Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts

Do You Know Your Competition?


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin 

Over decades, Ive reviewed thousands of book submissions (no exaggeration). Many proposals are missing the competition section. Its common for them to write, This topic is unique and has no competition. When editors and agents see such a statement, many of them will stop reading and reject the project. Others will roll their eyes in a look that says, Not again.

When someone says there is no competition, they are not considering the larger sense of the book market. Every book has competition in the marketplace. It's the responsibility of the writer to understand and describe that competition in their book proposal. It is not the responsibility of your editor or literary agent to create this competition but the authors responsibility who should intimately know their topic and area of expertise.

I often encourage authors to visualize their book inside a brick and mortar bookstore. Which section does your book appear? What other books are in tht section? Those books are your competition and competitive titles. In this section, you list the titles with a brief description and tell how your book is different. I encourage you to carefully select your words because you are not slamming or downplaying those other books. Instead you are emphasizing how your book is different.

Publishers need this information throughout the internal process within publishing houses. For one publisher, when they complete their internal paperwork to secure a book contract for an author, they are required to list the ISBNs of competitive titles.

Some of you are familiar with Book Proposals That Sell. In the final pages of this book, I include a sample of one of my book proposals which sold for a six-figure advance. This proposal is exactly what was submitted to the various publishers. The missing ingredient in my proposal (despite its success) is the lack of specific competitive titles. I wrote that proposal almost twenty years ago and in today's market it would need to have those competitive titles before it would go out into the marketplace. Hopefully Ive learned (and continue to learn) a few things about book proposal creation over the last few years.

When I started as an acquisitions editor, the president of the company (no longer there) sat down and went through the various topic areas where I would be acquiring books. One of these areas was parenting books. I raised a question about this area since within several miles of our offices was a major marketing force in this area of parenting called Focus on the FamilyOh yes, Terry, we will continue to publish parenting books, he said with passion. Marriages continue to fall apart in record numbers and children are leaving the church in droves. With my marching orders, I continued to acquire parenting books but silently I wondered whether a book can solve those two explicit issues about the family.

Each week Publishers Weekly tackles a different area of the market. Sometimes they cover parenting books which is highly competitive with loads of successful titles in print. The article gives a rundown of several forthcoming parenting books. Heres what is interesting to me (and hopefully for you): Notice the sub-categories for each title in the article: publisher, first printing, target audience, author's credentials, why the book is needed, and what distinguishes it from the competition. The final four categories are what every author needs to include in their book proposal when it is submitted to a literary agent or an editor.

The actual language for the competition section is tricky. The author needs to point out the competition and how their book takes a different slant on the subject or deeper or some improvement--without slamming the competitive title. Why? Because the publisher of that competitive title may be the perfect location for your book. You dont want to offend that publisher with how you've written about their title. Like many aspects of the publishing world, when you write your competition section, it calls for education, understanding and some sense of diplomacy because the relationship will often be the distinction.

Every author needs to create a proposal for their book--even if you self-publish because this document is your business plan for your book and has important elements for every author to understand and convene to their readers.

Do you include the my book is unique in your proposal or do you include a competition section? Let me know in the comments below.


W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing
He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is  Book Proposals That $ell (the revised edition) released to online and brick and mortar bookstores. 
Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief at Midwest Book Review wrote, If you only have time to read one how to guide to getting published, whether it be traditional publishing or self-publishing, Book Proposals That Sell is that one DIY instructional book. You can get a free Book Proposal Checklist on the site. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

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Unique Holidays: Don't See Anything You Like? Create Your Own


Writers and authors need to always be marketing! That means, developing a platform, such as a blog, podcast, or video series, and spending time on social media. So many places ... but how do we find new things to post? 

News, interviews, trivia, lists posts, and essays make for great content. But one of the best places to spark creative ideas is holiday calendars. Yes, traditional holidays work too. But I am a fan of creating content around unique holidays, like those found on HolidayInsights.com.

For instance, for writers, there's National Tell A Story Day on April 27, National Punctuation Day is September 24, and National Novel Writing Month is November. There's actually a whole list of writer holidays

Plus, there's The Nibble for food holidays, On-this-day.com to identify special days that relate to your books and/or business, and Positively Woof's Pet Holiday Calendar for those with a pet ... or pet-centric themes in the life or businesses.

Once you find your holiday ...

1. Brainstorm Content Ideas
2. Write your text 
3. Gather images
4. Construct your posts
5. Release 
6. Rinse and repeat
7. Be sure to keep a content calendar to track all of your ideas
 
While there are menus of holiday possibilities everywhere, what happens when you can't find a holiday that meets your needs? Simple. Create your own. That's what I did!

Let's go back to National Novel Writing Month. As we approached November, I found myself wanting to commit to some sort of monthly challenge, but didn't have the time for NaNoWriMo. 

I asked myself what I wanted to do more of in November. The answer: Dance! And #DaEvDaNo - Dance Every Day in November - was born.

First, I checked Twitter to research the hashtag. I created an image. 
Then, I put up a post on LinkedIn and started Tweeting about it. 

When creating or tagging onto existing holidays, the trick is to keep things simple. You don't need to overcomplicate things to come up with amazing content! You just need to do it.

Looking for new ways to put yourself out there? Uplevel your creativity and share your spin on an existing celebration ... or create one of your own!

* * *

What's your ideal unique holiday? ANd how do you use it to support your business? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Resolutions You Can Keep

 


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

We are nearing the end of 2020 and what a strange year on many fronts. I will be glad to turn the calendar page for 2021. As a writer, what I like to do is think about the year ahead and make plans. Years ago I used to make resolutions but most of them were broken before we reached February. Now I make resolutions which I can keep.
 
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? If you are like me, you have goals, dreams and plans for the New Year. I encourage you to write down these resolutions or plans or goals. You want to make them specific actions so you can hold yourself (or your partner can hold you) accountable to carry them out.
 
Over 25 years ago in 11 days I wrote a diet book by Carole Lewis called First Place. I took such a crazy writing deadline because the publisher was determined to have the book inside the bookstores for January. If you look at bestseller lists, often in January there will be several diet books about losing weight. In our overweight society, many people resolve to lose some pounds in the New Year. They begin with such great resolve and commitment.
 
To become a proactive author, I want to suggest several resolutions or goals that you can keep throughout the months ahead. I encourage you to use these ideas to create your own goals. Make sure you make each one specific, measurable and action oriented.
 
1. Plan to consistently talk with others about your books or products. As the author, you should take the primary responsibility to market and tell other people about your books. There are dozens of tools and ways to do it. Your method should be a way that serves other people (helps them) and doesn’t pound them with “buy me” messages. The “buy me” message is a turn off and the service to others is an attraction. Can you take your book and create a teleseminar or take chapters from your book and turn them into magazine articles or blog posts?
 
2. Resolve to Persevere. Are you trying to publish something which is getting rejected? You are in good company. Just check out this article from bestselling novelist James Scott Bell called Rejecting Rejection. Possibly you have not made the right connection to get your work published. Are you consistently submitting your work? Often when I ask writers about this detail, I find they haven’t been consistently working on getting their book pitch to the right editor at the right time and the right place. I don’t believe that I’m a great writer. I work hard at improving my storytelling and writing—yet I am persistent and preserve. I’m determined to a fault. Nurture this quality in your own life in the weeks and months ahead.
 
3. Resolve to take better care of yourself. Over the last few years, I’ve worked hard at getting more consistent sleep, taking a daily multiple vitamins and a commitment to regular exercise. Also I attempt to watch my weight and eating patterns to be in balance. Am I perfect? No, but I continue to consistently work at these elements and build regular patterns into my life. With a pandemic this year, my weight increased but several months ago my wife and I began changing our eating patterns and working on weight loss. Currently I'm at my lowest weight in over 20 years and my blood pressure has lowered and other health benefits. It's all part of my resolution to take better care of myself and something I encourage you to do too. Your goal will be different for your lifestyle and situation but do consider this area of your life.
 
4. Resolve to learn a new skill then practice it repeatedly. Maybe you want to develop your storytelling skills. Or maybe you can learn from a how-to book or take an online training. I use all of these methods to keep growing in my abilities and skills.
 
5. Resolve to do more writing. It takes more than a resolution to increase your writing. You need a plan. Do it consistently and set a reasonable word count then do it day after day. No little elves come out and write your words. You have to sit in your chair, get your fingers moving on the keyboard and do it.
 
6. Resolve to do more reading. Writers are readers. Read widely and varied types of books. I read but also learn from listening to audiobooks.
 
I’m expecting great things will happen in the coming months. How about you? Are you setting goals and moving in this direction? Take action today. As you look at the new year, are you creating resolutions you can keep? Let me know in the comments below.
 
This article is my final post for the year for Writers on the Move. I want to wish all of you a tremendous holiday season and Happy New Year. May you enjoy the season and have special things happen in your life and writing.
 
Tweetable:

How do you make resolutions you can keep? Get ideas here for your writing from this prolific editor and writer. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers. His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has  190,000 twitter followers

Tips For Success

 

 Tips for Success: Descriptive Writing  by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Descriptive details make your stories and articles successful. But you must promote your work. Get your work in magazines, post online, or write the book or script you’ve been envisioning!

I’m reading The Story Cure by Dinty W. Moore. Chapter 2 presents beginnings that work and those that don’t. For today’s readers, we need to start strong and get to it. Dive into the story without lengthy flourish but not stiff hard-as-rock description. Dinty also cautions against awkward similes, and lengthy exposition that makes for taking a nap.

In addition, Rebecca McClanahan talks about descriptive writing denoting an atmosphere beneath our stories, poems, or essays. The language of description shapes the tone, and points to an underlying theme, the depth of the subject. Descriptive writing creates mood. There is so much more to our writing than scene, characters, dialogue, figures of speech, senses, mood and POV. Let’s call it atmosphere. How we pull a message all together matters; our delivery matters and effects how our readership can or cannot receive our message.

Sounds complicated, so how we proceed? I suggest, write your message from your heart first. Make it personable. As you polish the draft, consider the tips and techniques offered here to help polish your piece. For example, maybe the overall tone, voice inflection and body language, doesn’t support the theme or premise of the essay. You’ll want to make changes to align the tone with the theme.

Scenes bring the reader a firsthand view of the action. Exposition describes the what and the why. Using scenes, exposition, and telling shape the narrative. Blend and balance for delightful reading.
Readers want personable, well-written works they relate to, and find beneficial. Let’s give them our best shot.

Do you have words from your basket to share with us? Please add your favorites as you share on social media. We’d enjoy seeing them! Don’t have favorites yet? Consider sensory adjectives, strong verbs, and nouns from online lists or Thesaurus.
Nouns List:  https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-the-most-important-english-nouns-4087688
Strong Verb List: http://boyden8la.weebly.com/uploads/2/1/9/7/21975608/strong_verbs.pdf

Book List:
•    The Story Cure, a Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir, by Dinty W. Moore
•    Word Painting, by Rebecca McClanahan

Earlier Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
Write Strong:   http://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/10/tips-to-make-characters-real-write.html
Tips for Balancing Action and Exposition: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/11/tips-for-balancing-action-exposition.html
 

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts. 

Visit her writer’s website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/   

Visit her caregiver’s website: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/

Available on Amazon --- Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love   https://www.amazon.com/author/deborahlynstanley

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer    https://www.facebook.com/deborahlynwriter/?modal=admin_todo_tour

 


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Author Swag: Make it Meaningful

Make your Swag Meaningful
Have Fun Creating your Swag
One of the activities I've enjoyed most while publishing my first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, has been to create “swag”—little giveaway items to remind readers of my book. Author swag can come in many forms, from bookmarks, keychains, bags, to stickers, and more. The key is to think up items that you’re comfortable with, that are affordable, and most important, that reflect YOU and the subject matter of your books.

Get Started: Check Out What Fellow Authors Do
Let’s face it, we writers are voyeurs. We study people, events, situations, many times without even realizing it. So, attending book signings is a golden opportunity to study how authors conduct them and also, who their readers are. The two most recent book launches I attended, prior to covid-19 of course, took place in book stores, by successful, traditionally-published children’s authors. One had no hoopla. No poster, no candy, no business cards, no slides or polished presentation, and not enough books (much to her chagrin). But, being well-known in our community and also  across the U.S., she attracted a good crowd; she told us the history behind her latest book, her fifth, with vast knowledge and terrific wit. At the end, while attendees stood in line waiting for her to sign our books, I was impressed with how personable she was with each person. We left having had a fun, satisfying experience. I decided that most likely she had enough experience to know that much of what a new author might think you need at a book signing is just fluff, and what counts is that readers get to meet the author and obtain her signature in their books.

The other book signing was when YA author Ransom Riggs blew into town to promote his latest book, The Conference of the Birds (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children). No one could miss his visit--his van with art for this book displayed all over it, was parked in front of Barnes & Noble. The crowd was large, full of excited young adults, and only one not-so-young woman dressed in costume, I presumed, as Miss Peregrine, which I enjoyed seeing immensely. There was the Ransom Riggs Tour Sweepstakes that many participated in and got to go to a private room, which stirred up excitement in the crowd. There were tattoos you could have pressed on your cheek, your arm; there was a giant cardboard faรงade decorated with “peculiar” Riggs' lore that you could stand behind for photos. Ransom Riggs presented himself with little fanfare and spent time telling us about himself, his family, and answering questions. I enjoyed myself and learned a lot about the presentation of a book signing.

But What Do Book Signings have to do with Author Swag?
After studying articles about swag and giving some thought about how to present my platform, I came up with some ideas, buoyed by what I had learned from the book signings, and observing other authors. As I researched the feasibility of each type of swag, I decided against bookmarks and stickers almost immediately. I have bookmarks and stickers from other authors. They live in a place I pass by every day on my bulletin board, and which I haven’t noticed since I first got them. That gave me the idea that I wanted my swag to have more meaning. To be noticed. To be useful. And most important, for children to have fun with at my personal appearances. Children can stamp stamps, stick stickers, and wear tattoos. Here is what I came up with:

  • Business cards: I ordered 500 to begin, at Staples, and used the logo, “Linda Wilson: Children’s Mystery Writer,” and symbol of a dragonfly from Secret in the Stars, created by Danika Corrall, designer of my website and illustrator for my second book, Secret in the Mist.
  • Post cards: I had two types of post cards, twenty-five each, made at Staples; one of the book cover, and the other titled, “Bee’s Needs: 7 Ways You Can Help;” which is related to honey and beehives, which are part of the Secret in the Stars story.
  • Stickers: Stickers displaying the logo turned out to be expensive, especially custom cutout stickers. Instead, I purchased Mrs. Grossman’s stickers, mainly of animals that appear in my stories: dog paws, galloping horses, hummingbirds, dragonflies, crafty cats and bees, to name a few. Purchased from https://mrsgdemo.myshopify.com.
  • Stamps: Stamps for my use in my promo materials and also for children to have fun with at my book signings. I purchased one 3”x3” stamp, which is the image for this post, a large stamp pad, and two smaller stamps and stamp pads for the fridge pads, which I put together myself. RubberStamps.net
  • Fridge pads: On my fridge are two fridge pads from two different companies, that consist of the companies’ business cards and “To Do” pads, stuck on the fridge with a magnetic. Purchasing these pads ready-made was out of the question—too cost prohibitive. So, I purchased a 50-pack of self-adhesive magnetic business cards from Amazon, and a pack of 3x3” post-its. I glue a business card to the magnetic card (using the self-adhesive side), split the post-it block in half, and attach the half post-it block to the magnetic business card with cross-weave or any kind of strong tape. I stamped the first post-it page with my special stamp, shown above.

    Please note: As another reflection of Abi, the main character in my story, I had the words, “You are part of my world . . . forever,” the last words in the book, written below Abi’s image on the large stamp, to send the message to each of my readers that they are now part of Abi's world and she'll never forget them.

  • Tattoos: I plan to buy play tattoos so my readers can have fun putting them on.


Last and Most Fun of all: Giving Away Your Swag
I’ve had a lot of fun with my swag. When my book first came out, I knew everyone who bought it: my friends and family! I had an assembly line going. Each person who purchased my book received a fridge pad, a postage-stamped postcard, a thank you note, and the envelope decorated with a sticker or two. I’m looking forward to the day when I can have in-person book signings and make school visits, so my readers can have fun with my swag.

My main resource for learning about author swag: https://www.janefriedman.com/book-swag/

 

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, Linda's first book, is available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor. The next book in the Abi Wunder series, Secret in the Mist, will be available soon. Follow Linda on https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com



Do You Have a Side Hustle?

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Do you have a side hustle? Almost every writer has one but maybe you aren’t calling it a side hustle. I’m talk...