what we love.

But caution. In my The Frugal Book Promoter I tell authors: “For a promotion to be successful, you have to promote the promotion.” I’m talking primarily social networking in this case, of course, but if you want more on how to do that, check out the book. That is not what this article is about.  This article is about the readability of interviews.

Today I read an amazing interview in Jim Cox’s newsletter. You probably know that he is Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review. In an interview from poet Carol Smallwood, he tells the story of how he started this project that helped propel the acceptance of self-publishing in the oh-so-staid publishing world, most of which thought nothing of practicing the most horrendous #bookbogotry possible. It is storytelling and it was fascinating. Suffice it to say, it broke all the interviewing rules from those we see in the AARP Magazine to Time Magazine to most blogs on any topic you might find on Wordpress or Blogger.  And certainly different from the “how-to-write-great-interview articles” you see in how-to magazines.



Everything we read about interviews tell us they should be short. They should be pithy. They do better if they are funny. People are in a hurry. People are used to reading “short and pithy.” It’s the Internet age, after all.

So, when are they successful?  Review the keywords in the first sentence, “related somehow to your genre or title.”  Now add “frequent.” You, the interviewer (or prospective interviewer) should be prepared to write a lot of them Then we mentioned promoting the promotion. If you don’t help drive traffic to the interview you write, they will garner very little attention. That’s true even if you access to some star-studded names. Relatively speaking, without a great presence on search engine, your work of art will be seen by few. 

I am in the mood to burst some bubbles here. I love to be interviewed. But I don’t write them for my blogs. And I rarely accept them as guestposts for my blogs! If you’ve read so far, you can see why. My favorite series of interview are in Time Magazine and, I admit, that I like them best when they are snarky but I don’t pay deep attention to them even then. They are good examples for learning more about interviews, though. You’ll find them on the back page of the magazine. What percentage of them would you say are controversial? Current?

Luckily, we--as the interviewers--are also the editors or at least one of the editors. That means we get to edit (shorten) rambling answers.  Interviews that are laid out in visuals that show the question and answers are going to be more easily read. We as the interviewers can make sure that happens, or at least encourage it to happen by submitting to our publisher (blogger, magazine editor, etc.)  in a form that cries out to be left as it is.

As the interviewer, you can ask your publisher for a hands-off policy  if you wish but they may still want to edit your piece to fit their style book. Associated Press, as an example, has a Style Book that tells them exactly what choices must be made and so they won't be eager to give over the editing or formatting job to you!

Note: If you are using interviews written by others—freelance or barter--tactfully let the interviewee know you might need to edit it for purposes of style or length. That way, they aren't surprised when they see copy (the questions or the answers)  that aren't exactly what they submitted. (-: 

Another thing. This comes straight from my  journalism experience. When we're wearing a journalism hat, we aren't required to let an interviewee (or informant) review, check, or otherwise monitor what we have written. We have a free press in the USA. So, unless you want help clarifying or editing or whatever, you aren't obligated to run what you have written by your interviewee.  Having said that, one of the biggest benefits of writing interviews--or reviews--is the opportunity it affords for building relationships. I think that networking is the best reason for writing interviews or giving interviews. Asking for input on your reviews can help you build relationships that can turn into bigger and better exposure for you, maybe in the form of being interviewed.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is the author of how to books for writers including the award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; now in its third edition. Don’t miss the multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers. The booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal is now in its second edition.  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically helps you take full advantage of magical book reviews to keep your writing career move faster than you have imagined. Carolyn also offers free review services at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. Explore the opportunities for your book in the tabs at the top of the home page. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor

Friday, February 7, 2020

Carol Smallwood Interviews Author, Marketer Carolyn Howard-Johnson

The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need to Know to Sell Your Book in 30 Minutes or Less, second edition
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Modern History Press
97816159948, $8.95, Paperback, $2.99, Ebook, 54 pages


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News' winner for The Frugal Book Promoter now in its third edition. An instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade, she believes in entering (and winning!) contests and anthologies as an excellent way to separate our writing from the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year. Two of her awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature and Women Who Make Life Happen, given by the Pasadena Weekly newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist who shared what she's learned.

Smallwood: I can see how you might be exhausted with two books released in a month, but I am hoping you'll share a little about the second one because it's brand new to me.

Howard-Johnson: I can see why you might be surprised because The Great First Impression Book Proposal now has "Second Edition" in it - even on Amazon. And it is really a booklet, closer to what we poets call a chapbook than a real book. So, most authors know me by the full book in my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, not the booklets for I rarely promoted them. I was just too busy with the information most every author needs for their books to be successful. That brings me to the fact that book proposals are a tool that most writers assume are only needed by authors of nonfiction as part of the sales process to find a publisher for it or an agent to represent their book to publishers but things are different now.

Smallwood: Please tell how it is different:

Howard-Johnson: Well, I didn't know it myself until I got an agent to represent the rewrite of my first novel This Is the Place. It is out of print and is now called This Land Divided. It is already an award-winner. The first chapter won WriterAdvice.com's Scintillating Starts contest, so I figured it would be easy to get an agent. But my agent, Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary wanted a book proposal! So I was the one asking, "Really?" Now that even big publishers expect their authors of about any genre to market or help market their books, most agents ask for a book proposal. It is a time-consuming process and most authors hate it. Lots of my consulting clients would rather pay me to write proposals for them than to ead the big, long, fat and utterly boring tomes that are out there as guides for the process. The trouble is, most authors can do it for themselves lots better than anyone else could. The author is the one with the voice! The author is the one with the passion!

Smallwood: Is that what lead you to write The Great First Impression Book Promoter?

Howard-Johnson: Exactly. I took the material I had written just to get the information I need to write a proposal for one of my clients and turned it into this booklet. I figured every author who must write a book proposal would rather learn how to do it in thirty minutes or so rather than read 300 plus pages! So, voila! There it is. 54 pages. Fast. I suspect the publisher at Modern History Press figured he could supply a copy of this booklet to the authors he was considering to get them to do the book proposal he needed - and they needed.

Smallwood: You say "they needed?"

Howard-Johnson: Actually, book proposals are great organizational aids. They can be a little like a story board for a film. They require all kinds of things an author and her publisher are going to need. Like a synopsis. A pitch. Nonfiction authors need a projected outline of their chapters or contents. But mostly a book proposal gets all authors thinking about their platforms and how to use them to market their books. Too many authors still believe the publishing works as it did decades ago. But we only need to be around a little while before we figure out that an author with a platform has an edge over an equally talented author who doesn't do much other than play with their friends on Facebook.

Smallwood: You're saying book proposals - for all the aches and pains - do as much for the author as they do for agents and publishers?

Howard-Johnson: Exactly. In fact all the planning and thinking they require can save them tons of time in the actual writing of their book. I remember reorganizing and rewriting the first chapter of my novel…well, lots of time. If I had an outline or storyboard or book proposal, I might have spend that time fine tuning the conflict, arc, characterization or whatever. A book proposal helps with all of that.

Smallwood: I don't remember seeing this book on your website.

Howard-Johnson: That's because Modern History Press did so much with it including a brand new cover from Doug West that blended with the new cover of the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter. I love the typewriter. It reminds me of the one I used when I started out in journalism, which I did mostly because all of the smartest, cutest boys were on the high school journalism staff. There. Now you don't have to ask what got me into writing!

Smallwood: So, how can readers get this inexpensive, easy-to-read and use little booklet?

Howard-Johnson: "My" small press is as aware as big publisher are that a book isn't truly published without marketing. So Victor Volkman came up with the idea of using this book much like I had. It is available on Amazon as a hard cover, paperback, or e-book like all his books. (It was only available in the last two iterations when I self-published it.) And he is eager to get authors reading it because he feels as strongly as I do that it can make a huge difference to writing careers so he's also using it as a promotion. So those who the new release of my The Frugal Book Promoter, now in its third edition, directly from him at http://www.modernhistorypress.com/frugal/ will received First Impression Book Proposal at no additional cost. We both figure that a great way to get an author off on the right foot or to give her a nudge in the right direction even if she has already made a few really big mistakes. (Use the code GO Frugal, to get this extra benefit.)

Smallwood: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Howard-Johnson: You know I have three full books full of things your audience should know. But here is just a teaser. Most authors misuse or underuse (or don't use) their review and interviews like this one to their advantage. They need to know a whole lot more about managing everything from managing Amazon reviews to getting reviews from the big journals like Library Journal. So, I'm suggesting my How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: the ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.


Carol Smallwood, reviewer, interviewer, and recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, received a MLS in librarianship from Western Michigan University, MA in teaching from Eastern Michigan University. She’s done several dozen anthologies for American Library Association, Rowman & Littlefield, McFarland, and others; has had over a dozen collections of poetry and essays published; hundreds of stories, essays, interviews, poems, reviews in RHINO, World Literature Today, and others. A multi-Pushcart nominee in Wikipedia, the Michigan resident has founded humane societies.



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